A US Congressman is making a 15th attempt at re-designating the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.
Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina says that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the effort will be rewarded on his 15th try, though he is quite prepared to continue fighting for the change.
“I have long been an advocate of giving the Marine Corps the recognition it deserves as one of the official branches of the military,” Jones told the Marine Corps Times. “I plan to keep fighting like a bulldog.”
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Jones’ district included Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River. Long advocating on behalf of Marines, Jones worked for nearly 16 years to clear the names of two pilots who he felt were “unjustly blamed” for a V-22 Osprey crash.
With unprecedented support in Congress, Jones may get what he is asking for. In addition, his idea is backed by advocacy groups such as the Marine Corps League and the Fleet Reserve Association, as well as several generals.
Current Marine Commandant General Robert Neller gave no direct comments on the matter, though his spokesman implied that the “spirit of the congressman’s proposal” was appreciated.
“We believe it is proposed routinely out of respect for the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Eric Dent, Neller’s spokesman. “But a name change alone would not fundamentally change the relationship and responsibilities the Marine Corps maintains with and within the Department of the Navy.”
Meanwhile, high-profile former Marines such as GySgt R. Lee Ermey has expressed his support of the name change for some time.
“When we die, when mama and dada get that letter of condolence, it would be kind of nice if the Marine Corps was mentioned,” Ermey said back in 2010. “Just change the letterhead. What’s the harm in that? These young men and women are fighting and losing their lives for this country. We aren’t asking for our own department. We are reasonable people. We are just asking for an honorable mention.”
According to a Congressional budget study done in 2013, the cost of changing the name would cost under $500,000 a year for several years, thus having “very little effect on most U.S. Naval or Marine Corps installations since signage, service flags, and other items bearing the emblems or names of the Navy or Marine Corps generally do not reference the Department of the Navy and would not need to be replaced.”
The office of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has been quiet on the matter and no immediate comments have been made.
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