Photo Information

A tour guide, who was a veteran of the USS Midway, explains the significance of Lt. Randy Cunningham and Lt. j.g. Willie Driscoll during a professional military educational trip for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force aboard the USS Midway Museum, San Diego, May 6, 2015. Cunningham and Driscoll shot down their first North Vietnamese MiG on Jan. 19, 1972. On May 10, 1972, they became the first American fliers to qualify as Aces in the Vietnam War when they shot down three MiGs in a single action. In addition to becoming the first Vietnam Aces, the two became the first Team of Aces, the first to score a triple kill over Vietnam and the first U.S. all-missile Aces.

Photo by Lance Cpl. April Price

Marines connect with heritage aboard USS Midway

11 May 2015 | Lance Cpl. April Price I Marine Expeditionary Force

The Marine Corps is the branch of the United States Armed Forces that is responsible for providing power projection from the sea. With the mobility of the Navy, they rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces.

Throughout history, traces of war can be spotted all over the world, leaving behind reminders of peoples’ history. The USS Midway is one of many sites that echos its history throughout its passage ways.

Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, visited the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, for a professional military educational trip, May 6, to get a better understanding of the carrier and its history.

The Marines recently returned from a deployment in the Western Pacific for approximately seven months. Their command thought this was an ideal moment to educate the Marines on why it’s vital to understand the purpose of these types of deployments.

“It’s important for the Marines to know their history, not just what we have done on land, but what we were a part of at sea,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Adrian D. Virges, the operations chief with the 11th MEU, I MEF. “It’s a different experience when learning about an event when you’re able to physically see and feel it.”

The USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, commissioned a week after the end of World War II. It was the largest ship in the world until 1955 and was the first U.S. warship too big to transit the Panama Canal.

Its design gave it better maneuverability than previous carriers. The USS Midway served for an unprecedented 47 years, seeing action in the Vietnam War and was the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991's Operation Desert Storm.

Decommissioned in 1992, it is now docked in San Diego as the USS Midway Museum and the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier of the World War II era that is not an Essex-class aircraft carrier.

As a museum, it has 60 exhibits including the crew's sleeping quarters, a massive dining area, engine room, the ship's jail, officer's country, post office, machine shops, and pilots' ready rooms, as well as primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck.

“It’s also important to know that most Marine aviation assets ultimately derive from the Navy,” Virges said. “Navy aircraft carriers, such as the USS Midway, typically deploy with a Marine squadron alongside Navy squadrons.”

The Marine Corps and Navy have a close relationship. Training alongside each other is viewed as critical, as the Navy provides transport, logistical, and combat support to put Marine units into the fight.

The USS Midway museum preserves the legacy of those who serve while also inspiring and educating future generations.