Chronologies - 1997


___Jan - President Bill Clinton unveiled the winning design for a national World War II memorial planned for the Mall in Washington, D.C. It was designed 
by Friedrich St. Florian, former dean of the Rhode Island School of Design, and selected from more than 400 submissions in a nationwide design competition. The memorial design concept will honor all who served and sacrificed in World War II to include those who served in uniform as well as those on the home front.
1 Jan - The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,456,266 of whom 174,873 were Marines.
8 Jan - The Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses issued its report that found no final explanation for symptoms suffered by Gulf War veterans. The Pentagon's earlier efforts to investigate possible exposure to poison gas were criticized as superficial and lacking in credibility in the report. President Clinton asked the commission to continue its research another nine months.
13 Jan - Brigadier General Charles F. Bolden, Jr. was among nine Marine Corps officers nominated for promotion to the grade of major general. He would become the highest-ranking African American currently serving in the Corps. A Marine pilot and former NASA astronaut, Bolden serves as the Assistant Wing Commander, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, Naval Air Station Miramar, California.
20 Jan - "The President's Own" United States Marine Corps Band performed for its 50th inaugural as President William "Bill" Jefferson Clinton took the oath of office for the second time. Before the nation's leaders and a television audience of millions, the Marine Corps Band performed at the Inauguration Ceremony, marched in the parade, and played at two inaugural balls, sustaining a tradition that stretched from the days of President Thomas Jefferson almost 200 years ago.
20 Jan - Master Sergeant Thomas "Tom" P. Bartlett, USMC (Retired), long-time managing editor of Leatherneck magazine died at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, after a year-long struggle with cancer at the age of 63. He served on the staff of Leatherneck for more than 25 years since his retirement from the Marine Corps in 1971.
31 Jan - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 451, nicknamed "The Warlords," deactivated on this date. The squadron was first activated in 1944 and participated in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns of World War II. Since then, the squadron participated in the intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965, and the Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991. The F/A-18A Hornet squadron recently attained more than 80,000 hours of mishap-free flying, the first Marine tactical squadron to accomplish that tally.
8-17 Feb - The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in Exercise Island Thunder 97 in Sardinia, Italy. It was a joint/combined exercise with the U.S. Army's Southern European Task Force and elements of the Italian armed forces. Island Thunder 97 included a joint service noncombatant evacuation exercise, an amphibious assault, and a joint fire-support coordination exercise. 
10 Feb - Former heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, to begin 12 weeks of boot camp. The 29-year old millionaire boxing champion would leave boot camp 10 days later, not joining the ranks of boxing champ Leon Spinks who served on active duty in the Marine Corps.
10 Feb - The Marine Corps denounced as shocking and degrading video tapes shown recently on TV news programs depicting Marines getting "blood wings" in 1991 and 1993. Investigations into the hazing incidents were conducted and Marines involved were held accountable for their actions. A new Marine Corps Order (MCO 1700.28) addressing hazing would be signed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps on 18 June.

15 Feb - Gunnery Sergeant Patricia Crimmins became the first female Marine to earn the drum major military occupational specialty (MOS 5521). As the  
drum major for the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Field Marching Band, Crimmins would lead the unit during parades and ceremonies. 
18 Feb - An AV-8B Harrier of Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 crashed at Brogue Field, North Carolina. The pilot ejected and was medevaced to a 
local hospital for treatment. Nine days later, a Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 T-34C Turbo-Mentor crashed northeast of El Toro, California, killing two Marine lieutenants.
20 Feb - This date marks the 35th anniversary of astronaut John Glenn's historic space flight -- the first manned orbit of the earth -- considered a milestone in the American space program at a time when it was building toward a manned flight to the moon. A U.S. Senator since 1975, John H. Glenn, Jr., left the space program in 1964 and retired from the Marine Corps, at the grade of colonel, the following year. He served as a test pilot during the 1950s and was a highly decorated fighter pilot of World War II and the Korean War. 
25 Feb - In the continuing investigations into the illnesses suffered by thousands of U.S. veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Pentagon acknowledged that the Army was warned in 1991 that U.S. soldiers may have been exposed to nerve gas while blowing up a weapons depot in southern Iraq. The CIA gave the warning to the Army Central Command just eight months after the chemical weapons were destroyed but the warning was not taken seriously.
