10 Pages Vol.13, No. 11 August 2000


Published monthly by the
320 Iwo Jima Blvd.
Harlingen, Texas 78550
(956) 423-6006
Robert A. Beckley
Connie G. Flores

New challenges add to MMA camp experience

The 2000 MMA Summer Camp was a combination of both old and new for the Academy staff and 273 campers, alike.

On the old side were the familiar fixtures like the mud course and close order drill, league play and hiking, the boxing smoker and pugil stick competition.

Oh, and let’s not forget the heat. July in South Texas is never a picnic, but this one was especially brutal, with temperatures near the century mark every day and nary a drop of rain the entire month.

But those things had all been seen before. What was new this year were some impressive new facilities that promise to be a cornerstone of the MMA program for years to come.

The 30-foot rappelling tower and Marine Corps-style obstacle course that were constructed in the wooded pasture north of the main campus this spring were easily two of the campers’ favorite activities this year.

Rappelling is an essential part of Marine Corps boot camp, but until now, the facilities for such training were never available at MMA. Campers began by practicing the basics on an eight-foot training stand. They then moved to the 20-foot level, before tackling the highest level.

Before such training could begin, members of the MMA staff had to undergo a three-day instructional class taught by active duty Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Only after mastering such subjects as knot typing, tower rigging and rescue techniques, were 11 staff members certified as Helicopter Rope Suspension Instructors and allowed to run a tower and teach rappelling to campers.

“The instruction was incredibly thorough,” said MMA Maj Harold Compton, “and it paid off. Not once did we encounter any situation on the tower we were not prepared for.

“For the campers, rappelling was really a rewarding experience,” Compton added. “It gave them a chance to accomplish something physically they did not think they could do, and mentally they were afraid of. At least half of the boys were shaking when they got to the edge of the tower, but by the end of camp nearly all had completed five successful rappels.”

Just a short distance from the rappelling tower is the Academy’s new obstacle course, which LtCol Gary Andresen said is identical to those found at all Marine Corps bases in the world.

“The plans came right from an official Marine Corps publication, which may be why some of the combinations are a little difficult for the smaller kids,” Andresen said. “That’s where teamwork comes in; they get help from a fellow camper. The course is great physical exercise. It works every muscle group in a kid’s body. But it’s more about technique than brute strength.”

The summer camp this year was roughly divided into three parts. During the first 10 days, campers were gradually acclimated to military life. They were introduced to close order drill and Marine Corps customs and protocol. They also were given a healthy dose of marching, hiking and morning PT, designed to accustom them to the South Texas heat and physically prepare them for the rigors that lay ahead.

Part two was the core of the camp, and could be summed up with one simple word - activity.

It started with boxing instruction and pugil stick training, leading up to camp-wide competitions in those events. Campers also fired .22 rifles at the range, tackled the confidence course, swam and played various sports. Then came the mud course, obstacle course, rappelling, paint ball, and an eight-mile hike to Camp Perry where campers swam, canoed and shot more rifles. All of this was followed by an iron man competition, in which teams of campers tested the skills they had learned in a relay event using the entire Academy campus.

By this point, campers had faced challenges that had impacted and hopefully strengthened both their attitude and confidence. One final test, however, awaited them - the crucible. Late one evening, all of the campers gathered for a hike leading to the pasture behind the campus. There, they were divided into groups and required to complete a variety of tasks that required teamwork to complete, all with a minimal amount of sleep. The following morning the campers triumphantly marched back to the campus for a big breakfast, followed by some welcome rest.

With the camp now nearly complete, a large turnout of parents and family arrived at the Academy for the graduation weekend. There was a field meet Friday evening, followed by a parade and indoor ceremony. Then it was homeward bound for 273 boys who will never forget four weeks at MMA.

“I think it turned out to be the best camp I’ve personally been involved with,” said Col Cliff Myers, commandant of cadets. “Our two new items, the rappelling tower and the obstacle course, are items that challenged campers physically and mentally in most cases more than any challenge they’ve ever faced. By accomplishing these things, their confidence grew immeasurably.

