It’s often said that it ‘takes one to know one’. As a dedicated marketer I appreciate a good marketing effort as much if not more than the next guy. This past Thursday and Friday I had the experience and honor to attend a forum sponsored by the USMC – the MCBEF (Marine Corps Business Executives Forum).
The MCBEF is an outreach program catering to business CEO’s and company Presidents my fellow Vistage (CEO group – http://www.vistage.com ) members were enticed with the promise of live-fire exercise, a private tour of the Pentagon as well as a ride on a Marine helicopter.
It was an awesome and exhausting day. We had dinner the night before with several Marines in attendance that would be our ‘hosts’ for the following day (meeting at 0700). Getting to know more about both the individuals and their lives in the Marine Corps offered insight and one-to-one interaction that personalized the experience right from the start. An excellent start.
We began the day at the Air Force Memorial (who says the service branches can’t get along?) which offered a view of the Pentagon and was directly in the flight path of Flight 77 which struck the Pentagon where 184 people perished on 9/11. This was followed by a visit to the somber and moving Pentagon 9/11 memorial
adjacent the Pentagon prior to going inside.
Our ‘tour’ of the Pentagon was led by a Marine who could not have been more than 22 years old and could not have been more impressive. We moved swiftly (this was the mode of the day) and the highlight was a nearly one hour briefing by a Brigadier General that included a Q & A. No none of the information was classified (we had access but not that kind of access). But collectively I believe we all left that briefing with even more confidence in the leadership of the Marine Corps as the questions and answers were truly engaging and sometimes revealing.
It got even better. A short bus ride to an airfield had us all hopping on a CH-46 Sea Knight military helicopter for a 25 minute trip down to Quantico AFB. Sitting there with my ear protection on, unable to talk with my fellow members due to the noise I could almost get a feeling of what it might be like to be a 20 year old Marine heading to a remote locations trying to sort out thoughts before being dropped into battle. Almost.
We witnessed a demonstration of martial arts techniques followed by a ride to the firing range. Prior to having the opportunity to shoot 9MM pistols, M-16 rifles and M240 light machine gun we were given the opportunity to experience MRE’s (meals ready to eat) for lunch. Glad I was hungry. We all were happier that we do not have to eat MRE’s again for a long time if ever.
A tour of the Marine Corps Museum (very impressive and worth visiting) finished the day off with a visit to the Tun Tavern replica in the museum.
What did the Marine Corps want from our group? As it was put – ‘nothing and everything’. Nothing in particular but their hope is that with a deeper and more personal relationship our members would have more understanding and consideration of support for Marine Corps needs such as the V22 Osprey, and new aircraft that has lukewarm support in the White House.
What they got from me is a greater sense of appreciation for what Marines are like, what they do and how lucky we Americans are to have this competent and dedicated force protecting our country.
It’s my feeling that we all got what we wanted and then some.