MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Lt. Gen. James F. Amos and Marian Rooney received the coveted C.A. “Mack” McKinney Awards from the Down East Chapter of the North Carolina Noncommissioned Officers Association at Sywanyks Scarlet and Gold in Jacksonville, Friday evening.
This marks the 15th anniversary since the award’s inception.
McKinney awards are presented to military members who have demonstrated professionalism, dedication and service to our country and its military over a sustained period of time. It is also awarded to members of the local community who have demonstrated a strong support for our military community and their families.
“Lieutenant General Amos and his wife Bonnie are people who look after Marines, sailors and all service members first, before themselves,” said Joe Houle, retired sergeant major and 1999 recipient of the Mack McKinney award. “Their efforts in establishing the Wounded Warrior Barracks are incredible.”
With that said, Lt. Gen. Amos, Commanding General Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., received his award and took the lectern with some breaking news.
“At 10 o’clock this morning the Commandant of the Marine Corps made the final decision at a briefing that we were giving him to stand up a Wounded Warrior Battalion at [Marine Corps Base] Camp Pendleton, [Marine Corps Base] Camp Lejeune and Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico, Va. That will cement all the work the wounded warriors have done over the last 10 months.”
Amos served as commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force from July 2004 to August 2006 and had a huge hand in the development of the Wounded Warrior Barracks, aptly named Maxwell Hall at Camp Lejeune. Following Amos’ comments, Rooney received her award.
Rooney is the first female to receive the award.
“We didn’t really do too much debating over Marian being our first lady recipient of the Mack McKinney award, who was on hand to present Marian with her award.
“I hope I continue to do good work, for the community and the service members,” Marian Rooney added.
The Sgt.Maj. C. A. “Mack” McKinney Award is presented in honor of Sgt. Maj. Mack McKinney, who retired in 1971 after 30 years of service. He enlisted at age 17 in 1942 and served in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. Following retirement, he continued to serve for more than 34 years, lending his time and efforts to improving the recruiting, retention and readiness of the Armed Forces by petitioning Congress for military compensation and benefits commensurate with the “extraordinary demands and sacrifices associated with military service.” He served as the NCOA’s first legislative director.
“I thought the night went really well,” said Paul Siverson, retired sergeant major and 2004 Mack McKinney award recipient. “There were a lot of young Marines in attendance, more than usual … I think that it is great that these younger Marines come out and are able to rub elbows with generals and senior enlisted … It is a once in a lifetime experience for some of them.”
Siverson added that the decision to award Rooney and Amos this year was an easy process. “Lieutenant General Amos’ involvement with the Wounded Warrior Barracks and his continual involvement with all Marines and sailors made him an easy choice,” he added, who is the secretary to the International Board of Directors for NCOA and also the secretary for the Down East Chapter. “Marian’s total involvement and commitment to every organization that she is involved in made it easy to choose her as the first female to receive the Mack McKinney award.”
Siverson reflected back to when he received his Mack McKinney award and its importance. “It was the last year that Mack was in attendance and presented me the award,” he said. “Although Mack is no longer presenting the award, the award has not lost any of its prestige.” Siverson added that Mack is always there with them, there is a table set aside where the awards are given to the recipients – the table has a portrait of the McKinney proudly displayed.
Other notable Mack McKinney recipients are: Sgt. Maj. H.G. Overstreet, 12th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps; Gen. Carl E. Mundy, 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps; Gen. James Jones, 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps; Dr. Ronald Lingle, President, Coastal Carolina Community College and 2001 recipient; Gen. Peter Pace, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.