News: New River Marines visit Marine Corps Museum
Story by Lance Cpl. Martin Egnash
WASHINGTON - Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. visited the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., and national monuments in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21.
"We wanted to take our Marines out of the barracks, and show them some of our history," said Sgt. Major Jerry L. Bates, H&HS sergeant major. "This was a great chance to show young Marines our great history and traditions."
The trip was sponsored by the Marine Corps University. More than 100 Marines departed the air station before dawn, and headed towards Washington D.C.
For many Marines, this was the first time they saw the nation's capitol.
"You could spend more than a week here and not see everything," said Bates. "We only had time to show some of the sites here, so we chose to show some of the war memorials, where the men and women who went before them gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom."
The first memorial the H&HS Marines saw was the World War Two Memorial.
"The World War Two Memorial was my favorite part of the trip," said H&HS family readiness officer Jennifer Anderson. "It's a beautiful memorial that shows all the states and territories of the United States that sent Marines and soldiers to war. It was very humbling."
The Marines then went to the Korean War Memorial, where Sgt. Juan Padin, senior rescueman with aircraft rescue and firefighting, taught them about Marines in the Korean War, especially Pfc. Fernando Garcia.
"Pfc. Fernando Garcia was the first Puerto Rican to receive the Medal of Honor," said Padin. "In 1951 he jumped on a grenade to save the Marines he was with. I'm Peurto Rican myself, so his actions weigh heavily with me, but I think the actions of Pfc. Garcia, and all the Marines in the Korean War, can inspire all of us today."
After the Korean War Memorial, they traveled to the Lincoln Memorial, where Marines stood in the exact same spot Martin Luther King Jr., made his famous 'I have a dream' speech.
The Marines then went to the Vietnam Memorial and walked the length of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The wall shows more than 58,000 names of those who gave their lives during the Vietnam War.
The last memorial the Marines visited in was the Washington D.C. World War One memorial, where Sgt. Jimmy D. Partin Jr., ordinance maintenance chief, talked about the monument and what it signifies.
"The World War One Memorial is the only monument here that is not a national monument. It is a D.C. monument," said Partin "This monument shows the 499 names of people right here from D.C. who were killed during World War One. Before this war, the rest of the world did not consider us a power in world affairs. This was where we showed the world what American Marines and soldiers could do. This was where we fought and earned the name 'devil dogs' from our German enemies."
The Marines then left the capitol and came to the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.
There, Marines spent three hours learning about every Marine Corps involvement since its birth in 1775.
The beginning of the gallery had exhibits from the 18th century, including muskets, cannons and swords used during that time.
After Marines examined the tools of war from the past, they spent time in the large WWI and WWII areas. The WWI exhibit showcased a live-action big-screen video of Marines fighting at Belleau Wood and a shout-out to the Marine Corps' first combat correspondents. The WWII exhibit showed the wide variety of weapons used by all sides of the conflict, detailed graphics of battles in the Pacific theater and an exhibit describing the Marines and sailors who were attacked at Pearl Harbor.
"There was a lot to see at the World War Two exhibit," said Anderson. "It was a great experience, being able to see our history with some of the young Marines I don't get to see very often. It really opened up my eyes."
In addition to exhibits on every major engagement the Marine Corps has been in, the museum showcased how Marines are made, then and now, in boot camp. While they made their way through this exhibit, many Marines nostalgically thought back to their own experiences, and compared them to how Marines were made in the past.
"It feels good to give back to these Marines, and share a great day with them like this," said Bates. "I hope that when these Marines are the sergeant majors and the commanding officers, they do things like this with their Marines."