The Marine sergeant appears the moment the bus filled with anxious new recruits reaches the depot. Everything in his demeanor commands attention. He wastes few words: ”Get off my bus and stand on the yellow footprints on the pavement—now!”
That is the scene the newly-opened National Museum of the Marine Corps seeks to recreate in its Making Marines exhibit, which allows visitors to experience the transformation of young men and women into America’s fighting elite. The exhibit representing recruits’ arrival at boot camp features two primary elements: bright yellow footprints on the pavement and a white Thomas Built Saf T Liner® HDX transit bus.
“When the exhibit fabricators first contacted us, they requested side panels, windows and an entrance door assembly. Instead, we donated a complete Saf-T-Liner® HDX that was nearing the end of its duty as a test vehicle,” said Allan Haggai, manager of marketing and sales support for Thomas Built Buses.
The exhibit was designed for the museum by Chris Chadbourne and Associates of Boston. Themeworks of High Springs, Fla., completed the metal fabrication for the display, which included cutting away sections of the bus to fit the exhibit space. “Our goal was to make the simulated boot camp experience as authentic as possible. Being able to use a whole bus instead of a mock-up with just a few real components made a big difference,” said Ryan Kremser, project manager for Themeworks. “From the first time we contacted them, the people at Thomas Built went out of their way to help us make this a special exhibit.”
The display also includes murals inside the bus and three video screens mounted in the windows showing young Marine recruits as they contemplate their decision on the bus ride to boot camp.
Opened to the public in November, 2006, the National Museum of the Marine Corps is located on a 135-acre site adjacent to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., 36 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 95. Interactive exhibits surround visitors with Marine Corps artifacts and immerse them in the sights and sounds of Marines in action. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and admission is free.
After more than 90 years in business, Thomas Built Buses (www.thomasbus.com) is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has focused entirely on delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.
Thomas Built Buses is a member of Freightliner LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 3-8 vehicles. Freightliner LLC produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer.