Dear Members,

Our schedule of professional events has started to accelerate this month. On the 15th of the month we co-hosted the Spring - 2012 Combat Development Dinner with LtGen Richard Mills, Deputy Commandant for Development and Combat Integration. We had just over 300 attend the dinner. LtGen Mills provided a brief on the future of “Amphibiousity” for the Navy-Marine Corps team and our Nation. It was a great presentation and we thank him for making time to join us. Copies of his briefing slides are posted on our website. Click HERE to see his slide presentation, read a synopsis of his remarks and to see pictures and a video of the event.

On the 29th we will co-host the 8th Annual Ground Logistics Awards Dinner to recognize the top performing Marine logisticians of 2011. General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, will be the guest speaker and will help present the awards recognizing the top officer, enlisted, civilian Marine and Marine Logistics Unit of the Year.  At this time we have 560 signed up to attend. The good news is that it’s NOT too late to sign up and join us.  Click HERE to register for the event now.

As we break into April we will we take to the road to host the MCA&F Camp Lejeune Dinner on the 11th featuring LtGen John Paxton, Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force; and Commander, United States Marine Forces Africa as the guest speaker. A week later, on the 19th, in conjunction with HQMC, C4 Division, we will host the 9th Annual MCA&F C4 Awards Dinner to recognize the professional achievements of the Corps’ top performing C4 Marines from 2011. These MCA&F professional events provide superb opportunities for camaraderie and social interaction with Marines and friends of the Corps and offer those attending the unique perspectives of top Marine leaders offering candid views on the key issues affecting Marines. Click HERE to view our entire events schedule and to register for those you can attend. 

Advancing Leadership and Recognizing Excellence is our primary mission and so far this year our Commanders’ Professional Library Program has delivered 62 professional libraries to Marine units’ worldwide assisting leaders in mentoring their Marines wherever they are stationed or deployed. Recognizing the professional accomplishments of Marines and providing incentives to spur other Marines to high achievement, our Marine Excellence Awards Program has recognized over 400 Marines this year with a range of awards from certificates to K-Bars, professional books, plaques, Marine swords, bronze awards and more. The Commanders’ Forum Program provided support for four commander developed professional learning opportunities that foster the study of operational art and military history. As always, it is our members who make these various programs available and I thank you for your generosity and support.

I am pleased to announce the introduction of a brand new benefit to keep our members closer. The “MCA&F Corps Connection” is a mobile App that is downloadable FREE from the Apple App store and is compatible with iPads, iPhones, and will be compatible with the Android smart phones shortly. Designed and fielded by MetroStar Systems, exclusively for MCA&F, the App enhances connectivity for Marines and our members.  It streams constant updates from our websites, including Corps Daily News, our Blogs, Today in History, our events schedule and allows rapid access to the latest MARADMINS, ALMARS and much more! A great way to stay informed and connected, I invite all our members to download the App today.

All the Best & Semper Fidelis,

Edward G. Usher, III
Major General, USMC (Ret)
President and Chief Executive Officer


MCA&F Briefs Marines

MCA&F Recognizes Honor grads

Honor Graduates of Marine Security Guard (MSG) School

Feed The Dawgs Event

MCA&F Donations Deliver Commanders Unit Libraries

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Marine Corps Gazette
The April Gazette has a focus on science and technology. Harnessing technology in innovative ways is in the DNA of the Marine Corps. From amphibious tactics and the landing craft of the interwar years to the refinement of close air support and the Harrier jump jet, we have looked to use technological and tactical innovations to gain an advantage on the battlefield. However, we still equip the man not just man the equipment. 

Additionally we have two provocative articles on awards. One, on the award of the Combat Action Ribbon, and another on awards for officers. You may agree or disagree but you will find them thought provoking. This month’s issue also includes a physical conditioning program that can be used by units or individuals to improve their fitness to fight.

Finally, go to our blog at Join in the intelligent and interesting conversation on issues of interest to Marines.

Your April Leatherneck is in the mail and will be arriving shortly. You can read the digital edition now, with its added content, by going online at

In this issue, we bring you a solid lineup of history articles documenting: the seagoing Marines in the Civil War at the Battle of the Ironclads: USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia; the efforts of HMM-362 supporting the South Vietnamese Army 50 years ago in an effort codenamed “Shufly”; and, the contributions of a Marine leadership legend, Colonel John Ripley, in a MGySgt Ron Keene article, “Captain John Ripley at the Bridge: ‘Please Don’t Let Me Screw This Up!’”

