Front and Center Newsletter – Vol. 2, No. 6, June 2024

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Meet the Marine. Be Inspired.


Vol. 2, No 6, June 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,

Construction has started and shovels are in the ground! This marks a significant milestone in our journey towards honoring, preserving, and teaching the legacy of Carolina Marines and Sailors. In the Carolina Museum of the Marine, we will showcase the Marine example to inspire future generations. The museum will not merely be a structure of bricks and mortar; but rather a testament to our collective commitment to honor the past, illuminate the present, and inspire the future. In this museum, the stories of Carolina Marines and Sailors will come alive, you will meet the Marine and be inspired.

Most importantly, we are here today based on your support, and we are forever grateful. There are way too many to mention, so I will simply say, for all the support enjoyed over these many years, we are forever grateful. We understand the faith you have placed in us, and you have our unwavering commitment to do everything in our power to build a Museum that all are proud of.

It is an exciting time, but it is important to remember that it is just the beginning, our mission is not complete and there is still much work to be done. There will likely be challenges ahead, but I have no doubt we will overcome them with your continued support. And we must never forget, the Marines and Sailors serving today will continue to write history, so this Museum must be a living tribute to all Carolina Marines and Sailors.

Bottomline, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who have contributed to this endeavor—the donors, the board members, the staff, the planners, the builders, and the dreamers. We are going to build a world-class Museum that all are proud of.


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Chief Executive Officer

Hundreds Attend Groundbreaking Ceremony!


Above: MCB Camp Lejeune Commanding General, Brigadier General Adolfo Garcia, delivers the keynote speech at Carolina Museum of the Marine’s Groundbreaking Ceremony on 17 May 2024.

Below: BGen Garcia, Museum CEO BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret), and Museum Operations Director SgtMaj Steve Lunsford (Ret) greet each other before the ceremony.

groundbreaking event
ceremony: musicians

Above: Many thanks to 2d Marine Division Band who swept the crowd into a celebratory mood as the ceremony kicked off.

Below: Below: The first of two groups of supporters wields shovels, marking the long-anticipated ceremonial groundbreaking.

Pictured from left to right: Onslow County Commission Chairperson Tim Foster, Senator Mike Lazzara, Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips, MCB Camp Lejeune Commanding General BGen Adolfo Garcia, Museum Board Chairperson LtGen Mark Faulkner, USMC (Ret), and Museum CEO BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret).Gen Garcia, Museum CEO BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret), and Museum Operations Director SgtMaj Steve Lunsford (Ret) greet each other before the ceremony.

Groundbreaking ceremony 8

Click here for ongoing construction updates!

Marine Corps Traits and Principles of Leadership, Part VII

by James Danielson, PhD
Marine Veteran


When pianists learn a challenging piece of music, they often will learn the music for each hand separately and then, when the left and right hands have control of their parts, put the two together training to perform the piece as it is meant to be done. The structure of this process is found in the Marine Corps when we consider, for example, that each Marine should know himself and seek self-improvement, should achieve and maintain technical and tactical proficiency, but also, and this is the leadership principle we are examining this month, “Train your Marines and Sailors as a Team.” Each Marine must work independently to be as proficient as possible, but must also train with others as a team to perform a mission as it is meant to be done. Here the particular strengths and weaknesses of individuals must be recognized and coordinated into an efficient and effective unit, and thus here we see the importance of the leadership principle of knowing your people and seeking their welfare. As we have seen in our January issue, this principle of knowing your people is described in part this way: “ ‘Know your people’ – or team – is among the most important leadership principles. The core value focuses on fostering relationships between team members and developing an identity.”

People who teach in classrooms or seminars understand from experience that each group of students or participants has its own dynamic “personality,” and it is part of the job of an instructor to read that personality and guide the group in harmony with it. Of course, how this is done is itself guided and constrained by the purpose for which the group exists. Moreover, a group of people who gather to learn a topic or to study a professional practice has a very different purpose from one that exists to train for and to conduct combat missions since, clearly, both the actions and their consequences are of a different magnitude. This difference may seem foreign to people who have never been in combat, and perhaps even more foreign to people who did not serve in the military. Yet it is integral to the mission of the Al Gray Marine Leadership Forum at Carolina Museum of the Marine to make the important lessons of Marine Corps leadership available to all Americans for personal growth and for effective operation of organizations regardless of mission.


The idea of training Marines and Sailors as a team is a broad one, so we should give a rather full account of the description as we find it. “There are many opportunities for individual growth and advancement in the Marine Corps.” However, not everything in the military should be about personal achievement, even if it’s crucial in many other ways. Marines, especially as leaders, must be able to function as a single unit. Therefore, the better they are at communicating and establishing relationships with team members, the better they will be at their job. For this reason, Marines spend much of their training finding methods to improve teamwork and organization within a unit. The crisper and tighter the unit, the more likely the group is to have success as a team. Teams in the military not only rely on each other for the success of a mission but also for their own personal welfare. Accordingly, Marines should always train as a team, including during circumstances where fellow sailors join from the U.S. Navy. Often, teamwork involves finding the strengths and weaknesses of each service member and combining those talents to function as one team. For this reason, it’s imperative that each member of a team understand their role and purpose within the unit.”

