News and Events

For Immediate Release

Assistant USMC Commandant Endorses Site License Carolina Museum of the Marine on Track to Break Ground in 2024

Jacksonville, NC – Carolina Museum of the Marine received long awaited news today. “The Marine Corps has favorably endorsed our request for a lease at Lejeune Memorial Gardens for our proposed museum,” said the Museum’s CEO, retired Brigadier General Kevin Stewart. The next step is to negotiate a lease with the Department of the Navy (the owner of the land). This process is estimated to take six to twelve months and a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled on May 17, 2024 at 8:30 am.

“I am proud of the work the state and local officials in North Carolina are doing to show the public the valiant and honorable history of our United States Marines through the Carolina Museum of the Marine. Camp Lejeune is fortunate to be a part of Jacksonville and the surrounding communities,” said General Eric Smith, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Phase I of the organization’s construction project, “Reflection and Celebration Park” was completed in 2016, accepted as a gift by the Department of Navy in 2018, and is now dedicated to the public. It is the most Instagrammed site in Onslow County with thousands of visitors each year. Numerous reenlistment, promotion and retirement ceremonies take place in front of its Eagle Globe and Anchor statue, the largest in the world. The Park and its Freedom Walkway sit at the entrance to the proposed museum site, Phase II of the project.

Carolina Museum of the Marine received a $26M grant from the State of North Carolina in 2022 and continues to progress with all preconstruction activities. A well-organized construction team includes Museum staff, HICAPS construction management, CJMW Architecture, Samet Corporation as the general contractor, and exhibit designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

Individuals and organizations who want to become involved with CMOTM and its museum are invited to contact Ashley Danielson at 252-617-7551 or Contributions may be made online.

BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Chief Executive Officer

For Immediate Release

After 24 Years, SgtMaj Joe Houle Announces Retirement from
Carolina Museum of the Marine

Jacksonville, NC – SgtMaj Joe Houle, USMC (Ret), Director of Operations and Artifacts at Carolina Museum of the Marine, announced his plans for retirement today.  Houle is one of the museum’s co-founders along with Maj General Ray Smith, USMC (Ret).

“Retiring is a tough decision,” said Houle. “This will be the second time I’ve done it.”  Houle retired from the United States Marine Corps after 31 years of service, retiring in 2000 and immediately beginning work to establish a museum in Jacksonville, NC to honor Carolina Marines and Sailors.  He has been the face of the organization for twenty-four years. 

“SgtMaj Houle’s impact on this project is legendary,” said the organization’s CEO, retired Brigadier General Kevin Stewart. “We hate to see him retire but we certainly understand his desire to spend more time with family and friends.  He has had a couple of difficult hospitalizations in the last three or four years.  It is his turn to relax and enjoy his family and the many friendships he has in this community and frankly all over the world.”

Houle plans to stay in the area and will remain a strong supporter of Carolina Museum of the Marine.  “It’s a good time for me to retire,” Houle said.  “The project is in excellent hands with the current team.  General Stewart has moved the ball well down the field and construction will be starting this spring.”  Houle plans to celebrate with the team and the community at the groundbreaking ceremony in May 2024.  He is excited about the exhibits being designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and, with Curator Lisa Potts, herself a retired Chief Warrant Officer 5, has been able to have tremendous input in developing an immersive experience highlighting the many innovations and acts of heroism of Carolina Marines and Sailors.  The museum is scheduled to open its doors to the public early in 2026.

Houle will officially retire on November 30, 2023.

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Carolina Museum of the Marine Resource Center presents a collection of essays on the history of the Marine, Historians’ Corner, the Memory Zone, video/audio posts, designed in memory of those who gave their lives in wars and conflicts, and current Museum news.