MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Oct. 14, 2011) --
A throng of senior enlisted and officers of all grades gathered for a time of jokes, beer and learning at The Pit on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Sept. 30, 2011.
Retired Maj. Gen. Michael “Lancer” Sullivan spoke with the Marines about how he believes the Marine Corps has changed for both better and worse. The event was set up by the Marine Corps Aviation Association as a method to keep today’s Marines in touch with their history.
“We have a real legend. He loves the Marine Corps, he loves Marine aviation and I think we’re blessed to not only to have him live in our community but to have him as one of our mentors,” said Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, during his introduction speech. “When I think of General Sullivan, I think of more spirit, more enthusiasm and more love for Marines than anybody I’ve met before.”
Sullivan gave a brief description of his storied career which spanned 39 years, 35 of which he spent in aviation. He flew the Douglas A-1 Skyraider propeller-driven fighter, the AV-8B Harrier and almost every aircraft in between, including all models of helicopter flown by the Marine Corps. His flights total 8,700 hours including his time in the British Royal Air Force pilot exchange program and two combat tours in Vietnam. His commands included 2nd MAW.
After doing all that, he knows a few things and loves sharing it with younger Marines and the Marines enjoy connecting with living history.
“The whole Marine Corps is founded on traditions, things that have been passed down from generations,” said 1st Lt. Matthew H. Shortway, an intelligence officer for Marine Air Support Squadron 1. “He starts from a point further than any of our careers go, so it’s a great opportunity to learn about our past and make sure that we’re carrying on and implementing things that have come before us.”
At the end of his discussion, Sullivan touched on how he believes Marine aviation is performing overall by sharing what he’s proud of and what he’s disappointed in. His disappointments were too much political correctness, not being able to smoke cigars at a Marine Mess Night and the bar’s name having been changed from the ‘Dirty Shame’ to ‘The Pit.’
Sullivan was proud of how the Marines have continued what had passed from his generation to the new one.
“You’re doing great,” Sullivan said. “What you got here, you didn’t get because of luck. You got it through hard work, perseverance and carrying on the traditions that we carried on from the guys before us. In the twenty years I’ve been out, there have been some changes but by and large the Marine Corps is still the Marine Corps. If we ever lose our traditions and our spirit, we can forget it; but that ain’t going to happen as long as we have people like you.”
The Marine Corps Aviation Association works to maintain the passing of traditions from Marine to Marine by organizing events like this one.
“We’re part of the greatest fraternity in the world: the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Scott Cooper, president of the local MCAA chapter. “The MCAA is a smaller fraternity of that. There’s a chance to connect and be part of something bigger than yourself. Have you ever met a Marine Vietnam vet? There’s an intangible string that ties you together; that gives form and stage to an opportunity and there’s old war stories to keep you connected.”