Annual Appeal

Friends of the Flying Leatherneck Foundation,

Thank You! Because of your tremendous generosity in support of the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, we were able to keep the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum open to the public six days per week throughout the entire year.

What a year it has been! By the end of 2015, the Flying Leathernecks:

  • Will have welcomed more than 28,000 visitors from all over the world.
  • Maintained and exhibited the world’s largest collection of aircraft flown by Marine aviators.
  • Provided financial support to the Curator and the Restoration team. So far this year, your Museum staff and volunteers made very significant progress on the SNJ Texan, the FM-2 Wildcat, the TBM Avenger, the SBD Dauntless and the R4D (C-47 Skytrain).
  • Launched our re-designed website and greatly expanded the Foundation’s presence on social media, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Improved and expanded the Log Book. The Foundation’s magazine is a respected publication that provides entertaining and substantive articles about Marine Corps aviation history and news of the Museum and Foundation.
  • Expanded our outreach to students and educators from across the Southern California region, offering the Museum (and the story of Marine Corps aviation) as a tool for teaching science, history, mathematics and citizenship.
  • In collaboration with our partners at the Character Development Center of the University of San Diego, launched an essay contest for middle and high school students that encouraged them to think deeply about the importance of “Honor, Courage and Commitment.”
  • Completed a major refurbishment of the museum building, including the re-carpeting of the entire building and the installation of several new exhibits. The “Hall of Heroes” exhibit is an awe-inspiring display showcasing the courage, character and commitment of our Marine aviators whose actions in combat resulted in the awarding of the Medal of Honor or the Navy Cross.  

I’m sure each of you shares our satisfaction in a job very well done during the past year. However, despite all of our accomplishments and progress, there is still much more that needs to be done.

Education is the Answer

I truly believe our nation is at a crossroad. Many of our young people are adrift and growing up in environments filled with destructive influences. They risk repeating history, and fail to understand why so much was sacrificed for their freedom since the founding of our republic. Character deficiencies manifested in inferior educational performance, poor physical fitness and anti-social behavior has led to a scarcity of high quality and motivated individuals, not only for military service but for all sectors of the socioeconomic system in the United States.

To illustrate:

  • 88% of high school seniors score below proficient in U.S. History, and
  • 71% of 17-24 year olds do not qualify for military service.

Your Foundation’s mission is to preserve history, honor service and inspire generations. The narratives provided by veterans who volunteer at the Museum teach history and aviation principles as well as the absolute necessity of good character and leadership. The Foundation’s commitment to this mission is rock solid. Working in collaboration with the Character Development Center at the University of San Diego, we are reaching out to local students with lessons in the honor, courage and commitment of Marine aviators and aircrews. In the near future, our lessons will go online as a resource for teachers throughout the nation. Again, your generous financial support allows us to reach out to an ever-expanding number of young people all across our region. I am particularly pleased with the progress we are making with “at risk” and disadvantaged students.

As a not-for-profit organization, the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation relies almost exclusively on your strong commitment and financial generosity. Quite frankly, without your continued support, we will not be able to sustain our support of the Museum or our character development initiatives. I want you to know that 2016 will be critical in determining the Foundation’s long-term viability. Together, we are indeed building momentum in telling our story. I have found that the Marine Corps aviation story of service and sacrifice resonates with many people, both young and old. This is not the time to stand down. We must continue moving forward! I hope I can count on you to help the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation at this critically important juncture.

22,000 Hours Donated by Volunteers in 2015

One significant misconception that folks have is that the Department of Defense underwrites the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. Simply put, that is not completely true. In fact, the DoD only provides funding for a skeleton crew to oversee the acquisition and maintenance of the Museum’s collection. Nearly all artifact restoration work, archive maintenance and staffing of the museum is done by volunteers. The work is so critical that in the last year, our volunteers have donated more than 22,000 hours of time to bring the history, lore, legends and legacy of Marine aviation alive. Because of their commitment, 89% of the revenues raised through our donors’ generosity go directly to education programs, artifact restoration and Museum exhibit support.

The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, by necessity, provides nearly all funds for the daily operations of the Museum and the Foundation staff office (one full-time and one part-time employee). To fully meet our commitments, the Foundation requires approximately $250,000 per year in financial support. I hope to raise $100,000 through this appeal. I ask that you consider a generous, fully tax deductible gift to the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation at this time.

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We are thankful for your support and look forward to our continued partnership. Kindly make your fully tax-deductible charitable gift today so that the Flying Leathernecks can continue to preserve our history and inspire our young people.

Warm personal regards,

B.G. Butcher

Major General, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

Chairman, Board of Directors

P.S.  I hope that you will be able to make a fully tax-deductible gift today to the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you in person about the Foundation, the Museum and our future plans at the annual meeting. I can also be reached by phone Tuesday through Friday at the Foundation Office. The number is 858-693-1723.

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Thank you for your generosity!

The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charitable organization. Our Tax ID #33-0345440. Your contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.