to know your VMMV staff & vehicles
In this section we will introduce you to the people and armor
of the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles. We will chat with
the VMMV staff, so that you can get to know the people who "keep
'em running" and work so hard behind the scenes. And also
provide a behind-the-scenes look into the history of individual
vehicles in the VMMV collection. In this, our fifth newsletter,
we bring to you the highlights of our 2006 Open House. This
year's theme was the Battle of Iwo Jima.
day dawned grey and overcast, but that was a blessing in disguise
as it kept temperatures in the mid-70s and made the sun even
more enjoyable when it poked through early in the afternoon
(and it kept sunburns to a minimum!) The morning was filled
with a purposeful bustle as the VMMV folks put the finishing
touches on vehicles and pulled the last few into place. Meanwhile,
re-enactors and exhibitors set up camp and begin to display
the Open House officially opened at 1000, the crowd began to
arrive. Quickly a buzz arose as folks circulated amongst the
American armor, the Soviet grouping and the British armored
fighting vehicles. Kids and adults alike delighted in seeing
the re-enactors in their full period uniforms, complete down
to the last detail.
1100 arrived and the first of many highlights-VMMV's parade
of vehicles. Anticipation mounted as crews took their positions
and fired the engines. Their roar soon filled the air. The British
FV 432 APC lead the procession, followed by the Valentive Mk
III, the massive Swiss Centurion Mk 7, Soviet T-55AM2, and ended
with the classic American M5A1 Stuart. As each vehicle rumbled
by the crowd, the ground shook to the clank of massive tank
treads. The technical details of each vehicle and highlights
of its operational history were ably narrated by Rich Isner.
the vehicle parade was so much fun, VMMW decided to do it again
30 minutes later!!!!
1200 the Open House enjoyed a presentation of the Flag by a
Color Guard from the USMC. All activity stopped as Old Glory
went up the flagpole. VMMV staff and spectators alike joined
in singing our National Anthem.
on the lawn and in the shade of the big oak tree then filled
as Mr. Allan Cors, VMMV's owner strode to the lectern and greeted
the crowd. Mr. Cors then welcomed VMMV's honored guests and
spectators to the Open House. He asked the Swiss Defense Attaché,
MG Urban Siegenthaler, to stand, and thanked him for his outstanding
work in helping VMMV acquire a Swiss PZ 68/88-VMMV's newest
addition to the collection (watch for details of it in an upcoming
newsletter.) After the thanks, the PZ 68/88 rumbled by with
a large Swiss flag streaming from its radio aerial. Later in
the day, the PZ 68/88 demonstrated its fully stabilized fire-control
system as the tank roared around the field while the cannon
remained locked on target, regardless of the gyrations of the
Cors highlighted how the Open House honored the legacy of our
fighting men and women and how our hope for the future-the Museum
of Americans at War-would continue to do so. Then Mr. Cors introduced
Senator Chuck Robb.
Robb echoed Allan's sentiments and re-iterated the importance
of honoring the sacrifice of our troops-past, present and future.
Sen. Robb said it was his pleasure to introduce VMMV's next
guest-Mr. Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum, Congressional
Medal of Honor winner. Sen. Robb read the citation for Mr. Barnum's
CMH, which he won in 1965 as a young Lt. in the Marine Corps.
Barnum then took to the podium and then asked our veterans to
stand up by their era of service so that their courage, honor
and sacrifice could be honored by the assembled crowd. A special
recognition was given to the veterans present who had fought
at Iwo Jima. Mr. Barnum discussed his Medal of Honor, spoke
about his time in Vietnam as an artillery observer and then
introduced VMMV's keynote speaker-Col. John Shipley, USMC (Ret).
