All roads lead to Fort Walker? The Port Royal Battle, the Blockade, the Charleston Siege, and the first Gullah town (Hilton Head historic tour)

The Hilton Head Island history is rich and powerful, with the Civil War period as its most fascinating and nation-impacting act. We were lucky to experience it last summer, during the “Forts of Port Royal” tour provided by the Coastal Discovery Museum.

Things to know before you go
• The cost is $12 for adults and $7 for children ages 4-12 (subject to change check the museum website for latest prices). The tour lasts ~1:45 minutes, with the first half hour spent inside Westin Hotel, listening to a

Battle of Port Royal Civil War historic site

Here was fought the largest naval battle in US waters...


historic overview.

This part is the hardest to digest and enjoy by young kids. Amazingly, my then 4 years old, was happy to just doodle on the couch next to me.

• You are expected to drive your own car to Westin (where the tour starts) and the Fort Walker / Fort Sherman ruins inside Port Royal Plantation. Our guide courteously offered to drive us in his car, which we did.

• There is not much left of Fort Walker, just some earthen mounds surrounded by huge oak trees. The only visible ruins are from Fort Sherman (built on top on Fort Walker). However, the views of the Port Royal Sound are spectacular! Added bonus you can catch a glimpse of Ted Turner’s personal island…

• It gets very hot during summer. Bring a hat and water; wear sunscreen and insect repellent. Once on the fort grounds there is very little walk involved.

Incredible facts and funny trivia about the Port Royal Battle and Hilton Head
• Before the Civil War, South Carolina was one of the richest states. Thanks to its staple crop, the extra long and super fine Sea Island cotton, Hilton Head was believed to house the world’s most millionaires per square feet!

Port Royal forts ruins

Civil War Battle of Port Royal


• Fort Walker was the first fort built on the island, near the spot claimed by British Captain William Hilton during its famous expedition in 1663.

Erected in a hurry in 1861, the fort was meant to protect the South Carolina coast against Union attacks.

• On November 7, 1861, the “Battle of Port Royal” became the largest naval battle ever fought in American waters. 18 Union warships and 55 supporting craft led by Admiral S. F. DuPont, carrying 13,000 troops, 1500 horses, 500 surf boats, and 1,000 laborers, bombarded for over 4 hours Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard.

• The Battle of Port Royal established Hilton Head as the headquarters for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, started the war-long attack on Charleston, and led to the creation of Mitchelville, the first town developed specifically for the newly freed slaves.

Mitchelville became the birth of the rich Gullah culture and was also the sight of the first mandatory education system in the United States!

A bloody family affair – The Confederate troops were under the command

Fish Hall Plantation design at Port Royal Sound

Modern day replica of Drayton-Pope Fish Hall Plantation home

of General Thomas F. Drayton, a prominent local plantation owner, politician, and president of the very profitable Charleston – Savannah railroad.

Amazingly, his brother Commander Percival Drayton will lead the Union Navy attack, including the USS Pocahontas, which was credited to have inflicted the most damage during the battle!

• Despite heavy bombardments there were less than 100 casualties, a significant low number by later Civil War battles standards.

• Following the battle, close to 50,000 Union troops were quartered on the island, more than the number of today’s residents!

• The U.S. Customs House on Robbers Row street, conducted enormous amounts of business as dozens of ships entered the port monthly from as far away as Boston. It is said that most of the goods were sold on the black market to the Confederates…

Here is the virtual tour of Fort Walker:

If you are really into Civil War fort battles, then drive 1 hour south to Savannah and visit the legendary Fort Pulaski. There are live cannon and musket firings in the weekends. Admission to the park is less then $5 (free for kids).

From Charleston to Savannah with love…Favorite places to visit with my kid in the Lowcountry

Here are the most surprising places I have found during my travel adventures in South Carolina (all approved by my preschool daughter). Today I’ll go over the Lowcountry: Charleston, Edisto, Beaufort, Hilton Head and Savannah.

The American LaFrance Fire Museum in North Charleston

This place is FUN with capital letters! Best of all its free for kids and only $6 for adults.

Kids get fired up in Charleston!

Drive a real fire truck at the North Charleston Fire Museum


Children can climb-on a real fire truck, go through a full-fledged emergency response, including a simulated street driving, honk horns, talk on the radio and push all sorts of buttons.

