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FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM

From a young age, 1st Sgt. Gilbert G. Oshana knew he wanted to serve his country. He wanted to give back to the nation that had given him so much and had blessed his family. Oshana’s love for the United States and desire to serve led him to enlist in the Marine Corps, and his love for his country has continued to grow throughout his years of service.

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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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Veteran steals truck, transports dozens to hospital after Las Vegas shooting

Taylor Winston had remarkable poise less than 24 hours after Sunday night’s deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music concert. The Marine veteran ran from danger after a sniper opened fire on the crowd, but instead of leaving, he drove more than two dozen victims to the hospital.

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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.

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Toughest Old Bird

SSgt J.L. Stelling was my Platoon Commander in 1968. After the first two weeks living in tents, we were the first platoon to be welcomed to the new High rise barracks in San Diego. SSgt J.L. Stelling introduced himself from the top floor while we were outside washing our clothes. From that point on Boot Camp became a whole lot more interesting. He was bad, though, and scared the sh-t out of everyone. The other two D.I’s were p-ssies. SSgt Stelling demanded perfection in everything we did. As a platoon, we won every streamer except the two PT streamers. Believe me, it was hell to pay to the bitter end for not winning them all. Graduating as Honor Platoon we still weren’t good enough to eat with a fork or knife, nor was the smoking lamp lit before we boarded the Busses for Camp Pendleton. He had us by the short hairs to the bitter end. I went from scared, to hating him, to total respect. Before leaving boot camp, I became salty and had developed a mental toughness that I have kept to this day thanks to SSgt Stelling. “There’s always that 10%, there is no excuse, and always do your last order first”. The civilian world hated these Stelling quotes which I live by. He is by far the toughest old bird I’ve ever had the privilege to have known. To this day I still don’t like eating with a spoon.

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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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2nd Fumble, Stumble, Stagger and Gag

The name of the exercise has changed from ‘CAX’ (Combined Arms Exercise) to ‘Mojave Viper’ (If I’m up to date on that… no guarantees), but it involves infantry battalions, plus attachments and re-enforcements, moving to the Air-Ground Combat Training Center… or whatever they call that particular chunk of California Mojave desert… more commonly known as ’29 Palms’ or, ‘The Stumps’. There might be as many as ten of these exercises in a year, and were about half and half First and Second Division evolutions.

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Act On Instinct

I recall one day at PISC, we were lunging into the hanging dummy with fixed bayonet. The 2nd Lt did not like the way I growled so after the third time he had the platoon form a circle around him and then he called me into the center with him and growled at me saying he was going to show me how to do that. Then he came at me with the rifle and bayonet aimed at me. I do not remember what I did but I took the weapon away from him and had him on the ground while bouncing the rifle butt into his groin.

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