“I also can’t thank the cadet instructors and drill instructors enough for what they put in this year,” Myers said. “I think the quality of our cadet leaders was better this year, and that produced a better summer camper.”

Chinese visitors come away impressed with MMA

Thanks to supportive parents, MMA reputation for excellence is beginning to spread around the world.

Kenneth Cohen, of Houston, is a retired diplomat who now owns Asian Access, a company which promotes business development between the United States and the Far East, primarily China and Korea. He and his wife, Ping, are also the parents of Cadet Jeremy Niu, who will be starting his second year at the Academy this fall.

In July, the Cohens arranged for two delegates from the People’s Republic of China to tour MMA. They were Consul General Zhang Chuniang, and Vice Consul Zhao Yong. The visitors, along with Academy trustees Col H. William Card, Jr., USMC (Ret), Mr. Robert Farris and Mrs. Evelyn East, observed MMA summer campers in action, and visited the Academy’s academic facilities.

The Chinese delegates had been invited to South Texas by both Cohen and Congressman Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi. Their primary purpose was to look at Gulf ports along the Texas coast, but while in the Rio Grande Valley they also took the opportunity to visit the Academy.

"I have spoken to the Consul General many times about MMA, and he is very fascinated by its leadership concepts for young people," Cohen said. "He would like to find a similar school in the PRC (People's Republic of China) and establish an exchange program."

Cohen, a former Marine, said there have been many Marines in his family, which led to his son’s decision to attend MMA.

"Jeremy developed an interest, and we enrolled him last December," Cohen said. "They fact is, he's never been happier. He's doing extremely well, so well that we want to promote MMA however we can. I'd like it to develop internationally if possible. We've already taken brochures and videos to China last spring. We'll be going back in August to check the traps, as they say."

"Congressman Ortiz is a big friend of ours, and of MMA," Cohen added. "I know when he goes to Asia he talks about MMA as being one of the highlights of his district."

New Director of Facilities hired

Former Marines with a great deal of experience in central plant management don’t grow on trees, but that’s exactly what MMA found this summer to replace retiring LtCol Billy Williams as Director of Facilities at the Academy.

David Miller spent five years on active duty in the Marine Corps, then began a career in facilities maintenance, primarily at educational institutions. For the past 15 years he has been Supervisor of Building Maintenance at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

“I first met Colonel Williams at seminars that people in our profession attend,” Miller said. “When he decided to step down, he gave me a call, and my wife and I decided we were ready for a change.

“I’m very impressed with the facilities at the Academy, but at the same time I’m a little concerned about what stands ahead of us,” he added. “The school went through a tremendous growth spurt in the past 15 years. Now we need to do all the things necessary to keep them in excellent condition. It’s a little like buying a new vehicle. We’ve paid it off; now we have to keep it running.”

Joining Miller in Harlingen is his wife, Rosie, and his youngest son, David II.

Leatherneck have something to cheer about

Spirit for the scarlet and gold should be running high this year with the help of the Academy’s new cheerleading squad.

After a five year absence, the program has been revived under the direction of the Academy’s Activities Coordinator, Patricia Cavazos.

“It was the idea of General and Mrs. Rollings,” Cavazos said. “They had felt there was something missing, and wanted cheerleaders to help promote school spirit.”

About a dozen girls answered an ad for cheerleaders in the local newspaper last spring, and Cavazos narrowed it down to eight after three days of tryouts.

“I was looking for a little bit of skill, but more importantly, enthusiasm and commitment,” she said.

Cavazos explained that MMA cheerleaders would be asked to do much more than just raise spirit at athletic events.

“I tried to let the girls know that any time there’s a school function or community event they would be needed,” she said. “That includes the last registration where they helped in the quartermaster, an ice cream social during summer camp, and dances at the cadet club.

“I think the more they’re involved with the Academy and with cadets, the more they’ll develop a sense of belonging and acceptance,” she said.

