Sgt Grit Marine Corps Newsletter - December 20, 2002
Sgt Grit Marine Corps Merchandise

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Sgt Grit Marine Corps Newsletter - December 20, 2002

I would like to say that as the years have passed I have softened my thoughts on the United States Marine Corps being the ONLY branch of the military. I have come to understand that there are two... the Marine Corps and everybody else! Sgt. P.W. Long 1974-78

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Sgt Grit
The local reserve unit, 3rd  hosted the 2002 birthday ball here in Mobile, AL. When the cake cutting ceremony began, the CO and the guest of honor were in the proper places while the cake was wheeled in. After all the appropriate words were spoken, the C.O. of the unit looked at the cart and kind of whispered, "Where in hell are the utensils and plates for the cake?" The guest of honor was LtCol Walt Cunningham USMCR and former astronaut. LtCol Russo, the recon unit C.O. looked over at the Gunny who was standing at Parade Rest with his sword and says,
"Gunny..." and leaned over to take his sword. The cake
was cut and the sword handed back to the Gunny who
wiped the blade clean on the nearest tablecloth and
resumed his position of Parade Rest. Then Col Russo
reached down with gloved hand and picked up a piece of
cake to present to the youngest Marine, and the oldest
Marine who each put their bare hand out to receive the
traditional piece of cake. Then the Col said kind of
firmly, "Someone is going to get one thousand push-ups
for this...." But, the ball went on with yet one more
story to add to the long list. "Adapt, Improvise, and
Rocky Kemp 1439323


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). We staged our gear on the grinder, waited for the buses, and milled around for what seemed like eternity. Finally the busses arrived to take us to March AFB. The base band played "Taps" while we boarded (And I never figured out why...) and wives cried. We were off to Somalia! I was excited at first, but as the realization of being separated even more from my family back in Michigan became apparent, being shipped off lost its excitement. We flew and flew and flew. Then landed, landed, landed, and landed. And took five-tons to the
port. Slept on sea bags and packs, clutching out M-16s with no ammo while Somalian children threw rocks at us during the night. We smoked cigarettes, ate cold MREs, and wondered when the sun would show its face to us, because we tired of being hit with rocks. The sun came, we smoked more cigarettes, ate our breakfast of more MREs, and began the long task of cleaning out the port warehouse where we were given cots to sleep on and mosquitoes nets to protect ourselves from bugs. We then began to unload the MPS ships of all the needed gear and vehicles. Christmas was finally upon us. We were given the day off, so we sat around the port warehouse, smoked cigarettes, ate MREs, and drank beverage base mix from our MREs mixed with rum and whiskey traded from the French Legionnaires (drank in secret of course...) As me and a few other Marines leaned against the building, contemplating our fate of Christmas in this desolate land of Somali, a LCpl walked by us and asked "What's the matter guys? Cheer up, its Christmas!"  Merry Christmas Marines!
Jeremy Doxey, Cpl, Honorable

Christmas 1944 we were on board ship crossed the international date line so we missed most if not all 1944 Christmas. Seems if you have to miss one that would be the one.  USS O. H. ERNEST,  29th Replacement BN.
Left SanDiego 12/14/44 Bankia, Russell Island

Sgt. Grit,
For those who have "been there," does this sound familiar?
I arrived "in country" at Danang, Vietnam, during the night of 4Dec66.  [Remember: The pilot's voice over the speaker says, "We are approaching the coast of South Vietnam."  The entire plane suddenly goes dark, and the jet airliner (Trans-Continental, or some-such off-the-wall name) suddenly drops like a rock.  We all heave a collective sigh of relief when the wheels touch down.  But after such a landing, we expect to be under attack as soon as the door opens.  All of this is followed by an utterly uneventful night at the Marine Transit Facility, Danang.]  After days of reporting in at 1stMarDiv HQ, then 11th Marines HQ, then down to 3/11 HQ at Chu Lai, I finally arrived at my parent battery, "India" 3/11, on 12Dec66.  Just as I was beginning to feel a connection with the people there, I was sent back up to Danang with orders to report to 3/7 as an artillery forward observer.  In addition to my own gear, I was
responsible for escorting personal gear (seabags, etc.) left behind at "India" by other battery personnel assigned to 3/7 as radio operators, FO's, etc.

Which day did I leave the battery?  24Dec66--Christmas Eve.

How did I spend Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, 1966?
At the Marine Transit Facility at the Danang airstrip.  Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!

How was the weather? Raining cats, dogs, and water buffalo.

How did I spend Christmas Eve?
1. Trying to get a pile of sea bags and footlockers that didn't belong to me out of the rain and into some kind of shelter in a downpour.  I was finally directed to a CONEX box where I could stow the gear, after it and I were both thoroughly soaked.  2. Trying to contact the Artillery Liaison Officer at 3/7 by using a EE8 field telephone powered by two D cell batteries and having to go through about five levels of operators to reach him.  (Do you remember: Turn the "crank" on the EE8. "Moment?...Give me Isherwood....Hello? Hello?" Crank the phone. "Moment?...Give me Isherwood....Isherwood?...Give me
Senator...Hello?...Hello?" Crank the phone.  "Moment?...Give me Isherwood....Isherwood?...Give me Senator....Senator?...Give me False....Hello?...Hello?" Crank the phone. "Moment?...Give me Isherwood...)  I spent a couple of hours in that endeavor before I was finally successful, only to be told that it was too late to send a truck for me--it would come tomorrow.

