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Chronologies - 1996

 

___Jan - The sexual assault of a young Japanese girl by three U.S. servicemen last September and their ongoing trial in a Japanese court prompted an outpouring of sympathy and outrage from the American and Japanese communities on Okinawa. They have also brought to the forefront the continuous U.S.-Japanese negotiations over the future of U.S. basing rights on Okinawa and on mainland Japan. Approximately, 18,000 Marines on Okinawa represent a key component of the U.S. commitment to the security of the Asia-Pacific region. 
 
1 Jan - Admiral Arleigh A. Burke died of pneumonia at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland, at the age of 94. He was the Navy's most famous destroyer squadron combat commander and chief of naval operations from 1955-1961, retiring after 42 years service. Remembered as the father of the modern Navy, he was one of his service's most revered figures. One measure of his service's and nation's regard came when the Navy named an entire new class of destroyers, the most powerful ever built, the Arleigh Burke class. He was laid to rest on 4 January at the U.S. Naval Academy from which he graduated in 1923. 
 
1 Jan - The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,518,224 of whom 174,049 were Marines. 
 
8 Jan - Nine Marines from Marine Corps Air Station, New River, North Carolina, received the Air Medal with Combat "V" for their heroic efforts in the rescue of downed Air Force pilot Captain Scott O'Grady during the tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission last June in Bosnia. 
 
11 Jan - President Clinton signed an Executive Order establishing an Armed Forces Service Medal to recognize members of the Armed Forces who serve in significant foreign operations such as peacekeeping or prolonged humanitarian operations, yet not against armed opposition or involving hostile action. It would only be awarded for operations for which no other U.S. service medal is approved. The medal would be effective for service on or after 1 June 1992, corresponding with the beginning date of U.S. assistance in Bosnia. 
 
17 Jan - After 55 years in the Navy Annex, Arlington, Virginia, Headquarters Marine Corps moved to new offices on the E-ring of the Pentagon adjacent to those of the Secretary of the Navy. Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, addressed an audience at the dedication ceremony. Although the move was not the first for Headquarters Marine Corps, which has been located at various sites in the Washington, D.C. area since 1800, it was perhaps the most significant linking the Marine Corps' command with that of the Armed Services.
 
19 Jan - Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Retired) retired as the civilian director of the History and Museums Division, a position he held upon leaving active duty in 1978. General Simmons' 54 years of cumulative service was marked during ceremonies in Washington, D.C. with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, presiding.
 
25 Jan - 2 Feb - Exercise Keen Edge 96, a joint-bilateral command post exercise, was conducted at U.S. and Japanese military installations throughout Japan. Approximately 4,000 military personnel from the Japan Self Defense Forces and U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, and Army participated. Computer simulations were used to train the staffs to solve the intelligence, logistics, and communications challenges of the combat operations.
 
___Feb - Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, approved an allocation of eight CH-53Es to replace RH-53Ds at two Reserve heavy-lift squadrons. The plan was to deliver six aircraft to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 769 during the summer and six additional aircraft to HMH-772 next year. Both squadrons were the last of Marine Reserve squadrons to operate an aircraft that was unique to the Reserve Component.
 
___Feb - The first of 73 remanufactured AV-8Bs was scheduled for delivery to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. The McDonnell Douglas aircraft, originally an AV-8B day attack Harrier, is virtually identical to the newer radar/night attack variant. Prior to delivery of the first remanufactured Harrier, the Marine inventory included 120 day attack, 56 night attack, and 28 radar/night attack AV-8Bs. 
 
7 Feb - The best commercials worldwide were honored during the 25th anniversary of the Mobius Advertising Awards in Chicago where the Marine Corps' newest entry, "Transformation" garnered a record setting seven first place awards including "best in show" for television. Competing against 5,000 entries from 31 countries, the award-winning commercial was created by J. Walter Thompson, the Corps' advertising agency. 
 
10 Feb - A revised FY96 defense authorization bill was signed into law by President Clinton, who had vetoed an earlier version of the bill. In order to gain a Presidential signature, Congress dropped provisions that mandated a national missile defense by 2003 and revised language on other requirements. The authorization act included a 2.4 percent military pay increase and a 5.2 percent housing allowance increase for enlisted personnel not living in government quarters. 
 