Fund-raising has also been a big part of the cheerleaders’ activities this summer. In July they held two events. One was a carwash which raised, through sponsorships and donations, nearly $1,500. The other was a pancake breakfast which netted over $800. The money will be used for uniforms, megaphones, pom-poms and for any traveling expenses incurred at away games.

Two recruiting officers join MMA admissions staff

When someone retires with 24 years of experience, like MSgt John McLaughlin, it’s a good idea to bring in plenty of help. That’s what MMA did, recently hiring two retiring Marines to join its admissions department, SgtMaj James Poe and MSgt Juan Covarrubias.

Poe, a native of Pontiac, Michigan, put in 30 years in the Marine Corps, including three tours as a recruiter. He said, however, recruiting at the Academy is very different from recruiting Marines.

“This is more marketing than recruiting. Here, the parents are seeking us out. There are many more hurdles to clear asking someone to spend four years of his life in the Marine Corps. This is much more enjoyable.”

Coming to MMA is a sort of homecoming for Covarrubias. He grew up in Brownsville before enlisting for his 24-year Marine Corps career.

“What I like about this job is there’s a tangible goal,” he said. “You recruit a boy, and then hopefully in three or four years, we get to watch him graduate. I know that’s going to be very rewarding.”

Summer Camp Awards

Summer Camp Awards

Platoon Honor Man Most Improved Camper
101 James M. Waterman Joshua C. Polk
Leominster, Ma. San Carlos, Arizona
201 Michael A. LeBlanc Raymond E. Mathews
Humble, Texas Maryland, Tenn.
301 Nicholas J. Kemper Kurt A. Hoppe
The Woodlands, Tx. Nashua, New Hampshire
401 Stephen M. Creaghe Eliot J. Day
Aurora, Colorado Vancouver, Washington
501 John R. Seay Jarad K. Stout
Apopka, Florida Amarillo, Texas
601 Daniel A. Kean Jared M. Brashier
Hillister, Texas Lafayette, Louisiana
701 Patrick T. Satterwhite Darren T. Jenkins
Bellevue, Washington Dallas, Texas
801 Louis B. Harrington Shane A. Farrar
Buenos Aires, Argentina Charleston, R.I.
901 Justin H. Hodges Javier A. Lopez-Perez
Magnolia, Texas San Juan, Puerto Rico
1001 James M. Bunney John C. Hardin
Phoenix, Arizona McKinney, Texas

How is the MMA ESL program doing? Muy bien!

Just one year after being revived, English as a Second Language (ESL) is off and running again at the Academy.

The summer program that was brought back last year after a five year hiatus, doubled its enrollment this time around, drawing 33 students, primarily out of Mexico. Registration for the five-week course was July 2. Graduation is Aug. 5.

Not only does the ESL teach English to foreign students, it also prepares them for continuing their eduction in the United States, said Dr. Mary Ricciardi, MMA’s foreign language chairman.

“Rather than teaching them English using abstract subject matter, we use subjects like U.S. history and government, American literature, chemistry, biology and even some math,” she said. “Many kids from other countries have trouble with their background in certain things, such as our history. By tying in their English training to other classes, we better prepare them to go to school here, or anywhere else in the United States for that matter.”

So far, Ricciardi said 19 of her students had achieved the level of proficiency needed to enroll at the Academy, with about 12 already planning to do so.

“I’m very impressed with the progress they’ve made,” she said. “We’ve ended up developing new materials for them because they’ve gone through everything we had on hand. That’s a good sign.”

One change this year in ESL is the length of the course, which was expanded by one week. By so doing, the students have been able to experience many of the activities previously available only to summer campers. Besides learning such basics as close order drill and making a rack, ESL students have participated in rappelling, the obstacle course, the mud course, pugil stick training, a field meet and the iron man competition.

“The boys love it, and this way those that come back for the regular school year can count the ESL as their plebe training,” Ricciardi said.

As before, ESL students are divided into three groups, with Ricciardi taking primarily the beginners and teaching social studies, Stacy Neville working with the intermediates and teaching grammer, and Kathlene Charrey teaching the advanced students and science.

