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Photography by John Michael

"Preserving the memories so others will remember"™

Fort Monroe, VA – Gibraltar of Chesapeake Bay

fort monroe

Fortress Monroe – Hampton Virginia

HAMPTON, VIRGINIA – Soon it’s role as a key US Army facility will be over. The location has been included in the list of those which will be “BRAC’d” (Base Realignment and Closing).

Fort Comfort was the first name that the land that protected the emerging British colonies and it was over 100 years ago that “FORTRESS MONROE” was erected (Robert E. Lee, an engineer, was instrumental in its construction along with Fort Wool, which occupied a man-made island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay) — With these two fortifications in place, the area was given the name of

The Gibraltar of Chesapeake Bay!

 

chapel of the centurion

Chapel of the Centurion

MAJOR HISTORY WITHIN

Within the Fortress Walls are some interesting historical landmarks (Chapel of the Centurion, The quarters where Robert E. Lee resided) and items (A Lincoln Gun)

Ironically, after the US Civil War, Confederate President, Jefferson Davis was incarcerated at Fortress Monroe (I met a Civil War re-enactor who was portraying Lee and when I asked him about this irony at his work in Hampton, Virginia, he replied, “But that was not my first work – Fort Pulaski, Savannah, Georgia was…”  Robert E. Lee was engineer on several coast artillery fortifications – including Fort Carroll in Baltimore Maryland’s Harbor)

 

WHAT NEXT ?

Fort Monroe Sally Port

Fortress Monroe – Sally Port

The commonwealth of Virginia ponders what to do with this hallowed landmark, developers want to turn it into housing — the hotel that sat outside the Fortress has already been turned into senior living accommodations.

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Posted 8 years, 6 months ago at 11:05 pm.

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Wright Brother Makes Aviation History …

September 17, 1908, Summerall Field, Fort Myer, Virginia – 1LT Thomas E. Selfridge accompanied Orville Wright on a trial flight of the Wright Brothers’ “aeroplane” that resulted in another milestone in history and a first in military aviation.

Trials at Ft. Myer began on 3d September 1908 and on the 17th, the trial ended in a crash of the machine as one of the propellers hit a guy wire forcing a nose down contact. Orville suffered a few broken ribs, a broken leg. LT Selfridge was thrown against one of the uprights and had a fractured skull. Unfortunately, he passed.

The photo below shows the aeroplane & Orville Wright & 1LT Selfridge before takeoff

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A graduate of West Point, LT Selfridge is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
If he had been wearing protective headgear, he may have survived the crash.
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Posted 8 years, 7 months ago at 10:27 pm.

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Horses & Dedicated Service…

I got a glimpse on Sunday morning of the tail end (pardon the pun) of the weekend chores that the 3d Infantry Regiment – The Old Guard’s Caisson Platoon was completing. While the rest of the US was enjoying their Labor Day Weekend or bracing for the arrival of Gustov, the soldiers were tending to their steeds and their needs.

I was on Fort Myer to catch the rehersal of the upcoming commemoration of the 100 years of military aviation, only to find that the rehersal was not happening. So while I was there, I sauntered over to the Caisson Stables / Barn and watched as the daily care was being provided to the horses who are tasked with the monday to friday military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

I was allowed to observe and learn more about these wonderful soldiers and their horses. And I thank the Specialist from NY state who was kind enough to answer some additional questions and provide futher insight about the workings of the platoon..

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Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 2:34 pm.

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100 Years of Military Aviation – Part II

After the SEP 1908 trial flights at Fort Myer, the Wright Brothers once again returned in 1909 to show the US Army what improvements that were made and a longer flight from Fort Myer, VA to where the George Washington Masonic Monument stands in Alexandria, VA and back convinced the US Army that there was merit in this new way of travel.

In 1910, the first air group was established, located at College Park, MD — the success of this group leading to the US Army Air Corps. Finally after WW II, when the War Department was disbanded ( the US Army with its Air Corps were under the War Department until then) – and in 1947, when the Department of Defense was created, the US Army & then new US Air Force became separate services.

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Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 11:33 pm.

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100 Years of Military Aviation…

On Saturday, 6 SEP 2007, there will be a milestone recognized commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the first flights on a military installation that had also a bittersweet tone to it, since during the last day of flight trials marked the also first military aviation fatality.

It was on Fort Meyer, VA in September of 1908, Orville Wright had brought one of his aeroplanes with intent of selling them to the US military. The flight trials began on 3 SEP and lasted until 17 SEP 1908 The flight ended in a crash from an altitude of 75 feet when the propeller shattered. Orville Wright was seriously injured, but 1st Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge was killed marking the first military aviation fatality. (LT Selfridge is buried in Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 3)

There is a gate on Ft Myer named in honor of the Wright Brothers contribution to the advancement of the US ARMY.

More information about the celebration of this historic milestone in aviation history can be found at Centennial of Military Aviation

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Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 11:39 pm.

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Mid August Update

I can’t believe where the time has flown. Seems like it was just July and now we’re staring Labor Day and September in the face. I look back at the past several months and realize all the things I have to be thankful for – I have been truly blessed to view and photograph things that many people wouldn’t even dream of doing.

