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By admin | September 9th, 2015

New Bern A “Bear” of a Town

At Camp Lejeune, the CCs were welcomed to the MOUT training facility, a mock village designed to provide realistic training in an urban environment. Photo by Mike Minardi.

At Camp Lejeune, the CCs were welcomed to the MOUT training facility, a mock village designed to provide realistic training in an urban environment. Photo by Mike Minardi.

One of many bears around town. Photo by Hank Ehlbeck.

One of many bears around town. Photo by Hank Ehlbeck.

As one wag attending our 74th conference put it: “New Bern was a ‘bear’ of a town.” Now, whether or not he was referring to the many bear statues around town or the fact that New Bern takes its name from Bern, Switzerland (named after the German word ‘bear’) we do not know. Apparently though, he and the 65 other former CCs and ComCam Marines and their wives/guests had a good time during our August 16-20 Annual Conference.

While it may not have been the easiest venue to reach by air, the town and the great staff of the Hilton Double Tree Hotel went out of their way to make our annual conference was one of the best ever.

Why did we choose New Bern in the first place? As we have explained many times previously, when restrictions on travel and per diem keep active duty Marines from coming to us, we now choose to go to them. As New Bern is ideally suited between MCAS Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune, our reasoning was relatively sound. Yes, we did attract more than 50 active duty Marines to our Wednesday evening banquet. Unfortunately, we had few winners of our annual VIEC & DPA Award competition on board.

This fact prompted much discussion at our new Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Can we continue to arrange conferences where we honor only a few award winners? According to President Manny Pacheco and our board, “no.”

Manny Pacheco, National President

Manny Pacheco, National President

“From this point on,” Pacheco said, “our focus has to be on getting commands to send not only the award winners but ultimately all communications Marines to our annual event. To do this we need to change our current conference thinking to one that incorporates training and coincides with the mission of the Corps. We have to rededicate ourselves to truly be the professional association for our combat correspondents and combat camera community.”

Pacheco then named newly-elected Board member Fran Piccoli and incumbent member, Bob Long to a planning committee to do just that. Long time members will remember Fran from his days at the-then Division of Information at HQMCs. Bob Long, now based in Washington, DC, has retained many of his contacts from his television days as VP News of KNBC-TV, in Los Angeles.

“As we begin preparing for the celebration of our 75th year in existence at Fredericksburg (August 21-27, 2016) next year,” Pacheco said, “much of our efforts will be geared towards training. Given the talent we have within our ranks, we will strive to put together at least one day of communications training designed around the needs of our active duty CCs and ComCam Marines, culminating with our annual awards banquet.”

Now, with all of that said, we return to a great week that began with a New Orleans-styled Welcome Reception Monday evening and attended by 70 guests. This was followed by the opening of our 2015 Hospitality Suite, ably hosted by newly-elected Board Member (and past president) Don Coleman.

The misguided bus. Photo by Hank Ehlbeck.

The misguided bus. Photo by Hank Ehlbeck.

On Tuesday 37 of the guests were bussed to Camp Lejeune. Before describing their interesting tour we digress to tell (those of you who missed it) the story of a confused bus driver. Those who know where Camp Lejeune is in relation to New Bern know that, at best, the trip should not take more than 45 minutes or so, even in traffic. In Manny’s words, “the first thing I noticed after going over the bridge was a sign that said Havelock and our bus was following it. I did not question our driver as I had confirmed with him twice and he acknowledged that we were going to Lejeune. Heck, he lives in New Bern and probably is taking a short cut. When we approached the Cherry Point Main Gate it dawned on me that the driver had made one big mistake!” As Manny said: “I asked him again where we were going and, as he crosses over three lanes of traffic, he says Oops!” So, some two hours after leaving New Bern, the intrepid group made it to Camp Lejeune.

In spite of the mistake, the group was treated royally by Fernando Schiefelbein (retired MSgt), from the base operations office at Camp Lejeune. He, along with our very own former PAO and now current civilian director of public affairs for Marine Corps Installations East, provided running commentary throughout the tour with the personal touch that only Marines can. The first stop was the MOUT training facility which, in civilian parlance, is a mock village designed to provide realistic training in an urban environment.

Following this the group lunched at the Officer’s Club and played host to five active duty Marines, much like we did at Oceanside in last year’s “host a Marine for lunch” program.

In the afternoon, the group visited the 2nd Marine Division’s Combat Camera Facility where they saw the very latest in photographic support equipment and expeditionary combat camera support capabilities.

Winding up the afternoon visit, the group was bussed to the Lejeune Memorial Gardens where they received a final brief from their tour guide Fernando and were given a chance to see the Beirut, Vietnam and 9/11 Memorials.

