Front and Center Newsletter – Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2024

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Meet the Marine. Be Inspired.


Vol. 2, No 4, April 2024


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,

First and foremost, the lease with the Department of the Navy is signed and finalized. This was the final requirement, so all is set to start construction and we look forward to seeing all at the Groundbreaking ceremony on 17 May.

On a more somber note, we mourn the loss of a Corps Legend and 29th Commandant, General Al Gray. He was also an ardent supporter of the Museum and we benefited greatly from his involvement. He will be missed.
As I reflect on a life well lived, I am reminded about one of his “Grayisms” that said “First, care about what you are.” General Gray tells us: “Care first about what you are – your values, beliefs, and actions.” And I can think of no better example in this regard than General Gray.

Notably, General Gray helped us develop the core values for the Museum, so thought it was worth sharing: “We are professional, patriotic, selfless servants who support and defend the Constitution and embrace the core values of the United States Marine Corps: Honor, Courage, and Commitment.”


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Chief Executive Officer

Team Spirit 1990
Photo: “Team Spirit 1990”. General Al Gray, USMC Commandant, with troops including SSgt Fernando Schiefelbein, Dragon Platoon, 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines stationed in Hawaii

General Al Gray

General Al Gray died early on Wednesday March 20, 2024 at the age of 95. He was a leader and friend of Carolina Museum of the Marine, serving on the Executive Committee of our Board of Directors since October 17, 2017. The Marine Corps Times, reporting on General Gray’s passing, referred to him as: “the enlisted Marines’ commandant.” General Gray focused on the mission, and in pursuit of this he ensured that enlisted Marines, and especially young Marines, were well trained and cared for. This is an important lesson for all, and the Carolina Museum of the Marine with General Gray’s guidance realized that the Museum could be an effective platform for offering instruction on how to be both a better human being and a citizen of our country.

We are starting to do this today through the Al Gray Marine Leadership Forum. Our purpose is instruction concerning the art and science of thinking carefully and clearly, and the principles and traits of people able to lead themselves and others. Here is the signed intent from General Gray:


When General Gray joined Carolina Museum of the Marine, we became visible in a way we had not been up to that time. In many respects, we owe our success to his personal involvement and leadership. We are building a Museum that will tell General Gray’s story to ensure his legacy endures.

We were blessed to announce the ground-breaking ceremony (scheduled for 17 May) while he was still with us and know he is proud of this accomplishment. The museum is being built at Lejeune Memorial Gardens, a place that was dear to General Gray. We are ready to build a museum that will remember the accomplishments of Carolina Marines and Sailors and, through the Al Gray Marine Leadership Forum, teach the understanding and disciplines of leading self and leading others displayed by our Marines and Sailors.

General Gray’s devotion to remembering the Marines killed in Beirut in 1983 is well known. Nearly every year, between that event and now, General Gray was here in Jacksonville for the Beirut Memorial Ceremony. This past year, General Gray was here, but he was so ill that he didn’t sit on the dais and he didn’t speak. Rather, he sat in the audience with the rest of us. At General Gray’s passing, General Eric Smith, the current commandant, eulogized him with these words:

“He was a ‘Marine’s Marine’—a giant who walked among us during his career and after, remaining one of the Corps’ dearest friends and advocates even into his twilight,… His contributions are many, including the development of our maneuver warfare doctrine, Warfighting, which remains, to this day, the philosophic bedrock of how we fight as Marines. Although he will be missed by all, his legacy will endure and his spirit will continue to live among us.”

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 Rich P. Mills, 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.)

Meet the Team


Top L to R: Operations Director SgtMaj Steve Lunsford, USMC (Ret), Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Williams, Archivist/Historian Carlie Shaffer Lee, Curator CWO5 Lisa Potts, USMC (Ret). Seated L to R: Exhibits Manager Kristen Marquez Honaker, Jim Danielson, PhD, and CEO BGen Kevin Stewart, Not pictured: VP of Development Ashley Danielson.

Bear Trail


Click here for more information and to register now!

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 April 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
In Memoriam: General Al Gray, USMC (Ret)
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, VP of Development
SgtMaj Steven Lunsford, USMC (Ret), Operations Director
CWO5 Lisa Potts, USMC (Ret). Curator