Fortifying a Fort

Photo by Paul Patton | Wilmington University™
Photo by Paul Patton | Wilmington University™

One of the most significant historical sites on the East Coast is being preserved thanks to a group led by Wilmington University Adjunct Dr. Gary Wray.

Wray teaches social science and political science for the College of Arts and Sciences, and is also a published military historian. In 2003, he co-founded and continues to be president of the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA), whose membership has grown from four to 300.

Fort Miles, located at Cape Henlopen on Delaware’s coast, guarded Philadelphia and the tri-state area (Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey) during World War II. The FMHA has created the Fort Miles Museum and worked to make the site a major tourist attraction.

“Starting in 2010, we began giving tours to the public and last year we had more than 10,000 visitors take the tour,” says Wray. “In 2012 we raised the money and wrote the plan to allow the U.S. Navy to donate to the state the middle barrel of turret one of the battleship USS Missouri — the very barrel the Japanese delegation walked past to surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.”

He says the group has raised more than $1 million over the last two years to begin work on a new artillery park and a rest facility.

And there are other projects ahead. “We’ve brought guns representative of every type at Fort Miles during the war,” says Wray, “and we plan to situate them on individual gun pads later this fall.” WU