August, 2003 Newsletter


Hope everyone had a great summer – for some reason it seems that the past few months have been moving at light speed.  The Council has been working hard in order to stay in touch with the units and support groups since there have been many changes in leadership across the board.  This newsletter will bring you up to date since our last newsletter in February.

Right off the top, let’s address the annual meeting.  We had intended to have it in early summer and the Commandant had accepted our invitation to be our Guest of Honor.  Unfortunately, CMC’s schedule changed at the last minute and his office recommended we postpone the visit.  Since that time, we have been unable to find a date that works for both the Council and the Commandant.  As a result we have elected to conduct our annual general membership meeting the morning of the Birthday luncheon.  Membership meeting announcements/information will be mailed out shortly, which will include specifics on time and location.     

As many of you know, with Operation Iraqi Freedom there were a great many support efforts being conducted across the nation.  Locally, the Coordinating Council provided “goodie boxes” of personal comfort items to detachments out of the Anti-Tank Training Company from Broken Arrow, as well as to a company of Light Armored Vehicles from 2d Marine Division that a former Assistant Marine Officer Instructor from the NROTC unit at the University of Oklahoma was assigned to. 

Members of the Council also attended the funeral services for Lance Corporal Tommy Blair an LAAD gunner with 1st Battalion, 2d Marine when he was killed in action at Al Nasiriya on March 23, 2003.  We were honored to be able to provide a Gold Star flag to Lance Corporal’s Blair’s mother.

 On July 20, Council representatives attended the Vietnam photo display of former Marines Blas Preciado (Kiowa) and Leland Parker (Comanche) at the Jacobson House on the OU campus.   

We also were privileged to attend the ceremonies in Moore where Corporal Paul Gardner USMC was honored by the City of Moore on August 14 as they welcomed him home after he was wounded in an ambush near Baghdad on April 12th.   

As some of you may know by now, Oklahoma’s Marine for Life representative finally arrived this summer.  Captain Chris Mayfield checked in recently to serve as the initial link between those Marines leaving active duty and needing assistance in getting resettled into the civilian world. We scheduled a brief meeting with Chris to welcome him aboard and invited representatives from the local chapters of the Women Marines Association and the Marine Corps League.  The Council officers and members of the Recruiting Station were also present.  Chris will be asking for Council assistance from time to time and I’m certain that many of you will be involved in his efforts in the future.  Captain Mayfield will be serving as an “ex officio” member of the Council board.

Based upon the many requests the Council has received in the past about how historical memorabilia should be handled, we have worked with the Oklahoma Historical Society and we feel they are the most appropriate facility for relevant artifacts former Marines may desire to preserve.  We anticipate transferring the Iwo Jima model that was donated to the Omniplex a few years ago to the Historical Society and on September 8 the Council coordinated the Historical Society’s acceptance of the many news articles, shooting trophies, and other memorabilia belonging to GySgt V.D. Mitchell USMC (Ret) a renowned sniper from the Vietnam era who was a mentor to Council member John Culbertson.    

The Councils active duty unit support programs continued over the summer with free hotel rooms (with a free dinner & bottle of wine), along with Redhawk game tickets, season passes to Frontier City and White Water Bay, and OU football tickets provided to Vance, Fort Sill, and the Recruiting Station.   

We are thankful for your membership donations that continue to finance our planned unit support for the upcoming year.  We have been very fortunate that a lot of our support to units is provided on a “gratis” basis from Council members.  Thanks to those of you who have called and offered up these great benefits and if think you can help in this regard please contact us.  

 Over the past few months we have had some changes in personnel assigned to active duty units across the state.  Captain Joe Bevan relieved Captain Susan Jenkins as the Marine Officer Instructor at the OU NROTC unit.  Captain Bevan was assigned as an infantry officer in during Operation Iraqi Freedom and is a great addition to the Unit.  Captain Jenkins will remain in the Norman area.  The Marine Artillery Detachment at Fort Sill had a change of command on September 5th when Colonel Al Pace relieved Colonel Tom Kelly.  Tom will retire and plans on staying in Lawton.  Al is coming in from an outstanding tour at Camp Lejeune. We look forward to working with Captain Bevan and Colonel Pace as “ex officio” members of the Council Board. 

We have also learned that Colonel John Priddy USMC (Ret) has recently arrived in the Oklahoma City area from HQMC and Washington, D.C.  

One of the issues the Board has been dealing with is the actual determination and fulfillment of unit and supported organization requirements.   To assist in this effort we are creating a “President’s Advisory Committee” made up of Council member volunteers and incorporating representatives of the Marine organizations throughout the state.  The role of the committee will be to advise and recommend appropriate ways for the Board to accomplish the stated charter objectives of providing support for both active units and collateral organizations.  Additionally, committee members will assist in actually carrying out the selected support options.  Council members who would like to participate in the efforts of the President’s Advisory Committee are encouraged to contact us at your convenience.  We would appreciate your help. 

In a sad note, we regret the passing of Master Gunnery Sergeant Norman J. Leimgruebler USMC (Ret) – one of our Council members - on August 12, 2003.   

To wrap up, just a quick mention of the planning for this year’s Birthday luncheon.  We are honored to have Lieutenant General Jim Conway – Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force – as our Guest of Honor.  His experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom were extraordinary and we look forward to his visit.  The date of this year’s luncheon is November 21 and it will be held at the Oklahoma City Homebuilder’s Association building.  Invitations will be out shortly. 

Semper Fidelis,  

Phil Hughes

Colonel   USMC (Ret)


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