What was my Christmas Eve meal (my only meal since 0630)? Two cans of Vienna sausages and a box of raisins which I'd had the foresight to stick in my bag.  I shared them with another lieutenant who hadn't had anything all day.  By the time we'd finished "playing in the rain" and other games, the mess hall was closed.

How did I spend Christmas Day?  I missed breakfast because I chose not to get up at 0630.  (A Marine is
never too tired--right?)  I waited at the terminal for hours for the 3/7 truck to arrive, then I played games with the EE8 again.  I finally connected, and was told that the truck would arrive sometime that day, but it never came.  I missed lunch because I didn't want to miss the truck.

What was my Christmas Day meal--my only meal all day?  I quote from the letter I wrote my wife: "...two thick slices of lunch meat (something like 'Spam'), some noodles, two slices of buttered whole wheat bread, some purple cabbage, a slice of fruit cake, a square piece of mincemeat pie, and a cup of 'kool aid.'  After hardly eating at all for almost 26 hours, it was delicious."

How did I celebrate Christmas?  Again I quote from the letter: "I read the 'Christmas story' in the Bible, in both Luke and Matthew.  I was determined to remember Christ's
birth in spite of where I was or what I was doing...I wouldn't let it slip by completely."

To those serving away from home this Christmas: Keep the faith--in more ways than one.

To those whose loved ones are serving away from home this Christmas: pray for them...and send many, many letters, e-mails, etc!

Semper Fi, and Merry Christmas!

Tom Downey
Once a captain, USMCR, always a Marine
1963-'76 (Vietnam '66-'67)


It has been 10 years since I wore the uniform of pride. I will never forget the times I had, the friends I made. I will never forget the time when my "Top" informed me that I was going to a country in the middle east that I have never heard of. I gathered my gear and left not to long after.  I remember seeing some Marines and their families on the day of our departure. I saw the first tough thing about war before I even left. What I saw was a Marine hugging his kids and kissing them good-bye. The children were crying. One was holding his fathers leg begging him not to go. I never knew the impact that would have on me as I got older. I am now a father of a 2 year old boy. I love my son with everything I have. I try to protect him every chance I get.  As I see our troops leaving for the middle east, I now see myself in that Marines shoes from back in '90'. He
must of been heartbroken to leave his son. I know now
what I didn't know then wholeheartedly. We are an un-selfish breed of men and women. We will do whatever
it takes to protect our family and the families of others. Even if the pain in our hearts is killing us.  We do it for love. Love of our Family, Love of our Corps, Love of our Country.

God Bess us all...
My prayers go out to the Troops and wish them a quick
and safe return home.

RC Tapanes
Cpl   USMC
(88 - 92)


Joe, I agree 1000%.  I was fortunate.  I got to see Bob
Hope in DaNang in '65.  I had just gotten back off of
Operation Harvest Moon.  It was a real treat after the
previous two weeks I'd experienced.  Bob Hope was late.
We all ended up standing in the rain and mud somewhere by hill 327 for 3 or 4 hours waiting.  My spot to stand was
about 200 yards away from the stage.  But that was okay.
I was just happy to be there.  Unfortunately my unit had
to get back aboard trucks and across the river before dark.
We left just as Joey Heatherton came on stage.  She was
just a dancing blonde blur in the distance as we pulled away.  Sigh.

Back to Martha Raye though.  I made it into the DaNang PX one time during my tour.  I remember it like a supermarket in the U.S.  I was standing in line at the checkout and in the next aisle I noticed a woman in jungle "utes".  When I looked closer I saw it was Martha Raye.  She was standing in line about the 4th or 5th person back.  I was floored.  Now she could have gone to the front of any line there and any Marine or any other troop would have let her right in and been happy to have the privilege to do so.  But instead she stood there and waited her turn like everyone else.  I had always liked her before I saw that - but man!  That spoke volumes to me about what kind of person she was.  I would have done anything for her after that.  What an amazing, super lady.  All of us who were there owe her all of our gratitude.  Compare that to Hanoi Jane!

While I'm on it, did anyone see Robert Mitchum in Viet Nam?  He came to our camp and just stood around with 7 or 8 of us and BS'd.  I remember one guy asked him about the movie "Thunder Road".  He talked about it a bit and then told us that the shot at the end, where the car rolls into the power station - that wasn't supposed to happen.  The driver lost control of the car and crashed.  When they looked at the film it was so good they left it in the movie.  Now, there's some trivia I bet not too many people know.

