Marine Corps Connection: America's Expeditionary Force in Readiness

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CORPS' TOUR LAYS OUT DRAWDOWN OPTIONS FOR MARINES


The Marine Corps has launched an eight-week, worldwide tour to explain to Marines how the service intends to reduce the Corps' authorized end strength from its current 202,100 to 182,100 by 2017. The drawdown plan will maximize voluntary force shaping tools while allowing Marines to complete their current contracts. The Corps is committed to ensuring that Marines receive adequate transition time, effective assistance and family support. The series of informational briefs began last week at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. Follow the links below for full list of locations and dates as well as additional information. Note that specific times and venues are determined by the command at each location.
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NEWS

MONTFORD POINT MARINE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL REGISTRATION DEADLINE ANNOUNCED


Sunday, April 15 is the final day for Montford Point Marines to register to attend the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony. The ceremony, which will take place later this spring, will recognize the service and sacrifices of the Montford Point Marines. Invitations to the ceremony are limited to properly documented living Montford Point Marines; one lineal descendent of a Montford Point Marine killed in action during World War II; or one lineal descendent of a Montford Point Marine who was alive when President Obama signed the bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Marines into law. For questions regarding Montford Point Marine Association chapters or documentation of a Montford Point Marine's service, please contact Joe Geeter at geeterj@yahoo.com or (610) 495-3619.
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Also Read: Montford Point Marine Congressional Gold Medal Registration Deadline Announced
Watch: Through the Eyes of Two Marine Veterans
Visit the Montford Point Marines Website

FIRST LADY SEEKS TO EXPAND JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR TROOPS' SPOUSES


First Lady Michelle Obama and the Joining Forces campaign announced a new effort to line up more than 15,000 jobs for military spouses in the coming years. These jobs, mostly in telemarketing and customer support companies, allow spouses to work from home and offer flexible schedules. "We're trying to meet these spouses where they are," said Mrs. Obama. "This will make such a huge difference...When the next set of orders comes in for these families and they have to move across the country, they'll be able to move these jobs with them." Mrs. Obama marked the Joining Forces campaign's one-year anniversary with a two-day, four-state tour this week that included stops in Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana and Florida.
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Also Read: First Lady Marks 1-Year Point for Military Effort

AFGHAN FORCES STEP UP, MARINES STEP BACK IN HELMAND PROVINCE


Soldiers from Afghan National Army (ANA) are taking the reins of security in Helmand province, Afghanistan, as coalition forces prepare for a drawdown. ANA forces trained hard under the Marines and Sailors with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines advisor team to learn medical, individual and leadership skills. "We provided their officers with training, improving their ability to plan and make decisions," said Maj. Alton A. Warthen, commanding officer, Advisor Team, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. "We also dedicated a lot of time training their squad leaders. We ran a squad leader course that was highly effective." Recently, Afghan soldiers put their training to the test and conducted several independent patrols, checkpoints and counter-insurgent activities as they took increased responsibility for security.
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SOLAR PANELS POWER OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN


A new solar panel system is powering radios, computers and weapons systems for Marines in Afghanistan. The Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy Network System (GREENS) includes eight solar panels that are about four feet high and three feet wide, and four batteries that each can store 500 watts of power. At Camp Leatherneck, Tango Battery, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines is able to keep radios and fire control systems for trucks mounted with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) running. "They've had a problem for years with maintaining power on those systems and keeping them in a ready status," said Lt. Col. Rick Schilke, the expeditionary energy liaison officer for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). "Everybody is thinking about this as a [forward operating base] solution, but we're also looking at this as a way to power weapons systems."
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OSPREY CRASHES DURING EXERCISE AFRICAN LION


Two Marines were killed and two were severely injured when an MV-22 Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Morocco April 11. The tiltrotor crashed near an inland military training area southwest of Agadir, Morocco. The Marines Corps family lost Cpl. Robby A. Reyes and Cpl. Derek A. Kerns in the crash, MV-22 crew chiefs with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261), Marine Aircraft Group 26. "Being a Marine is inherently dangerous, but this is a shock to all of us," said 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) commander Col. Frank Donovan. "We send our prayers and condolences to the families of these Marines and mourn with them through this tragic event." The aircraft belonged to VMM-261, out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., and was attached to the 24th MEU, which deployed from Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 29. The MEU is in Morocco supporting Exercise African Lion 12, an annual 10-day joint exercise with Royal Moroccan Armed Forces.
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Also Read: Reservists Play Key Role in African Lion

PIONEERING WWII FEMALE MARINE LAID TO REST


Shirley Kornegay, one of 23,000 trail-blazing female Marines during World War II, was laid to rest with military honors at Fort Rosencrans National Cemetary April 5. She passed away March 7 at the age of 89. In 1943, after three attempts to meet the physical requirements, Kornegay enlisted in the Corps and was assigned to drive trucks on Marine Corps Recruiting Depot (MCRD) San Diego. She and the 48 other women who were the first female Marines assigned to the recruit depot during World War II called themselves "the 49ers." While serving at San Diego, she met her husband, fellow Marine Kenneth Kornegay. "She truly is a pioneer," said Col. Stephanie Smith, who had met Kornegay. "I couldn't be doing and having the opportunities I have in the Marine Corps were it not for amazing women like her who chose to come in and serve their country."
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LESS IS MORE: CORPS TO REWARD ENERGY SAVERS