We add articles arming readers with: updates on Marine armor training in its new home at Ft. Benning, Ga.; insights into the Instructor Battalion, The Basic School and the significant role enlisted Marines take on in teaching the officer leaders of tomorrow; and news on what our Marines are accomplishing in Afghanistan.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Then as a heads up, our May issue is a special tribute to Marine aviation on its Centennial. It will include a free pull out poster celebrating the history of Marine aviation on its Centennial.

  • Reader / Member Input. Do YOU have something newsworthy to share? Send to  and our Member Update Coordinator will consider including your item.
  • REMINDER - Marine Corps Gazette’s NEW LtCol Earl “Pete” Ellis Annual Essay Contest. Designed to stimulate critical thinking about how to advance the Marine Corps effectively into the future, this essay contest is open to both civilian and military writers and calls for articles with an operational focus on the role of the Navy-Marine Team as a crisis response force in the uncertain security environment of the 2015-2024 time frame. The aim is to develop new operational concepts along with thought on the supporting equipment and forces needed for implementation. Funded by the Marine Corps Association & Foundation, the first prize is $5,000 and submitted articles will be considered for publication in Marine Corps Gazette. Don’t let a blank piece of paper get between you and $5,000! Unleash your out of the box ideas here!  Entries are due between 1 May and 30 June 2012. For more details, read LtGen Richard Mills article here:

  • MCA&F – Out and About.
    Golf Company TBS Honor Graduate Social
    On 6 March, MCA&F hosted a breakfast social in the atrium of the MCA&F building to recognize the honor graduates of Golf Company, The Basic School.  MCA&F hosts a welcome aboard social event for each new Basic School company and then hosts a breakfast social for the honor graduates of each class at the end. Honor graduates for Golf Company included: Company Honor Graduate and Colonel William B. Lemly Award (Academics) recipient  2d Lt Cory Kampf, Leadership Award recipient, 2dLt Duane Blank, Military Skills Award recipient, 2dLt William Selby and Mitchell Paige Medal of Honor Mustang Spirit Award (Sponsored by MCAA) recipient 2dLt Anthony Molnar.  Fair winds and following seas to the Lieutenants of Golf Company as they depart TBS to lead Marines. Congratulations to all the honor graduates.  Here are some pictures:

  • MCA&F Commanders’ Unit Library Program – The Process. With support from our members and donors, MCA&F has been able to provide or upgrade over 200 professional libraries for Marine units stationed or deployed all over the world, in sizes ranging from small detachments to 900 man strong battalions. The libraries include but are not limited to books from the USMC Professional Reading Program, and enables Marines of all ranks in units with a Unit Library to continue their formal professional development requirements wherever they are stationed. A simple concept yet it takes teamwork to make it happen and a number of MCA&F staff members are involved in the process. Here is a short outline of how it happens:
    • A Marine unit determines it needs a professional library and visits the Commanders’ Unit Library Program page on the Marine Corps Association Foundation website at to download the request form.
    • The request is completed by the requesting unit and returned for consideration and processing.
    • Customer fulfillment pulls the desired titles in approved quantities from our warehouse and affixes MCA&F donation book plates in every book to identify them.
    • Customer fulfillment and Mailroom staff pack the books securely and process them for delivery to wherever the requesting unit is stationed or deployed.
    • Upon receipt, Marines administer and account for the books as per unit SOP and begin reading.

Here are some on the job pictures of the MCA&F Team processing a request from The Basic School in February 2012:

Visit here to read more about this program at – and visit the Marine Corps Association Foundation site at if you would like to help support the program.

  • Websites of the Month.
  • MCA&F Expands Member Benefits with Addition of Military Discounts!
    To be activated in early May 2012, this new benefit provides MCA&F Members with privileged access to a wide range of premium brands and products, such as action sports and fitness equipment, apparel, tactical gear, jewelry, shoes and accessories, at special savings of 40% and more below retail. MCA&F members will receive automatic activation to access by logging in to their MCA&F membership account online and then clicking on the link to From there, members can shop on for everyday premium brands and products rather than closeouts or discontinued items. Stand by for deep savings in May!
    Click on the logo to learn more about
  • Hot Videos of the Month.
    Veteran doing a card trick ending in a tribute Marines will enjoy:
    Thanks Bruce and YouTube:

    Shades of Transformers! Cool flashlight with lethal, concealed features!