___Mar - The governments of the Republic of Korea and the United States decided not to hold the Team Spirit exercise in 1997. The decision was based on the recent security situation on the Korean Peninsula and would have no impact on the defense readiness of the ROK-US forces on the peninsula.
1-14 Mar - The Commandant's Warfighting Laboratory (CWL) conducted an Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) called Hunter Warrior. It involved more than 7,000 Marines and sailors and took place mainly in southern California. Designed to explore future tactical concepts, this large-scale experiment was the first of three AWEs which are part of the Sea Dragon five-year experimentation plan. The CWL was created by General Charles C. Krulak in one of his first official acts as Commandant. The Lab was charted to be his "test-bed" for evaluating change, assessing the impact of new technologies on warfighing, and expediting the introduction of new capabilities into the operating forces of the Marine Corps.
1-22 Mar - Marines participated in the largest U.S.-Australian combined exercise in the history of the U.S. Pacific Command, Exercise Tandem Thrust 97. It was designed to prepare and train forces for crisis action planning and executing response operations in the Pacific area. This marked the fourth of a series of exercises which began in 1990, but the first time the exercise was staged in Rockhampton, Australia's Shoalwater Bay Training Area. More than 8,000 Marines, 14 U.S. Navy warships and 20 Australian vessels -- over 28,000 troops -- participated. 
7 Mar - Joint Task Force (JTF) Pacific Haven, a consolidation of evacuees, was completed. The operation provided support to over 2,500 Kurds seeking asylum and eventual entry into the U.S. JTF Pacific Haven was activated in September 1986. Marines were assigned to the Tiyan housing area in Guam to support the overflow of Kurdish evacuees who were flown from Turkey where they had previously migrated from northern Iraq. 
13 Mar - Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Tirana, Albania, during Operation Silver Wake to evacuate some 900 U.S. citizens and third-world nationals. The large-scale noncombatant evacuation in the Albanian capital took place in the face of increasing civil revolt resulting from Albania's state of financial chaos. 
17 Mar - The Marine Corps and Army awarded a contract for the Lightweight 155mm Howitzer. Textron Marine and Land Systems Division of Cadillac Gage Textron, teamed with Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited, of the United Kingdom, to win the $40 million, three-year contract to build the new LW155. The new weapon would replace the M198 towed howitzer in both services.
23 Mar - About 350 U.S. troops deployed to Africa to prepare for possible evacuation of Americans from Zaire. Marines from the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit continued to standby in Operation Guardian Retrieval, the name assigned to the preparation for evacuation of Americans from Kinshasa, as rebels 
continued to take control of Zaire's capital city in a relatively peaceful manner. 
24 Mar - General Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps, signed a joint Navy and Marine Corps Order that called for the implementation of operational risk management (ORM) in all Navy and Marine Corps activities. The order stated that ORM would be considered a thought process or system of steps used during planning that would assist the commander and his staff in more thoroughly identifying risks associated with military operations. 
31 Mar - For the first time enlisted women Marines shot live ammunition from heavy weapons in combat training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In addition to operating the MK-19, a 40-millimeter weapon used extensively in the Persian Gulf War, women Marines joined their male platoon-mates in shooting machine guns and hurling hand grenades. As of this date, instead of proceeding directly from boot camp to specialty schools, women Marines would join the 17-day combat training program that had been reserved for men following the same pursuits. 
31 Mar - The Commandant of the Marine Corps approved the selection of Captain Jeffrey J. Kenney as the 1996 recipient of the Leftwich Trophy for outstanding Leadership. Captain Kenney was assigned to 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, 2d Marine Division. 
5 Apr - The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) assumed the role as the main force to conduct evacuation operations in Zaire if the need arised. Positioned off the western coast of Africa on board the USS Nassau, the MEU was part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force. The MEU maintained its ability to conduct evacuations by air or surface, or a combination of the two.
17 Apr - General Colin L. Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War, told the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee that he and other senior military commanders never received warnings from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about the presence of chemical weapons in areas of southern Iraq where American troops blew up Iraqi ammunition depots. A week earlier, the CIA acknowledged that it had detailed intelligence before and during the war to suggest that chemical weapons were stored at the Kamisiyah ammunition depot in southern Iraq. 
