I found this interesting quote as I was reading last night.
"The sad truth is that when you're a jarhead, you're incapable of not being a jarhead."
- Jarhead - Anthony Swofford
Bill Mayer, HMC(FMF), USN (Ret)
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Those of you who have read my web page bio know how I got my nick name. I got to Vietnam in March 1969 the same month the movie True Grit came out starring John Wayne. The movie was about an Oklahoma sheriff and being from Oklahoma I got the name Grit. Almost every one gets a name other than their given name, I was no exception. I like to tell some people that it was my "John Wayne" persona, but people only laugh when I say that. I'm an Okie and that's why I got the name. Anyway....there is a letter from the Commandant below. I would like to tell you that it is a personal note from him, but like the John Wayne persona thing you would only laugh.
10 November 2003
A MESSAGE FROM THE COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS
This year we celebrate the 228th anniversary of the founding of our Corps. As always, it is an occasion for remembrance, proud traditions, and joyful camaraderie. The events of the past year have called for great sacrifices from many Marines and their families. While the Global War on Terrorism will continue to demand the best from each of us, it is important that we join with our fellow Marines, families and friends to celebrate our Corps' special culture and unique warrior ethos. This past year, Marines demonstrated once again that they are the most important entity on any battlefield. Lethal weapons and advanced technologies provide us unique advantages, but educated warriors ultimately determine victory in combat not machines.
During Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM, our small unit leaders' skills, adaptability and flexibility produced victory on uncertain and at times chaotic battlefields. We proved once again the power of integrated ground-air-logistics teams as well as the importance of every Marine being first and foremost a rifleman. Our special spirit is evident not only in battle; it is evident in the faithful performance of demanding duties by countless Marines at home and abroad. Every Marine makes a vital contribution to the ability of our Corps to project and sustain credible combat power. Moreover, the willingness and readiness of all Marines to accept and accomplish any mission is central to our success and a hallmark of our warrior ethos. The culture that defines the Marine Corps is nurtured by our traditions. In celebrating our heritage, we strengthen the linkages to a glorious history and recommit ourselves to upholding the standards and values given to us by past generations.
In commemorating our 228th anniversary, remain true to the spirit of the occasion. Reflect on our fallen with deep respect, observe our traditions with justifiable pride, take care of one another, and of course, celebrate those special bonds that exist among United States Marines.
Happy Birthday Marines, Semper Fidelis, and keep attacking!
M. W. Hagee
General, U.S. Marine Corps
FIRST OF ALL
1st of all I want to remind everyone of all branches of military service that everything that most people take for granted daily is what we protect and defend... my loss was to show that "Freedom has a taste the protected will never know."
I served in the Marine Corps from 2/88 to 9/94, I was stationed out of Quantico, Va. attached to the MSG Battalion. While serving in Africa, my best friend lost his life to a riot that broke out there. In defense of American soil abroad and as his life blood dripped from my hands, his last and final words to me were "Tell my mom tonight she is safe, we did our job... promise me you will tell her I did my job." Tears swelled from my eyes today just as they did the day my best friend died in my arms. His final thoughts were to his country, to his Corps, and of his family. I could only wish to be 1/2 the man he was, and for everyone out there standing guard in protection of OUR FREEDOMS my undying loyalty and a firm salute goes out to you.
Cherish those you call family and friends because you never know when something bad will happen to good people. My heart broke when I had to speak to Andrew's mother and inform her her son passed away, I would never wish that feeling upon any person.
In memory of my best friend, Andy you are never far from my thoughts, and your selfless act of courage will never go unnoticed in my mind. Semper Fi
Cpl. C.G. Hancock, USMC
ONLY HE YELLED AT US
Mike Kunkel reminded me of the same thing that happened to us while in Boot Camp. We too (Platoon 1115 Hollywood) were preparing for the Battalion Inspection, and after we took a quick shower, you know the kind that last 10, 9, 8...and so on, we ran out of the shower (Head) and there stood a recruit with a spray bottle. He said, "Open your mouth" then sprayed mouth wash into our sewers. Standing after him was Drill Instructor SSGT Clark holding a spray bottle with a grin on his face. So assuming it was more mouth wash and that he didn't say anything to us, we opened our sewers only to have cologne sprayed in our mouths. Only he yelled at us NOT to spit it out! To this day I WILL NOT wear cologne, and cannot stand the smell of the stuff. Or taste.
Mark A. Long
TANKS A LOT
my son is one of the Marines in the track CANOE that was treated to the Marine Tank 'experience' on 3/27/03 on the way to Baghdad- stuck in a horrific sandstorm and in the line of fire of imperial guard tanks-Marine tanks rolled in to save the day and for the rest of my life, i will light a candle to the Marine Corp tank guys who saved a lot of boys and showed this country what bravery is- 1/5 thanks you all as do their mothers like me- there are no greater ,braver men on earth than Marines-[oh yes, and cocky, macho and selfless] thank you all- OOH RAHH MARINES- proud mom of 1/5 weapons saw gunner
I have a story that may tug at your heart strings......I'm a Vietnam Vet and a nurse, I usually work for a supplemental staffing agency. Well one day I had an assignment to go to a local nursing home, on the way to the nurses station to report for my shift, I walked past a room that the door was open and saw a giant Marine Corps tapestry hanging on the wall, so being me I stuck my head in the door and said"semper fi ya ol' dog" to my surprise a sweeky voice responded back.."semper Fi you young pup" I walked in to shake the mans hand and to introduce myself, we did the usual ..who we were with and when..( he was a W W 2 vet) out of the corner of my eye I noticed 2 other nurses standing in the door way, my visit lasted about 5 minutes, and told this gentleman I'd stop back because I had to go report in etc. on the way out the 2 nurses that stood in the door way were just dumbfounded....the reason being is that this ol' salt hadn't spoken a word in almost a year ,I was told they had tried just about everything to get him to open up, but nothing. My response to them was there are two magic words for a Marine......SEMPER FI, those words cross all boundaries and time because it's just a Marine thing and you'd have to be there to understand it all. I would go back to visit this ol'salt every week just to hear his stories, or to take him out for some fresh air...He's gone now, and as old as he was he was just as tough, I'm sure he's guarding the pearly gates right now. Thanks for all your doing, roy skillen
Cpl.2428672 RVN 69-70
REVIEW THE TAPES
Great job, as always.
