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Hill 488

In reference to GySgt. Howard and his 1st Recon team: I was at PI in June 1966 and our Sr. DI called us together in a “school circle” and read /told us about the fight that They were in. By the time he finished, we were some Gung Ho recruits. One year later after radio school I found myself checking in to the very same unit our DI told us about. 1st Recon was my home for the next 13 months.

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Cold MCRD San Diego

This is in response to a posting about boot camp in San Diego, I went through Dec.’68 – Feb.’69. We were also in quancet huts, 4 to a platoon, one for each squad. It was extremely cold at night and we were not allowed to light the kerosene heaters in the middle of the huts. As a result we all were sicker than hell. I remember them giving us some magic red syrup that somehow cured us fast. I often think that this and the additional rough treatment had much to do with the fact we were all from the L.A. area, and worts of all DRAFTEES! I do think the DI’s were all blown away as they had never experienced this phenomenon. But, to their amazement, we ended up not only being the best platoon they had ever had, but we were the Honor Platoon! So, I guess the harsh treatment paid off in the long run for both the DI’s and us as we proved our worth no matter what they threw at us!

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Only Difference

I was an early Vietnam Marine (’65-’65). I was a Combat Engineer and worked out of Carmon Bay. To this day I have disagreements with people about Navy Corpsman.

Here is the way I explain it and when they hear this they say no more. The only difference between a Corpsman and a Marine is they wore Navy Rank on a Marine uniform. As far as Marines went they were part of us. They deserve all the honor that goes to the Marines. They fought alongside of Marines, they died with Marines. They are, as far as I am concerned, Marines.

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I’ll remember my Drill Instructor – Parris Island – 17 Mar 1966 – 17 May 1966

In the times before e-mail and Google, keeping in touch with my drill instructors would not have been very practical. I know that on the day my platoon departed Parris Island, my opinion of the men who had done so much to inflict mental and physical discomfort on all of us had suddenly evolved into the realization that their work had the primary goal of putting Marines on the bus whereas they had greeted us as much lower life forms just 8 weeks prior. When each of them, GySgt Gentile, SSgt Floyd, and Sgt Anderson said their good byes, it really was a big thing to hear them each refer to us as “MARINE” for the first time. They regarded us all as brothers from that moment on……. I wouldn’t believe that any of my new Marine Brothers would have been bold enough to as for the DIs’ mailing information. Maybe if we could have went to the slop shute for a beer or two with them….. that was in early May of 1966.
In May 1968 I was working at my MOS ( Aviation Electrician) on the tarmac in the Danang terminal area where my squadron of C-130 aircraft operated. Sub Unit 1 of VMGR 152 transported personnel and supplies into Marine combat bases in the north of Viet Nam. The return flights from Khe Sahn, Quang Tri, Dong Ha, etc were very often loaded with the green bags containing bodies of the heroes who would not go home as they had come there. One day I spotted in amazement, SSgt Floyd coming toward me on the flight line. I recognized him from about 50 yards. Since he was Force Recon Marines and I was working in a green skivvy shirt, no cover and pretty greasy, it took a minute before he acknowledged that I had been one of his boots some two years prior. I had a tremendous feeling of reunion in that moment and was amazed to learn from him that this was his second tour in Nam since our last parting in PI. He also mentioned that he had been in touch with Sgt Anderson, who was in a Naval hospital in Japan, recovering from wounds for a second time since I left him at PI. So he had maintained comms with his fellow DI, but they were evidently in country at the same time although in different units.
Now fast forward to about May of 2014. The internet and a web sites that was created for the purpose of enabling Marines to locate their brothers over time and distance, (TogetherWe Served.com), gave we the tool to research my DI’s. I found that MSgt Floyd was now retired and lives near Camp Le Jeune, NC. I actually got his phone and called him. I learned that he retired after 20 in the Corps and then went into law enforcement and eventually retired from that career. He did share with me that he had contact with several Marine he had DI’d through Parris Is. But I gathered that these were Marine who had come into his Force Recon unit, or nearby, and they therefore has been able to sit for a few beers. I have contacted several Marines using the site mentioned. These were mostly the guys I served with in various location, Okinawa, Danang, El Toro, Beaufort, Jacksonville, etc.
This is not a say that all Marines follow my pattern. I would bet that there are more connections made today from boot to Marine to Drill Instructor.

