Marine Executive Association

I’m proud to be a member of the Marine Executive Association
~Cpl. Beddoe

The Marine Executive Association is Marines helping Marines during transition, carrying on the Marine tradition “Taking Care of Our Own.” MEA members network their marketplace knowledge; contacts; job locations; and personal experience to assist the transitioning Marine penetrate the civilian marketplace.

Using direct contact or the Internet, MEA members assist Marines and Navy Corpsman regardless of location, experience, MOS, or skills Marines post company job openings to the MEA website, provide assistance with introductions and references, and company environment. Every member can be called upon for assistance.

The MEA website is important to transition assistance. Because employers post job openings for free, the site features quality jobs across the country and in some foreign countries. Marines can search and download job openings, post their resume for employer download, subscribe to weekly announcements of posted jobs, job fairs, and resume’s, and subscribe to daily E-Mail messages from our “Hot Jobs” coordinator, all for free.

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Al Gray, Marine — The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One

by Scott Laidig
Dear family, friends, Marines, veterans, and colleagues,

Many of you know that, for the past 5 or 6 years, much of my time has been devoted to writing a multi-volume biography of General Al Gray, the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps. It has been the honor of my lifetime to have been given the opportunity to undertake this project about the finest Marine I ever knew. It turns out he is an even finer man.

Good biographies start with interesting men or women; no writer ever put pen to paper, or began typing, with a better, more heroic or more worthy subject than I. General Gray deserved a better and far more accomplished biographer, but for reasons known only to him, it was yours truly that he permitted access to his library, his personal papers, but most of all his thoughts and memories. And his memory is, as all who know him can attest, superb.

The primary reasons that, in my opinion, he permitted the project to go forward were twofold. First, we agreed that no one but Marine-related charities would profit from book sales. Consequently, neither the publisher, the Potomac Institute Press, nor I will earn a dime from the book. After printing, shipping and other minor costs are paid, the money raised from book sales and associated dinners or other events will all be donated to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, the General’s favorite charity. Second, the General was finally convinced, and I surely agree, that his story may inspire young Marines in their professional lives. His dedication to lifelong learning, to accomplishing his mission, to being the best professional that he could be, and to hard work really are the stuff of legends. When combined with his humility, his acceptance of any assignment, his devotion to those he led or served with, and his intense curiosity, all of which were evident during his years as a young man and then as a Marine, his life is a lesson in leadership.

Volume 1 begins with Al Gray’s childhood in New Jersey but quickly moves to his service as a Marine. Many remember him as a transformational Commandant of the Marine Corps, but Al Gray was just as impressive as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain or field grade officer as he was as a general – perhaps even more so. Al Gray, Marine: The Early Years, 1950-1967 , the hardback edition, will soon be available at It is currently available from the Marine Corps Association and the Marine Corps League and will soon be at other Marine-related outlets. The ebook will be available at Amazon soon (but not the hardback.)
Leatherneck Magazine, in its online February edition, recently published a review of the book. For those who are not members of the Marine Corps Association, the text of the review is printed below.

We realize the $49.95 single-book tariff for the hardback is high. However, we remind you that at least $35 of that go to the Semper Fi Fund and is tax-deductible. The ebook likely will be $9.95, and as with the hardback most of the price will be donated to the Semper Fi Fund.

Thanks for your support. Enjoy the book!


P.S. Please forward to anyone who may be interested!

Leatherneck Review:

General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., the Corps Greatest Commandant

A Book Review by Don DeNevi

Reading “Al Gray, Marine — The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One” (Potomac Institute Press, $49.95) stirs the heart and mind, leading one’s imagination to demand additional volumes with such subtitles as “Nobility While Soldiering” and “Inspiring Creative Leadership.”