There's just one more thing.  I want to comment on the discussion that's been going on between a platoon of Marines and Maj. Monahan, USAF.  Major - for future reference.  Arguing (or fighting) with a Marine about anything, especially matters of service, is a little bit like wrestling with pigs in the mud.  After awhile, it will dawn on you that they like it.

Eat some ice cream for me Major but stay away from those trashcans.  You never know when they may get "painted".  And we all know who'll be doing the painting.  You guessed it!  Some wild eyed "mud" Marine who just loves to wrestle.  Semper Fi Major and thank you for your service - come home safe.

Mike Koontz, USMC
2075040, 1963 - 1967

In 1968 I was with the Drum and Bugle Corps unit stationed
at Camp Smith, Hawaii.  We were sent to Los Angeles to do a series of goodwill performances, one of which was for the Combat Correspondents Association at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  Everyone in attendance was in their tuxedos and other finery except Miss Raye...who proudly wore her Army fatigues, jump boots, and Lt. Col's oakleaves. She also jumped to her feet when we played the Marine Corps Hymn.  At the end of our performance she walked up to our Gunnery Sgt and planted a big wet one on his lips and then whispered something in his ear.  We were then led to an upstairs suite where she had provided us with a completely stocked bar.  Believe me when I say there were a lot of hung over Marines who barely made it to their 6:00 a.m. flight back home.  God Bless Martha Raye!
Cpl. Tom Mahoney
USMC '67 - '71

After reading about Martha Ray for the last few newsletters I guess I'll tell you what a REAL person she was.  I was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, in 1966 when Martha Ray came to see us.  She entertained us as if we were stateside and she was on a real stage.  The problem with that was that she was on a hilltop 3,000 yards from the DMZ, and, like I said before, this was in 1966, during the big buildup that President Johnson had ordered.
She flew in by helicopter, and gave her show at the Battalion CP.  She gave it from her heart and in a Marine Corps uniform with a Colonel's rank on her collars. After the show, she remained on the hill, talking with as many of the personnel as she possibly could.  She left the base only after she was told, repeatedly, by the pilot and other officers.  She left in time for her to return by nightfall.  THAT WAS A REAL LADY.

I've repeated this story to my children, and someday I'll tell it to my grandchildren.  There was no one better, ever.  She knew she was in grave danger coming there, but she came anyway. She even commented that she had nothing to fear because she had the greatest fighting force in the world protecting her.  What a contrast to the performers of my generation.

As far as John Wayne, I met him while I was in the hospital in DaNang, in May 1966. He walked through every ward, stopped, talked with, and shook hands with every person that was lying in a bed, and every one of the assigned naval personnel.  Big hands, firm grip, and a true smile - that's what I remember.

Semper Fi
Jerry McGovern
Battalion Landing Team
"H" Co. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines
1st Marine Division
1966 -1967

Sgt. Grit,
I've written to you only once in the two (?) years I've been subscribed.  In the last newsletter I read about alot of stories when Mr. Bob Hope visited during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but I haven't seen any stories of his later shows.

I was a LCpl going to Lebanon in 1983, my uncle
advised me to carry along an extra helmet cover! He
wouldn't tell me why, only that I'd know when to use
it.  Well I got stuck on an LST enroute to 'my ship' (the
USS Trenton), when we were told to report to the mess
deck to see a USO show.  There were only 8 or 9 of us Marines aboard at the time and Bob Hope passed up all the sailor and even some of the ships detachment Marines and came directly over to those of us who were from units in and around protecting the airport (I reckon it was the unwashed & torn uniforms, day old shaves and dirty, unpolished boots).  As he stepped in front of us I then realized what that extra helmet cover was for! I removed it from the liner webbing explaining to Mr. Hope that my Grandfather had seen his show during WWII, my father had seen his show in Alaska in 1952, my Uncle (the one who told me to carry the extra helmet cover) had seen his show during Vietnam and that now here I was
meeting him in Lebanon. He said "At this rate I'll be
doing a show for your kids one day!"  I still have that helmet cover, it has the signatures of Bob Hope, Miss Julie Heyeck (Miss America 1983), Robert Conrad and Charlton Heston! One of my best and highest prized 'war trophies'.  When I later went to Saudia Arabia, you better bet I carried along an extra helmet cover!

Just as Mean & just as Lean! Forever a Marine!

Robby J. Hookham
SSgt  USMC (Ret.)

Marilyn Monroe:
In reply to Ernie Hall, the way I heard it Marilyn Monroe said
"Marines are a bunch of under paid, over sexed, teenage killers"
Tom T, 1957-63

I was a Corpsman with Hq Co 5th Marines 1st Marine Division on Hill 22 north of Chu Lai, when I experienced my first USO show. Georgie Jessel, flew in and put on a show for elements of the 5th Marines and 4/11Arty. He was as I recall in his late sixties, our 1st Sgt was 65  and serving in his 3rd war, anyhow Mr. Jessel put on a terrific show singing some of Al Jolson's song's ie "Mammy and California Here I Come", he and Jolson were friends, he did some Vaudeville routines, told jokes..his show was appreciated by made for a good day!

