Distinguished "Kentucky Marine" Welcomed Home as Guest of Honor at 43rd Annual Higgins Memorial Mess Night at Lexington, Kentucky

43rd Higgins Memorial Mess Night 2013

Lexington, Kentucky; April 27, 2013: With the words "I find this beef to be tasty and fit for human consumption," Marine officer candidates, active duty Marines and Marine Corps veterans, as well as some special guests, once again came together to enjoy a delicious prime rib dinner at the Crowne Plaza Lexington (The Campbell House) in celebration of the 43rd renewal of the Colonel William R. "Rich" Higgins Memorial Mess Night, hosted by the Officer Selection Station (OSS) Cincinnati and OSS Lexington, Marine Corps Recruiting Station Louisville (MCRSL). All those in attendance were indeed pleased to welcome home a "Kentucky Marine" as Guest of Honor and keynote speaker. Col Kenneth D. Dunn, USMC (Ret), currently serves in a civilian capacity as Director, Marine Corps Leadership Seminar, following a thirty (30) year Marine Corps career as an artillery officer. Following his 1970 graduation from Valley High School, Louisville, Kentucky, where he was a standout football player, Col Dunn matriculated at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, where he continued his football career on a varsity intercollegiate level, while earning a Marine Corps commission in 1974. Col Dunn holds a PhD in Education and has lectured extensively on leadership. During his keynote speech, he addressed the challenges, awesome responsibilities, and great privilege attached to leading Marines, focusing his remarks directly at the officer candidates and recently commissioned 2nd lieutenants awaiting orders to The Basic School. Maj David J. Breen, USMC (Ret), who was commissioned in 1979 through the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program, while a student at Eastern Kentucky University and was introduced, as an officer candidate, to the customs and traditions of the Marine Corps through his own attendance at this very event, served as the President of the Mess. Each officer candidate and Marine in attendance was provided with a small bound booklet containing the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, for retention and reflection, as they embark or continue in the service of their nation. Throughout the evening, traditional challenges and allegations of misconduct were offered, with fines being replaced with corporal punishment for those found guilty of "egregious" behavior. Defendants were subjected to either a "MARSOC" or "MEUSOC" battering, consisting of a boot sock stuffed with padding and applied either dry "by land" or wet "by sea." A particularly contentious debate ensued when a request was made by a member of the Mess for a long awaited decision as to who was uglier, a retired captain or a retired lieutenant colonel, both of whom will remain nameless out of respect for their offspring, noting that this question had been initially raised during the same event in 2011, but left unanswered by two consecutive presidents of the Mess who were active duty officers at the time and operating under Department of Defense policy governing "political correctness." All captains and lieutenant colonels in attendance were required to approach the head table and consume a special "grog" prepared for the event, in solidarity with their respective brothers under presidential scrutiny. Despite the fact that Maj Breen is retired, he also failed to render a verdict, apparently so that this question will continue to persist in years to come, as we all grow better looking and more distinguished with age. Traditional toasts were offered and the "smoking lamp" was lit in an area outside the hotel for those wishing to enjoy a traditional cigar. Col Stephen A. Medeiros, USMC, Commander, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, Albany Georgia, was a special guest of MCRSL. Bagpipe music was provided by Joe Dodson, Marine Corps veteran (Vietnam) and a retired Louisville firefighter. Awards were presented to officer candidates by the Officer Selection Officers in recognition of their individual accomplishments: CWO S. Tilford Payne Memorial Award (Outstanding  Academic Achievement) (Books from the Commandant's Reading List) to Sean C. Hayes, Miami (Ohio) University, sponsored by Richard A. Huck, MajGen, USMC (Ret) (1971-2007); Corporal Aaron D. Robichaux "Iron Man" Memorial Award for Outstanding Physical Fitness - OSS Lexington (Marine Corps Wristwatch) to Franklin J. Murdock, Western Kentucky University, sponsored by Jack R. Cunningham, USMC (1969-1972); Captain Eric "D-Ring" Terhune "Iron Man" Memorial Award for Outstanding Physical Fitness - OSS Cincinnati ("Louisville Slugger" Baseball Bat) to Cpl Josef Otmar VI, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University,  sponsored by Capt Ryan McCullough, USMC; Colonel William R. Higgins Memorial Leadership Award (Ka-Bar Knife/Presentation Case) to Jeramie M. Connor, Thomas More College; sponsored by LtCol Mary K. Broussard, USMCR (Ret) (1972-2001) and Maj Allen D. Broussard, USMC (Ret) (1963-1985); Lieutenant Presley N. O'Bannon Memorial Award (Outstanding Junior Officer Candidate) (Marine Corps Officer's Jewelry Box) to Nathan J. Hiatt, Asbury University, sponsored by Robert V. Evans, Jr., Colonel, USMCR (Retired) (1958-1983); Brigadier General Margaret A. Brewer Memorial Award (Female Officer Candidate Outstanding Achievement) to Diedre L. Fetz, Bellarmine University, sponsored by Women Marines Association, Louisville Chapter; and Second Lieutenant Terrence C. Graves Memorial Award (Outstanding Senior Candidate) (Mameluke Officer's Sword) to Brian R. Miller, University of Kentucky, sponsored by Russell B. Scott, Jr., Corporal, USMC (1962-1968). Col Robert V. Evans, Jr, Frankfort, Kentucky received the 2013 Rodney Williams Jr. Memorial Award for dedicated service and commitment to the Marine Corps community in Kentucky. Special thanks to Ms. Chrissy Buchanan, Director of Sales and Marketing, Crowne Plaza Lexington, and her entire staff for their wonderful service, genuine hospitality, and delicious food. Congratulations to all these award recipients, as well as to Officer Candidate Brian R. Miller, who served as "Mister Vice" throughout the evening. Special thanks to Captain Michael L. Masters, Jr., USMC, Officer Selection Officer (OSO) Lexington and Captain Eric W. Spitznogle, USMC, OSO Cincinnati, who planned, organized and executed this very successful event. Both are under orders to Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS), Quantico, Virginia and we wish them "fair winds and following seas," as they continue their careers of leadership and service. (Photograph by Ed Armento, MCCCK Secretary. Additional photos in "Galleries" section, courtesy of Jennifer Armento (MCCCK Webmaster), Ed Armento (MCCCK Secretary)