Local journalist receives military writing award

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A Beaufort resident received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s “General Roy S. Geiger” award for journalistic excellence.

Randy Gaddo
Randy Gaddo

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine Corps officer, earned the award for an article he wrote and photos he took for Leatherneck Magazine about the groundbreaking methods employed by Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501.  The squadron literally wrote the book on operational and maintenance procedures that will transition the new F-35B “Lightning II” joint strike fighter jet into the Corps.

Gaddo, a Beaufort resident, went to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where the squadron was stationed for more than a year, to interview Marines and photograph their operations. The squadron is slated to relocate to Beaufort during 2014.

The article and photos he produced were featured in the January 2013 issue of Leatherneck Magazine, produced by the Marine Corps Association. He is a contributing editor for the magazine.

Gaddo was a combat correspondent as an enlisted Marine and later a public affairs and media officer before retiring after 20 years of service as a Chief Warrant Officer-4. He worked as a director in municipal government for 15 years before forming his company, RG Communications, a strategic communications and writing business specializing in a wide range of written products for the media, businesses, non-profits and individuals. He provides professional writing services and products in areas such as photojournalism, speech writing and presenting, event plans and narrations or master plans.

Additionally, Gaddo provides public affairs and public administration consulting.  He earned a Bachelor’s in International Affairs and a Master’s in Public Administration.

The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation was founded in 1979 to tell and preserve the uniquely American story of contribution and sacrifice, valor and victory of the United States Marine Corps. It was designed in a complex of facilities which include the National Museum of the Marine Corps as well as Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, artifact restoration and storage facilities and an on-site conference center and hotel.

Each year, the foundation presents a series of awards to both Marines and civilian community members, recognizing their exemplary work in advancing and preserving Marine Corps history. Awards are presented in areas such as leadership, print and broadcast journalism, book writing, combat art and others in 18 separate categories.

“I am honored that the foundation chose the article about VMFAT-501 because their transitioning process for the F-35 is truly unique and should go down as a watershed event in Marine Corps aviation history,” Gaddo commented.  “When squadron Marines bring the F-35B home to Beaufort they will bring a great sense of pride and accomplishment with them.”

Beaufort is slated to receive two operational and two training F-35B squadrons.

The Marine Corps “B” variant of the F-35 will replace and perform the roles of three venerable but aging aircraft: the F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier II and EA-6B Prowler.  The F-35B is the only Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter variant that features short take-off and vertical landing capabilities.