Newsletter Issue 2 2015


Hawaii Reunion 2015

President's Message

This past year has been an exciting one for your Association. Another round of exceptional scholarship recipients was completed. Exhausting and meticulous work by your West Coast Chapter Tank commander initiated a more responsive Website. Our “Tanker Of The Year” awards program with fourteen highly qualified applicants was conducted with the appreciation of our active duty counterparts. Lastly, a successful reunion under some challenging circumstances was conducted. All of these events were made possible by members willing to put forth that extra effort to enhance the standing of your Association.

Without the strong board of directors you elect and special staff that raise their hands to volunteer their services, administering to the needs of over eight hundred members would be impossible. We now have directors on both sides of the Mississippi along with a robust East Coast chapter. Both entities ensure your Association is not San Diego area focused. Having a strong nucleus in the Southern California area does facilitate timely and well coordinated decisions. This keeps our Association moving in a positive direction.

I again thank each and every one of you for your continual support. I hope this newsletter under a more competent editor is both informative and entertaining. I look forward to hearing about any concerns you might have in the governance of your Association.

A. B. (Buster) Diggs

Points of Contact

President: Buster Diggs, (H) 760-304-0019

Vice President: John Studenka, (H) 760-758-2507

Executive Secretary: George Rose, 619-579-7847

Scholarship: Steve Chambers, (H) 760-722-0648



The end of this year reminds me that a year ago we were diving into a new challenge to prepare a reunion in Hawaii. With Sam Kaleleiki and Bob Johnstone at the helm we had gained a beachhead and were proceeding to storm ashore. Both are now MIA and the reunion that they deeply considered to be “the trip never to forget” has passed along with them. Both committed to the objectives of the MCTA and were profoundly proud of our Marine Corps which prompted them work tirelessly as Directors and President to motivate this organization to a higher standard than most organizations. We will continue their legacy.

General membership totals are still dropping because of our aging members retiring to the tank ramp far beyond but we still are adding new and younger aggressive hard charging tankers from today’s ramps both east and west. One year free membership is offered to any active duty tanker and gifts galore for a new life membership. Please check the new web page at for membership applications and renewal forms. Remember, January is the reup date in order to qualify for the shipping over bonus. We now stand at 832 warm bodies on the active side. Important for applications to be legible including e-mail addresses so database can be useful.

2016 Reunion

Great news! During the general meeting in Hawaii, it was decided that our 2016 reunion will be held at the relocated “Home of Armor,” Ft. Benning, Georgia (near Columbus). I think that very few of our members have visited there. Additionally, moving the reunion location east of the Mississippi facilitates easier access to members residing in the southeast. The tentative time frame is September/October (with hopes of avoiding the second week of October because of schedule conflicts.)

Since a large percentage of your Association’s board of directors lives in California, I’m asking Association members living closer to Georgia to volunteer and help organize the reunion. At a minimum, we will need a committee chairperson, a Columbus representative for lodging and Columbus activities, and a Fort Benning liaison representative. I have already contacted LtCol Ruben Martinez, the Detachment Commanding Officer and an Association member. Much of the necessary contacts are already in place through previously established Detachment’s contacts both at Fort Benning and in the nearby city of Columbus. I must stress that the Detachment will not be our hosts. Those active duty Marines have a continuous, real world mission to accomplish. Detachment Marines plus Marines no longer on active duty residing in the area will be available to provide guidance and direction to the committee. They are not there to do our work. All Association administrative responsibilities for registration and collection of funds will be handled by our executive secretary and CFO.

Any and all interested members willing to volunteer are requested to contact Buster Diggs at or (760) 304-0019. I will await some hands being raised to volunteer.

2015 Hawaii Reunion

Our Hawaii reunion has come to a conclusion but lovely and very special memories will remain with many of us forever. Your Associations board of directors hopes the time and expense of attendance lived up to your expectations. This brief synopsis of activities might encourage additional members to attend the next and subsequent years. A few members elected to remain additional days to visit with old friends that relocated to Hawaii or to see what was missed in the short time encompassing the reunion dates.

