Front and Center Newsletter – Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2024

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Meet the Marine. Be Inspired.


Vol. 2, No 1, January 2024


Honor, preserve, and teach the legacy of Carolina Marines and Sailors.
Showcase the Marine example to inspire future generations.


Message from the CE0

As we start 2024, we are blessed to know that every day will be the best day of the year. We can say this confidently, as each day brings us closer to the start of construction and we no longer must answer the question of “if” the Museum is going to be built. We are well on our way and the positive momentum is exciting. We will build a Museum that everyone is proud of!

Additionally, lease negotiations with the Department of the Navy are going well and we achieved a key milestone with the signing of the Determination and Findings document. All is on track to get the lease finalized. 

Simultaneously, the exhibit design process continues to progress, and the schematic phase is due to be completed by the end of January. The next step in the process is Design and Development. Stay tune for some exciting updates.

Lastly, SAMET has received all the bids from the sub-contractors, so the entire team is in place to start construction. It is a superb group of professionals that will deliver.

Bottom line, 2024 will be a momentous year and we are forever grateful for the support received. We know what we need to do, and we will get it done!


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Chief Executive Officer

Welcome SgtMaj Steve Lunsford, USMC (Ret)

Operations Director

Why this is important? “This is less a job as it is an opportunity to do something good.”

With the retirement of Operations Director, SgtMaj Joe Houle, USMC (Ret), Carolina Museum of the Marine has hired SgtMaj Steve Lunsford, USMC (Ret) to fill, as Lunsford says, “those big shoes.” Lunsford took over the Operations Director position on 3 January 2023 with the immediate task of meeting the construction team members and beginning plans for breaking ground in the spring.

Lunsford is originally from Stanford, Kentucky, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1989 and served for more than 32 years, retiring as Command Senior Enlisted Leader Marine Corps Forces Central Command in 2022. He and his wife of more than 31 years, Teresa, after serving in the Camp Lejeune area since 2006, now live in Jacksonville, NC. They have two sons, both Marines serving at Camp Lejeune.

He can be reached at

SgtMaj Steve Lunsford

General Al Gray’s birthday guests stopped by to talk about their experiences with the 29th Commandant over his many years of service to this nation. Below, LtGen George Flynn, USMC (Ret) was among the stars who attended.

(See all of the interviews celebrating General Gray and his legacy at
General Al Gray’s 95th Birthday.)

Marine Corps Traits and Principles of Leadership, Part 3

by James Danielson, PhD
Marine Veteran

In an essay titled “On Remembering Who We Are,” the late Melvin Bradford observed the following: “Yet as [Michael] Oakeshott insists, moral conduct is an art, insofar as it concerns the relations of men—an art learned by apprenticeship. And society is the necessary context of that learning.” The point that is made here is meant to stand in contrast to the modern idea that morality is learned by studying theories, principles, and precepts which ideally are worked out intellectually free of the constraints of a living moral tradition. For Bradford, and the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Christians, too, morally good behavior is learned in practice, and this is best done when people are young so that when they reach adulthood, and are able to understand the reasons for behaving as they had been taught, there are no, or few, bad habits to overcome. Thus, Plato’s insistence that education is first of all training in the habits of goodness. Of course, this requires some agreement on what those habits of goodness are, and this is the product, most often, of a shared understanding of what a community or a people exist in history to do, that is, an understanding of who we are.

Marines understand what they exist in history to do: make Marines, defend our country, and return good citizens to our communities. In pursuit of this purpose, we find the third of the Corps’ eleven principles of leadership: “Know your people and look out for their welfare.” This principle is described as among the most important principles of leadership. The importance of knowing the people one leads is crucial because an organization of people is an organization of people and not a machine. The various parts of a machine do not think for themselves or do any of the other uniquely human things that we do, and thus to regard and to lead a human organization as if it were a machine, and the people understood as interchangeable parts within it, is a serious mistake. Marines, and all people involved in missions or projects with other people, have families with the loves and responsibilities they entail. They each have personal histories that condition how each one interprets and experiences his or her life. We each have aspirations for our futures which, among young people especially, occupy a significant part of one’s daily reflections. In short, while we are each human, we are each individual human beings with our own personalities and our own strengths and weaknesses that give us custom-made paths of personal moral and intellectual development. This is why it can be extremely disruptive and counter-productive to treat a human organization as a machine because the important human personality of each member of the group is treated as insignificant in defiance of the clear truth of the matter. This generates frustration, resentment, anger, and contempt for the leader, all to the detriment of the unit and its mission.

