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A visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps

outside the usmc museum in quantico, VA
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Dramatic architecture of the National Museum of the Marine Corps
[Photograph by Ron Cogswell]
Washington, DC is known for its many monuments and the Smithsonian museums.  A short (or long depending on traffic!) drive south on I-95 will bring you to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA. In my opinion, it is worth the drive.  The building itself can be seen from the interstate and is very cool looking. According to the museum website, “the Museum’s soaring design evokes the image of the flag-raisers of Iwo Jima.” I agree.

standing outside National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA
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You can see this spire of the museum from I-95.

Now that we’ve arrived, let’s go inside.

Inside the Museum

The center atrium (below those windows surrounding the spire) is flooded with light.  Two large displays feature prominently and draw you in.

A display in the main entrance central atrium at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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A display in the main entrance central atrium.
helo display in the main entrance central atrium at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Another display in the main entrance central atrium.

There is a motivational video playing every 15 minutes or so to get things started.  Once you exit the theater, you will be ready to enter the exhibits.  Making Marines will be on your right as you enter.  Be sure to go through this exhibit.  For some reason I thought we would circle back around to this in the end so we ended up not seeing this exhibit this time.  (You can go back to see it but by the time we finished going through, we were tired and the kids were ready to leave so we didn’t go back.) Learn from our mistake!

Follow the history of the Marine Corps

The exhibits follow the Marines from the beginning, in the Revolutionary War, to the current day.  A docent at the information desk told me that each mannequin at the museum is a model of an actual Marine.

first armored car
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The first armored car
newstand showing war promotion materials
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War efforts were promoted in publications of the day.
world war I medic truck at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Medic truck from WWI
combat correspondents display at USMC Museum in Quantico, VA
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Writers work in difficult conditions sometimes…
anti-aircraft gun on display at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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An anti-aircraft gun used in WWII
loading ammo at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Loading ammo. The display mannequins are quite detailed. This Marine has sweat running down his back.
Women Marines display at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Women Marines – toughest ladies around!
Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima
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Each EGA represents one death during the assault on Iwo Jima in February 1945. When standing at this angle you can also see the outline of Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island. The iconic flag raising happened here.
Navajo code talkers display at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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I have always thought the Navajo code-talkers were fascinating.
korea chosin display at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Freezing in Korea. They have this room closed and chilled to add to the atmosphere. It was 25 degrees below zero at Chosin in the coldest winter in 100 years.
amphibious landing craft at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Checking out the inside of an amphibious landing craft.
solitary confinement POW wooden box
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This is a replica of a box used for solitary confinement of POWs. How awful it would be to be stuck in that small box!
military dog display at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Dogs have been helping the military for many years.
helo landing in Vietnam display at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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Experiencing a helo landing in Vietnam

 

This was just a small sampling of the museum.  It is well put together – full of good information and engaging displays.  Want even more sneak peeks of what you will find there?  Check this photo album by Ron Cogswell.  A virtual tour is also available on the museum website. I have been to a few different military museums around the country.  This one offers a deluxe, comprehensive look at the US Marine Corps. Have I mentioned yet that I think you should visit, because you should!

Outside the museum

If the weather is nice, enjoy a walk through the gardens featuring several sculptures.  Official events such as retirement or re-enlistment ceremonies are often held in the garden or inside in the central atrium.

promotion ceremony at USMC museum in Quantico, VA
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We celebrated Ron’s promotion at the museum in 2010. There is a lovely walking path outside the museum with several sculptures, perfect for such an occasion.

Finally I will leave you with these words of truth…

once a marine sign at usmc museum in quantico, va
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Very important, very true words
[Photograph by Ron Cogswell]
museum of the marine corps in quantico, VA near washington, DC
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This is a must-see museum if you are in the DC area.

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