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Marines Move Forward with Unmanned Systems. PG. 6
Marine Corps Commandant Praises Spirit of Innovation. PG. 2
100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation About this section: This special advertising section was produced by The Washington Post Custom Content department and did not involve The Washington Post news or editorial staff. This section was prepared by Marcy Gessel, a freelance editor, hired by The Washington Post Custom Content department, with the help of the Marine Corps Aviation Association and the US Marine Corps. For more information, please contact: Marc H. Rosenberg, Manager, Corporate and Public Policy advertising, at 202-334-7634. How are we doing? For questions, comments and suggestions regarding this section, please send an email to email@example.com.
After 100 Years, Marine Corps Aviation Continues to Provide Support to Ground Troops By Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation On Jan. 11, 2012, the ﬁrst Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft taxied to the line at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. It was guided to a stop by Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Smith, who put into words to the Eglin base newspaper what all of us felt at that moment: “It’s just a success to see the aircraft here; (its arrival) has been a success for the Marine Corps.” With the arrival of that evolutionary aircraft, the ﬁrst in a line of 420 Joint Strike Fighters that we will integrate into the force, we have come full circle nearly a century since our ﬁrst aviator took ﬂight. In May 1912, First Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham became the ﬁrst Marine assigned to duties with aviation. On Aug. 20 of that year he became naval aviator number ﬁve and Marine Corps aviator number one, beginning Marine Corps aviation’s legacy. He led our ﬂedgling force in World War I in France and was our ﬁrst ofﬁcer in charge of aviation. Marine aviators then took us through the 1920s and 1930s by ﬁghting in places like Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. In World War II, Marine aviators ﬂew from ships at sea in support of Marines in heavy, daily ﬁghting in places with names that ring down through history: Peleliu, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa among them. Just ﬁve years later, many of those same Marine aviators were ﬂying in support of the ﬁghting in Korea, honing our close air support tactics and developing new helicopter assault support tactics that changed the speed of maneuver warfare. We know some of those names, those of famous jet pilot aviators like Ted Williams and John Glenn and Don “The Great Santini” Conroy. Others were lost in combat, or are lost to history, but the efforts of these pilots to develop and perfect the then-evolving ideas of close air support and of vertical envelopment made us a stronger, more-capable force.
Airpower has become predominant, both as a deterrent to war, and—in the eventuality of war—as the devastating force to destroy an enemy’s potential and fatally undermine his will to wage war.
General Omar Bradley, U.S. Army
During the Vietnam War, Marine aviators cycled overhead 24 hours a day in ﬁxed- and rotary-wing aircraft while supporting Marines across the theater of operations, places which we now study: Hue City, Khe Sanh, the mountains of northern I Corps. In Iraq, Marine aviation leapfrogged forward alongside ground forces on the push to Baghdad and beyond. And today, our aviators are engaged supporting the nearly 100,000 Marine and coalition forces in Afghanistan. We are ever mindful of the strength and ﬂexibility of the air-ground team. During the dark days in Korea in 1950, one Marine remarked, “During the long reaches of the night and in the snowstorms, many a Marine prayed for the coming
First Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham, the ﬁrst Marine aviator, sits at the controls of a Curtiss ﬂoat plane stationed at the Navy’s Aviation Camp at Annapolis, Md., in the fall of 1912. Painting by Colonel Horace Avery Chenoweth, USMCR. Acrylic on Masonite, 1979. (Art Collection, National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Va.)
portfolio of capabilities and penchant for adapting that are needed to be successful in any campaign.”
of day or clearing weather, when he knew he would again hear the welcome roar of your planes.” More than 50 years later, an Army Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan related the same feelings when he said, “The only nights that we slept well during the invasion were the nights we heard your Harriers ﬂying overhead.”
To meet our national commitments, we will be
America’s expeditionary force in readiness—a balanced air-ground-logistics team; • A force that is forward-deployed and forwardengaged…ready to respond to today’s crisis, with today’s force—today; • A responsive and scalable force that enables and participates in joint and combined operations—and operates independent of local infrastructure; and • A middleweight force, light enough to get there quickly, but heavy enough to carry the day upon arrival. Congress recently passed a budget law that requires the Department of Defense to ﬁnd more than $450 billion in savings over 10 years, including more than $286 billion over the next ﬁve years alone. Our Marine Corps faces tough challenges to meet these savings goals while preserving the core tenets of the National Security Strategy. The Marine Corps has identiﬁed a total of $6.2 billion in efﬁciencies between ﬁscal years 2012 and 2016. These savings were obtained by realigning supporting
The Marine Corps Today “I tell you what, for like three weeks, it felt like nothing but a continuous faucet, a continuous ﬁre hose of airplanes. I never knew a time in November when I had troops in contact when I didn’t get an airplane within about a minute.” - Major John Payne, Battalion Air Ofﬁcer, Fallujah February 5, 2005 Our national leadership has directed that our Marine Corps shall
• • • •
Be at the “tip of the spear” when the U.S. military confronts a range of irregular and hybrid conﬂicts; Maintain a “maritime soul” as we reshape our Corps; Find “the right balance between preserving what is unique and valuable while making changes needed to win the wars we are in and likely to face”; and Maintain “…the Marines’ greatest strengths: a broad
100 YEARS PG.4
“Father of Marine Helicopter Aviation” Took Mission of Close Air Support to the Front short takeoff and landing technology with the Harrier jump jet. “Keith McCutcheon was one of the Marines’ greatest aviation thinkers. McCutcheon’s greater contributions to Marine Aviation didn’t come from his abilities in the cockpit, but rather from his abilities as a tactician and strategic thinker. He saw in Marine aircraft an opportunity to develop the most effective air support the world had ever seen,” said Benjamin Kristy, aviation curator for the National Museum of the Marine Corps. When he was young, McCutcheon was interested in cars and planes and
sought out a career as a military pilot, said James Ginther, an archivist at Gray Research Center of Marine Corps University at Quantico, who wrote his PhD dissertation on McCutcheon. During the Great Depression, McCutcheon earned a degree at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in industrial engineering and later he earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McCutcheon used his training in making systems work efﬁciently to improve the way pilots in the air communicated with troops
(Photo courtesy USMC)
He was neither an ace nor a conventional aviation hero, but Gen. Keith B. McCutcheon represented the spirit of innovation and the commitment to supporting ground troops that exemplify Marine Corps aviation. Born just three years after Alfred Cunningham trained as a pilot, McCutcheon served in the Marine Corps in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. An early helicopter advocate, he has been called “the father of Marine helicopter aviation.” He pioneered new and better ways for Marine aviators to provide close air support to troops and helped pave the way for the Marine Corps to adopt vertical/
on the ground. McCutcheon wasn’t the ﬁrst to assign actual pilots to infantry units, but he was the ﬁrst to give pilots on the ground direct communication with the pilot in the air, without sending individual requests through
A Military Force without helicopters in the future will be obsolete.