Interestingly, all three troop handlers working ESL are Barba brothers from Huixquilucan, Mexico. They are Manuel ,a PG at MMA in 1998-99, Jeremy, who will be a senior, and Cesar, a sophomore.

Future plans of the MMA class of 2000

Sixty-two graduates of the MMA class of 2000 have indicated their future intentions, whether it be a college, service academy or other aspiration. Below are their tentative selections.

Justin Steven Abbinante Virginia Military Institute
Mario Alberto Aguirre-Reza Ibero Americana
Christopher Ezzat Alameddin Texas Tech University
Brian Patrick Mitchell Barrow University of Texas
Darby McNee Bodden U.S. Naval Academy
Jason Anthony Brown Texas A&M, Galveston
Peter Jackson Burke Virginia Military Institute

Steven Adolfo Cabrera Mount San Antonio College
Scott Turner Carlson Tomball College
Colby Bruce Correra Embry Riddle University
Adam William Davis Stephen F. Austin University
Michael David De Leon Wentworth Institute of Technology
Calvin Coulter Denton Houston Community College
Omar Brian Doherty Marine Maritime College
Thomas James Duff U.S. Naval Academy

Matthew Walden Freeman Merchant Marine Academy
Jon Alan Fuller U.S. Army, warrant officer flight program
Christian Anthony Gallo Arizona State University
Isaac Jeremiah Gloger Texas A&M, Galveston
James Andrew Gobert University of Mississippi
Jonathan Lucas Grisham Trinity College
Judd Smylie Hardberger University of Houston
Christopher John Herbert-Peacock Embry Riddle University
Joseph Justin Herold IV The Citadel
Brian David Hibbetts San Juan College
Luis Francisco Viveros Huchrak Ibero Americana

Joshua Joseph Izakson U.S. Air Force Academy
Christopher Hope Johnson Wheaton College
William Heath Johnston Texas A&M University
Saheed Adeshina Kadri Baylor University
Jerrad Grafa Kauffman Midland College
Stefan Predrag Kovac Texas A&M University
Matthew Thomas Lang Ohlone College

Jonathan Douglas Mackie Baylor University
Jason Farrar Martin Motorcycle Institute
Joseph Patrick Masterpool Syracuse University
Jonathan Aaron McBride Texas A&M University
Carl Edward McCrory University of California, Northridge
Michael Thomas McDevitt Moorpark College
Christopher John McGee Texas Christian University
Reginald Anthony McGriff Northern Michigan University
Danny Montez-Llamas Mount San Antonio College
Thomas Otto Nance Texas A&M, Galveston
Tyson Rayne Nolte The Citadel

Christophoer Patrick O'Grady Irvine Valley College
James Daniel Paine U.S. Military Academy
Charles Douglas Patterson Houston Community College
Jonathan Curtis Pax Virginia Military Institute
Howard Clifton Pease Baylor University
Robert Walker Phillips Southern Methodist University
Caleb Alan Pritchard University of Texas

Matthew Warren Reichert Webster University
Casey Todd Schroeder Swarthmore College
Travis Lee Shaw Texas A&M University
George William Sherling Lehigh University
Robert James Simpson Collin County Junior College
Jason Sum, Jr. San Francisco State University

Issac Taboada Lynn University
James Edward Tucci University of Michigan, Dearborn
Everett Russ Walla Texas A&M, Galveston
John Michael Willis Sam Houston State University
Garrett Thomas Wood Sam Houston State University


Richard Dryer
Dr. James Duff
Sgt Bill Harrison
Christopher Lee Heard, MMA Class of ‘99
Maj Billy J. (Bunker) Hill, USMC (Ret)
Maj Robert E. Hoskins, USMC (Ret)
Jackie Howell
Mrs. Ronald (Myrtle) Mason
BGen William A. Millington
Alice Skaggs
Mr. Arthur F. Wedemeyer, Jr.
Mr. Norman Zats
Marine Sam Zerilli

Gifts were received in honor of:

Cadet Thomas Duff, MMA ‘00 Robert J. Shirk
J. Rob Walker, in honor of his 78th birthday

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