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FIRST LIGHT

“FIRST LIGHT”
First Light Starlight – star bright – shadows in the night.
I pray that calm will be, that we may see The next first light.
Moonlight – too bright, we fear will bring a firefight.
If that must be – I pray to thee that we survive til next first light.
A distant sound brings chills of fright Eyes open wide – no sleep tonight.
The sounds so slight are amplified It’s long away from next first light.
We’re young, and strong – this starlit night But do not boast with great delight.
Hold back the tears – I must for years if I survive to see first light.

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Typhoon Bess

USMC operations orders for 2 September 1968, indicate that Lima Company 2/26 was on a clearing operations in the mountains of the Hai Van pass. On the 4th of September 1968, Typhoon Bess struck the coast of Vietnam. Lima was at the highest point in the mountains and took two serious WIA in a ambush. The only option was to return to the base of the mountain to evacuate our wounded. I was had been attached to Lima as the Scout Observer from Charlie Battery 1/13. Charlie had positioned on the beach at the edge of the mountains to support Lima during the 7 day operation. I went to the ambush site with my radio as my radio operator Trosper was sick and contacted Bravo’s Commanding Officer. I explained about the ambush and the only option open to us. I asked for a fire mission and indicated danger close right away. The CO told me that the battery was almost under water from the tidal surge and that all aiming stakes were gone and that the very best gunner the battery had would use his distant aiming point. All I asked was that he did the best he could. For over an hour I adjusted fire onto the bunker where the machine gun was located, all rounds impacted within 100 feet of where I was adjusting the fire. Lima was able to in the middle of a Typhoon move back down the mountain in 5 hours and ambulances were waiting for our wounded.

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Liberty call in “OLD” SAN JUAN…..

So anyway, still on that float in the Caribbean in 1969 with Fox Company 2/2, we were on Liberty in San Juan, P.R. Well actually, most of us were in “old” San Juan enjoying life and liberty call. For those of you who didn’t get to make this float allow me to summarize what Old San Juan was like. My brother served in the Navy when I was in the Marines, we never talked about Old San Juan while home on leave. We just looked at each other and smiled until we looked foolish. Ok. Back to the story. Cpl. McDonald and I were standing at the bar spending our last dollar before having to return to the ship(aka the boat) USS Guadalcanal.

