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Whether spreading joy during the holidays or throughout the year, these Marine Corps Systems Command employees are making history in the lives of their own children and those in their communities. Meet MCSC’s 2018 Holiday Heroes: (from left) Tim Doyle, Erin and Nathan Thompson, and Ron Dingle. (U.S. Marine Corps graphic by Cassandra Merchant)

Photo by Cassandra Merchant

Holiday Heroes: Making a difference in the lives of children

21 Dec 2018 | MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication Marine Corps Systems Command

In 2002, Nelson Mandela told a special session of the United Nations, “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” Whether spreading joy during the holidays or throughout the year, these Marine Corps Systems Command employees are making history in the lives of their own children and those in their communities. Meet MCSC’s 2018 “Holiday Heroes.”

Former Marine Ron Dingle opens hand, heart to help others

By Kaitlin Kelly

When his last child was born in 1996, Ron Dingle’s wife bought him a suit and bestowed upon him the coveted duty of Santa Claus.

Since then, he has dressed as Santa for nursing homes, veterans homes, churches, homeless shelters and food banks. He has even served as Santa for MCSC’s Annual Holiday Social.

“I love seeing children light up with joy when they meet Santa and tell him their Christmas lists and wishes,” said Dingle, a management analyst at Program Executive Officer Land Systems. “I like spreading holiday cheer, and this is one small way I can give back to the community every year.”

He also serves on the security team at his church and is a part of the Share Ministry, which distributes food to nearly 1,200 families in need from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

“As a retired Marine after 24 years of service, I think it’s commendable that Ron brings joy to others as Santa, and even finds the time to mow neighbors’ lawns and stay active in church, all while supporting the Marine Corps mission,” said Dan Fitzgerald, assistant program manager-Program Management at PEO Land Systems. “He is team-oriented, resourceful and always lends a helping hand to anyone who needs it.”

Dingle said his greatest piece of advice when it comes to serving others in any capacity is to keep his hands open.

“I was taught that when you have a closed hand, nothing can get in and nothing can get out,” said Dingle. “When I keep my hands open and give back to others, more blessings return, which allows me to continue to give and be a blessing to others.”

A family affair – Erin Thompson

By Kaitlin Kelly

Erin Thompson and her husband Nathan are busy people. Both are engineers at MCSC and currently pursuing Master’s Degrees in Systems Engineering Management at the Naval Postgraduate School.

They also have three children and two are autistic. Although the Thompsons always wanted a big family of their own, Erin and Nathan decided to expand their family in other ways.

After learning that the number of children in the foster care system continues to increase every day, the Thompsons made the decision to give some of those children a loving home. In January 2018, they decided to become foster parents to children of all ages throughout Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

“My husband and I are a team, and our individual strengths help us balance one another out,” said Erin. “Nathan is absolutely amazing. Our schedules can get hectic at times, so I couldn’t do this without him.”

This month, they were given the chance to look after a 17-year-old boy, and although a bit anxious, the Thompsons are full of excitement.

“I have no experience with teenagers except when I was one myself, but I am looking forward to getting to know him and what he likes, so we can make this a wonderful Christmas for him,” said Erin.

Erin said at first she was nervous to tell her coworkers she was taking on foster parenting in addition to everything else in her life. However, when they found out she was a foster parent, it was a great conversation starter and people were genuinely interested and supportive, including her supervisor Maj. Mike Brisker.

“Erin is a brilliant engineer on the Weapons Team and her dedication to serving the warfighter's needs is observed through her all-encompassing professionalism, her unwavering contribution to the team's mission, and her kindhearted compassion that cannot be duplicated,” said Brisker, team lead for the Weapons Team. “She and her husband’s personal efforts in making better opportunities for disadvantaged children, despite their already daunting workload, reflect great credit upon both of them.”


A special heart for others - Tim Doyle

By Monique Randolph

Time is a precious commodity in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area. Traffic, commutes, and professional and personal demands make finding time to volunteer a tall order for most. Tim Doyle, a logistician with Program Executive Officer Land Systems, found a way to combine family time with volunteering when he became involved with the Special Olympics in 2005.

Doyle’s son Matthew is 28 and has Down Syndrome. One day, he came home with a brochure about a Special Olympics program at his school.

“Matthew is an athlete—he’s an active guy, he’s outgoing and he’s never lacked confidence,” Doyle said. “He’s a good fit for Special Olympics, and I wouldn’t be the person I am if it weren’t for him.”

After attending and helping out at a few of Matthew’s events, Doyle was hooked as well. Nowadays, between serving as an area coordinator and attending Matthew’s events, Doyle dedicates about 20 hours a week to Special Olympics. Despite the hours, he does not consider it a job.

“To call it a job doesn’t do it justice,” he said. “I enjoy seeing the athletes succeed and seeing the joy on their faces when they compete. They don’t care if they win or lose. They become more athletic and socially outgoing. That’s rewarding for me.”

A retired Marine gunnery sergeant turned government civil servant, Doyle never questioned whether to continue serving others. Matthew and Special Olympics simply helped him figure out how.

“I’ve always wanted to help people who need help,” he said. “No one influence caused that. My involvement in Special Olympics started with my son, but once I’m involved, it overtakes me.” 

Doyle’s supervisor Lee Morton, product manager for Medium Tactical Vehicles in PEO Land Systems, said he is not surprised by Doyle’s dedication.

“He’s a former Marine, and Marines get involved in the local community,” Morton said. “Tim worked for [the PEO] as a contractor for three years, and the fact that we hired him three months ago to fill a government billet means we believe in his knowledge, expertise and ability to do the job, but also we believe in his work ethic.”

Marine Corps Systems Command