March 26, 2014


If this is the first edition of the Marine Parents newsletter you have received, WELCOME! If you are a returning reader we are glad you have joined us and are thankful for your support.

Inspired in part by the 12 year review process that resulted in President Obama awarding 24 Medals of Honor to Army veterans early last week, and in part by frequent complaints from Congress on how the awards process works, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered an overhaul of the military awards process. Learn more in our first piece.

With the recent announcement that Marine veteran Cpl. Kyle Carpenter will receive the Medal of Honor for shielding a fellow Marine from a live grenade in Afghanistan, California congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter has written a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to take a closer look at the awards for two Marines who reportedly committed similar heroic acts in Iraq. Learn more in our second piece.   

On March 4, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus ordered a 25 percent increase in sea pay for Sailors and Marines stationed at sea. This is the first increase in sea pay in more than a decade and just the second raise in almost 30 years. Learn more in our third piece.

Tragedy has struck the family of a new Marine whose mother had been missing since early December. Learn more, and how to share your condolences, in our fourth piece.

Our fifth piece is a series of "Quick Read" articles. Check it out to learn more about a retired Marine who led Team USA to Paralympic hockey gold, about the Corps' plans to seek exceptions on opening all combat roles to female Marines, or about a corpsman who was recently presented with a Silver Star for actions in Afghanistan almost two years ago.

Finally, we take a look at this issue's Team Marine Parents Featured Participants, a New Jersey Family preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon in October and then to send their son to MCRD Parris Island in December--Team Collins.

God bless and Semper Fi!


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Tracy Della Vecchia

Founder and Executive Director, Inc.
Hagel Orders Awards Process Overhaul
Directive Follows Frequent Complaints From Congress

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (U.S. Government Photo) 

Last Thursday, March 21, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of all decorations and awards programs, a decision that was inspired in part by the 12 year review process that resulted in President Obama awarding 24 Medals of Honor to Army veterans early last week, and in part by frequent complaints from Congress on how the awards process works. 


In his directive, Hagel wrote that he wanted "a comprehensive review of the department's military decorations and awards program to ensure it provides avenues to appropriately recognize the service, sacrifices and actions of our service members."    


While the review will focus on combat and valor awards, it will also re-examine the drone service medal that was repealed by Hagel last year, and will be conducted by Jessica Wright, the Department of Defense's Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

"The Department of Defense has a solemn obligation to recognize and honor service members who distinguish themselves in combat," Hagel said. "After 13 years of war, we must use lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to improve our awards program and ensure that our troops are being honored appropriately."

Click here to
Two Marines to Have Navy Crosses Upgraded?
California Congressman Seeks to End Subjectivity in Award Process

Cpl. Kyle Carpenter is set to be the fifth Marine or Navy Seal to earn the Medal of Honor in Iraq or Afghanistan. (U.S. Government Photo) 

With the recent announcement that Marine veteran Cpl. Kyle Carpenter will receive the Medal of Honor for shielding a friend and fellow Marine from a live grenade in Afghanistan, California congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter has written a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to take a closer look at the awards for two Marines who reportedly committed similar heroic acts just one week after the Defense Department announced a comprehensive review of its military decorations and awards process.


Rep. Hunter's letter discussed the cases of four Marines--two of whom were awarded Medals of Honor and two of whom received Navy Crosses--and used those cases to highlight the inconsistencies in the Medal of Honor process.   


In addition to the aforementioned Cpl. Carpenter, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham also received the nation's highest honor for falling on a grenade to save his comrades in Iraq in 2006.  


In contrast, Sgt. Rafael Peralta and Sgt. Maj. Bradley Kasal were awarded Navy Crosses for absorbing grenade blasts to protect fellow Marines, which Hunter disagrees with.  


In his letter, Hunter wrote, "For each of these Marines, their actions are uniquely similar. Enemy grenades were involved and each Marine either covered the grenade blast or intentionally shielded others. All of them preserved the lives of their fellow Marines."


Click here to read more...         

Sea Pay Raise Set for Summer
First Raise in More Than a Decade

Two AV-8B Harrier II jets with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepare to take off from the flight deck. (Photo By: Cpl. Codey Underwood)
Many Marines who go to sea can expect a pay raise this summer after Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that the Navy will be increasing most career sea pay rates by 25 percent this summer, the first such raise in more than a decade (and only the second in nearly 30 years). 

In a March 4 news release, Secretary Mabus said that, "This increase is long overdue and is meant to reward our sailors and Marines for their continued sacrifices as part of 'America's Away Team'...This change to career sea pay will both improve critical sea-duty manning and reward those who take these challenging seagoing assignments."

As of March 6, a total of 4,685 Marines were receiving career sea pay, according to Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs officials. Marines eligible for the pay raise include, but aren't limited to, those on a Marine expeditionary unit pump, Marine pilots, and maintainers assigned to an aircraft carrier.

To learn more, or to sign up now, please click here...
Tragedy Strikes New Marine


Honor, Courage & Commitment are not just Marine Corps values, they are also values Chrisandra Williams instilled in her son long before he left for boot camp. Chrisandra, from Shawneetown, Illinis, went missing on December 2, 2013 while her son Dustin was a Marine Recruit. Dustin was permitted an emergency leave to help find his mother but had to go back to training before being able to locate her.     


