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Reserve wing general visits VMFT-401, presents award

By Lance Cpl. Kevin Paul | | November 14, 2002

The commanding general of 4th Marine Air Wing paid Marine Fighter Training Squadron-401 a visit Oct. 29.

Brig. Gen. Harold J. Fruchtnicht, and Maurice Bernier, West Coast representative of the Marine Corps Association, visited the squadron to present the General Hogaboon Award to Lt. Col. William J. Harkin, VMFT-401 executive officer.

Harkin placed second in the Marine Corps Gazette leadership essay contest. The contest was open to any Marine, private to general, and it required them to submit a 750-word essay about leadership.

"Each year, the Marine Corps Association, through its journal, the Marine Corps Gazette runs a leadership writing essay contest," said Bernier. "We go out and ask people to submit essays on what leadership means to them. It's the only leadership award we have in the Marine Corps for writing."

Fruchtnicht said Harkin's entry beat out more than 150 other essays to receive the award.

"It was truly outstanding," said Fruchtnicht. "It shows what he has learned as a leader and what he has to pass on to other Marines."

Harkin said he was surprised at winning the award.

"They wanted you to define leadership and describe the most important attribute of a leader," said Harkin. "I'm interested in the topic of leadership, but I'm sure there were a lot other great essays out there."

However, Harkin said he had more than one reason for entering the contest and writing the essay.

"I participated in the contest as a way to practice my writing," said Harkin. "I plan on getting a masters degree in military history and this helped me to get the cobwebs out. But, it'll be a while before I get my masters; my schedule makes it hard."

The presentation to Harkin was one of Fruchtnicht's first official functions as the commanding general of 4th MAW.

"I just assumed command three weeks ago," said Fruchtnicht. "I'm still trying to catch up with who's who and what's what."

Fruchtnicht is no stranger to the air station and said it was great to visit it again.

"I was stationed here in 1976 with Marine Attack Squadron-223," said Fruchtnicht. "A lot has changed since then. We used to fly A-4 Skyhawks, but now the primary asset on the station is the AV-8B Harrier."

After the awards presentation, VMFT-401 gave the general a briefing on the squadron's mission and took the general to lunch at the Sonoran Pueblo, which was his first visit to the club.

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