Next was Martha Raye, our Regimental Commander had his 2 holer dressed up for Maggie, had a star painted on it , picked up some perfume and sprayed the inside, he and the Exec seemed real proud of the accomplishment and to bestow such honors on our visiting celebrity. Well as Martha Raye's Chopper landed and a Lcpl Williams from 2/5 decided that mother nature was calling and stepped into the well decorated field head, since I had been walking with him to the show, I stood bye. The Colonel appeared in route to the LZ to greet Martha Raye and began
showing a Major the decorated head, commented on the perfume filled interior and opened the door and Lcpl Williams, sat most compromised with he eye's bulging in surprise! The Colonel sorta went into a rage and chewed the young Marine out while he sat trying to finish business in quick order. The Colonel slammed the door and told him to hurry up, something to the effect he wasn't the "Star", she was on the LZ! Well, Lcpl Williams hurried out of the 2 holer, recieved another ass chewing, then the Colonel had the thing re-sprayed with perfume...and we continued
on our way...Martha Raye put on a Bang of a Show, she had every one rolling, after wards she posed for pictures, signed autographs, the place as you may imagine was crawling with Marines and Maggie loved it, it her response to them was genuine, she went to the grass hut we called the EM Club at the north end of our base camp and spent a couple more hours drinking with the Marines.  As others have mentioned and written in books Martha Raye was
a real Patriot and had a fondness for those who served.....Maggie was a Navy Nurse...Lcpl Williams a great guy who made me laugh...well, he didn't make it...his name is on the "Wall" KIA April-May 1967.
/HM3 "Doc" Ray Knispel 8404 FMF

My favorite USO story happened to me in Danang in 1967.  At about 2200 hours I had just returned to the command post after checking on all of the 1st FSR perimeter guard posts. As I approached the duty officer, he nods his head and I look to my right and sitting right in front of me is Carol Doda. For the un-initiated, Carol Doda owned the most famous (infamous?)  strip club in San Francisco's North Beach and was a "pioneer" in the silicon breast implant movement of the 1960's. We chatted for awhile and she gave me one of her business cards which was a topless photo of her with really humongous well, you know. She was waiting for a ride back to her quarters somewhere in Danang. To this day I don't know what kind of a show she was doing (if anyone out there saw it, let me know) but I was totally blown away to see her in our command post.  S/Sgt M. Hite,  RVN '66-'67, '69-'70

I didn't get to see Martha Raye while in VN. But I did let
afew guys go. I think it was in late 66 , she was at 9th Marines south of Danang. Near the old blown out bridge. We were between the 9th and Hill 55. I gave one of my guys (Jim Sullivan) some money to pick up a slide projector at their PX if he could. I still have. $45. I did get to see Bob Hope at Hill 327 in 66.  We were near the top sitting in the mud. Had a camera but no long lens.  I did meet Bob in 67 on a golf course on LI, NY.  He was playing golf at course my brother worked at. I did also get to see Jane Mansfield on Hill 55.All in pink everything.  Pink Hot Pants, PinkTop,Pink luggage, Pink Jeep. Then she was killed after I reported back to Lejeune.  Thanks for letting me ramble on. John (Moe), Sgt 2/12 66/67

Sgt Grit, Ernie Hall wrote in the short rounds of December 5, that Marilyn Monroe referred to us grunts as "oversexed teenage killers".  In 1966, when I went through the "Island" our DI sang a marching chant that he said came from Margaret Mary Truman, It went like this:  Who is the Marine Corps, I am the Marine Corps, We're underpaid, oversexed, teenage killers, killers, killers.  His name was J J McDermott, had a voice that could be heard all the way across the parade ground and told all us to remember that there is no such as fair fight.  You don't want to finish in 2nd place when you go to Nam.  Nuff Said.
Ron Shouse
Nam class of 67/68

"A bunch of underpaid, oversexed, baby-faced professional killers". Don't know how true it is, but thank you very much Ms. Monroe!
 Chuck Sarges, Cpl, 54-57


