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Sgt Grit American Courage Newsletter #21

Sarge, Bad living conditions? These people should live in the Pendleton brig for a couple of months, not that I would know anything about that. Fank Biddick, USMC, Ret

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Good grief!!!

Complaining about living conditions? Ask those that have left the comforts of state side barracks or any other marine base and wound up defending our country living off the gear on their backs.

Who the hell are these people that think the Corp should be a spa?

Don't let your sons grow up to be Marines. Let them be soldiers, or sailors or airmen! I've met the man - and think Willie would agree.

Kurt Klein, 1557082, 1956-57
Yeah. Old, and STILL a Marine

Sgt Grit
I've been reading you news letter for several months now and frankly I'm getting kind of P*SSED at some of the things that people are b*tching about concerning the living conditions that the NEW MARINES are forced to endure.  Come on give me a break.  I don't consider myself and old timer. I never served a day in conflict. But I do remember what the base's and barracks were like.  Clean, no matter how old they were. I was proud to have lived there. That's
where the old timers of my day once lived and I was just glad to be able to walk where they walked. I enjoyed the open squad bays. That's where "we as Marines Bonded" got to know one another and began to trust and rely on each ether. Built friendships and brotherhoods.  Lets pass on the living conditions for a moment.  I remember when the grass (if there was grass) was always cut.  If not the dirt or sand was always raked.  The rocks were all freshly painted and in nice orderly rows.  The streets were clean and free from trash or cigarette butts.  And no matter how old the buildings were, they were clean and maintained.  BUT in the last few years I've had the opportunity to be able to travel and visit these  Marine Corps Bases.  And what I found was very disturbing.  I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Camp Pendleton CA, (Camp Horno) and KMCAS Hawaii. (which is no longer the Brigade, KMCAS its KMCB) These bases are trashed BIG TIME I walked along the streets and the grass was 6 to 10 inches tall. Trash and cigarette butts were all over the place.  Nothing had a fresh coat of paint on it.  The rocks around the flag poles were in disarray, I couldn't believe it.  Who is responsible for this?  I think that the CMC should re-think the whole idea of these new barracks and go back to the squad bays.  I'm sure that the Marines of today (male and female) are as proud and as deserving of the title of Marines as we were.  But I don't see the pride in the Bases of today. I think that the new barracks of today are taking away the UNIT and replacing it with the "ME". I hope that I'm wrong.  All of the barracks that I once lived are now gone. Oh Well...

Well I'll get off my soap box. Semper Fi! to all
Mike England, SSGT USMC, 1974 to 1985.
Gulf 2/3, India 3/3, Bravo 1/2, MP Co., Gulf 2/2,
Recruiting Duty, Charlie 1/1, Charlie 1/9 and
Headquarters Squadron Cherry Point. N.C.

Sgt Grit,
I would like to respond to Mr Sellin on his comments about the Air Force.  Before I fly off the handle, I'm not disputing what he had to say about the quality of Marine life 'back in the day'.  I'm still young enough to 'respect my elders', and I know when to speak up and when to shut up.  I'm speaking up on the point that he seems to think the Air Force has maid service and a 6 am wake up call.  I'm here to tell him he's wrong.  I'm in the USAF...but I'm also a Marine wife and I'm quite a feisty one at that.  I've heard all the jokes about the 'Chair-force'... and 'hey, zoomie'..etc.  Yes, the Air Force can brag that they have the 'better force'...and 'air power is decisive'....but I've spent more time living in either Army barracks, hooches, leaky tents or THRICE condemned 'antediluvian' Air Force OTS 'dorms'...(those of you who've been to Medina Annex,Tx know what I mean). I've yet to find that awesome Air Force base with maid service...and wake up calls...If he knows where I can find this awesome quality of life, I would gladly trade spots with him...just send him to Korea.  Quite honestly, I would give up that 'lap of luxury' life he thinks we have in the Air Force to have the camaraderie and respect for your 'brothers' that you all have in the Corps (not to mention the dress you think all of us LIKE looking like smurfs or flight attendants?).  But you know, we all had the same choices of branch of service when it was 'our time'.  It's just that some of us chose the branch with simple uniforms and a slow promotion rate.  Above and beyond that, we're all DOD.  When I put on my BDU's (cammies for you guys) I'm proud.  I may not be out there making the grass grow with blood, blood, blood....but don't tell me I'm not belt-fed.  My living conditions have nothing to do with how I do my job.  I'm away from my Marine, serving my country twice.  First as an Airman, second as a Marine wife.  In closing, I'd like to ask that before Mr Sellin takes a stab at his fellow 'DOD members'.... take a stab at the draft dodgers...those who aren't brave enough to serve...or think they're too good.  As for Jennifer, the poor girl was probably too shallow or materialistic to appreciate the honor of being seen with a Marine.  Most of the Marines I know are really selective about who they take out in public.  She'd probably never understand the sacrifices made for the freedom she enjoys. Her loss.
US Forces Korea

