At Sywanyk’s, you get Marine Corps lore with every pour

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A swing through Jacksonville, N.C., just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Sywanyk’s. It’s a bar in a building that is so filled with Marine Corps memorabilia that it almost defies description. In fact, retired Sgt. Maj. Ihor Sywanyk, owner of the one-of-a-kind bar/museum can only describe it this way:

“You just come on right in, I won’t charge you and I might even buy you a drink…  you will be impressed and amazed and if you don’t like it, don’t come back… but they always come back,” he told me on my third visit.

Sywanyk (pronounced swah-nick), an immigrant from the Ukraine,  joined the Marine Corps in 1964 and served on active duty for more than 32 years and in dozens of different jobs from machinist to drill instructor to grunt and beyond. In 1995, a year before retiring from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., Sywanyk established his nightclub and began installing his collection of tens of thousands of Marine Corps items and memorabilia he has collected over the decades, mostly at gun shows.

Visitors will see a staggering number of weapons, patches, stickers, movie posters, recruiting posters, flags, medals, musical instruments, plaques, figurines, uniforms, documents and other collectibles in the two-story club, which has hosted countless weddings, Marine Corps birthday balls, hail-and-farewells and reunions.

Among his prized possessions are a uniform worn by Lt. Col. John William Thomason, Jr.,  author of Fix Bayonets, among several other World War I era books; and, a letter handwritten by Archibald Henderson, who was the longest serving commandant from 1820 to 1859.

Next time you’re in Jacksonville — or even  on your way through the area — don’t miss Sywanyk’s Scarlet and Gold Traditions. It’s at 222 Henderson Avenue in Jacksonville. And don’t be surprised if you see me there on my fourth or fifth visit. It takes at least that many to see everything and toss a couple of Guinness back.

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  1. gary winstead on

    if this is the same Sywanyk’ he was my drill instructor. platoon 3010, honor platoon july 6th july-30 aug, 1967 never forgot him and

    his is the first name(not by name but rather the persona) mentioned in my new book. starting at the yellow footprints

    just thought he might want to know.

  2. Sgt. Major, I come from a family of Marines.

    My two brothers and I served all about the same time. [55-56-57] and we all got out of with about 1961-2.

    Two were the old Buck Sgt (E-4) and myself a Cpl (E-4).

    But my enquiry, has to do with our father, who serve in WW2. in the Battle of Guam, with the 3rd Pioneer Battalion, 19th Marine Regt., 3rd MarDiv.

    He was a heavy Eqiup operator [he was also 33 yrs old during that battle. No wounds, but his second bout with malaria, was pretty bad.

    After recovering he was a prison chaser [Treasure Is. to Portsmouth Naval Prison]

    By enquiring, thru the internet, the son of a Seabee [25th Naval Battalion] which served IN the 19th, [NOT with, because were transfer into the Marine Corps, becoming part pf the Marine Corps. Then, later rolled back into the Naval as25th NB.

    As I was saying, the son sent me a drawing out of the 25th Cruise book with the Regimental colors. It was in black and

    white, and I need the colors for a patch and pin. It has an eagle on top of the Engineer ensignia/and the words 19th Marines with the head of a white bulldog, with a black collar, probably silver spikes. Underneath the bulldog are the words of the regiments motto, “semper tenax”, a drawing of an anchor run underneath the shield. As you probably know, the Pioneer Battalions are the least known, with only one book written [that I know of] about them. And that was a very good book about 1st Pioneers. It seem to me there was always a need for the Pioneers, but Hdqtrs Marine Corps just can’t seem to nail down what to call them Shore Party, etc.

    I would gladly send you what little information I have for your museum. and you would get a kick out of the cartoon show the Seabee being wacked on the head and woke up a Marine. I know this was a little long in the tooth, but that is just me!

    Semper Fi !!

    Thomas L. Fedder

    Cpl, 9/57-9/61

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