25 Apr - The MV-22 Osprey was approved for low-rate initial production (LRIP). The LRIP contract, awarded to Bell/Boeing, would fully fund production for five V-22s scheduled to begin delivery in 1999 and included provisions for advance procurement to begin to build a second lot of five aircraft that would be delivered in 2000.
28 Apr - Brigadier General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Assistant Wing Commander, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, was honored by the National Aeronautic Association in a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum. He was presented with the Yuri A. Gargarin Medal which is awarded to the astronaut who made the greatest achievement in the conquest of space. General Bolden was nominated for the medal for his meritorious service as the commander of Mission STS-60 that marked the first American Space Shuttle flight to include a Russian cosmonaut as a member of the crew. 
3 May - The Aegis guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) was christened at Bath Iron Works, Maine, in honor of Colonel Donald G. Cook, a Marine who died while a prisoner of war in Vietnam in 1967. Colonel Cook was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1980.
6-23 May - Marines participated in Exercise Cobra Gold 97, one of the largest exercises in the Pacific Theater this year. For the 16th time, American and Thai Marines trained together to promote peace and stability in Thailand. 
10 May - A CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164 crashed in the ocean off the southern California coast. After an 
extensive search, four Marines were presumed dead. Exactly one year ago, a fatal midair collision between an AN-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter and a CH-46E killed 14 Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 
12 May - The Marine Corps Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. celebrated its 20th year. Since 1977, the Center has written and published numerous volumes on Marine Corps history, continued to display temporary and permanent exhibits covering more than 200 years of Corps history, and more than a quarter-million researchers, scholars, Marines and their families have been assisted by the Center's library, reference, histoires, and archives sections.
19 May - The Secretary of Defense formally announced the results of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which established broad outlines of his multiyear, departmental blueprint that would be implemented, evaluated, and refined over the course of his tenure. The QDR began in November 1996 to develop a balanced defense program addressing strategy, force structure, readiness, modernization programs, defense infrastructure, intelligence, and human resources. 
21 May - The Roebling "Alligator" amphibian tractor on display at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Museum, Quantico, Virginia, was recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as an Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. A bronze plaque was unveiled at the museum signifying the importance of the Roebling Alligator in the Marine Corps evolution as the world's premier amphibious fighting force. The vehicle was restored by the museum staff in 1985 and placed on exhibit. It is the oldest surviving amphibian vehicle in the United States. 
21 May - 19 Jun - The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in Exercise Infinite Moonlight 97, the largest Marine Corps exercise in the Middle East this year. The month-long, bilateral combined arms exercise was intended to increase military training opportunities and enhance the relationship 
between U.S. Naval amphibious forces and the Royal Jordanian armed forces. 
30 May - The 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) moved from standby status for a possible evacuation of Americans from Kinshasa, Zaire, to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone where over 2,500 individuals, including some 450 Americans were evacuated during Operation Nobel Obelisk. Three evacuations took place within five days in the midst of near anarchy. The mission was one of a succession of noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) for Camp Lejeune-based MEUs throughout West Africa over the past year. Marines were involved a year ago in back to back NEOs in Liberia and the Central African Republic. 
4 Jun - The Marine Corps was honored with a 1st place "Gold" Effie Award for the recruitment advertising commercial "Transformation" at the American Marketing Association's annual Effie Awards held in New York City. "Transformation" was the centerpiece of the Corps' advertising campaign. The commercial depicted a young man overcoming challenges as he raced through a cryptic maze before being transformed into a Marine at the spot's climatic end. It was developed by J. Walter Thompson, the Corps' contracted advertising agency. 
6 Jun - General Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps, chartered separate reviews of the Marine Corps Active and Reserve force structures as per his announcement in ALMAR 168/97 on implementation of the Quadrennial Defense Review. Both reviews were tasked with defining "the most effective, capable, relevant, and realistically attainable force structure" for the Corps. 
