My wife and I took a trip down to Quantico this last weekend to see the National Marine Corps Museum, and let me just say, if you’re ever in the DC area it’s a place worth seeing.
My family doesn’t have ties to the Corps, we’ve always been Army and more recently Navy, and so the Marines were always the rivals. But, I’ve got respect for what they do, they do their job well, and the museum is an amazing experience for anyone with a healthy respect for the services.
Basically, it is a giant museum full of guns, bombs, knives, swords, tanks, boats, and aircraft. Things every red blooded American can appreciate.
The museum starts out pretty family friendly, with costumes for the kids and a place where they can practice marine knot tying.
Oddly, the kid oriented exhibits drop off extremely quickly, and pretty soon you’re headed into guns, machines, and life sized depictions of some of the Marine’s defining battles.
I’ll admit to being a kid in a candy store, except without the ability to buy anything. Two of my favorite exhibits came late in the museum, an A-4 Skyhawk (my favorite airplane) and a M-50 Ontos, one of the most intimidating machines I’ve ever seen in person.
And, there was shaving stuff! Marines throughout the years have had to shave in some tough conditions, and there were a couple of examples of what they used. First, this slick straight razor from WWI with “USMC” stamped on the tang:
Later, in the Vietnam section, a period advertisement for double-edge safety razors was playing on a television:
The absolute best part of the experience though was meeting Frank Matthews at the Iwo Jima section. Mr. Matthews was a PFC in the Marine 4th Division, and one of the last survivors of Iwo Jima. He landed on the first day of the battle, due to issues with the landings his craft landed on the far left side of the beachhead when it was supposed to be on the right. Those in his boat then had to cross laterally across the beachhead, under fire, to get to their assigned position. After 28 days of fighting his unit was relieved. Of the 36 men in his platoon, he was the only one who walked off the island. The rest were either dead or medically evacuated. He now works as a volunteer at the museum, still working and serving after seven decades.
Really, an incredible place to visit. I recommend it highly.