A patriotic tradition continues


The annual recently took place on Jacksonville’s Southbank.

Lance Cpl. Chandler Duncan (4th Assault Amphibian Battalion of the 4th Marine Division in Jacksonville) received the Robert A. Mette Memorial Award but was unable to attend the event due to his deployment. The award has a long-standing history in the Jacksonville community that dates back to 1956, when Private First Class Bobby Taylor of Jacksonville Beach was the first Marine to win it. The award is presented every year to a local Marine, like Duncan, who has proven outstanding leadership, sportsmanship and initiative while attending annual field training.

In a letter recommending Duncan for the award, 1st Sgt. Marc A. Courtney said Duncan “showed himself to be a leader and set the example for his fellow Marines to follow throughout the AT period.” Courtney added that “Duncan’s conduct is an example to others, and he is not only an asset to his unit, but to the Marine Corps as well.”

The award bestowed upon Duncan honors Bob Mette, who died of acute spinal meningitis at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 12, 1956. He attended Landon High School in Jacksonville, where he was actively involved in sports and the community, and was the first member of the school’s 1956 graduating class to pass away. Mette received his Landon diploma on June 8, 1956, in Jacksonville and died just 65 days later at Camp Lejeune.

After Mette’s death, John Lanahan, who was the commanding officer of his Marine unit and also a past city council president for Jacksonville, established the Robert A. Mette Award in memorial.

Over time, Richard Mette has presented the award on behalf of his brother and family to preserve his brother’s memory. In 1999, Richard Mette also helped to establish a memorial scholarship to complement the award and help local Marines with their college studies and funding. The 2017 Robert A. Mette Scholarship was awarded to Sgt. Nicholas A. Iezzi, who is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at University of North Florida.

In a letter recommending Iezzi for the scholarship, Courtney noted that the Marine has been “integral to driving the maintenance operations of Company B, continuously maintaining and improving the unit’s vehicle readiness levels.” Courtney also noted that during annual training at Camp Lejeune, Iezzi was hand-selected by Company B’s maintenance officer to provide critical support at a particular camp location.

“We are most proud of our local Marine unit,” Richard Mette told the Register in 2017, “and all the service that they give each day to our community and country.”