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Determined to earn the EGA

At the age of 17. I left home to join the MARINES.So I could help my mother.I was sent to MCRD. Parris Island SC. My hometown is Columbus GA. It’s an Army town you might say its the home of Ft.Benning Ga. The 101stairborne rangers train here this is where we train foreign officer’s in the school of the Americas and the world’s largest infantry school.General George S Patton Jr.had a home at Fort Benning during WWII.So it seems strange that I would want to join the MARINES coming from an Army town but I knew I wanted something more to challenge me.I didn’t know at the time how much of a challenge it would become.At 17 when I joined I went in weighing around 250 lbs. So before I could receive regular training I had to drop quite a few pounds.So I was sent to a place I’ll call the fat farm where we did nothing except P.T. Physical Training I had no clue to what I was about to endure. From the time revelry was called till taps were sounded, we had P.T. when we went to chow whether it was morning, noon or night it seemed like we were just allowed to look At the food and maybe smell a little of it. because being on the fat farm you were there to lose weight and I surely lost every pound that I was told to lose.When I was allowed to start my regular basic training I had got into pretty good shape so I thought. I was sent to 2nd training battalion things were really tuff for me I kept wanting to give up but for some reason earning that title of Marine keep me going until the week before graduation.when the unthinkable happened the day before my accident we were running 100 yard wind sprints when all of a sudden my left leg started hurting so bad I wanted to cry but I managed to hold back the tears I had never encountered so much pain I thought someone had a torch and was holding it to my leg . We then proceeded to run back to our barracks my squad bay which was on the top floor of our building I knew those steps I was going to run up would be my downfall, to this day I can still feel every step I climbed.My Senior DI. Sent me to see the Dr. I was told I just had bad muscle cramps .when I came back to my barracks the pain had eased up some but no one caught the hairline fracture I got from running wind sprints.The next morning we were to run the obstacle course, on the very first obstacle that I approached is when the unthinkable happened I attacked it like I had done so many times before but this time the obstacle won I had broken my left leg both bones the tibia and fibula.At that moment of my break, I had so much adrenaline in me that I could Cleary see my leg was broken from it shape that it was. I knew my leg wasn’t supposed to look like that, for the life of me it didn’t hurt the DI seen it and made everyone get into formation while I laid there screaming let me finish the obstacle course. I can see the DI’s face now how he looked with amazement at what I just said. I didn’t realize at the time that adrenaline wears off but I soon found out when I arrived at the Naval Hospital in Sumter SC. Before the Dr. Straighten my leg out he said to me recruit don’t you know your leg isn’t supposed to look like that that’s when the adrenaline wore off the Dr. started pulling on my leg the pain was so intense I started screaming so loud I’m sure the whole hospital knew I was there with a broken leg .I actually passed out from the pain they could have given me everything for pain but it wouldn’t have done any good anyways from the severity of my break.So now I’m in the hospital with a broken leg they inform my mother that I’ve been injured in a training accident so she comes to SC.to the Naval Hospital to see me.When she last saw me I was fat and out of shape. I was standing at the foot of my bed leaning on crutches when she walked right past me. I said, momma, where are you going? She turned around and it took her a moment to realize who I was .when she finally recognizes who I was she started screaming they killed my baby, they killed my baby a nurse had to come calm her down. So after my mother found out they hadn’t killed me, she went back home and after about 2 weeks they sent me back to P.I. where I went to a place called MRP Medical Rehabilitation Platoon when I arrived I was in a long length cast so as you can imagine how I had to get around there were recruits their with broken arms legs and all other things I still can’t explain but we had a DI their that was not going to let peoples injuries get in the way of Physical training so recruits w/broken legs we had to do push ups the one w/broken arms did sit ups no matter why you was there recovering he found something that you could do physically. I was their so long that I got to go home on leave. When I returned back to basic they wanted me to take a medical discharge and I refused so they finally sent me back to training except this time I was sent to 3rd recruit training battalion I started out on Mar 5 1974 my birthday when I returned to duty it was 1st week of 2nd phase .So again to state I arrived at P.I. Mar of 74 my birthday when I finally graduated Dec 17 of 74 to 9 weeks of training turned into 9 months but with nothing but determination I Finally earn the title MARINE. Now 43 yrs later I’m telling this story I’m still as proud today at 60as I was when I was 17 because when i earned the EGA EAGLE GLOBE &ANCHOR I. became not only a MARINE but a man and as for the time I spent at P.I. I’ve never heard of anyone being their longer than I. Really hope you enjoyed my story . to all my Brothers & Sisters Marines I just want to say SEMPER FI DEVIL DOG’S Carry On.

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A Veteran’s Poem

The following is by my friend, a fellow Marine, Rick Waller. He wrote this for the Veterans program at his church.

Who I Am
by Richard Waller

I venture far from home, family, and friends;
I go to places I’ve never been;
I encounter people I’ve never known;
I see and hear things I’ve never imagined;
My days do not end with the setting sun.
Where I walk I do want it to be known.
When I speak I do not want to be overheard!