12 Feb - Lieutenant General Foster C. Lahue, USMC (Retired) died at his home in Ormond, Florida. The decorated general served 33 years on active duty and participated in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. His last duty assignment was Chief of Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps before retiring in September 1974.
 
16 Feb - 31 Mar - Marines from the 3d Regiment and detachments from helicopter squadrons based in Hawaii participated in intensive training with elements of the Royal Australian Army in Exercise Gold Eagle 96. The exercise was designed to further enhance relations between the two countries. 
 
26 Feb - 12 Mar - More than 4,200 Marine reservists from 38 different states participated in Exercise Battle Griffin 96 held in Norway. It was the largest 
Marine Reserve exercise scheduled for 1996. The exercise tested the Corps' Norway Air-Landed Marine Air-Ground Task Force program, the Corps' only land-based prepositioning program and involved staging Marine Corps equipment in specially constructed caves in Norway. The exercise also provided Marines an opportunity to train for combined-arms operations in an extreme, cold-weather environment. 
 
27 Feb - Former Sergeant Clayton Lonetree, the only Marine ever convicted of espionage, returned to private life after serving eight years in a military prison. Lonetree, now 35, served as a guard at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in the early 1980s. He was convicted by a court-martial in 1987 of giving information to the KGB. His sentence of 30 years was reduced to 15 for good behavior. 
 
28 Feb - Corporal Tina K. Lee, primary marksmanship instructor, Marksmanship Training Unit, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, became the first woman to win the individual portion of the Eastern Regional Intramural Marksmanship Tournament, Stone Bay Ranges, at Camp Lejeune. Lee competed with her M16A2 service rifle against 194 Marines winning overall in the rifle and placing first as Marine Corps Base Grand Aggregate winner.
 
___Mar - Dr. Paul G. Kaminski, under secretary of defense for acquisition and technology, appointed the Commandant of the Marine Corps to serve as the 
executive agent in the Department of Defense for the coordination of non-lethal weapons program requirements. 
 
6 Mar - After a five-day safety stand down, the Marine Corps' AV-8B Harrier aircraft were cleared for takeoff. General Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps, gave the go-ahead for normal flight operations after investigators determined that two recent crashes of day-attack Harrier jets were not related.
 
7 Mar - Three American servicemen were convicted by a Japanese court of abduction and rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl, a crime that ignited a public outcry against the presence of American military bases on Okinawa. Most American bases and about three-fifths of the 47,000 American troops in Japan are located on Okinawa. The two Marines and one sailor were sentenced to 6 1/2 - 7 years in a Japanese prison. 
 
13 - 26 Mar - Marines and sailors of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) participated in Exercise Destined Glory 96, a combined exercise of seven nations held in the Mediterranean. The two-week exercise was designed to provide training for crisis response.
 
18 Mar - More than 500 Marines and 3,500 Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel began a major staff training exercise at Camp Blanding, Florida. Exercise 
Internal Look 96 took place to prepare for future crisis in the Persian Gulf and was the largest U.S. Central Command exercise within the United States this year. The Central Command last held an Internal Look exercise in 1990 just before Iraq invaded Kuwait. General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, credited that 1990 exercise for preparing U.S. planners to succeed in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
 
22 Mar - Colonel Robert Overmyer, USMC (Retired), a Marine astronaut and pilot who commanded one of the last successful flights of space shuttle Challenger in 1985, died when a small plane he was test flying went into a spin and crashed. He was 59 years old. 
 
26 Mar - Alarmed by a rash of unexplained crashes, the Marine Corps called a two-day halt to all nonessential aircraft flights. With nine aircraft losses so far this year, the Marines' rate of major accidents was the highest in six years. Just in the past six weeks, the Corps lost six aircraft and five crewmembers. 
 
27 Mar - President Clinton nominated Major General Carol A. Mutter for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general and assignment as Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Already the senior woman in the military, General Mutter, 50, was serving as Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, Virginia. Unfortunately, General Mutter would not make history as the first woman in the U.S. military to wear three stars. That honor went to Vice Admiral Patricia Tracey who was nominated some seven weeks after General Mutter but was officially promoted 10 July, 13 days before General Mutter.
 