"To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." --George Washington

About the "modern" barracks.  At Khe Sanh in Jan 1968, I lived in a 7X10 bunker with 2 other Marines, and was dam proud to have that.  There was one 6 holer for about 120 men.  No one was interested in a shower because of the incoming.  C-rations were the chow, 2 packs a day.  I didn't smoke and saved my smokes to trade for "fruit cocktail".  Later in 1968 I once spent a night on ambush in a Typhoon with a poncho as shelter.  When someone starts telling me how tough they had it in the military I just smile.  There were a lot of Marines before me who had it tough.  They set
the standard for we who followed.
Sgt Walter E. Seneff 65-69

Hi sarge I read about civilians complaining about the living quarters, I was in P.I. in 1953 7th battalion and we slept in 6 man tents the whole time and it was winter nov. to jan. when I went to Force troops at geiger I was in quonset huts for the rest of the 3 years, never had a toilet in my living quarters the whole time even when I made sgt. and  I didn't hear anyone complain. It was hot in the summer and you froze in the winter and I didn't hear anyone complain.  We walked along way to get to the head and if it was winter it was pretty cold ,the  toilets were lined up, with nothing in between and the showers were the same way and no one
complained. When we were in the field we slept in shelter halves, shaved out of our helmets and no one complained so why are the people who were never marines complaining? great newsletter sarge thanks for the effort I know you have to put in. I belong to the marine league now and believe it or not we have a head in the building . I have a question sarge I asked you before and haven't found the answer for when did ooorah start ? never heard it when I
was in maybe one of the few out there could answer it for me thanks   sarge 53-56

The debate over living conditions is amusing. At Parris Island during the winter of 1962-63, Bravo Company, first Battalion (We never did find out what happened to Alpha Company. We were the first one in line), Each series of four platoons was housed in WWII era wooden barracks.  Several of the windows had panes missing. Each night, the first fire watch would stuff pillows in the holes, and the last fire watch would remove the pillows.  Finally the Drill Instructors found the pillows in the windows and began
screaming at us, asking why we did not tell them about the missing panes.  We explained that we thought making us cold was part of the harassment, and we decided not to tell the Drill Instructors.  The panes were replaced in short order. At the same time, we had no hot water in the showers.  Nobody told the Drill Instructors, and when they found out, we explained that we thought cold showers were just part of the harassment, so we just suffered through them.  Marine Corps food was always been very good and
plentiful. The only bad food I recall was at Camp Geiger, where we were in the Infantry Training Regiment. It was so bad that we refused to eat it and instead lived on peanut butter sandwiches and "sugar sandwiches" made by putting butter on bread and sprinkling sugar on it. We Southerners had to teach the yanks how to make sugar sandwiches; they had never heard of them!

L.A. Reynolds, SGT USMCR, 12 years.

Sgt. Grit:
I read with interest some of the comments regarding Camp Pendleton's living facilities for Marines.  I was stationed on Pendleton from 86-91, at Camp Horno and Main side (E 2/1, A 1/4 and later 1st SCAMP.)  During the first couple of years we lived in open squad bays and later moved into the 3-story BEQ's they built.  I can tell you that the squad bays did have some advantages over the 3-man rooms in that it made for a tighter-knit platoon, gear storage was not as much of an issue, and it wasn't as easy for the slackers to "hide".  In the BEQ's space was limited, they were not as easy to maintain (for cleanliness and serviceability), troops could slip away and sleep off their hangovers in between the racks, which was dead-space to an observing-through-the-hatch NCO, and the "common" areas such as the TV room and laundry facilities were always trashed because there was less perceived responsibility to maintain them.  BEQ's also encouraged some to carry their "unauthorized activities" within, due to the added privacy.  I vote for the squad bays... perhaps modernized versions, but they were better than BEQ's anyday in my opinion.
Semper Fi,
John C. Larson
Sgt. USMC 1985-1991
Commandant, Marine Corps League Chevron Det. 985


