Posts Tagged ‘Marine Corps Base Quantico’

FBIlaboratory01

The FBI Laboratory

This month marks the 88th year since the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory started processing cases.  And to commemorate this occasion, I used this weekend’s bike ride to go back to Quantico, Virginia, and ride to the current FBI Laboratory (MAP), which is on the grounds of The FBI Academy, located on Marine Corp Base Quantico.  

Established by the original FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, the Criminology Laboratory, as it was known then, was first housed in a single room of the Old Southern Railway Building at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Downtown D.C. It would eventually move to the third floor of FBI Headquarters, before relocating to its current location back in 2003.  

The Lab’s first year of work included 963 examinations, including those that led to the capture of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping of the infant son of the aviator Charles Lindbergh, which became known as the “crime of the century”. (As opposed to the “trial of the center”, as the O.J. Simpson murder case would eventually be known.)

Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was kidnapped from the Lindbergh family home in Hopewell, New Jersey in March of 1932, with the kidnapper leaving behind a handwritten ransom note.  The Laboratory was equipped with only an ultraviolet light machine, microscope, moulage kit, wiretapping kit, and general office supplies.  And it had only one full-time employee, Special Agent Charles Appel. Using the limited resources available to him, Appel analyzed the handwriting of the 13 ransom notes received by the Lindberghs with samples from 300 suspects. While the process took many months, Appel was eventually able to identify Hauptmann as the perpetrator.  Sadly, it was discovered that the kidnapper killed the infant. And although Hauptmann proclaimed his innocence to the end, he was convicted of first-degree murder and executed in 1936 in the electric chair at the New Jersey State Prison.

Today the FBI Laboratory is one of the largest and most comprehensive crime labs in the world. Operating with more than 500 employees out of a state-of-the-art facility in Quantico, the laboratory’s scientific experts and Special Agents travel the world on assignment, using science and technology to protect the nation and support law enforcement, intelligence, military, and forensic science partners. Whether it’s examining DNA or fingerprints left at a crime scene or linking exploded bomb fragments to terrorists, the men and women of the FBI Laboratory are dedicated to using the rigors of science to solve cases and prevent acts of crime and terror.  

NOTE:  I was not able to take any additional photos because unauthorized photography or video recording within the FBI Laboratory is a security violation and, therefore, strictly prohibited.  The above video is unclassified public material.  

FBIacademy02

The FBI Academy

On this weekend bike outing I went to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, on the grounds of which the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Training Academy is located.  Situated on 385 acres of woodlands approximately 36 miles south of D.C. near the town of Quantico in Stafford County, Virginia (MAP), the FBI Academy is a full-service national training facility, with: classrooms and conference rooms; dormitories; indoor and outdoor firing ranges; a gym and aquatic pool; a library; a dining hall; the Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center, which teaches safe, efficient driving techniques to FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) personnel and other government and military personnel, and; Hogan’s Alley, a training complex simulating a small town for carrying out practical exercises and training.

The FBI Academy was first opened in 1972, the year in which J. Edgar Hoover, the man who was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, became its first Director, and then lead the organization for the next 37 years.  The Academy is operated by the Bureau’s Training Division, and was initially where new FBI Special Agents received their first training after being hired. One of the many changes after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 was the development of additional and specialized training for Intelligence Analysts.  Over time the training of FBI Special Agents and Intelligence Analysts became integrated into an expansive integrated curriculum currently known as the Basic Field Training Course (BFTC).

The BFTC was developed by the Training Division to meet the Bureau’s ambitious goal of training new Agent and Intelligence Analyst candidates in a way that prepares them for their collaborative work in the field.  Previously, Agents and Analysts had completely separate training.  The BFTC replaced these two distinctly separate programs with an integrated, collaborative course that uses a dedicated field office team approach mirroring the environment that they will experience in their field assignments.

And although new Agents are still typically synonymous with the FBI Academy, the Training Division also instructs many other diverse groups of people.  In addition to Intelligence Analysts, those who currently receive training at the Academy include: people in a wide variety of professional staff positions at the FBI; law enforcement officers from other Federal agencies as well as state, local and tribal police and law enforcement entities, and; appropriate individuals from the private sector.  Elite units such as the Hostage Rescue Team, Evidence Response Teams, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and law enforcement leaders from across the world also attend the Academy and utilize its training facilities to improve on skills.

