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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31 thoughts on “Mess Duty”

  1. The drill instructor was teaching the recruits the fine art of stealing. Marines don’t always get what they need when in combat zones.
    When I was in Vietnam we stole paint from the Army so we could paint our mount out boxes. Also we stole several trucks. Maybe
    the Drill Instructor was feeding the homeless. Ha. Semper Fi

  2. As a drill instructor ’71-’72 I did not see this happening,but I knew there were drill instructors who were capable of such things.We had rules to go by and stealing from our own was frowned on.I was with “A” co.Quonset huts were our barracks until we moved to moved to new barracks during my second or third plt.

  3. I to went through San Diego and had to work in the officers mess during boot camp (May1955) and got caught eating a helping of fresh strawberries & shortcakes after mess was over during clean up. My punishment was to keep eating strawberries until I got sick. After several helpings I acted as though I was about to barf and that was that. Really enjoyed the extra helpings and had a good laugh to myself how I finally pulled one over on my DI.

  4. Parris Island, 1954: Never experienced that, but after we qualified with the M-1 Garand, platoons were required to pull one week of mess duty at the chow hall at the rifle range. Late one night, the senior mess Sgt., a sadistic bastard, lined us up on the loading deck behind the kitchen and started harassing us and talking to us like we were a bunch of idiots. D.I. Conklin was checking our quonset huts at that time and asked section leader Tescar, “where are the rest of my turds?” Tescar said the mess Sgt. had them on the loading deck at the chow hall. When Conklin was coming up behind the mess Sgt., I thought this ought to be interesting! About the time our D.I. got within hearing range, the Mess Sgt. asked us if we had anybody who thought they could whip his ass and if so, step forward. Of course, nobody volunteered! S/Sgt. Conklin then said, “Sgt., what are you doing to my turds?” Step down here if you want your ass kicked!” You could have heard a pin drop! The mess Sgt. nearly pissed his trousers and started shaking. We were told to secure and route step to our huts. Conklin told the Sgt. “don’t ever let this happen again or you’ll have to deal with me. We all had a lot of respect for S/Sgt. Conklin after that. Hell! I loved the man!

  5. This is what we called MIDNITE REQUISTIONING!!! This wasn’t food, but items needed to keep operations moving. It came in use frequently in Korea because it seemed the army and air force guys had more than adequate supplies. It also came in use in civilian duty in my line of work for an airline. When parts were badly needed for a grounded airplane due to lack of parts, a visit was made to their stock rooms. All major airlines used this system as needed to keep the aircraft flying. We just accepted it.

  6. MCRD-SD, Plt 2079, graduated 1 Nov ’73. We moved out of the barracks and into the Quonset huts while on Mess Duty. I was the Scullery Honcho and we would steal uneaten fruit off the trays thrown into the window and shove them into our mouths as fast as we could so we wouldn’t get caught. Occasionally the cooks would bring trays of pies with slices out of them back to us to legally eat as “treats”. Don’t know if the Drill Instructors knew that the cooks were feeding us. Thanks Cooks!

  7. “Midnight requisitioning” was what we called it. I was with Marine Composite Reconaissance Squadron One (VMCj-1) in 1964-65 and we deployed to Kadena Air Force Base, practicing on Okinawa and later in the Philippines (Cubi Point / Subic Bay). We were rehearsing for our later service in Danang, Vietnam, but we knew nothing of that of course until March 1965. We used the Air Force photo lab to process our aerial photo reconaissance film, and we discovered that the Air Force never locked up their film locker. Now, we Marines were short on the 5 inch wide film for our reconaissance cameras we used in the RF-8A Crusader photo recon jets, so the evening before our squadron flew back to Iwakuni, Japan, where we were based, we cleaned out the film locker, leaving only a few 500 foot rolls just inside the door. We also comandeered a good amount of film processing chemicals, We were still using the film and chemicals we had ‘midnight requisitioned’ some months later when we arrived in Danang to use the aerial reconnaissance skills we’d sharpened in Okinawa and the Philippines.

  8. Enlisted in Sept 1970 (Platoon 1129) spending quality time in those Quonset huts. We took our turn with KP. Remember baking the bacon in the oven and cleaning the serving line. Then off to class. Damn that was a while ago!

  9. I was at MCRD San Diego Co B 3rd Bn in Dec. 72. We were in those Quonset Huts and I still remember how cold they were, we didn’t to the barracks until third phase.

  10. I was at MCRD San Diego in 66 and never saw or heard of that. We were too busy learning to survive Vietnam. I was with Fox 2/9 and did raid supply tents for extra food for next patrol at Cam Lo, Dong Ha,, Camp Carroll and other assorted garden spots. WIA and medi-vaced to SS Repose, Japan, and Great Lakes.

