Tom Monaghan

Thomas Stephen “Tom” Monaghan, born on March 25, 1937, in Ann Arbor, Michigan is an American entrepreneur who founded Domino’s Pizza in 1960.

After his father died when Tom was four years old, his mother had difficulties raising him alone, and at age six, Monaghan and his younger brother ended up in an orphanage until their mother collected them again in 1949.  The orphanage, St. Joseph Home for Children in Jackson, Michigan, was run by the Felician Sisters of Livonia; one of the nuns inspired Tom’s devotion to the Catholic faith and he later entered St. Joseph’s Seminary, in Grand Rapids, with the desire to eventually become a priest.  Unfortunately, he was expelled from the seminary for a series of disciplinary infractions.

After graduating from Ann Arbor’s St. Thomas High School in 1955, and enrolling at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, he

In 1956, Monaghan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps by mistake; he meant to join the Army.  He received an honorable discharge three years later, in 1959 and returned to Ann Arbor, where he enrolled at the University of Michigan, intending to become an architect.

While still a student, Tom and his brother, James, borrowed $900 to purchase a small pizza store called DomiNick’s in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  After a lawsuit with Domino Sugar, the business grew into Domino’s Pizza.  After opening three more stores, Tom traded his brother a Volkswagen Beetle for his half of the business.  Tom dropped sandwiches from the menu and focused on delivering pizza to college campuses, inventing a new insulated pizza box to improve delivery.  The new box, unlike its chipboard predecessors, could be stacked without crushing the pizzas inside, permitting more pizzas per trip, and keeping them warm until they arrived.  Monaghan’s emphasis on delivery led him, to guarantee having a pizza delivered within 30 minutes of a phone order being placed, or the order would be free.  Spreading his model to other college towns through a tightly-controlled franchising system, by the mid-1980s there were nearly three new Domino’s franchises opening every day.

In 1983, Tom bought his home town baseball team, the Detroit Tigers, for $53 million, and eleven years later, in 1992, sold the team to Mike Ilitch, former Marine and the President and CEO of Little Caesars Pizza.  Monaghan also owns the Domino’s Farms Office Park, located in the Ann Arbor Charter Township, Michigan, which he first started building in 1984.

In 1998, Tom announced his retirement after 38 years with Domino’s Pizza Inc.,  he sold 93% of the company to Bain Capital, Inc. for about $1 billion, and ceased being involved in day-to-day operations of the company, he subsequently dedicated his time and considerable fortune to Catholic causes.  A champion of the pro-life movement and other conservative causes, Tom has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting them.

Bain Capital’s mismanagement of Domino’s caused the company to fall into dire straits, and in 2001 Monaghan, still holding a 7 percent stake in the company, returned to its management.  By 2004, the company had rebounded enough to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.  By 2011, Domino’s was able to report that an increase in online sales, and U.S. digital sales had topped $1 billion for a one-year period, proving Tom’s belief that home delivery was the way to go.

The story behind Domino’s Pizza, including the many obstacles and setbacks that Tom overcame and the path he took to success, was compiled for the first time in his 1986 autobiography, Pizza Tiger, published by Random House.

In early 2002 Monaghan sought to establish the Ave Maria University, a private Catholic university in Southwest Florida.  Ave Maria University shares its history with the former Ave Maria College that was in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which closed in 2007.

In December 2011, Tom embarked on his second quick service restaurant brand by starting Gyrene Burger Company.  The military-themed burger delivery concept is a throwback to Monaghan’s days in the Corps.  The term “Gyrene” was used in the 1940s and 1950s as a nickname for Marines.  In starting Gyrene Burger, Monaghan is providing franchise incentives to eligible Marines and veterans of the other military branches.  The flagship store for the brand is located in Knoxville, TN.

Monaghan has received honorary degrees from twelve universities around the country, and in March of 2000, he was named an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College within Britain’s University of Cambridge.

R. Lee Ermey


Ronald Lee Ermey known professionally as R. Lee Ermey, is an American actor, best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.

Born in Emporia, Kansas, on March 24, 1944, Ermey was raised with five brothers on a farm outside of Kansas City, Kansas.  In 1958, he and his family left Kansas and moved to Toppenish, Washington.  As a teenager, he often got in trouble with local authorities, and was been arrested twice for criminal mischief by age 17.  After his second arrest, in 1961, the judge gave him a choice between joining the military or being sent to jail; he chose the military.

Ermey enlisted in the Marine Corps and went through recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in San Diego, California.  For his first few years, he served in the aviation support field before becoming a drill instructor in India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where he was assigned from 1965 to 1967.

Ermey then served in Marine Wing Support Group 17 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa, Japan.  In 1968, he was ordered to Vietnam with MWSG-17, and spent 14 months in the country.  The remainder of his service was in Okinawa where he was promoted to staff sergeant and medically discharged in 1972 because of several injuries incurred during his service.