You get to see an amazing display of legendary fire engines from the 1700s to modern days.

I loved learning about the fire fighting history and its technological marvels, the fire trivia (i.e. Benjamin Franklin started the first successful fire insurance company in US) and the most devastating fires in the world (from AD 64 in Rome to 1906 in San Francisco).

The museum is open 10AM – 5PM (1PM on Sundays) and is located near the Tanger Outlets.

Charles Towne Landing Historic Park and Animal Fores Zoo

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Charles Towne Landing, the birthplace of America, is a wonderful place filled with educational, recreational and fun things to do for everyone.

Walk the plank at Charles Towne Landing

17th century justice is served

The park is open daily 9AM to 5 PM. Admission is $5 adults, $3 children 6-15 and free for 3 and under.

Start at the Visitors Center to see how life was like in the 1670s for the Lord Proprietors, settlers, native tribes, indentured servants, and slaves.

Visit the Animal Forest zoo home to pumas, bison, alligators, black bears, otters, bobcats, wolves and a variety of birds.

Be a captain aboard Adventure, a life-size 17th century trading ship replica.

Walk, stroll, jog or bike along the marsh or through the 80 acres of magnificent gardens, featuring thousands of azaleas, camellias and centuries old oak trees.

Edisto Island Serpentarium

Gigantic alligators, deadly snakes, funny looking lizards and snappy turtles “with a face only a mother could love”…

Incredible reptiles on Edisto Island near Charleston

Edisto's best buddies

The park features beautiful indoor and outdoor exhibits filled with native species as well as weird reptiles from around the world.

Make sure to attend the live snake education programs (at 11, 1, 3 and 5PM) and the alligator feedings (12 and 4PM).

Some may not have the stomach for it, yet we were thrilled!

Kids really enjoy digging through pre-historic bones from once native saber tooth cats, whales, mammoths and giant bears.

Edisto Island Serpentarium is open May through Labor Day Thursday to Saturdays from 10AM to 6PM (Monday to Saturday in the summer).

Admission is $12.95 adults, $9.95 children (6-12), $5.95 children 4 and 5, free for those 3 and under.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Beautiful 18th century church near CharlestonA deeply moving and inspirational historic site remnant of the 1745 Prince William Parish.

Twice burned, once during Revolutionary War and again during the Civil War March to the Sea and yet still standing…

Amid tragedy there hope and rebirth. The ruins have become a very popular site for outdoor wedding ceremonies and a photographers composition dream.

Mark your calendar! Once a year, on the second Sunday after Easter, the prestigious St. Helena Church holds a public service at the ruins.

The church ruins are located on Old Sheldon Road right off highway 21 between Beaufort and Yemassee.

Hunting Island Lighthouse and State Park – Breath-taking views, romantic beach and lush maritime forest. Hunting Island State Park is the most popular park in South Carolina, and for good reasons.
Best state park in South Carolina The park jewel is South Carolina’s only publicly accessible historic lighthouse. Dating from the 1870s, the Hunting Island Lighthouse shoots 170 feet into the air, rewarding visitors magnificent views of the Lowcountry marshland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Enjoy 5 miles of soft sand beach, a wonderful lagoon home to seahorses and barracuda, thousands of acres of marsh and tidal creek, a fishing pier and some of the state’s most desirable campsites.

Admire up-close loggerhead sea turtles, alligators, pelicans, dolphins and deer, Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and the rare coral snakes.

The loggerhead turtles nest on the island in the summer months.

Park daily admission is $4 adults, $1.5 children age 6-15 and free for children 5 and younger. Lighthouse ticket is an additional $2.

Parris Island Museum near Beaufort

An extraordinary place honoring the US Marines history, life as a recruit, and military accomplishments.

WWII Japanese cannon prize of war

Here I am!

Admire hundreds of unusual weapons and enemy captures from legendary battles, laugh at the “good life as a recruit” posters and learn about the inspiring US Marines history.

Little ones can earn the “Junior Recruit” title by successfully completing the museum exploration challenge.

Admission is free and the museum is open daily from 10AM to 4:30PM. If time permits take the island driving tour.

Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head

This place has it all! A rich display of the Lowcountry heritage, an incredible saltmarsh ecosystem, world-class history walks and nature tours

Delicate beauty at Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head

and a brilliant Butterfly Pavilion.