Dear Sgt. Grit,
      Please feel free to place the following in your
news bulletin.  I hope you recognize the name as I do on
occasion forward you interesting information on your "Corps".  Just a while back I sent you a message of how my office was broke-in-to.  And of how the Newport News, Virginia Police; (responded and also of how several Police Officers met with me ensuring of how nothing was taken from my office).   These items included many items of which Marines have given me over the years, including "Chesty".  I spoke of how I tried to sleep at the office, but the Police Officers kept stopping by to check on me.  They were Marines.  I wrote a letter to the "Chief" of Police, City of Newport News; of how his Police Officers handled the situation and of how kindly I was treated in my situation.  I spoke in my message, of how I had to stay at my office because how the situation would not allow me to secure my office until I could get the right folks in to re-secure my office the next day.  The Police Chief wrote me a nice letter speaking of how his Police Officers are working to do a better job, etc.  It was a nice letter.  Well, Marines do not quit!!!!!   I have been on Business Travel for over seven days.  Just got in to Norfolk Airport and drove to the office in Newport News.  It was 11:00 PM.  Pulled in front of my office.  Got out of the car and unlocked the front door to my office, and what pooped out.  A Newport News Police Officer!  I received mannerism's and courteousness that you only receive amongst Marines.  This Police Officer was watching my office.  I invited the Officer in.  Offered him a Coke.  He spoke of how the area was somewhat getting rough, stolen cars, etc.  That I had a respectable place and since he saw my vehicle pull in at such a late hour, he was just check-in things out.  Typical Jar-Head .  Well, I have said it before, and I will say it again.  There is a "God" that watches over us and, there is a United States Marine Corps".  The Marines, are on both sides of "God".  Both in "Heaven" and on this "Earth".  Marines are just a special group of Americans that know no limits to serving not just their God, not just their Nation, but the little simple people whom love  and live this Nation.  I see in your weekly "News" how some Marines disagree on various issues at hand.  That is good.  But I will add, never, in over 50 years in life, have I felt as secure and safe because of a group of Americans that are 18 years old, that are 50 years old and older, whom look out for me, my family and yes, my Nation.  They are called, "United States Marines".  Marines, have always and am sure will always, look out for those whom need a hand and most importantly, defend and protect Americans.  Sgt. Grit.  Thank you for a good web site and more importantly, you Marines that read this message, thank you.  You are America and America Stands Tall Because Of You.  God bless America and the United States Marine Corps.
Steve Robinson


Sgt. Grit
I have a story for all Marines but most especially for any
that were in Wpns. Trng Bn, PISC in 1951 and 1952. There was an old grouchy Msgt. who ran the police shed by the name of Msgt. Herman Brittman. He was big and I mean big. I worked for him for over a year and he taught me a lot. One big important lesson was how to look after the snuffies. We had a Bn. Co. who was a bit of a martinet and ordered that everyone had to wear class A uniform to the slop chute that was under our barracks in Bldg.. 700 after 1700 hrs. Msgt. Brittman heard about this and said that this was not right as we should not have to pay higher laundry bills to drink beer in our slop chute.  The next night Msgt. Brittman showed up in dungerees and ordered a beer. The Sgt. of the guard saw him when making his rounds and told him that he had to leave or be reported. Msgt. Brittman replied that he was not going to leave and that he should do his duty. I don't know what transpired between the Colonel and Msgt. Brittman next day but I do know that from that day forward we could drink in dungarees till closing.
Thanks Herman, wherever you are.  Bob Jennings 1189691
Msgt. USMCR [ret]


Sgt. Grit,
During my time in the Corps I witnessed a "drumming out" of the Corps. It took place in 1961, when I was a PFC in Lima company 3/7. The ceremony went pretty much as described by those who have previously described it, with one exception.  The battalion commander said " there are 999 good Marines in this battalion Jones and you're not one of them. Battalion about face". What a sobering effect it must have had on us 999 Marines.
SGT.W.B.Barta,  1907945

Sgt. Grit,
Point of information for those who were writing about Joe E. Brown and Bob Hope and the shows they put on for our guys in so many overseas location.   Early in WW2 Joe E. Brown lost a son ( I think in the pacific somewhere ).   This did not stop him though and he seemed to go on with more fervor in his shows.  I was in C-1-1-1 at CLNC in 1955.    A guy out of our company had reported in after being over the hill for about 28 days.  I was in the standby platoon  and the duty NCO came and got me out of my bunk to do chaser duty.   I was told to get in uniform of the day ( we were still wearing khakis at the time ) and report to the Bn. Legal Office.   There I was met by Legal Officer who gave we a clip with seven rounds.  It was a clip of 7 so that when you loaded your weapon there would not be a round chambered.   I was also instructed in how to handle my prisoner and that I was to take him to reg.  sick bay and get him his physical, get him checked out of the company and get him to the brig.    This was quite a day for me and the prisoner too but then that would make to long a story.   I did eventually get him checked into the brig.  The odd part about was that after he served his sentence which was 3 mos and a BCD he was brought back to the Bn. Legal Office  and from there he was passed in front of the
whole 1st Bn  2nd Marines as the Bn., one company at a time turned their backs on him.   All the while this was going on the Drum and Bugle Corps was playing away.    Before he ever left the porch though the Bn Adjutant read the sentence of the court martial and then the prisoner was brought over to where we turned our backs on him.   This hurt me quite a bit because I knew the guy, took him in to the brig, and now I was on this drumming out ceremony.    I don't believe that any man who ever stood one of those ceremonies could ever say that he did not get a hairy lump in his throat.  What I would like to find out from someone out there who knows, when was this practice discontinued, and why.  I know that no one ever treated any of this lightly.
Semper Fidelis,
Ray Mezo