7 Jun - Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)) 224 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, from Aviano Air Base, Italy. It signaled the successful conclusion of the Corps' mission of providing air support during Operation Deliberate Guard (formerly Operation Decisive Edge), as part of the United Nation's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. Along with VMFA(AW)-332 and 533, VMFA(AW)-224 had rotating deployments to Bosnia since July 1993. The three F/A-18D squadrons flew over 19,000 sorties during their four years of participation. 
10 Jun - Secretary of the Navy, John H. Dalton, announced that the Navy's newest amphibious warship would be named the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), the seventh ship of the Wasp class. The mission of the amphibious assault ship would be to enable the Navy-Marine Corps team to accomplish a seamless transition from the sea to a land campaign and conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea. The new ship would be christened at the turn of the century and would have the most powerful technology and weapons capability available.
17 Jun - 1 Jul - More than 12,000 Marines and sailors participated in Exercise Kernel Blitz 97 in Southern California. The biannual exercise allowed the Navy-Marine Corps team to practice its amphibious mission of rapidly projecting decisive military power ashore.
7 Jul - The new Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate opened its doors for business at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. The directorate would supervise the day-to-day activities for the Department of Defense's (DoD) executive agent - the Commandant of the Marine Corps - for all matters pertaining to non-lethal weapons, their development, and subsequent service procurement. Until recently, there were several related efforts underway within DoD, but no manager to coordinate the various projects.
7 Jul - The Navy and Marine Corps began operations in support of Unitas, the annual deployment to South America. 1997 marked the 38th consecutive year the deployment would serve as a showcase for the Navy and Marine Corps team with numerous multinational operations. Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton, taking a two-week trip to South America, joined sailors and Marines on board the USS Whidbey (LSD 41) during a port visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
9 Jul - On this date, the remodeled Academics Building at Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, was dedicated in honor of Frederick C. Branch who became the Corps' first African-American commissioned officer on 10 November 1945. He served on active duty until May 1952 then remained in the reserves. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1954 and resigned his commission in 1955.
10-24 Jul - Exercise Baltic Challenge 97, a multinational humanitarian and peacekeeping exercise conducted in the spirit of NATO's Partnership for Peace initiative took place in Paldiski, Estonia. More than 2,600 military personnel from eight nations, including the USA, participated. 
11-25 Jul - U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe (Stuttgart, Germany) and Marine Corps Standing Joint Task Force (Camp Lejeune, North Carolina) executed Exercise Agile Lion 97 at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart. The exercise was designed to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief during a mock nuclear incident. 
15 Jul - Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, approved two new ribbons honoring Marines who have previously served, or are currently serving, as drill instructors and Marine security guards ("Embassy Marines"). The ribbons would recognize successful completion of a respective tour. 
16 Jul - This date marked 80 years of service for Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. The base was activated in 1917 when it was designated Marine Barracks, Quantico. Traditionally known as the "Crossroads of the Corps," Quantico has been the center of education for officers and enlisted Marines. 
21 Jul - America's oldest commissioned warship afloat, USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") celebrated her 200th birthday by setting sail and gliding 
through the water under wind power alone for the first time in 116 years. The ship sailed near Marblehead, Massachusetts. Launched in 1797 in Boston Harbor, the Constitution gained her reputation for daring battles against the British during the War of 1812. The ship was guarded by her own detachment of 52 Marines -- the same number assigned when she first set sail 200 years ago.
24 Jul - The Pentagon confirmed that five times more U.S. troops than previously believed -- a total of about 99,000 -- may have been exposed to low levels of toxic nerve gases during the Persian Gulf War. The nerve agents, sarin and cyclosarin, were released into the air when U.S. forces blew up a chemical rocket storage pit at Khamisiyah in southern Iraq on 10 March 1991.
28 Jul - Colonel Albert F. Schoepper, USMC (Retired) died at the age of 83 in Alexandria, Virginia. Before retiring in 1972, Colonel Schoepper served as director of the Marine Corps Band, "The President's Own", for 17 years. 
___ Aug - The Marine Corps took delivery of the first of 17 light armored vehicle air defense variants, or LAV-ADs. The turret, manufactured by General Dynamics Armament Systems, would be capable of firing up to eight Stinger missiles with a maximum effective range of up to 11,000 meters. Most of the LAV-ADs would be assigned to the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California.