Shipley, a decorated Marine veteran, highlighted some of the
difficulties faced during the 36-day battle for Iwo Jima-fanatical
Japanese defenders, pillboxes of immense strength cunningly
camouflaged, Mt. Suribachi looming, and the omnipresent black
volcanic sand. In the end, despite immense quantities of naval
gunfire and air support, it was up to the individual Marine
and his personal weapon to get up and assault the bunker or
take the next ridge in order to secure Iwo Jima. Col. Shipley
put the Iwo Jima battle into the context of the Pacific War
and compared it to the ongoing fight in Iraq. At the conclusion
of Col. Shipley's speech, the crowd arose and gave a standing
ovation to Mr. Barnum and Col. Shipley.
Cors then presented a signed print to Col. Shipley displaying
his heroic efforts during the Vietnam war to stop the 1972 attack
of North Vietnam by blowing up the key bridge at Dong Ha. Col.
Shipley's key role is superbly documented in the book-"The
Bridge of Dong Ha"-and is memorialized in a diorama at
the Naval Academy titled "Ripley at the Bridge." It
was for this action that Col. Shipley was awarded the Navy Cross.
the keynote presentation ended, VMMV held a narrated tour of
some of the key vehicles in our collection. The strengths and
weaknesses of each vehicle were contrasted with that of its
counterpart and discussed.
the tour wound down, the crowd lined up next to the battle area
in anticipation of the Open House finale. The USMC Historical
Company, in conjunction with the VMMV, was about to conduct
a tactical demonstration against a bunker complex similar to
those constructed by the Japanese on Iwo Jima. Last minute details
amongst drivers, crewmen and Marines were worked out and then
Gy.Sgt. Williams, USMC took to the field.
Williams first discussed the evolution of the composition and
weaponry of the USMC rifle squad in WWII. When the Marines first
landed on Guadalcanal in August 1942, they used bolt action
1903 Springfield rifles in their eight-man squad. With technology
advances and changes in doctrine brought on by nearly three
years of war, the rifle squad that landed on Iwo Jima was now
equipped with the M1 Garand and consisted of 13 members-the
squad leader, and three four-man fire teams to enhance the squad's
fire and maneuver capability.
the Marines loaded up and the tactical demonstration began.
First, naval gunfire was brought in to attempt to silence the
bunker complex. But most bunkers on Iwo were too strong to be
knocked out unless they took a direct hit. So, it was left up
to the Marine infantrymen and supporting weapons to do the job.
Marines arrived via an LVT(4), accompanied by an M4A1 and M4A3
Sherman in support. The 60mm mortar section provided suppressive
fire as the Marines debarked from the aft end of the Amtrak.
The 75mm cannon of the Sherman barked and delivered direct fire
main gun rounds, while machine guns from the second Sherman
and the LVT(4) chattered. After the third 75mm HE round, one
of the flanking bunkers was knocked out.
the Marines had deployed into their fire teams, and alternated
using fire and movement to advance on the bunkers under the
covering fire of the armored vehicles. Carbines snapped, Garand's
PINGed as they ejected an en bloc clip, and BAR's stuttered.
Using combat-proven tactics, the Marines worked their way into
position to execute "Corkscrew and Blowtorch." Closing
to point blank range, the bunker was hit by jets of flame as
the flamethrower set about doing its searing business. Then
a Marine charged forward to deliver a satchel charge in a coup
de grace for the bunker.
the explosion shattered the main bunker, the Marines surged
forward. And to aid in the mop-up of the bunker complex, a war
dog was used to sniff through the area to look for survivors.
As the area was secured, the Marines reformed, and prepared
for their next bjective. Meanwhile, a DUKW lumbered forward
to provide logistics support to the tired Marines. The action
was superbly narrated by Gunny Williams to the delight of the
concluded this year's Open House, hope to see you next year!!!
VMMV staff wishes to thank Randy Barnette and Chris McNulty
and the chefs of the Springfield Hard Time's Café and
Cue and the Woodbridge Hard Times Café and Cue for graciously
donating their time and food to the VMMV staff and re-enactors
alike. Gas and oil keeps the VMMV vehicles running, but the
Hard Times chili dogs and ice-cold lemonade kept the people
running during the Open House. Thanks again.
also wishes to thanks the Civil Air Patrol for their outstanding
help in directing visitors and helping out with the parking.