2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

North Carolina military memories....

If you were wondering about the lack of posting over the past few weeks you can blame my parents.  My Mom and Dad wanted to take their kids and grand kids on a vacation to Kure Beach, NC for a week and who were we to argue.  Had some good times and some other times as well.  Also had a chance to visit some locations related to North Carolina's participation in our military's history.

The good times...

...and the not-so-good times...

Fort Fisher National Battlefield Site. 

As you already know, the Civil War pitted American vs. American in some of the most bloody and violent fighting this country's military has ever been involved in.  Makes sense, we are pretty damn good at warfare as a country and fighting ourselves like that must of been one hell of a mess.  The folks down in North Carolina would of been on the "other team" than my ancestors (my family has roots as New England Yanks) but that does not make the contributions of those people any less important in the history of our country.

Fort Fisher was a fort situated on the Southern tip of what is now called Pleasure Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear river that lead to the city of Wilmington.  During the war the Union successfully blockaded most Southern ports to prevent supplies from Europe and other areas from reaching the Confederacy.  One of the cities affected by this blockade was the confederate capital of Richmond, Virginian.   Wilmington was its supply lifeline.  Laying at the head of the river away from the guns of the blockade if a confederate runner could get past the blockade and into the Cape Fear river and behind the protective guns of the Fort it could safely unload its cargo up the river in Wilmington, and from there be transported over land to Richmond.

In a combined Naval and land assault over 3 days in January, 1865, Union forces finally captured this strategic piece of real estate and provided the final blow that strangled the supply line for the Army of Northern Virginia.   General Lee would sign the treaty at Appomattox Court House after the final shots of the war just a scant 4 months later, ending the most bloody conflict in US history.  It cannot be understated that most military conflicts in history have been fought on the front lines of the battlefield, but won on the logistical lines of the winning side.

The main exhibit hall at the museum has a diorama of the battle 



While much of the outer defenses have been reclaimed by the sea, many of the center ramparts are still available to be toured if you are up to walking on a hot, humid August afternoon...

They even have an actual MOH on display...

North Carolina Military History Museum, Kure Beach, NC.

This museum located on a small MWR/North Carolina ARNG post is a hidden gem if you are in the area.  Staffed by a single volunteer and open only for a few hours each week, I was shocked by the sheer number of exhibit items on display in this drab and otherwise drab cinder block building.  One surprising exhibit was an actual German StG-44, the famous "Sturmgewehr" rifle of WWII.  This rifle is considered the original assault rifle and many have contemplated if Hitler had gotten it into service much quicker than he did it could have made a difference in the wars outcome.   I mean these things are rare and to find one tucked away in a small, part time museum on a postage stamp sized NCARNG post is simply amazing.  Of course there were many other fine weapons from WWII and other times, Garands, M1919 machine guns, Enfield rifles, M1903's, Grease guns...this place had it all.  While aimed mostly at the history of units from North Carolina, there was something that any military buff could enjoy there. The displays here were top notch and I shook the volunteers hand for helping to maintain such a little gem of a museum like that...and I dropped some green folding money into the donation jar as well.   More info here..
Not much to look at from the outside....
but a lot to look at on the inside!

Thats the StG-44 on top with some other cool rifles down below
Pretty typical of the density of items in each display...pretty damn cool for a free museum

hey look, a Huey with a huey.....and a Moni...

The USS North Carolina, BB-55. "The Showboat"


This is considered one of the grand daddies of floating history in this country.  The USS North Carolina was commissioned and launched as the first ship in a new class of heavy battleships just in time for WWII.  She (I think all Navy ships are referred to as "she") saw action in every major campaign in the Pacific during WWII and while not having a claim on sinking a Japanese capital ship (WWII saw the advent of Naval aviation as the predominant offensive weapon) she did participate in many shore bombardments to support the Army and Marine Corps as well as plucking many Japanese aircraft from the sky.  All in all, the sailors and marines that called the North Carolina home were one of the most decorated crews of the war.  This success came with a price as 10 members of the crew never made it back to home port.  This fact was not lost on me as I strolled her decks and passages with my daughter.

that's a big "boat"!...

Anti-2A Liberals!!!
you should of seen the size of the bore snake for this SOB...
When she was active, if you made the North Carolina mad this was not something you  wanted to be looking at ...
Think trying to figure out that rear sight on your CMP M-1 is difficult, this is the "computer" that was used  to aim the mighty 16" guns of The Showboat..
Some of the displays about life on board of the North Carolina were both informative and humorous at the same time...although when you think about it, that many men all living and working in life or death moments on that ship make it easy to believe that it does indeed have a "soul".  Matter of fact, many do believe that the souls of some of its crew still roam the decks on watch, its a well known haunted landmark...
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So there you go, while North Carolina military will often bring up images of brave paratroopers with maroon berets or snake eaters with painted faces there is a rich history of military service by the citizens of this warm, coastal state that should be reflected on and honored.  North Carolina is not alone in this distinction either, take a look anywhere you may vacation and and you will find places to stop and reflect on the military heritage we share as Americans.

4 comments:

Jim Jones said...

I used to live in NC, and have been to all of the places you posted... except for the hospital.
You are dead on, great places to visit.
One day I will have to tell you about something we saw on the Showboat... freaky.
Glad you and the family had a good time.


Jim

Jim Jones said...

I used to live in NC, and have been to all of the places you posted... except for the hospital.
You are dead on, great places to visit.
One day I will have to tell you about something we saw on the Showboat... freaky.
Glad you and the family had a good time.


Jim

Jim Jones said...

I used to live in NC, and have been to all of the places you posted... except for the hospital.
You are dead on, great places to visit.
One day I will have to tell you about something we saw on the Showboat... freaky.
Glad you and the family had a good time.


Jim

Huey said...

the photographer my family used at the beach is one of the night watchmen on the ship (not the one that wrote a book about the ship's ghosts)...I asked him about that subject and he said he has seen some weird stuff but anymore he ignores it...

Still an awesome display of military might...can't believe they wanted to scrap it at one point...

The small museum on the NG post was the most pleasant of surprises...I could not believe all of the firearms that were in that place...all donated!