News: VMM-263 Motorcycle Club rolls down to Fort Fisher
Story by Lance Cpl. Mary Carmona
JACKSONVILLE, N.C.- Marines from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club conducted a group ride to Kure Beach, N.C., to participate in a tour of prominent American Civil War site Fort Fisher, April 26.
The tour was sponsored by the Marine Corps University Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting and meeting the educational needs of Marines, particularly in the areas of military history and national security affairs.
Due to the financial support of MCUF, the Marines were able to participate in the event for free.
Prior to the ride, the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club met to review the fundamentals of safety as well as practice some of the techniques used to avoid dangers on the road.
“The hardest thing is riding in a group,” said Gunnery Sgt. Lelio Pierre, the motorcycle club president. “So we practiced quick stops and we practiced hand-and-arm signals.”
After the practice, the group gathered for last-minute directions.
“Check your gear and check your bike!” Pierre told club members after the practical application portion. “We’re leaving in five minutes.”
After the two-hour ride to Fort Fisher, the group met up with the other officers and staff noncommissioned officers of the squadron who, although not in the motorcycle club, were able to participate in the tour.
They also met their tour guide, Professor Chris E. Fonvielle Jr., an expert on the American Civil War and the author of two books based on North Carolina’s coastal war.
Fonvielle kicked off the tour with a brief video introducing the construction of Fort Fisher, its prominence as a route for blockade-runners supplying materials to Confederates, and its fall to Federal forces in 1865.
After the video and a brief examination of the museum artifacts, Fonvielle took the Marines outside to explore and discuss the fortifications and different points of attack on Fort Fisher.
“Aviators don’t always get to talk about ground maneuvers,” said Lt. Col. Thomas P. Mitalski, commanding officer of VMM-263. “This tour provided all of that.”
Capt. Kris Ljunggren, the VMM-263 legal officer, said he most appreciated the instruction on the unification of Army, Navy and Marine forces during the various battles surrounding Fort Fisher.
“It’s good to get a better appreciation of the joint-arms operations,” he said. “So much of warfare is dependent on clear communication. You have to be able to communicate to have a successful mission.”
After the two-hour tour, Mitalski thanked Fonvielle, leaving him with a squadron T-shirt, challenge coin and his sincere appreciation for the tour.
For more information on how the Marine Corps University Foundation can provide support for your unit’s professional military events, visit http://www.mcuf.org/programscommand.html. Contributions can be made to MCUF through the Combined Federal Campaign, designation 11308.