Marine Moms: Gotta' love 'em!
But please, moms, don't ask us Marines to pray for your sons in boot camp. Review the tapes on Iraq... pray for the poor souls who will face your sons on the field of combat; they're the ones who need it. Just send care packages.
MSgt USMC (Ret)
MCL DISASTER RELIEF
Dear Sgt. Grit:
Immediately after Isabel slammed into the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, The Marine Corps League Disaster Relief Unit 1 was asked by the Emergency Management of Isle of White County to deploy to Windsor Virginia to assist in feeding and delivering water to an area without power or water. Seven members of The Marine Corps League Disaster Relief Unit 1 deployed from Charlotte, N. C. to Windsor with Field Kitchen equipment and food supplies, along with the unit Water Buffalo, to assist in helping the good people of Windsor until the power and water was restored. Our unit served more then 1000 hot meals to those who could come to our camp at the Windsor High School and several hundred meals were delivered to those who could not get out. Our Water Buffalo Marines worked non stop delivering fresh water that had to be picked up Franklin, VA. to hundreds in trailer parks and rural area's of the county. Our uniforms and equipment makes a loud statement of our pride of our Beloved Corps but more important our actions demonstrate that we are United States Marines. The Marine Corps League Disaster Relief Unit 1 is 100% self-sufficient and prepared for deployment within 24 hours of any disaster.
Michael C. Goodman
Sergeant 1953 -1957
WE SLEPT WITH ONE EYE OPEN,
AS WE LISTENED FOR THE SOUND.
A MARINE CALLING CORPSMAN,
OR THOSE INCOMING MORTAR ROUNDS.
WHEN THE FIGHTING STARTED,
IT NEVER SEEMED TO QUIT.
MANY BRAVE MEN DIED UP THERE.
BODIES TORN AND SPLIT.
KHE SANH WAS A NIGHTMARE,
FOR HOURS IT WOULD RAIN.
ROCKET AND MORTAR ROUNDS DOWN ON US,
I THOUGHT I'D GO INSANE.
THEN THEY SENT THOSE HUMAN WAVES,
TO CRASH UPON OUR WIRE.
FOR SEVENTY SEVEN DAYS THEY CAME AT US,
BUT WE WOULD NOT RETIRE.
WE FOUGHT THEM UP CLOSE, HAND TO HAND,
WE WERE BRAVE AND BOLD.
IT SEEMED MORE LIKE A YEAR TO ME,
AT NINETEEN I FELT OLD.
I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY WE FOUGHT,
OR WHAT THEY THOUGHT WE WOULD DO.
BUT THE US MARINES HAD SENT WORD TO HANOI,
THIS WAS NOT DIEM BIEN PHU.
I WAS NOT AT KHE SANH, BUT IN 1986? I TRAVELED TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA FOR A WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VET PARADE. WHILE THERE I MET A COUPLE OF GUYS, ONE WAS A NATIVE AMERICAN. I HOPE THEY WILL FORGIVE MY MEMORY BECAUSE I DON'T REMEMBER THEIR NAME. WE SPENT MANY HOURS TALKING ABOUT OUR EXPERIENCES. THEY HAD BEEN THERE FOR THE 77 DAYS. AFTER I RETURNED HOME I WROTE THIS POEM FROM THEIR MEMORIES.
I WAS IN COUNTRY FROM JUNE 66 - JUNE 67 AND FEB 68 - TO FEB 69. I WAS A CHOPPER GUNNER WITH THE 1ST AVIATION BRIGADE. AND THEN WITH THE 3RD BRIGADE 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION AS A GRUNT.
AIRBORNE SIR! SEMPER FI!.
GOD BLESS ALL WHO SERVE AND SERVED. WE KEEP HER FREE!!
Every time I get your newsletter, my wife seems to know that she shouldn't bother me with the normal household bovine dung until I have finished reading what my brothers and sisters are saying to me. She is aware that I am not available for duty during that time.
While I know that we all have our own war stories, let me tell you one that I witnessed while enjoying the transition from "slovenly, sniveling, civilian puke s.o.b." (and other appropriate descriptive adjectives) to UNITED STATES MARINE.
I was 18 in June of 1965 when I arrived at 2nd Bn, Paris Island. It was hot even at 0200 and we were all sweat soaked, tired and a tad scared but that changed after meeting with our "camp counselor" (some little guy with a funny hat-he seemed mad about having to be up a 0200). We all seemed to loose the tired and tad scared turned into terror, but all was not lost, we fooled him, the sweat increased.