Dear Sgt. Grit,
         What is all this Bull about living conditions. I got out in 73 and never lived in anything but a Quonset hut, EXCEPT FOR 2 WEEKS AT THE RIFLE RANGE while in boot camp.  I visited Camp Pendleton in 2000, and 2001. My daughter is Married to a Marine and found things all changed for the better. Even the enlisted men's housing was great and the NCO housing super. When I was in the enlisted men's housing was in Oceanside in 3 story buildings that was built in 1900.   No one said being Marine was easy or being a Marines wife Being easy as my daughter found out!!  Ha. If you want every luxury join the Air Force or the Boy Scouts they are about the same???
     Semper Fi    Roger Hays
     Marble Hill Mo.

Sgt Grit the Gunny is now giving the word on
the time of the Silent Drill Teams performance at Rogers State College on 8 June 2002 the time is at 1600, or for the civilian side 4:00 PM.  Sergent would you please be kind enough to pass this along in your next news letter.
Thank You and SEMPER FI
GySgt. Ray Lancaster
USMC (ret) 71-94

Hi Sarge;
    Some Moms have yet to learn the graceful art of letting go, and must do so ,especially when her son Joins our beloved Corps. Things are not as bad as what they appear to be at that point in time. It is all part of the training that we as Marines have to go through in order to function as one under adverse conditions.  Right now it's all a cake walk if you want to compare it to the conditions that he will have to endure if he should have to go to war, which I hope he never does.  I went through  Paris Island  in August 66  Platoon 1042, by January 67 I was in the thickest of the fighting that was going on in nam. C rations was the order of the day ,ham and motha,s were the order of the day.  Not to many Marines wanted to eat them, but when it was all you had  to eat they weren,t all that bad.  every Marine should have at least one experience of eating one can of them .There were many days when we would have to ration our rations down to 2 meals a day eating on the run most of the time and walking many miles up and down the country side of vietnam washing our rations down with paddy water that we treated with iodine pills.  It still didn't stop the runs that you got when you drank this water yet we didn't complain.  Because that was the easy part of being over in Nam.  The other part of being over there was  that we had to get our asses shot up on many occasions spend many long hours out on ambushes in the rain and cold only to have to walk another 15 to 20 miles the following day that is
if you weren't pinned down by Charlie or some NVA.
   Many operations we went out on lasted weeks if not months before we would be aloud in to get a hot meal in our gut, then it was back out on another operation one stretch lasted 54 days when we had 3 operations one, a rough stretch. The air force frowned upon us using their mess hall any time we went into dong ha to use it.  their remarks were that we never showered, and that we stink with an ungodly odor. I was proud of who I was and what I smelled like because deep inside their minds they resented the fact that
they could never be me ,they had neither the guts nor the fortitude to be what it took to be me ,I was  and still am a Marine a proud Marine.  I  was wounded on operation Rush while walking point. and I am proud of every moment I spent in nam with my brothers, and would not trade my experience for anything, So if this woman has a problem with the living conditioned that her son has to endure, tell her that the best is yet to come if he is a Marine

Cpl. Joseph A. Francis 2266894  M.O.P.H.
F-Co, 2nd  Bn.  26th. Marines ( 0311 grunt)
Nam,Jan, 67 to  Feb, 68

Sgt Grit
Jim Parkhurst Delta Co. 1/5 1st Div.  VN 69/70
(Just a grunt)
Love your newsletter -- keep up the good work .  I'm an Airline Pilot now, which brings me to why I'm writing to you. I need your help in spreading the word.  Please go to and review the program.  This will explain why I'm writing.  Many of the pilots are combat proven military veterans, or like myself, former grunts who have proven ourselves in more than one firefight. Just as we did in our previous lives in green, we need the tools to protect the lives of those (including YOUR loved ones) entrusted to us.  Please go to the web site and review it and if you are in agreement I ask that you help spread the word to all the veterans who have served to protect this country and would do so again in an instant.  Thank you for your time.
Jim Parkhurst
U.S.M.C. Delta Co 1/5

