On Saturday, 16 September 2023, the VAHS Warrenton- NOVA Chapter set forth on a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The purpose was to learn about Marine Corps aviation history and its links to Virginia’s aeronautical past.
Included in the VAHS Warrenton-NOVA Chapter group were Dean and Alice Turner, Judy Sparks, Cathy Carey, Ken Peppard, Maggie Wickersham, and Frank Wickersham III. All these Chapter members were aviation experts in their own right.
Dean and Alice were aficionados of the A-1 Skyraider flown by the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and allies from 1946 to well into 1976. Dean proudly noted that a Marine aircrew shot down an enemy PO-2 in Korea, and two Navy aircrews gain gun kills on Mig 17s during separate engagements in Vietnam.The Marine Corps Museum has a A-1, but it is not presently on display.
Judy Sparks and Cathy Carey are both military wives. Both ladies are actively involved with the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 186 Young Eagles Program operating from the Manassas, VA airport.
Likewise, Ken Peppard is a long time EAA leader and a highly experienced safety expert. Ken has over 40 years service as an aviation professional with the FAA, NTSB and EAA. He has family links to the Navy and Marine Corps. During this outing Ken was most enthralled with the display of advance robotics and Artificial Intelligence !
Maggie Wickersham counts her aviation interests back to World War II when her father flew as an Australian Army observer in USAAF L-5s during the great battle against the Japanese Army in New Guinea. This fight called the Battle of the Kokoda Track was fought in the nearly impenetrable jungles of the Owen Stanley Range. After months of fighting, Australians and USA forces kept the Japanese from taking Port Moresby thereby saving Australia from a land invasion by the enemy. Today, flying and static examples of the venerable L-5 may be seen in Virginia at the Military Museum in Pungo, VA; CAF Culpeper Squadron , Culpeper Airport, VA, and Udvar- Hazy Museum, Dulles, VA. The L-5 is also well connected to the US Marine Corps having served in its valiant VMO squadrons during WW II and into Korea. The WW II Marine VMO squadrons were commissioned at Marine Corps Air Station, Quantico, VA commencing in 1943. They flew and fought in all major Marine Corps Pacific Battles from Guadalcanal to Okinawa.
During the visit, the VAHS Warrenton-NOVA Chapter leader served as docent for the museum tour. Frank was a Marine Corps aviator for 27 years and flew in HMM- 363 “Red Lions” ( H-34Ds), VMO-2 and VMO-1 ( UH-1, AH-1G & J and OV-10 A&D aircraft).
All-in- all, the members of VAHS Warrenton-NOVA Chapter had a grand time for over three hours with the Marines!
Semper Fi, W3