Marine Week 2011 took St Louis by storm starting Monday, June 20. The Marines descended on downtown, centering on three venues: under the Gateway Arch, at the Ballpark Village by Busch Stadium, and at the War Memorial.
On Thursday, the 23rd, I took my 12 year old son, Matthew, and we drove down to the Arch Grounds to see what it was all about. It was an adventure, an educational experience, an opportunity to express thanks, honor and respect for our men and women in uniform, and it was quite entertaining as well!
Approaching the Arch Grounds from the parking lot near the Eads Bridge, we stopped by a number of static displays of Humvees and other vehicles, as well as sniper rifles, heavy field packs, machine guns, rocket launchers, etc. We visited with members of the Marine Corps League. We made our way to the static displays of the helicopters, the CH46 Sea Knight “Phrog” and the Cobra.
We chatted with a number of Marines, who were stationed at Quantico, San Diego, Jacksonville etc. Every one we spoke to had never been to St Louis before. They all commented on how St Louis had warmly received and welcomed them. Some had taken a little opportunity to do some sightseeing, and all indicated they’d love to come back to St Louis.
We then staked out our viewing spot on the Arch Steps for the Air/Sea demonstration. A simulated situation unfolded with the scenario of Somalian Pirates taking a ship and hostages.
There were aerial demos of the MV22 Osprey, the AV8B Harrier, the Cobra and Huey Helicopters, even a C130 Hercules refueling a Super Stallion. The Sea Knight “Phrog” dropped Marines on the Helipad via fast-rope. The “beaches” on either side of the stage were assaulted first by rubber-boat borne marines wading ashore, then by amphibious vehicles. After the mission was “accomplished” the fast-rope marines were extracted by a technique known as SPIE (Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction), where the whole team harnesses up to a line and is hoisted away by the Phrog. (They resembled a chain of monkeys from that kid’s game!)
My son was very impressed with all the hardware and with the Marines. He gained a lot of respect for our military. That alone was reason enough to have taken him on this adventure. The only regret of the day was having to get my son home and to bed, and being unable to stay for TAPS at 10:00 PM (or 2200 for those more accustomed to military time!)
Marine Week continues thru Sunday night, June 26. It comes highly recommended by this author!
For photos I took during our visit to Marine Week under the Arch, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157626908770839/
For information about Marine week, Please visit: http://www.marines.mil/community/marineweekstlouis/Pages/home.aspx