Headquartered in Spring Hill, FL serving all of Florida.
James E. “Red” Carpenter, President.
Hank Ehlbeck, Vice President
Kevin Doll, Secretary
Jack Paxton, Treasurer
History of the Florida Chapter
United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association
The Florida Chapter was formed as a Provisional Chapter, during the planning and preparation for the National Conference held in Orlando, Florida. The initial meeting was held on 26 August 2002, in Spring Hill, FL. Officers elected were President; James E. “Red” Carpenter, Vice President; Don O’Neal, Treasurer; Jack Paxton, Secretary; Kevin Doll. Don O’Neal later moved to San Antonio, Texas and was replaced by Hank Ehlbeck. Those officers are the current officers of the Florida Chapter. In accordance with USMCCCA By-Laws after two years the Chapter became an official Chapter of the USMCCCA on 26 August, 2004.
Florida Chapter members believed it important to have a purpose and to do useful things for the Association and our craft. Consequently, following the 2002 National Conference, the Chapter put together a Suggested Check-List for Conference Planners, which was submitted to then USMCCCA President, Mike Pitts. This check-list is still valid with modifications and is available to any having interest. Because the Florida Chapter is state-wide and even has members from Alabama, quarterly meetings are moved around. The Chapter has had meetings in Pensacola, Niceville, Orlando, Patrick AFB, Davenport, Spring Hill, Clermont, Ponce Inlet, MacDill,AFB, Daytona Beach and Port Orange . All in Florida. It has also held meetings, in conjunction with National Conferences in Reno, Nevada and San Antonio, Texas. Some of these meetings have included presentations by the Marine Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team, from Eglin, AFB. A tour of the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola and a briefing by Colonel Augustin, USMC of the Training/Development Command in Orlando. Some meetings have included golf and tours for the ladies. All have included lunch and some dinner. In keeping with the Chapter’s intent to be purposeful and recognize efforts of those performing outstanding services in the Journalistic field, Roger Roy of the Orlando Sentinel was given a plaque in recognition of his reporting from Afghanistan and Bob Hite a life member of the USMCCCA, and co-anchor of Channel 8 news in Tampa was presented a plaque for his outstanding reporting of Marine operations in Iraq. Chapter members have also served as reviewing mentors for active duty Marine (RCT-2) Combat Correspondents deployed to Iraq. In this capacity approximately 50 stories and pictures were reviewed and critiqued by Chapter members. The Florida Chapter has contributed $200 to the creation of a Marine Corps monument in Monument Park in Orlando. Member Charlie Ross attends planning meetings and represents the Chapter in monument design and planning. The Florida Chapter has also sponsored for 5 years the “Commentary” Merit Award, in recognition of the good work of active duty Marines. The Chapter continues to sponsor a yearly ad in the National Conference Journal, which was begun by Bob McEwen long before the Chapter was officially formed. In 2004, at the suggestion of Bob Jordan, a Chapter member, a committee was formed to promote a golf tournament to be held in partnership with the Florida State Marine Corps League. It was envisioned the Marine Corps League with its large statewide membership would deliver players and the Florida Chapter, would use its experience to advertise, publicize and promote the tournament. The purpose of the tournament would be to raise funds for the charitable purposes of both organizations. The Florida Chapter’s modest profits of about $3000, each of the first two years, was donated to the USMCCCA Foundation for further donation to the Marine Semper Fi and Scholarship funds. After two years of this partnership the Chapter decided to host the tournament on its own and in the last two years has donated $10,000 and $7,500 respectively to the USMCCCA Foundation for further donation to the Semper Fi fund, Scholarship fund and The Wounded Marine Careers Foundation. Residual monies have been placed in an USMCCCA emergency fund currently being labeled The Sunshine Fund. Beginning in 2006 and at the suggestion of Chapter member, Tom Kerr, the Florida Chapter has also sponsored a cruise to various ports in the Caribbean. These cruises have been ongoing for three years and have raised about $1000 each year. These monies are included in the totals donated above. Cruises have included members of the Florida Chapter, other USMCCCA members, The Florida Mustang Association and others. Both the cruises and golf tournament are ongoing at this writing. The Florida Chapter also boasts an outstanding web-site. First created by member Zane Wilson and upon his death, taken over by member Kate Stark. This web-site is very creative and provides not only information about the Chapter and the USMCCCA but Marine happenings everywhere. (Webmaster’s note: The Florida site will be discontinued January 2009 since it has been included into this National site.) The Florida Chapter remains very active and continually looks for ways to support Marine Combat Correspondents, our National Association and our Chapter.
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