After going thru the usual yellow footprint exercise, the controlled walk to the squad bay, the strip exercise, etc. One of our "advisors" asked if any in the group had any type of college education. Pvt Mickler raised his hand (Mickler was kind of a dumb a** at the time).
Being that Micler was obviously the only one in the group with any education, it was assumed that he, Mickler, was the only one of us that had the ability to tell the advisor what the current time on deck was at any given moment. For the next 3 months, Mickler's was the only watch in the plt.
I have often wondered what the MOS for time body is in the USMC.
Even after 38 years, I still think about that incident and many others we endured while becoming Marines.
2063342, Plt 138 (Jun-Aug65)
I STOPPED IN A STORE
A couple of years ago while traveling down I-45, I stopped in a store to pick up a six-pack. I had on a 1st MARDIV t-shirt. A gentleman in the store came up to me and said that he was also in the 1st in ww2. He asked if I had been in ww2 and at the same time said "No that I was too young." I told him that I was in Vietnam. He informed me that Chesty Puller was his regimental commander. I will always remember that Memorial day.
Max Noble 3'rd Tracks 69-70.
BEAN BURNERS, REMINGTON RAIDERS
For Lee Bertrand
I read, with pleasure, Lee Bertrand's letter about his Marine Corps Daughter. I have a little story he and his daughter may enjoy. I was the Officer-in-Charge of the Marine Corps Service Support Schools rifle and pistol teams for both the 1977 and 1978 Spring Intramural meets at Camp Lejeune. Though our team was made up of bean burners, remington raiders and mechanics, we won the 1977 team trophy. The next year my team was minus a few of the very excellent shooters I had the year before and I had to go out to find a fourth member. Someone told me about a young woman in our disbursing office. (All you women out there should have noticed that I did not say woman Marine or BAM. I learned my lesson about that, she was simply a Marine.)
Now I don't want anyone to think I was old school, but when they said "young woman" I sort of hesitated. But, time was short and I had to have someone, so I went to talk to her. She was raised on a ranch in Montana and had rode her horse around the range, with her pistol on her hip, to take care of any stray rattlesnakes. She was very cute with her blonde hair and petite frame, but she had enough hardness in her to make me believe she would do fine.
When we got to the range and began our practice shoots the other teams, particularly the grunts, gave us the horse laugh. However, when she began shooting her .45 the laughter began to drop off. By the day of the pistol finals the laughter had stopped completely. She stepped up to the line and cool as a cucumber she began, BAM, black, BAM, black, BAM, black, BAM, black. We didn't win the team trophy that year but we came in the top five and she did an excellent job. Had I been writing her fitness report, I would have definitely wanted her in my unit in combat and would have had no problems with her covering my back when the bullets were flying. I think a lot of guys who witnessed that exhibition began to think of women in the Marines a lot differently from that day on.
Pvt to 1st Lt 1966-1978
SHAKE HIS HAND AND THANK HIM
I would like to Thank You for helping me get in contact of one of my Drill Instructors from back in 1965. About 8 months ago I saw his name in one of your newsletters and contacted you and you forwarded my request to him for his e-mail address. The following day I received a reply from him and ever since we have been sending messages and jokes back and forth almost on a daily bases. In the middle of September I left on my very first vacation of over 3,300 miles. On my way back South from New England I stopped by a little town called Hubert, North Carolina, which is located a few miles North of the Camp LeJeune main gate. There resides SgtMaj T.J. Collins, Retired, and the woman behind the Marine. The first thing I did when I saw him was shake his hand and thank him for what he and SSgt Shad and Sgt Jones did for me back in 1965. Back then it was Cpl Collins fresh from Drill Instructor School. I had arrived someplace around 1430 and didn't leave until around 1930 the next day. We did take a ride through Camp LeJeune so I could see how the base has changed over the years since I had been stationed there back in the late '60s'. My barracks, building 510, was still there but it was being used for office and classroom space by 10th Marines, which was across the street when I was there. I had been in 2nd Service Bn., whish I could have found out what happened to them. A young Marine did use my camera to take a picture of the SgtMaj and myself standing in front of my old barracks. But what was the best part of the visit was sitting in the SgtMaj's living room and listening to his career of 30 years on active duty in the Marine Corps. To me it was an honor to be there. And yes, we did talk about Platoon 156, 1st Bn., Marine Corp Recruit Depot, Parris Island, North Carolina 1965. I wish every Marine would take the time to locate at least one of their Drill Instructors and thank them for a job well done. You have to admit, they do make a big difference in a person's life. After leaving the SgtMaj I headed to Parris Island, South Carolina. It was a Thursday when I was there and I got the privilege to watch as recruits of "H" Company of 2nd Bn. went through the EGA Ceremony. I found out that this is something that was started about 11 1/2 years ago. Recruits that will be graduating the following day receive their first Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem. The families are there to watch and I'll tell you one thing, it is a tear jerker. As I was watching the flood of memories hit me hard and I had problems seeing through the view finder of my cameras, I had to go sit in my van but that didn't help, I had to leave. But mainly I am sending you this to say THANK YOU SGT MAJ T.J. COLLINS for making a big difference in my life!
SSgt LaBelle, M.F. Retired Semper Fi Marines
MARINE DOG HANDLERS
I was wondering if you have any Marine Dog Handlers in your newsletter. I went to dog school at Ft. Benning Ga. for 14 weeks. I had orders for the Nam anyway. I thought well d*mn, 14 more weeks in the states. Show's what a 21 yr. old kid would do to stay in the states.