14 Aug - The 7th Marine Regiment celebrated its 80th birthday. Activated in 1917, the regiment participated in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Southwest Asia.
15 Aug - A Texas grand jury refused to bring charges against Marine Corporal Clemente Banuelos, who had shot and killed an 18-year old Texan while on a drug-surveillance mission about 200 miles southeast of El Paso. The 20 May shooting of Esequiel Hernandez Jr., a goat herder who was not a suspect in the drug trade, set off a controversy that stretched all the way to the Pentagon. Mr. Hernandez fired twice in the direction of four Marines watching a drug-trafficking route when Corporal Banuelos shot him in the chest. Military anti-drug operations along the Mexican border were suspended after the incident.
29 Aug - Marine General Anthony Zinni took the helm of the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He would be responsible for monitoring U.S. military interests in a region that spans 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. The volatile region includes nearly 25,000 American troops forward-deployed in areas known for internal conflict and terrorism. 
31 Aug - The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, issued a "Frag" order to his much celebrated 1995 Commandant's Planning Guidance, the exhaustive document the Commandant used to steer and overhaul the Corps. The new order called for more sweeping studies and actions on everything from force structure cuts to individual gear issue programs. 
8 Sep - A new infantry combat boot went into production. The new boot, sheathed in Gore-Tex fabric, would replace the existing all-leather black boot. The new 8-inch high boot would have Cordura nylon side panels, Cambrelle polyester lining, a rubber lug outsole and a cushioned polyurethane midsole, costing $82 a pair. The contract was awarded to Bellville Shoe Manufacturing of Bellville, Illinois.
11 Sep - In ALMAR 295-97, General Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered a standdown for two days and a three-day pass for all Marines. Marines were encouraged to: talk about where they are as Marines and as a unit, and what needs to be done to improve themselves and their unit; discuss the initiatives and missions from the Commandant's Planning Guidance and frag order; and consider issues and problems in their units that might otherwise not be addressed.
17 Sep - The Marine Corps Exchange System celebrated 100 years of service to the Marine Corps family. For the past century, Marine Corps Exchanges have supported quality of life and recreation programs and services that have made a positive difference in the lives of all Marines and their families.
18 Sep - This date marked the 50th anniversary of the Department of Defense. On this date in 1947, the National Military Establishment became a reality 
and consisted of the Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and the new Department of the Air Force. In 1949, it's name was changed to the one by which it is known today: Department of Defense.
18 Sep - The Air Force Memorial Foundation held a site dedication ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, near the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial for a proposed Air Force Memorial and visitors center. Two years ago, the Air Force Memorial Foundation received site approval from two federal commissions to build a 50-foot tall, three-dimensional aluminum star that would be 4,000 square feet at the surface as well as 20,000 square foot visitors center under ground about 500 feet southeast of the War Memorial. Congressman Gerald Solomon, a former Marine, introduced a bill that would prohibit any structure above or below ground on the extended grounds surrounding the War Memorial. Other opposition groups, including Iwo Jima Preservation Committee and Friends of Iwo Jima, objected to the size and site of the proposed Air Force Memorial.
23 Sep - 7 Oct - Marines of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in Exercise Dynamic Mix 97, the largest NATO-led, multinational exercise in the Mediterranean theatre this year. The joint, multi-warfare event included more than 24,000 personnel of whom 13,700 were U.S. Armed Forces personnel. In all, 14 nations participated including Greece, Spain, Italy, Romania, and Poland. The exercise was held in Kiparrissa, Greece, and marked the largest Mediterranean exercise in 15 years.
24 Sep - Lieutenant General Charles E. Wilhelm was promoted to general and became the fifth active-duty four-star Marine general. He would serve as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Southern Command. He joined the ranks with Generals Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps; Richard I. Neal, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; John J. Sheehan, former Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic who stepped down on 18 September and was scheduled to retire 1 November; and Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Central Command.
25-28 Sep - The Marine Corps Aviation Association honored its 1997 award recipients during its annual symposium at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Unit awards included: Fighter Attack Squadron of the Year, VMFA-312; Attack Squadron of the Year, VMA-214; Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron of the Year, HMH-361; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron of the Year, HMM-365. Lieutenant General Jefferson Howell Jr. received the Silver Hawk Award which honors the active-duty Marine aviator or Marine naval flight officer with the earliest designation date as a naval aviator. 
