Marine Corps Base Quantico --
Last Friday, Brig. Gen. David C. Walsh, commander of MARCORSYSCOM, was invited to participate in a storied tradition at the New York Stock Exchange. Accompanied by Sgt. Maj. Allen B. Goodyear, both in dress blues, the commander marked the end of the trading day—and the beginning of Veteran’s Day weekend-- by ringing the closing bell at precisely 4:00 PM. This act, a ceremonial gesture steeped in history, underscored the long-standing ties between the United States Armed Forces and the financial world—symbolized and strengthened by Wall Street.
Although it might surprise some to see a military leader on the trading floor, the relationship between the Armed Forces and the business community is deeply rooted in our nation's history, forming a cornerstone of both the national economy and defense infrastructure.
On stage, Walsh emphasized the Marine Corps' commitment to commemorating its birthday in any location, with any group, as exemplified by their celebration at the New York Stock Exchange. He stated, “We celebrate no matter where we are. We celebrate the history of our Corps, we celebrate the veterans who have generated the legacy that is our Marine Corps today, and we celebrate sharing that warfighting culture with our younger Marines.”
One great example of this spirit of Marine Corps dedication can be seen in the career of Capt. Billy Barefoot, who recently served as principal advisor to the commander on manpower staffing and administrative issues at MARCORSYSCOM. Although his career began in the fleet, he went on to have a successful career on Wall Street before returning to the Corps as an officer in the acquisition community. (Author's note: Read about ‘the Devil Dog of Wall Street’ here.)
For the Marine Corps, this enduring connection can be traced as far back as the Naval Act of 1794, when Congress commissioned the construction of six warships, upon which Marines served as ships guards. Funded by taxpayer dollars, the design and construction of these ships were overseen by Philadelphia shipbuilder and businessman, Joshua Humphreys. This early venture set a precedent for the continuous and mutually beneficial relationship between the military and the business community, a bond that remains integral to the nation's strategic and economic framework.
Today, the acquisition community’s relationship with American business remains vital. This symbiotic partnership has consistently enabled the Corps to equip the warfighter with the most advanced gear in military history, ensuring Marines are prepared to fight and win whenever the nation calls. From the extensive mobilization of industry during World War II, supplying essential gear for victories in Europe and the Pacific, to the critical support in conflicts like the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf Wars, this enduring collaboration has repeatedly proven its indispensable role in bolstering the military's operational effectiveness across different eras and battlefields.
"I think of our industry partners as a source of potential,” said Goodyear. “This potential is twofold: there's the opportunity for natural growth within the United States Marine Corps, particularly through the forward momentum we gain in procuring resources through Systems Command. Additionally, it provides a launching point for something beyond our time in the Marine Corps. And I think it goes hand in hand. We're welded together in this combined effort of making America great. We're there, but we can't do it without our industry partners."
Perhaps because of this natural relationship, veteran Ken Marlin has argued that some of the best ways to succeed on Wall Street include principles and practices he learned while serving in the Corps, including taking the long view, behaving with honor, delivering excellence, and working for a cause greater than money.
Ultimately, this enduring bond between the Corps and Wall Street serves as a living testament to the values of service, patriotism, and collaboration. It exemplifies how the partnership forged in history continues to shape the future, ensuring that our Marines are equipped for success-- whether in the field or on the trading floor-- embodying the core principles of duty, honor, and country.