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John Glenn, American space-race hero, dead at age 95

Over the long arc of John Glenn’s life, it proved impossible to ever ask him to do something for his country. No matter the mission, no matter the risk, he had already stepped forward, his hand raised, his jaw set, ready to go.

Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, and later a four-term U.S. senator from Ohio, died Thursday at the Ohio State Cancer Center. He was 95.

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Wimp to Whack!

I was the typical high school nerd! I minded my own business, was not very social, and dreaded confrontations from bullies. One particular bully—let’s call him Harry—enjoyed exercising his rather assertive and tough nature against me on several occasions during my senior year (1966). In September of that year, I received my induction orders from Uncle Sam (the mandatory draft was in effect due to the Vietnam War) and I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. I was sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, on January 2, 1967 (Happy New Year!). Suffice it to say that during my training I was remolded from a wimp to a man in short order.

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Remebering MCRDSD

Just like our fellow recruit that attended MCRDSD, it was a privilege to have gone through boot camp to become a Marine. Having been the only Japanese American in the siries Battalions in 1959, it was sure strange. Many of the senior DI’s were WW11 and Korean War veterans. Yes, I was “thumped” a few times for doing the wrong things at the wrong time.. What recruits go through today is too simple and easy. The only rough part was a junior DI that lost his older brother on Iwo Jima, and boy did I get his hatred as a Japanese recruit in the Marine Corps. The funniest part of bootcamp was when I spilled a pitcher of water all over a DI from the 2nd Battalion. My DI’s laughed about it until graduation. Boot camp toughen me up for what was to come from 1959-1968, Lastly, my grandson fought in iraq and Afganistan and I currently have a greatgrandson deployed. Semper Fi to all Marines from the past, now and into the Corps future!!!!

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Christmas Stories

In December of 1992, I picked up LCpl after 9 months in the Corps. I was ten feet tall, and very proud. I remember calling my dad and telling him. (He was a swabbie) My unit 3d LAR Bn was on alert for “immediate deployment” and our gear was packed. I was only 18 years old, and had never been so far away from home. I was about to be even farther from home than I would imagine. It was about 1300 and the advance team was in a meeting at Bn CP. (Along with my newly found promotion, my head couldn’t have been any larger since I was also part of the advance team. Boy, wasn’t I salty?) All of a sudden, Lt Col Neller slammed open the door and told us to get our gear, our rifles, and report to the grinder in front of the chow hall. (Lt Col Neller had been rooting for a chance to go and deploy his unit ever since I got there in August, so it was small wonder he delivered the news himself).

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He Was an Old Salt

Since the Corpsmen used to give us short arm inspections, we use to call them pecker checkers. Of course if you needed one he was Sir. I smashed my right index finger under a 20 MM box of ammo and it was swelled up and black and blue and killing me.  I went to see the Corpsman as I needed some relief. He had a big paper clip which he unwound so as to have a single round piece sticking out. He held it over a Zippo until it was red hot and put it to my finger nail. When it burnt it’s way through it went straight to the bone and the blood flew all over and I let out a yell that could be heard all the way to Po Hang Dong, down by the sea. After the blood let up the pressure was off and so was the pain. I had to hold it above my heart for a few days as every time my heart beat it would throb. I also had a few stitches put in by the same Doc and he should have been a surgeon. He was an old salt with tattoos from one end to the other but he knew his business. I was told he was a hold over from the Island campaigns.

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Drill Instructor do have a heart and passion

I started boot camp MCRD SD Feb 5th 1960. My Di’s were Sgt Hardy and Sgt Harr, very tough and rough Marines. I was the youngest and the smallest in my plt. 216. Needless to say I got a lot of attention and none of it good. They used to grab me by my stacking swivel (my adams apple) and squeeze and ask me the eleven general orders and other things. Also they would stand in front of us when at attention and hit us in the stomach hard. Before we went to Camp Mathews we did a px call, we all had to buy chewing tobacco and we found out later why. They said that the smoking lamp would not be lit at Mathews, that was fine with me because I didn’t smoke anyway. So why the chewing tobacco?

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General Ray Davis and the Tiger

“Corporal Reeves! Get your gear and follow me” the Gunny said as I hung sleepily onto a dream I was having of cool mountain streams, awaking to Gunny Randall’s course Drill Instructors voice out side my squad’s earth bermed hooch at Quang Tri Combat Base. Home of the Third Marine Division, Republic of Viet Nam 1968. I had injured my back falling out of a helicopter into elephant grass on a nameless hill near Khe Sanh. I was not hurting much now so the Gunny had made me the commanding officer’s driver and radioman. I went over to the motor pool with the Gunny.

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Thanksgiving 1966

As I sit and reminisce of where I was on Thanksgiving Day, 1966, this is what comes to mind: Mike Co 3/5 was on 3 hills west of Chu Lai. One platoon was on each hill. I was in 81 mortar attached to one of those platoons. It was the monsoon season. The hilltop had been stripped of all vegetation. The mud was so deep that you mired up halfway to the top of your boots. I had eaten C-ration for over a month. No hot messhall food at all during this time, not even on the Marine Corps birthday because we were in the field on Operation Mustang. If I remember correctly, a chopper came in with our birthday treat, a can of nuts and a slice of cake.

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