Several took advantage of the two early optional days with rooms reserved in advance at the Hale Koa. They used such time to explore Oahu and provide sightseeing tips for later arrivals. The “Icebreaker Social” on Sunday evening officially welcomed all with the heavy hors d’ oeuvres and an open bar.

Earlier sightseeing prompted a few to forego the business and board of directors meeting on Monday which was unfortunate. Many excellent ideas were presented by those in attendance. Several recommendations from previous general meetings are now standard practice. Discussion about future reunions and the funding of our chapters were only some of the highlights. After an afternoon to rest, the “best luau on Oahu” was enjoyed at the Hale Koa. This was verified by residents living in Hawaii and those in attendance.

Our banquet guest speaker facilitated the viewing of a Birthday pageant featuring Marines of the past in their vintage uniforms and reciting what Marines accomplished during their eras. This was followed by lunch overlooking the bay at Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe. On our journey back to the Hale Koa, Roberts Transportation coach driver-narrator Wilton, treated us to a tour of the Punchbowl National Cemetery. The following day Wilton again gave us an Oahu history lesson on all we passed both going to and returning from the Arizona Memorial. The reunion concluded with our banquet followed by the raffle and then the auction.

As your vice president, John Studenka so eloquently stated: “what a way to spend our Marine Corps Birthday viewing a Marine history pageant and touring the USS Arizona Memorial on Veterans Day.” Hope to see more members enjoy our next and subsequent reunions.

Annual Raffle Winners

Our raffle drawing was held in conjunction with the annual reunion banquet at the Hale Koa. The raffle is a much welcomed addition to our scholarship undertaking. The drawing for the three lucky winners was conducted by your executive secretary and his lovely wife, Cherl. First place went to Bob Clavan of Andalusia PA. Coming in second was our west coast chapter president, Rich Hine of Marysville WA. Rounding out the winners in third place and not present was Mrs. Nancy Simpson of Tampa FL.

On behalf of the Association and our scholarship recipients, we thank all who participated.


Our “Silver Sprocket” holder, Roy B. Peters from Chula Vista, California has not been superseded. Roy was born on November 22nd, 1923. He served with 1st Tank Bn during the Korean War and participated in the landing on Inchon. If any Association member feels he has an earlier birthdate, submit supporting documentation to our executive secretary at your earliest convenience.


Tank commander Rich Hine reports the chapter is alive and well. They have two upcoming events in the chamber. The first will be a get together at the Northwest Tank Fest Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. The location will be at Paine Field, Everett WA. The second event will be a MCTA-NW recruiting desk at FHC SkyFair on Paine Field in July. . Stand by for more concrete dates and details but mark your calendars accordingly. The chapter will definitely be there in force for both events.


Marine Corps Tankers Association-(ECC) Brave Hurricane Joaquin… MCTA East Coast Chapter (ECC) members chose to stay the course while neighboring communities prepared for the worst record breaking rain and flooding   in the last 1000 years.

Surrounded by the historic storm, ECC members aboard MCB Camp Lejeune NC met with “Iron Horsemen” family and friends. While there they rekindled old memories, encouraged MCTA comradeship-in-arms amongst active duty tankers and conducted year-end business. Moreover, ECC also recognized the outstanding Tankers of the Year at 2d Tank Battalion, 2d MARDIV.

Some of the weekly events included a day trip to 2d TKBN [HQ] Tank Park where ECC membership received a briefing about how the Battalion will fare after MARCORPS HQ mandated drawdowns [downsizing] and decommission of Companies Delta and Charlie, respectfully. Other activities included a visit to Marine Corps School of Infantry (SOI) aboard adjacent Camp Geiger NC where SSgt. Lisa Black escorted members to watch live Mortar Team Competition practice (met with SOI Combat Instructors) and observed active bivouac maneuvers (all the time in the rain exposed to strong winds). In addition, ECC celebrated our annual Banquet Dinner. As a result, the celebratory BD party was attended by ECC, BN Staff and guest. The party highlighted local singing celebrity Ms. Kris Burritt and featured music, dancing and a live auction. Special emphasis is given for the spectacular dinning. The reunion BD hosted 61 in attendance.