In doing so, I’ve learned just how valuable the contribution our US military has made and continues to make to the United States and allowing us to enjoy what most take for granted.

Over these months, my travels have taken me to Tennessee, Kentucky, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and many points in Virginia including Fort Meyer, Fort McNair, Fort Belvoir, Fort Monroe near Hampton Virginia and Fort A. P. Hill which is just beyond Fredericksburg.

From the initial contact with The Old Guard’s Guns Platoon over a year ago, research about the honorary salutes bestowed on the military heroes/leaders has been the catalyst in all this travel and now I’ve ended up with a stack of information and photographs that should dazzle the market.

several of the photos are on available on my web pages included in the albums there – www.John-Michael.net

Enjoy those for the time being… more to come soon!

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Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 11:07 pm.

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Ft Monroe – The Fortress & The Chapel of the Centurion …

Back in May 2008, I was allowed to visit and photograph another salute battery located at FT Monroe, VA.

In speaking with a previous commander of the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d Infantry regiment of the US Army – The Old Guard, who commanded them in the 1980’s, he mentioned that he saw a battery there at one of the oldest fortified locations in the United States. And that they fired a different gun than what is used in “THE BIGGEST GUNS of THE OLD GUARD”
I was thrilled to learn of this, since it would provide me a comparison with that I could use and provide additional learning of how salutes are carried out in different locations.
After several phone calls and logistics of when they were going to fire, I took a field trip down to the Virginia peninsula and spent the day on Fort Monroe. The first mission they had was a retirement ceremony and in attendance was a 3 star general, who the battery was to fire a corresponding 15 gun salute.
Getting on post was a bit easier than here in the Washington DC area. It was the drive that was the challenge since the ceremony began at 0900. I was up and out by 0400 just to make sure that I had plenty of time to do some reconnaissance and get familiar with the area.

Fort Monroe, VA home of US Army’s TRADOC command, is a very historic location in military history. The current perimeter surrounds one of the rarities in the US Military – Fortress Monroe the largest stone fortification in the United States. Its engineer included a one rather sharp Robert E. Lee who had a residence that was inside the fortress. His contribution included the engineering of the moat that surrounds the fortress. Not too far around the corner so to speak is the chapel of the centurion — the OLDEST wooden structure in continuous use for religious services in the US Army. The construction began in 1856 and it was consecrated in May of 1858.

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Posted 8 years, 9 months ago at 11:26 pm.

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2007 – the year in review..

From a personal standpoint, it has been a very chaotic, but productive year for me. Despite the “move” from my apartment remodeling, I’ve captured another 10,000-plus photos, attended and preserved the memories of over a dozen final honors at Arlington National Cemetery; extended the line of heraldry cards to encompass many other US Army divisions, regiments and even added the US Coast Guard with a surprise present I gave to a friend for Christmas.

My website still languishes with many critical that I should make it easier to navigate and buy things from … all I can say … “I’m working on it…”

The thanks I’ve received from the families who have received the ANC Memorial Book of their loved one’s final honors has been overly gratifying. I reflected back to 2005 when I took over the full production of what has become as one of my advisors has said “an art form

Since June, I have been following and researching the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d Infantry Regiment, one of the elite platoons in this … “The Old Guard”

In my ever on-going mission to learn as much as I can about the history, the impact and significance of the military, I’ve constantly scoured the Internet and read the accounts of different units and the heroes in them. In 2005, I photographed the final honors of a Major General – a “two star” and it was only recently I realized how his career crossed many paths and avenues I’ve recently explored.

Many of you reading this don’t know what a coastal artillery fort is, but they lined the US Coasts built by the US Army to defend America long ago. Although there were 200 of them planned, because of the outbreak of the Civil Way, only 30 were constructed. Many of them still serve in manners that honor their past. For instance … look at the base of the Statue of Liberty … it’s a coastal artillery fort.

Other notable ones are – Fort Sumter, Charleston South Carolina, Fort McHenry in the Baltimore Harbor, Fortress Monroe – Hampton Virginia (engineered by Robert E. Lee – but I was informed by a Civil War re-enactor “that was not my first work!”) Fort Pulaski, near Savannah Georgia (that was his first work! Made from red brick, it still has some of the indentations where the cannonballs hit during the Civil War. The Southeast corner where the wall was breached by Union rifled-cannon has been replaced/repaired- see below. Robert E. Lee also supervised the construction of Fort Carroll in Maryland) .

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Posted 9 years, 4 months ago at 11:00 pm.

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US Marines Museum – The First Trip

A Dear Friend of mine and I finally made the “pilgrimage” that we have spoken about for months. The US Marine museum in the area of Quantico, VA is really something to see. Even after spending over 4 hours exploring the exhibits, I had not seen and absorbed the entire offering and it begs to go back to take a second, third or more trips to this place honoring another dedicated people who are and have put their lives on the line for the freedoms that those who live in the United States enjoy.

Among the hundreds of photos I captured that day, I’ve shown only two that appear on my website (available for purchase with prints upto 20″ x 30″) at http://www.john-michael.net/

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Posted 9 years, 7 months ago at 10:08 pm.

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