Lt. Col. Keith B. McCutcheon, 1951
the chain of command ﬁrst. “What he did was allowed the intervening levels of command to monitor what was happening and to change things if necessary, while enabling that observer with
the ground forces and the best view of the situation to talk to the planes overhead,” Ginther said. This sped up the system and allowed it to respond in a more ﬂexible manner. In the early days, military aviators took off to support troops in combat with a ﬁxed target selected, said Major Fred H. Allison, USMC (retired), aviation historian with the Marine Corps History Division. Using real pilots on the ground talking directly to pilots with common training enabled troops close to the targets to provide much clearer direction and more effective control for the air
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100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation Historic Bonds, Soaring Innovation Represent Marine Corps Aviation’s First Hundred Years By Gen. James F. Amos Commandant of the Marine Corps and USMC aviator For 100 years, Marine aviation has been characterized by a spirit of innovation—challenging the art of the possible— while remaining loyal to its fundamental reason for being: to support the Marines on the ground. In May 1912, First Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham reported for aviation training and Marine Aviation was born. As Marine Aviator number one, he always envisioned aviation as a supporting arm for ground troops, but it is unlikely that he and other early aviation pioneers could begin to imagine the tactical and technological achievements Marine aviation would make over the next century. Despite the risk, the discouragements, naysayers and frustrations, Cunningham, like many others, dedicated many years to improving the art and science of ﬂying. Since those ﬁrst days, all Marines
who have served in our aviation units have shared a common bond, one born of adventure, raw courage, a desire to push the limits and a commitment to supporting their brothers-in-arms on the ground. This spirit of innovation inspired the Marine Corps to achieve what some had only imagined. Where many saw the nascent airplane as an amusing contraption or man’s hubris, the ﬁrst naval and Marine aviators saw opportunity. Marine aviators helped pioneer submarine hunting as well as early air-to-air and air-toground combat during World War I. During the Banana Wars, Marines serving in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Haiti took the ﬁrst steps toward what we now call close air support. Twenty years of development in tactical, ﬁxed–wing, naval aviation forced a complete paradigm shift in the naval surface tactics that endured from Trafalgar to Jutland, as the early lessons of World War II highlighted the necessity of
air superiority in future naval and amphibious campaigns. While propellers gave way to jet engines following World War II, Marine aviators quickly recognized the tactical potential of helicopters and soon created a doctrine of amphibious vertical envelopment. Marines embraced this new assault capability and the subsequent development of purpose-built amphibious assault ships, beginning with the construction of the USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) in 1959. Marine aviation later took advantage of previous British aircraft design work that sought a hybridization of the most useful characteristics of ﬁxed and rotor wing aircraft, bringing the vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) AV-8 Harrier into service in the early 1970s. This revolution in aircraft technology began a decades-long journey for Marine aviation that has seen the development and introduction of the remarkable MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and will soon be followed by the
For nearly 100 years, Marine Aviation has demonstrated the adaptability, agility and unique ethos that come with the title ‘Marine.’ Supporting our ground and logistics brothers and sisters, Marine Aviation has forged a lasting legacy of professionalism, innovation and transformation. The centennial of Marine Aviation provides us a unique opportunity to reﬂect on this legacy of success as we turn our eyes to the future.
General James F. Amos, 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps (Photo courtesy USMC)
revolutionary F-35B Lightning II, the world’s only ﬁfth generation supersonic short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) strike ﬁghter.
Our nation’s forwarddeployed and forwardengaged expeditionary naval forces have reassured our allies, prevailed over our
Marine Corps Aviation Association Invites Public to Celebrate with Marine Aviators The Marine Corps Aviation Association (MCAA) is a non-proﬁt 501(c) 19 veterans’ organization. Although ﬁrst chartered in 1972, its genesis dates back to World War I with the First Marine Aviation Force Veterans. As a result, sharing the legacy and heritage of Marine aviation and bringing aviation Marines together, both active duty and retired, is at the core of our mission. MCAA promotes and recognizes professional excellence in Marine aviation, supports the fraternal bond of its membership, preserves Marine aviation heritage and safeguards the future of Marine aviation through awards programs, events and publications. MCAA has 73 corporate members. A large part of our membership comes from the aerospace industry. Through our corporate membership and generous donations, we support numerous awards, scholarship programs, The Wounded Warrior Program and Semper Fi Fund. MCAA
also supports aviation memorials and aircraft museum restorations. The pinnacle of events for our organization is the annual presentation of 28 individual and unit awards to our deserving young Marines—the best of the best! These awards are presented at the annual MCAA Awards Banquet. This year’s event will be held May 16-19 at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md. On May 16, the public is invited to a wreath laying ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony will be followed by an aerial review of 12-16 aircraft. Marine Corps jets will close the aerial review with a Missing Man formation. We encourage you to witness this event, depicting the sacriﬁces and contributions of 100 years of “Boots in the Air.” Additionally, please visit the Gaylord, where our industry partners will
have spectacular centennial exhibits on display. The hours will be 3-9 p.m. on May 17 and 18. On May 19 the hours will be 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. The celebration of 100 years of Marine Corps aviation also will be the theme of this year’s Joint Service Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base. The public will be able to view the AV-8B Harrier II and MV22 Osprey in action, along with many other active and historic aircraft. The event will be free of charge, 8 a.m.5 p.m. May 19 and 20. Parking is available at FedEx Field and at the Branch Avenue Metro Station, with shuttle buses running to the base until 1 p.m. For more information, see jsoh.org Please visit our website for updates: ﬂymcaa.org
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enemies and demonstrated the truth in the early observation of then Maj. Alfred A. Cunningham when, in September 1920, he stated, “the only excuse for aviation in any service is its usefulness in assisting the troops on the ground to successfully carry out their missions.” The unbreakable bond between Marines on the ground and in the air has been proven repeatedly, from the dark days of the Korean War where Marine aircraft helped keep Communist forces at bay, to Vietnam and now to the modern battleﬁelds of Iraq and Afghanistan. There, Marine aviation is still continually in the ﬁght every day, safeguarding and supporting our ground forces who continue to press the advantage against America’s enemies. These recent successes stand as evidence that we have learned and applied the lessons of the past and carry out our missions with the same spirit of innovation and focus that has long served as the hallmark of Marine aviation.
