Editorial - Oct. 2011

In this month’s issue we feature the first and second place award-winning essays from this year’s Chase Prize Essay Contest. The first prize is $3,000 and a plaque, and the second prize is $1,500 and a plaque. The prizes are underwritten by the generosity of the Battelle Memorial Institute, the Chase family, and the funds we generate from members. In a future edition of the Gazette we will feature the two essays that won honorable mentions. Those award winners are presented with a plaque and a $500 check. We have begun accepting entries for the Hogaboom Leadership Writing Contest and will accept them until 31 December. That contest has the same cash awards as the Chase Contest. We also just awarded the biennial Col “Fox” Parry award for the best article that appeared in the Gazette in the previous 2 years that illustrates initiative and innovation in combat. That award is $1,000 and a plaque.
       
The purpose of the writing contests is to encourage Marines to think and write about the issues that affect the Corps and to provide solutions or alternatives. Based on the submissions we have received, there are Marines who spend the time to read, reflect and, most importantly, write and share their thoughts and ideas.
What I find interesting is the broad spectrum of rank and MOSs of those who have written for our contests and for the Gazettein general. The winners of the last two Parry awards were enlisted Marines who took the time to share their experiences in combat in an effort to pass on hard lessons learned to those still in or going to the “sandbox.” Yes, the Marine Corps lessons learned system has an important role to play in collecting and disseminating lessons learned, as evidenced by the article last month (“MCCLL”) by Col Christopher H. Sonntag, but so does the Gazette.
       
One trend I have observed is that even if the spectrum is broad, it is a small universe of Marines who write. As an example, the winner of this year’s Chase Prize Essay Contest, LtCol Michael D. Grice, has previously won awards in the Hogaboom Leadership Writing Contest and has won the Geiger award for the best article on Marine Corps aviation appearing in a publication. We have had other authors who have been published numerous times in the Gazette as well as other professional publications. I am heartened by the fact that a second lieutenant won the second place prize. Passion to make the Corps better is not rank dependent.
       
We have a lot of smart, articulate, and devoted Marines in the Corps. More of them should take the time and effort to put finger to keyboard and write. The real purpose of writing is not to win cash and a plaque but to make the Corps better. I think as you peruse this month’s issue, the passion and concern and sense of urgency of the authors will leap out at you. Whether writing about our awards system, the roles and missions that really were the historical bread and butter of the Corps, training, education, fires, or any of the other myriad of topics we feature this month, you will appreciate the efforts of Marines and other servicemembers to put forward ideas that are worth thinking about and or acting on. If they did not take the time and effort to write, we would have a thin professional journal.

Join them.

John Keenan