Colonel Cheryl Blackstone, USMC, is the Marquette NROTC Alumna of the Year 2018 – the ninth person, and first woman, to receive this award. She graduated Marquette in 1990, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Through NROTC she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. She completed Officers’ Basic School at Quantico, Virginia in March, 1991, took the Basic Communications Officer Course, and reported for duty as Platoon Commander in the 8th Communications Battalion, 2nd Surveillance Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group at Camp Lejeune. She later served as the Group G-6 officer.
Four years after graduating Marquette, Blackstone became a member of the reserve detachment at Parris Island, serving as Special Projects Officer in the Academics Section. During this period, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Education in 1996 from the University of South Carolina.
From May, 1997 to October, 2000, Blackstone was Executive Officer, then Commanding Officer, of Ammunition Company (-) Reinforced, Fourth Marine Logistics Group, and was promoted to Major. She became Officer in Charge of Company D, Eighth Tank Battalion, Fourth Marine Division, at Eastover, South Carolina. During this command tour, she was also a classroom teacher at Richland County School District Two in Colombia, South Carolina. She was awarded the first “Distinguished Educator Award” for her leadership and professionalism.
Blackstone moved to Hickory, North Carolina in March, 2001, joining the staff of Fourth Maintenance Battalion, Fourth Marine Logistics Group in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her duties there included Officer in Charge, Maintenance Operations Section; Operations Officer, Peacetime/Wartime Support Team; and Battalion Executive Officer. She was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in January, 2006. As a civilian, she was a private school classroom teacher, Athletic Director and Director of Development and Fundraising. She returned to active duty in June, 2006, serving with the Parris Island Academics Section. There she spearheaded a complete revision of the Recruit Training Program of Instruction.
In October 2006 Blackstone reported to Headquarters, Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. as Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics, serving with the Logistics Plans, Operations and Strategic Mobility Division. When the job of Section Head, Readiness and War Reserve became a civilian position in January, 2010, Colonel Blackstone demobilized and was hired to fill this position as a Civil Servant. She then joined the reserve detachment of the Marine Air Ground Staff Program at Quantico, as Deputy Director, Joint Logistics Operations. She earned a Master of Science degree in National Resourcing Strategy at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 2012.
Back on active duty in 2014, she was Manpower and Reserve Affairs Liaison for Marine Corps 2014 Quadrennial Defense Operations. She was reassigned as Marine Corps representative to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission until May, 2014. Since then, Blackstone has served as part of a Marine Corps Resiliency initiative, building programs to support Marines, and to deal with modern challenges. She continues in that role as a Marine Corps Reserve retiree.
Currently on active duty, Colonel Blackstone is Knowledge Management Officer and Special Project Officer for implementation of Department of the Navy Tasking, Requirements and Consolidated Knowledge Enterprise Repository, Office of the Director, Marine Corps Staff. As a civilian, she leads as Section Head, Readiness and War Reserve, Logistics Plans and Operations Branch, Logistics Plans, Policies, and Strategic Mobility Division, Installations and Logistics Department, Headquarters Marine Corps.
Blackstone designed the current MU NROTC logo, spoke at the 2013 Marquette ROTC Awards Day, and led a “Women in the Military” talk with female Unit Midshipmen in 2013. Today she lives in Bristow, Virginia with her husband, a Naval Academy graduate. Colonel Blackstone’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal. Colonel Cheryl Blackstone distinguished herself as a Marquette and NROTC graduate, and a committed military and civilian leader. We salute her honor, courage, and strong commitments to Marquette, the Marine Corps and NROTC with the Alumna of the Year award.
Captain Robert Busalacchi, USMC, Class of 2010, is the sixth recipient of the Marquette NROTC Young Alumnus of the Year Award. He was born in Alaska, and graduated Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua, Wisconsin. He graduated Marquette with a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences in International Affairs in 2010, and was commissioned through NROTC as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. One week later he married Mackenzie Hickman, Marquette Class of 2009. He completed Officers Basic School at Quantico, Virginia in January, 2011.
Bualacchi was assigned to Camp Delmar at Camp Pendleton, California, as an Assistant Platoon Commander of a Mobility/Counter Mobility platoon. He completing on-the-job training, including the Unit Readiness Planning Course and Linear Mine Clearing Course. This was followed by Assault Amphibian Vehicle (“Tracks”) School for the last half of 2011, at which he was an honor graduate.
In September, 2011 Busalacchi was assigned as a Platoon Commander of H & S company, Third Amphibian Battalion. He led the platoon during amphibious training operations connected to Naval shipping. He was transferred to Company B in April, 2012 as Platoon Commander, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Here he took part in Exercise Pacific Horizon 2012. He was transferred again in September to company C in October, commanding 3rd Platoon. In December he commanded 1st Platoon and deployed for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
He was off to Okinawa, Japan in November, 2013, where his platoon was attached to Battalion Landing Team 2/5, working with Mech Company E. He commanded the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, a twenty-one-vehicle platoon of 55 to 75 men. His work at Camp Butler included training units headed to Afghanistan in vehicle mobility and mine clearing, including Exercise Ssang Yong 14. He was redeployed to Twentynine Palms, California in May 2014, and in July was promoted to Captain.
Busalacchi became the Assistant Armor Representative and Assault Amphibian Liaison for the Armor Shop of the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command. He taught infantry, tank, light armored reconnaissance and assault amphibian companies the application of fire support and combined arms mechanized combat techniques during Marine Corps service level live fire training programs, called Integrated Training Exercise.
This program trained 33 Reinforced Infantry Battalions and 78,000 Marines, and produced 19 live fire instructor – controllers. During 15 iterations of this exercise, he supported over 168 live-fire evolutions. He also was an instructor/trainer, responsible for developing and certifying the abilities of other officers and NCOs who were learning the techniques of the Coyotes, in order to qualify as instructors themselves. For this work from 2014 through 2017, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Busalacchi earned a Master of Science degree in Management, despite a heavy work schedule; and was selected to represent the Armor Section in the Standardization board, the governing body for this type of training. He was also awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Award, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Service Deployment Ribbon.
Captain Busalacchi has contributed to the Alumni & Friends Association as 2010 Class Representative since 2013. He has also mentored Marquette alumni since leaving Marquette. He is currently enrolled at UCLA.