U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles pointing at each other created fear of total annihilation on both sides, historians say, helping to prevent either country from attacking first and starting WWIII. Air Force missile crews played a vital link in that strategy.
"I guess unsung hero is a way to talk about the folks who served during the Cold War," says Morris. "In the next 20 years, as more documents are declassified, we're going to really appreciate more about what went on."
WWII comes to Texas
In Fredericksburg, Texas, volunteers bring World War II battles to life. Firing spectacular Hollywood pyrotechnics and authentic weapons, they re-enact a 10-minute battle where U.S Marines capture a Japanese-held beachhead.
"We can't re-create what war was like," says Brandon Vinyard of the National Museum of the Pacific War. "But this gives people a little bit more of a sense of the chaos of battle."
With plenty of safety precautions in place, visitors enjoy a close view from about 8 feet from the beachhead, Vinyard said. Battle highlights include three huge explosions -- one equaling three sticks of dynamite -- and a star burst that shoots 50 feet high.
There's also a spectacular demonstration of a flamethrower -- a portable blowtorch weapon used to wipe out pockets of enemy resistance.
"If you're in the bleachers you can actually feel the heat of the flamethrower," says Vinyard. "And you can feel the concussion of some of the explosions."
No other facility in the nation does anything like this on this scale on a regular basis, says Vinyard.
It bills itself as the only museum entirely dedicated to telling the story of WWII in the Pacific.
About a year ago a former U.S. Marine and his young grandson found themselves walking through the museum gallery when the veteran came upon a giant mural of a vintage photo on the wall. The picture showed a group of Marines catching a breather on a hillside, remembers Vinyard. "The veteran pointed to one of the young Marines in the photo and said to his grandson, 'That's me. This is where we were.'"
Vinyard's story exemplifies the museum's mission, he said, "to inspire our youth by honoring our heroes."
Witnessing a 'transformation'
This Friday on a parade ground on a marshy barrier island off South Carolina, bands will play, Marines will march, the American flag will fly high, and a commanding general will speak.
Senior drill instructors will dismiss their platoons and hundreds of new graduates will shout, "aye aye sir!" or "aye aye ma'am!"
The drill instructors will then sheath their swords and march away.
With that -- Parris Island marks the end of another spectacular graduation ceremony and a fresh beginning for hundreds of new Marines.
Since it opened in 1915, the U.S. Marine Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, has become legendary through movies, songs and novels. It has also produced hundreds of thousands of fighting men and women. Military enthusiasts often join family members and other loved ones who visit "The Depot" to enjoy graduation ceremonies -- an unspoiled piece of Americana that's been largely unchanged for almost a century.
Oh, one ceremony modification worth noting: In the 1920s, a dog entered the picture. Marines adopted a canine mascot after German soldiers began referring to the hard-fighting Marines as "Devil Dogs."
Nowadays, that dog is a 16-month-old English Bulldog mascot named Lance Cpl. Legend.