An F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter lands aboard the USS Wasp. The F-35B currently being tested is the ﬁrst supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing strike ﬁghter. (Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin)
FROM MCCUTCHEON PG.1
strikes. Also, aircraft could greatly reduce the risk of hitting the wrong targets close to where troops were ﬁghting, Allison said. The deﬁning moment for this technique occurred during World War II, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur planned his return to the Philippines, Kristy said. Then a 29-year-old operations ofﬁcer, Lt. Col. McCutcheon organized training for Army infantry and Marine pilots and gunners, preparing them to conduct close air support using the new direct communication procedures. “It worked ﬂawlessly,” Kristy said. “The left ﬂank of MacArthur’s troops was covered entirely by Marine aircraft.” After World War II, McCutcheon switched his focus to helicopters, even though vertical aviation was not respected. “Some pilots didn’t consider rotary wing aviation real ﬂying and saw transitioning to the helicopter program as a career setback,” Ginther said. McCutcheon was one of the early commanders of the Marines’ ﬁrst helicopter squadron, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1). After this assignment, he took command of Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 161 (HMR-161) at the end of 1951, just a few months after it had conducted the ﬁrst helicopter airlifts of supplies and troops
into a combat area, in a remote mountainous section of Korea. The squadron demonstrated that troops and equipment could be inserted into and evacuated from areas that could not be reached by jeep, ship or ﬁxed-wing aircraft. “Today, helicopters are fundamental to the way we ﬁght, to the way we deliver troops to any part of the battleﬁeld,” Allison said. “You no longer need smooth terrain to land. You can keep the enemy off balance to where you’re going to show up next.” In Korea, helicopter squadrons continued to improve these techniques helping to develop a new assault concept, called vertical envelopment. “Although in the military there’s never one man doing this, he was a lead thinker and worked these policies and these ideas,” Allison said. Vertical envelopment was a response to the introduction of nuclear weapons at the end of World War II. The threat that nuclear weapons posed to an amphibious force made D-Day- or Iwo Jimastyle amphibious landings too risky. McCutcheon and others recognized that the helicopter could be used to deliver Marines quickly to tactically advantageous positions ashore while also allowing the supporting naval ships to
be dispersed away from the beach, Kristy said. “It was a technique that became standard in Vietnam. The helicopter was the key to this kind of assault,” Ginther said. After the Korean War, McCutcheon employed his practical experience and technical background as he met with helicopter manufacturers, pushing them to develop aircraft capable of carrying greater payloads and of operating in extreme environments without breaking down, Ginther said. After serving in Vietnam, McCutcheon returned to the United States as the Marine’s deputy chief of staff (air) and helped persuade Congress to purchase the Harrier. A second-generation variant of the ﬁrst vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft still ﬂies for the Marines. McCutcheon died of cancer in 1971 at age 55. Ginther, who pored through boxes of the general’s personal papers while researching his dissertation, said McCutcheon was a proliﬁc writer who skillfully promoted his ideas and advocated for Marine aviation. “He had a great passion for the Marine Corps and a great passion for aviation technology and he fused those to leave a great legacy to Marine Corps aviation,” Ginther said.
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100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation Marine Corps Aviation Is Forward-Deployed, Moving Forward One hundred years ago, Alfred A. Cunningham, our ﬁrst Marine Corps aviator, said that Marine Corps aviation exists to “assist the troops on the ground to successfully carry out their missions.” Marine aviation’s number one priority now is the same as it was then: to support the ground force in winning our nation’s wars. We know that we must be prepared to operate across the range of military operations, and we will do this with systems and capabilities that maintain and strengthen our fundamental expeditionary character. Our role as naval expeditionary forces is to be “most ready when the nation is least ready,” and this is due to the foresight of the 82nd Congress, which insisted upon forces forwarddeployed and ready to respond to crises before they became large contingencies. In 1952, that Congress determined that the Navy-Marine Corps team was the force of choice to perform this role. As that force of choice, Marines have responded from the sea in more than 110 interactions and contingencies in the last 20 years. The world is changing rapidly, but what America expects from its Navy-Marine Corps team has not changed. What we expect from ourselves also has not changed: immediate, decisive action on and from the world’s oceans. Our Marine Corps deploying forces go to sea as integrated Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, or “MAGTFs.” These agile and responsive forces stay aﬂoat and ready. For example, last year we took a 1,200-man infantry battalion off of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was operating at sea, and sent them ashore in Afghanistan to join the more than 20,000 Marines supporting the multinational effort in Operation Enduring Freedom. In the past two years Marines have fought in Afghanistan; fed refugees in Pakistan and evacuated over 10,000 people from the ﬂoods in that country; executed counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden; put Marines and sailors ashore in Japan and led the joint and interagency task force helping out after the earthquake and tsunami; and conducted theater security cooperation operations from the Black Sea to Africa. All of these operations were enabled by Marine Corps aviation. Last spring, the Marines returned to the shores of Tripoli. As the Arab Spring accelerated and the situation in Libya escalated, 26th MEU ships pulled into port, onloaded a Marine riﬂe battalion to replace the one which was ashore in Afghanistan, and then put back to sea offshore of North Africa, ready to respond should the need arise. And that need soon arose: Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers ﬂew the ﬁrst combat missions from aboard amphibious ships in the Mediterranean as part of NATO’s Operation Odyssey Dawn supporting rebel forces. Sea-based Marine aviation also rescued a downed U.S. Air Force pilot, ﬂying a rescue package of MV-22B Ospreys and CH-53E helicopters from the USS Kearsarge into Libya in the middle of the night to bring that pilot back to American ground.