Admission to the museum, outside grounds and the butterfly enclosure is free (guided tours range from $5 to $20 per person).

Coastal Discovery Museum is open year around Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 4:30 PM, Sunday 11AM to 3PM.

Here is an overview of the fun things you can do with kids outdoor.


Fort Pulaski National Park near Savannah

A memorable Civil War battle marked the end of masonry fortifications after the “indestructible” Fort Pulaski fell after 30 hours of cannon firings.

Magnificent Civil War reenactments

Fort Pulaski, an incredible Civil War battle and military marvel

Admission is free for kids under 16 and $3 for adults and is good for 6 days. The Fort Pulaski National Monument has a plethora of educational family activities.

Learn about the tragic story of the Immortal 600 Confederate officers, and mind-boggling military strategies and weapons deployed at the time.

Make sure to attend the live musket and cannon fire demonstrations that are held each weekend.

Walk the scenic 0.75 mile Overloook Trail to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, originally built in 1837. The lighthouse escaped untouched during the 30 hours attack on the Fort despite the fact it was positioned straight in the line of fire!

Life is beautiful in the historic Lowcountry!

“B” is for butterfly! Enjoy Hilton Head’s newest free family attraction at Coastal Discovery Museum

Hurray for the new butterfly exhibit at the Coastal Discovery Museum on the Honey Horn plantation. Children of all ages will be delighted to walk around jolly butterflies and see them emerge from chrysalises.

The outdoor garden is a shutterbugs and green thumbs mecca. There are so many beautiful flowers, plants and trees butterfly love to visit.

Entrance to the Butterfly exhibit at Coastal Discovery Museum

Entrance to the Butterfly exhibit at Coastal Discovery Museum

You can tour the habitat for free at your own pace every day from 9AM to 4:30PM (11-3 on Sunday).

Through September the museum offers guided tours on Mondays at 10AM and Wednesdays at 3PM for $10 adults and $5 children 4-12 years old.

Amazing escape artists butterflies resort to all sorts of tricks to survive. Some, like the Monarch, parade bright color wings to advertise their are toxic to eat. Others, like the Viceroy, take the shortcut and just mimic butterflies who are toxic.

Most butterflies learn to blend in the surroundings resembling leaves, sticks and even bird droppings! My favorite is the Buckeye that has owl-like patterns to scare off small birds.

Butterfly Insights

The Black Swallowtail is very common in South Carolina. The large yellow striped caterpillars

Black Beauty Swalowtail, most common butterfly in the Lowcountry

Black Beauty Swalowtail, most common butterfly in the Lowcountry


are a common sight to herb gardeners, easily devouring entire plants once they start eating!

The Black Swallowtail is one of the earliest butterflies to hatch (mid-March), after spending the winter as chrysalises.

Host plants: Water Hemlock, Queen Anne’s Lace, cumin, parsley, carrot, cilantro and celery.

The Giant Swallowtail when disturbed it ejects stinking chemicals to repel small predators like ants and spiders.

Host plants: Toothache and Citrus family trees.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail winters on Hilton Head as a pupa. Males often patrol the treetops and swoop down to intercept females for mating. The caterpillars change their appearance with each molt: first looking like bird droppings, then turning green and showing two large eye spots, and finally, changing brown as they start to pupate.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the state butterfly for Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina and Virgina.

The Zebra Longwing males are attracted to both adult females and those still in their chrysalis, mating with them before they emerge.

Zebra Longwing warrior

Zebra Longwing warrior


Afterward they’ll deposit chemicals on the female abdomen that will repel other males!

Power in the numbers! The Zebra Longwing engage in communal night roosting when you can see up to 25 individuals hanging from a tree brunch.

Unlike other butterflies, the Longwing specie can also digest pollen from flowers. The amino-acids allow them to live much longer than the average 2-3 weeks butterfly life span.

Host plants: Maypop and Yellow Passionflower.

The Gulf Fritillary – Although the larvae are solitary feeders once in adult stage they can be seen congregating in large numbers, enough to completely defoliate a plant.

Stay Out! The larvae displays bright colors to advertise its toxicity to potential predators, thus it is mainly left alone.

Host plants: Maypop and Yellow Passionflower.

The Monarch is legendary due to its North American migration that takes five

The Mighty Monarch takes 5 generations to complete the annual North American migration

The Mighty Monarch takes 5 generations to complete the annual North American migration

generations to complete.