Lt. Colonel R. Bodisch, Major M. Zummo, Staff and ECC

Recognitions―members extended best wishes to newlyweds Captain Padraig Flynn, Alpha Company Commander, and wife Katie (Doss). The BD party was named as the couple’s first official affair.

Skipper Flynn and wife were top bidders for the 42” Visio HD Digital TV (donation). ECC President embarrassed all TOY recipients as necessary.

Similarly, the event serves to preserve the living spirit of MCTA “Iron Horsemen” everywhere.

Marine Tankers of the Year─Major Mathew P. Zummo, BN XO led the acknowledgements and accompanied by Sgt.Maj. Tom Burkhardt of New York, and (ECC President) followed. The 2015 MCTA Tanker of the Year recipients received special appreciation as the outstanding Tanker. The following Marines were recognized:

  • Corporal Chett A. Pellegrin MOS 3531 Headquarters & Service Company, 2d TKBN
  • Sergeant Matthew K. Caruso MOS 1812 Alpha Company, 2d TKBN
  • Corporal Kristopher M. Brown MOS 1812 Bravo Company, 2d TKBN
  • Corporal Matthew Simmons MOS 1812 Charlie Company, 2d TKBN
  • Sergeant Isaiah J. Woods MOS 1812 Delta Company, 2d TKBN

Each received our thanks for their service, a MCTA plaque on a wood mount suitable for mounting, additional gifts comprised of a $50 dollar gift certificate, and a MCTA cover. Each was invited to the BD dinner party. The BD party was held at the Ball Center again this year — the center is dedicated to GySgt. Terry W. Ball for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom where he received fatal wounds from an explosion while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Karmah Iraq while assigned to India Company, 3d Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, 2005.

Guest Speaker for the evening: Major Mathew P. Zummo; Battalion Executive Officer speaks with 2d Tanks. Major Zummo of Boulder Colorado is a graduate of the University of Colorado (acted as proxy for Commander Lt. Colonel Rob Bodisch who was serving TAD at MCB Quantico Virginia). In addition to his career duties, the XO has served as 2d TKBN Tank Platoon Commander, Series/ Company Commander assigned to MCRD San Diego in 2010 and was assigned as Commanding Officer Recruiting Station Orange, and later completed Command and Staff College training in 2014.

Major Matthew Zummo is married to his wife Kara.

The XO discussed his understanding of Marine leadership and its dependency upon Staff NCO partners, and how he couldn’t have gotten to his current position without their support. Lastly, he recognized them for the good job they do and suggested each had been put in their billets to fulfill their [given] purposes.

Note: Lt. Colonel Bodisch finished his business returning just in time to crash the party “Whoop!”

Save the date―Charlie Company 2d Tank BN Deactivation Ceremony is scheduled for Friday. 4 March 2016 at 1000 at the 2d Tank BN ramp.

Battalion News:

History: 2d Tank BN, 2nd MARDIV fires into G-10 impact area of Onslow Beach aboard MCBCL, June 4, 2013.

Finally, MSgt. Samuel Swain from Houston Texas (acted as proxy for MGySgt. Ramon Sanchez’ during his absence) coordinated the event schedule, POV permits and chow at the Mess Hall. The MSgt. also made arrangements for a customary MCX stop for our former Marines which topped the list. Housing was provided by Inns of the Corps.

New Members:

Jake Williams, Betterton Maryland C 1TKS 1950

In conclusion, special thanks to Captain Mathew Rohlfing S3 Officer, MGySgt. Sanchez, MSgt. Swain, 1st Sgt. Clint Summers (Retired) of Jacksonville NC, MGySgt William Harris (SOI), GySgt. Aubrey Wrenn (SOI) and SSgt. Lisa Black (Combat Instructor), David Di Paola and Mike Duggan for taking the lead, Dennis Martin, Colonel CR Casey, Bill Southerland, and the many others who participated making this year’s reunion special, God Bless.

