Always Carried A Swagger Stick

I arrived at MCRD, SD around 9am on the 21st of Sept. 1961 and stood on the yellow footprints outside of the receiving barracks across from the base theatre. At that time the street between the theatre and receiving barracks was off limits to regular vehicular traffic, but that is no longer the case. The yellow foot prints were moved to just in front of receiving barracks sometime in ’62 or ’63. Our basic issue included 2 yellow sweatshirts and 1 pair of red shorts. The shorts were used mainly at the swimming pool and sometimes on Sundays during free time. Our three DI’s were Korean war vets, SDI Gy/Sgt E-6, J N Green, JDI S/Sgt E-5, R P Regalot and JDI Sgt E-4, P J Phelps, and all three were promoted upon our graduation. All three were hard as nails and a little attitude adjustment was not uncommon, but fairly meted out. My platoon number was 275, the second of four in the series and we were the Honor platoon. JDI Phelps was a little unusual as he was British with his father being in the Royal Marines. He always carried a swagger stick though I never saw him use it for anything other than pointing.

After ITR I went back to MCRD to attend C & E schools and in November of ’62 I graduated as a ground radar repairman MOS 2741. I was transferred to Camp Pendleton joining 1/1 at Camp San Mateo. We rotated to Okinawa in May of ’63 to become 2/9 at Camp Hansen. We did the normal tour, a couple of weeks at Camp Fuji in Japan, a cruise that included the Philippines and a week on Taiwan conducting a field problem with a unit of the 4th Marines. On the return to the Philippines from Taiwan we did a small detour sailing toward Vietnam. The dictator at the time called for help and we were available. Although we never landed we got close enough to sight land before we turned around and sailed back to the Philippines. We did a weeks liberty in Hong Kong before returning to Okinawa. We returned to CONUS in June of ’64 becoming 1/7 at Las Puglas.

I was discharged from the Corps in Jan. of ’65 as a Cpl E-4 and my last duty station was FSR across from the airport at Camp Pendleton. I joined the reserves in ’73 and left in ’81 as a S/Sgt with an MOS of 5931 and secondary of 0369. Neither 2741 or 5931 exist today.

S/Sgt KR Thomas, 1957XXX

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3 thoughts on “Always Carried A Swagger Stick”

  1. I went to boot camp in April of 1962 got chewed out by a Marine carrying a swagger stick he had me on the ground doing push ups.

  2. I remember a few Marines at Camp Lejeune 1969, my 1st duty station out of MCRD, I was 6 months into 17 yrs old at that time and very green. I wouldn’t talk much on account of being so new at everything so I was all eyes and ears. There was a couple of NCOs with a swagger stick that had that brass scrolls tacked to them. So I asked what the good looking stick was about the Sargent said they were the names of all the Ports he had been. I asked how could I get one . He said get on a SHIP! So I went to Head Quarters and asked to get on a ship and I was told I was not old enough, that I had to be 18. To this Day I don’t understand that. I served until May of ’73 and never boarded a ship. I did board a mock ship via a cargo net many times at 3rd ITR. Semper Fi ! Marines ! L/CPL. Burriel

  3. Went to ITR at Camp Geiger in October 1962 and our SGT was called “The Stick”. He carried a swagger stick and if you were goofing off, he’d get behind you and jab that stick into the back of your knee and down you’d go. Time to smarten up!

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