Sgt. Grit: Re: Drumming out. In October, 1956, our still-raw
platoon was marched down to Main side at Parris Island to witness a man being drummed out . He was described as a thief having, as I dimly recall, stolen items from Marines in his barracks.  He was wearing his dress greens and to our fledgling eyes looked like any other Marine. Not for long. His buttons were ripped off, ditto the epaulets, and his barracks cap was thrown to the  ground.  Then he was marched to the gate. For young recruits, it was truly
a sobering experience. We knew we weren't ``in Kansas''  anymore.  In regard to having to fulfill the sentence of a prisoner who escaped your custody: I spent my last year in the Corps as a guard with MarDet, Naval Retraining Command, Portsmouth, N.H., then the big house of the Navy and Marine Corps. Even if it was a sea story, we believed it  and it  sunk in since the Court Martial Prisoners or CMPs weren't doing a mere 90 days or six months. They were  doing hard time _years.  The other story _ and this may have also been apocryphal _ was that if you shot a prisoner you had to pay for the round but you got a carton of cigarettes and a transfer. I imagine the anti-smoking zealots would have a cow about that now.
Enjoy you newsletter. JFisher 1642432

I can relate to the stories about "Drumming Out". As an
18 year old Marine in 2nd Amtracs I was assigned to Courthouse Bay. This is just about the most distant part of Camp Lejeune and very isolated. At the time, (1962) there was 2nd. Anglico , Engineer School and 2nd Amtracs at  Courthouse Bay (aptly named!).  A sorry excuse for a marine had been in my platoon and after many offenses (including the theft of a .45 cal. pistol) he was given a dishonorable discharge. All units at Courthouse Bay were
assembled on the Company Street in front of the mess hall and he was marched before us in uniform. The charges were read, all buttons, and anything relating to the corps were taken off him.  He was then discharged, and all Marines were given an about face.  A drummer played a slow dirge as the MPs marched him to a waiting
jeep. I was never more impressed with the Marine Corps since I set foot on the yellow footprints. When I was later assigned to duty at the 3rd Mar.Div Brig at Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, I would often relate the story to my prisoners before chow. They would of course be silent during chow, but it seemed they were even more quiet than normal. Hopefully, they got the message, as we had the lowest recidivism rate of any brig in the Marine Corp
(except Subic Bay and the 2 MCRD brigs)
Semper Fi
Cpl. USMC, 1959-1963

I was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Naval Operating Base, Newport, RI, following my return stateside from the Bougainville Campaign, and during the period of March 1944 and March 1945, I witnessed a "Drumming Out" of a Marine who was stripped of his rank, buttons and ornaments.  After charges were read, he was escorted out of the Base with the Guard Company aligned along the company street and in an about face formation.   Once
out the gate, I recall him shouting obscenities, etc., walking
away.   Marines who disgrace themselves like that must have no future in their lives.
Joe Goddard , '42-'45

Read the "Drumming Out" messages, which brought to
mind that the final drumming out of The Corps took
place at Marine Barracks, Norfolk Naval Base, which
was located on the base directly across the east-west
highway (ran from harbor mouth area & tunnel to Main
Gate) from the Naval Brig, Norfolk.  The barracks
drummed out all Marines who had finished their bad
time and had received BCDs or DDs.  This final
drumming out took place in the late 1960s as I recall,
but it was historic enough to make either TIME or
NEWSWEEK as the final one.  Seems the DC area wusses considered it 'cruel & unusual punishment' and by
Executive action had it canned.  For drumming out at
these barracks, barracks Marines formed up on the
parade grass in front of the barracks (which faced
west), the ceremony took place, and the newly discharged ex-con was drummed off & out the gate at the SW end of the parade field that was only opened for drumming out.  At that point, the miscreant had a long walk on an inhospitable concrete highway between two sets of high cyclone fence just to get to a city bus line or other non-military area.

In my mind it was a just & fitting ceremony and one
that was significant in reinforcing Marine Corps values, including the one exemplified by our motto, Semper Fidelis.  For the departing miscreant it was a short period of time and thus was not cruel, a condition that involves a certain degree of arbitrariness as well as repetition, such as lashes, and other well-accepted concepts of cruelty that have been discontinued in American penal systems.  Drumming out wasn't just for the miscreant, it was also for all the rest of us.  Semper Fi,
Robert Black, 0302 '63-'69
DomRep, 'Nam (Con Thien, Hue, Khe Sanh)
MarDet CVS-15, 3/2, 2/1, 1/1

I'll tell you that was one sobering experience I hoped I would
never have to be a witness to or be a part of during my time
in the Corps. ( I never saw or even heard of another during my time active or to this day. As for being the "Last One" --this is just what I was told. ) Personally I would recommend that if it were the last one that it should be reinstated for UD & DD type's. Hey it's the least we could do for the Low Life's.  Thanks for the great news letter's.
Semper Fi
Henry H. Hight--Cpl--2533, 1961-1965- active, and forever.