Semper Fidelis…

Mario A. Tamez

UPDATE: The Marine Corps Tankers Association & Foundation honors a great Marine from 2d Tank Battalion, 2d MARDIV, Camp Lejeune North Carolina. Sunny skies and calm coastal seas accented the “Ace in the Hole Foundation” 6th Annual Run & Walk Event on 09 May 2015. The event which pays tribute to 1st Lt. Michael LiCalzi service in the United States Marine Corps and celebrates Mother’s Day week-end was held at Lido West Beach, Town of Hempstead, Long Island NY. The event organizers were overheard saying the occasion was the best turnout yet and they had nice weather to boot.

USMC Commanding General Boudreaux, 2d MARDIV leads the way

Director Gregg LiCalzi, Jr. (Michael’s twin brother) stated over 50 Marines from 2d Tanks, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune NC attended the affair (Michael was stationed there). The Marines were led by Commander Lt. Colonel Robert Bodisch; 2d Tank Battalion and Major General Brian Boudreaux, Commanding General; 2d MARDIV, and Sergeant Major Thomas Burkhardt carrying the Guidon.

1st Lt. Michael (“Mike”) LiCalzi, USMC served as a Tank Platoon Commander with 2d Tanks in Iraq where he died in action on 11 May 2006. The term “Ace in the Hole” derives from Mike’s service with the 2d Tank Battalion, 2d MARDIV.

Tank crewmen

Mike was 24 years old, in Iraq for six weeks, when he died serving our country. He died when the Abrams M1A1 Tank, in which he and three other Marines, flipped off a bridge into a canal in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. All four drowned, including Corporal Steve Vahaviolos (21) of Airmont, NY; Lance Corporal Jason K. Burnett (20) of St. Cloud, FL, and Lance Corporal David J. Grames Sanchez (22) of Fort Wayne, IN.

Also during the event, the LiCalzi family respectfully hosted the family of Corporal Steve Vahaviolos, Crewman, who also died on that fateful day. Proceeds from the event went to help the following:

  • $25,000 to the 1st Michael LiCalzi Scholarship Fund administered through the Marine Corps Tankers Association.
  • $15,000 to a Financial Assistance Fund to help those affected by Huntington’s
  • $15,000 to Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types (FIRST).
  • $10,000 to Wounded Warrior
  • $5,000 to Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Camp Lejeune, NC in memory of Corporal
  • $5,000 in support of Oliver
  • $3,333 to co-sponsor a service dog with the Bay Shore Rotary Club through Canine


Mike wanted to be a Marine. From the earliest days of his childhood, he wanted to be Marine. Mike was born on Long Island, New York on 11 April 1982. He grew up in Garden City and attended Chaminade High School, Class of 2000. He participated as a member of the track, cross country and crew teams.

Following an arduous admissions process he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in May 2004. During this time at the Academy, he was a model student, courageous boxer and active leader of the 30th Company where he developed strong and lasting friendships. Mike was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the Marine Corps at graduation.

He completed “The Basic School” at Quantico, VA and graduated as Class Honor Man at the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky in July 2005. He took command of 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2d Tank Battalion where he led his Marines through company and battalion level exercises to prepare them for their deployment with RCT-5 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While deployed to Iraq, he led his Marines on numerous independent operations.

Among his awards for service are the Iraq Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Mike was an honest, ethical, honorable, and hardworking student who was fiercely dedicated to his family and friends.

1st Lt. Michael LiCalzi

Always FaithfulEven at the Cost of His Life
Reference: Marine Corps Association & Foundation

Ace in the Hole Foundation is a recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization foundation incorporated in the State of New York to remember and honor the sacrifice of 1st Lt. Michael LiCalzi

SMC. Additionally, AHF is a New York non-profit (charitable status) corporation 501 (c)3 established to raise,  administers, and disburse money and property for charitable, scientific, and educational   purposes. The AHF was founded in 2008.

Greg LiCalzi, Director, “ACE in the Hole Foundation” has stated the family is proud to support the Marine Corps Tankers Association & Foundation and is looking forward to establishing a stronger relationship in the future. Additionally, Greg has discussed the scholarship process in detail and wants an annual scholarship in Mike’s name.

