JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- Surrounded by Marine Corps history inside Sywanyk's Scarlet & Gold nightclub, local military officials joined members of the Down East Chapter of the Noncommissioned Officers Association recently to recognize the latest recipients of the annual C.A. "Mack" McKinney Award.
Retired Sgt. Maj. C.A. McKinney presented the award to Lt. Gen. Emil R. Bedard and retired Gunnery Sgt. John E. Cotter.
According to retired Sgt. Maj. Joe L. Houle, an NCOA executive member, the prestigious award is given to people who take care of others and make a difference.
Bedard, currently the assistant commandant of Policy, Plans and Operations at Headquarters Marine Corps, joined the Corps Dec. 1, 1967. The infantry officer has commanded troops in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, as well as in Somalia. He has held command billets to include platoon commander and company executive officer of 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines; executive officer of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines; assistant operations officer, I Marine Amphibious Force; and commanding general of 2nd Marine Division and II Marine Expeditionary Force.
"I'm honored. ... It is award enough to have the privilege of wearing the uniform of a U.S. Marine," he said. "This award is about selflessness."
Cotter, a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, retired from active duty May 1, 1970 after earning the Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medals with Combat "Vs". He's served the NCOA Down East Chapter for 13 years. His NCOA awards include the Certificate of Recognition, Award of Excellence, Certificate of Achievement, Membership Recruiting awards, seven Super Saxon Merit Awards, and the Award of Honor, the most prestigious award presented to a member by the NCOA International Board of Directors. He is currently a trustee of the Down East Chapter of the NCOA #906.
The award is named for McKinney, who, after retiring, worked first as a lobbyist for the NCOA in Washington and then co-founded the "Military Coalition." This coalition unified a lobbying effort on behalf of roughly 30 organizations representing a vast majority of the military population and their families, both officers and enlisted alike. Established in 1992, the Down East Chapter presents the award to members of the armed forces who exemplify professionalism, dedication and service to the country and community over a sustained period of time.
Past-enlisted award recipients include retired Sgt. Maj. Gene Overstreet and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Marty Goldman. Officer recipients include retired Gen. Carl Mundy and Gen. James L. Jones, both former Marine Corps commandants.