Dustin continued to go through recruit training under much mental anguish and distress, eventually graduating and becoming a Marine in January. At that time, his mother had still not been found and was unable to attend his graduation, so Dustin graduated holding a picture of her.   


Last Thursday, March 20, 2014, Mrs. Williams was  found with her vehicle submerged in the Ohio River. If you would like to send condolences to this Marine and his family, you can address them as follows: 

PVT Dustin H. Williams (USMC)
Watson Funeral Home
1517 Locust St.


Quick Reads
  • Sgt. Joshua Sweeney was injured by an IED in 2009  in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Sweeney)
    Team USA Wins Sled Hockey Gold 

    On March 16, Team USA defeated Team 
    Russia in the 2014 Paralympic sled hockey championship game by a score of 1-0. Numerous wounded veterans were on the American roster and the championship-clinching goal was scored on a breakaway by Marine veteran (and one of the team's alternate co-captains) Sgt. Joshua Sweeney, a bilateral amputee who lost both legs and suffered severe arm injuries after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2009.
    Click here to learn more... 
  • Corps to Seek Exceptions on Female Combat Roles
    Pfcs. Katie Gorz, Christina Fuentes Montenegro, and Julia Carroll became the first female Marines to graduate from ITB on Nov. 21, 2013 (Photos courtesy of Sgt. Tyler L. Main and CWO2 Paul S. Mancuso)  
    On March 12, Marine Corps Commandant General Jim Amos sent a force integration plan to top Marine Corps officers and enlisted leaders that revealed that more women will be assigned to previously closed combat arms units while also emphasizing that the Corps is prepared to seek exceptions to the 2013 Defense Department directive that opens all combat roles to women by Jan. 1, 2016. In his plan, Amos wrote that, "My decision to integrate or recommend an (exception to policy) will be based on my foremost guiding principle: fielding a Marine Corps that is ready to fight and win on short notice, in the most difficult and uncertain circumstances...We will maintain our high standards while ensuring the maximum success for every Marine."
    Click here to learn more... 
  • Corpsman Awarded Silver Star for Actions in Afghanistan 
    Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Zackery Penner is awarded the Silver Star by Major Gen. Raymond Fox commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, presented the medal to Penner at the hospital.  
    (U.S. Navy photo)
    At a ceremony last Wednesday, March 19, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (FMF) Zackery Penner was awarded the Silver Star for selfless bravery under fire in Afghanistan in 2012 when Penner was a corpsman with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. Over a 48 hour period in late June of that year, Penner exposed himself to enemy fire multiple times on two missions to treat wounded Marines and Afghan soldiers. Penner is the Navy's 13th Silver Star recipient in the 13 years of the War on Terror.
    Click here to learn more...  
Get to Know the Team
TMP Featured Participants: Team Collins

Last May, Michael (left) ran his first
half-marathon. After crossing the finish line, he went back out to
find his dad (right) on the marathon course and help him finish by running the last 5 miles by his side barefoot.
Team Marine Parents™ is a group of individuals, generally parents, family, and friends of Marines, who participate in athletic events nationwide to support our troops.  The mission is to raise funds and awareness of the organization's outreach programs.  Currently, there are more than 20 members of Team Marine Parents™ around the country.

This month's TMP featured participants are a family of runners from New Jersey--Team Collins.

"'Team Collins" is comprised of husband and wife Mike and Carol, their three sons, Ryan, Michael, and Justin, and a loyal Golden Retriever named Bude.

Both Mike and Carol come from families with proud, extensive military histories, and are proud to say that on December 4, their middle son, Michael, will ship out to MCRD Parris Island and begin his journey in the Corps.

In addition to supporting Team Marine Parents™, the Collins family has participated in a number of charitable events supporting causes and organizations such as St. Jude Children's Hospital, the Flight
93 Memorial, and the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Team Collins will be running in the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) on October 26 in Arlington, Virginia an look forward to participating in their first TMP event. When asked why they were running in support of Team Marine Parents™, Team Collins had the following to say:

We are honored and humbled to give back and hopefully make a small difference given the immeasurable sacrifice and commitment of our military men and women and their families.

Team Collins is currently halfway to their $1,000 goal, and they are quite confident that they'll have the remaining $500 raised well in advance of the MCM in October. Good luck Team Collins, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to such a great cause!

To read more about Team Collins, or to donate to their campaign, please click here...
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CAMP ROBERTS, Calif. - Marines with the tank platoon, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fire the 120mm smoothbore cannon of four M1A1 Abrams tanks during a live-fire training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., March 20. Realistic Urban Training Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise (RUTMEUEX) 14-1 allows the Marines and sailors of the 11th MEU the opportunity to employ techniques and tactics applicable to their future deployment. RUTMEUEX incorporates the majority of the ground combat element, aviation combat element, logistics combat element and command element of the MEU for the first time in the predeployment cycle.  (Photo By: Sgt. Melissa Wenger). , Inc., is a 501(c)(3) public charity., Inc., was founded in January 2003 in response to parents' needs to find information and to have a place to connect and share® with one another during their Marine's career. Our free online services and connections have expanded to support and educate Marine moms and dads, spouses, families and friends. We've more than 400,000 Marine and recruit families during boot camp, training, active duty and deployments. We've shipped more than 38,000 care packages overseas to our Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, sent 87,000 prayers and letters to injured Marines and served thousands of meals to wounded heroes and their families on the East and West coasts. You've found a place to connect and share.®

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