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National Marine Corp Museum

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In t
he Korean War Gallery, visitors see the Marine’s first combat use of helicopter and jet aircraft as well as the expanded roles of women and minorities within the Corps.  Visitors get a closer look at Marines who are cold, tired and dangerously short of ammunition as they fight determined Chinese soldiers on the snowy mountains.  Then finally visitors get to look at a POW cage which evokes images of the high price paid by US military prisoners of war.  

Through tanks, artillery pieces, aircraft, small arms and everyday “junk on a bunk” belonging to individual Marines, the World War II Gallery tells the gripping story of the Marine Corps’ battles in the Pacific campaigns.  Outside the WWII Gallery, Docent MacIntosh told me about enemy soldiers hiding in underground bunkers up to six stories deep.  Rather than surrender, many of them died underground.  The last of them surfaced a full year after the battle ended.  In the poignant display that represents the cost of human lives to take the single island of Iwo Jima, Docent MacIntosh told me that only in a photograph could I see the picture behind the 6,000 small Marine and US Navy insignias, an Eagle, Globe and Anchor for each Marine killed at Iwo Jima and an anchor for each Sailor.  

Americans don’t think of art as a reward of war.  But that is exactly what you’ll see in the Combat Art Gallery.  Through the medium of art, Marines serving as combat artists documented Marine experiences around the globe.  Since 1942, all of the Marine artists have been given the same guidance – “Go to war, do art.”  They saw and they painted under the most trying of circumstances – war.  Through the years, the collection has grown to nearly 8,000 works of fine art.  Those on display at the Combat Art Gallery are well worth your time.

The Marine Corps’ current fields of battle take them to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Through photographs, combat art, maps, and text, the Global War on Terrorism Gallery provides visitors with powerful images from these battlefields.  Since these are ongoing conflicts, displays in this gallery are frequently updated.

Throughout the museum, visitors will find approximately 1,000 artifacts on display from tactical aircraft to Captain Lemuel Shepherd’s brandy flask to small field ration can openers.  Perhaps the most important artifacts are the Mount Suribachi Flags.  Docent MacIntosh told me the story of how the smaller flag was raised by the Schrier Patrol on the summit.  With no flag pole in their possession, the Marines suspended the small American flag on a PVC tube used to channel water onto the island.  The larger flag was donated by Landing Ship Tank 779 later in the day and flew from Suribachi for the rest of the battle for Iwo Jima.  Although Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal photographed both flags, it is the photograph of the larger flag for which he became famous.  At all times, either the original smaller flag or the larger flag frayed by strong winds are on display on a rotating basis.   
Original Mt. Suribachi Flag
Also included among the artifacts is the Bell UH-1E Huey known for its distinctive sound in its service as a transport, aerial ambulance, flying control post and gunship.  Also on display are Sergeant Major Daniel J. Daly’s Medals of Honor for his valorous actions during the Boxer Rebellion and the first Haitian Campaign.  He also fought in France during WWI and is known for his immortal battle cry of “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”

Weather permitting, take a stroll around the immaculately manicured grounds of the museum.  Walk beneath the stone pillars into Semper Fidelis Memorial Park.  Take a look at the rows of engraved bricks that border the winding path leading to the rally points in at the top of the hill.  There you can sit and reflect on the sacrifices present and past Marines make to protect our Nation.

The museum was dedicated on November 13, 2006 on the 231st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.  President George W. Bush presided over the dedication ceremonies.  Support for the museum is provided through a public/private venture.  There is no cost to enter the museum.

Getting there

National Museum of the Marine Corps
18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Triangle, VA 22172
1.800.397.7585
info@usmcmuseum.org

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is located in the town of Triangle, VA just off I-95, 36 miles south of Washington, D.C., and 76 miles north of Richmond, VA.

From I-95 heading south, take Exit 150A to Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway); turn right (south) onto Route 1; travel approximately ¼ mile; the Museum’s entrance is on the right.

From I-95 heading north, take Exit 150 (Jefferson Davis Highway); turn right (south) onto Route 1; travel approximately ¼ mile; the Museum's entrance is on the right.

There is no charge for parking at the Museum. Museum parking for handicapped visitors and oversized vehicles is available.
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