A breed apart

Mustangs looking for enlisted men who became officers

By Linda McIntosh

November 1, 2003

CAMP PENDLETON They refer to themselves as mustangs, those wild horses sometimes considered a breed apart.

They are members of the Marine Corps Mustang Association, a group of United States Marines who served as enlisted men and worked their way up to the ranks of commissioned officers, a rare accomplishment, especially in years past.

"We're like a wild breed," said retired Maj. Jerry Lasher, past president of the Marine Corps Mustang Association and its Camp Pendleton chapter.

They are rare.

The distinction between officer and enlisted man used to be even more pronounced, especially before World War II, Lasher explained, and there were fewer opportunities to cross over.

"There was a mystique associated with an officer. When I came in a room of officers, I stood out," said Lasher who served for 14 years in the enlisted ranks and 16 years as an officer.

The mission of the national group founded 18 years ago is to "inspire love of Corps and country."

Mustangs promote camaraderie and esprit de corps in keeping with the spirit and traditions of the Marine Corps.

"Anything to do with Marines is bound to be patriotic," said retired Col. Stan Rauh, who served 34 years in the Marines, six as an enlisted man. Rauh helped found the Camp Pendleton chapter seven years ago.

Since then, the nonprofit group has raised money to help Marines and others in the military community.

Each year, the association presents a Mustang Spirit Award to a graduate of the Marine Warrant Officers' basic class at The Basic School in Quantico, Va.

The group is dedicated to revering the memory of departed members and preserving historical records of mustangs and their achievements.

A plaque recognizing the Marine Corps Mustang Association hangs on the wall of the San Luis Rey Officer's Club.

There are 1,600 members across the country and 72 members in the Camp Pendleton chapter.

The numbers are growing, and the chapter on base is looking for new members to continue the march.

"It's great to get together with many people you served with," Rauh said. The group meets monthly at the San Luis Rey Officer's Club and often features guest speakers from the military.

Members are invited to participate in Mustang Musters, reunions held across the country. Membership is open to Marines who served in the enlisted ranks and became officers.

For information, call (760) 726-1840 or (760) 723-8779.

Do you have a story idea for Camp Pendleton? Contact Linda McIntosh at (760) 476-8214 or linda.mcintosh@uniontrib.com. For special events, please alert us at least four weeks in advance. We work ahead!