2 Apr - A clinical study of thousands of veterans of the Persian Gulf war found no evidence of "Gulf War Syndrome." The survey said 36 percent of the patients suffered from psychological or ill-defined ailments in a wide variety of diagnoses. The study of 18,929 veterans, the largest of its kind undertaken by the Pentagon, was conducted over the last two years at an estimated cost of $80 million and involved thorough medical examinations of most of the more than 20,000 gulf war veterans who registered for a special program with the Pentagon. 
 
2 Apr - The 1st Marine Division's Desert Fire Exercise 2-96 was completed. The division-level exercise was designed to challenge unit commanders and their staffs to conduct real-time fire support planning and coordination in a rapid tempo with units widely dispersed, yet maneuverable. This exercise was the Corps' largest live-fire support exercise involving three regiments.
 
13 Apr - Joe Rosenthal, Associated Press photographer whose photo of the flag raising atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi earned him international acclaim, became an Honorary Marine during the 1996 Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation's annual ball in Chicago. Although he never served as a Marine, Rosenthal saw plenty of action throughout the Pacific theater side-by-side with leathernecks. 
 
17 Apr - The last U.S. troops of the United Nations peacekeeping mission left Haiti. This ended U.S. military intervention there that began 19 months ago when President Clinton sent 20,000 troops to oust the military regime that deposed Haiti's first freely elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Some 250 U.S. troops would remain for another year as part of a humanitarian mission group.
 
20 Apr - In Operation Assured Response, a reinforced company from the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) was airlifted into the U.S. Embassy compound in Monrovia, Liberia, in order to provide security and assist the embassy and its Marine detachment in evacuation of American and designated foreign citizens due to continuing political unrest and increased lawlessness in the Liberian capital. Ten days later, several of the 270 Marines guarding the embassy returned fire from Liberian street fighters, killing three and wounding several more. Some 2,100 people were flown from the embassy to neighboring countries and thousands of others assisted in leaving by commercial ships.
 
25 Apr - 20 May - Combined Joint Task Force Exercise 96/Purple Star linked the armed forces of the U.S. and the United Kingdom in a corps-level wargame exercise that spanned military installations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. It involved over 53,000 total troops of which 38,000 were U.S. forces including Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The joint/combined exercise was directed by Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command, General John J. Sheehan, USMC, and it was designed to represent methods by which a coalition force could prepare for possible security challenges. 
 
29 Apr - 25 May - More than 19,000 troops participated in Exercise Cobra Gold 96 in Thailand. The annual combined exercise involved some 10,000 Thai troops and 4,500 Marines that included the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. It was designed to ensure regional peace and stability through the U.S. cooperative strategy and to strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai armed forces to defend their country. 
 
5 May - A new memorial to American servicemen who died in El Salvador, 1981-1992 was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery. The black granite marker shares the memory of five Marine Corps security guards who were among 21 U.S. military personnel who died while assigned to duty in the then-embattled Central American country. The memorial was sponsored by No Greater Love, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that holds tributes for the families of those who died serving their country overseas.
 
10 May - The lives of 14 U.S. servicemen (12 Marines, one sailor, and one soldier) ended tragically when a CH-46E Sea Knight transport helicopter and an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter collided in the air over Camp Lejeune, North Caroline, while participating in Combined Joint Task Force Exercise 96. The crash was the deadliest Marine training accident in seven years. On 20 March 1989 a CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed into a mountainside near Pohang, South Korea, during Exercise Team Spirit, killing 19.
 
11 May - General Merrill B. Twining died at Fallbrook, California at the age of 93. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1923, General Twining helped plan the landing on Guadalcanal in World War II and later fought in the Korean War. He is credited with creating the 1st Marine Division patch of World War II and for authoring the famous statement given by General Vandegrift before the 1946 Congress, "The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. If the Marine as a fighting man has not made a case for himself after 170 years of service he must go. But I think you will agree with me he has earned the right to depart with dignity and honor, not by subjugation to the status of uselessness and servility planned for him by the War Department."
 
14 May - More than two decades after the final shots were fired in the Vietnam War, President Clinton signed an executive order ending the country's designation as a combat zone. The recommendation to end the combat zone status came from the Pentagon. The designation had been preserved for people declared missing from the Vietnam War, but the last government-acknowledged prisoner of war was declared dead 19 September 1994.
 
