Royal Marines Association

United States of America

Master Gunnery Sergeant Len Maffioli USMC (Ret.)

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 | Comments (0)

Once A Marine Always A Marine - Master Gunnery Sergeant Leonard J. “Len” Maffioli USMC (Ret.), a member of the Royal Marines Association – USA, was invited to attend the USMC Graduation Parade at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego, CA on Friday 3 August 2012. This was not just an invite to an old soldier to size-up graduating Marines treading in his footsteps, but also to meet the reviewing officer and his retinue.

Honorable Military Service

At eighteen years old Maffioli enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and fought on the Pacific Islands of Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima with the 4th Marine Division.  When World War II ended he returned to the U.S. in late 1945 for discharge.

 
December 6, 1950-Exhausted Marines at the breakout of Hagaru-ri.

He reenlisted in July 1950 at the outbreak of the Korean Conflict and sailed for Korea with the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, participating in the Inchon Landing, capture of Seoul and the Chosin Reservoir campaigns.  During this latter action, he was captured by Chinese forces while escorting 41 Independent Commando, Royal Marines to Hagaru-ri with Task Force Drysdale.  After six months as a prisoner of war, he escaped along with 17 other Marines and was later awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for his part in engineering the escape.  He also received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received during his capture.

After more than five months hospitalization and convalescence, he returned to active duty and served at various posts and stations throughout the world, including a tour with the 3rd Tank Battalion on Okinawa and duty with the Dept. of State as NCOIC of Marine Security Guard detachments at diplomatic posts in Munich, Germany and Vienna, Austria.

In 1967, after four years of recruiting duty in the Los Angeles area, he requested and received transfer to Vietnam where he served 13 months as operational chief of the 1st Tank Battalion, participating in four major campaigns, including the February 1968 Tet Offensive.

From Vietnam, Maffioli was reassigned to the Department of State and served in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and Kabul, Afghanistan.  Subsequent tours included a stint as Sergeant Major of the 2nd Tank Battalion at Camp Lejeune and four more years of recruiting in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

In 1975 he was transferred to MCRD, San Diego, where he served as the Depot’s Inspection Chief until his retirement in March 1979.  With more than 30 years of service, he was the last Korean ex-POW and one of the few remaining veterans of WWII on active duty in the Marine Corps.  He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal upon retirement.

Membership of the Royal Marines Association, United Kingdom

Because of his experience with 41 Independent Commando, Royal Marines at the Chosin Reservoir Breakout during the Korean Conflict, Maffioli has had a close kinship with the Royal Marines.  Due to this relationship, he joined the Royal Marines Association in 1995 as a Life Member.  When the Royal Marines Association USA was established in 2009, he became a founding member.

He attended the annual Royal Marines Association Reunion held at the Commando Training Center, Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone, Devon, at which time RMA USA was presented with their Branch Standard.  The next day the Standard was dedicated at a drumhead service held in front of a parade formed from RMA Units gathered from around the world.  Trained Marines and Recruits were also in attendance to witness the occasion.  When the parade marched past in review, Maffioli marched in the Korean Veteran’s contingent which led the parade.  They marched from the parade ground to arousing applaud.

 

 

Corporal Kenneth “Taff” Williams, RM (Ret.) and Master Gunnery Sergeant Len Maffioli, USMC (Ret.)at CTCRM, Lympstone, Devon September, 2010, Shared experience by having their truck blown up from  beneath them in Korea

Exchange Visits between the Corps

While on an exchange visit to CTCRM, Brigadier General Daniel Yoo, USMC, Commanding General, MCRD, San Diego invited Brigadier Timothy J. Bevis, RM, Commandant, CTCRM, to visit MCRD as reviewing officer for the Graduating Class.  Prior to the parade Brigadier General Yoo hosted a breakfast for Brigadier Bevis and his retinue.  The retinue consisted of Colonel Nigel Brown, Royal Marines Attaché and Deputy Head, British Naval Staff, British Embassy, Washington, D.C.,  and Warrant Officer 1 Marty Pelling, RM, Regimental Sergeant Major, CTCRM, and most importantly Master Gunnery Sergeant Len Maffioli, UMSC (Ret.).

After exchanging experiences, recollections of CTCRM, and recalling familiar names known both to Maffioli and the Marine Attaché, the whole party assembled at the Parade dais for the Graduates Parade, Presentation of Training Awards, and for the reviewing officer to review the Recruits as they past for duty.

To cap this event, Maffioli has been invited to return as Reviewing Officer for another Graduation Ceremony.  What better example for Recruits to aspire to than a Marine who has fought in three major wars, was a Prisoner of War, escaped and served his country for over 30 years with meritorious service.  Semper Fi.

From left to right:  Colonel Nigel. Brown RM, BrigGen Daniel Yoo USMC, MGSgt Len Maffioli USMC (Ret.), Brigadier Timothy Bevis RM,  and WO1(RSM) Marty Pelling RM At Recruit Graduation Parade, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA

Friday, 3 August 2012

 

 

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