FROM 100 YEARS PG.1
command and control.
Programs and Potential Emerging and evolving weapons systems and platforms are not ends in themselves; they are capabilities for building the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) of the future. Marine Corps aviation continues to send new and upgraded aircraft into the ﬂeet. The performance of the MV-22 Osprey and of the Yankee and Zulu model H-1s—just to name three of our new airframe types—are shining examples of enhanced capabilities we now bring to the MAGTF. The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter STOVL variant is ahead of its test schedule, and we will start delivery of those aircraft into an operational squadron this year. The future of our heavy lift assault support, the CH-53K, has already garnered acquisition excellence awards and is on track for initial operational capability in 2019. Our unmanned aircraft systems are in high demand, and we are adding new capabilities to that family of vehicles. Finally we continue to improve those enablers that make us truly expeditionary: our logistics, aviation ground support, and
Afghanistan Task Force 58’s 400mile amphibious operation from the Arabian Sea to Camp Rhino during the opening hours of Operation Enduring Freedom changed the way we think about ship-to-objective maneuver, operational maneuver from the sea and power projection ashore. Our middleweight, expeditionary force has been in the ﬁght for 10 years in Afghanistan, where they continue to make great strides. Marines are taking the ﬁght to the Taliban and al-Qaeda while preparing our Afghan partners to step up and take our places as we begin our withdrawal this year. Marine aviation has been a critical enabler in our relentless pursuit of the enemy and in executing our population-centric counterinsurgency strategy, by providing ﬁxed wing and rotary wing aviation attack capability and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) across a distributed battleﬁeld; employing from expeditionary airﬁelds; enabling maneuver; and minimizing our exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) through assault support. Our aviation assets continue to provide close air support and assault support, and are helping move Afghan troops, supplies and equipment to help rebuild the country. Ultimately, the ability of the Afghan government to provide security and deliver goods and services is what will win the people over and give legitimacy to their
establishment functions to warﬁghting functions and restructuring several critical warﬁghting programs to better utilize those funds to support the current and future ﬁght. Throughout all of these cost saving initiatives we remain steadfast in our commitment to maintain combat readiness, always keeping those Marines in the ﬁght as our ﬁrst priority, and remaining “most ready when the nation is least ready.”
Marines and sailors from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, make their way to an MV-22 Osprey at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. (USMC photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga)
To enable this strategic forward presence, all of Marine Corps aviation is expeditionary. The equipment we use and the tactics we employ are focused on conducting operations in the littorals and beyond in harsh environments. The Marine Corps has made signiﬁcant advances in aviation technologies that support our mission set and make us a more agile and responsive seaborne force. The Marine Corps pioneered the battleﬁeld use of the helicopter, and now is doing the same with tilt-rotor technology. The MV-22B Osprey is the next step in the evolution of rotary lift and is now at the forefront of assault support capability. The Osprey completed three deployments to Iraq, is on its fourth deployment to Afghanistan, and is on its fourth aboard U.S. Navy ships as part of the deployed Navy-Marine Corps team. In the same way the Osprey revolutionizes assault support, the Joint Strike Fighter will revolutionize tactical air support of ground forces. The Marine Corps continues to use our rugged, proven helicopters and jets at sea and ashore, and we are breaking new ground with our family of unmanned aircraft systems. All of this is tied together by a deployable command and control
government—and it will have come with signiﬁcant support from the MAGTF. As we draw down our forces, Afghan police will adopt a traditional “protect and serve” role in the town centers. The Afghan army will move to outlying military bases to replace our Marines and soldiers while we focus on advising Afghan forces and battling insurgents in more remote areas. The Commandant plans to draw down from the roughly 18,000 Marines we had in that country at the end of 2011 to a much smaller force by the end of 2012. You can be sure that Marine aviation will, as always, provide both the punch of offensive air support and the tactical mobility of assault support to keep our MAGTFs robust. The Paciﬁc: Japan and the MAGTF in Australia As we withdraw from Afghanistan, we are simultaneously turning our attention back to our amphibious roots to—as our Assistant Commandant has put it—“maintain our maritime soul.” As we do this, we will also increase our readiness and our forward presence, both ashore and aﬂoat, in the Paciﬁc. President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on Nov. 16, 2011, that Australia will welcome the deployment of U.S. Marines to Darwin and Northern Australia for approximately six months at a time. During the deployment, those Marines will conduct exercises in the Northern Territory and train on a rotational basis with the Australian Defense Force. The initial
deployment will consist of a small liaison element and a company of 250 U.S. Marines. The intent in the coming years is to establish a rotational presence of up to 2,500 Marines: the Australia Rotational MAGTF. This MAGTF will be part of that forward presence in the Paciﬁc theater. As we build our presence in Australia, we will also continue to build on our alliance with Japan. The Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI) was directed in 2002 by the Security Consultative Committee, consisting of the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Japanese Minister of Defense. It is an ongoing, comprehensive review of bilateral roles, missions and capabilities to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance. This will ensure relevancy in future strategic environments and has yielded a roadmap to America’s Paciﬁc realignment. The Marine Corps is a substantial component of America’s Paciﬁc force posture. As we deploy aviation assets across the large expanse of the United States Paciﬁc Command (PACOM) area of operations, we bring enhanced capabilities that effectively “shrink” the areas of responsibility (AOR) due to the increased range and speed of our MV-22s, improve our operational agility afforded by the F-35B and improve connectivity to joint, allied and coalition assets. Marine aviation’s overriding objective is to ensure that Marines in the Paciﬁc are given the resources required to maintain MAGTF core competencies and remain