    Singer Katy Perry in music video showcasing Marines. Comment string below the video has the best line seen in months: “Only the Corps could look at Katy Perry and think “hmm, how can we weaponize this?” Click HERE to see a great video!

  • Leatherneck writer and Associate Editor wins coveted writing award!
    Leatherneck writer and Associate Editor, MGySgt Ron Keene USMC (Ret) for winning the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Colonel Robert Debs Heinl, Jr. Award for an article he wrote in 2011. Published in the October and November editions of Leatherneck, his two-part article, “Because Marines Never Forget” led to his award in the distinguished feature writing by an individual dealing with U.S. Marine Corps history category. A prolific writer, the Master Guns is well known for his monthly “War on Terror” feature which updates Leatherneck readers on the latest operational news on deployed Marines. He will receive his award at a presentation dinner at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on 12 April 2012.

  • Murphy’s Law. Invariably witty and often wryly insightful, the body of axioms comprising Murphy’s Law has delighted many for years. The prime axiom “If anything can go wrong, it will” seems to be a universal physical law underpinning everything and applies directly to the art of war and combat operations.  Not surprisingly, there are a number of websites that list the axioms comprising the opus magnus of Murphy’s law and this one is one of the best. The site also hosts a page for Murphy’s War Laws which is a MUST visit site for all Marines.  Here is the link for your reading pleasure.
    Just for grins, here are a couple of the more widely circulated axioms from Murphy’s War Law:
    Friendly fire – isn’t.
    Never forget your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
    Tracers work both ways
    No OPLAN ever survives initial contact
    And a WHOLE lot more!

  • New MJROTC unit established at Hogwarts.  Read more HERE.

Q. I swell with breath and collapse when pierced or with plug pulled, am clammy in the cold, pick up condensation with a vengeance, was designed as a dormancy aid in benighted conditions and have an unfortunate nickname, crudely denigrating those of the distaff persuasion. Deemed obsolete, I have been replaced.  What am I, what is my purpose and what is my Marine nickname?


How to Win.  Send your answers to and please include your name and address so we can send your prize. We will hold a drawing of all CORRECT responses one week from the Member Update release date and then announce the winner in the next edition of the Update.

The Prize! In addition to our “Once a Marine – ALWAYS a Marine” Coin, we include a copy of one of Major Gene Duncan’s Books as a bonus.

Here’s our trivia question from last month:

Question: Utterly utilitarian and more linear and voluminous than curvaceous or rakish like others, it leads with clamshells and it’s flatness below makes for a great time at the beach but causes endemic nausea away.  What am I and what do I have to do with Marines?

Answer: The preferred answer is the venerable Landing Ship Tank (LST) which took many Marines and soldiers directly to unimproved beaches in amphibious operations since World War II. Derived from British concepts for amphibious ships before the war, the designs came to detailed completion and large scale production in the United States where about a thousand of them were constructed for the wartime effort while only about 80 were made in the UK and Canada. Large and boxy, to allow for accommodation of many tanks and other vehicles, the ships had flat bottoms and a very shallow draft to allow for beaching  and clamshell bow doors and retractable ramps to allow vehicles to drive off the ship directly on to dry land. The flat bottom and shallow draft made for problematical seamanship underway, causing disproportionate rolling, pitching and yawing resulting in serious crew discomfort in heavy seas. To counter that problem and aid in sea keeping, the ships were equipped with a ballasting system that takes on water when underway to increase draft and pumps it out when beach landings require shallow draft.

A tremendous and flexible asset, the design was significantly upgraded in the 1960’s with the introduction of the Newport class LST which proved to be a significant improvement over the original designs of WW II. Design features of the new class included higher speed, improved bow door, a bow thruster for greater maneuverability during beaching and docking operations, a helicopter landing deck and a stern gate for launching and recovering amphibian tractors underway. The new class also was capable of carrying up to four, large pontoon floats which were capable of mating up with each other and the bow to form a lengthy causeway to extend standoff distance from the shore in very shallow water.

Tremendous assets, the LST served the Navy-Marine team with distinction until taken out of service with all either transferred to other countries or put in to mothballs. With increasingly lethal, standoff, anti-ship weaponry and the proliferation of naval mines, the LST and beaching operations were deemed too risky to hazard a ship. Amphibious operations now rely on the services of LHD’s, LPD’s and LSD’s with beaching operations only conducted by landing craft, hover craft and amphibian tractors.