Sgt Grit,
Just joined your newsletter within the last month (my admin chief hooked me up) and I had to reply to  "The worst mom ever??"  America needs more mom's like you!  I served three years at MCRD (1997-2000) as a Series Commander, Executive Officer and Company Commander and graduated over 2000+ new Marines.  It is not easy, and being injured makes it harder.  I told recruits the only thing a DI cannot do to you is make you quit.  If you never quit you will make it through boot camp and through whatever life throws at you.  He needed to hear "suck it up" and finish what you started.  The gift Marines have is they do not quit.  When surrounded by 10 Chinese divisions in the Frozen Chosin (Korean War) the world thought they were done.  The Marines knew better and fought their way out carrying their frozen dead with them.  Bella Wood, Iwo Jima and Tarawa are names etched in our history that do not have the word "quit" any where in them.  I watched
recruit do amazing things while I was there.  I saw a recruit who fell down 500 meters from the finish line on his 3 mile PFT and broke his leg.  He started crawling to the finish line so he could finish the PFT and not let his platoon down. He was not a quitter.  I saw a recruit who spent 2 years in boot camp, 3 times at MRP (2 of them in a wheel chair, each visit averaged 3-4 months).  His name was recruit Greeley and when they tried to send him home he told them he would spend his entire enlistment in boot camp if needed but he would graduate as a United States Marine.  He finally did.  I watched a recruit sustain 2nd degree burns and scarring on his neck when hot brass ejected from a fellow recruits rifle landed in his collar during a rapid fire engagement on the rifle range on qualification day.  He did not squirm and roll around.  He held his weapon on target and fired 10 well aimed rounds like he was taught and scored 10 bulls-eyes.  When the engagement was over he pulled it out and went to see the doc.  That is the Marine that you want on your right and left to keep you alive.
No matter how hard boot camp is there is no one shooting at you. The title is not "given" it is "earned".  I'm sure when you go to his graduation he will thank you.  And you will be proud of the young Marine in front of you.

Semper Fi
Capt Stephens
"Mighty Mike Company/MCRD"

To the mother who yelled at her son and told him he better
come off the island as a Marine or not come off at all:
Let me tell you the story of the policeman who was filling
out a psychology evaluation.  When he got to the question
that said "what would you do if you were told to arrest
your own mother?" he wrote:  "Call for backup!"
Does that answer your question?
Gary Brainard SgtMaj (ret.)

In response to Worst Mom Ever:
Some people weren't meant to be Marines.  If your son doesn't qualify at the rifle range, it might be for the best that he is discharged.  We sure wouldn't want him for cannon fodder in a fire fight if he has problems hitting the target.

If he does qualify and graduates, that would be great, but
if he doesn't, that's OK, too.  If everyone could be a Marine,
it wouldn't be the Marines, it would be another animal altogether.

Don't feel bad about yelling at him.  Marines like to yell
and if he really wants to be one, he'll understand.

As far as separating from the Corps, eventually every Marine has to leave active duty, one way or the other.  If your son leaves after only a few months, he'll still have experienced something that will have changed his life forever.  Even if he doesn't officially earn the title "Marine," he can still emulate a Marine attitude through success by perfection and dedication to Duty, Honor and Loyalty.  The Marine Corps is more than just serving on Active Duty, it is holding oneself to the highest standards possible in all things.

If your son has been at boot camp long enough to get to the
rifle range, he has been there long enough to have seen the
Marine attitude emulated by perfectionist-seeking NCOs and SNCOs.  Your son will be fine.  You did the right thing.
Sgt. Beckstead (88-93)

Hey SGT Grit
To Worst Mom. You got it right. The young man needed to
know that he had it to do, and that Momma wasn't going
to coddle him like a child. You truly are either the
mother of a Spartan or the mother of a MARINE. He'll
thank you for it next time he comes home on leave. My
mother told me when I was leaving for MCRD to serve with
HONOR, come home with my shield or on it!!!
Jim Monteith, SSGT Rock, 65-77

Sgt. Grit
I read and love this publication.  It makes me feel so connected.  My son is a Marine, 2.5 yrs. in now, waiting to hear if he'll be deployed.  I ask for everyone to keep him and all our Marines in their thoughts and prayers.  Now to "Worst Mom Ever" who worried about b*tching out her son for his troubles in boot.  From one Marine Mom to another, "Hang in there, Mom!"  Sometimes doing what's best for our kids is NOT hugs and kisses and make-it-all-better.  You were right to tell him to suck it up and not quit.  My son was a lazy kid, unwilling to use his potential, until he went to boot.  Now, he's a strack, squared away young man who has realized his potential and is recognized and respected for his skills and abilities by his superiors.  I am so proud of him and HE is very proud of what he accomplished.  So, again, you did the RIGHT THING by telling your son to hang tough.  Hugs to you.  Being a Marine Mom is tough but very rewarding. And your son will always love his mom.  Proud Marine Mom of LCpl Mark James Dalton, MCAS Cherry Point NC

To Worst Mom Ever;
I believe you may have woken up your son a bit and made him smell the coffee.  He may have been too confused as to what he wanted to accomplish through all the complications he was dealing with.  They obviously told him he was being sent home off and on to make him get his act together 'voluntarily' through personal ambition by not looking like a failure by going home before he graduates.  Drill Instructors during the Reagan Administration are a lot different than nowadays, but have the same motive.
What you did when you utilized that one authorized phone call was most likely what he needed as a Marine Corps recruit.  For the simple reason he doesn't want to look like a coward and a failure to his mom who served in a more 'lenient' branch and he realized you wanted him to do what he signed the contract to do-become a United States Marine and serve his country the way they know how.
Don't be surprised if he graduates as Honor Man and he tells you he realizes where he went wrong.  The phone call you made was most likely the best thing that happened to him while in Recruit Training.  Good Luck to both of you.
Semper Fi
J.S. Elliott
0311    '84-'88