Only problem was, never thought of my job as a Marine Scout Dog Handler, walking POINT etc: Darn first to get the "HOLES" through my shirt. Boy was I smart.
This is dedicated to my Scout Dog KAIZER KIA 1969 RVN, he saved many lives and I lost my best friend.
PS. My dog was killed working with another handler. I bought the farm in 1968. But that dog is in my dreams and thoughts every day
AS THE SAYING GOES
as to Ms. G letter that the Marines gave her the determination to get her BSN degree. I served in the Marines from 73-79 and I was a grunt. I am now a teacher with a Masters' Degree in Education. When I join the Marines I was a high school drop out in 1973. Thanks to the Marines I learned to never to quite on my self ;we need Marines as teachers today more than ever in our schools.
Marines make excellent role models and teaching is the only field where all skills start from. Today, public schools are battle grounds many Seniors do not know anything about Military History.I would like to see more Marines in the classroom. As the saying goes, "grunts can do anything"
Sgt. Don Thompson,MA.Ed.
I had to laugh at the post about Aqua Velva because I also had a similar experience when I was at Parris Island in '83. I was in Plt. 1034, SSG Herb was the Sr. D.I. Anyway, an hour or so before our Battalion Commander's inspection we had to rinse our mouth with a mixture of Scope(sp?) and Aqua Velva and then swallow it all with the threat "you better not puke on my deck". Even though it tasted like Sh*t and burned like a mother, my breath was fresh for at least three days! Semper Fi Marines.
Here is a true story about the Marine Corps atomic bullet.
Having graduated from PI in 1972, I was sent to Camp Geiger for ITR. We were the last series to go through ITR. As part of the training we were taken out into the field for final defensive fire training.
We were sitting in the bleachers when the instructor called for everyone's attention. He proceeded to instruct us that what we were about to witness was TOP SECRET and that we were not to discuss it with anyone. He repeated that what we were about to see was TS and that national security depended on our ability to keep this secret.
He told us that we were going to see a demonstration of the Marine Corps' new weapon. The ATOMIC BULLET. The purpose of the new weapon was to kill "Charlie." We looked around at each other in bewilderment.
A six-by pulled up and two Marines raced up to lower the tailgate. Inside were three Marines, one holding a little box and two more with their hands underneath, to catch anything that might drop. They carefully handed down this little white box to three Marines on the ground who transported the box, in the same fashion, to another Marine with an M-14 in his shoulder. (We had M-16's, but for some reason he had an M-14) They carefully removed a round from this little box and inserted it into the chamber. Carefully they let the bolt go home and gently tapped to make sure it was seated.
The instructor proceeded to again tell us of the secrecy of what we were about to see and the importance of our silence. He then told us to look downrange at a designated spot. There was a countdown, 3,2,1,FIRE. The rifle sent the round down range and WHAM. There was this huge explosion.
Wow, whoa, oorah, the stands went nuts. We were foaming at the mouth about this weapon we would use against Charlie. The atomic bullet was ours as Marines and stand by VC, it is going to hit the fan.
We were again sworn to secrecy. It wasn't until later that we, smelling like cash sales and believing anything that a DI or any other instructor said, figured out that they had planted a charge out on the range and detonated it when the rifle went off. What a great gag. I still grin from ear to ear thinking about it.
Walter (Bud) Miles
HE KEPT ME AS LONG AS HE COULD
I am a former Marine, I was in Boot Camp 9/26/76 to 12/22/76, 2nd Bn, Fox Co. Plt 2101, my MOS was 3531, I spent 4yrs In TOW CO. HDQRTS Plt at Camp Pendleton, 41 area (Los Flores) 1st TK Bn. from 1/2/77 to my Honorable Discharge as a E-4 in 1980. I went to school at Horno and then went back as a Instructor for a while and was fapped to Base Motor T for awhile and then back to Los Flores, I was a brown bagger, I lived in Ocean Side with my wife. I loved the Marine Corps and still do to this day !!! O-RAAH, I received a Meritorious Mast while I was in. I was going to be a life'r but I had a bad wreck and busted up my leg, I was in the hospital 45 days and wore a cast 16 months, went to P.T. for 6 months to learn to walk again, I was very lucky to keep my leg. I had a very good C.O., he kept me as long as he could, I was discharged 3 months short of my 4 yrs. with service connected 30% comp. from the V.A., my leg has gotten worse over the yrs and it has affected my back also, I have had several Re-eval's over the yrs. and my % has raised along with them, I have recently been told by my doctor at the V.A. Hospital that I will lose my leg in a few yrs. I feel very lucky to have kept it this long. I feel the Marine Corps and the V.A. has taken very good care of me and I am Proud to have served my Country, I only wish I could have served longer!! NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS !!! My son joined the Marine Corps, he is in Boot Camp now!! He Graduates the 17th of this month, my wife and myself are going to go. From his letter's, Boot Camp has not changed much from when I was there, I am looking forward to seeing MCRD again. He is 21, he went to College 2yrs. after high school and screwed up pretty bad, the good thing is he knows it and has said so, he is a very smart young man, he just lacks the discipline and maturity it takes for college, that is why he joined the Corps, he wants to finish college. He has even talked about a career as a Officer. He just missed getting in at Annapolis after high school, he made it to the last cut, I think he would have done good there, more structured.