On Wednesday, the attendees received an update on Marine Corps information and combat camera operations from Col. Sean Gibson, Director, USMC Communications Division and Maj. Sean Hayes, Combat Camera.

Maj. Gen. Gary Thomas, speaker at the awards ceremony

Maj. Gen. Gary Thomas, speaker at the awards ceremony

That evening, active duty Marines from MCAS Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune joined members and their guests for our annual Distinguished Performance Awards Dinner. Our guest of honor this year was Maj. Gen. Gary Thomas, the new CG, 2nd Marine Air Wing. We received musical support from a brass quintet from the 2nd MAW Band and a color guard from the 2nd Marine Division.

More than capably handling the emcee chores this year was past president, Keith Oliver, whose knowledge of the organization as well as that gleaned from past PA tours at both Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune held in in good stead throughout the evening.

Awards were presented to the Camp Lejeune Globe for winning first place in the Civilian Enterprise News category and to the MCLB Albany, GA for second place. The staffs of both papers were on hand to receive their awards.

The Camp Lejeune Globe staff, winning first place in the Civilian Enterprise News category. Photo by Staff Sgt. Neill Sevelius

The Camp Lejeune Globe staff, winning first place in the Civilian Enterprise News category. Photo by Staff Sgt. Neill Sevelius

Four individuals were on hand to accept their awards. Newly-promoted Sgt. Eric Keenan, DMA was honored for first place honors as Outstanding New Journalist and Commentary categories, plus a second place award for an honorable mention in the Feature Article category. He also received a check for $200 for his first place wins.

Former Sgt. Austin Hazard, now living in the Camp Lejeune area, received a first place award for his Sports Photo win. He received a check for $100.

The awards banquet big winner – for the third straight year – was Sgt. Reece Lodder, now of RS Seattle, WA, who won five first place awards for the following: Feature Article, Photojournalism, Picture Story, Portrait Personality and Pictorial. Lodder also won an honorable mention for his entry in the Feature Photo category. He received a check for $500 for his efforts.

The Sgt. William T. Perkins Combat Cameraman of the Year Award was won by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone, NCOIC of the 2nd Marine Division, Combat Camera installation.

Retired Col. Mary Reinwald was on hand to announce the 2014/15 Leatherneck Magazine winners. Unfortunately, none of the three winners was able to be on hand.

The final award of the evening was the Brig. Gen. Robert L. Denig Sr. Memorial Distinguished Service Award presented posthumously to the late Dickey Chapelle for her distinguished war reporting, both in World War II and Vietnam. In the latter conflict she was killed on November 4, during Operation Black Ferret near Chu Lai. On hand to accept the award were here niece and nephew, Betsy and Rob Meyer. Responding was John Garofolo, family friend, who is also author of a soon-to-be-released book, “Dickey Chapelle Under Fire.”

Emcee Oliver then asked Marine veterans of all conflicts from World War II to current day to stand and be recognized.

Chaplain Mawk Arnold, traditionally clad as always in his dress blue uniform, closed the evening’s festivities with the benediction. It should also be noted that during our banquet we had a small family reunion, as our guest of honor and Mawk shared a few family memories. Unbeknownst to Mawk our guest of honor turned out to be one of his cousins!

Joe Galloway at Thursday’s Syonora Breakfast. Photo By Mike Minardi.

Joe Galloway at Thursday’s Syonora Breakfast. Photo By Mike Minardi.

At Thursday’s Syonora Breakfast, HLM Joe Galloway regaled the audience with remembrances of his lengthy career as a war correspondent, including the battle of the Ie Drang Valley in Vietnam, from which his book, “We Were Soldiers Once, And Young” and the movie, “We Were Soldiers” was produced. It was at that battle that Joe became the only member of the civilian media ever to be awarded the Bronze Star Medal, with Combat “V.”

Photos of the entire conference, as they are received from the various photographers attending, are posted here on the website and a selection will appear in the upcoming 4th Quarter “Now Hear This” newsletter.

Minutes of the Old, Foundation and New Board Meetings will be carried on the website and an executive condensed version will be in the newsletter as well.

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1 comment to New Bern A “Bear” of a Town

  • avatar admin

    From Joe Galloway:
    The nice squib about my talk at Sayonara breakfast contained one serious error:
    While I am the only civilian the US Army has ever decorated with a medal of valor, the Bronze Star with V, the US Marines decorated three of my colleagues with same medal for same actions, rescuing wounded Marines under fire in the Battle for Hue. They are, or were: Alvin B. Webb of UPI, H.D.S. Greenway of Time Magazine, and a NY Times reporter whose name escapes me at the moment. Their awards were presented at HQ in DC after the end of the Vietnam War.

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