I had the good fortune to be at the right place, at the right time, to get to attend Marine Week/St. Louis, on my last visit to that city. Even though I knew nothing about Marine Week, I read that it was taking place under the nearby Gateway Arch, so I decided to check it out.
What I found was an amazing array of military equipment displays, with marines on site to explain them to you. I was particularly impressed with this inflatable craft, because of my past experience with an inflatable boat, while scuba diving on Lake Norfork. Unlike the inflatable we owned, however, this one would probably not be punctured whenever a big buck, with a big antler rack, was thrown aboard! (The antler mishap is a whole "nuther" story, suitable for a separate blog post!)
I had never seen any vehicle quite like this before, and fortunately, for military "newbies" like myself, there were signs beside each display telling the name of the "asset", as well as U.S. Marines available to answer questions and make sure the "asset" is not mistreated.
Climbing into this big truck with a "sun roof" was very popular for spectators. The photo also shows the wide diversity of ages that an event such as this attracts.
Seeing one of our nation's military aircraft, with the cross of a church steeple in the background, reminded me of the part of the Pledge of Allegiance that declares "One nation, under God".
Various types of military weapons were on display, along with signs and soldiers, to explain their use.
The setting of Marine Week, on the banks of the scenic Mississippi River, made attendance at Marine Week beyond expectations. Visit http://www.explorestlouis.com/ to find out about the AV-8B/MV-22 scheduled to be on display there on July 4.
Getting to actually step on board one of these multi-million dollar aircraft, is an unforgettable experience!
That is one reason, folks did not mind standing in a line, to get their chance to go inside. There were SO MANY aircraft and vehicles on display that if one line seemed longer than you wanted to wait, you could just move to a different display.
This little girl got to try her hand at "driving" a medical vehicle, with a make-believe soldier, on a stretcher in the back.
The tents shown in this photograph contained some of the various types of equipment that the military uses, that has sensitive electronics involved. The marine in the photo is telling the spectators about solar energy panels that can be set up in the field to power necessary equipment.
Visitors could actually sit down and get a demonstration on some of the high tech equipment in use today in modern warfare.
Since some females LOVE to try on clothes, that need can also be addressed at the tent where a visitor could put on this very expensive "designer" vest that contains all the electronics a girl could ever need!
To me, the best part of Marine Week, was assembling on the steps under the Arch to see the airshow and amphibious assault demonstration.
While we waited, we were able to enjoy the lively sounds of the colorful Marine Band that was entertaining the crowds.
The Master of Ceremonies (in fatigues with a microphone) also entertained the waiting crowd by getting volunteers from the audience to challenge him in various physical exercise skills.
When the actual air show started, we were so close to the action that we could feel the water spray of the helicopter, as it hovered over the Mississippi River.
On the street in front of us, Marines demonstrated their assault formations, as they surveyed the area in all directions with their weapons, to protect the Marine in the center, who was communicating with headquarters. (I saw big-horn sheep in a circle just like this at Custer State Park, and was told, it was their way of staying aware of approaching predators, so this is an example of humans learning by observing animal behaviour!)
This photo shows Marines approaching the riverbank, via an amphibious vehicle, that will also drive on land, as well as in the water. (We call them "Ducks" in the travel industry, when they have been converted to carry tourists, instead of military personnel). This is a good time to encourage you---whether by land or sea or air---to put attending a Marine Week on your travel calendar. There is one scheduled for Cleveland, Ohio, June 11 - 17, 2012. By visiting www.marines.mil/community/marineweekcleveland you can find out the event schedule, as well as marine activities around the U.S.; you can even fill out a form on line to request a demonstration of Marine military equipment at YOUR special event! If you decide to attend the Cleveland event, check out http://www.positivelycleveland.com/ for information on lodging, etc.; If you are a taxpayer, you are helping pay for this equipment, and for the salaries of our military personnel. So take advantage of these opportunities to see where your money is going! It will also give you an opportunity to say THANK YOU to the Marines that are helping to protect our nation, which will give them---and you---miles of smiles! Tricia