I can't believe I am going back to MCRD after 26 yrs. to watch my son graduate !! SEMPER FI !!!
THIS LIMO DRIVES UP
Sgt. Grit: Thank you for your weekly letters, I always give a copy to Sergeant Major Barney Welch, USMC. I have another true story for your files. I enlisted in the Marine Corps 4/23/51 in Houston, Texas and was shipped out to Sunny Southern Calif. MCRD San Diego. But my story starts after being in the Corps for about four months. I was finally assigned to a new unit being form by a General "Chesty" Puller. You can bet I knew who he was, just recently getting out of boot camp. If I hollered that name once I must have said it a millions time, My DI told me that there was God, Chesty, and him.
I was assigned to the new 3rd Marine Brigade, CO "Chesty" the legend. I was in C Co 1st Bltn. One bright Saturday morning we had a full field pack Battalion Inspection and the Inspecting Officer was none other than Brigadier General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller. This Limo., drives up and out steps the man, his driver assisted him putting on his full field pack. When it seem like all of a sudden he is standing in front of me and my BAR. We were looking eye to eye, (if he had looked down he would have saw a scared to death young Marine's knee's knocking in rhythm with the band.) He looked at me as said "Son what do you think about the Marine Corps"?. I immediately Shouted so loud that I bet my DI in San Diego heard me, "LOVE IT SIR=LOVE IT SIR". To which he said "Good, Semper Fi". My company CO passed me with a grin on his face, the Platoon CO looked at me with a look of disbelief, The First Sergeant walked by and gave me a thumbs up. I almost crap in my pants. The following Monday I was called into the Company Commanders office. As I was on my way to report I was trying to figure what I screwed up now. The Co. CO told me I was to turn in my BAR, Pick up a M-1 and a radio and report to my Platoon Leader and the coming week-end I was to receive a 72 hour pass. When I got back to the hut I asked what the hell is a 72 hour pass. You see us country boys from Texas sometimes are a little slow how to count to 72. But the best is yet to come, as Paul Harvey says, now the rest of the story. I'm standing out on Hwy 101, San Clemente hitch hiking to somewhere, when a car with two Ladies stops. The mother who is driving and her daughter who was a lot older myself asked where I was going, I didn't know so they said they were going home in Hollywood. It happened that she was the private secretary to William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy). I said great and they dropped me off at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. I might add here that I had the privilege of getting to ride to Hollywood about four other times when I hitch hick back to Hollywood with them. It seems they liked the races someplace near San Diego. I stayed at the Hollywood Plaza Hotel. Saturday night I asked the clerk where a Baptist Church that was close by, he told me. If my mother knew I'd miss church, it would have been worse than forgetting that General's name. Next morning I arrived at the church door and meet a young man who invited me in. After Church I meet his mother and she invited me to come to their house for dinner. Now we Texans maybe slow on the draw but we are not stupid, you don't turn down a home cooked meal. Well guess what, I meet her daughter, they invited me to come by any time I was around town.. That's where the mother goofed up or maybe I did. About six months later I married the daughter Sept. 27, 1952. We recently celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, we have three children, four great grandkids My mother-in law is still alive, and she's 94.
I'm proud to be a Marine, happily married, and have a wonderful family. I'm with the Marine Corps League (Life Member) of the McLemore Detachment in Houston. When to Jr. College, later join the Civil Air Patrol in 1966, was a Squadron CO. I ran like Marine unit, later became a Group CO, retired in 92 as a LTC. The discipline, correctly wearing a uniform, pride and leadership I got in the Marine Corps, not only help me in CAP, but in running my own business and in my daily life. Semper Fi to all Marines, past, present and those in the future. To All of you who are over in the sand pit and around this world protecting me now you are all in my PRAYERS every day and night.
Paul R. Renfro, Cpl. USMC 51/54
THE GRUNTS I RUN INTO
I read your story about being told you were not a real Marine because you were an Airedale. Me too. I served in VMO-3 (changed to HML-367) during 1966-1967 as a crew chief on a Huey Gunship. The grunts I run into who got close air support from Hueys back in the day have never accused me of not being a Marine. I bet the guy who gave you a bad time never had the need for combat air support. "Swing with the wing!" as we used to say.
Buster (GAF III) Cpl. 64-68 2127272
MOST OFTEN JUST MARINE
Hello Sgt. Grit;
First time writing but read where a fellow Airedale was referred to as Not a Marine by a Brother Grunt Marine. Like the other Airedale I was a Crew Chief Gunner on a UH34D out of Da Nang. A Purple Fox to be exact with HMM-364. I went to Nam early with my Squadron in 1964 when Marine Grunts were not IN COUNTRY yet. So the first 30 days I drew Perimeter Guard along with other Airedales who quickly rediscovered that all Marines basic MOS is 'Rifleman ". I think about March 1964 we got reinforced with a Infantry Company so us Air-dales could go to work flying. I cannot remember a Brother Marine not being glad to see one our Helio's showing up on a hot LZ. Like most of the enlisted in my Squadron I EARNED my Combat Air crew Wings in combat. I'm proud to have been a Flying Leatherneck, especially the MedEvac Missions to save a Brother Marine. I belong to a terrific Marine Corps League Detachment. Almost all are seasoned Combat Vets. Sometimes I'm referred to as a Airedale but most often just MARINE. A couple of weeks ago we had a Detachment Picnic and a honored guest was a Corpsman who earned a MOH in Vietnam saving Marines Lives. After Chow I went up and just thanked the DOC for all he did for us. He took my hand and said "Welcome Home Marine". That's the first time anyone ever welcomed this Airedale home, It Meant a lot.