Ermey was cast in his first film while attending the University of Manila in the Philippines, using his G.I. Bill benefits.  He played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in Apocalypse Now, doubling as a technical advisor to director Francis Ford Coppola.  Ermey then was cast as a Marine drill instructor in Sidney Furie‘s The Boys In Company C.  For the next few years, he played a series of minor film roles until 1987, when he was cast as drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket.

Initially, he was intended to be only the technical advisor.  Kubrick changed his mind after Ermey put together an instructional tape, in which he went on an extended rant towards several extras, convincing Kubrick that he was the right man for the role.  Seeking absolute military authenticity for the film, Kubrick allowed Ermey to write and edit his own dialogue and even improvise on the set, a notable rarity in a Kubrick film.  Kubrick later indicated that Ermey was an excellent performer, often needing just two or three takes per scene, also unusual for a Kubrick film.

Ermey’s performance won critical raves and he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor.  He later played a drill instructor in the pilot episode of Space: Above and Beyond and the ghost of a drill instructor in the film The Frighteners, both similar to his character in Full Metal Jacket.

Ermey has since appeared in about 60 films, including Purple Hearts, Mississippi Burning, The Siege of Firebase Gloria, Dead Man Walking, Seven, Fletch Lives, Leaving Las Vegas, Prefontaine, Saving Silverman, On Deadly Ground, Sommersby, Life, Man of the House, Toy Soldiers, and The Salton Sea, as well as the remakes of Willard and as an evil sadist in the two The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films.

Ermey also lent his voice to The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3, as well as Roughnecks and X-Men 3. He usually appears in a commanding military role, for shows such as Kim Possible, The Simpsons, Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Miami Vice, House, Scrubs, My Life as a Teenage Robot, and Invader Zim, in addition to hosting the documentary series Mail Call and Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey.

Ermey lended his voice to several video games, including Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (as General Barnaky) and Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (as Wa-Wa).  He also made a cameo in Real War: Air, Land, Sea, a retail real-time strategy computer game based on the official Joint Chiefs of Staff training game.  In 2014, he did voice-over work for Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Ermey is the co-founder of the Bravery Brewery in Lancaster, California.

On May 17, 2002, Ermey received an honorary post-service promotion to gunnery sergeant from the Commandant of the Marine Corps General James L. Jones in recognition of his continuing support to Americans in military service; becoming the first retiree in the history of the Marine Corps to be promoted.

He has also conducted morale tours visiting  troops in locations such as Al Kut, Iraq, and Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in which he filmed parts for his television show Mail Call.  While at Bagram Airfield, he held a USO-type show in which he portrayed GySgt Hartman and conducted a comedy routine.  He also did the same at Doha, Qatar and Camp Doha, Kuwait City, Kuwait, in 2003.

He is also the official celebrity spokesperson of the youth organization, Young Marines .

You can join his email list by visiting



Ed McMahon


Edward Leo Peter “Ed” McMahon, Jr. (March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009) was an American comedian, actor, author, singer, game show host, announcer and U.S. Marine.

McMahon was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Edward Leo Peter McMahon, Sr., a fund-raiser and entertainer, and his wife Eleanor (Russell) McMahon.  He was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts often visiting his Aunt Mary Brennan at her home on Chelmsford Street. Ed began his career as a bingo caller in Maine when he was fifteen. Prior to this, he worked as a carnival barker for three years in Mexico, Maine.  He put himself through college as a pitchman for vegetable slicers on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  His first broadcasting job was at WLLH-AM in his native Lowell and he began his television career in Philadelphia at WCAU-TV.

Hoping to become a Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II, both the Army and Navy required two years of college for their pilots program. Ed enrolled into classes at Boston College and studied there from 1940–41, before applying for Marine Corps flight training.  After completing the college requirement, he was able to join as he previously wished.  His primary flight training was in Dallas, followed by fighter training in Pensacola, Florida, where he also earned his carrier landing qualifications.  He was a Marine Corps flight instructor for two years, finally being ordered to the Pacific fleet in 1945.  However, his orders were canceled after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan’s surrender unconditionally.

As an officer in the Marine Corps reserves, Ed was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.  He flew the OE-1; the Marine Corps designation for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, an unarmed single-engine spotter plane.  He functioned as an artillery spotter for the Marine batteries on the ground and as a forward controller for the Navy and Marine fighter bombers.  He flew a total of 85 combat missions, earning six Air Medals.  After the Korean War, he stayed with the Marines as a reserve officer, retiring in 1966 as a colonel.  In 1982, he received a state commission as a brigadier general in the California Air National Guard, an honorary award to recognize his support for the National Guard and Reserves.

After World War II, McMahon studied at The Catholic University of America under the GI Bill and graduated in 1949.  He majored in speech and drama while studying under the Reverend Gilbert Hartke and was a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity.  After graduation, McMahon led the effort to raise funds for a theater to be named for Hartke and attended its dedication in 1970 with Helen Hayes and Sidney Poitier.