Since their inception in March 2008, Ace in the Hole Foundation has disbursed over $500,000 to those in need.

Mario A. Tamez President

MCTA East Coast Chapter

2015 Marne Corps Tankers Association Scholarship Program Update

2015 has been a banner year for the MCTA’s two Memorial Scholarship programs: the John Cornelius/Max English Memorial Scholarship and the 1st Lieutenant Michael LiCalzi Memorial Scholarship program. The Association received 28 scholarship applications. The young men and women who applied demonstrated exceptional academic achievement. This year eight applicants were selected for the John Cornelius/Max English Memorial Scholarships, and six were selected for the 1st Lt Michael LiCalzi memorial Scholarship. Assessment was intense for the five member panel that met. to evaluate the applications. All applicants were notified of the results of the selection process. The 2015 Scholarship breakdown is as follows:

The First Lieutenant Michael LiCalzi Memorial Scholarship

Nicole Bianca Auburn University 2014 Continued for 2015
Gabriella Green St Mary’s College
Melanie Lowery Gonzaga University 2014 Continued for 2015
Micailya Mattson College of William and Mary 2014 Continued for 2015
Robert Young Oakland University 2014 Continued for 2015
Zachary Ziegler University of Denver 2014 Continued for 2015

John Cornelius/Max English Memorial Scholarships:

Jordan BrownClemson University 
Nathaniel GreenwoodUniversity of Mississippi 
Jacob MartinezColumbus State University
Emily McLainNorth Carolina Wesleyan University
Hannah RediferAuburn University – 2014 Continued in 2015 
Katherine SlaughterUniversity of Alabama
Alexa StopaEast Carolina University
Freddy VillafanCalifornia State University San Marcos

The total Marine Corps Tankers Foundation funds expended this year is $34,000 dollars. The number of scholarships awarded is based on donations received by the MCTA. This year as for the previous three, the largest single source of funds was generously donated by the Ace in the Hole Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by the family of 1st Lieutenant Michael LiCalzi. The donation is spearheaded by Mr. Greg LiCalzi of New York, the twin brother of Michael LiCalzi, a Marine Tank Officer. 1st Lt LiCalzi while leading his platoon in combat in Iraq, gave his life along with his crew when his M1A1 Abrams Tank fell from a bridge. The Ace in the Hole Foundation, is named for the motto of the 2nd Tank Battalion Michael was serving with at the time of his death. When grunts are in a tight spot, as we all know, Tanks are their Ace in the Hole. The LiCalzi family has certainly been the Ace in the Hole for the MCTA Scholarship Program. Tankers heart felt appreciation for the generosity of the LiCalzi family cannot be adequately expressed.

Applications are available on the MCTA website or just google Marine Corps Tankers Scholarships. Applications may be submitted when first semester transcripts are available. They are evaluated and winners selected during May each year. Competition for scholarships is tough. Application must be complete in accordance with instruction and should represent the very best effort of the applicant. Application are selected from blind evaluation of five panel members and are selected on a “best qualified” basis.

The MCTA Scholarship Programs represent a core function of the MCTA and its Foundation. The programs are dependent on income from events and donations, and offer a great benefits to Tankers and their families. We ask that when you consider donations to great causes, include the MCTA Scholarship Programs. Tax deductible donation may be made to the Marine Corps Tankers Foundation, mailed to the National Headquarters of the MCTA. Help us continues these great programs.

Excerpts from An Exclusive Interview with Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Bodisch, Commanding Officer of 2nd Tank Battalion

By Josh Cohen, Defense Media Review

On Thursday, June 4th 2015, Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Bodisch presided over the deactivation ceremony for one of his battalion’s tank companies, an operational loss of fourteen M1A1 main battle tanks, leaving the 2nd Marine Division’s 2nd Tank Battalion able to field only three companies at any one time.

Company deactivation ceremony, Camp Lejeune, NC

Bodisch predicts Delta Company’s deactivation marks the beginning of events that will lead to long term impacts to the USMC tank community’s ability to retain personal, in turn impacting the service’s capability to field tanks in significant numbers, with skilled crews.

