Hammock’s Editorial Director Bill Hudgins and Managing Partner John Lavey recently spent several days embedded with the US Marine Corps at its sprawling base in Quantico, VA. John and Bill attended the 26th Annual Modern Day Marine Expo sponsored by Hammock Publishing client, the Marine Corps League, for whom we produce the bimonthly Semper Fi, The Magazine of the Marine Corps Leagueェ.
The three-day expo is one of three the League sponsors annually to bring together established and emerging suppliers of military goods, ranging from socks to aircraft, with Marines and military procurement personnel, to see whatユs new, what works and what could work. The Expos are also attended by invited military guests from other countries,and by everyday Marines and, often, their families.
With more than 300 exhibitors ranging from giants such as Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon down to tiny businesses such as Gunzilla (which makes a gun cleaning kit), itユs impossible to give a detailed account of the kinds of things we saw.
But there were some themesムメdefeatingモ roadside bombs from destroying vehicles and killing coalition soldiers was a big one. Devices to detect traces of explosives and gunpowder on suspected insurgents and terrorists were another. Electronics such as sophisticated battlefield optics systems, hardened servers, training software and simulators were another.
At the other end of the spectrum were things like T-shirts designed to help warfighters stay comfortably dry and warm or cool depending on the weather. Some were made with yarns that contained silver fiberムand could soon be imprinted with integrated circuitry so troops would literally wear their radios and other electronic gear.
Again and again, vendors told us that they had been working with the Corps to develop a needed item, often going back to the drawing board multiple times to get it right. And they heard plenty from the troops who inspected their wares, and who have an immediate and intensely personal reason to want them to work right first time, every time.
But beyond the geewhiz technology and the deadly serious purpose of the products on display, we witnessed first-hand the incredible bond that being a Marine forges among those who have worn the uniform. Two Marines who meet as strangers instantly acknowledge each other as brotherムor, increasingly, as sister. The bond transcends age, race, religion, political affiliation. This is a large part of the reason that the Marine Corps League existsムto help reunite members of this unique family, and put their talents and their loyalty to continued service to their nation and each other.