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29 Palms Bast Training tank

I was TAD at the 29 Palms Base Training Tank in the summers of ’64 and ’65. I visited the base two years ago and the same training tank including the lifeguard office was still there, however, they had civilians working the facility. I worked as an instructor and lifeguard the first year and the second year I was in charge of all three pools (tank, officer’s pool and dependent’s pool for enlisted personnel). The reason for the name and strange size of the pool, we were told, was that an earlier base general had sought funds for an Olympic-size pool for the men but the funds were refused. So, he resubmitted a request for a base training tank and that was approved. However, when the plans were submitted and the pool was 50 meters (Olympic size) he was questioned again. So they added three meters to the plans so that the pool ended up being 53 meters long. I swam on the base swim team and when we had meets, the fifty-meter swims were always stopped short by a rope across the pool at the fifty meter mark. To make some of the reservist marines mad, when we ran overboard drills where the men had to practice jumping from the tower, we only made the reservists jump from 40 feet. This was because many of them would boast (at the EM club) of their great jobs and careers when they were off active duty and they thought we were dumb for being full-time Marines. Sometimes I would tell one of them, “You will see me again before you leave here.” However, Vietnam changed my duty in swim trunks to humping with 2-9 as an artillery Scout/F.O.

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That reminds me of a story—I swear to God this is true….

We had set up a position so that we could get badly needed resupplies. I was
just standing around wondering, if I started yelling “short” would the CO
believe me and send me back to An Hoa so I could get orders for the states. The
Platoon Sgt. decided that I needed to do some work in order to get such
foolishness out of my head. I volunteered to “off load” the supply choppers. I
have no doubt that every Marine who reads this knows what it’s like to stand in
the open as the chopper is landing in a dirt clearing. After the first one came
in and we managed to push and pull the large crate out of the back of the
chopper; three of us took the plastic sheet and held it up in front of ourselves
for protection. Man, you would have thought we invented the light bulb. We
stood there laughing at the fact that the plastic kept us from being belted.

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In Memory Of…

I had the honor and the privilege to serve with “Iron” Mike in Vietnam..He was a perfect example of what a Marine is supposed to be. When I checked into my unit, he greeted me and told me not to worry about a thing-I couldn’t die unless he gave me written permission. Now he is with the ages-“Old Marines never die, they just go to hell and regroup!”

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So anyways, we’re on this float—

It’s 1969 and I’m with Fox Company, 2nd. Bn./ 2nd Mar. Reg/ 2nd. Marine Division on a Caribbean float. We’re doing jungle training in Panama with the Black Palm Jungle Survival school; which is run by the Army’s Green Beret unit. We were waiting to learn about using a Zip Line for a river crossing. It’S true, we were riding on zip lines years before it became a fun experience that you paid to do. Like I was saying, we’re standing around this Army Captain as he demonstrated how to make a floating device from our ponchos. I guess he didn’t understand that Marines know how or are taught to swim before leaving boot camp. He also told us how to use a zip line in order to get back across this same river. When questioned about the safety of this wire, the captain stated that he would give a month pay to learn what it felt like just before this wire broke. Well, we took our turns swimming across this stream and climbing up this tree using a ladder. I’m not sure where this ladder came from. I never saw anyone humping one of these in the bush. But I digress, I was number three in line so I’m sure about this. A Marine put the strap over his head and under his arms—he takes one step off and about to become air born when—you guessed it—the wire broke. We got it fixed without the benefit of instructions from the Green Beret. We finished the training without further incident or this captain. By the way, he never made good on his promise to give the Marine his paycheck and I’m sure this young man could have used the money—-a PFC only made about $105.00 a month back then. Now for those who are wondering about making a floating device using your poncho, you lay your poncho flat on the ground and take off all your clothes and put them in the center. Then using your boot laces, you tie the four corners together and get into the water holding on your poncho. You then quickly get out of the water and open the poncho up and get redress. My concerns about this: no weapon came across with you (maybe that’s why “they” exchanged the M-14 for the M-16—it must float), you are butt naked standing on the river bank trying to dry off before putting your clothes back on (I guess the enemy have to stop laughing before they can shot you full of holes), and , lastly, you may have noticed that I didn’t say anything about your pack and other gear that is still on the other side of the river. I guess that would be the least of your concerns as you are running through the jungle butt naked, bare footed, wet, and without a weapon. No wonder those Green Berets are so tough and few. oh well, it’s like Capt. George, my CO, told me as my feet were turning a different color from being so wet for so long (remember the floating device), I finished the Black Palm Survival Training.

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