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A Marine Veteran’s Tribute

A MARINE VETERAN’S TRIBUTE

I have clear memories of the many fine individuals I worked with during my four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. When I, and others of my seniority-level, finished our (peacetime) military tour and were discharged from the Corps in 1965-66, we scattered to the four winds and embarked on other pursuits. However, we did leave behind others who remained in the Marines by reason of either (1) their still having time remaining on their obligated tour of duty, or (2) their having consciously chosen to make a career of the Marine Corps.

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The Corpsman no one was sure about

Viet Nam 1970 with Golf Co. 2nd.Bn. 5th.Mar. Reg. , there was a Corpsman in 2nd. Platoon that everyone noticed because he didn’t seem to fit in. He wore glasses and seem too gentle, quite, and easy going and he always seem to have his bible at hand. We had been on Liberty Bridge for what seem like a long time and, I guess, Cpt. Darling realized that something didn’t seem right. He sent a squad from 2nd. platoon to check the river side along the north bank. The Corpsman in question was assign to go a long. They had been gone for just a few minutes, when we witness a large explosion. The squad that went out to help them learned that the rover had come a cross an ammo can setting in the middle of a clearing. Someone thought it would be a good plan of action to shot a round through it in order to demand that it was safe to move it or bring it back to base (must of been a “boot” or a f–ken new guy). So, when nothing happen, the rover approached the can and “picked it up”—a lesson learned a second too late. The 105 round took out the whole team. When the second squad got there they saw the Corpsman ( no one was sure about) moving from man to man and applying first aid. He would stop a few seconds and say a prayer for the Marine before working on him. The squad leader share with us that this Corpsman had a head wound down to his skull and a terrible wound in his groin. He would react to his injuries—the pain—as he moved from one to the other. However, he used the morphine he had on the injured Marines instead of helping himself . Once everyone was on a chopper heading to the hospital ship, the men started picking up the gear that had been left behind; they found the Corpsman’s bible laying on the ground and decided to try to send it home with him. Every grunt in my platoon felt that he earned the M.O.H. and said so. The C.O. informed us later that the Corpsman received the Navy Cross and that he would survive his injuries as well as many of the Marines that he worked on. I always guess that he didn’t need to show us how brave he was until it meant something—-and he did. I have shared this story before and told it in different ways but have always felt that some things are worth remembering and repeating. Thanks for letting me share this yet again. Semper Fi Corpsman (who ever you were)

