With a combined 60 years of honorable Marine Corps service, the Bolden family certainly left their mark on military history.
Col. Anthony “Ché” Bolden retired on July 3, 2019 in a ceremony held at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium’s Akerson Tower in Annapolis, Md.
Brig. Gen. Brian Cavanaugh, Deputy Director for Joint Staff J3 Operations, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, retired Ché Bolden. Upon his retirement, Ché Bolden added to his family’s long legacy with his 26 years of service to the Corps. His father, Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden (USMC-Retired), served 34 years before retiring in 2003.
“It’s rare to come across someone superior in all of our values,” said Cavanaugh. “Ché is an excellent moral, mental and physical warrior in all respects.”
At the ceremony, Ché Bolden received a Legion of Merit Award for his service as the Assistant Chief of Staff for the MCICOM G-3/5 and G-7 Directorates. During this time, Ché Bolden proved instrumental to the operation of 24 installations with over 33,000 personnel.
While it is easy to identify the Boldens’ contributions to Marine Corps history, future innovation has been the name of the game for Ché Bolden in recent years. At the direction of Marine Corps Installations Command (MCICOM) Commander Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, Ché Bolden played a pivotal role in establishing and organizing the revamped G-7 Modernization and Development Directorate.
“Ché’s work with the G-7 inspired helped several individuals across MCICOM to understand what the next-generation of installations could look like,” said Maj. Gen. Coglianese. “His determination to support the long-term viability of Marine Corps installations was unmatched.”
Under Ché Bolden’s leadership, the Installation werX (I-werX) branch was created, with goals to advance Marine Corps installation capabilities through purposeful processes, extensive research and experimentation, and the development of meaningful partnerships in both the public and private sectors. A self-described “disruptor,” Ché Bolden tirelessly worked to maintain and improve Marine Corps installations for the next generation of warfighters.
Ché Bolden’s professional experiences cover a wide range of military, governmental, and international operations that include combat aviation, special reconnaissance, combined arms, international relations, foreign military sales, unmanned aviation, policy development, physical security and access control, and infrastructure planning. He supported multiple training exercises throughout the U.S. and Asia, as well as conducting combat operations in aircraft over Iraq and Afghanistan.
A lifelong learner, Ché Bolden’s learning extends from his time at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993 and his graduate degrees in Strategic Studies and International Relations. His often challenges his peers to “start with why” before initiating any project or initiative.
“A man is known by the company he keeps,” said Ché Bolden. “Surrounding yourself with good people and letting them do good work is key. My time at the Naval Academy and in the Marine Corps continually pushed me to improve.”
Charles Bolden also served as a distinguished innovator. Following his 1968 graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and completion of flight training, Charles Bolden became a decorated aviator after flying over 100 combat missions while stationed in Thailand. He later spent 14 years as an astronaut with NASA during a period of his Marine Corps service and completed four shuttle trips before returning to active duty Marine Corps service until retirement.
Charles Bolden eventually went on to become the Administrator of NASA from 2009 to 2017 under former President Barack Obama. At NASA, Charles Bolden oversaw the safe transition from 30 years of space shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilization of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development.
“Ché is a phenomenal son, great brother, supportive husband, loving father, and tremendous leader,” said Charles Bolden. “He knows what it means to take care of fellow Marines so that they’ll take care of you.”
The Bolden family has left a remarkable impact on the Marine Corps that will be felt for years to come as a result of their strong leadership and dedication to public service. While their careers took different paths, everyone in the Marine Corps is exceptionally proud and thankful to Ché Bolden, Charles Bolden, and their family for their outstanding contributions to our country.