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News | May 24, 2017

DLA Aviation Marines celebrate birth of Marine Aviation

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Marines gathered with sister military services, friends, and DSCR employees in the Center Restaurant May 22 to celebrate the birthday of Marine aviation.

Marine aviation officially began on May 22, 1912, when First Lieutenant Alfred Austell Cunningham reported to Naval Aviation Camp in Annapolis, Maryland, "for duty in connection with aviation."  The first Marine Aviation Company, consisting of 10 officers and 40 enlisted, was commissioned Feb. 17, 1917.

Master of Ceremonies Marine Corps Maj. Chris Story read to the audience from a letter written by Cunningham, the first Marine Corps aviator.

Story related Cunningham’s thoughts that in May 1912, the Marine Corps had little interest in aviation and it was looked upon more as a crazy sport than as anything useful.

From the humble, disgruntled beginnings of the first Marine aviator, Story said, “The Marine Corps has grown to 40,000 personnel, 1,300 aircraft and is budgeted for 270,000 flight hours annually.”

Marine Corps Col. A. J. Manuel, DLA Aviation Marine Corps logistics lead, served as the ceremony guest speaker.

“We do aviation here and that’s our passion,” he said. “As Marines, we really like our history and it is apropos that we take a quick pause to celebrate the 105 years of Marine aviation.”

Manuel said, “Today we honor not only the birth of Marine Aviation, but also the role DLA has played over the last 65 years in making the Marine Corps our nation’s 911 force in readiness.”

The Marine Corps has existed for 242 years, which means the Corps fought without the aviation combat element for 137 years, said Manuel.  “A few visionaries saw what the potential technology could bring to the Marine Corps to make it even more lethal and have a longer operational reach than ever before.  Today, it’s pretty unfathomable to think of the Marines without aviation and Marine Air Ground Task Force.” 

Manuel said the Marines have developed new ways to use aviation to their advantage, while holding to the Corps’ mantra ‘every Marine, a rifleman.’ We support the grunts on the ground. That is why Marine aviation exists. We adopted aviation as our artillery and cargo carrying capacity to extend our operational reach beyond the beachhead.” 

Marines today embrace new technology while still caring for our legacy for aircraft that we have, said Manuel as he discussed the new Marine aircraft being fielded today and in the future.

He said today’s cake cutting ceremony is about Marine Aviation and DLA relationships, about us getting to know each other.  “I want to thank all the DLA employees for what you do every day, and if you touch a Marine Corps requirement, I hope this ceremony will remind you that while what you do every day may seem insignificant, it is not.  Every ounce of your energy moves the needle forward just a little bit.”