16 May - Admiral Jeremy M. "Mike" Boorda, 56, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his residence in the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. Admiral Boorda served as the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy's most senior position, since April 1994 when he assumed command of a service that had been tarnished by sexual harassment charges stemming from the Tailhook scandal of 1991, and was facing drastic personnel reductions after the end of the Cold War. 
 
21 May - Marines from the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) responded to U.S. Embassy security requirements in the Central African Republic following a request from the Ambassador for security assistance due to civil unrest following an army mutiny. Marines in Operation Quick Response processed departing personnel, conducted communications, and reinforced existing security for the embassy. The 22d MEU(SOC) continued to provide security at the American embassy in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, in Operation Assured Response. 
 
23 May - 8 Jul - For the third consecutive year, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing sent its squadrons to the Royal Australian Air Force Base, Darwin, Australia, for aviation training in the vastness of the outback for Exercise Southern Frontier 96. The exercise focused on aviation-specific training including sharpening the skills of F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack pilots. 
 
5 Jun - The Marine Corps was nationally recognized for excellence in minority and diversity advertising at the annual Effie Awards ceremony in New York City. The Corps brought home a first place award in the "diversity" category for the Marines' efforts in recruiting women. Marines received a third place award in the "recruiting" category for their minority officer recruiting campaign.
 
7 Jun - Nine Marine lieutenants were found guilty of at least one of four charges stemming from a cheating scandal during August 1995 at The Basic School, Quantico, Virginia. The nine lieutenants from Charlie Company were implicated in cheating on a land navigation final exam. Officials discovered that at least 16 lieutenants were involved in a scheme where some students were given "cheat sheets." Further investigations indicate that as many as half of the 250 officers in the company may have relied on the lists. 
 
10 - 19 Jun - Almost 900 Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based Marines participated in Exercise Agile Sword 96 in Puerto Rico. The Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) exercise was designed to train Marine and Navy commands in MPF deployment operations. The Marine Corps' MPF concept, which began in the early 1980s, places merchant cargo ships loaded with equipment and supplies in a forward position for rapid contingency response in support of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. 
 
12 Jun - The Navy and Marine Corps grounded all 154 Marine CH-53E Super Stallions and 45 Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon minehunters pending a comprehensive inspection of rotorhead bearings. A problem in the swashplate duplex bearing assembly was believed to have caused the 9 May crash of a Sikorsky CH-53E that was slated for delivery to the Corps, killing four Sikorsky aircraft employees.
 
12 Jun - The Marine Corps deployed its first full aviation squadron to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Task Force Eagle, the U.S. contingent assigned to NATO's Operation Joint Endeavor. The 1st Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron would support the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Military Implementation Force by providing field commanders with real-time imagery for reconnaissance and surveillance.
 
13 Jun - General Dynamics Land Systems Division in Warren, Michigan, was awarded a $216.9 million contract for the Demonstration/Validation phase of the advanced assault amphibious vehicle (AAAV) program. During this phase General Dynamics, manufacturer of the M1A1 battle tank, would build three prototypes -- two configured as personnel carriers and one configured as a mobile command post -- to be completed by FY01.
 
14 Jun - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 235 was deactivated at Naval Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California. The "Death Angels" was originally activated in 1943 and participated in four World War II campaigns as well as the Vietnam War during 1966 - 1968. 
 
15-20 Jun - The Marine Corps Pistol Team swept the competition at the Interservice Pistol Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas. The combined efforts of 
the 24 shooters and three armorers stationed at Quantico, Virginia, resulted in the team taking close to two-thirds of all the awards including first place in the "Excellence in Competition" championship.
 
17 Jun - Last February, changes in the conduct of the semi-annual physical fitness test were announced in ALMAR 070/96 and included a longer run and more sit-ups for women, plus a modification in the execution of pull-ups for men. The above revisions remained valid but additional guidance on the pull-ups as well as the proposed scoring matrix was announced in ALMAR 213/96. Of major concern to male Marines is the implementation date of the "dead hang" 
pull-up (without "kipping") that would be implemented,along with the other revisions, on 1 January 1997 vice 1 July 1996. 
 