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A Marine Christmas

A Marine Corps Christmas

Just minutes after the USS Clymer docked in at White Beach, Okinawa; a young Marine lieutenant in sun bleached khakis and looking very much as if he would rather be in Iowa, or just about any place other than where he is. came aboard.
“You Sullivan?” asked the tall, skinny Marine lieutenant, now with the biggest grin.
“Yeah, that’s me,” I said mopping my forehead. “You got a heat wave going on here?”
“Heat wave? Funny, its always a heat wave here,” he said. “This is the nicest day we’ve had in a week or two. Welcome to Okinawa, the armpit of the world, I’m Jim.”
“Hi Jim, glad to meet you.”
“Not as glad as I am to meet you!” flashing what I came to know as his trademark grin, extending his sweaty hand.
We shook hands slick with perspiration.
Jim began to fill me in, “Been here three months. I was the battalion’s green horn. No more! Now you are. When I’m leaving for home, you’ll still be here” he chortled. “Here, I got a present for you,” handing me a full roll of toilet paper.
“Toilet paper?’ I asked. “For what?”
“It’s a sanity thing, therapy! You know, after you’ve pissed away your paycheck in the vill again and are wondering what the f—k did I get myself into, you rip off a sheet,” slapping me on my back as if to emphasize his cleverness.
Cleverness lost on me standing there imagining a burst of sweat from the clinging fabric of my khaki shirt as it atomized adding to the oppressive humidity. I wondered what the heat, humidity and island fever would do to me after three months.
Jim rattled on, “Trust me, you’ll thank me, hang this on a wall near your bunk and every day that goes by, you tear off a sheet. When the roll is gone you’re heading home.”
Not the greeting I expected but a never to be forgotten and not a totally misplaced introduction to the Far East. I wondered if I’d made a very big mistake requesting Okinawa or was this some cockamamie joke courtesy of the USMC. Little did I know what was to come and how often I would long to be back on Okinawa.
Perhaps as childbirth is for mothers, my time on the island turned out not to be so bad. Jim’s oddball welcome was the beginning of a treasure-trove of fond memories.
I had my own room in a WW II Quonset hut with lizards, cockroaches and my very own mama-san named Kioko, to do my laundry and clean my room. At noon I’d return to my hut, drop my sweat soaked uniform on the floor and don a new starched clean uniform for the afternoon. By evening the uniform that I left on the floor would be hanging up in the closet ready for another day. The food was wonderful. Bargains were everywhere. I bought five tailor-made, English wool suits, and a used red, Honda motorbike to explore the island.
After three months of fun on “the Rock”, Division sent out the word; we were going to Vietnam. This meant war, what Marines are trained for. Our generation of Marines would be making history. A war against the North Vietnamese would show the world that Marines could do what the French couldn’t. I along with everyone else was elated. What stories I might tell. What war heroes we would create.
Well, it didn’t happen. Sure, I sailed for Vietnam on the USS Mt. McKinley, the Admiral’s and General’s command ship. Why was I chosen to sail the general’s command ship, I never knew.
A week or so later we were off the coast of Vietnam as part of a huge invasion force, bigger than I could have ever dreamed. Every morning, just as the sun came up, I would go up on deck and look out to sea. There I was, surrounded on every side by more ships than I could count, destroyers, troop ships, heavy cruisers, amphibious assault ships, an occasional aircraft carrier, even I’m told, a battleship. As the day went by the surrounding ships seemed to vanish. Then, the next morning we were back in the middle of the fleet.
Day after day, week after week we sailed up and down the coast. Someone remarked that we had been at sea longer than Noah was on his ark. In fact, we were at sea 52 days!
At last word was passed there would be no invasion. All the ships, except the command ship, sailed back to Okinawa or some far off naval base. The USS Mt. McKinley and I sailed off on a grand Far East excursion.
We docked in Bangkok, Thailand, and Singapore, crossed the Equator, headed North to the Philippines, finally landing at Subic Bay Naval Base. What a trip!
All Marine officers and most enlisted, except for a Colonel and myself, were ordered back to Okinawa. I was now second in command of the small Marine detachment assigned to the USS Mt. McKinley

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My Summarized Story

I was born and raised in Manila, at the age of 20 I immigrated to the United States. Seeking a future and to better myself, I decided to enlist in the U. S. Marines, and was placed in the Delayed Entry Program (under Combat Arms Options). I stepped out of the bus on December 24, of 1990. Completed Bootcamp and ended up with 3rd Combat Engineers in Okinawa for a year. Spent the last 3 years in Camp Lejeune and participated on a Medetteranian deployment with 24MEU-SOC, where we did an operation in MOGADISHU, Somalia. At that time, enlistment in the U. S. Military does not automatically grants American Citizenship through a Naturalization process with the Immigration Department. I failed my first interview due to not knowing the Senator’s in my state. I’m now a naturalized citizen and retired from Civilian Federal Service. It is truly an honor and a life accomplishment to be able to earn the title, as well as serving the country as a way to show my allegiance and appreciation to the United States in giving me the opportunity to become a better person, citizen and a new path towards a new life. I am old now, and have many ailments but I feel that I had accomplished something great that I consider an exclamation mark in my life and will finish strong.

