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By admin | October 6th, 2011

The 2011 Annual Conference: Assessment and Honors

Emcee Pat Coulter congratulates CC John "Gunny" Harmon for receiving the 2011 President's Award.

By Jack T. Paxton, Executive Director

We were a bit remiss for taking a short vacation before making an assessment of the 2011 annual conference in New Orleans.  In his upcoming Now Hear This column President Don O’Neal used three letters to describe our annual event:  WOW!  We could reiterate that more than 260 times as our estimate of attendance prior to the conference fell way short of actual.  Example:  At the banquet we served 277 meals.  In our tenure (circa 2005) this was a record.

To this writer, it proves that commands now recognize the value they receive when they send their Marines to our  conferences.  You have only to look at the major corporations involved to see that our warriors are receiving the best possible training – training they could not receive in any other venue.

A word about our award winners, while deployments keep attendance by our Merit Award winners to a minimum, we still had a goodly number of very talented Marines  invited on stage by our preeminent emcee Pat Coulter.  I would invite you to read our upcoming newsletter Now Hear This for more complete photo coverage of this event.

Col. Bryan Salas, Director of Information, retiring

BrigGen. (s) Paul Kennedy new Director of Information

During the conference we bid hail and farewell to Col. Bryan Salas, Director of Information, who is retiring.  We gave a rousing welcome to new Director of Information Brig. Gen. (s) Paul Kennedy.  Our new Director surprised us on the eve of the conference by becoming our latest Association member.  Leadership personified!

 

Charles "Chip" Jones was the 2011 winner of the BrigGen. Robert L. Denig Sr. Memorial Distinguished Performance Award.

Our 2011 winner of the prestigious BrigGen. Robert L. Denig Sr. Memorial Distinguished Performance Award was accepted by author Charles “Chip” Jones for his body of work that included “Boys of ’67…” and, more recently, “War Shots” highlighting CC Norm Hatch and the combat camera Marines of World War II.  Chip was humbled by the award and very gracious in his acceptance.  He also regaled the Business Breakfast attendees on Friday in his remembrances of what it was like growing up as the son of a Marine general and the cousin of a future commandant.

Our National President Don O'Neal was the winner of the 2011 Donald L. Dickson Memorial Award.

Our Donald L. Dickson Memorial Award again came as a surprise to the 2011 winner – our very own President Don O’Neal.  Each year a nominee is selected and the Board votes in secret ballot.  Only on the night of the annual banquet is the selection named.   Let me assure you that keeping this secret from a hands-on president became a full time job for this exec.  But, honor him we did!  The Dickson award is our membership’s highest accolade for a member.  In Don’s case he was cited for his many actions including forging a relationship with the Marine Corps representative at Brook Army Hospital where Marines with burn wounds received in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated.

In fact Don was instrumental in the rehabilitation of a badly burned CC who was treated there. He continues his good work with these Marines and others who have been so badly burned.  He is the former President of the USMCCCA Foundation where he supervised the rejuvenation of that organization.  Under his guidance the Foundation’s finances, organization and overall functioning was transformed into a very successful and supportive arm of the U. S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association.  Don is now the President of the Association supervising all aspects of the everyday workings of the USMCCCA.  As both the President of the Foundation and the Association Don has selflessly supported the goals and aspirations of both, making the USMCCCA the best it has ever been.

Another surprise for the recipient, was the naming of long time CC John “Gunny” Harmon as the 2011 President’s Award winner.  The organization has many fine supporters but John was cited for his outstanding financial support of the Merit Awards program, assuring that the Foundation is now able to make a cash award to each first place winner.

Finally, the prestigious William T. Perkins Combat Cameraman of the Year award was presented to GySgt. Michael K. Kropiewnicki for his outstanding leadership in the Combat Camera field as NCOiC of the MCAS Iwakuni, ComCam Section.

BrigGen.(s) Paul Kennedy, left with the 2011 William T. Perkins Combat Cameraman of the Year award receipient GySgt. Michael K. Kropiewnicki, and Don O'Neal, National President.

BrigGen.(s) Paul Kennedy, left and MGySgt Jerry Gutierrez accepting the Charles Grow Combat Camera Unit of the Year award from Charles Grow.

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