Marine R.J. KEENEY
Da Nang RSV 1964
GUNG HO WAS PHASING OUT
We never heard of Ooorah in '56. First time I heard it was when my son graduated Parris Island in '86. Our thing was "Gung ho," which was pretty new (1943) itself, having come from Carlson's Raiders. Gung ho was phasing out because of an incident in Korea. Chinese troops were yelling insults at Marines across the lines and one Marine screamed back, "Gung ho, MF." Some Chinese guy yelled back, "Okay." For the uneducated, gung ho means "work together."
Kent Mitchell, former Corporal '56-60.
I WAS IN BOTH PLACES
A reply to "Ye Olde Sarge".
Don't let jerks like that mess with your head. If you were flying medevacs off hill 881 and Hue City during the Tet Offensive, I salute you. I was in both places, and you probably carried a lot of my fellow Marines. Life on the ground would have been much harder, maybe impossible, without you guys.
From one Marine to Another, "Semper Fi"
Sergeant Mike M.
TO ME IS A CARRY OVER
As a World War Two combat Marine (Pacific), I agree with recent letters by U.S. Marines, both active and inactive, who object to the Pipes and Drums concept for Marine Corps ceremonies, which to me is a carry-over to the Revolutionary War and our fight to free ourselves of British rule. The only drums I want to hear are those of the U.S. Marine band, and the only pipes welcome to my ears are those of the bo'sn's whistle aboard U.S. Navy ships of war, period. Semper Fidelis!
Orville B. King-478727-USMC. Carmichaels, PA.
TALKING TO SOMEONE ELSE
Years ago while stationed at Camp Pendleton my husband and I were at the base hospital visiting my daughter, who had been in an accident, I decided to go to the snack room to get something from one of the machines. There was a new recruit already there and he started looking around nervously, then he said, "maam, is it alright if I get a soda?". I looked around to see if he was talking to someone else, but no, he was talking to me. I just said, "sure, go ahead". Until then I didn't know what they meant by recruits not being able to do anything without being given permission.
Wife of a "forever Marine"
MAKING YOU THINK
Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I like your site. I joined the Corps in 1986, was a Subic Bay Barracks Marine and a 2/2 grunt. I've been a police officer in Lorain Ohio since 1990. Recently we had simunitions training. Closest thing to a real gun fight you can have without getting killed. Kind of like a paint-ball gun fight, but with realistic weapons and real life cop scenarios. It was funny when the two (Former Army) firearms instructors all said "you know who the killers are. it's those crazy jarheads that charge at you shooting and making you think "OH CRAP". The old Recon Marine firearms instructor just snickered and gave a Semper FI wink.
Jeff Jackson, 1986-Forever
NAVAHO CODE TALKERS
Occasionally when the stars are their brightest, the moon is full, and all the planets are aligned just right one is lucky enough to stand in the presence of greatness. On Sept. 5th & 6th, 03 I experienced what many might term "the luck of the Irish" (and I'm Irish too). My wife and I traveled to Window Rock, Arizona to attend their annual Fair and Parade. It is at this event that the WWII Marine Navajo Code Talkers are the stars of the show. I found out about this from a very close Navajo friend (Leon Anthony), so this year I vowed to go since these heroes are fast disappearing from the American scene.
Friday the 5th we attended the Pow-wow Celebration and was there for the "Gourd Dance", a dance that honors Veterans. I had my Marine Corps baseball style cover on and prior to the start of the program one of the dancers (Jimmy Begay) walked over to the bleachers where I was sitting. He had noticed my cover and was interested in finding out who I was (I am white not Indian). I immediately recognized his red cover (the cover of the Marine Corps League) with the "Navajo Code Talkers" embroidered on it. As we exchanged "Semper Fi's" he asked where I was from. I told him Fort Hall, Idaho (the Bannock-Shoshone Indian Reservation) some 750 miles away. He asked what had brought me to the pow-wow, and I told him "to see you guys" (the Code Talkers). After some conversation he returned to his designated spot. When the Dance program started another one of the dancers (Larry Anderson) came over to the bleachers and invited me to join them on the dance turf. When I approached him the first words out of his mouth was "Semper Fi", he too is a Marine. Of the 8 or 10 dancers about half of them were Marines. During a part of the dance they honored me as their guest of the program. This has to be one of the greatest honors bestowed upon this Marine.
Saturday the 6th we attended the parade and was positioned at the point where the parade ended. The 3rd unit in the parade was a group of the Marine Navajo Code Talkers, they were right behind the Color Guard and combined Veterans group. When the Code Talkers finished they all climbed into one vehicle to return to their individual vehicles. I hustled over to the group and asked to take their pictures and have them autograph the book I had just bought about them. They not only autographed my book and let me take their picture but also invited me to have my picture taken with them (eat your hearts out Marines!). Several of the 9 autographs I have are Code Talkers who are in the book.