In his lucid and masterful biography, author Scott Laidig, a decorated Marine combat veteran in Vietnam, clearly reinforces what every knowledgeable Marine already knows: Alfred Gray, Jr., is the greatest post-Vietnam commandant the Corps has known, a general who has earned the right to march alongside its 64 four-star generals. Like virtually all of them, as well as others in American military history such as Eisenhower, Bradley, Hodges, Stilwell, Ridgeway, Patton, Vandegrift, to name just a few, he subordinated his own amazing contributions and achievements to the risk of battle, victory, and his relationships with the officers and the men who served under him.

Combining an astonishing number of interviews with a formidable amount of facts collected from private sources, command chronologies, and public as well as military archives, to say nothing of the endless vignettes from eyewitness accounts of close friends, superiors and subordinates, mentors, and Gray’s family members, Laidig spans the years between June, 1950 (south Korea) and December, 1967 (Charlie Ridge, Da Nang) to portray the fledgling growth and development of a creative military mind that would one day envision a new and advanced type of Marine Corps — one that would put it back in the limelight after the near diasterous post-Vietnam era. Says General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command, “His greatest contribution would be a strategy for how our service would best meet our mission to win our country’s battles. General Gray saw a much more expansive role for us — a role that would not encroach on the roles of other services but complement them because of flexibility, readiness, adaptability, deployment, interoperability, and the expeditionary nature of our organization.”

In short, author Laidig sets the stage in this initial 400 page text for who years later will become the 29th USMC Commandant: i.e., combat service in Korea; Communication Officer School, Quantico; AO2F Staff, Washington, DC; among the first boots in Vietnam; Operation Tiger Tooth Mountain; Da Nang with the 3rd Marine Division; commanding Gio Linh Outpost; and learning of the coming Tet Offense. From such valuable combat and administrative experiences would slowly evolve a belief that the Corps should be a reservoir of combat capability that can shape, organize, and meet aggression in the most effective and efficient manner possible. For the maturing general-to-be, rigid Corps structures and dogmatic organizational designs would no longer be acceptable. If he had his way someday, Gray would insist upon flexible and imaginative organization and inspired leadership. There would be brand new operational concepts.

“Al Gray, Marine — The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One” is a wise and winning introduction to a good man and soon to be great leader. The author’s love for his subject is both apparent and deserving, as the respect any reader will have for Scott Laidig himself. By providing us with Gray’s early higher echelon experiences, insights and understandings, coupled with the overall picture of the Vietnam War and America’s role in it, the book is all the more captivating as well as a major contribution to serious military biography.

To no one’s surprise, because it cuts to the core of the humanity of all those involved, proceeds from the book will be donated to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

And, Scott, when can we expect Volume Two? And, possibly, Volume Three, the general’s private letters, military correspondence, and unpublished writings?

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That Smell: A Wounded Marine Reflects on Veterans Day

by James Brobyn

If you asked me what I remember most about my time as a U.S. Marine in Iraq, my answer would probably be a surprise.

I remember the smells more than anything. To this day, I can still smell the Iraqi towns and local foods, which trigger fond memories of exploring a new culture with my fellow Marines. Less pleasant smells include hydraulic fluid leaking from my Light Armored Vehicle and a platoon full of Marines after not showering for 45 days.

Those smells are harmless. The pungent odors of dead and decaying bodies, blended with the strangely sweet smell of explosive residue, are not. Years later, these smells still trigger guilt, bad dreams and regret.

Some people don’t ask me to explain why these odors elicit such a visceral emotion. Perhaps they are unsure or even afraid of what I might say next. But for those who want to hear what I experienced in combat, I will always continue. It’s a story I want to tell.

Read the entire article:

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The Marine NCO

Clip from part 1 of HBO’s “The Pacific”

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Recon Team Lunchbox

by Rod Carlson

It was nearly noon and I was sitting in the cockpit looking up at rotor blades turn slower and slower and finally lurch to a stop. Our helicopter had just touched down at an obscure landing pad on the outskirts of Danang.

Bruce Lake reached over his head to the instrument panel and flipped the lever that turned off the screaming turbine used to power the aircraft’s systems during shutdowns. Helicopter aircraft commanders typically order their copilots to handle such details, but Bruce Lake and I were pals, both first lieutenants and he simply wasn’t that kind of guy. Bruce Lake hefted himself out of his armor-plated wingchair and squeezed through the narrow passage to the cargo compartment that was like the inside of a commuter plane but without seats.