Hi Sgt.,
I've meant to send this for at least a year. Maybe it is fitting now with the movie ''Windtalkers'' coming out.  If you are going to vacation in the Southwest US, you might stop in Kayenta Arizona and visit the Burger King there. Inside is a monument of display cases to the Navajo Code Talkers of WW II. Kayenta is located in extreme NW Arizona.  It is near such natural attractions at the Grand Canyon NP, Zion NP, Bryce NP, Mesa Verde NP, Canyon de Chelly NM, & Monument Valley on Highway 160.  I was amazed to find such a monument in Burger King.  It is great that it was done there in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation. Like other WW II Veterans their ranks are thinning with
the passage of time.
Semper Fi,
Ken Yarcho

Sgt. Grit:

I too recently attended the Peace Officer's Memorial in Washington as a member of the Cleveland, Ohio Police Honor Guard/Pipes and Drums.  Before arriving at D.C. my partner and I stopped by Quantico, where he was stationed with HMX.  We had the occasion to visit with his old barber and chat with a few of the young Marines now stationed there.  What memories it brought back for both us, specifically since I have been out of the Corps for eight years now.  I wanted to add to Austin, Texas Police Dept. Sergeant Mahoney's comments about the former and current Marines now in law enforcement.  As part of the ceremony at the Capital on May 15th, thousands of officers line a path which the survivors walk before taking their place in the seating area.  As soon as the first family walked through that security post, thousands of crisp hand salutes rose up as our solemn show of respect and thanks took hold.  They were the first of 32 buses of survivors, partners, and representatives of departments who had lost officers in 2001, that number of 235 the highest ever this year due to September 11th.  As the time went on, those salutes started to become somewhat unraveled, and in many cases just dropped so that officers could rest their arms, and admittedly, so did mine.  After saluting for about a half hour, and then resting for a few moments, I looked over and caught a group of Marines (perhaps MPs) in the alpha green dress barracks uniform, which I believe are only worn at Eighth and I.  There were two Master Gunnys, a Gunny, and I believe a Lance Corporal and a PFC.   Although everyone else was getting tired and losing focus, those five Marines remained just as crisp and unmoved as when those salutes first got popped up.  As a former Marine, I became embarrassed and got that arm back up and quit feeling sorry for myself, and it remained there until the last survivor came through that walkway, about another half hour later.  While police departments are para-military organizations, it's the constant high level of Marine Corps discipline and appearance that we tend to lose over the years, as we get bogged down with new challenges and commitments.  However, I wish to thank those five Marines, for reminding me that we are always Marines, and in that must always act and look as such.  Godspeed to all Devil Dogs, active and inactive, and to those who continue to serve on our streets everywhere, as we again remember our fallen brothers and sisters tomorrow on Memorial Day.
Semper Fi,
T. J.  Ross
Cleveland, OH Police Dept.
USMCR 1988-94

Sgt. Grit,

I received this note from a co-worker.  Since this guy is a retired Navy Chief, describing a scene involving a Marine Color Guard, it must have been quite moving...

Joe Bell
USMCR  1969 - 1975

Last night my wife and I attended a Celebrity Soccer game for the Children's Miracle Network. The Color Guard was 4 Marines from our local base. The half time show consisted of a choir made up of kids age 10-13, mostly girls.  The kids, of course were given commemorative T-shirts.  They made the announcement that all of the celebrities would be available to sign autographs.

The 4 Marines had taken seats in front of us. Near the end of the game, the kids started coming up to the Marines for autographs. What a thrill for me to see these Marines signing their T-shirts and programs. The Marines, of course, handled it all with great cool.

It almost brought me to tears.

Ted Wilson  DSC(ss) - USN Ret.

