– Former player and head coach of the Quantico Marines football team, LtCol Ron Eckert, USMC (Ret), presented Marine Corps sports memorabilia and artwork to the National Museum of the Marine Corps during a special ceremony on May 10. The donations included a football helmet, warm-up jersey, two signed footballs used during games, and a privately-commissioned painting entitled “Semper Fi on the Field.”
LtCol Eckert, a native of Rhode Island and National High School All-American and Little All-American with Upsala College in East Orange, N.J., played football for the Quantico Marines in 1963 and 1964. After serving two tours in Vietnam, LtCol Eckert returned to the football program as assistant coach, then head coach in the early 1970s. As head coach, he was known for making changes that reflected the program’s national prominence while maintaining strict adherence to the Marine Corps history and traditions.
“LtCol Eckert’s generous donation not only represents the glory days of the Marine Corps’ football program, but it reminds us of a time in our Marine Corps’ history that would be all but forgotten if it were not for individuals who recognized the importance of its preservation,” remarked LtGen Robert R. Blackman, Jr., USMC (Ret), President and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “The Foundation works to preserve and promulgate moments of Marine Corps history in time of both war and peace, and thanks to LtCol Eckert and Mr. Henry Friedman, we are able to continue doing just that.” LtCol Eckert and Mr. Friedman co-founded Impact Resources Technologies (IR Tech) in 1999.
The Quantico Marines participated in service football for over 53 years, which included all-Marine, inter-service and civilian collegiate competitions. After other service branches ended their football programs in 1970, the Marines were left to schedule games with mainstream civilian collegiate programs such as Penn State, Syracuse, and the University of Delaware before their discontinuation after the 1972 season. Their run included six inter-service championships, with nine undefeated seasons and 355 wins.
After the Marine Corps’ football program ended, LtCol Eckert began building a personal memorabilia collection representing the program’s significance. With continuing support from Mr. Friedman, he went on to commission two paintings, both funded by their company, entitled “Marine Corps Athletes of the ‘60s Who Served in Vietnam” and “Semper Fi on the Field."
“Preserving this memorabilia was a way I could keep the program going long after it ended,” said LtCol Eckert. “It was a privilege to be part of this particular piece of history, and now I hope that with this donation others can be part of it as well.” About the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
Dedicated to the preservation and promulgation of Marine Corps history, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation was established in 1979 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Foundation supports the historical programs of the Marine Corps in ways not possible through government funds. The Foundation provides grants and scholarships for research and the renovation, restoration, and commissioning of historical Marine Corps artifacts and landmarks. Securing the necessary funding for the complete construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center, located in Triangle, Virginia, is the Foundation’s current primary mission while continuing to provide program support for the Corps’ historical, museum, and educational activities. For more information, visit MarineHeritage.org.