The Marine Corps has been a source of many of my most memorable moments in life. While on active duty, along with Diego and Pendleton, I saw Japan and Hawaii. During a trip to Washington D.C. my first choice was to visit the Iwo Jima Statue (I debated long and hard whether I would wash the hand I touched it with). I am also a member of the Marine Corps League (Steven Dee Merrell Detachment, Pocatello, Idaho) enjoying it's many activities (the League is responsible for a Veteran's Memorial that is presently under construction in Pocatello). However, I have to count this most recent event as one of the highlights of my life. If you are a Marine may I suggest that you plan to attend this event if at all possible. It takes place each year about the first week in Sept. In the Navajo Indian Nation the Eagle Globe and Anchor is the key to the City so-to-speak.
Stan Brangham CPL 53-55
OK, HERE IT IS! THE DEFINITION AND HISTORY OF 'OORAH
Right after Korea in 1953 the 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company, FMFPAC can be credited with the birth of "OORAH" in the Corps. Specifically, where it came from was when Recon Marines were aboard the Submarine USS PERCH, ASSP-313. The Perch was an old WWII diesel boat retrofitted to carry UDT and Amphib Recon Marines.
If you remember the old war movies, whenever the boat was to dive, you heard on the PA system, "DIVE,DIVE", and you heard the horn sound "AARUGHA", like an old Model "A" horn. Sometime in 1953 or 1954, 1st Amphib Recon Marines, while on a conditioning run on land singing chants, someone imitated the "Dive" horn sound "AARUGHA", and it naturally became a Recon Warrior chant or mantra while on runs. It is sort of like the martial arts yell and adds a positive inference to the action. And this became part of Recon lexicon.
Former SgtMaj of the Marine Corps, John Massaro, was the company gunny of 1st Force in the late 50s and when he transferred to MCRDSD as an instructor at DI school he took "AARUGHA" with him and passed it on to the DI students and they , in turn, passed it on to recruits. Just as "Gung Ho" became symbolic of the WWII Raiders, so did "AARUGHA" become part of the new "running Marine Corps." Over time, "AARUGHA" EVENTUALLY CHANGED TO "OORAH".
The official Marine Corps Training Reference Manual on the history of Marine Recon is titled "AARUGHA", giving credence on the origination of the 'POSITIVE RESPONSE' accenting anything that is meant to be good and uniquely Marine Corps. It is part of Marine Corps language, like "Pogey Bait", "SOS", etc.
Hope this helps eliminate some of the confusion.
Bob Rader aka "Sgt. Wolf"
God Bless America and the United States Marine Corps
Once a Marine, Always a Marine
OORah Grit, Shouse here, just returned from a trip for a graduation on that lovely Island Paradise in South Carolina. Times have changed but not the Drill Instructors. They still yell and scare the Hell out of the Recruits but we took it, now it is the New Guys turn.
When we visited the Parris Island Museum, I saw a retired Marine running the cash register in the Gift Shop and I knew this guy. I couldn't place him but I knew him. I asked what outfit he was in over in Nam. That didn't click. He laughed and showed me a Poster with the Rose Garden DI. It was Sgt Taliano. Nice guy now, but a holy terror of 2nd Battalion in 66. This brings me to the point. In 1966, We had a DI named McDermott. Meanest SOB God ever put on the Planet. We were getting ready to graduate and he had asked one of the guys from NY to get his parents to bring him some kind of special Italian Sausage from a Deli up there. The day before we are to graduate the guy's parents bring the sausage and Ssgt Mcdermott tells me to take it to his car. The DI from the Platoon across the hall sees me put something in Mac's car and starts screaming what are doing in Sgt Mac's car. I tell him about the sausage and he says let me see it. I hand it to him and he takes a bite out of it like it is a chicken leg. I could see a career for me on Parris Island and when he says if Mac asks who took a bite of his sausage you tell him that you did. I do not remember going back to barracks but I remember the sinking feeling in my gut but I never heard a word about the bite out of the sausage.
Ron Shouse 1st RTBn PISC
class of 1966
I NOTICED THAT
Sgt. Grit, since I have been reading your newsletter, I am constantly reminded that no matter how long a Marine served, no matter what his or her MOS was, that our old saying still holds true: Once you are a Marine, you are always a Marine. I can remember my Senior Drill Instructor( SSgt. Stephen Flannery, MCRD Parris Island, 2nd RTR, Plt 2063, graduated 16 July, 1984) telling me and my fellow recruits that very thing on the day we were graduating from boot camp. Now 19 years later, I still see the very same brotherhood between former Marines and myself that I work with, and crossed paths with over the years(young and old), Most recently at my 20th year high school reunion, I noticed that the ones of us present at my reunion that are former Marines, spent the majority of our time with each other not only talking about our old school days, but our time spent in the Corps as well. No one can understand what being a Marine is, until they have earned the title. I could go on and on so I will end by saying this, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine!" Semper Fi, Danny Russell (1984-1988, 2nd MAW, Cherry Point, N.C.)
RAND INTERVIEW WITH 1ST MARDIV
Last week I sat in on several of the 1st MarDiv interviews that two retired Army colonels now working for RAND conducted on OIF Lessons Learned. They are writing a history for the Vice Chief of the Army on OIF and they recommended that the document also include Marine Corps and British forces experiences. Thus their visit to 1st Division and I MEF.