system, while our logistics from sea to shore enable our expeditionary character. President Theodore Roosevelt, in his second inaugural message to Congress in 1902, stated, “A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.” More than a century later, Roosevelt’s quote still serves as ﬁne advice. The nation has demanded our ready expeditionary NavyMarine Corps aviation force for the past 100 years, and will continue to demand that force into the future. We are always prepared, ready to assist in a humanitarian mission or full-scale combat, and everything in between. These are turbulent times, and a strong naval service is vitally important to the health and security of our nation. Your Navy-Marine Corps partnership is strong, and will remain strong as we look forward to the next century of success. Adapted from “Marine Aviators: A Century of Service” by Marine Aircraft Wing PA, 2nd MAW, with assistance from Benjamin Kristy, aviation curator for the National Museum of the Marine Corps
postured to meet combatant commander requirements. The Marine Corps is committed to current plans to maintain a forward presence in the Paciﬁc region that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable. As discussions continue, we will keep our force in readiness in the Western Paciﬁc and work with our allies and partners to preserve peace and ensure regional stability. The Next One Hundred Years Our Marine Corps aviation legacy is rich with names: places like Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima; Chosin and Inchon; Khe Sanh and Da Nang; Kuwait City and Basrah; Bosnia and Kosovo. Our current generation of aviation professionals stands up well against that history. They have written into our legacy new names from other parts of the world, such as Fallujah and Marjah and Sangin, that show the enduring strength of our air-ground team. We are, indeed, no better friend and no worse enemy, and as guarantors of peace it is incumbent upon us to keep our edge sharp and ready. The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum on the National Mall is featuring the United States Marine Corps and our aviation heritage, in a feature exhibition running through January 2013. In a series of paintings, our tradition and our heritage are on display, and the layout of that room is instructive. The paintings are laid out chronologically, celebrating
Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling (Photo courtesy USMC)
our successes beginning with 1912 and arcing counterclockwise in a circle up to the present day at the same spot in the room. At the exhibit entranceway, a visitor can stand in one place and see who we are in one snapshot. The cloth wings and biplanes of the Allied Expeditionary Force planes of World War I start on the right. They lead to the Cactus Air Force and the Chosin Reservoir and the relief of besieged Marines at Khe Sanh in the distance. The aircraft get bigger and faster and sleeker as the paintings illustrate Desert Storm and then arc back, to complete the circle at the entrance of the room with our F/A-18 Hornets and Ospreys in Iraq and Afghanistan today. World War II aces Joe Foss and Marion Carl and Marine aviation pioneer Gen. Roy Geiger would be proud of the young men and women of today’s force. It is poignant for those of us in uniform to pause in our day-to-day operations and reﬂect on the legacy those warriors left for us. We know the deep and abiding legacy which we must honor and which we must live up to. We will do that, as we prepare for the next war in any clime and place.
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100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation
Twenty-Five Signiﬁcant Dates in USMC Aviation History
1910 1. May 22, 1912 1st Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham reports for ﬂight training at the Navy’s ﬂight school at Annapolis, Md. Marks the birth of Marine aviation. Right: Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham ﬂoats in a Curtiss hydroaeroplane in 1914. Cunningham was Naval Aviator No. 5 and the ﬁrst Marine aviator. (Photo courtesy of USMC.)
2. Oct. 14, 1918 Marine pilots in France ﬂy the ﬁrst all-Marine combat mission. 4. Jan. 6-8, 1928 1st Lt. Christian F. Schilt ﬂies multiple casualty evacuations ﬂights from a hacked-out jungle airﬁeld in Nicaragua, an effort for which he received the Medal of Honor. Below: First Lt. Christian Schilt, 1925. (Photo courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center.)
6. Feb. 13, 1943 Marine Fighting Squadron 124 introduces the iconic Marine ﬁghter/bomber, the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, to combat. 8. Feb. 1-4, 1945 Marine Air Groups 24 and 32 provide superior close air support for U.S. Army columns driving toward Manila using pioneering air command and control procedures developed by Lt. Col. Keith B. McCutcheon. Left: Curtiss SB2C Helldiver in the Philippines, 1945. (Photo courtesy USMC.)
1920 3. July 16, 1927 In any early display of effective close air support, Marine aviators ﬂying De Havilland DH-4 aircraft strafe enemy Sandinista forces encircling Marines on the ground at Ocotal, Nicaragua.
5. august-nOveMber 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal. Marine ﬁghter and dive bombing squadrons play an essential role in Marine Corps success at this pivotal World War II battle. Right: Two Grumman F4F Wildcats arrive at Guadalcanal. (Photo courtesy of USMC.)
7. Jan. 3, 1944 Maj. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, commanding ofﬁcer of Marine Fighting Squadron 214, the “Black Sheep,” shoots down his 28th Japanese aircraft, making him the recognized Marine top ace. Ironically, Boyington was shot down himself in the same engagement. Right: Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (center) is greeted by old squadron mates of VMF-214 upon his release from Prisoner of War camp and return to the United States. (Photo courtesy USMC.)
10. Dec. 1, 1947 Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) is commissioned. It would eventually become “Marine One,” the designated Presidential transport helicopter squadron.
9. Feb. 19, 1945 Marine carrier-based squadrons ﬂy air support for Marine amphibious landing at Iwo Jima. 11. July 7, 1950 First combat deployment of a dedicated Marine air-ground team as 1st Provisional Marine Brigade sails for Korean War combat. Aviation element includes helicopters marking ﬁrst Marine use of helicopters for combat. 12. nOveMber-DeceMber 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir. First Marine Aircraft Wing provides essential air support for embattled Marines ﬁghting out of a Chinese trap in horriﬁc winter conditions.
14. Feb. 20, 1962 Marine Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. becomes the ﬁrst American to orbit the earth, as he pilots the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7. Left: Marine pilot John Glenn in his F4U at Majuro, Marshall Islands, in 1944. (USMC photo by Bob Rocker.) 16. June 1, 1965 Six VMA–225 A–4s launch from the short airﬁeld for tactical support (SATS) airstrip at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, for a combat strike. This action marks the Marines’ ﬁrst combat use of this type of expeditionary airﬁeld. 18. april 16, 1971 Marine Attack Squadron 513 takes delivery of Marine Corps’ ﬁrst AV-8A Harrier aircraft, thus introducing a vertical/short take off and vertical landing capability to Marine tactical aviation. Left: A Marine AV-8A Harrier prepares to land. (Photo courtesy USMC.)
