At the very bottom of Texas, down by South Padre Island and the Mexican border lies an institution that was founded over 50 years ago at the former Harlingen Army Airfield base aptly named Marine Military Academy.
The Marine Military Academy was founded on September 9, 1965, by Captain William “Bill” Gary as a private college preparatory academy located in Harlingen, Texas, offering a college preparatory curriculum for boys in grades 8–12 plus one year of post-graduate study. It had originally been planned on being opened in Prescott, Arizona, however, Harlingen was settled upon after being given to him by the US government. Its doors were first opened to 58 cadets.
The Marine Military Academy established one of the first Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (MCJROTC) in the nation. I had the honor of attending MMA as a young foreign student from 1988-1992. Coming from Australia, I was the first foreign student to ever attend the academy from there or from so far away. To say it was culture shock would be putting it mildly, but I loved it.
Everything we did as young men was modeled around the United States Marine Corps. Our uniforms 4 days a week were Green “C”, or Charlie’s, and utilities on Fridays. We even had Dress Blue uniforms that were worn during the Marine Corps birthday or while on leave.
On its grounds is the original model of the Iwo Jima monument that Dr. Felix de Weldon created and was used to cast the second monument located in Washington D.C. at Arlington National Cemetery. The monument at MMA is also the final resting place of Corporal Harlon Block, one of the Marines, immortalized in the famous photo atop Iwo Jima and depicted in the movie directed by Clint Eastwood, Flags of our Fathers.
I was one of several hundred cadets during my tenure there to have been influenced by Marine Drill Instructors from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. My Drill Instructor was Sergeant Major Fred A. Robinson who was instrumental in running and creating the golden gloves boxing program in the Marine Corps. He was a Korea and multi tour Vietnam Veteran, I look to him as my father figure as do fellow alum with their DI’s in the companies they lived in.
The mission of MMA surmises exactly what tomorrow’s leaders are influenced by:“Marine Military Academy has been commissioned to produce the leaders of tomorrow. We provide the structure, discipline, academics and physical training needed to mold all of our young cadets — no matter the personality type — into true leaders, ready to take on the challenges of a modern world.”
Some things MMA is and isn’t
- A boarding school based on a military model
- A college preparatory school
- A first resort — many students prefer its structured environment to traditional schools
- A program that focuses on the complete individual — mind, body and spirit
MMA is not:
- A training facility for the United States Armed Forces
- A last resort for young men with disciplinary problems
- A party school — they have a zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol
- A 24-hour boot camp
MMA has a 100% college acceptance rate, an average GPA improvement of 1.71, average SAT score of 1550 and an average ACT score of 21. Impressive right! You can check out the school profile here
I think this video surmises everything what MMA is, it is an incredible institution that had such an impact on my life. It forged relationships that I still have today, enabled me to grow as a young man that went on to serve in the Marine Corps as a Force Reconnaissance Marine and Scout/Sniper, and instilled life long leadership traits.
Some of our notable alum are:
- Dale Hellstrae, NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys
- Major General Jeffery L. Harrigan USAF
- Rear Admiral Joseph Horn, USN
- Kevin Jackson, Political and News personality
- Steve Waugh, State Senator from Maryland
- Denard Walker, NFL player for the Tennessee Titans
- Tom Morton, NFL palyer for the Atlanta Falcons
- Ivan Radcliff, US Olympic Bobsled Team
- Ryan Crissey, US Olympic Track Cycling
I can’t say enough about what an incredible institution MMA is and how many lives it’s impacted, and continues to impact. It has been instrumental in forging tomorrow’s leaders and giving back to the community and nation.