During the northward migration females deposit eggs for the next generation.

The 3rd and 4th generation will reach Canada by the late spring and in fall the last generation enters a non-reproductive stage lasting several months. They will migrate south and winter in California and Mexico.

Host plants: Milkweeds.

The Butterfly Life cycle (data from exhibits)

The adult butterfly lives around 2-3 weeks although there are few like the Monarch and Zebra Longwing that live for months. Butterflies spend their time eating, looking for mates, reproducing and in the case of females, laying eggs. At this point their life cycle is complete.

Butterfly eggs are about 2 mm in size and usually hatch out within a week, although for some species it happens the next spring.

Live metarmorphosis, see caterpillars and chrysalises develop before your eyes!

Live metarmorphosis, see caterpillars and chrysalises develop before your eyes!


Most butterflies lay about 100 to 300 eggs, yet the number varies wildly with each specie, from dozens to several thousands eggs.

The caterpillar is the only stage the butterfly grows in size. Most caterpillars grow for 2 to 4 weeks, yet some species will winter as caterpillars. Some even develop false eye spots to fend off potential predators!

The chrysalis stage can last from couple weeks to months. During metamorphosis tissues liquefy and change into the structure of an adult butterfly.


Amazing Butterfly Trivia

• A caterpillar grows 27 times larger than its original form. In human terms a 9 pound baby will end up weighing about 243 tons!
• Out of each 100 eggs laid only 2 will survive to become adult butterflies.
• Some male butterflies can detect a female up to a mile away based on pheromones emitted by her body.
• A butterfly can fly with half a wing.
• There are about 700 butterfly species in North America and about 28 thousands worldwide.
• Butterflies can see in all directions up, down, left, right, front and back all at once! They can also see in ultraviolet range light that’s invisible to humans.
• Some butterflies can drink fluids from tree sap, rotting fruit, bird droppings and even animal carcasses!

Now that you fell in love with butterflies drive to Columbia and visit Edventure children museum. It has a bigger facility featuring up to 10 species and over 200 butterflies.

Check out this list with my favorite things to do with young kids in and around Hilton Head.

Honoring history and our brave Marines, a driving tour around Parris Island

While visiting the inspirational Parris Island military museum take advantage of the free self-guided 15 miles loop driving tour. Download the brochure ahead of time; it has a brief description of all the attractions and turn by turn driving instructions. Here are the highlights (data taken from the brochure):


Interesting things to see near the museum

Iron Mike – Erected in 1924 and designed by Robert Ingersoll Aitken.

The Legendary Iron Mike (sketch)

The Legendary Iron Mike (sketch)

Dedicated to Parris Island Marines who gave their lives in World War I, it is officially known as the “Monument to U.S. Marines.”

The two field pieces on each side are 2.95-inch Vickers-Maxim Mountain guns made around 1900. The drinking fountain nearby is dedicated to all Parris Island Marines who died during World War II.

Iwo Jima Monument“Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue”

The heroic flag raising on Mount Surabach, Iwo Jima, in 1945 is an inspiration to all Americans as a symbol of freedom and personifies many of the Marines qualities: confidence, discipline, fidelity and the rugged determination to overcome insurmountable odds.

This version of coated plaster was made by Felix de Weldon to raise money for the much larger bronze monument that was eventually erected in D.C.

Douglas Visitor’s Center – Over 100,000 people visit Parris Island each year. The visitor’s center is named for Paul H. Douglas who at age 50, enlisted in the Corps, becoming the oldest recruit to complete training.

As a Captain, Douglas was sent to the Pacific theater in a non combat role. While there, he talked his way into a combat role, later receiving two Purple Hearts!

Leatherneck Square and Confidence Course – Here you can observe recruits

Parris Island Military Museum

Parris Island Military Museum

undergoing rigorous training to prepare them for hand-to-hand combat.

The main point of interest is the Confidence Course, first introduced in 1958 and updated in 2002.

Constructed of logs, cables, pipe and rope, this tests coordination and endurance.
The most challenging of the 11 obstacles is the “Dirty Name” and the “Slide for Life.”

Memorial Park and Molly Marine – Opposite Depot Theater, is a Memorial Park honoring the 5th, 9th and 14th Defense Battalions which trained at Parris Island during World War II.