19. Feb. 17, 1977 Marines accept delivery of their ﬁrst EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, thereby introducing a new era and new capabilities in tactical airborne electronic warfare. 21. Jan. 17, 1991 Operation Desert Storm begins. The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing provides essential combat aviation support for the coalition’s liberation of Kuwait. 23. nOv. 8, 2004 Battle for Fallujah begins. Marine aviation command and control orchestrates continuous close air support in tight urban combat for Marines and soldiers while minimizing collateral damage. Left: An F/A-18 Hornet ﬂies over Iraq, where Hornets are among the umbrella of aircraft providing close air support to troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (USMC photo by Lt. Col. Arthur Behnke.)
25. March 22, 2011 Marines of Reinforced Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266, ﬂying MV-22 Ospreys, rescue downed U.S. Air Force pilots in Libya, while other squadron aircraft provide air support and humanitarian aid. Left: MV-22 Osprey participates in mission to Libya, 2011. (USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Santiago G. Colon Jr.)
13. sept. 21, 1951 Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 161 makes ﬁrst combat vertical assault as it inserts infantry Marines into combat positions during the battle of the Punchbowl in the Korean War. Right: A Sikorsky H-19 unloads troops. (Photo courtesy USMC.)
15. april 9, 1962 Helicopters of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 ﬂying from U.S. Navy amphibious ships land at Soc Tran, South Vietnam, for Operation Shuﬂy. Marks beginning of Marine Corps participation in the Vietnam War. Right: Lt. Col. Archie Clapp led HMM-362 during Operation Shuﬂy, pioneering many of the tactics and techniques used by squadrons that followed. Shuﬂy helicopters moved troops, inserted quick-reaction forces, evacuated casualties, and performed other tasks supporting ground units. (Photo courtesy Gray Research Center.)
17. January-March 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh. Marines of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing provide essential air support in all varieties to embattled and cut-off Marines in this epic Vietnam War battle.
1990 20. June 1, 1978 Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) is commissioned, with standardized tactics and techniques for integration of aviation into ground combat operations.
22. nOv. 25, 2001 Marine helicopters and KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft insert Marines into Afghanistan at Camp Rhino from amphibious ships 400 miles away, marking the ﬁrst sizeable commitment of ground combat forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. Right: From Vietnam to Afghanistan, KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft such as this one have completed a variety of tasks, from refueling both ﬁxed- and rotary-wing aircraft to delivering troops, armored personnel carriers and more worldwide. (Photo courtesy USMC.) 24. Oct. 13, 2007 First combat mission of the revolutionary MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft is made by Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263.
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100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation Marines Moving Rapidly Forward with Unmanned Systems Marine Expeditionary Force UAS At the MEF level, the RQ-7B Shadow replaced the aging RQ-2B Pioneer as a bridge to a more persistent UAS with size, weight and power to employ sophisticated electronic warfare, communications and weapon payloads. The Shadow system consists of four air vehicles, two ground control stations, a launcher and support equipment. The air vehicle uses a combined electronic optical and infrared payload and has six hours of endurance with ranges up to 80 miles. The RQ-7B Shadow has undergone signiﬁcant improvements since entering the inventory in 2007. The resulting system has increased endurance, expanded command and control, and greater ability to affect the ﬂight through direct communication with supported ground forces. To continue to meet the warﬁghter demand, a series of additional RQ-7B Shadow improvements are scheduled for the next two years. These enhancements include expanding the communications relay to operate in UHF frequencies, employing a wide focal plane array camera to provide high resolution imagery over a broader area than now possible, and developing a weapons capability to reduce the time between locating a target and releasing a weapon. Cargo UAS In November 2011, the Marine Corps deployed two Lockheed Martin-Kaman KMAX Cargo UAS to Afghanistan, replacing the traditional UAS focus on reconnaissance with a transportation mission that can reduce the risk to Marines of casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Initial results were promising, with more than 112,000 lbs. of cargo moved to combat outposts in the ﬁrst three months. In the tradition of Marine Corps innovation and agility, Cargo UAS operations are evolving to include the ability to deliver supplies autonomously to a pre-determined waypoint. Cpl. Joshua A. Legnosky, an unmanned aerial vehicle technician, pushes an RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle to the launching area on Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan. (USMC photo by Cpl. Samantha H. Arrington)
Aviation Expeditionary Enablers Branch, USMC For the past quarter century, the Marine Corps has used Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to support Marine Air Ground Task Force operations. Early successes with remotely piloted vehicles during Operation Desert Storm, operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Operation Iraqi Freedom underscored the value of these key battleﬁeld enablers, but it was not until the extended conﬂicts in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Marines emphasized UAS capacity and capability to meet an everincreasing demand. Similar to the advent of manned aviation a century ago, unmanned systems began as simple reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition platforms serving in support roles to more sophisticated ﬁre and maneuver. However, over the last ﬁve years, technological advancements have enabled the UAS to provide more signiﬁcant and meaningful combat capabilities and make greater contributions to ﬁeld operations. Some compare the growth in the UAS community to changing tires on a car traveling at 70 mph. Innovation is so rapid that improvements are measured in months rather than the years typical with other acquisition programs. In 2007, the Marine Corps employed two Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons (VMU) comprised of 194 Marines with a ﬁveplane RQ-2B Pioneer unmanned system. In 2008, the VMUs transitioned to the RQ-7B Shadow UAS resulting in a 12-plane squadron organized into three detachments. A third VMU squadron was added to address one of the lowest deploymentto-dwell (home time) ratios of 1 to .83. By 2010, a fourth VMU (a reserve squadron) was established and VMU manpower was increased by 30 percent to prepare for future programs.