While working as Johnny Carson‘s sidekick during The Tonight Show, McMahon served as the president of the national alumni association from 1967 to 1971 and would often return to campus, especially for homecoming.  During the University’s centennial celebration in 1987, McMahon and comedian Bob Newhart performed.  He received an honorary Doctor of Communication Arts in 1988.

Today, the Ed McMahon Endowed Scholarship helps outstanding students and provides scholarship assistance to juniors and seniors who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in either the Department of Drama or the Department of Media Studies within the School of Arts and Sciences.

McMahon died on June 23, 2009, at the age of 86, shortly after midnight at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.  No formal cause of death was given, but McMahon’s publicist attributed his death to the many health problems he had suffered over his final months.  McMahon had said that he still suffered from the injury to his neck in March 2007.

Frank E. Peterson


Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr. was born in Topeka Kansas on March 2, 1932.  He became the first African American Marine Corps aviator and the first African American Marine Corps general.

After graduating from Topeka High School in 1949, Peterson attended Washburn University for a year and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy, as a seaman apprentice and served as an electronics technician.  When he aced the Navy’s entrance exam, he was called to retake the exam for suspicion of cheating.  the recruiter told him he would make a “great steward.”  The remark was particularly painful for Petersen, who said he had turned to the military because he hoped it would an escape from pervasive racial prejudice in his native Kansas.  Peterson was motivated by the recent Korean War combat death of the Navy’s first black aviator Jesse L. Brown, and Petersen vowed to become a combat pilot.

In October 1952, Peterson completed flight training and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  He flew Chance Vaught F4U Corsairs on 64 combat missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 212 (VMF-212), Devilcats, out of the K-6 Airfield in Pyong-Taek to the Yalu River.  He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and six air medals before the Korean War ended.

Petersen experienced the transition from propeller driven fighters to jets like the Lockheed T-33B Seastar, the Gruman F9F Cougar and the Douglas F3D Skynight.

In 1968, Petersen became the first African American in the Marines or the Navy to command a tactical air squadron when he took over Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314), the Black Knights, in Vietnam.  VFMA-314 received the 1968 Hanson Award for best squadron in the Marine Corps.  He flew 290 combat missions during the Vietnam War between May 1968 and February 1969.  In 1968, Peterson earned the Purple Heart for his actions while flying a mission in North Vietnam when he was shot down, and rescued.  He has over 4,000 hours in various fighter/attack aircraft.

In July 1969, Petersen became a tactical air planner/programmer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Aviation.  In 1971, he became special advisor to the Commandant of the Marine Corps in charge of African-American officer recruitment.  In July 1975, Petersen was promoted to Colonel and took command of Marine Aircraft Group 32 at Cherry Point, North Carolina later that year.  In February 1979 he was selected for promotion to brigadier general, in May 1983 he was advanced to the rank of major general.  General Petersen was promoted to lieutenant general on June 12, 1986 and was appointed Commanding General of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Quantico, Virginia.  When he retired in 1988, Petersen was the first black three star general in the Marine Corps and the “Silver Hawk” and “Gray Eagle” senior and ranking aviator in both the Marines and the Navy.  He was awarded another Distinguished Service Medal for his command services at Quantico.

Petersen received his B.A. degree in 1967 and his M.A. degree in international affairs in 1973, both at George Washington University.  He also graduated from the National War College in 1973.  In 1987 he was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Law degree granted by Virginia Union University.  In addition he also attended: the Amphibious Warfare School, Quantico, Va.; and the Aviation Safety Officers Course at the University of Southern California.

Petersen spent his civilian years as vice president of corporate aviation for DuPont DeNemours, Inc. Managing their corporate fleet, he traveled the globe, retiring in 1997.

Petersen, had five children, lived on the Chesapeake Bay.  He died at his home in Stevensville, on Maryland’s Kent Island, of complications from lung cancer on August 25, 2015. He was 83.

On February 23, 1979, he was promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first African-American general in the Marine Corps.  In May 1983, he advanced to the rank of major general and on June 12, 1986, he was promoted to lieutenant general.  Petersen relinquished duties as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia on July 8, 1988. He served as the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff from July 8–31 and retired from the Marine Corps on August 1, 1988.  Upon his retirement, he was presented the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, from June 1986 to July 1988.

His numerous decorations include: the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Meritorious Service Medal; the Purple Heart; the Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit with Combat “V”; Air Medal; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; and the Air Force Commendation Medal; the Robert M. Hanson award for the Most Outstanding Fighter Squadron while assigned in Vietnam, 1968; Man of the Year, NAACP, 1979; Gray Eagle Trophy, August 21, 1987-June 15, 1988.

On November 9, 2016, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus officially announced that an Arleigh Burke-class destroyerDDG-121, would be named in honor of Petersen.