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Long, Don

Donald (Don) R. Long
Master Gunnery Sergeant USMC, (ret) 1971-1999

Master Gunnery Sergeant Long was born in Bay Minette, AL in April 1953. He graduated from a public high school in Camden, AL before joining the Marine Corps in 1971. After boot camp at Parris Island and completing training at the Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Lejeune, he returned to Parris Island for on-the-job-training (OJT) as a broadcast journalist, 4313. Completing OJT, he continued as Radio and TV Chief providing narrative support for many parades, graduations, and band concerts. He also started a local half-hour radio program at a local radio station that updated Marine news on a weekly basis.

Promoted to Corporal, he was transferred to Camp Smith, HI where he also was assigned as Radio and TV Chief. Continuing his efforts to emphasize the importance of the broadcast media and cultivate a broadcast market for the Marine Corps, he obtained weekly air time on two local radio stations and initiated base wide closed-circuit radio aboard the base at Camp Smith. Long received two promotions while assigned in Hawaii, but left the Corps as a Staff Sergeant in 1978.

Returning to his home state of Alabama, Long continued to hone his broadcast skills as an afternoon-drive announcer for a major market radio station in Birmingham, AL. A call six months later from the Sergeant Major of the local recruiting station, rekindled his love for the Corps. With an offer to regain his rank, minus time-in-grade, plus assignment as the local Marine Corps Recruiting Station Public Affairs NCO for three years quickly convinced him to get the hair cut and return to his beloved Corps. Three years of successful marketing and PA events followed, highlighted by a staged amphibious landing in Gulfport, MS and 155 self-propelled howitzers moving down the interstate in Birmingham.

In 1982, overseas duty called as Long was transferred to Okinawa to work with the Armed Forces Radio and Television affiliate. Over a period of two years, he served as the Radio Operations Manager for both the AM and FM radio outlets. In late 1982, Long received his only career oriented MOS training as he attended the Broadcast Manager’s Course at Yokota AB, Japan. While in Okinawa, Long met his beautiful wife Madelyn Consoli. Madelyn was in Okinawa serving as the Program Manager for the Camp Foster USO. Married in March 1984, the Longs returned to the U.S. in August of that year with an assignment to MCB Quantico.

Long served as a Team Leader for the Marine Corps Documentation Unit at Quantico for almost two years. During that time he completed the Staff NCO Course where he graduated with second place honors. Having served as a staff sergeant for almost ten years, Long knew he needed to do something different if future promotions were to come his way. Marine Security Guard (MSG) Duty provided the challenge to become a true Marine leader. Plus, it offered the added benefit of a “B” billet assignment.

After much wrangling with monitors and career field sponsors, Long reported to MSG School in January 1986. Graduating in the top three on his class of future Detachment Commanders, Long received the reward of orders to open a new detachment in the second most difficult post in the MSG program, Nouakchott, Mauritania. Where is it? Well, there is a lot of sand there and it is on the West Coast of Africa.

The Longs reported for duty in April 1986 to a healthy welcome from former Marine Captain and Ambassador to Mauritania Robert Pugh. Ten days later U.S. pilots bombed Libya. The first Long heard of the incident, no TV in Mauritania, was the Ambassador’s knock on his hatch followed by, “Gunny, I think you better recall the Marines.” A side note here. Though Long was still a staff sergeant, all detachment commanders on Embassy duty are usually addressed as “Gunny”. Two mob actions later, many sand-storms, a locust infestation, and with Long’s promotion to Gunny, the Longs received welcome orders to American Embassy Madrid, Spain.

Beginning in August 1987, Spain was a lovely assignment for the Longs, though challenging from the security point of view. During the tour the Embassy came under rocket attack twice, received numerous bomb threats, responded to many anti NATO rallies, and helped with results of a bomb attack on the Barcelona Consulate and Rota USO. Long received a Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his service at the Madrid embassy.

Though MSG Detachment Commanders usually only serve at two Embassies, MSG Battalion requested that Long be extended and assigned to American Embassy Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Perhaps the 4300 monitor was asleep, but the Longs received orders to Belgrade in January 1989. Still a communist county, Yugoslavia presented many challenges for Marines assigned there, including the requirement for a cleared American liberty partner whenever off the Embassy compound. Of course, all MSGs received additional screening before assignment to the communist block countries.

In July 1990, the 4300 monitor was again surprised when the Longs were assigned to American Embassy Vienna, Austria. Vienna sported three U.S. Ambassadors, each with his own mission, and a separate consulate at the time. Meeting the requirements for the four different missions required one of the largest detachments in the MSG program. With a Table of Organization for 25, but usually staffed at a lesser level, the detachment in Vienna was almost a stand alone platoon with its own base, barracks, mess, club, supply chain, motor transport, etc. Long was promoted to Master Sergeant in April 1991, and received his second Navy Comm before leaving MSG to return to the States in July 1992 and an assignment at MCAS El Toro, CA.

Long assumed the duties as Public Affairs Chief MCAS El Toro before deploying with Operation Restore Hope to Somalia in December 1992. After three weeks in Somalia, Long was assigned to work as the Public Affairs Officer for the Marine Corps Aviation Combat Element. After returning to duty at El Toro, Long continued to assist with the publication of the “Flight Jacket”, community relations efforts, and his great desire to ensure that all his Marines were operationally proficient in the combat arms. He organized many weekend “deployments” to Camp Pendleton ranges to guarantee on-hands experience for this Marines. Long was promoted to Master Gunnery Sergeant in July 1995. Long was award a Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts while assigned at El Toro

Long began his final duty tour in July 1996 as he reported to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC where he assumed the duties as Public Affairs Chief, Division of Public Affairs, HQMC. This assignment also included the responsibility for Occupation Field Sponsor for all MOS 4300 enlisted Marines. During this tenure, Long initiated and completed the first effort to officially add digital cameras to the T/O for Marine Public Affairs functions. Additionally, Long instituted policies and procedures to effectively plan and manage recruiting, retention, promotions, and training for the entire enlisted occupational field. He also continued his efforts to ensure his Marines’ combat proficiency by training his Marines in garrison and on the ranges at Quantico.

Master Gunnery Sergeant Long retired on May 14, 1999 in Washington, DC when he received his second Meritorious Service Medal.

Following retirement, the Longs moved to St. Cloud, FL where Don began a new a career as Service Manager for Mercury Marine’s secret test facility. With the closure of that facility in 2004, Long began his own business, Top Yacht Brokerage, where he continues to labor with his favorite toys, boats. He also received a BS Degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix in 2006. Additionally, he serves as the Vice-President of Robert Christopher Yacht Sales, a large brokerage firm based in Stamford, CT.

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