Squad Level UAS At the lowest tactical level, squad leaders employ the RQ-11B Raven, which includes a color electro-optical sensor for day and infrared sensor for night. At just 4.5 pounds, the hand-launched Raven ﬁts into a backpack and contains three air vehicles, a ground control station, spare parts and payloads providing 60 to 90 minutes of reconnaissance within a sixmile radius. The Marine Corps has invested in more than 450 systems to support infantry, reconnaissance, artillery, logistics, and wing support units. Battalion/Regiment UAS In 2004, at the request of the Marine Expeditionary Force Commander, a small company in Bingen, Wash., demonstrated a UAS designed for the albacore ﬁshing ﬂeet that could be used to support combat operations in Al Anbar province in Iraq. Since then, the Marine Corps has used the Scan Eagle UAS in Iraq and Afghanistan and on Marine Expeditionary Unit/ Amphibious Readiness Group ships to provide unprecedented situational awareness. Scan Eagle has a range of 60 miles and ﬂight endurance of 13 hours, limited only by the need to change the electronic optical or infrared payload. The Scan Eagle meets the need for a small, lightweight expeditionary UAS capable of launch and recovery from austere locations ashore and L-Class ships aﬂoat. In July 2010, a 28-month engineering, manufacturing, and development contract was awarded to Boeing/Insitu’s RQ-21A Integrator. The combined electro-optical infrared sensor, automated information system, communications relay, and 25-pound payload is launched by a catapult and recovered by a unique wing capture system that “hooks” a vertical wire. The RQ-21A is scheduled for delivery next year.
Lance Cpl. Anthony Nolley-Crosson, an intelligence clerk, prepares to launch an RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft system. (USMC photo by Cpl. Reece E. Lodder)
Future UAS The strength of the Marine’s unmanned systems will continue to be in performing the dull, dirty, and dangerous war ﬁghting missions. Some missions such as routine resupply, surveillance and target acquisition are well-suited for autonomous technology, but operations such as troop transport would require overcoming cultural hurdles to convince passengers that a pilot is not required. In short, these unmanned systems will be integrated into a larger war ﬁghting force, without simply replacing manned aircraft with unmanned ones. If manned aviation progress over the ﬁrst 100 years of Marine Corps history is any indication, the next century promises untold advances for unmanned systems.
PRoFilES FRoM MARinE CoRPS AviAtion HiStoRy Gen. thomas H. Miller, Jr. Thomas H. Miller, Jr., is known as “father of the Harrier” because of his devotion to that and other short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. In 1968, he became the ﬁrst American to ﬂy the AV-8A jump jet and soon became its leading advocate. Born in 1923 in San Antonio, Tex., Miller enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in June 1942. He became an aviation cadet, attended ﬂight training at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Tex., and earned his wings in March 1943. During World War II, he transferred to the Marine Corps and served in the Paciﬁc with VMO-155 (later VMF-155). Miller also participated in combat operations in Korea and served as Chief of Staff, III Marine Amphibious Force, during the Vietnam conﬂict. A test pilot, Miller set a world speed record in 1960 in the F4H-1 Phantom II, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. At the end of his career with the Marines, Gen. Miller served as deputy chief of staff for aviation from 1975 until he retired in 1979. Miller ﬁrst became involved with the Harrier when, as a colonel, he and Lt. Col. Bud Baker were assigned to evaluate the British-made aircraft in 1968. Miller was impressed, and during the subsequent acquisition battles, he emphasized the AV-8A Harrier’s ability to carry out the
(Photo courtesy USMC)
same mission as the A-4 Skyhawk. Extensive inquiry and testing, budget battles, and slow production hampered the arrival of the Marine Corps’ vertical/short take-off and landing aircraft. After Marine ofﬁcials were convinced of the Harrier’s capabilities, the Department of Defense funded the Hawker Siddeley AV-8A in a special amendment to the budget plan for Fiscal Year 1970. The ﬁrst AV-8A Harrier, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas in the United States, was delivered in 1971. Adapted from 100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation: An Illustrated History by Roxanne Kaufman
Gen. Roy S. Geiger The Marine Corps was a third career for Roy Geiger, but once he found his place, he made an indelible mark on it. Gen. Roy S. Geiger was born on Jan. 25, 1885, in Middleburg, Fla. He completed Florida State Normal School in 1904, earned his teaching certiﬁcate the following year, and brieﬂy worked as a junior high principal. Then he returned to college and graduated from Stetson University in 1907 with a law degree. Upon passing the bar exam, he opened a law practice. Quickly disillusioned with the legal profession, Geiger enlisted in the Marine Corps. On Nov. 2, 1907, he departed for basic training at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. After attending Marine Ofﬁcers’ School he served with the Marine detachments aboard the USS Wisconsin and USS Delaware. Geiger then served in Nicaragua and China, and it was those experiences that he would carry into the air, envisioning how to improve air-ground integration. Of the ﬁrst ﬁve Marine aviators, Geiger undoubtedly had the greatest inﬂuence on the advancement of Marine aviation. When he enlisted in the Corps, military airplanes were an immature technology and untested as a weapon of war. By the end of his career, he witnessed the beginning of the jet age. Geiger embraced technological advancements and
(Photo courtesy USMC)
formulated innovative ways to apply them to the Marine Corps’ mission. Early in Geiger’s career, Alfred Cunningham made this recommendation of Geiger to Col. John A. Lejeune: “Having canvassed all of those who appear to be suitable for aviation, in order of desirability, I would place Geiger No. 1 on the list.” Geiger served twice as the head of the Marine’s aviation activities. In 1931-1935, he was the ofﬁcer in charge for aviation. In 1943, he served as director of Marine Corps aviation before being called back to active duty in World War II. In 1945, Geiger became the ﬁrst Marine to command a ﬁeld army. When Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, commanding general of the Tenth Army, died in action in Okinawa, Geiger assumed command and led the Tenth Army to the successful conclusion of World War II’s ﬁnal campaign. Adapted from 100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation: An Illustrated History by Roxanne Kaufman
Charles Bolden, Jr. Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., began his duties as the 12th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the agency’s missions and goals. Bolden’s conﬁrmation marked the beginning of his second stint with the nation’s space agency. His 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Ofﬁce. After joining the ofﬁce in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His ﬂights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the ﬁrst joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew. Bolden was born Aug. 19, 1946, in Columbia, S.C., and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. After completing ﬂight training, Bolden ﬂew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, while stationed in Namphong, Thailand, from 1972-1973. Bolden earned a master of science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977 and then trained at the Naval Test Pilot School
(NASA photo by Bill Ingalls)
at Patuxent River, Md. While working at the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980. Next month, Bolden’s mission will be as the speaker for the 2012 John H. Glenn Lecture in Space History at the National Air and Space Museum. Bolden will reﬂect on his career as a Marine aviator, a Space Shuttle pilot and commander, and his leadership of America’s space agency. The lecture will be held June 27 at 8 p.m. For more information and to reserve overﬂow tickets (the hall is full) see nasm.si.edu.