The centerpiece is a replica of the famous Molly Marine statue, dedicated to the service of all Women Marines. The original was commissioned during World War II by a Reserve recruiter in New Orleans. The sculptor, Enrique Alferez, was a Mexican immigrant who himself wished to become a United States Marine.

4th Recruit Training Battalion – Here is the training for female recruits. Women began serving in the Corps in 1918 in the Women’s Reserve. In 1948 females were integrated into the regular Marine Corps, and in 1949 the first class graduated at Parris Island.

Now that you’ve worked an appetite dine at Traditions located nearby on China Hutung. Traditions, once near the Dry Dock, was converted to an officer’s club in 1920 and moved to its present location in 1939. Lunch is served Sunday through Friday.

Weapons and History Trail
Page Field – Named for Captain Arthur Hallet Page Jr., a Marine aviator from 1918 to 1930. The field was most active during World War II when it used a variety of aircraft

The Few. The Proud. The Marines

The Few. The Proud. The Marines


such as Navy dirigibles, Corsairs, Wildcats, B-25 bombers, a glider squadron and a barrage balloon detachment. Today, Page Field is part of the Weapons and Field Training Battalion.

Charlesfort and Santa Elena National Historic Landmark – Along the 1/2 mile Nature and History Trail you can admire a crashed WWII bomber, the Parris Island lighthouse keeper’s home and the Santa Elena Monument.

From here take the interpretive trail through the 16th century Santa Elena town site, one of the most historic early colonial sites in North America. Brochures are available at the entrance of Fort San Marcos or in the clubhouse. Artifacts from the site are in the Parris Island Museum.

Rifle Range – Finish the driving tour at the Rifle Range, where recruits learn the basics of the M16A2 rifle. Each must become proficient in firing from the 200, 300, and 500 yards lines using various positions: off hand, prone, sitting and kneeling.

Each marker in front of the ranges is named for a Korean or Vietnam war battle in which Marines participated. The first range is Inchon, followed by Starlite, Chosin, Hue City, and Khe Sanh. The pistol ranges are named Pusan and Mount Suribachi.

More family attractions around Beaufort
• The historic St. Helena Episcopal Church the second oldest yet fastest growing church congregation in South Carolina (free)
• The magnificent and resilient Hunting Island lighthouse ($2 on top of park admission)
• The creepy-crawling, jaw-snapping, and slithering Edisto Island Serpentarium (adults $12.95, children 6-12 $9.95, 3 and under free)

Have great family vacation in Beaufort, SC!

Beaufort’s jewel: The John Verdier House Museum by the Waterfront Par

The John Mark Verdier House Museum is one of the most revered historic homes in Beaufort and the Sea Islands. If you are into colonial architecture and Civil War history then you’re in for a treat!

Double tiered portico facade - John Verdier House

Double tiered portico facade - John Verdier House

The house is located on Bay Street across from the Waterfront Park playground. The museum is open Monday to Saturday 10AM – 4PM and admission is $5 (includes a guided tour of the house interior).

Listed in the National Register this magnificent Federal-style mansion is one of the finest example of early 19th century architecture in the Southeast.

John Verdier House highlights and interesting facts

• The house was graced by Marquis de Lafayette and became Union troops headquarters and Assistant General Office during the Civil War occupation.

• Beaufort’s first telephone was installed in the house ballroom.

• The ground floor was used to store food, household supplies and equipment. In the 1900s it became home to various business like the Lafayette Tavern, a fish market, ice house, yarn shop and a fruit stand.

• The brick arch still supports a chimney that expands 4 stories and served 4 fireplaces in the rooms above.

• The house was constructed using shipbuilding techniques and sturdy materials

Few of the original furniture pieces remaining

Few of the remaining original furniture pieces

like beams and hand cut boards laid horizontally, unusual for South Carolina at the time.
No wonder the house is in such good shape more than 200 years later…

• The house didn’t have any kitchen, bathrooms, closets (all of these were outside). The furniture was kept to a minimum and stored along the walls.

• Each room had a fireplace decorated with fine, hand-carved mantels featuring allegorical figures, ribbons, fruit, flowers, and sheaves of wheat.

The rise of the freedmen (data provided by the Verdier museum exhibits)

• The Port Royal Experiment attempted to help the newly 10,000 slaves freed by the Union occupation. Many northern missionaries and teachers came to Beaufort to open schools, expand churches and prepare the freedmen to citizenship. Most famous was Harriet Tubman, who worked as a nurse, spy and military aide to Union troops.