Many of the respondents identified various landing craft such as the LCU and those answers almost fit but the landing craft have bow ramps instead of clamshells. Close but no banana.

Congratulations to Carlos Rodrigues of Citrus Heights, California for winning our last contest.

This Month in Marine Corps History


9 March 1847
Expeditionary Marines landed and seized Vera Cruz, Mexico, during the Mexican War.

Lasting from 1846-1848, the Mexican-American War, though short, was a vastly unpopular war but one which yielded tremendous territorial gains for the United States in an era when many Americans believed it was the country’s “Manifest Destiny” to possess a country that extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.

A costly war, both financially and in terms of heavy American and Mexican casualties, the war served as a training ground for many famous Americans who would lead military forces on both sides of the Civil War to be fought some 15 years afterwards, including the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis and the most prominent military leaders of both sides, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.

Mexico’s dictator, Gen Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had signed a treaty recognizing Texan independence following his defeat and capture at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. Though fraught with fractious political strife following this defeat, Mexico was united in the view that Texas remained a rebellious territory that they would eventually return to Mexican control and sovereignty. As a result, Mexico consistently warned that annexation of Texas by the United States would constitute an act of war. The Republic of Texas agreed to annexation in 1845 and was accepted in to the Union as the 28th state in December 1845 setting the stage for war which was further aggravated by an ongoing dispute about the definition of the border between Texas and Mexico. With Texas a state, James Polk, the president of the United States, supported the Texan claim of the Rio Grande River as the border while Mexico claimed the border was the Nueces river, over a hundred miles to the North. As a result of the ensuing border dispute, President Polk dispatched BGen Zachary Taylor with a force of some 3,500 men to the Nueces and later to the Rio Grande to protect the border and protect Americans from a possible invasion. Concurrently, Polk ordered his Pacific Navy squadron to seize key California ports in an effort to secure California from Mexican control.

Zachary Taylor’s force fought several skirmishes in the vicinity of Matamoros along the Rio Grande and forced the Mexican force to retreat south causing more political unrest in Mexico which resulted in the reinstatement of General Santa Anna who had been ought of favor and power for some years. Taylor pushed south, capturing Matamoros, Camargo and then moved southwest and besieged the sizable city of Monterrey resulting in serious losses to both sides in the hard fought city fighting there and at the subsequent battle of Buena Vista conducted in a mountain pass. Due to unrest in the capitol, Santa Anna withdrew, ceding control of much of Northern Mexico to Taylor.

Introducing fresh forces into the fray, President Polk dispatched a second army of some 12,000 men, including Marines, under MajGen Winfield Scott. This force, under cover of the guns from a powerful naval squadron conducted the first major amphibious landing in American history to seize the port city of Veracruz after a 12 day siege and bombardment in preparation for an invasion of central Mexico. Securing Veracruz, Scott received additional reinforcements, including a Marine battalion raised by Commandant Archibald Henderson for the war. After a 300 plus mile march and a month of hard skirmishing, Scott’s force of 11,000 defeated the over 30,000 strong Mexican force with Marines figuring prominently in the seizure of the citadel guarding the entrance to Mexico City and also with securing the fortified “Palacio Nacionale” ( Halls of Montezuma) the next day effectively ending the battle for the city. 

As a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which officially ended the war and the subsequent Gadsden Purchase, the United States acquired land from Mexico comprising all of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and parts of Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. In return, Mexico received some 18 million dollars and the forgiveness of some sovereign debt.

Read more about the role of the Marines in the war here:


13 March 1945           
1st and 3d Battalions of the 9th Marines attacked through “Cushman’s Pocket,” the last enemy strongpoint remaining on Iwo Jima.
Combat operations on Iwo Jima reached their final phase on 11 March, an agonizing 20 days after landing on the beaches with two significant pockets of enemy resistance remaining to reduce. Of these, “Cushman’s Pocket” named after LtCol Robert Cushman, Commanding Officer of 2d Bn, 9th Marines, and later Commandant of the Marine Corps, was arguably the toughest to reduce. Located east of Motoyama Village and southeast of the Northern Airfield, the pocket had already been under determined attack for some days and proved a rat warren of caves and defensive positions cut deep into the sandstone for shelter along with dug in tanks and pill boxes and ringed with anti-tank weapons.