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100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation MarIne CorpS LogIStICS tHen and noW
Lance Cpl. Andrew Donnelley, a team leader with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, launches an RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft system. (USMC photo by Cpl. Reece E. Lodder)
For More InForMatIon Marine aviation Centennial Week ﬂymcaa.org Sponsored by the Marine Corps Aviation Association. May 14-20, at the Gaylord National Harbor Conference Center, Oxon Hill, Md. Registration required for most events. aerial review and Wreath Laying Ceremony Wednesday, May 16, Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Va., 4:30 p.m. Joint Service air Show May 19 and 20, Andrews Air Force Base, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The annual air show will feature 100 years of Marine Corps aviation. The public will be able to view the AV-8B Harrier II and MV22 Osprey in action, along with many other active and historic aircraft. The event will be free of charge. Parking is available at FedEx Field and at the Branch Avenue Metro Station, with shuttle buses running to the base until 1 p.m. For more information, see jsoh.org
A Piasecki HRP-1 helicopter, known as the “Flying Banana,” transports a load during a training exercise more than 60 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Maj. John M. Elliott)
national Museum of the Marine Corps, triangle, Va. usmcmuseum.com May 12, Aviation Family Day, noon to 3 p.m. May 26, Curators Chat, 1 p.m. Aviation Curator Benjamin Kristy discusses Marine Corps Aviation national air and Space Museum, national Mall nasm.si.edu The permanent collections here and at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., feature artifacts from Marine Corps Aviation. A special exhibition at the National Mall museum called “Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation: 19122012,” consists of 91 works of art selected from the Marine Corps Art Program. The exhibition continues until January 2013. 100 Years of Marine aviation: an Illustrated History By Roxanne Kaufman The book is available via the Government Printing Ofﬁce at www.gpo.gov for $115. It also is available as a free download in pdf format from the Marine Aviation Centennial website at marines.mil/unit/aviation/ centennial
In 2011, a CH-53E Super Stallion transports a Canadian Forces CH-47 Chinook during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. (USMC photo by Sgt. Thomas W. Dowd)
proFILeS FroM MarIne CorpS aVIatIon HIStorY 1st Lt. alfred a. Cunningham, Marine aviator number one Alfred A. Cunningham was born on March 8, 1882, in Atlanta, Ga.. At 16, he joined the 2nd Georgia Infantry Volunteers and deployed to Cuba for service in the Spanish American War. Despite Cunningham’s youth and inexperience, his commanding ofﬁcer praised him for being intelligent, eager to learn, and wellrespected by his peers. After the war, he sold real estate in Atlanta for the next 10 years. On Jan. 16, 1909, he entered the Marine Corps and received a commission as a second lieutenant. After graduating from the Marine Ofﬁcers’ School, he served the Marine detachments of the USS New Jersey and USS North Dakota. Upon promotion to ﬁrst lieutenant, he commanded the Marine detachment on the USS Lancaster. In 1911, he reported to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pa. Drawing from his sales background, Cunningham quickly aligned himself with inﬂuential Aero Club of America members and began promoting the idea of Marine aviation. To advance his cause, he acquired an airplane and received permission to use a small area of the Navy Yard as his base of operations. His loud and underpowered plane never ﬂew, but it gave him hands-on experience and an understanding of mechanical issues that would beneﬁt him in the years to come. Evidently, Cunningham’s efforts paid off, because he was detailed to aviation the following year. After earning his wings, 1st Lt. Cunningham was assigned the Navy’s Wright B-1. Within a year of his ﬁrst ﬂight on Oct. 4, 1912, he logged more than 200 ﬂights (many were only ﬁve to 10 minutes in duration) in the B-1. Often he had to cannibalize other aircraft to keep it serviceable. A few times, he appealed to Capt. Washington Chambers, U.S. Navy, for better equipment. Eventually, his equipment problem took care of itself when a storm hit Annapolis, damaging the B-1 beyond repair. During his career with the Marines, Cunningham continued as a leader and advocate for aviation. Cunningham received orders in February 1917 to organize the Aviation Company for the Advanced Base Force, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Designated as the commander of this unit, Cunningham soon emerged as de facto director of Marine Corps aviation. He recruited volunteers to become pilots and embarked on a campaign to deﬁne a mission for land-based marine air. After participating with British and French aviation missions in Europe, he presented a plan to use American marine aircraft to operate against submarines off the Belgian coast and against submarine bases at Zeebrugge, Ostend, and Bruges.
“ 1st Lt. Alfred Cunningham. (Photo courtesy USMC)
The Northern Bombing Group arrived at Brest on July 30, 1918. The Marines were sent to the ﬁelds at Oye, Le Fresne, and St. Pol, France; and at Hoondschoote, Ghietelles, Varsennaire and Knesselaere, Belgium. Despite shortages of planes, spare parts and tools, the marines participated in 43 raids with British and French units, as well as 14 independent raids, and shot down eight enemy aircraft. Planes of the group also dropped 52,000 pounds of bombs, and supplied 2,650 pounds of food in ﬁve food-dropping missions to encircled French troops. For his service in organizing and training the ﬁrst marine aviation force, Cunningham was awarded the Navy Cross. After World War I, Cunningham became ofﬁcer-in-charge of Marine Corps aviation and continued until December 1920. Cunningham served in a variety of capacities until he retired in ill health in 1935. Adapted from 100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation: An Illustrated History by Roxanne Kaufman and the Naval History and Heritage Command
We are the 9-1-1 force for the greater Helmand Province. Anyone who needed something lifted or a tactical insert, they gave us a call. I’m deﬁnitely proud of our Marines. We took Marines from two different coasts, brought them together, deployed during the height of the ﬁghting season and never missed a beat.
Lt. Col. alison J. thompson, commanding ofﬁcer of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, the ﬁrst woman to command a Marine squadron in afghanistan. (USMC photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones)
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© 2012 Lockheed Martin Corporation
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