Dear Members,

I want to wish all of our serving Marines and Sailors, our great veterans, and our wonderful families a happy Memorial Day! Thank you for your commitment to our Corps and for your service to our great Nation.

MCA & Foundation continues to expand our efforts in advancing leadership and recognizing excellence. On April 27th, we held our inaugural MCA Professional Dinner at Camp Lejeune. We held the dinner in conjunction with the Marine South Equipment Exposition at the newly renovated Marston Pavilion. LtGen John Paxton, Commanding General II MEF and Commander Marine Forces Africa, was the guest speaker providing a snapshot of current II MEF activities and plans for the future. 

 On May 2nd, the MCA and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) co-hosted a “Conversation on Afghanistan” with MajGen Richard Mills, Commanding General of I MEF (Fwd) at the Navy Memorial Auditorium in Washington D.C. He provided an overview of his perspectives on the current status of operations from his tour of duty there to a diverse audience of over 200 people.

On May 5th the 8th Annual Ground Awards Dinner took place with the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. as the guest speaker and awards presenter. The dinner served as the opportunity to recognize the professional achievements of each Marine Divisions’ Marine of the Year as well as the 2010 Outstanding Leadership Awards, including presentations of the coveted Leftwich, Hulbert, Chambers, and new this year, two MARSOC focused awards, the Maj Douglas Zembiec Team Leader Award and the MARSOC Critical Skills/NCO award.

The 2d Annual MCA Ammo Tech Awards Dinner was held on Tuesday to honor the professional excellence of four key leaders in the ammunition technician community. BGen Frank Kelley, Commanding General, Marine Corps Systems Command, the occupational field sponsor, was our guest speaker and helped present the awards.

I want to thank all our guest speakers for taking the time to share their views with our members and guests. Visit the past events section of the MCA website HERE to read event summaries, award recipient biographies and to view pictures and videos of the events.

Visit MCA’s website HERE to view our complete professional event schedule. We will be on the road in June with a professional dinner at Marine Week St. Louis with General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps as our guest speaker.

2011 MCA & Foundation Professional Development Program Delivery:
So far this year the MCA & Foundation have provided the following professional development opportunities to assist commanders and leaders in mentoring their Marines and recognizing their professional excellence.

Commanders’ Libraries – 106 libraries provided to unit commanders to mentor their Marines. These professional libraries contain book titles from the CMC Reading List in addition to a wide range of other titles. These libraries are crafted by commanders and paid for and delivered by the MCA & MCAF

Commanders’ Forums - Eight forums have been provided ranging from visits by noted authors and military experts, to battle studies and staff rides aimed at enhancing the leadership of our Marines and another forum is in planning.

Marine Excellence Awards – Awarding professional excellence is key to our growth as an institution. This year to date we have provided 1,252 individual awards, including those highlighted in this update. The awards range from specially crafted trophies, plaques, binoculars, K-bars, Marine Officer and NCO swords, watches and professional books all aimed at recognizing Marines who set the standard of excellence for their peers in Marine Corps schools, units and detachments.

Wounded Warrior Support - Supporting the needs of our serving Marines, who have been wounded in combat, injured in accidents or seriously ill is key to their recovery and their future. This year we have contributed over $ 48,000 dollars for various programs and opportunities that keep them engaged as Marines through this challenging time in their lives.

Finally, I invite you to visit MCA’s new blog site HERE. It is full of Marine sea stories, advice, and historical events as well as examinations of current issues affecting the Corps. Check it out and get involved.

Thank you very much for your support.  As always, please let me hear from you. You can do that by emailing MCA at

All the Best & Semper Fidelis,

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


Stay Close & Stay Connected! Keep your membership with your professional association active! Call us toll free at 866-622-1775 or click HERE  to renew or to join.

Unit Commanders – NOW is the time to order Unit Subscriptions of Leatherneck and Marine Corps Gazette for Your Marines!  It’s easy to do and uses appropriated funds to get mission critical reading in to the hands of your Marines. Click Here to order today.