Hello All,
Well, I finally "marched" in my first Memorial Day Parade since the late '50s when I was a Boy Scout in New Jersey. I guess the personal invitation from a Desert Storm Navy Lieutenant with whom I work is all it took to at least think about it seriously. That fact coupled with a new set of Dress Blues (now with the summer white trousers) is all it took.  I was a little concerned that there might have been a Marine or two there that didn't have the white trousers. So I carried the sky blue version with red stripe in the car just in case. I guess I was going to slip into a nearby phone booth for a quick change to avoid any conflict. But alas, I was the only Marine in Blues. There was one Marine on the reviewing stand that recited the Gettysburg address from memory. His father and his father's father did the same thing for many years. He wore a green garrison cap, half sleeve-open collar-khaki shirt with ribbons, non-issue khaki trousers and a duty belt and buckle. His shirt carried Corporal stripes as well as a row of ribbons indicating Vietnam Veteran status. But that was it for Marines at least the ones in uniform. There were a good many Army and Navy Vets and a sprinkling of Air Force too.  So the plan was to march with those of the VFW guys that were still young enough to place one foot in front of the other in some approximation to 120 steps per minute. I was asked if I wouldn't consider being part of their Color Guard and carry a rifle or one of the flags.  I agreed that having a little something to do was a great idea, and carrying one of the rifles (WWI Springfield's) would be just fine. The Navy Lt agreed to carry the American Flag. He was in his all white uniform and indicated he couldn't stay around afterward because he had to go sell ice cream later (Good Humor man - get it?). Anyway, I kiddingly asked the Lt if the rifles were "clean?" He was sure they were. The brown stains
on the palms of my white gloves were evidence they were not. The gloves are now soaking in bleach as I write.  Prior to stepping off all the groups on the green were given "Parade, REST!" and stood for about 30 minutes as a half dozen or so people took their turn at the rostrum to speak. Just moments before the National Anthem was to be sung the groups were given the commands, "Attention" and "Present, ARMS." I could easily see that these commands
were coming, but what I didn't know yet was that my ENTIRE LEFT ARM was ASLEEP! When he commanded the group to attention, I had little problem snapping to attention, dropping my left arm to my side and pulling the rifle in to my right side. But then panic set in as I realized what the next command would be and what was required of my left arm, which at that moment was nothing more than a piece of meat hanging from my shoulder.  At the command of "Present, ARMS!" I performed a brilliant, but spastic move with my spaghetti arm and managed to just catch the rifle sling.  This gave me a split second to move my right hand around the rifle to the correct positions all in the prescribed three counts! As the blood rushed through my parched artery and feeling came back to my arm, I listened contentedly to the National Anthem being ever so thankful I
didn't throw the rifle on the ground and bounce it on my Bates Ultralites.  Although the guys around me were completely oblivious to my plight, I'm sure my move wouldn't have won any drill competitions.  Well, I hope my little story gave you all a laugh and you all had an outstanding Memorial Day Weekend!  If you haven't joined your local VFW or American Legion, you might give it a try.
Semper Fi!
Jack Dougherty
CPL USMC Retired
2253626  'Nam 68

Sgt Grit
Question here...While serving in VN in '67-'68 there was this interlocking runway matting all over the place.  I know the stuff has been in use since at least WWII, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was called.  A friend who was an Army Engineer in the Nam at about the same time said it was called "PSP" for perforated steel planking.  The VN era dictionary "In The Bush" calls the stuff tarmac (which isn't right).  Besides runways and chopper pads, we used the stuff (when we could scrounge it) for the overheads for permanent sandbag bunkers.  Any help with what was probably a slang name for that "PSP/tarmac-stuff?  Another topic:  I'm sure that tou know by now the DOD has authorized the re-issuance of the NDM for those on active duty (and some called-up reservists) on or after 9/11.  My son, a 2nd generation Marine, serving w/2nd FSSG Camp Lejeune (in year 2 of a 5 yr enlistment) has a piece of "chest candy" and a proud pappa says OOOOOOOOORAHHHHHHHHHH!
Michael "Andy" Anderson

