MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A 60-year-old Landing Ship-Medium 45 was donated from the Amphibious Ships Museum to the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas July 31 during a transfer ceremony at Mile Hammock Bay here.
Marines, retired veterans, government officials and family members gathered to witness the massive ship on its 60th birthday and to support the donation to the museum.
Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Joe Houle, executive director of the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas, and Senator Cecil Hargett of the North Carolina State Senate, welcomed the guests and said a few words about the donation.
Hargett helped raise $1.5 million through fundraisers, benefits and grants to donate to the museum to help with the costs of its construction as well.
"I may never again have an accomplishment that gives me the pride and the self-satisfaction that I have derived from helping to procure the one-and-a-half million dollars for the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas," said Hargett.
A few other key speakers approached the podium to address the viewers as well. Congressman Walter Jones of the U.S. Congress, Rolf Illsley, founder and benefactor of the Amphibious Ships Museum, and retired Marine Maj. Gen. Ray Smith, the president of the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas.
"I want to say to all the veterans and members of the LSM/LSM Reserve Association, so they understand that we will hold the title of the LSM45, but so long as you live, this will remain your ship," said Smith.
In addition to the money provided by the state, the president of the LSM/LSMR presented a check for nearly $36,000 to Smith as a donation for the museum.
"This donation will definitely help us to create a better experience at the museum," said Smith. "We want this museum to accredit the Marines for all they've done for our country in the name of freedom."
After the speakers finished with their presentations and the donations were all handed out, the 2d Marine Air Wing Band of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., played patriotic songs to exemplify the men and women who were there and served in the past, those serving now and those who will serve in the future.
Before the dedication ended, the guests were asked to come aboard the ship to view for themselves the youth and beauty the great ship still maintained.
Overall, the new museum will begin construction as soon as the funds are made. The exhibits and murals, which will be featured in the museum, will be as truthful and as accurate to the actual events as possible. The management feels this will bring back to Jacksonville the things people need to know about the Marine Corps, and will allow them to witness its affects first hand.
"Only time will tell whether the Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas will provide the economic boost and tourism dollars that we anticipate and hope for, but there can be no doubt that the museum will be an appropriate way to honor our Marines and sailors who have served our country so honorably," said Hargett.