    1. I was with F/2/9, and was medi vacd out after being wounded the morning of July5th 1967,I didn’t get to know anyone in the short time I was there,I remember never being able to sleep for more then a few hours at a time,while I was there, I was only there for 28 days until my father got a telegram that I was KIA.Thank you Lord and the marines and Medical staff that kept me and many others ALIVE.

  11. I was enlightened early on that “The Marines will steal the hair off a dog” and pressed forward to see it in action and also protect our junk from maurading bands of USMC hooligans. The only time the other guys got me, some weasel deicided he needed my watch more than I did at a remote FOB in AFG. I had left it with my PT’s and towel on the bench while I showered. It made for a real PITA to track movements. Next clip to Camp Dwyer I found a single watch at the PX and was back in business. I wore it in the shower for the rest of my deployments.

  12. I served from 1967 through 1971 in an F4 squadron and recall having to “borrow” some things. I also know for sure that my Marine uncle did! He was Sgt. Major A.M. Solis and being a 30 year Marine he was a master at this! As was well documented in the book, “Ground Attack Vietnam Nam – The Marines Who Controlled The Skies”. Authored by the C.O. of VMO-2, Co. J. M. Moriarty. The Col. said, “the Sgt. Major would disappear for days at a time but we didn’t dare ask where he’d been because he always brought something good back!”. My uncle also told me stories of his clandestine procurement adventures and the treasures he’d bring back for his Marines! A lot of the treasures were “borrowed” from the Air Force since they had the most and the best of everything! We served our beloved Corps in the same time frame but sadly not in the same outfits. Coincidentally I went back to college after my four years of service and spent the rest of my working life as Purchasing Director of several companies, retiring from the Texaco Research Labs. And yes, my Marine Corps training made me the successful “borrower” that I became so that my coworkers always had the best of everything AND within budget! Semper Fi and RIP Sgt. Major Uncle Tony!

  13. CWO-05 Harting, B.F. Force Recon Company, Pathfinder Team #42. P I boot camp in 10/1956 was not like that.

    1. My brother Bob,(Robert A Connly) was a D I At Parris Island At the time you were there! I was a Recruit! Plt 295 3rd Bn. from September thru November.

  14. Knives, forks, spoons privates! I was a chief cook and also in charge if the storeroom. We had continual inventory, before and after each meal. Yes, little things went “missing” but a case of steaks?! That would have only happened with the chief cook’s blessing. Sorry guys, but every thing was accounted for to the slice of bread!

  15. Unfortunately, not all Marines are wonderful human beings, as I wrote in my funny book, “SH*TBIRD! How I Learned to Love the Corps.” ( It’s one thing to steal something that another outfit has in excess in order to complete the mission and keep your guys safe. It’s quite another for a DI to steal food from the mess hall that most likely went home with him for his next beer bust. A thief that will steal personal gear from his own guys is just worthless. We had a staff sgt. armorer whose work hootch was in the supply warehouse. He stole everything he could get his hands on- field jackets, blankets, sheets, etc. – and sold it outside Camp Pendleton. Everyone in our section knew he was a thief except for our Lt., I guess.

  16. I had the same experience .My D.I. called me into the duty hut and asked What was served on top of the cottage cheese ? I replied pineapples SIR..He said that he wanted a gallon sized can and if I got caught he would not refuse to accept any responsibility or blame for the matter.He enjoyed pineapple slices for weeks after that .Fortunately I did not get caught .

  17. MCRD San Diego, Jan-Feb 1983, Plt 1017. Yes, it gets cold there. I spent a week at Balboa N.H. with pneumonia and got recycled to First RTBn. from Third. In 83 Mess/Maint. duty took place during second phase at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton. I got stuck in the scullery washing trays and flatware. One of my JDI’s (I won’t mention his name, but his initials are Sgt. Strauss) tried to prompt me with a piece of chocolate cake. He slid it in the small opening meant for trays and proceeded to tell me how he brought it just for me because I “deserve it”. With a bit of probing on his part, I reluctantly walked over and took possession of the afore mentioned cake. He was overjoyed when I picked up a fork and looked him in the eye. They say no good deed goes unpunished and his pride turned to anger when I pushed the cake into the sh!tcan with the fork and proceeded to put both plate and fork in the sink to rinse. Never heard a word about it afterward.

  18. Looking at most of the dates of boot camp, I feel ancient; as a Reservist activated in July 1950, I eventually got to MCRDep, SDiego, from Marine Barracks, Naval Station, in April 1951, assigned to the 3dRTBn, slept in 8-man pyramidal tents; senior DI was Sgt John Medas, with Cpl William Ockert (WIA Korea), and PFC Alan Bipes. Because my MOS was 0143, after graduation, I was assigned to work in the Bn office; promoted to Cpl in August..