In addition to the Training Division, the Academy grounds are also host to a number of other divisions and entities.  They include the Hostage Rescue Team Complex, the Operational Technology Division and its engineering research facility, the FBI Laboratory, the Forensic Science Research and Training Center, and the DEA’s Justice Training Center.

This ride was longer and different, but just as interesting as the shorter rides I used to take during my daily lunch break at work in D.C.  And it’s this kind of ride that I hope to take often now that I’m retired.

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

1.  Hoover Road, named after the FBI’s founding and long-time Director, J. Edgar Hoover.
2.  A sign at the East Gate Security Entrance, which is the main entrance to the FBI Academy.
3.  The Academy’s Jefferson Building,which houses administrative offices and the student check-in and visitors center.
4.  A view from a distance of the Madison Dormitory building.
5. The intersection of route MCB-4 and J. Edgar Hoover Road, near the west gate entrance to the FBI Academy
6.  The sign at the West Gate Security Entrance to the FBI Academy
7.  Welcome sign at the entrance to the mock town named Hogan’s Alley
8.  Mock businesses, including a laundromat and pool hall, in Hogan’s Alley.  Interestingly, the outsides of the buildings in Hogan’s Alley simulate a small town for carrying out practical exercises and training. But the insides contain offices for Training Division personnel.
9.  A mock movie theater in Hogan’s Alley named The Biograph, named and modelled  after the theater in Chicago where FBI Agents attempted to arrest but ended up
killing gangster John Dillinger on July 22, 1934
10.  The Firearms Training Support Facility building that houses the Training Division’s Firearms Training Unit
11.  One of several outdoor firing ranges
12.  The indoor firing range

NOTE:  Due to security concerns there is currently very limited public access to Marine Corps Base Quantico and no public access to the FBI Academy grounds or facilities.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps

The National Museum of the Marine Corps

For this Independence Day bike ride, I chose a destination which is both patriotic and outside of the city, as I tend to prefer on these long, holiday weekends. On this bike ride I stopped by the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  Located just over 30 miles south of D.C., at 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway (MAP) in Triangle, Virginia, the museum is situated on a 135-acre site a short distance away from the main entry gate to Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The museum is a cooperative effort between the United States Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. The Foundation manages the museum operation, while the building, which was purchased privately and then donated to the Marine Corps, is under the command of Marine Corps University. The museum opened on November 10, 2006, and replaces both the Marine Corps Air-Ground Museum in Quantico, Virginia, which closed in November of 2002, and the Marine Corps Historical Center in The Washington Navy Yard, which closed in July of 2005.

One of the most unique aspects of the 120,000-square-foot museum, which was designed by Curtis W. Fentress of Fentress Architects, is that the design of the building evokes the image of the marines raising the flag over Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima, as famously depicted Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer prize-winning photograph and the iconic Marine Corps War Memorial.

Inside the museum, visitors can see permanent exhibits on World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as a number of collections which include more than 60,000 uniforms, weapons, vehicles, medals, flags, aircraft, works of art and other artifacts that trace the history of the Marine Corps from when it was founded in 1775 to the present.  The museum also includes class rooms, a theater, a gift shop, a bar, a restaurant, and a laser shooting range.

The museum, which draws over a half a million visitors a year and has become one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Virginia, is open every day except Christmas, and is free to the public. But if you are unable to ride a bike to or otherwise go to the museum in person, you can still experience the entire museum virtually from your computer or other streaming device. You can tour the exhibits virtually with high definition panoramas, zoom in on treasured artifacts, watch videos created specifically for the museum, and listen to docents recount Marine Corps history. 

MarineCorpsMuseum01     MarineCorpsMuseum03     IwoJima10a
[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

Quantico01

Marine Corps Base Quantico

Long holiday weekends provide me with opportunities to venture out of the city to places in the local area that I normally would be unable to ride to on my usual lunchtime bike rides. So for a Memorial Day weekend ride, I chose to go to Marine Corps Base Quantico. Also known as MCB Quantico, it is a United States Marine Corps installation located in Virginia, near the town of Triangle (MAP), covering nearly 55,148 acres of southern Prince William County, northern Stafford County, and southeastern Fauquier County.