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That Special Moment in Boot Camp

Parris Inland in the summer of 1968—the summer of love for hippies on the west coast. However, not so much for Platoon 296 on Parris Inland with Sgt. Morris—not even close! We had completed about half of our training when recruits started coming in from being recycled. That’s when we learned that the Drill Instructor Sgt. Morris told us the truth about doing our entire enlistment at Parris Inland if we couldn’t get our “sh-t together” and move on Camp Stone Bay (for 03’s). I know there are Marines out there who can confirm the fear factor we were feeling. I mean, I was barely 17 and wanted to see women again before I got too old to appreciate them. But I digress, it’s 0300, the alarm goes off for a fire drill in these very old wooden barracks. We all turn out in formation with our buckets in toll and wait. Sgt. Morris was one of the meanest men I have ever known and I worked 30 years as an Intensive Probation/Parole Officer after I got out. Anyways, Sgt. Morris called one of the “new” guys out of formation and instructed him to sing for everyone. After some words with him, the new boot started to sing in a beautiful voice that was so clear and rich—-“Yesterday” by the Beetles. MAN! Sgt. Morris didn’t say another word. We were dismiss back to the barracks—there was no fire. You could almost read everyone’s mind—-we were back home holding on to that girl who promise never to leave us. I graduated from Parris Inland just about 49 years ago and can still hear him sing that song and think how appropriate it was. Foot Note: I was told that the recruit was KIA in V.N. ( or seriously wounded) and Sgt. Morris continue to use a tent pin on recruits and was court martial for abusive behavior (that was the rumor so I can’t swear to it)

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head detail

Everyone was given an assignment in boot camp on a cleaning detail. The head detail had to clean the urinals and the toilets ( without gloves ) and we all took pride in our jobs assigned to us- as if we did a poor job we got P T ‘d to a excruciating extreme – or sometimes we walked into a Drill Instructors closed hand- or like ” Divine Intervention’, we bounced off of walls – etc. One recruit was always flustered of the D I ‘s and was a jellyfish – when how as spoken too- got very nervous and stammered- The last recruit out of the head at the end of our day had to yell out, ” Sir, the head is clear.” ( If someone ran out of the head after this announcement we all caught hell. This evening- our stammering mate was the last one out of the head- and our D I that night was the biggest ball buster of the three D I’s. So befittingly the Recruit runs out and doesn’t say anything- so the D I approaches him and says, ” Num-nuts did you forget to inform me of something.’ The private come to attention and blurts out – ” Sorry Sir, My head is clear.” The D I tries not to laugh- and really busts out laughing- and runs into his quarters and shuts the hatch. A few minutes he come out and actually hugs the recruit- and tells us to take five- then hit the rack. Even the D I’s at times were human. Usually one of the three was a hard ass- and one was the comical one and one in between – one served in Korea and told us stories about the North Koreans and their savagery – a later post will describe a Marine Sgt. who was in WW 11 and some more tales.

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My Uncle, My Hero, My Heart

My Uncle, PFC Harold W. Jinright fought in the battle at Chosin Reservoir. This amazing man is 100% a Marine. “Gunny” as his son calls him, is a kind, thoughtful, sharp witted man with an awesome sense of humor and the most patriot human I have ever met.
Back in the day, PFC Jinright and his wife called each other Mr. & Mrs. Jones. Now that I am older, I changed that to Uncle Jones “Jonsey”, much to his delight. A few years ago Jonsey returned to Quantico and a photo was taken of him in front of his barracks as it was in 1949. I was able to combine the two which made a beautiful memory for all of us. Jonsey also returned later this year for one more OOHAH!
In October, Jonsey is coming from El Monte CA to Surprise AZ to feast on some of his great niece’s chili and cornbread. Then in November he will be attending his 90th birthday party where he prefers to have a Marine theme and photo’s because he is, and always will be, a Marine.
It is with much pride and love that I type these words and memories. My heart breaks and I usually shed some tears as I try to gather info and photos to help Jonsey with his project requests. The Chosin Few as well as the millions that share his love of our country and give so very much to us are the true meanings behind the word Hero’s.
PFC Harold W. Jinright was medevacked to Japan in December 1950 with severe frostbite that affects him greatly to this day. He along with so many of his fellow Marines suffered more than most of us can even imagine and so many made the ultimate sacrifice. PFC Jinright refuses to take praise for his bravery and sacrifice and will laugh and say his only job at the Chosin Reservoir was to make snow balls for the weapons to shoot at the enemy.
But that’s ok; I have enough pride for the both of us. My eternal gratitude to all of you that have the courage and strength to do the many things you have to do to protect us. Thank you for your service.
I am attaching two photos. The one with the weapons and Marine’s was taken at Quantico. The Marine in the middle, hands on hips with the don’t mess with the Marine’s look on his face is my Marine, PFC Harold W. Jinright. The photo taken in 1949 by his barrack’s, he is on the right.