Sgt Grit,
This is a response to the 05 Dec 2002 letter of "Worst Mom Ever", Dear mom, (I feel I can call you MOM because all marines are my brothers or sisters) I don't think that you qualify for even being close to the worst mom.  How do I know, it's simple; you took the time to not only worry about your son's well being and success, but you also called your son (granted it was tough love, but none the less it was love).  Yea he probably got razzed from his recruit buddies, and most likely had to do enough mountain climbers until his DI was tired.  But to be the worst mom ever, you would first have the ability not care.  I know guys that went the entire boot camp with nothing, no letter, no phone call, and they were a wreck, if it wasn't for his fellow boots he would have cracked under the pressure and been fitted for a white jacket that ties the arms in the back.   The saying goes "the hardest job in the Marine Corps is a Marine's Mom".  Good luck to you and yours, and keep us informed on your son's (my brother) progress.
Semper Fi Cpl  R. Palombit - Michigan

Dear Worst Mom Ever,
Your son is just fine.  Everybody goes through a period of doubt.  Everybody has the occasional wish to reverse a decision.  Everybody needs a KITA on occasion to straighten everything out - the mind, the commitment, the self perception, the backbone, the concentration.  It is not unusual that these momentary weaknesses pop up and need the attention of someone who cares - SDI, JDI, MOM.  Yup, ya done good!  However, this is no reason
to be angry.  This is a reason to respond as you did.  I'll just
bet your son got the message.  We've all been yelled at by most everybody who cared.  I'm glad you yelled, too.  That is the surest way your son will have his faith in you, your strength, and your commitment and your love reaffirmed.  And, if perchance he doesn't see your love right away, be patient.  He will.  And that's a guarantee, Ma'am.  That's a guarantee.  Semper Fi,
Gale Rand, USMC 56-59, 59-83, MCL 96 - present


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.
Sgt. Dan Powell 52-55


well, i guess i have 2 strikes against being i
served in the US Army, yr 78-82, and second strike, am a woman.  I am proud to have served my country, worked hard and my 2nd year was a sgt.  That is not why i am writing. My dad, who died 10 yrs ago, was a DI Marine. I am writing to thank you and all those who write the stories because when i read them i feel like i am still bullshi***** with him.  my dad taught me everything i ever needed to know about life, and i am not kidding.  i really loved the stories about marine daughter's dates when they came to the house....he use to make them stand tall for "inspection" haha.  if he didn't like what he saw, they could change clothes and get rid of that ********** hair, or get the hell out and don't ever come back.  gotta tell ya, i was stunned when every one of them came back.  he was the greatest man i have yet to meet. and even after 10 years i still have a hard time. my son just turned 17 and wants to go into the army or marines upon graduation. i know that his grandpa made an impact on him that he still has not forgotten-even though he was but 6 when my pops passed away.  at this Christmas time, god bless our troops-all of them, and i urge ya'll to support your local American legion and vfw.  i thank you for all that you have done for me, our troops, our country.


Sgt Grit
I remember This Bear bust we had One Summer evening,
back in 1956. We all drove down to one of the beaches
along highway 101, This was the Whole G Btry 3rd
Battalion 11th Marines, Of course we all had one good
night of it, Played volleyball, and who knows want
else, The officer's were great, the rest of the Btry
were a great bunch to serve with, a lot of the guys
were Korean vets, waiting there turn to get out, The
First Sgt was the greatest, sure we a got loaded and
had one hell of a night, but it was all in good fun.

Thinking about the First Sgt he was  A Marine from the
Old Corps WW II, A raider and a Guy you helped build,
the water Filtration Plant, in the south side of
Chicago Near Rainbow Beach. He was a Marines Marine,
of course he like the rest of us got loaded too the
night of the Bear bust.  Well to make this story short, when we got back to the barracks that night a few of the guys were feeling there oats and got out of hand, bunks were getting turned over lockers were, tables were and a few other things, The 1st Sgt was one of those involved in this
capper of the night. Oh What a Night We all felt it
the next day,. Well anyhow We all stood muster in the
morning, and the 1st Sgt turned himself in for company
mass for his night before capper, of wrecking the
barracks. I know nothing happened to him or any one
else for the nights Terror of the Bear Bust cappers,
One thing for sure it takes a great leader of men to
do what that 1st Sgt did that morning after, I will
never  forget that night, and all the fun and events
that to place that evening in the Summer of 56, I am
Proud to have Served with this Unit and all the men
that served at that time in history of G Btry 3rd
Battalion 11th Marines, I was one of the first Korean
Replacement Cold war Vets to j