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Mess Duty

I wonder if any other Marine experienced this. I went through boot in the early 70s back when 1st Bn was in Quonset Huts. I had always thought San Diego was nice and sunny even in the winter but if you went through boot around December until March you realize how cold it can get when the breeze comes in from the Ocean. Several recruits in my platoon, myself included, had really bad cold bordering on Pneumonia. To get to gist of my story when the platoon pulled mess duty the Di’s had us swipe stuff from the mess hall. I remember seeing a case of steaks and hams loaded into the back of the Di’s car. I often wondered if this was a test to see whether or not us lowly recruits would obey orders and pilfer food or if it was just plain theft brought on by the recruits fear of punishment if they did not obtain the requested items. Did anyone else experience this? On another note the platoon next to us swiped a sheet cake and disposed of the cake pan in a dumpster. They paid for that. Severely!

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A Voice Bellowed

August 1969 I was preparing to start college while working in a steel mill. At 18 years old this seemed a hard way to get ahead. With out thinking too far ahead I went to the Armed forces recruiter station to join the Navy. I figured how hard can the Navy be (my apologies to all the Docs I certainly know better know how great you guys are). The Navy recruiter was out too lunch and a voice bellowed from the back of the room he will be back shortly have a seat. I am ashamed I don’t remember his name but he was the most squared away looking man I had met in my young life, A Staff Sergeant in the United States Marines. Needless to say while he ate his lunch at his desk we decided the Marines might be just the challenge I was looking for.

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Da Nang PX

I remember it well also it was at the foot off Hill-327. I spent many sundays trucking Marines to the PX and Beer Garden there. Had more than a few there myself and even met one of my drill instructors there. The thing that I remember the most about the beer garden is that it was huge and always full of service personel from all branches and we all had to check our weapons in at the door. Also a great place to appropriate a new jeep or 5 ton from the Army to give the mechanics something to paint MC green and put new TAC marks on.

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The FLIGHT LINE

Every day flying the H-37 “Deuce” was not without some sort of adventure for the Flight Crew of this particular series helicopter. Some of the events that transpired were planned and some were not.

I recall one incident that happened on the way flying back from, I think it was Florida from a place then known in the Aviation Field as PAR (Periodic Aircraft Rebuild) I think that was what it stood for, except we used to call it (Paint And Return) because that’s about all they did at that time. Anyway, when we received the Aircraft at NAS Jacksonville it had all the windows and hatches installed. Just like it came out of the factory.

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Muddy Waters

The recent medal for bravery that I received for actions in Vietnam along the banks of the Song Vu Gia River while trying to save a wounded Marine has received an invitation from Pat Boone to meet him while he is in Chattanooga this month. The connection between Mr. Pat Boone and I goes back to his wonderful song “Moody River”. This song was playing on the radio at the time I was serving in Vietnam. It was my favorite song.

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New Years 1960

We ( VMA- 121) were aboard the Coral Sea on New Years 1960. We had been at sea for two weeks or so, and expected a great liberty to bring in the New Year. My section caught the duty, so we were aboard that first night in port. At some dark hour that New Years Day morning, the Bosun piped over the speaker, “All hands go to your sea duty stations” ! Looking around our compartment, most of the bunks were empty. We really weren’t going anywhere, most of our guys were missing. After a very short nap, we were blasted again. This time it was the ships’ exec, who admonished that all hands were to go to their sea duty stations, as we were getting underway, immediately. Those of us who were there, dressed and went topside, awaiting further word.

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