20 Jun - Retired Colonel Dave Severance, 77, was among those taking the Olympic torch on a ceremonial circuit of the Marine Corps War Memorial as it passed through Arlington, Virginia. Colonel Severance, an infantry officer during World War II, commanded Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines. Marines 
from this unit raised the flag on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi for what was to become one of the most famous pictures in history and the basis for the memorial sculpture.
 
25 Jun - Terrorists exploded a truck bomb outside the perimeter of Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The action severely damaged the building, a housing facility for U.S. and allied forces supporting the coalition air operation over Iraq in Operation Southern Watch. There were 19 deaths and approximately 500 other casualties.
 
___Jul - The Marine Chemical and Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was a member of the U.S. joint task force keeping watch over the Olympics held in Atlanta. The new force was made up of 350 Marines and sailors. It's mission was to respond swiftly to any threat, in the U.S. or in a U.S. interest abroad, identify problems, decontaminate areas, treat casualties, and bolster local medical agencies' treatment capabilities. Formed during April 1996, the CBIRF responded in a security capacity after the Centennial Park bombing. 
 
11 Jul - Colonel John R. Bourgeois retired after 17 years as Director of "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band and Music Advisor to the White House. The 25th Director in the band's history, Colonel Bourgeois ended an acclaimed career that spanned nearly 40 years. The Marine Band marked the special occasion with a concert at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. The director's baton was passed to Major Timothy W. Foley.
 
15 Jul - For only the fourth time in 40 years, a Marine won the U.S. National Pistol Championships, outgunning more than 780 civilian and military shooters for the country's top handgun trophy. Sergeant Brian Zins, a three-time Interservice champ as well as a second place finisher at the 1994 Nationals, was victorious at the Camp Perry, Ohio competition.
 
20 Jul - 5 Aug - A number of Marine athletes participated in the Centennial Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia. Corporal Tom Gough was a standout setting three American weightlifting records, including a 440.9-pound clean and jerk on his first attempt and a 369.3-pound snatch on this third attempt. Corporal Gough placed 14th overall in his first Olympic appearance. 
 
25 Jul - The Marines received authorization for 12 more general officers after weeks of leading a military services assault to break through a five-year-old congressional ceiling on the number of authorized flag officers. The Marines would be entitled to raise the number of active duty generals from 68 to 80. It would give the 174,000-member Corps one more general than it had in June 1945 when the force was 475,000 strong. 
 
30 Jul - General Charles C. Krulak, 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, unveiled his plan "Transformation" that would be a process of making Marines for the 21st century. General Krulak's vision of what the 21st century holds for U.S. Marines led to a new approach in training Marines for warfighting. The Commandant called for making Marines tougher physically, mentally and morally. The biggest change would occur in the eleventh week of boot camp when both male and female recruits would be tested by the "Crucible," a 54-hour event which would offer highly focused physical and mental challenges. Major changes under the transformation program would begin at the recruit depots during October.
 
5 Aug - The Pentagon acknowledged in a new report that chemical weapons were detected as many as seven times in the first week of the 1991 Persian Gulf war near staging areas in northern Saudi Arabia, where tens of thousands of American troops were housed. The Department of Defense maintained no conclusive evidence that American soldiers were exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons and found no "clinical link" between chemical weapons and postwar illness among American troops. 
 
8 Aug - A decoration established in 1993 to honor reservists who go on active duty in support of a military operation can now be authorized and worn. President Clinton signed an executive order authorizing the award of the bronze "M" mobilization device to U.S. reservists who have "performed qualifying active-duty service in support of a designated contingency operation on or after 1 August 1990."
 
14-30 Aug - NATO conducted a Partnership for Peace exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that brought 16 nations to the U.S. to participate in 
Exercise Cooperative Osprey 96. The exercise focused on developing individual and joint unit procedures for such scenarios as convoy operations, civil disturbances, mass casualty evacuations, weapons disarmament, mine awareness, airfield security, and humanitarian assistance. 
 
16 Aug - Marine First Lieutenant Jeanne Buchanan became a Naval Flight Officer and got her wings pinned on at graduation at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Lieutenant Buchanan completed her training with Training Squadron 86 and would go on to train in the EA-6B Prowler electronic jamming jet. She is the second woman in the Marine Corps to be "winged" and training to fly an aircraft, and the first in a fixed-wing tactical aircraft. The first female Marine aviator, First Lieutenant Sarah Deal, was trained to fly the heavy CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopter.
 
