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Thune, Webb Introduce Bill to Commemorate Marine Corps Aviation Centennial

Funds from commemorative gold coin will support Marine Corps Heritage Center

December 6, 2010

Washington, DC —  Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) introduced legislation last week to authorize the minting and sale of a commemorative $10 gold coin honoring the history of Marine Corps Aviation since 1912, when First Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham, the father of Marine Corps Aviation, reported for flight training in Annapolis, Maryland.

"For the last 100 years, Marine Corps Aviation has served as a pivotal force in keeping our country safe at home and abroad," said Thune, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland. "Through the creation of the centennial Marine Corps Aviation commemorative coin we are not only honoring our expeditionary force, but also contributing to the preservation of the Corps' incredible history at the Marine Corps Heritage Center."

"This coin will recognize Marine Corps Aviation's storied role in the history of our nation's expeditionary `Force in Readiness,'" said Webb, who served as a combat Marine in Vietnam and now serves as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. "From World War I to the `Cactus Air Force' of Guadalcanal, to the breakout of the 1st Marine Division at Chosin Reservoir, to Vietnam's infamous An Hoa Basin, and to the skies of Afghanistan today, Marine pilots and aircrews occupy a distinguished place in the annals of combat aviation. In flying countless close-air support and resupply missions, troop insertions, and medical evacuations, Marine Corps Aviation takes rightful pride in its role supporting Marines on the ground-anytime, anywhere."

Commemorative coin programs are self-funding and would represent no cost to taxpayers. A surcharge ($35 for the $10 coin) will be collected from the coin sales and directed to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation to help in continuing the construction of the Marine Corps Heritage Center on the National Museum of the Marine Corps campus in Quantico, Virginia. The coin will be minted and sold in 2015.

"Marine Corps aviation, as an essential element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, has been of significant value to the individual Marine and to the Corps as a whole for 100 years because it has embraced new thoughts and technology, been able always to perform in any environment, and has maintained a special bond of understanding that every Marine is first and foremost a rifleman," said Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas, USMC (Ret.), president and chief executive officer of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. "It is, therefore, only fitting that these enduring qualities should be recognized and honored by the minting of a commemorative coin to celebrate the Centennial of Marine Aviation."

The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation reports that since November 2006, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center at Quantico, Virginia, have welcomed more than 2 million visitors. State-of-the-art exhibits allow them to vividly experience the history of the United States and the Marine Corps from 1775 through the end of the Vietnam War. More than 100,000 school children have benefitted from the museum's exceptional education program. Funds from the Marine Corps Aviation commemorative coin will enable the museum to create exhibits depicting Marine operations up to the present day and will honor the proud service of all our nation's service men and women.