• Freedman’s Bank open in 1895 in Robert Chisolm’s former house on Bay street to help freedmen save money earned during the war as soldiers, cooks, tradesmen and farmers.

• The Republican Party in Beaufort started during those times. Robert Smalls, a freed slave, organized the local Republican Party at the Stevens House hotel on Bay Street. African-Americans will dominate the political scene and the Republican Party in Beaufort for the next 30 years.


Robert Smalls, legendary figure and local hero

Model of the Planter Confederate ship

Model of the Planter Confederate ship


Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort in 1839. At 12 he was sent to Charleston where he worked as a lamplighter and waiter and then learned the trade of sail maker, rigger and deckhand.

Smalls was thrust into the national spotlight after bravely piloting Planter, a Confederate ship, into Union hands. This event led to his commissioning as 2nd Lieutenant, and eventually he became Major General. With the prize money received from piloting Steamer he was able to purchase the same house where he was born a slave and live in it until his death in 1916.

After Civil War Robert Smalls entered the political scene serving as SC Senator and US Congressman when he was instrumental in helping to establish a permanent military training and recruiting base on Parris Island.

Things to know before you go
1. You’re not allowed to take pictures while on tour (however you can take photos of the artifacts on the ground floor). The National Register website has beautiful pictures of the John Verdier House interior and details on its architectural designs.

2. Little kids will get bored while on the tour so better go alone or have someone to baby sit downstairs. You can’t bring strollers, food or drinks inside the house.

3. The tour goes rather quickly. At times I felt overwhelmed with the amount and the speed of architectural and historical details thrown at us by our guide. It helps to ask lots of questions, if nothing else you get a tirade break!

4. If you care to remember, write it down. Unfortunately the museum doesn’t have good handouts materials, nor could I found much on the Historic Beaufort Foundation website.

5. Once done touring the house you can relax along the Beaufort marina and let the kids loose at the Waterfront Park playground. For lunch I recommend the Ice Cream and Lunch Parlor at the other end of Bay Street.

Ready for more history tours?

• Visit the vibrant St. Helena Episcopal Church, the second oldest and still active congregation in South Carolina (free admission).

• Be a Marine at the Parris Island Museum and admire incredible weapons, enemy captures and heroic soldiers stories (free admission).

• Join in the 2009 Beaufort Fall Festival of Houses & Gardens held on October 23, 24 and 25.

Be a proud Marine at historic Parris Island Museum

Be inspired, thrilled and for ever humbled at the amazing Parris Island Museum near Beaufort, an 8,000 square feet ode to “The Few.The Proud. The Marines”.

Admission is free and the museum is open daily 10AM – 4:30PM except New Year’s, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. More info (843) 228-2951 or the website.

In front of 1935 Japanese field gun at Parris Island museum

In front of 1935 Japanese field gun at Parris Island museum


You’ll get a pass at the gate by presenting a driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance (pre-registration is available online)

The pass also gives you access to the free Parris Island driving tour, a 15 mile loop, where you can explore memorable monuments like Iron Mike and Iwo Jima, the Bulldog Mascot Cemetery, the Leatherneck Square, where in the summer you can see recruits undergoing hand-to-hand combat training, the Douglas Visitor Center and the St. Helena History Trail.

Just for kids activities: Little ones can earn the “Junior Recruit” title by successfully completing the museum exploration challenge.

Interesting artifacts and enemy captures

• Terrible homemade IEDs, simple yet deadly. The Iraqi “Pressure Plate” was used all over Iraq as a speed bump triggered bomb.

The “Viet Cong Booby Trap” made of a metal spike, a Coke can, wiring and grenade it was usually placed under rice paddies and wetlands. When you stepped on it the spike will penetrate the boot and foot; jerking the foot to get loose will detonate the bomb.

Parris Island Marines Museum

Viet Cong IED - The Boot and Foot Booby Trap

• Soviet designed Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) Sight equipped with night vision.

• A model of a T-72 Iraqi tank, dubbed “Dolly Paton” for the noticeable bulge on its turret from the extra armor added to better protect against direct hits.

• Japanese Occupation Flag – unlike other captured enemy flags inscribed with patriotic slogans, this one looks into the future with a Good Luck message to United States and Japan.

