History of the United States marine Raider Museum
By R. G. Rosenquist
During my tenure on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Marine Raider
Association, I broached the idea of reproducing a Marine Raider Stiletto,
as an authorized commemorative issue to perpetuate the history of the
Raider Battalions. After some discussion, this was accepted by the Board.
Here the idea reposed for several years, at which time I went out on my
own and contacted the original manufacturer, Camillus Knives. In response
to my letter, I received a handwritten note informing me that the company
was not interested in such a project. They suggested that I contact Mr.
Robert Buerlein who, through the American Historical Foundation in Richmond,
Virginia, was producing commemorative Fairbairn stilettos. I contacted
Mr. Buerlein and found he was the president and majority owner of this
Foundation. I arranged to drive to Richmond and meet with him. I found
a young, very professional individual, who displayed a keen interest in
history and things Raider. I took with me to this meeting several original
knives and a number of combat photos that I had purchased from Lowell
Bulger, who was then the editor of the "Raider Patch" (the Association
newsletter). After the initial meeting, Bob and I conversed via telephone
and mail, exchanging ideas and thoughts regarding the suggested project.
When I received word from the American Historical Foundation that the
project was possible, we entered into discussion regarding cost, possible
royalties, etc. The end result was that the project was a "go" with a
limited production of only 2,500. The American Historical Foundation absorbed
all cost of publicity and layout for advertising, art, etc., and provided
our association with a fair royalty (all this information should be in
Col. Sexton's file in the materials turned in to Fran Hepburn by then
Association President Bob Mathews).
While working on this project, so much public interest was received that
I suggested to Mr. Buerlein that we also create a commemorative K-Bar
and a Gung Ho knife (Collins No. 18). These were then done, also in limited
issue of 2,500. The final spin-off of these projects called the "Terrible
Trinity" was that the American Historical Foundation then produced a commemorative
K-Bar for each of the six Marine Divisions and of the Marine Air Wings
groups. Robert Buerlein, John Dragon and I presented all serial numbers
01 of the Raider knives to the Commandant of the Corps.
During our work in Richmond, the American Historical Foundation moved
three times, each time to larger locations. It was during the last move,
when the building on the corner of Grace and Lombardy was undergoing remodeling
and repair that Bob and I, almost in unison voiced our thoughts "why not
create, around the Raider photos from Lowell's collection, a museum so
that the story of the Raider Battalions could be seen and enjoyed by the
Taking some of the royalties from our knife projects, there were constructed
some permanent wall showcases in one of the halls which was quite large.
Bob and I scrounged second hand furniture shops and estate sales, purchasing
a number of old showcases, which were fitted with locks, etc. Thus, the
US Marine Raider Museum in Richmond was born.
The Raider newsletter was instrumental in the response of the many Raiders
who started sending in artifacts and memorabilia. During this time one
of our Raiders, Earl Davis passed on. In his final request he asked that
no flowers be sent, but that donations for a Raider Memory Wall be created
at the museum. Lacking space, I devised a series of double doors that
nested one over the other to create a display space. The work of Maj.
Jerry Beau, Col. Archie Rackerby and Frank Guidone several years ago produced
a roster of everyone who ever served in the Raider units. These were originally
posted on the Memory Door on a paper print out. Later when George MacRae
came aboard as Assistant Curator, he found a source that would print thirty-five
names and units on a plastic engraved card that was then affixed to the
doors in alphabetical order. In retrospect, I only wish George had shown
up in the beginning. His talent and capacity for work have been most appreciated.
Later, as the museum became more recognized, we were able to have a large
highway sign erected for both North and South bound traffic on Highway
1-85 in Richmond. Following this, the City of Richmond erected a series
of smaller signs leading to the museum location. The dedication came on
August 21, 1986 during our annual Raider reunion in Washington, D.C. As
I mentioned in our welcoming address, the Raiders started on Tulagi August
7, Makin Island, August 17 and now, our last and final beach head here
in Richmond, also in August!
The benefits of the Raider Association in its relationship with the American
Historical Foundation were not over. We went on to do a commemorative
Raider Mod. 1911 .45, a Raider TSMG and a Raider plate properly designed
and embellished. Later, during the Las Vegas reunion we produced (barely
in time) a book called "Our Kind of War." I, Stormy Sexton and Bob Buerlein
had been working on this for over a year and, again,the American Historical
Foundation picked up the cost and let us pay after we sold a set number
of books. This was done in short order - the first printing sold out and
the last copy I saw for sale at a gun show was $150! The book is a coffee
table size pictorial and has a very complete Raider history. Another small
monograph was done by the American Historical Foundation, which was taken
from the program written by Stormy Sexton for the unveiling of the Raider
plaque at Camp Pendleton. This was fleshed out, and with the addition
of my old war sketches, was ready for print. We called this "Raider Historical
Handbook". It is now in its' fifth or sixth printing. Prior to this the
American Historical Foundation produced a book titled "'American Fighting
Knives and the Men Who Made Them Famous" by Robert Buerlein. This contains
a chapter on the Raiders and the knives.
In October 2000 the final touches on the Memory Doors will complete the
museum's last project. This, with the addition of a credit to Raider Earl
Davis and short verse relative to the names displayed. It
THIS BAND OF GALLANT RAIDERS
Raiders all in silence,
All in order stand.
Give homage then, to those
Who served this gallant band.
Age dims our memories now
Of actions known on far off lands.
But names of comrades left behind,
Are not forgotten by their kind.
All are in fact recorded here
For all the coming time.
By Raider R.G. Rosenquist
3rd Raider Bn. D,M&K Co. & 2 H&S
A second museum site was acquired in 1998 through the efforts of a group
of West Coast Marine Raiders. This was seeded with duplicate artifacts
from the Richmond site and while it does not have the space and footage
of the Richmond location, it received an outpouring of donated items displayed
in a very professional and informative manner. It is part of the Command
Museum at the Recruit Depot, San Diego, and is known as the "'Raider Room".
Our association is currently setting in motion plans and grants which
will insure our displays will continue after the last Raider is gone.
This action will place all in the hands of the Corps Heritage Museum in
Quantico, which will also receive the Air/Ground Museum already on that
site and, possibly, Building 58, Washington Navy Yard, where the current
Marine Corps Museum is now in place.
This outline has been the work of Robert Buerlein, President of the American
Historical Foundation, R.G. Rosenquist, Director of the US Marine Raider
Museum, past President of the Raider Association, George MacRae, curator
and Ervin Kaplan, former Raider and Raider website designer. Also credit
should be given to past Association Presidents, Col. Stormy Sexton (deceased),
Captain Bob Mathews, USMC and Army, John Dragon former Raider, Mike Beeler
(deceased) former Raider and Col. John Sweeney, former Raider.
A new display is being designed around the M1 rifle that was recovered
when the missing Raiders' burial site was discovered on Makin. The remains
were exhumed for reburial (hopefully) in Arlington. This discovery spearheaded
by Raiders Don Harn and Ben Carson has been on ongoing effort by the Raider
Association for a number of years.
R. G. Rosenquist, Director
U. S. Marine Raider Museum
Raider Hall, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia
Monday through Friday from 06:00 to 19:00 hours.
to the U.S. Marine Raider Museum At Quantico Marine Corps Base
For any other information contact:
LtCol Joseph C. Shusko
Director Martial Arts Center of Excellence
24191 Gilbert Ave
Quantico, Virginia 22134