“It’s interesting to see the progression of Marine Corps tank formations since Desert Storm,” according to Bodisch. “During that time, the Corps had three tank battalions, each was similarly equipped with 70 M60A1 tanks and 72 armored M1045A2 High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles [HMMVW] [AM General, LLC] with the Marine Armor Kit, mounting [Raytheon] BGM-71 TOW heavy anti-armor assault missile systems, these formed the battalion’s anti-tank company and included an anti-armor scout


2nd Tanks has also lost its TOW anti-tank platoon

Initial reductions came when our tank battalions upgraded to the M1A1 in 1991. Moving to the M1A1, at four vehicles per platoon, effectively cut the equivalent of a platoon (four tanks) from each tank company, Bodisch explained.

Yet 30 M1A1 vehicles remaining at 2nd Tanks does not translate to total availability, “it’s not an accurate number, keep in mind no less than eight tanks will constantly be deployed, one platoon attached to a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and starting in August, another platoon for the Black Sea Rotational Force (BSRF) in Eastern Europe, leaving a maximum of twenty-two M1A1 tanks available to support an entire division here at Camp Lejeune and form the next MEU and BSRF tank platoons,” Bodisch said.


Half the Assets – Double the Deployments

Cuts in USMC armor end strength hit 2nd Tanks in near parallel to an increase in operational tempo. According to Bodisch, a platoon from 2nd Tanks has been attached to a newly forming ground combat element slated for deployment to Eastern Europe.

“In August, we’ll have to start sourcing a tank platoon for Eastern Europe. They’ll rotate each six months as part of the BSRF. Keep in mind, to deploy a single platoon actually commits three…these rotations normally have one platoon deployed, one training up to relieve the deployed platoon, and one that has recently returned,” Bodisch said.

“The 3rd Battalion 8th Marines has been selected to form the nucleus infantry battalion for this winter’s rotation,” Bodisch confirmed. He noted this is the first time a USMC crisis response force is being assigned heavy armored vehicles. “We’re calling the armored formation, with the Light Armored Vehicles tanks, and artillery, the Combined Arms Company,” he added.

2nd Tank battalion is also tasked to provide a tank platoon deploying every six months on shipboard rotation supporting the 22nd, 24th and 26th MEUs. The amount of multiple simultaneous deployments will stretch 2nd Tank Battalion assets and Marines more than in the recent past.


USMC M1A1 A Unique Inventory Here to Stay

As the US Army moves to a fleet of common M1A2 SEP tanks, the Marine Corps has no plans to replace its current M1A1 inventory. USMC M1A1 tanks have undergone numerous upgrades and product improvements ensuring relevance on the modern battlefield

Nothing was said about 4th Tank Bn., but 8th Tanks has been deactivated and the units re-designated to other types of units. We’re still spending big time money on the F-22 Raptor however.

New Members

VILLAFIN, Freddy, Hillsborough ORSHARP, Jerimiah
SIGAFOSE Jr., Stephen P, Camp Lejuene NCGREEN, Dwayne A., Detroit MI 
BIANCHINI, Victor E., San Diego CADI CICCO, Michael, Brooklyn NY


CROMWELL, John B  left us Veteran’s Day 2009
HERRINGTON, John Chusband of Margueriteleft us March 2010
BENDER, Jerrold left us November 2012
RAVINO, Jerryhusband of Nonaleft us 2014
McKEAN, Charles left us 2015
ANDERSON, Elinar Ahusband of Eldoraleft us January 2015
WHITE, Jameshusband of Louiseleft us January 2015
GARNER, Douglas C left us March 2015
KNOWLES, John Dhusband of Evelynleft us April 2015
CAPATANOS, George T left us May 2015
ROWELL, Williamhusband of Bettyleft us August 2015
JOHNSTONE, Roberthusband of Julieleft us November 2015

It is important that we at the headquarters produce a newsletter that is accurate, informative and of interest to all of you. In that light, please submit comments, criticisms and articles you want published to Articles should be in PDF format so they can be downloaded and edited if necessary. We are still searching for a publicity chairperson.