Even though we’d only flown a few minutes from Marble Mountain Air Facility to the home of the First Marine Reconnaissance Battalion. Our crew chief, Jawarski and our gunner Davis, both corporals, had already opened the overhead doors and were examining the engines and hydraulic lines. Like two Mayo Clinic specialists, their gloved hands were poking around in our chopper’s innards in search of the slightest imperfection.

In addition to another H46 tandem-rotor helicopter parked behind us on the acre-sized steel landing pad, there were two Huey gunships, each with loaded rocket pods and machineguns bristling from every orifice. The gunships had arrived just ahead of us were waiting for us. Of the four pilots, three were captains and the other a real pro, Major Dowling, had a shiny gold oak leaf on his cover. Like us, they wore green fire-proof Nomex flight suits and for taking notes, they were carrying the kneeboards which when flying were held with elastic to their thighs. Strolling toward us they looked like a casual foursome headed for the first tee on a Saturday morning.

Compared to Bruce Lake, I was new to the Squadron, call sign “Highboy,” and still had much to learn, but I’d flown 1st Recon missions and was fascinated by its encampment that was built like an Incan village on the sides of a small mountain. Actually it was less a mountain and more of a overgrown, tropical butte, a Shangri-La rising several hundred feet above the valley floor just west of the city. From where we stood on the landing pad, the recon headquarters was hidden beneath thick jungle vegetation. Climbing the near vertical slope required slogging up a series of crude stairways and following a winding, switch-back trail ever upward.

Along the trail there were small red signs with yellow letters spelling words like ARMORY and INTEL that identified the function of various shed-like structures. The sign by the door that Major Dowling held open for the rest of us simply read OPS. We filed inside and arrayed ourselves in a casual arc in the center of a relatively large room near an island of desks covered with radio gear and occupied by a half dozen or so Marines. The walls were covered with pale-green topographic maps, each with a clear acetate overlay amply annotated by a black grease pen.

Against the outside brightness at the end of the room, a silhouette of a man stood motionless. When our shuffling and milling had subsided, a colonel stepped forward. He was old, rock trim, with a chiseled face and a bolt-cutter jaw. There were plenty of folding chairs about, but he didn’t suggest we sit.

“Here’s the deal,” he said moving close to one of the maps and squinting. “Lunch Box is a seven-man patrol that’s been out here a week, supposedly patrolling along this route.” He pointed to a black line that snaked erratically within a dinner plate-sized area on the map. “I say supposedly because we haven’t heard from them in five days. For certain, they haven’t been captured. They’re either dead or purposefully silent. If the latter, they’re being dogged and in constant contact with the NVA.” I didn’t know much about recon but I knew that “constant contact” meant a running gunfight in the jungle. Even though the colonel was calm, it sounded about as bad as it could be.

The colonel gave us the exact map coordinates, the bearing and distance in nautical miles from the Danang Tacan station, our only radio navigational aid, and most important, Lunchbox’s radio frequency. Then the colonel’s expression sagged. Suddenly he seemed older and tired. He ran his eyes over us, looking at each of us, and then quietly said “God speed, Gentlemen.”

Gravity expedited our descent and soon we were gathered in the shade of our helicopter. Major Dowling stood on the aft ramp and outlined the mission, repeated what we’d heard on the mountain and added his view of what was going to happen. Nothing fancy, we’d fly in loose formation, slow to not outrun the gunships to a point five miles short of where Lunchbox would hopefully sing out. Then, and not until then, we’d know how bad it was and we’d improvise from there. With all heads tilted forward, we studied our maps as the major spoke, his words, no doubt, accompanied by our own mental images of the terrain and anticipated action.