• 17th century sword was among the many weapons given up by Japanese troops in Seoul. The sword was designed by Yoshimichi of Yamato and despite having 18th century fittings it was used through 1945 battles.

• Lucky helmet that saved Paul Hatfield’s life during the Cape Gloucester assault in 1945.

• The humble all purpose towel, became an essential item during Vietnam War. Soldiers used it to dry themselves and their equipment, as pillow, bandage, shoulder cover and scarf.

Just for laughs…

• The Boot Camp cartoons tell a compelling, brutally honest, yet very funny story about the tough life on Parris Island: the food, hair styles, drill instructors, combat training even the mighty sand flea…nothing is spared!

Join the Marines for an exciting adventurous life!

Join the Marines for an exciting adventuruous life!

• Joyful and exciting 1920 Recruiting Poster

• Airmen Blood Chit, a cloth caring a message in English and Korean: “This is a crash-landed U.N. soldier. If you can lead him to the nearest U.N. troops we shall greatly appreciate it”.

• Dreaded MRE package, it came in 24 different meal varieties of about 1,250 calories. The MRE was heated by a flameless ration heater activated by water and meant to last for 3 years.

• Uniform for Pregnant Marines – For a long time being pregnant resulted in immediate involuntary discharge. After 1976 expecting women were allowed to remain in active duty and finally maternity uniforms were issued in 1980.

US Marines Traditions
The Uniform – Although the uniform changed shape, colors and material over the years there are some elements preserved to date:

The Blood Stripe, first used in 1798 now it commemorates the service of men at the Chapultepec battle.

The Quatrefoil, it originated in the 18th century when Marines used a cross-shaped rope on top of their covers to differentiate between friends and foes at rigging.

The Mameluke Sword, were first given as gifts by Turkish viceroy of Egypt during Barbary Wars. Long time ago, Mameluks, slave warriors who fought for Moslem overlords used this style of curbed swords. They eventually overthrew their masters and established their own Kingdoms.

The Leatherneck nickname started in 1785

The Leatherneck nickname started in 1785


The Leatherneck, the nickname stemmed from the leather collar used between 1785 and 1875 to help keep the Marines head erect. Today it is symbolized by the high collar on the dress blue uniform.

• The Hymn is the oldest official song of all armed services. The words date back to 19th century but its origin and author remain unknown. The music comes from the 1859 opera Genevieve de Brebart.

• The Semper Fidelis emblems built from scrap metal by Wheeler Hembert, a metal worker at the new bridge to Parris Island construction during WWII. They were mounted and stayed on the front gate from 1943 to 2001.

• The Mascot – English bulldogs became popular as Marines mascots after BGen. Smedley Butler enlisted “Jiggs” at Quantico in Virginia in 1922. Marine Barracks in D.C. now name all their bulldogs “Chesty” in honor of the most decorated Marine, Lewis “Chesty” Puller. Many Marine units have their own bulldog.

“Mess with the Best, Die Like the Rest!”

Have a memorable and happy family vacation in Beaufort, South Carolina!

Vibrant, resilient and mysterious, St. Helena Church towers historic Beaufort almost 300 years later…

Recently I visited one of the most iconic churches in Beaufort and the Lowcountry, the St. Helena Episcopal Church. Thanks to our lovely guide the free tour was a pure delight (that’s quite a feat with my young and restless 5 years old!).

The superb St. Helena Church...South Carolina second oldest and most active churches

The superb St. Helena Church...South Carolina second oldest and most active churches


St. Helena church was established in 1712 as a colonial parish of the Church of England, under the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.

Getting ready to celebrate 300 years of existence, the venerable St. Helena is the state second oldest church, and remarkably, one the fastest growing in the diocese.

St. Helena History and Interesting Facts (content courtesy of St. Helena Church website)

• Built in 1724 (construction delayed by the 1715 Yemassee War), St. Helena was made out of ships ballast bricks and then smoothed over with stucco, bolstering excellent proportions and fine interior decorations

• In 1734, Captain John Bull gave a silver Communion service in memory of his wife, who disappeared during the Yemassee Indian War.

The chalice, paten and tankard, engraved “The gift of Captain John Bull to the Parish of St. Helena” are still used today on special occasions.