  19. I can understand why a boot would think his moral values & powers of deductive reasoning could apply and then thinking it sensible to make snap moral judgements about his DI’s, it’s because he’s gutsy, that’s why he joined our Corps. He’ll get past his arrogance and find out the conversation went more like this; Chow hall Staff; Yeah Gunny, after we have chow, we’ll have a few steaks & hams left over, check the cooler, some of your ladies can carry them out for you for And yeah, my tour started 2/8/60 at my MCRD home. Plt 208. Not sure why, evidently the tension by my drill Instructors kept me distracted, warm, so my memories do not recall the cold in the Huts or on the obstacle course, the grinder, stayed focused and all it took was one rifle butt off my shoulder slammed into my ear. Wish I could recall my WW2 DI”s names. SEMPER FI MARINES.

  20. In 68 three of us drove from our compound to the SeaBee rock crusher base north of DaNang and lifted some lumber into a six by,took it to our CAP unit and built a new sh*tter. Within a few days of comletion,it suffered a direct hit from incoming bad guy mortar round. God was punishing us???

  21. I certainly remember the Freedom Hill PX, the Bar Garden, and the Bank (of America??) where you could cash checks, money orders etc., yep believe it or not. As I recall we Marines under E-6 in rank could not purchase hard booze, however the other military branches, even a Pvt could (such bullshit). I also recall the day in 1969 when the Ammo dump close to Freedom Hill caught fire and that’s all she wrote. My unit (26th Marines, rear area) was located a ways from the Freedom Hill at Resurrection City. When the dump went boom it was within minutes or maybe even seconds, the concussion wave blast came rolling over the hilltops. The “mushroom” like cloud went up 100+ feet, we had no idea what happened or if this was doomsday for us all!! Luckily, within a few minutes word was passed. Not only was the PX gone, so was the R&R Processing center, and I believe part or all of 1st Force Recon (could be wrong about that), “Dog Patch” was leveled as well. Probably have forgot some others over time.

    1. My above reply was not meant for this story’s’ posting – it should have been posted in the “Freedom Hill PX” story. I apologize for my screw-up.

  22. When my Platoon Series were at Edson Range, (Platoons 1093, 94, 95 & 96), the head Chief Corkscrew and Bottle Washer of the range Mess Hall had a talk with those of us on mess duty. This would have been a day or 2 before our KP assignment was completed. More or less a “shake down” for $$ and in exchange for a “good word” to our Senior DI (SSgt Dennis). Word got back to SSgt Dennis and we were paid a visit by the Base JAG office for our statements. Not sure what action took place after we left Edson and back to Quonset huts @SD.

  23. I also was in 1st Bn boot camp in the Quonset huts at MCRD SD but in the summer of 1966 (it wasn’t cold); however, our platoon drew maintenance duty. I cleaned rooms in the BOQ for that week. The only time I remember any food taken was on the ship heading for Vietnam in January 1967. We managed to get at least one pie and a handful of spoons out of the officer’s mess on our way to or from mess duty on the ship (Walker).

  24. in 66 i was on the gen.leroy eltinge.on the way to the laundry where i worked, i passed the merchant marines mess. I borrow any donuts left on the table. I think the cook knew this because after a while there was a towel next to them to wrap them in. never did get a chance to thank him

  25. If you remember, the 6th Marines did some serious requisitioning of M 1 Garands from the Army during the fighting in the islands during WW II. Worked better than the Johnsons. Was it stealing or just good supply methods?

  26. Damn it Marines do not steal…we acquire the equipment we need. My heart goes out to Cpl Snow…US Army in Desert Storm, we needed a trailer for Sta platoon, so I took my Police Sgt and company clerk to an army depot, we told the we need fuel and supplies, while I chatted up the Army Supply Sgt, my Two Marines went found a trailer and hooked it up. They picked me up with the supplies I got and we left. When we returned to the cp I told the to unload the trailer and paint over the numbers…about 15 minutes later, the clerk come to and says Gunny you need to see this, what we had was a sea bag full of 782 gear, all marked P. Snow, sets of BDU’s, personal gear, two cases of 81mm WP, two cases of K Rates (large tins of different meals that feeds 10, supposedly). All I could think about, as we gave the mortar rounds to weapons company and divide up the gear and chow…was that morning some Cpl is on the spot because he lost his gear. As we wound down the motor t officer came over and said…Gunny we can’t turn that trailer in, it’s not on our equipment list….so we gave it back to the Army….sort of, thank you Lcpl ***** and Cpl ****** ( names deleted to protect the guilty) GySgt King.

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