___Oct - Beginning this month, the Corps began issuing individual combat equipment, or 782 gear, to all Marines for the duration of their career. Originally cited as a priority in the Commandant's Planning Guidance, Marines would be responsible for maintaining and replacing this one-time issue.
___Oct - Two separate but complementary Marine Corps force structure review boards, chartered earlier this year by the Commandant, were completed. Both sets of recommendations combined to form a plan that met structure cuts targeted by the Quadrennial Defense Review. The Active Component review would cut more than 1,800 in end strength and cut or consolidate additional non-operational billets as to enable an Active end strength of 172,200 to man operational battalions and squadrons at above 90 percent. The Reserve Component review identified nearly 5,000 billets to cut or consolidate. 
___Oct - The ninth and final volume of the Marine Corps operational history series was published. U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1968, The Defining Year would be the largest in the series at 803 pages. The writing project, which spanned more than 20 years, was authored by a team of four -- Dr. Jack Shulimson, LtCol Leonard H. Blasiol, Mr. Charles R. Smith, and Capt David A. Dawson. The Vietnam series comprised a total of 12 volumes -- 9 operational histories, functional volumes on chaplains and military law, and an anthology-bibliography volume. 
1 Oct - The Navy relinquished control of Miramar air station in California to the Marine Corps. The change in designation for the air station continued a process that would eventually relocate the entire 3d Marine Aircraft Wing to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar and MCAS Camp Pendleton from Marine air stations in El Toro and Tustin in California. 
1 Oct - The first African-American female colonel in the Marine Corps was promoted to her present rank during a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Colonel Gilda A. Jackson, a native of Columbus, Ohio, made Marine Corps history when she achieved the rank of colonel. She was serving as Special Projects Officer, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing at the time of her promotion.
3 Oct - Chief Historian of the Marine Corps, Benis M. Frank, retired after 43 years of combined military and civilian service with the Corps. He served with the 1st Marine Division at Peleliu and Okinawa, and later in Korea. He became a member of the History and Museums staff in 1961 where he pioneered the Marine Corps Oral History Program. He was designated Chief Historian of the Marine Corps in 1990.
4 Oct - The Navy's newest destroyer, USS Higgins (DDG 76) was christened and launched at Bath, Maine. The guided missile destroyer was named after deceased Marine Colonel William Richard Higgins. His widow, Lieutenant Colonel Robin L. Higgins, was the ship's sponsor. Lieutenant Colonel Higgins was kidnapped by pro-Iranian terrorists in February 1988 while working in Lebanon as the Chief, Observer Group Lebanon and the senior U.S. military observer with the U.S Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East. He was officially declared dead in July 1990.
8 Oct - First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the Child Development Center and Russell Elementary School's School-Age Care Program at Quantico, Virginia. Six years in the making, the Quantico child care and child development facilities were a model for the nation. Mrs. Clinton visited the facilities to help celebrate this achievement and provide insight for an upcoming conference on child care at the White House.
17 Oct - The first female Marine strike pilot was "winged" at Meridian Naval Air Station in Mississippi. The Marine Corps would train 1stLt Karen F. Tribbett, 25, in its high performance strike fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet jet. Tribbett, an Athens, Georgia, native, was among 10 Marine Corps and Navy officers to receive gold aviator wings after completing nearly two years of aviation training.
18 Oct - The nation's first major memorial paying tribute to the nearly 2 million women who have served the U.S. Armed Forces was dedicated in Washington, D.C. Over 25,000 women veterans, active-duty servicewomen, and family members took part in the weeklong commemoration that included a black-tie gala, reunion reception, dedication ceremony, and candlelight march and memorial service. The Women in Military Service for America Memorial stands at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. 
18 Oct - The U.S. Postal Service officially issued a stamp honoring military women as part of the ceremonies surrounding the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. The 32 cent stamp featured five women dressed in uniforms that represented the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. 