“We’ve got first dibs on two F-4 Phantoms if we need help,” Major Dowling said. “And we probably will because of the heavy vegetation. They’ve got full bomb loads of 500 pounders. Crank up when you see my blades turn.” He started toward his gunship first at a walk, then running. Bruce Lake and I walked up the ramp toward Ski and Davis who helped us into our twenty-pound armored chest protectors affectionately known as “bullet bouncers.”

Within minutes, our gaggle of four was flying slow in a relaxed formation through and around billowing clouds, some round and wispy, some towering and dense, some starkly white, and others pink or yellow. Below, stretching to the horizon in every direction was a choppy ocean of green rolling, undulating hills interspaced with sharp and jagged ridges and peaks. Everywhere a carpet of dense green, everywhere, except for a ribbon of silver, an endless river snaking around the uplands.

To deny the NVA time to react, Major Dowling had it figured so that we’d get to our destination exactly on time. But time was running out. We were getting close. I repositioned my shoulder holster so I’d know exactly where to reach for my .45 automatic. Bruce Lake noticed my final preparation for battle and, undoubtedly sensing my nervousness, nodded his approval. “There they are,” he pointed at the two Phantoms just before they disappeared behind a towering cumulous cloud, but not before both had left their calling cards, corkscrew trails of black exhaust.

We watched the pair of Phantoms make their practice runs. They circled around to the north and then dove, one after the other, into the jungle. They pulled up at the last second and soared back to altitude as though being swung on the end of an invisible rope and then disappeared behind a mountainous cloud.

In a few seconds, just as we’d finished our orbiting turn, the Phantom appeared again in the distance. Evading a cloud, he’d circled too far to the south and was now descending rapidly and banking hard to the right, to get back on course. The Phantom didn’t move to the left or right or up or down. It just kept getting bigger in our windscreen. With our mutual closure rate of 500 knots, the Phantom was on us in a flash, but by then, Bruce Lake had cut the power and bought us a hundred feet. The Phantom’s shockwave hit us like a fist as it passed so close we could see the small type on the olive drab bombs under its wings.

We looked at each other. Bruce Lake was expressionless. All I could do was laugh, “I guess he didn’t see us,” I said. Bruce Lake just scowled and shook his head. During those few seconds when we’d almost died but didn’t, our phantoms had over flown the target and each dropped a five-hundred pounder. We couldn’t see the bomb, only cloud of black smoke and dirt and shock waves rippling through the jungle in concentric circles like a pebble tossed into calm water. After two more runs, Major Dowling said, “Highboy One, you’re cleared in, play it cool, the zone could still be hot. Call your final approach.”

Bruce Lake cut the power, pushed the nose over into a vertical dive and banked the helicopter into a steep right-hand turn—instantly we were spiraling down at 2000 feet per minute directly over the brown smudge surrounded by green jungle. With each revolution, the landing zone grew larger until I could see splintered trees and deep craters. At what looked to me like the last second, he raised the nose, added some power and radioed “Highboy One on short final,” and then over the intercom to Ski and Davis, who were looking down the barrels of their fifties, “Be careful. Don’t shoot to the west, that’ll be Lunchbox.”

The landing zone was an open wasteland of craters and splintered trees. I pointed at a level swath of dirt and Bruce Lake nodded. Still descending, he waited, then banked the helicopter to the right, added power to brake us and kicked in enough right rudder to complete the U-turn just before he landed. Except for the deafening racket of the two gunships loosing their barrages of rockets and machinegun fire, we were on the ground, alone, in a naked, painful silence. I felt my fingers inching toward the .45. Just as my gut was about to explode, Ski yelled and I looked back to see that he’d left his .50 and was back at the ramp pulling a Marine into the cabin. Behind him, others were now clambering aboard. Then Ski sprinted forward toward his gun yelling “Got ’em all, let’s go.”

