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National Museum of the Marine Corps and the Great USMC Brand (Day 85)

The US Marine Corps is just like Apple in that they are smaller and more agile than their competitors and have a killer brand. And, sort of like Apple, they *are* their brand — it’s not just the sum of logo and tag-line. Everything they do adds to the brand, whether intentionally or not. I mean, the Marine Corps had entire divisions (almost) wiped out in certain World War II battles and instead of burying that fact, they embrace it. It’s pretty amazing that getting killed can create positive associations with your identity.

Went to the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico. My favorite part was this:

usmc-museum_yelling-simulatorJust step right up and…

It’s a drill instructor simulator. You step into the booth and DIs start yelling at you from every direction (well, seemingly — I think it’s only from four directions). The crazy part? You know it’s a simulator and that you’re just in a plastic booth, but your (my?) natural instinct is to do whatever they yell at you to do. I found trying to get my heels closer together, standing up straighter, and, well, worrying about whether or not I was then standing correctly. They kept yelling at me to grab a rifle, but that one was harder. I think I learned more about either myself or human nature in those 60 seconds than I have the whole rest of the trip combined. It was really eye-opening.

Just generally, the cool thing about the museum is, well, (1) that I know more about the Marine Corps than other branches of service so there’s more there that I’m familiar with in the first place, but more especially (2) that they make it really immersive with several “simulations” parked in strategic locations. They’re not high-tech simulators, but it’s enough to let you imagine you’re there if you want to. For instance, there’s a Landing on Iwo Jima simulator. It sort of makes it look like you’re on a Higgins boat and the walls and floor vibrate while you watch a 180-degree movie (actual Iwo D-Day footage) of landing. Then, once you land, some non-com yells at you to move out and the ramp in front of you lowers. (At which point you just sort of walk back into the main part of the museum.)

Also had a Chosin Reservoir simulator, in which they turn the temperature of the room down by 20 degrees (it’s still about 50 degrees warmer than reality, but, you know) and have not-quite-animatronic guys in a diarama get uptight about not having enough ammunition. They had a few other vibrating floors also (I think another landing craft, plus one helicopter), but, basically, they want you to feel like you’re there and that, well, death is imminent. I mean, that *is* sort of the Marine Corps brand, right?

It was cool.

usmc-museum_front-facadeI think they also have some late-mover advantages — the facade is actually *interesting* (whereas the more venerable USAF museum just looks like an airplane hangar — I mean, fittingly enough, but, you know).

usmc-museum_atriumThe main atrium.

usmc-museum_corsairThere are a few airplanes in the museum — maybe 15, but at least two of them are Corsairs. No Hornets, no Phantoms, no Ospreys.

usmc-museum_skyhawkHarrier taking off vertically inside the museum.

The other cool thing about the Marine Corps is that if you’re somewhat famous and say something positive about the Corps, they’ll memorialize you for eternity. Although I was surprised they didn’t have that Reagan quote engraved in the atrium — maybe he’s on the outs since he let Col. North take the rap for Iran-Contra. Oh well. (Apparently, I need to learn how to turn around when entering atriums.)

It was more fun than I thought it would be, entirely un-disappointing.

bkd

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  1. MD
    October 11th, 2009 at 18:25 | #1

    locate Camp Upshur where your ol dad was introduced to the Corps and real DIs. Then T&T regiment where I spent another 6 weeks before we escaped to Pensacola. Stories I could tell!!
    Pa

  2. telkontar
    October 11th, 2009 at 22:25 | #2

    So, “Making the Corps” wsa dead-on? A new museum I have to visit, I guess.

  3. October 12th, 2009 at 06:23 | #3

    Well, if Google Maps is to be believed, I was within a couple miles of Camp Upshur when I was camping at Prince William Forest Park. I’m guessing they wouldn’t have let me on anyway… (Please feel free to tell stories!)

  4. National Museum of the Marine Corps
    October 12th, 2009 at 18:25 | #4

    Actually, the Ronald Reagan quote is there. Its engraved on the wall just as you enter Legacy walk, right next to the Making Marine’s Gallery.

    Glad you enjoyed your visit, this was a great write-up. You’ll have to come back in June 2010 when we open the new Galleries.

    BTW, posting a link to your blog on our facebook fan page. Safe travels!

  5. October 12th, 2009 at 19:10 | #5

    Looking forward to grabbing my ’03 and entering the Belleau Wood simulator once it’s online. (Thanks for the link!)

  6. Telkontar
    October 13th, 2009 at 13:00 | #6

    Ahh, the Corps. Always checking its press. You do realize the red stripe on the pants symbolizes the blood shed by Marines in defense of the USA,don’t you?
    Of course, MSM could take a hint from the Marines and start publishing only truth and positive statements.
    What was the Reagan quote?

  7. October 14th, 2009 at 15:30 | #7

    Here’s a search for “reagan marine corps quote”: http://www.google.com/search?q=reagan+marine+corps+quote&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a.

    Wish someone from the Parks Service would check in — I’m pretty sure I’m now qualified to tell them how to fix *everything*. (Except the weather.)

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