The Baptismal Font, only original item left after Civil War

The Baptismal Font, only original item left after Civil War


• Thomas Heyward, Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence, was St. Helena’s most noted parishioner during the Revolutionary period.

A wound inflicted at the battle of Port Royal in February 1779 left a scar, which marked him for the remainder of his life.

• During Civil War, Union forces occupied Beaufort in November 1861, the entire congregation fled and the church was converted to a hospital.

The church was stripped of its furnishings, balconies were decked over to make a second floor and slab gravestones from the graveyard were used as operating tables.

Bishop Thomas noted soon after the war was over “the church was a wreck of its former self and could not be used”. All that remained of the antebellum furnishings was the 1784 baptismal font.

The St. Helena Church graveyard and the legends…

The old cemetery, enclosed by a brick wall constructed around 1804, is entrenched in the local history.

• One of the earliest burials was Colonel John Barnwell (1671-1724), better known as “Tuscarora Jack,” a famous Indian fighter and a founder of Beaufort Town in 1711.

• Two British officers, killed in the battle of Port Royal at Gray’s Hill during the American Revolution in February 1779, are buried in the churchyard.

British Officers died during Revolutionary battle of Port Royal at Gray’s Hill

British Officers died during Revolutionary battle of Port Royal at Gray’s Hill


Recovered from a hasty grave on the battlefield, they were interred by an officer of the American forces, who read the funeral service from St. Helena’s altar prayer book:

“Soldiers and fellow citizens: We have now shown our enemies that we have not only the courage to face and best them in the field, but that we have the humanity to give their dead a decent and a Christian burial.”

• Two Confederate generals rest in peace in the old cemetery, Lieutenant General Richard Heron “Fightin’ Dick” Anderson and Brigadier General Stephen Elliott, Jr.

• Beware of John, legend has it he asked to be buried with a jug of milk (or was it wine?), a loaf of bread and an axe so when the time comes he can come out his tomb!…

A wicked story...

A wicked story...

How St. Helena Church changed over the years…

• The church has been enlarged 3 times, in 1769, 1817, and 1842. The northeast corner of the building and the original bricks in the outer walls have been retained over the years

The exquisite interior galleries

The exquisite interior galleries

• The 1817 west side extension was retained in 1842 while the rest was demolished. The present sidewalls were constructed at that time, and the foundations of the 1769 church were used to support the interior galleries.

• In 1874, a new roof was put on the church. Two years later a new organ replaced the one lost in the Civil War and the original cedar box pews were replaced with heart of pine benches.

Beautiful altar designed by USS New Hampshire sailors after Civil War

Beautiful altar designed by USS New Hampshire sailors after Civil War


• The current altar was given by the officers, and carved by the sailors, of the U.S.S. New Hampshire stationed in Port Royal Sound during the reconstruction.

A hurricane in 1896 destroyed the east end of the church. When the debris was cleared away, the altar remained intact. The building was subsequently rebuilt in its present form.

• The present steeple was built in 1941, (the old one was removed for safety during Civil War). Designed by Simons and Lapham of Charleston, it stands 118 feet high, the only existing specification of the earlier steeple.

• The church was repaired and redecorated in 1959 following Hurricane Gracie, which ripped off half of the roof. Disaster struck again on Easter Sunday 1970, when a hailstorm broke 150 windowpanes on the south side of the church.

St. Helena Church organ

St. Helena Church organ


• Taylor and Boody organ builders of Staunton, Virginia, installed a tracker pipe organ in 1985. Patterned after 17th-century organs of northern Europe, this two manual organ has 19 stops and over 1,150 pipes housed in a beautifully crafted oak case.

• By 1998, the 286-year-old church was badly in need of restoration and repair. 19 months of hard work and $2.6 million later, the church reopened on Palm Sunday 2000.

With its Gregorian makeover edition St. Helena is now ready to celebrate its tricentennial in 2012. No need to wait that long, you are always welcome to visit this magnificent church year around from 9AM to 4:30PM.

Worship Services are on Sunday at 8AM, 10:15AM and 6 PM, Wednesday at 5PM and Thursday at 11AM.

St. Helena Church is located downtown Beaufort at 505 Church Street Check out the official website for sermons, tours, summer camps and ongoing events.

Welcome visitors!

Welcome visitors!

Open your heart and free your mind in spiritual Lowcountry region of South Carolina!