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Lexington, Kentucky; November 10, 2014: In the presence of over one hundred fellow Marines, active duty, reserve, and veteran, Corporal Matthew R. Bradford, USMC (Ret) was presented with the inaugural “Spirit of the Corps” Award at the annual Kentucky Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast at Keeneland. This prestigious award, recognizing extraordinary honor, courage and commitment, the core values of the United States Marine Corps, was instituted in 2014 by the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky (MCCCK) Board of Directors. Cpl Bradford was seriously wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on combat patrol in Haditha, Iraq on January 18, 2007, resulting in the loss of his sight and the amputation of both legs. For years he underwent multiple surgeries and agonizing rehabilitation, eventually returning to active duty in a billet within the Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. On April 7, 2010, Cpl Bradford made Marine Corps history by becoming the first blind double amputee to re-enlist. His struggle to overcome horrific physical handicaps, while maintaining a strong positive attitude toward life, have been an inspiration not only to the Marines with whom he served, but to all who have come to know him. We are proud to have honored him and to welcome him home as a “Kentucky Marine.” Participating in the formal presentation of the “Spirit of the Corps” Award were Col John A. Bolt, USMC, Commanding Officer, 4th Marine Corps District; James E. “Ted” Bassett III, Chairman, MCCCK; Houston Mills, President, MCCCK; and 1stSgt Antonio M. Acosta, USMC, Military Police Company Alpha, Lexington, Kentucky. (Presentation of the “Spirit of the Corps” Award was featured in “Leatherneck” magazine, February 2015 edition, within the “We-the Marines” section.) During Cpl Bradford’s hospitalization and rehabilitation, he was rendered significant assistance and support by the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (IMSFF), which the MCCCK has adopted as its primary Marine Corps related charity. In furtherance of this commitment, Ms. Kathy Huck, who represents the IMSFF within Kentucky, was presented a check in the amount of $35,000, constituting donations from Kentucky Marines, who were challenged by Tom Bulleit of Lexington, Kentucky, a Navy corpsman, who served in combat with Marines in Vietnam, in what has become an annual “Bulleit Birthday Challenge” in support of the IMSFF. All donations received by the IMSFF during November – December 2014 are to be matched by the Bob and Rene Parsons Foundation with, resulting in a $70,000 contribution on behalf of all Kentucky Marines. Guest of Honor and keynote speaker at the Kentucky Marine Corps Birthday breakfast was Col John A. Bolt, USMC, Commanding Officer, 4th Marine Corps District. “Oldest Marine” was Cpl William P. “Pike” Conway (89), a World War II veteran of the climatic Battle of Okinawa, from Bardstown, Kentucky, while the “Youngest Marine” was Sgt Kara Johnson (25), Military Police Company Alpha, Lexington, Kentucky. (Photographs of both the “Spirit of the Corps” Award presentation and Kentucky Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast, as well as the Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Louisville, Kentucky, can be viewed in the “Galleries” section. Citation for the “Spirit of the Corps” Award can be viewed in the “Recognition” section. Photography by Jack Cooney, Jennie Armento, and Ed Armento)

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