26 Oct - Some 16,000 runners participated in the 22nd Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. First across the finish line was Darrell General of Mitchellville, Maryland, who broke the tape at 2:18:20. General also won the race in 1995. The top female finisher was Donna Moore from Kensington, Maryland, with a time of 2:53:42. Known as the "Marathon of the Monuments," approximately 2,000 volunteers, mostly Marines and sailors, assisted with the race.
31 Oct - The second major revision to the physical fitness test (PFT) in less than two years was approved by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak. ALMAR 369/97 announced the following changes for Active and Reserve Marines effective 1 July 1998: Instead of sit-ups, Marines will do abdominal crunches. All Marines, including those 46 years and older, will be required to take the PFT. An extra 90 seconds would be added to the 3-mile run time for Marines tested at elevations at or above 4,500 feet above sea level.
31 Oct - The Marine Corps Historical Foundation (MCHF) hosted its annual awards banquet in Washington, D.C. Mr. Benis Frank, former Chief Historian of the History and Museums Division received the Distinguished Service Award and Mr. David Hugel received the Heritage Award for significant service to the MCHF.
4 Nov - The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in Exercise Bright Star 97 in Egypt and was visited by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Lewis G. Lee. The 10-day exercise was designed to enhance the cooperation between seven participating nations to conduct combined operations in the U.S. Central Command. 
5 Nov - More than 500 Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and 2,000 Republic of Korea Marines stormed the beach at Tok Sok Ri, Korea, and inland areas from the Sea of Japan as part of Exercise Foal Eagle 97. This combined exercise incorporated portions of the old Team Spirit exercise, which tested rear-area protection operations. It also focused on the execution of numerous combat missions and demonstrated the Korean and American resolve to deter war on the peninsula. 
11 Nov - The Marine Corps celebrated its 222nd anniversary. In his birthday message, General Krulak said that the Corps and its friends around the world gather to celebrate making Marines and winning battles. "Over the course of those years, the name "Marine" has taken on a legendary, almost mystical, warrior status. It is a status forged in the cauldron of basic training, tempered by shared hardship, and sharpened in the crucible of battle."
14 Nov - The Army's civilian personnel chief resigned after a furor arose over her description of Marines as "extremists." Sara E. Lister was scheduled to leave her post as the Army's assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs in late November anyway. The announcement of her resignation came in response to a furor that arose after she was quoted as saying "...the Army is much more connected to society than Marines. The Marines are extremists. Wherever you have extremists, you've got some risks of total disconnection with society. And that's a little dangerous" during a seminar sponsored by Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. 
___Dec - The U.S. Marine Corps commemorated the golden anniversary of its premier community action program: the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Created in 1947 by Reserve Major Bill Hendricks as a project in Los Angeles, the Marine Corps expanded it into a nationwide campaign in 1948. The program has fulfilled the Christmas hopes and dreams of more than 112 million children.
___Dec - The Marine Corps completed a review of its total force structure as required by the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review and announced that the Reserve Component would be reduced from 42,000 Marines to 39,000. The 3,000-person reduction would be completed by Fiscal year 2003.
___Dec - Secretary of the Navy John Dalton announced that one of three new Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyers would be named after a Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient. The USS Howard (DDG 83) would honor Gunnery Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard (1929-1993) for his heroic leadership of a platoon in Vietnam during 1966. Howard also received the Silver Star medal for service in the Korean War. 
9 Dec - The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, approved a major overhaul of the Corps' nine-year-old close combat training program. Significant changes would include the elimination of combat hitting skills, such as boxing, at boot camp. Also, a new, six-phase program of close combat instruction would be instituted that would emphasize basic skills taught at boot camp and various schools. 
16 Dec - A report was released by the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training and Related Issues. The committee called for a partial re-segregation of the sexes - mainly in the barracks and in Army platoons, Navy divisions, and Air Force flights - during basic and advanced training. It was one of several committees formed on gender related challenges and problems.
31 Dec - The Marine Corps Historical Foundation officially changed its name to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. The change marked the Foundation's leadership position in the planned creation of a Marine Corps Heritage Center at Quantico, Virginia. 
31 Dec - The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,418,773 of whom 171,637 were Marines.

Reference Branch
USMC History Division

Marine Corps University