20 Aug - The U.S. Atlantic Command's second monthly contingency readiness exercise at Port-au-Prince, Haiti began when a reinforced platoon from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic departed for training as part of Exercise Fairwinds. The Army and Marine Corps alternated deployment of forces for this series of exercises since July. Exercise Fairwinds, which included engineering, medical, and security force training, began in April 1995 and was designed to ensure that various U.S. military forces were prepared to deploy and conduct their respective missions while remaining self-sustained. 
 
30 Aug - Approximately 570 Marines from 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California, were deployed to the fire lines in northern Oregon to assist 1,600 firefighters in mop-up efforts, helping to bring the 50,650-acre site at Umatilla National Forest under control. 
 
5 Sep - Hurricane Fran, a Category 3 hurricane, hit Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, causing extensive damage. Hardest hit was base housing still in the process of being repaired from damage caused by Hurricane Bertha that struck the base 12-13 July. The hurricane left in its wake $20 million in damage.
 
6 Sep - Lieutenant General Edward J. Bronars, a decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, died at the age of 69. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1950, General Bronars retired from the Marine Corps in 1982. 
 
19 Sep - General Richard I. Neal was promoted to his present grade and named the next Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps during a frocking ceremony at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. He assumed his new position on 27 September succeeding General Richard D. Hearney who retired from the Marine Corps with more than 34 years of service. 
 
17-26 Sep - Exercise Fuerzas Unidas Counterdrug (Riverine) '96 took place in Panama. It involved military personnel and civilians from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, and the United States. The latest in a series of multinational exercises sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command, it was the first hosted by the U.S. Marine Corps. The focus of the exercise was to develop ways to eradicate the shipment of illegal drugs from the region. It also was the first exercise to concentrate on riverine operations in combating illegal drug trade.
 
19-22 Sep - The recipients of the 1996 Marine Corps Aviation Associations' awards were presented at the annual reunion-symposium held in San Diego. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 received the Robert M. Hanson Award for Fighter/Attack Squadron of the Year. Marine Attack Squadron 211 received the Lawson H. M. Sanderson Award for Attack Squadron of the Year. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 received the Keith B. McCutcheon Award for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron of the Year. 
 
25 Sep - Deputy Secretary of Defense John White informed Congressional leaders that the Department of Defense would redouble its efforts to investigate matters relevant to the illnesses of Persian Gulf War veterans. He would head a new "action team" that would reassess all aspects of the Pentagon's many programs of research and inquiry into the causes of Gulf War ailments. Among the new actions would be a $5 million research effort in the possible effects of low-level chemical exposure. 
 
26 Sep - After more than 15 years of debate by Marine Corps uniform boards, female drill instructors were issued the same trademark "Smokey the Bear" field hat as their male counterparts. The scarlet shoulder cord worn by female drill instructors since 1983 would no longer be authorized. 
 
___Oct - The Marine Corps grounded 90 of its 170 AV-8B Harriers following the latest two Harrier crashes in a series of recent major mishaps involving Marine pilots. Seven Harriers crashed in the past year, including two during the month of October. The Harrier's 406 model single-engine was the principle target of investigators. This was the second time those planes were grounded in less than a year -- 70 model 406 powered Harriers were grounded in March. 
 
18 Oct - Of the Marine Corps' 154 CH-53Es, 68 were still grounded as of this date awaiting parts that should prevent repeats of the 9 May crash at a Sikorsky facility in Connecticut. While the recovery effort would continue, it fell off schedule because of the need to manufacture some of the parts. The Marine Corps grounded the helicopters in June after the initial crash investigation.
 
26 Oct - The Marine Corps Historical Foundation held its annual awards ceremony in the auditorium of the Marine Corps Research Center, Quantico, Virginia. Major General John P. Condon, USMC (Retired) was presented the Heritage Award for his lifelong interest in Marine Corps history and service to the Foundation. Mr. J. Robert Moskin received the Distinguished Service Award for his extensive accomplishments in American and Marine Corps history and his service to the Foundation. 
 
27 Oct - Some 19,000 runners took part in the 21st annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. The Mexican Navy took home this year's top honors: Isaac Garcia, 28, was the first runner across the finish line with a time of 2:15:09, and Emma Cabrera, 32, also of the Mexican Navy, was the fastest woman in the race with a 2:48:34 time.
 
