Front and Center Newsletter – Vol. 2, No. 12, December 2023

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Meet the Marine. Be Inspired.


Vol. 2, No 12, December 2023


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


Message from the CE0

Dear Marines and Sailors, Friends and Family,

As we approach the end of 2023, it is a time to be grateful and thankful for all that we have accomplished together. With your support, we are entering 2024 on a clear path to build a world-class Museum. In 2024, we will start construction and continue to deliver on our promise of building a Museum that all will be proud of.

General Gray said it best, “We have an overarching opportunity to provide a forward-thinking museum designed to ensure that the contributions of our Carolina Marines and Sailors to our Nation’s freedom are remembered, to teach young and old alike the virtue in understanding what made our great Nation a leader of the free world, and to help prepare our young people to lead, to follow, and to embrace future challenges.

Together, we are seizing this opportunity and making it a reality. Thank you!

We wish all a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Chief Executive Officer

SgtMaj Joe Houle’s Retirement Reception

November 30, 2023 was the day that some said would never happen. SgtMaj Joe Houle, USMC (Ret) — retired again! After 31 years with the Marine Corps and 24 years with Carolina Museum of the Marine, Houle tried to convince a crowd estimated at 350 persons that he is indeed retiring. Actually retiring. We are certainly happy to say that he is staying in the community and staying involved with the Museum as it begins construction next year. SgtMaj Houle, along with MajGen Ray Smith, USMC (Ret), and Col Bruce Gombar, USMC (Ret) were the original three when plans for the museum began. We hope to see them all when we break ground in 2024. Below are just a few of the photos taken by Tina Brooks and Jamie-Carol Nettles Freeman. CEO BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret) presented Houle with a replica of the organization’s iconic Eagle, Globe, and Anchor statue. Hugs, handshakes, and sea stories filled the room.

Thank you Keith and Ginger Byrd and our Board of Directors for sponsoring this important event at Sturgeon City and to Texas Roadhouse for catering. Special thanks to Marine veteran Tom Mattison for his contribution of delicious NC shrimp.

Thank you especially to you, SgtMaj Houle, for your unfailing dedication to our mission to honor and preserve the legacy of Carolina Marines and Sailors.

Stewart presenting EGA to Houle
The Crowd
Stewart presenting EGA to Houle
The Crowd

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, General Michael J Williams, 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 2

by James Danielson, PhD
USMC Veteran

Last month, we considered the first principle of leadership recognized by the Marine Corps: Know yourself and seek self-improvement. We considered also the first trait of a leader: Justice. This month, we will examine the second principle, which is to be technically and tactically proficient, and the important trait of judgment.

The Marine Corps’ understanding of technical and tactical proficiency holds in part that “[l]leaders are not only great with people, but also effective at doing their job. Therefore, the best leaders are also terrific at their craft. They generally have advanced knowledge and expertise within a specific trade or profession.” Moreover, leaders seek always to improve. Leaders have responsibilities that contribute to the mission of an organization as well as their duties as leaders, and in these responsibilities one is obliged to pursue excellence. Here we might encounter what for some people will seem a controversial claim, namely that we should recognize and pursue standards of excellence in every field of endeavor. However, when the Marine Corps was created by the Continental Congress in 1775, the assertion that we should hold to standards of excellence was commonplace, obvious, and hardly controversial. In any form of athletic competition, the point being made comes clear. Runners, for example, start a race at the same starting line, but at the finish line a natural hierarchy has emerged as some runners come closer to the mark of excellence than do others, even though every runner is a fine athlete. To some people, the arrangement one sees at the starting line is one of equality, and this is good. Thus in order for this good to be an enduring feature of our arrangement, it must also be the condition one finds at the finish line. While the sentiment being expressed here may be admirable, it results in the undoing of competition, and with it, the undoing of excellence as a goal of the activities of people together in society. That is, we will always find individuals possessed of the drive to excel, but society is far better off when the drive to excel is held before the members of a society and of organizations within it as a good to be pursued by everyone, understanding that some will come closer to excellence than others. However, and this is a critical element of a well-ordered people, it is important to have standards in all parts of society that will ensure not only the production of excellence in mind and body, but also that the average found among a people is kept as high as possible.

Read more…

From Continental to U.S. Marines

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, published the following resolution.

Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.

This resolution was drafted by John Adams of Massachusetts who would later become the second president of the United States. The Continental Marines served with distinction during our War for Independence, and at the successful conclusion of the war in 1783, the Congress, suspicious of standing military forces in peacetime, sold the ships of the Navy and disbanded the Continental Marines. However, the French Revolution occurred in 1789, and that cataclysm would have a significant impact on all of Europe, and raised serious concerns in the United States, especially when the public executions of the Terror began. (The French Revolution was famously discussed and its implications analyzed by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. A pdf version of the book may be found here. This led the American Congress formally to establish the United States Navy in May of 1798. On July 11, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation establishing the United States Marine Corps as a permanent military force in the Department of the Navy.

Over the following century and a bit more, U.S. Marines distinguished themselves on and off the battlefield, whether on land, sea, or air. In 1921, Major Edwin McClellan recommended to Major General John A. Lejeune that November 10 be established as a day of celebration for the Marine Corps. On November 1, 1921, Major General Lejeune, as commandant of the Marine Corps, issued Marine Corps Order No. 47 declaring the new day of commemoration, writing in part that “it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.” The Commandant praised not only the history of the Marine Corps, but the spirit of honor that guides Marines saying: “So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ since the founding of the Corps.” 

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 December 2023. Carolina Museum of the Marine

2022-2023 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
CWO5 Lisa Potts, USMC (Ret). Curator