Judge Mills Lane update He was discharged from the Burke Rehab Center in White Plains. The Westchester County Detachment paid him a visit, in uniform, and brought him various USMC memorabilia to let him remember where his fighting spirit comes from. His wife Kaye was very appreciative of the support that Marines were giving him. Little does she know that I have about 250 more emails, plus various letters for her husband, wishing him well from fellow Marines. The emails come from as far as Afghanistan and Bosnia and I'm sure that if everyone put which state they were from then we could easily cover at least 30 of them no problem.  Health wise the judge was trying to do more physically then they allowed him to do. Hmmm, sounds like true Marine to me.  Again, I thank each and every person that sent him an email, letter, even the
6th graders in Poughkeepsie that sent him over 50 get well cards that I personally delivered.
Semper Fi.
Taras Szczur,
3rdBn 9thMar 3MarDiv

Sgt Grit;
In regard to Nancy Steele's remarks about Marine Corps training.  Quite possibly, her son joined the Marine Corps to rebel against his mother and her coddling, suckling approach to raising him.  Maybe he just wanted to become a man not a sissy.  I wonder how he's doing now??

Martin E. Shapiro    1st Bn, 9th Marines, RVN 1965

I challenge everyone to take just 1 short minute a day, and give a prayer for all who have died and all who have served, and who are currently serving both overseas and here at home. I think you will find that it gives a great feeling of fulfillment to your life.
Semper Fi, Brian "T'Bird" Tracy.

Sgt Grit,
I guess it is time to speak up... How can we, who have served and protected the right of Freedom of Speech, be so quick to condemn someone who exercises that right?  Re:   Ms. Steele.  In all the hate mail she received, only two ( 2 ) of us asked her why she felt so harshly about the country and particularly the Marine Corps.  Had we taken the time to ask the question, we would have found a Mother, whose son was in parts unknown to her.  In fact, the only family member she has left in the world.  This desperate mom turned to a place where Marines gather (Sgt Grit newsletter) for comfort.  And while she is concerned for the welfare of her
son, A Marine Cpl with the 13th MEU, we are arguing about whether to say Sir Yes Sir or just Yes Sir...a very trivial matter when you put you consider her circumstance.

So she dragged a rasp across our rawest nerve, Jane Fonda.  Certainly made me wonder why someone could be so angry with the country I love, and the Corps I live!  So I asked.  I found a Mother who loves her Marine son, who was desperate for information about him.  And wanted the rest of us to pay attention the real matters in our Post 9/11 world.  Now, I certainly disagree with her approach...but she doesn't deserve hate mail and threats.  That is not the Marine way.  If we bush whacked everyone who verbally attacked the Marine Corps, there wouldn't be any "Army Doggies" left in the world except retired Army Col. Hackworth!

So when someone exercises their freedom of speech, let's not be so quick to condemn.  Wholeheartedly disagree with them if you must, but ridicule and hate mail are not a proper responses when we have fought so hard to give them that right.

And in closing, if all your readers are the Marines they claim to be, then let me put it in terms they can understand...
This is the Major speaking  "At Ease Marines!"

Semper Fi
Jerry Cox
Major USMC
68-98 and forever!
................................................................ less than 2 hours, I will be a married man. I sit here all dressed and surrounded by my groomsmen. I'm taking the time to write this to you all to express my appreciation for all your words of wisdom and encouragement to me over these months.

My only sadness is that my Dad is not here with us physically. To me, he was not only a Marine's Marine...he was a Daddy....MY Daddy. And I want to emulate him in the way I treat my wife, the way I love my wife, the way I live my life and the way we raise our children.

As I wait for Annie at the altar a little later, I will be thinking not only of how lucky I am to have found such a beautiful, loving woman to take this journey with me through life, but also of all the Marines who have sacrificed so much and fought so hard that the freedoms we enjoy today should last forever.

I hope I am not dishonoring this in any way, but when it's time to pin our ancestry cape on Annie's left shoulder, I will pin it with my Dad's Eagle, Globe, and Anchor that I have pinned right over my heart now. I asked permission to do this as I wanted to honor my Dad in some way.

I salute ALL Veterans today....I carry you all within my heart on this, a most joyous day!

Thank you for all you've done and all you still do for the greatest country known to man.
Brendan O'Sullivan
(from the bulletin board)

Let us not forget we still have troops on the ground in Afghanistan.  This whole situation if still very dangerous. The press has tended to move on to analysis, what ifs, what could be, what might be, politics, second guessing, etc....I feel for the folks on the ground doing their job day in and day out.

God Bless America!!
Semper fi!!
Sgt Grit

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