There are several things at work here. As important as individual growth is, Marines must be able to function as a single unit, and in order to achieve this, each Marine must understand his role and purpose within it, and the roles and purposes of other members of the unit. Thus it is important to the effective functioning of a unit that each member can do his job well, understanding how this is done in concert with others. It is most valuable for the consistently effective function of a unit that its members understand and trust one another. Read more…  

Floyd Gibbons at Belleau Wood

Recent issues of both the Marine Corps Times and the Navy Times contain an article titled “The Man who made Belleau Wood – and the Marine Corps – Immortal.”[i] The article discusses Chicago Tribune reporter Floyd Gibbons who was one of 36 reporters approved by the military to report on WWI. At the start, we read the opening line form Gibbons’ dispatch on the battle. “I am up at the front and entering Belleau Wood with the U.S. Marines.” Although a non-combatant, Gibbons didn’t like reporting from the rear, preferring instead to be at the front where possible.

By early June 1918, more than 2,000 German soldiers and 30 machine guns occupied Belleau Wood. Marines on whom Gibbons reported attacked German positions on June 6. “As the Marines advanced, the enemy fire ‘was more than flesh and blood could stand’.” So wrote Col Albertus Caitlin in With the Help of God and a Few Marines. Col Caitlin, later BGen Caitlin, was a Medal of Honor recipient who was wounded, shot in the chest by a sniper, on June 6, 1918 while leading Marines in battle at Belleau Wood. Gibbons fared a bit worse, being struck by bullets in his left arm, left should blade, and left eye. Gibbons was left to lie where he’d been shot for three hours until he could be evacuated after dark. He later said that during those hours, he would pinch himself with his right hand to ensure he was still alive.

The military news censor incorrectly thought Gibbons was dead and decided to honor his sacrifice by allowing his last dispatch to be published as written. This, one might think, was serendipity, because up to that time correspondents wee not allowed to name the troops they were with or where they were. The Washington Post reported that since the censor allowed Gibbons’ dispatch to be published with the sentence naming Belleau Wood and the U.S. Marines, the privilege of naming names was extended to all correspondents. “For three days, reports of Marines in action at Belleau Wood went uncensored, and the American public, hungry for news of the war, were regaled with stories of the Devil Dogs as they fought in close-quarters combat with fixed bayonets,” and under machine gun fire. 4,000 Marines were wounded and another 1,000 killed, which was an attrition rate of 55%, according to historian George Clark in Devil Dogs: Fighting Marines of WWI, who goes on to say that that Marine losses at Belleau Wood exceeded losses in all of the Corps’ previous history.

Gibbons, who lived 21 more years after the battle, gave credit for victory to the 9,500 men of the 4th Marine Brigade, even though soldiers of the Army’s 2nd Division of the American Expeditionary Forces fought alongside the Marines. George Clark observed about this, “The Germans were good, the Marines were better.”

[i] The article may be found here:


Title: Brigadier General Charles Henry Lauchheimer, USMC Caption: As he appeared as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis Maryland, class of 1881. He was born in Maryland and received his commission in the Marine Corps. He died on 14 January 1920 at the Naval hospital, Washington DC. Description: Catalog #: NH 67346

Copyright Owner: Naval History and Heritage Command

General Al Gray’s 95th birthday guests stopped by to talk about their experiences with the 29th Commandant over his many years of service to this nation. We continue this series in honor and memory of Al Gray, Marine.

Below, MSgt Emanuel Simmons, 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.)

The Army’s Best Warrior in 2024 is… a Sailor

The Navy Times reports, with some satisfaction, that in April, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Michael O’Connell won the Army’s Best Warrior Competition at Camp Mackall in North Carolina.[i] Corpsman 1st Class O’Connell is an independent duty corpsman and instructor with the Naval Special Operations Medical Institute, which trains corpsmen to work with U.S. Marine Forces Special Operations Command and Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance. The competition is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and tests not only physical fitness, but marksmanship, combat casualty care, and land navigation. Competitors also undergo a cognitive test, written exam, swim test, and ruck march.

Speaking of his preparation for the contest Corpsman 1st Class O’Connell said: “I was trained in Marine Corps Reconnaissance and Special Operations Command skill sets, so the tasks required of me were of a familiar and basic nature. I did have to learn several Army concepts and regulations for the oral board component of this competition.” O’Connell was the only sailor in the competition and received an Army Commendation Medal.

 The Army’s Best Warrior for 2024 was humble in discussing his victory, saying: “I never once thought I had this competition in the bag,…” “What I would say to future sailors wanting to compete in the BWC is to train hard and prepare thoroughly. I think the Army is going to put their best foot forward next year to regain the title.”


[i] The article may be found here:

5x8 _2024 Tournament Sponsor Thanks 31 May 1-inch bleed
Golf tournament

14 June 2024 Bear Trial Golf Club
Tee Time 09:00

Click here for more Information and to register now! Selling out quickly!

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 June 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)
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