MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
More than 100 Marines, sailors and retirees gathered at the Paradise Point Officer’s Club, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, for the Marine Corps Association Foundation’s first luncheon of the year, March 3.
The luncheons bring together Marines, both active duty and retired, so they can not only mingle, but share information and knowledge amongst the past and present Marines.
Retired Maj. Gen. Les Palm, president and CEO of the MCAF, began the luncheon by giving a short welcoming speech and explaining the purpose of the foundation.
MCAF is a non-profit charitable organization within the Marine Corps Association, said Palm. It raises funds, helps support and expand programs and activities that are essential to the MCA’s goals.
Since the foundation first took off in August, they have donated more than 130 books to units in Afghanistan. These books were bought from the MCA and helped put money into the organization.
After explaining the foundation’s purpose, Palm introduced the guest speaker for the event, Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North.
Kelly began his speech by talking about the contributions and sacrifices reservists have made in order to keep a high operational-tempo.
“It’s a different reserve today, it’s not a weekend warrior organization like it used to be,” said Kelly. “At least half of the reservists I’ve met, have had multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa. They’re an operational reserve.”
Reservists strive to be physically fit and deployable while also burdened with other responsibilities.
Kelly mentioned that many reservists had families and civilian jobs they maintain all the while fulfilling their Marine commitment.
Another subject that was touched upon was the impact that the Marines had in Iraq, especially the Anbar Province, a province which Kelly was tasked with. He focused on as the accomplishments that Marines have achieved where other services failed.
When Kelly came back to the United States from Anbar he read about how the Anbar Province was taken from insurgents. He said he saw that credit was being given to just one person or unit.
The credit for the change that had occurred in Anbar goes to every service member that was there, said Kelly. It goes to every sergeant, staff sergeant and officer on the ground leading patrols. They were the ones that made the connection with the people of Anbar.
What those Marines and other service members did in Iraq, they are now doing in Afghanistan, Kelly added as the luncheon came to a close. That is winning the war.