___Nov - Both houses of Congress sponsored legislation that would provide additional funds to the Navy-Marine Maritime Prepositioning Force Enhacement Program (MPF(E)). The Congressional actions came in response to a long-standing Marine Corps plan to increase MPF lift capacity. The Corps recognized a need for one additional MPF ship for each of its three MPF squadrons in order to augment expeditionary warfighting capability, particularly in the area of tanks and expeditionary airfield assets.
 
9 Nov - New battle honors were unveiled at the Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, Virginia, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, during annual wreath-laying ceremonies in honor of the 221st birthday of the Marine Corps. "Persian Gulf 1987-1991 * Panama 1988-1990 * Somalia 1992-1994" joined numerous other Marine Corps operations. Architectural sculptor, Tom Winkler of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, engraved and gold-leafed the new honors in conformity with the style of the existing lettering on the memorial.
 
10 Nov - This date marked the 221st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. In his birthday message, Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krukak, stated "as we bring to close another year in the illustrious history of our Corps, we face the future unafraid and undaunted by the challenges ahead."
 
___Dec - Beginning this month, every recruit graduating from boot camp and every officer candidate completing Officer Candidates School received a 
laminated plastic card embossed with the Marine Corps' core values. Each Marine would sign the back of the card as a visible demonstration of their individual commitment and carry the card at all times as a daily reminder that they joined a corps of dedicated professionals for whom honor, courage, and commitment are a way of life. This was part of the Marine Corps Values Program consisting of initial entry training, reinforcement education, and sustainment education. 
 
2 Dec - U.S. and Japanese officials signed an agreement to reduce the size of American military presence on the island of Okinawa yet maintain the present U.S. Armed Forces troop strength there. The U.S. will return control of more than 12,000 acres of land on Okinawa to the Japanese, 97 percent of which was used by the Marine Corps. The 12,000 acres was to be turned over to Japan by 2008. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the largest Marine Corps facility to be returned to Japan within seven years, was considered for relocation to a revolutionary floating sea-based facility off the Okinawan island. 
 
3 Dec - The family-owned business with the sole contract for making the Medal of Honor pleaded guilty to illegally manufacturing and selling 300 of the medals for $75 apiece from 1991 - 1995. The firm, HLI Lordship Industries in Hauppauge, N.Y., was punished with an $80,000 fine although there was no indication that it would lose its millions of dollars in contracts with the Defense Department. 
 
8-13 Dec - More than 6,000 Marines and sailors participated in Exercise Steel Knight at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. It first took place six years ago as a live-fire exercise for 1st Tank Battalion and evolved into a Marine expeditionary force-scale combined arms exercise involving elements of the 1st Marine Division, 1st Force Service Support Group, and the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. 
 
12 Dec - Marine Corps Recruit Depots at Parris Island, South Carolina, and San Diego, California, initiated an arduous, 54-hour event known throughout the Corps as "The Crucible." Part of the Commandant's "Transformation Plan" for making Marines for the 21st century, the Crucible was designed to significantly challenge the mental, moral, and physical character of recruits working together during their transformation from recruit to Marine. It was part of a new boot camp program consisting of 12 weeks training for men and women with a new focus on teamwork.
 
26 Dec - Major General John P. Condon died at the age of 85 in his home in Alexandria, Virginia. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1934, General Condon served in the Marine Corps for more than 28 years active service, retiring in 1962. General Condon was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and later commanded the 1st and 3d Marine Aircraft Wings. Following retirement, he completed a doctoral degree, embarked upon a second career in the aerospace industry, and authored histories on Marine Corps aviation. 
 
30 Dec - 112 women Marines from Class 1-97 made history as the first women in the Marine Corps to undergo extensive post-recruit combat training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. The need to begin Marine Combat Training (MCT) for females came as part of the enhancements to recruit training ordered by the Commandant of the Marine Corps that included training for both sexes equal in time and content. MCT focused on providing 
all Marines in non-infantry fields the basics in combat training since, as seen in Operation Desert Storm, any area could become a combat zone. 
 
31 Dec - The strength of the Marine Corps was 174,873.

 
Reference Branch
USMC History Division