Member Section

  • Reader / Member Input.  Do YOU have something newsworthy to share?  Send it to us for consideration and possible posting in the MCA Member Update! Anniversaries, Reunions, unit news, major milestones?   Send to  and our Member Update Coordinator will consider including your item.
  • Visit MCA on Facebook and Twitter. And catch up with your service buddies at Together We Served!
  • Unit Nicknames, Mottoes and Plaques. Our quest continues… What about YOU?  The good, the bad…the ugly – Let’s have it!
  • MCA’s Blog. Explore Marine Corps history, examine issues affecting Marines and weigh in with YOUR views. Get involved in MCA’s new web log today! Click on the banner to visit.

  • Apocryphal Recruiting Story. Thanks to MCA Member Update reader Malcolm Schwab for this story about the first recruiting effort at Tun Tavern Philadelphia:

    Lt. O'Bannon was sitting at a candle-lit table with a feather pen and an open ledger before him. He was recruiting the world's first U S Marine Detachment. The first potential recruit, whose name has been lost in antiquity, walked up and said, "What's the deal?" O'Bannon said, "Just sign this book, and I'll give you $5, which is your first month’s pay, a bottle of whiskey and you're in. Of course you have to have your own musket.

    The recruit thought for just a second and said, "OK. I have a musket", signed, became the USA's very first Marine recruit, took his $5 and bottle into the back room to wait. A second potential recruit walked up and asked,  "What's the deal?"  O'Bannon said, "Just sign this book, and I'll give you $5, which is your first month’s pay, a bottle of whiskey and you're in. Of course you have to have your own musket."

    Looking sad, the second recruit said, "I'd really like to be a Marine, Sir, but I don't own a musket."
    To which O'Bannon replied: "Don't worry about it, son, we'll find you one." (...which meant he was going to steal one from the Army.) So he signed, became the USA's second Marine, and walked to the back room with his $5 and bottle of whiskey.

    The first Marine looked the second Marine over and, by and by, asked, "So what was your deal?"
    The second Marine said "Well, I got $5, a bottle of whiskey and a musket."

    The first Marine thought on it for a while and finally said: "Yeah. I figured, but you know, back in the Old Corps, you had to bring our own musket."

    Another case of a salty Marine vet getting over on a newbie, AND, if the story isn’t true – It Ought to Be!

Of Interest to Marines

  • Words of the Month. “Mediots” and “Enemedia” both of clear meaning and utility for use in describing the main stream media.
  • MCA at May 2011 Commanders Course. MCA’s Quantico Area Representative, SgtMaj Kevin Bennett, USMC (Ret) and Sherry Linhares represented MCA at the Commanders Course on 13 May at the clubs at Quantico.

  • Space Aliens now clamoring for MCA membership! Read MORE

Q. Awarded a Croix de Guerre by a foreign government for gallantry in action, this junior Marine was also awarded BOTH the Navy and the Army Medal of Honor for a single action for attacking an enemy machine gun, dispatching several members of the gun crew and returning through a fire swept battlefield, with eight enemy prisoners.  Who was this intrepid Marine, and at what battle and in which war did this action occur?


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 brand new Marine Corps Association, “Once a Marine – ALWAYS a Marine” Coin, we are now including a copy of one of Major Gene Duncan’s Books as a bonus.

Here’s our trivia question from last month:

Question: Bud leaves the farm and moves in with Uncle Bob and family, meets and then marries cowgirl Sissy and develops an arch rivalry with prison rodeo star Wes Hightower while training to ride a mechanical bull in an epic contest during a period of “Hard hat days and honky tonk nights.” Add bar fights, western music and attempted robbery. Two of the aforementioned characters are veteran Marines. Who are the Marines and what is the movie?

Answer:  The movie is Urban Cowboy with John Travolta in the starring role as Bud and Debra Winger as “Sissy.” The supporting cast includes Scott Glenn and Barry Corbin – both of whom are veteran Marines.

Congratulations to Barry Siegel of North Merrick, NY for winning last month’s contest!

This contest was a first. NO ONE who submitted an answer (and there were quite a few) got the answer even partially wrong. We need to make this harder AND our readership needs to take up gardening!!!

ONLINE access to BOTH Leatherneck and Marine Corps Gazette is a KEY Benefit that comes with EVERY Membership / Subscription at no extra charge! 

Click on the Links below to Visit Each magazine’s website TODAY.

Marine Corps Gazette
The June Gazette focuses on military planning and the latest doctrinal thinking on planning and assessment. In addition there is an article on the new squad automatic weapon. It is controversial with both adherents and opponents of it replacing the Squad Automatic Weapon. There are articles on current operations, engineers and a contrarian view on training that is a rebuttal to the Attritionist Letters. You will find the June edition, to be informative and thought provoking.