On 11 March, with 1/21 in supporting role on the confines of the pocket, 1/9 and 3/9 approached it from the northeast while 3/21, then attached to 9th Marines, attacked from the southwest. 2/9 was in divisional reserve at the time and poised just to the east of Motoyama Village and was engaged in mopping up on the southern edge of the pocket. Essentially surrounded, the pocket was compressed on 12 and 13 March with extensive use of tanks, flame tanks, armored bulldozers, flame throwers and demolition charges. Due to the masterful, well camouflaged and overlapping defensive emplacements, determination of the enemy and relative inability to use indirect fire due to the small size of the pocket and proximity to friendly forces, progress in reducing the pocket took days and resulted in many casualties as the Japanese contested every foot of the advance. For all practical purposes, the operation ended on 16 March.

Iwo Jima was a pivotal battle in the Pacific during WW-II where success in seizing and securing the island led to the ability of air forces to conduct sustained, long range bombing of mainland Japan hastening the end of resistance.  

Read these books to understand why Admiral Nimitz said of the battle, “On Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

21 March 1945           
Gen A. A. Vandegrift, 18th Commandant of the Mairne Corps became the first Marine four-star General on active duty.
From Charlottesville, Virginia, “Archer” attended the University of Virginia for 3 years before competing for and securing a commission as a Marine 2dLt in 1909. While he had a rocky start as a Lieutenant, with a series of disciplinary infractions and unfavorable evaluations, early on he displayed a sense of vision for the future of the Marine Corps and of warfare and wrote a visionary article, his first year in the Corps entitled “Aviation, the Cavalry of the Future.” He missed service in World War I but served extensively in the “Banana Wars” gaining valuable, small unit combat and troop leading experience in Cuba, Nicaragua and participated in the seizure and occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico before serving for 3 years in the Haitian constabulary until 1919.

Between the wars, he saw service in China, served in a variety of staff positions and attended professional level courses at Marine schools. Promoted to MajGen in 1942 and assigned to command the 1st Marine Division, he led them through the Solomon Islands Campaign receiving a Navy Cross for leading the attacks on Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Gavutu and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for leading the defense of Guadalcanal. 

Assuming command of 1st Marine Amphibious Corps in July 1943, he led the organization on the assault of Bougainville in the Northern Solomon Islands and then turned over the command to travel to Washington, D.C. as the next and 18th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

World War II ended during his tenure as Commandant bringing institutional challenges as the armed services contracted due to budget constraints and General Vandegrift successfully fought off efforts by the War Department to marginalize the size and mission of the Marine Corps. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service as Commandant and placed on the retired list in 1949, having served as a Marine for 40 years. He died in 1973 at Bethesda and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

His co-authored book, Once a Marine: The Memoirs of General A. A. Vandegrift Commandant of the U.S. Marines in WW II is highly readable and provides great insight into the nature of the war in the Pacific.


MCA&F hosts professional and awards dinners, professional lunches, book signings and more. Check out our professional events schedule at Click on the link for details and event registration. Here are a couple of events coming up in the near future:

  • 29 March 2012           
    MCA&F Ground Logistics Awards Dinner
    - Guest Speaker: General Joseph F. Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps - Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

  • 30 March 2012         
    Book Signing
    with John Gordon, author of Fighting for MacArthur: The Navy and Marine Corps’ Desperate Defense of the Philippines - The MARINE Shop at Quantico, VA
  • 11 April 2012           
    MCA&F Camp Lejeune Dinner
    -  Guest Speaker: LtGen John M. Paxton, Jr., USMC, Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force - Marston Pavilion, Camp Lejeune, NC

  • 19 April 2012         
    MCA&F C4 Awards Dinner
    -  Guest Speaker - TBD - Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA


Thank you for your service to our country and for your support of our valuable
programs for Marines which include:

Commanders’ Professional Library Program
Marine Excellence Awards Program
Commanders’ Forum Program

Visit our website at
to learn more about how the programs work and what they have accomplished for Marines!

MCAF is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation so your support may qualify for tax deductions.

MCA&F is NOW part of the Combined Federal Campaign!
We invite you to make MCA&F at least one of your donation recipients during this year’s CFC Campaign!


CFC Donor Code is 19821

Thanks AGAIN to all of our CFC Donors. We haven’t received a complete listing of everyone who supported us in this CFC Campaign and we have found that many of the donors were anonymous but we do want you to know that we very much appreciate your generosity!

Corporate Support Welcome! MCA&F welcomes corporate support for our professional programs. Contact LeeAnn Mitchell at for more information.

Call Us toll-free: 877-469-6223 (877-4MY-MCAF) or 703-640-0174 (

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