Families in private housing on Marine Corps installations will begin to receive utility bills this summer as part of the Resident Energy Conservation Program, which gives families incentives to use less power. With nearly 23,000 privatized family homes managed by public-private venture companies, the Corps is installing electric meters in all homes lacking the devices. Installations will then establish baselines, or averages, of electric usage. "If you go below the line, you will get a refund. If you go above that, you will have to pay," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, the Marine Corps Installations-West commander. "This is really a mindset change." In July, residents will get mock bills that show actual energy usage, but the utility payment won't be collected until October at the earliest in order to give families' time to adjust routines and budget accordingly, said Navy Capt. Tony Edmonds, the Marine Corps' facilities director. The Corps' program is part of a broader Defense Department initiative that allows the services to charge for excessive utility use that is over a preset average. Studies found military families, whose housing allowances are supposed to cover normal utility use, are among the worst users of utilities compared to civilian residents.
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YUMA HOSTS FIRST FLIGHT FOR NEW ELECTRONIC WARFARE SYSTEM


Intrepid Tiger II, a new electronic warfare system, took its first flight under the control of Marine Attack Squadron 214 March 27 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The pod will provide AV-8B Harriers with an electronic attack capability, expanding their utility on the modern battlefield and paving the way for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Electronic Warfare (MAGTF-EW) concept that will replace the Prowlers. The new system's strength lies in its versatility, being controlled by either airborne pilots or ground radio operators. "This is the first in a series of paradigm shifts from pilot-platform control capabilities to ground-based control," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dean Calhoon, ground signals intelligence electronic warfare liaison officer, Marine Aviation Detachment, Naval Air Warfare Center, Point Mugu, Calif. "It's the first time the Marine Corps will use a ground unit to real-time task an airborne sensor on an air platform."
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TRANSITION

CORPORAL ON DUTY FOR FELLOW WOUNDED WARRIOR


Cpl. Andrew DelRossi Biggio is a testament to the Marine Corps value of taking care of its own. Biggio is making it his mission to help the wounded and injured. After reading about Lance Cpl. Evan Reichenthal, who stepped on a 15-pound improvised explosive device (IED) and lost his arm and leg while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, Biggio reached out to the young Marine to offer his assistance. "It broke my heart to be honest with you," Biggio said. "This guy's unbelievable. He asks nothing from anyone and he's owed so much." On April 28, 800 motorcyclists will gather to ride from the Boston Harley-Davidson store to Maverick Square in East Boston. Funds raised from the ride will contribute to modifying the Reichenthal's house so the Marine can move about more freely.
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SENATOR TRIES TO CURB G.I. BILL ABUSE


Widespread abuse of the G.I. Bill by educational institutions prompted Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairwoman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, to introduce the G.I. Bill Consumer Awareness Act. The act aims to give service members and veterans seeking to further their education under the G.I. Bill the necessary resources to receive a good education and requires programs to have at least one employee able to advise service members and veterans about their benefits. Under the proposed legislation, veterans would have necessary information about how to anticipate the realities of student loans, how academic credits earned may be transferred, and how well a program will prepare them for a career or professional certification. It would also ensure that the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments work together to diminish G.I. Bill abuses due to aggressive and misleading marketing. Nearly 600,000 people are expected to take classes through the G.I. Bill this year, with the Veterans Affairs Department footing more than $9 billion of the cost.
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ACTIVE RESERVE OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE


Unbeknownst to many active duty members, the Active Reserve Program is able to help Marines continue service with the Corps. The Active Reserves (AR) program is responsible for the organization, administration, recruitment, retention, instruction and training of the Marine Corps Reserve component. "We're constantly looking for enlisted Marines to put into the AR program. We're looking for Marines in all job fields, but especially in the 6100 and 6200 series [aviation mechanics]," said Master Sgt. Donald Ogden, prior service recruiting operations chief, Marine Corps Recruiting Command (MCRC). AR Marines are stationed across the country, are eligible to serve in a variety of billets and are able to deploy; they receive active duty pay, benefits and retirement benefits. To be eligible for the AR program, Marines must be within six months of their expiration of active service date, able to reenlist and willing to serve as required. Marines interested in continuing their service with the AR program may contact their local prior service recruiters or call MCRC at (703) 432-9857.
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THANK YOU

JERSEY CITY COPS TO RUN TO CAMP LEJEUNE TO BENEFIT WOUNDED WARRIORS


Police officers and veterans with the Jersey City Police Department Marine Corps Association will begin a 600-mile continuous relay run April 16 from Jersey City, N.J., to Camp Lejeune, N.C. The run will honor combat wounded veterans and raise money for their care. "It's easy to forget about these guys and to forget what kind of real sacrifices are being made and for a lot of them, the war may be over, but their fight is just starting," said Iraq war veteran and Jersey City Police Officer Collin Congleton. Donations to the relay run, organized by the Jersey City Police Department Marine Corps Association, will go to the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment and the Wounded Warrior Project, as well as to cover the expenses of the run. Donations can be made at hccrun.com.
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MARINES, CHILDREN SUPPORT EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA COMMUNITY


More than 40 Marines from 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group teamed up with local children March 31 to volunteer at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Greenville, N.C. The Marines and children sorted through more than seven pallets of donated food and prepared more than four boxes of sweet potatoes. "The Marines made a huge difference today," said Angel Ray, the volunteer coordinator at the food bank. "This provides us with food to go into our monthly food pantry so families and individuals in need are able to have those items available to them." At the end of the day, the children presented the Marines with thank-you cards for their time spent volunteering and serving the country.
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