Your June Leatherneck sticks to our mission of telling the Marine Corps story as we include an exclusive interview with the departing Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj Carlton Kent; an amazing tale of Marine warrior Sgt Jim Gill who lost an eye and a leg, but is excelling on the Corps' Combat Shooting Team; a reminiscence on WW I's Belleau Wood; a tale of a Marine transport pilot who outdrew a Communist Chinese colonel at Washien prison camp in 1945 and more. Enjoy the read.

Corps Daily News. Get the latest news about Marines at Corps Daily News featured prominently on BOTH the Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck websites as well as on the MCA Homepage. Visiting daily is a tremendous way to stay connected and informed!

This Month in Marine Corps History


10 May 1934 The first amphibious landing exercise conducted by FMF at Culebra.
With world war looming and the rise of the Japanese empire in the Pacific, far sighted Marine Corps leaders created the Fleet Marine Force and attempted to modernize the Corps to get away from mind sets forged on the fields of WW-I France and in the Banana Wars. Large scale expeditions with amphibious operations looked like what the future required. A tentative Landing Manual was written and in 1934 Marines began fleet landing exercises, first at Culebra and also in other Puerto Rico locations, at Guantanamo Bay and at San Clemente Island off the California coast. The outcome of a large series of exercises was the development of viable and enduring amphibious warfare doctrine dealing with embarkation, ship to shore movement, air support and naval gunfire procedures and new equipment, landing craft and amphibious shipping to support the evolving but effective concept. Read the exciting history of the development of amphibious warfare concepts in the definitive book on the subject; The U.S. Marines and Amphibious War.

12 May 1975 Marines were alerted for rescue of the ship, Mayaguez and assault on the Cambodian Island of Koh Tang.
Counted as the last battle of the Vietnam war, the incident started on this date when the American container ship, Mayaguez, traveling in international waters claimed by Cambodia as territorial waters, was seized by Khmer Rouge forces. Diplomatic initiatives to the Khmer Rouge were pursued to free the ship and crew while a rescue operation by Marines with strong naval support was being planned as a contingency. The ship was moved to the vicinity of Koh Tang Island and it was incorrectly believed that the crew was also being held on that island as well.  Diplomacy was ineffective and the rescue was on with Marines from 2/9 designated to assault the island to secure the crew and Marines from 1/4 tasked with seizing the ship. The assault on the island and subsequent combat action resulted in the crash of 3 CH-53 Helicopters, with 15 KIA’s and 41 wounded, as well as 3 Marines missing who were later killed by Khmer Rouge forces. The Khmer Rouge lost an estimated 13-25 men with 15 wounded as well as the loss of 4 Swift boats.  The Marines assaulting the Mayaguez seized an empty ship and the Khmer Rouge decided to let the crew go. Read an exciting new account of the incident by Dr. Robert J. Mahoney, Marine Corps University Historian:

22 May 1912 Lt Alfred Al. Cunningham became the first Marine officer assigned to aviation duty.
A Veteran of the Spanish American War, WW-I and the Banana Wars, Alfred Austell Cunningham was a lifelong “confirmed aeronautical enthusiast” after making a balloon ascent in 1903.  Commissioned a 2dLt in the Marine Corps, Cunningham spent much of his career advocating the promotion of aviation and rented planes in Philadelphia at his own expense to learn more about flying. In 1912 he received order to report to the Navy’s new Aviation camp at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD and arrived on 22 May 1912 which is considered the “birthday” of Marine Corps Aviation.  With flight training in Marblehead, MA, Cunningham received 2 hours and forty minutes of instruction and then made his solo flight on 20 August 1912 becoming the 5th Naval aviator and the first Marine aviator. Continuing to promote Marine aviation, Maj Cunningham led the 1st Marine Aviation force in WW-I France with 72 DH-4 bombers and a number of British Sopwith Camel fighters supporting the British.  In one month of combat, the group flew 57 bombing missions and downed 12 German aircraft and two of their number received Medals of Honor.
Cunningham would ultimately retire as a LtCol Navy Cross recipient and is buried at Arlington Cemetary.


Review the complete professional events schedule at for more information and registration.


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