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SH*TBIRD! How I Learned to Love The Corps

This true story appears in my book “SH*TBIRD! How I Learned to Love The Corps” and illustrates how our Drill Instructors kept us on our toes. The longest month of my life was my first three days of boot camp. It seemed
virtually impossible to say anything to a DI that was correct in his eyes, unless, of
course, you were agreeing with his assessment that you were possibly the
dumbest, most worthless specimen that had ever crapped between a pair of
boondockers. This was one of the first things we learned. In fact, sometimes there
just wasn’t a “correct” answer.
We had found out within minutes of arriving at MCRD that just about any
infraction, whether real or imagined, was punishable by death. Well, maybe not
death itself, but you still thought you were in Hell. Actually one DI told us that it
wasn’t legal for him to kill us but there was no statute keeping him from making
us wish he would and just get it over with. So, when a DI asked a question a
wrong answer would usually be accompanied by summary judgment and
punishment.
Either the second or third day – with so little sleep you couldn’t tell when one
ended or the next started – we were in formation waiting to do something or
other. Not wanting to waste any time our DI kept us at attention while he
meandered between the ranks raising hell with first one boot and then another.
He was in the process of chewing on a recruit in the rank in front of mine when a
guy to my right, instead of holding “eyes front”, let his eyeballs shift to the action.
Big mistake! The DI forgot about the guy he had been working over and charged
through to confront the miscreant.
“What the f**k were you looking at, Sh*tbird?!!” He’s got his face shoved within
an inch of the recruit’s face.
“Sir! Nothing, Sir!”
“Bullsh*t!! You were looking at me, weren’t you?”
Busted. “Sir! Yes, Sir!”
“Why were you staring at me, Sh*tbird? Because you like me? Is that it?”
The recruit is nervous now. “Sir! No, Sir!”
The DI straightens up, the anger replaced by a quizzical look, a little hurt in his
voice. “What do you mean, you don’t like me? Why not? What’s not to like?” He
lifts his arms up, palms up and turns a circle. “Is it the way I dress?”
Now only a fool is going to criticize that uniform. “Sir! No, Sir!”
“So you like the way I dress?”
“Sir! Yes Sir!”
“And there’s no other reason you don’t like me?” A little edge is back in his voice.
“Sir! No, Sir!”
The Sergeant smiles. “So, you do like me?”
“Sir! Yes, Sir!”
Now a snarl. “Well, likin’ leads to lovin’, a**hole. And lovin’ leads to f**kin’! Do
you believe you’re going to f**k me, you worthless piece of sh*t?!!!
Thoroughly confused, the recruit croaks “Sir! No, Sir!”
The Sergeant is shocked again. “Why the hell not? What have I done? What
happened to likin’ and lovin’? Do you think you’re too damned good for me?”
The boot’s head is spinning. “Sir! No, Sir!”
“So, you DO think you would f**k me?”
“Sir! No, Sir!”
A malevolent look comes over the Sergeant’s face. “Well, you got that right, sh*t-
for-brains! If anybody around here is going to get f**ked over, it sure as hell ain’t
going to be me. And the next time I see you eyeballin’ this…” and he sweeps with
both hands down his body, “instead of having your eyes forward where they
belong, I will f**k over you and there ain’t gonna be any romance in it! Are we
clear?”
“Sir! Yes, Sir!”
Like I said, no correct answers.

