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Beaufortonians profiled in book on Marines

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(Reprinted from the Beauford SC Gazette, April 25, 2004)

Two Beaufortonians are profiled alongside a three-time Grammy award-winner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the developers of McDonald's Happy Meals in a new book featuring former Marines excelling in the civilian world.

Like many of the former Marines contacted by authors Rudy Socha and Carolyn Darrow for their book "Above and Beyond: Former Marines Conquer the Civilian World," Beaufort's John Davenport Sr. and Ron Tucker were hesitant at first.

"There were some people in there with some tremendous accomplishments, both in the military and out," Davenport said. "I've accomplished some things, (but) my accomplishments paled by comparison in my opinion."

Tucker said he too thought there were other former Marines that would "make better reading," so he sent the writers, also both former Marines, a list of names.

"Ironically, one of the people I primarily suggested was someone who still has a residence here in Beaufort: John Davenport," Tucker said.

Davenport retired from the Marine Corps in 1987 and began working with a copy service in Atlanta providing outsourcing services to law firms. In 1998, he formed Document Technologies, which has offices in 13 cities, and serves as chairman and president of management services for the company.

In 1994, Tucker, who had retired from the Corps two years earlier, watched a documentary about Parris Island boot camp and decided he could do a better job. He formed Good-To-Video, and has produced an array of Marine Corps documentaries, including "The Making of a Marine" about boot camp, "And Then They Were Called Marines" about women in the Corps and "The Crucible: The New, The Proud" about the 54-hour test of mental and physical endurance each Marine recruit must conquer before graduating from Parris Island.

Although Tucker and Davenport were initially reluctant, Socha persisted and the men eventually agreed to be in the book. Socha said the response was pretty common.

"A great many of them were reluctant to be profiled in the book," Socha said. "Some guys, like Ron Tucker, were not the type of guys to wave their own flag or toot their own horn."

Some, like Davenport and Tucker, felt there were other, more deserving former Marines out there, Socha said. Others questioned the credibility of the first-time author.

"Chances are I'll probably do an update in three years," he said. "It'll be much easier the second time around."

Socha wanted to show Corps' diversity, profiling former Marines running small companies along with those running big businesses, such as Fred Smith, the president and chief executive officer of FedEx, and Dale Pond, the executive vice president of Lowe's Companies, and the co-developer of McDonald's Happy Meals.

He included "guys like Tucker and Davenport with medium- and small-sized companies" because "they're just as interesting."

"Those two guys are definitely very interesting," said Socha, who talked with more than 400 former Marines during his 14-months of research.

The book's Beaufort County connection, however, is deeper than just Davenport and Tucker because Socha and many of the Marines profiled came through Parris Island.

Television star Drew Carey, a former Marine Corps Reservist profiled in the book, went through boot camp at Parris Island and, according to the book, credits the Corps with instilling the self-esteem he needed to perform his early stand-up comedy routines.

Others profiled in the book were stationed at Parris Island for a bulk of their service.

Retired Col. Harvey Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient, served as the commanding officer of 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. Retired Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas, a Navy Cross recipient, was the commanding officer of 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Retired Maj. Gen. Jerry Humble was once the depot's commanding general.

Another selling point for Tucker and Davenport to participate was that the book's sales will benefit nonprofit organizations the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, Marine Corps League, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, Marine Corps University Foundation, The Marine Military Academy and The Women Marines Association, all of which are profiled in the book.

Socha, in fact, won't see a penny from the sales, insisting that Turner Publishing Company, the book's Paducah, Ky.-based publisher, gives all the royalties to the seven Marine Corps nonprofit agencies profiled.

"It's a good way to put money back in those pots," Tucker said.

Davenport and Tucker said they are proud to be included in the book.

"I'm glad I did it," Davenport said.