As Bruce Lake applied max power and catapulted us into a shallow climb, I was jolted by heart-stopping explosions. Just behind my head Davis had started shooting his .50. Davis wasn’t taking any chances. The recon team wasn’t either—I looked back in time to watch them using the butts of their M-16s to break the windows and start shooting out both sides like a stagecoach hightailing it through Indian country. By fifteen hundred feet, we’d leveled off and I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and saw a face covered in camouflage paint and a weeks’ worth of dirt. It was Lunchbox leader. His large, white teeth gleamed as his lips mimed “thank you.” I watched him go back to his men who were leaning against their backpacks, grinning and slapping each other and enjoying the cold breeze blowing through the open cabin. I looked over at Bruce Lake. He was leaning back in the seat, with his fingers light on the controls, and a slight, self-satisfied smile on his lips. After a few peaceful minutes, we were back on the ground. As the recon team shuffled down the ramp, their colonel was there to greet them. I could see his face as he counted heads and then he look up at us and smiled.

Then, just as we were about to take off, I realized that someone was standing by my side window. One of the recon team was looking up at me. He was gaunt and small, dwarfed by his pack. He had the look of someone who’d grown up impoverished, maybe working in an Appalachian coal mine. Over the drumming of the rotor blades and the howl of the engines, he rose to his full height and yelled, “Anytime, anyplace you need help, just holler and I’ll be there,” He then saluted smartly, smiled and walked away. I clicked the mike and repeated what he’d said.

As we both watched him trudge toward his comrades, Bruce Lake replied softy, “Semper Fi, Marine.”

I reached for a knob on the instrument panel, dialed in a new frequency, reported mission complete and added that Highboy was available.

I checked my watch. We’d flown just 53 minutes. The afternoon was still young.

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A Marine’s journey to peace through Kibera

A marine's journey to peace through Kibera, East African
That is the only explanation for the unlikely love affair between the sprawling slum and a young American Marine who could have been doing more exciting things with his time. Only a Kibera resident would understand this. 
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Add daily USMC quote to your Blog or Website

If you’d like to add a feed with a daily USMC Marine Corps quote to your blog, here’s the RSS feed to add:

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I am a Marine

I am a Marine,

Born in 1775.

Through two centuries, I’ve fought the best;

And through two centuries, survived.

I’ve fought the British twice,

And two times I have won.

Because of me, there was a setting of the Empire’s sun.

I am a Marine.

And I’ve fought in many nations,

From Mexico’s Chapultepec, to China’s American Legation.

I was the Devil Dog, at bloody Belleau Wood.

My mastiff and I discerned between dog and man,

But the Germans never could.

I froze at Chosin Reservoir,

And burned in the Pacific sun;

Always, I was the first to fight

And last to leave when done.

I stood my ground at Khe Sanh,

Though afraid, I did not run;

Amazing – the miracles that can happen,

When Marines get behind a gun.

I have fought in every clime and place,

Whether cold or warm;

From balmy third-world nations to dusty desert storms.

With every Marine who goes beyond,

A little piece of me ends,

And with every boy who grows up green my life begins again.

I have fought here for people I love,

fought here and on foreign shores,

Fought every type of action and every type of war.

If my country calls on me, I will fight again,

For I am a Marine, and my duty never ends.

We say we’re always faithful,

And that always has been true.

And here’s a truth that some forget,

It always will be, too.

For when you say you are a Marine,

you’re saying more than most,

And when you say you are a Marine,

make sure it is not a boast.

For when you say you are a Marine,

you stand on those gone before.

It’s because of them and up to us,

that there’s honor in the Corps.

Yes, I am a Marine and that really says much more –

I am a Marine, I am timeless, I am the Corps.

Semper Fi

~Author unknown

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A Marine Toast

There once was the love of a beautiful maid

And the love of a staunch, true man

And the love of a baby, unafraid

All have existed since time began

But the eternal love

The love of all loves

Even greater than love for mother

Is the infinite, passionate, tender love

Of one drunken Marine for another

Here’s to you, and here’s to me, best of friends we’ll ever be, but if we ever disagree, then fuck you, here’s to me.

Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking;
If you cheat, may you cheat death;
If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart;
If you fight, may you fight for a brother;
If you drink, may you drink with me.

To women, wives, and lovers: may they never meet.

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