MCB Quantico is near the Potomac River approximately 35 miles south of D.C. The area was originally inhabited by the Patowomacks tribe in the 16th century. The name “Quantico” is credited to come from an Algonquian Native American term, and has been translated to mean “by the large stream.” It was not visited by European explorers until the summer of 1608, with settlement beginning later that year. More than two centuries later, in 1816, the Marine Corps first visited the site.  And just over a century after that, in 1917, Marine Barracks, Quantico was established on some of the land currently occupied by today’s base. At that time, Marine Barracks occupied just over 5,000 acres and the personnel consisted of 91 enlisted men and four officers. In 1942, an additional 50,000 acres were purchased by the Federal government and added to the barracks, making up what is now the base.

The MCB Quantico community currently consists of 12,000 military and civilian personnel, including families. The majority of that is made up by the Corps’ Combat Development Command, which develops strategies for Marine combat. It is also home of the Marine Corps University, where virtually all Marine officers receive their basic training, as well as enlisted technicians from many different disciplines. It has a budget of around $300 million and is the home of:  the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School; the Marine Corps Research Center, which pursues equipment research and development, especially telecommunications, for the Marine Corps, and; the Marine Corps Brig, a military prison.

The base was designated as part of the Quantico Marine Corps Base Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. This district includes 122 buildings, two landscapes, a sculpture, and a water tower located within the base. And a replica of The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, depicting the 2nd U.S. flag-raising on Iwo Jima, stands at the entrance to the base.

MCB Quantico is the home of major training institutions for military and Federal law enforcement agencies as well, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Headquarters, the Army Criminal Investigative Division Headquarters, and the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations Headquarters. The FBI Academy and the FBI Laboratory, the principal training and research facilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the principal training facility for the Drug Enforcement Administration, are also located on the base.

The long, open roads, the many miles of maintained running and biking trails, and the general lack of vehicle traffic on the base, except an occasional tank crossing the road, make it a safe and ideal place for a weekend bike ride.  The undeveloped nature of the area also provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, including white-tailed deer and wild turkey, which I have seen almost every time I have been on base.  I’m fortunate that I have access and am allowed to ride there.  Unfortunately, I find myself unable to recommend it as a riding destination for others, but only because much of the base is restricted from public access.  So if you want to go there, I suggest you check in advance about the areas of the base, if any, where you will be allowed access.

Quantico02     Quantico03     Quantico06

Quantico09     Quantico08     Quantico11

Quantico12     Quantico07
[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

NOTE:  Due to security concerns there is currently very limited public access to Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Prince William Forest Park

Prince William Forest Park

This year, the autumnal equinox brings the fall season to the Northern Hemisphere tomorrow night at 10:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time. This is my favorite time of the year. So to celebrate the beginning of autumn, on this bike ride I went for a long weekend ride in the Prince William Forest Park, which is located between a half an hour and forty-five minutes south of D.C., just off of Interstate 95 (MAP) in southeastern Prince William County, Virginia, and adjacent to the Marine Corps Base Quantico.  I went early in the morning, and enjoyed a breakfast of a pumpkin muffin and some apple juice, and then went for a leisurely ride in the picturesque park to enjoy the early fall foliage as the landscape is beginning to silently explode with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange.

Prince William Forest Park is the largest protected natural area in the D.C. metro area at over 19,000 acres. It was originally developed by Works Progress Administration workers after the Great Depression, and established as the Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area in 1936. It later became a National Park and was renamed Prince William Forest Park in 1948.  The park is currently administered by the National Park Service, whose architects designed its landscaping and structures to be a glimpse into the past and provide an example of what much of the East Coast once looked like centuries ago.

The park offers 21 miles of bicycle accessible roads and trails, as well as a variety of other recreational opportunities. They include an additional 37 miles of hiking trails, some of which go to historical and cultural destinations within the park, including the remnants of an old pyrite mine and an abandoned gold mine, as well as Joplin, Hickory Ridge and Batestown – three small communities that existed prior to the park’s establishment. Other trails follow Quantico Creek and offer views of its small waterfalls. Prince William Forest Park also offers several tent camping options, including family, group and backcountry camping, as well as rustic cabin camping, and a full-service, concessionaire-operated RV campground. Four of the parks camp areas are listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places. Wildlife viewing is also a popular activity in the park.

     PrinceWilliamForestPark02     PrinceWilliamForestPark06

PrinceWilliamForestPark03     PrinceWilliamForestPark05     PrinceWilliamForestPark04