WILMINGTON, N.C. (JULY 28, 2006) -- Many Marines deploy not knowing the history of their gear and the many generations of Marines who used it. 1st Lt. Joshua S. Edwards has a plan to change that. He believes teaching Marines about the past will help them succeed in the future.
Edwards led Marines with 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion here through the U.S.S. North Carolina as part of a “battlefield study,” July 28. This is part of a program teaching Marines about the history of their rifles, their flaks, and even the new cloth used in their uniforms.
The trip to Wilmington, N.C., was intended to teach the Marines about military history and some of the hardships service members in the past faced.
“It’s always good for Marines to revisit military history to learn about their past and how things have changed,” said Edwards, the 2nd Platoon commander.
Edwards impressed upon the Marines to be humble but proud of their heritage and not take anything for granted during the tour through the ship’s massive belly.
“This gives them some insight, and a chance to capture some history they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get on their own,” Edwards said.
He explained why North Carolina established a Battleship Commission in 1960 to convert the ship into a World War II memorial. Edwards taught the Marines that the battleship was not the only vessel to bear the name “North Carolina.”
The U.S.S. North Carolina is the sixth ship to be named after the state. The first, was a ship-of-the-line in the 1820s, followed by a Confederate ship in the 1860s. After that came the World War I-era armored cruiser, then a battleship which was never completed. Finally, the famous World War II battleship, and a more modern nuclear submarine.
“The technology should give everyone a sense of how lucky they are to have what we do now to accomplish missions,” Edwards said.
Marines were astounded by the metal fold-out bunks and the circular vents used to provide air to the lower decks. The harsh living conditions of earlier sailors was emphasized by the tiny shower used by at least 100 men every night.
“These trips teach unit cohesion, motivation, but most importantly they give the Marines pride in what they do,” said Sgt. Michael Y. Hodge, 3rd Squad leader with 2nd Platoon.
Edwards guided his Marines through the World War II battleship, stopping to compare things to its modern counterparts. As the tour came to a close, the Marines stopped in the Wardroom to view the names of men from North Carolina who died serving their country during the war.