Although a deluge of rain on the last day of the 30th Annual Modern Day Marine Expo threatened to close the show early, Marines, vendors and attendees gutted out the rough weather to bring the event to a record-breaking close.
The first exposition was held in one tent in Tucson, AZ, on 18 August 1981. More than 8,500 attendees perused over 500 exhibits at this year’s Expo, held 28–30 September aboard MCB Quantico.
The most sought-after visitors were the Marines whose lives and fighting capabilities depend on the equipment displayed at the show. From socks to computer servers, the Marines gave the suppliers incisive critiques on what works, what doesn’t and what they need.
This year’s Expo took place under the shadow of looming defense spending cuts and reductions in manpower, exacerbated by a renewed debate over whether America needs a Marine Corps.
Present at the opening on 28 September was Lieutenant General George J. Flynn, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, who was “on his way to Capitol Hill to save the Marine Corps,” from extensive budget cuts, said Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ronald Coleman, MCL Exposition Coordinator, during his introduction.
Lieutenant General Flynn recalled that the late Lieutenant General Victor “Brute” Krulak wrote that “the United States does not need a Marine Corps … the United States wants a Marine Corps.” The Marine Corps, he added, “will continue to be ready when the nation is least ready … it will remain naval in character and will be truly expeditionary” in protecting America and her interests.
Innovation was a key theme of the show. Lieutenant General Flynn noted that much of the Corps’ success in battle has been due to equipment first seen at the Expos. “You can never get the future 100 percent right, but you can’t afford to get it 100 percent wrong,” he reminded the crowd.