The First 100 Years
This year the Marine Corps Association celebrates a centennial of serving the proud men and women who bear the Corps emblem.
Iconic Marine then-LtCol John A. Lejeune and the officers of the 2d Provisional Marine Brigade founded the association on 25 April 1913 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They developed a mission statement, membership drive and executive committee in hope of establishing a professional organization that would continuously strengthen the future of the Corps.
A constitution was developed in 1915 and the first official board meeting took place on 17 Jan 1916, in the Office of the Commandant. Just two months later, the Marine Corps Gazette debut issue was published. It was a quarterly publication until 1943 and the editorial offices moved across multiple Eastern states before settling at Marine Corps Base Quantico in 1946.
In the early days, the association was a government entity and the Commandant of the Marine Corps served as President of the Association. But in the early 1970s the Secretary of Defense issued an order stating active duty Marines could no longer be assigned to work at the association. The MCA transitioned to a private organization run by civilians and former military members.
The Leatherneck Association, publisher of Leatherneck magazine, also faced a similar challenge transitioning to a civilian-run company and the two associations merged in 1976. Similar to the Gazette, Leatherneck magazine has provided a historic account of the Marine Corps story. It was first published in 1917.
In 1985, work began to construct a permanent headquarters for the Marine Corps Association at Quantico. The building was complete in 1986 and named after former MCA President BGen George L. Bartlett.
After much renovation, the Marine Corps Association opened its flagship store The MARINE Shop in 2008 just a block from the MCA headquarters. The sister location at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune had opened in 1999.
In 2009, a restructure of the organization was underway with the establishment of the Marine Corps Association Foundation. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit support arm of the association and allows tax-deductible donations. We are now known as the Marine Corps Association & Foundation and are able to put even more contribution dollars at work to directly impact Marines.
Such a program is the MCA&F Marine Excellence Awards. Each year MCA&F recognizes more than 8,500 deserving Marines with nearly 11,000 awards and provides about 97 percent of all awards distributed in the Corps outside the USMC awards system.
Through the Commanders’ Forum program, we aim to professionally develop today’s active duty Marines by hosting, military battle education trips, dinners and book signings.
MCA&F also donates professional military education books through the Commanders’ Unit Library program to Marines throughout the far corners of the globe. Developing a “3,000 year-old mind” through knowledge and reading is essential for Marines to be the force-in-readiness.
We exist to serve Marines of all ranks and in every corner of the world. We have striven 100 years to fulfill Lejeune’s mission of advancing leadership and rewarding excellence.
The Marine Corps Association & Foundation proudly upholds its service to esprit de Corps and is ready for the next 100 years of marching alongside Marines.
Watch the video below to learn more about MCA&F’s mission and history.