Activated on 1 September 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts, 1st Marine Corps District was designated as the 1st Reserve District. On 1 July 1946 it was re-designated as the 1st Marine Corps Reserve District then on 31 March 1953, the name was officially changed to 1st Marine Corps Reserve and Recruiting District (MCR&RD). MCR&RD included six recruiting stations (Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, New York, and Portland, Maine) and three officer procurement offices (Boston, Buffalo and New York).
In 1954, Recruiting Station Portland was deactivated and RS Boston took responsibility for recruiting in that area.
In 1956, 1st MCR&RD headquarters moved from Boston to its present location on Stewart Avenue in Garden City, N.Y. The grounds of Stewart Ave. were originally Camp Mills (1776), which then, were training grounds for the War of 1812, the Mexican War, Spanish American War and World War I.
The current 1st Marine Corps District building was built by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) in 1923 for a warehouse and distribution center. The building became outdated, and A&P built a more modern warehouse further east on Stewart Ave. The vacated building took occupancy in 1941 by Sperry Gyroscope, famous for manufacturing war materials. During their occupancy, they added several buildings, to include the guardhouse and a cafeteria. Today the cafeteria occupies the same structure, half of which was converted into the 1st MCD Enlisted Club.
The building was purchased by Navy Records Management Center (NRMC) for $319,000 immediately following the end of the war in 1945 in order to process and microfilm the paperwork of the thousands of discharged servicemen of WWII. Being on Long Island for ten years, NRMC moved to more up to date facilities in St. Louis, Mo. in 1955.
For almost a year, the building was only occupied by a small caretaker team. Alicia Patterson, publisher of an up and coming newspaper called NEWSDAY, tried to acquire the property. When she failed, she built her plant next door.
A public affairs officer was scouting the New York area to relocate the 1st MCRD&RD headquarters. With the help of the caretaker personnel, 11 officers and 53 enlisted Marines took occupancy of the property on August 3, 1953.
The first commanding officer of the new district headquarters building was Colonel Albert Creal, a veteran of the Tarawa campaign in WWII and the Inchon-Seoul and Chosin Reservoir fighting in Korea. Col Creal held a Legion of Merit with a combat “V”, distinction for valor, due to his outstanding service as Signal Officer of the 1st Division in Korea. In January 1942, then 1st Lt Creal became the commanding officer of the 2nd Defense Battalion in Samoa. They moved from Samoa to Tarawa in November of 1943. In March 1944, he returned back to America wearing the rank of Lt Col. In 1956 he took command of 1st MCRD&RD which included 38 officers, 159 enlisted Marines and 14 sailors.
On 1 January 1964, MCRD&RC split and was once again re-designated, now as 1st Marine Corps District. Today 1st Marine Corps district houses approximately 350 military and government service employees. 1st Marine Corps District includes eight recruiting stations (Albany, Buffalo, Harrisburg, New Jersey, New York, Pittsburg, Portsmouth and Springfield), each compromised of ten to fifteen recruiting substations.
On 11 October 1985, the District held a commemorative naming ceremony to name the building in honor of the historical Marine from the metro New York area, Cpl. John F. Mackie, the first Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Cpl. John F. Mackie was a loyal Marine and a patriotic citizen. It is well and fitting that our first Medal of Honor recipient should be commemorated and remembered.