Read more

Wilbur Bestwick

First Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps


The first Marine to be appointed Sergeant Major is Archibald Sommers, who enlisted in the Corps in June of 1799. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major on January 1, 1801and left active duty in the Marine Corps in June of 1802. The office of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps did not exist when Sommers was promoted, but since he was the first Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps, some people regard him as the first Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (which, one may suppose, he was).

After SgtMaj Sommers, the rank of Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps had something of a fitful path. In 1833, Congress established the rank of Sergeant Major as a permanent rank in the Marine Corps, and by 1899, five Marines held the rank. The rank was abolished in 1946 and re-established in 1954. In 1957, the assignment of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps was created to be the senior enlisted advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. On May 23, 1957, SgtMaj Wilbur Bestwick became, officially, the first Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, serving until his retirement on September 1, 1959.

Wilbur Bestwick was born in Sabetha, Kansas on November 27, 1911. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1934, going to San Diego for basic training, and by 1943, he was a Sergeant Major. SgtMaj Bestwick saw combat during WWII in Bougainville and Guam, serving with the 3rd Marine Division. Returning to the United States in December of 1944, he served in various capacities including Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. SgtMaj Bestwick later served as a division Sergeant Major in Korea with the 1st Marine Division, receiving the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V.” In June 1956, he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps to serve as Sergeant Major to the Secretary of the General Staff, which post he held until taking up duties as the first Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. SgtMaj Wilbur Bestwick died on July 10, 1972 at Stanford University Hospital. He was 60 years old.

For more Marine Corps history, please go to Historians’ Corner on our website.

Such a great deal!

Enjoy delicious food
from Red Robin Gourmet Burgers in Jacksonville, NC.

Mention Carolina Museum of the Marine when you order.
Red Robin will donate 20% of your bill to us! Build a museum while you eat!

Dine In, Delivery, Online Online orders included.


Please join us in supporting the mission of

Carolina Museum of the Marine.

When you give to our annual campaign, you help to ensure that operations continue during construction and when the doors open!

Stand with us
as we stand up the Museum!

Copyright January 2024.  Carolina Museum of the Marine

2023-2024 Board of Directors

Executive Committee

LtGen Mark Faulkner, USMC (Ret) – Chair
Col Bob Love, USMC (Ret) – Vice Chair
CAPT Pat Alford, USN (Ret) – Treasurer
Mr. Mark Cramer, JD – Secretary
General Al Gray, USMC (Ret), 29th Commandant
MajGen Jim Kessler, USMC (Ret)
Col Grant Sparks, USMC (Ret)
BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret), CEO, Ex Officio Board Member


Col Joe Atkins, USAF (Ret)
Col George “Bill” Ayers, USMC (Ret), Emeritus
Mr. Mike Bogdahn, US Marine Corps Veteran
Mr. Keith Byrd, US Marine Corps Veteran
MGySgt Osceola “Oats” Elliss, USMC (Ret)
Mr. Frank Guidara, US Army Veteran
Col Chuck Geiger, USMC (Ret)
Col Bruce Gombar, USMC (Ret)
LtCol Lynn “Kim” Kimball, USMC (Ret)
CWO4 Richard McIntosh, USMC (Ret)
The Honorable Robert Sander, Former Counsel of the Navy
LtGen Gary S. McKissock, USMC (Ret)
Col John B. Sollis, USMC (Ret)
GySgt Forest Spencer, USMC (Ret)


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret), Chief Executive Officer
Ashley Danielson, Civilian, Vice President
SgtMaj Steven Lunsford, USMC (Ret), Operations Director
CWO5 Lisa Potts, USMC (Ret). Curator