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Trautwein’s Marines

Captain Trautwein was the C.O. of Charlie Co., 1/1 in late 1968. I arrived in country in early October 1968 and this story takes place during my first day out in field, Dodge City south of Da Nang. As we were sweeping through knee high grass and bushy tree lines we came under fire from a tree line across a grassy field. Captain Troutwein shouted for the company to move forward to a dike in the middle of the field. That grassy field had 8 inches of water on either side of the dike and we proceeded to lay down in the water behind the dike. For several minutes 5 or 6 Viet Cong raked us with AK fire. Suddenly, Captain Trautwein stood up, calm as a cucumber. Now, you need to know about Captain Trautwein. He was an enlistedman in World War II and Korea. He has been promoted to officer ranks sometime between Korea and Vietnam. From my vantage point behind the ten inch dike laying in 8 inches of water, the Captain was silhouetted against the morning sun. He withdrew his .45 and yelled, “Sergeants, get you men on their feet and prepare to assault!” We all thought, “WHAT THE H___?” But, all the sergeants got up and started yelling and kicking Marines. “Get on you feet!” The Marines around me jumped to their feet and started hooping and hollering like crazy indians, so I followed suit. Then, just as calmly as when he stood up, Captain Trautwein bellowed, “Assault!” We lit up that treeline with everything we had, as fast as we could. When we got to the treeline we found only sandal prints and expended cartridges. Months later when recounting this story to some new arrivals, one of the Marines who was present that day explained what I had missed. As we swept we had pre-arranged artillery missions planned all around us. In particular, if we were hit, we would call in a barrage that rolled towards us upon the enemy. Captain Trautwein knew this, but more importantly so did the Viet Cong. They knew they only had 6 or 7 minutes to give us their best shot before artillery started raining down on them. So, when Captain Trautwein stood up the Viet Cong had already started running to our flanks away from the artillery. That assault was a military necessity and also a moral building stagecraft. Anyway, when we reached the treeline we were elated and high on adrenaline. Thank you, Captain Trautwein!

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Platoon 3050 MCRD Parris Island

I went through boot camp back in 1984, and was assigned to 3rd Bn, Plt 3050. We had moved out to the rifle range and were staying at the barracks out there. One day while we were out there we were all standing on line in front of our racks while the Senior DI walked down the squad bay . Standing directly across from me was recruit Seals. Unknown to me at that time was that recruit Seals had a lower plate of false teeth. As the Senior DI (S/Sgt Wallace) passed by in front of me, and looking in my direction. Recruit Seals started flicking his false teeth out of his mouth. The sight of this caused me to laugh, and also caused recruits Reese and Elison to laugh as they were standing on either side of me and could see what Seals was doing in their peripheral vision. S/Sgt Wallace then stopped and asked why I was laughing and I responded, “Sir, no reason sir”. He also asked Reese and Elison and got the same reply. Needless to say we were sent to the Quarterdeck for remedial PT. The next day, same scenario, S/Sgt Wallace walking down the squad bay and recruit Seals does the same thing causing me, Reese, and Elison to start laughing again. Again asked why we are laughing and again told him “Sir, no reason sir”. Once again sent to Quarterdeck for an even longer remedial PT session. After that session we went back to recruit Seals and asked him to stop as we were tired of getting remedial PT from him making us laugh. Well the next day same scenario. S/Sgt Wallace is walking down the squad bay and we are all standing on line. Recruit Seals was not smart enough to quit while he was ahead and just as the Senior DI passed me, he spun around and caught recruit Seals with his fake teeth hanging out of his mouth. Once again I started laughing, as did Elison and Reese. At the sight of Seals standing there with his teeth hanging out, S/Sgt Wallace put his head down so the brim of his cover would conceal the fact he was laughing, he walked straight back to the DI hut. After several minutes he reemerged (I assume he needed a couple minutes to compose himself and get his military bearing back) he called recruit Seals to the Quarterdeck for some remedial PT. After that there were no more such incident from recruit Seals.

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