While at 5th Marines, several of the regimental, battalion, and company commanders involved in the fight in Baghdad recounted some of their experiences. The fight on April 10th for the Amilyah Palace and Hanifah mosque were particularly noteworthy. The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines was tasked with the mission. As a 5th Marines account of the action states, "Significant enemy action in several locations along the axis of advance and in the objective area, characterized by a relentless barrage of of RPGs, a torrent of heavy machinegun and small arms fire, resulted in the commitment of the RCT quick reaction force in support of the 1st Battalion. In securing their assigned objectives, 1st Battalion experienced heavy casualties and killed an estimated 100 Saddam Fedayeen fighters.....Following 1st Battalion's attack, thousands of Iraqis spontaneously took to the streets of Baghdad to cheer and thank the Marines and Sailors of the RCT for liberating them from Hussein's oppressive regime."
During the debrief to the Division, the RAND personnel said that they had no idea that this fight had taken place, the ferocity of it, and the bravery of the Marines until these interviews were conducted. Here are some additional details of the fight that we learned from the 5th Marines officers and SNCOs who had taken part in this engagement. I felt I had to share with other Marines.
The Battle of the Mosque, as it is known, was actually a nine-hour, intense urban fight. Nearly 1,000 RPGs were fired at the Marines and Sailors from windows, doorways, corners of buildings and rooftops. Some of the casualties the battalion suffered were from small arms, and one of the Gunnery Sergeants was killed by small arms through a thin-skinned vehicle. The vast majority of casualties were from RPG fragments. One company reported that their 12 AAVs received 33 RPG shots, but that none caused a catastrophic kill to the AAV. Some of the shape charge rounds went through both sides of the vehicle.
On the first day of the battle, the battalion reported 34 wounded, most with fragmentation wounds to the head and upper torso. It was only on the day after the battle that the regiment realized the number of wounded was actually 74. Many of the Marines had not reported their wounds to the corpsman, because they were afraid that they would be medevaced, and not be able to return to their unit in the midst of this intense fight. Illustrating the bravery and devotion to their fellow Marines, a field grade officer in the regiment told us of one young Marine who only went to the Doc on the day after the battle to report severe shrapnel wounds to his left arm, asking the corpsman to look at the wounds and to not say anything, because he was losing the use of the limb. The Marine confided to the corpsman that he had been unable to stop the bleeding for the past 24 hours. Looking at the blood-soaked dressing, the corpsman asked the Marine how many bandages he had bled through. The answer, "I lost count."
As soon as the regimental leadership found out about Marines hiding their wounds, the word quickly went out ordering everyone who had suffered wounds to have them taken care of. When I related this story to Irish Egan, he commented, "We still make them like we used to."
As an aside, Col Joe Dunford returned from Iraq this past Sunday after having spent over 8 months in-theater. If any of you know Joe Dunford, send him a note of thanks and well done. To all 5th Marines, and all Marines, Semper Fi, Steve
I was stationed at Camp McNair, Japan from 1955 to 1956. This camp was on the slops of MT. Fuji and was a very beautiful area around the camp. I was in H.& S. Battery, 1st. Bat., 12th Marines and was in a radio platoon. In our tent we had a Sgt. Thomas O'Brien who had played football at Notre Dame in early 1950's. I don't know all the reason why but his reserve unit was called to active duty during the Korean conflict. In 1955 or early 56 he was due to get out and had high hope of returning to Notre Dame to play football. The coach at that time was Frank Lehieg ( I know that is not the right spelling) and he had assured O'Brien that they were waiting for him to return so that he could be a part of the team. Lehieg decided to retire and Notre Dame hired Terry Brennan as the new coach. O'Brien did not hear from the new coach and assumed that he was not in the plans of the new coaching staff. Tom decided to ship over for six years in the Corps. I believe about a week after he had signed papers, he received letter from coach Brennan stating that he was awaiting his arrival. I guess he would have to wait six years. I always wondered what happened to Sgt. O'Brien, he was a great leader and always thought, what a story.
Cpl. John D. Danley
H.& S. Battery, 1st. Bat., 12th. Marines
WHAT DAY IS IT?
By John E. Halpin
2nd Battalion, 9th marines, 3rd Marine Regiment
"Take five" came down the line. I was ready for it. We had been helloed into the area early in the morning. We had been humping the hills for about three hours, so the break was good. I had arrived in Da Nang, Republic of South Vietnam, just three weeks earlier and had been sent to Phu Bi. I was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. 2/9 or as we were called "Hell in a Helmet". A name that would one day prove to be the cause of many of us surviving a clash with the N.V.A. (North Vietnamese Army). This was my first operation, a search and destroy mission. I was an "F.N.G." (f%cking new guy), I watched and followed the example of some of the seasoned guys, to try and get some quick lessons on surviving in this place. One lesson I soon learned was to take off your hard cover and sit on it when I had a chance to take five. With the top of the helmet facing down, you could sit on it and rock back and forth like an old front porch swing. Plus it was still handy to get back on. Anyway, it was hard to get my butt accustomed to my new portable seat. It took some time to get accustomed to it. It was funny, seeing some of the other F.N.G.'s trying it and when they leaned to far backwards, with all the gear we were carrying, they looked like some big bug someone had turned over and it couldn't get right-side-up. Another lesson was to carry the rifle, an M-14 at that time, at port-arms. One hand is on the forearm, the other is ready to pull the trigger and the weapon is held in front of the body at an angle. Your basic ready-for-anything position. Also, carry two canteens of water. I had been issued only one canteen and it is up to me to get the other. I soon learned that after a fire fight, and the dead and wounded are taken out of the area, the gear is stacked up for removal to the rear for reissue. At that time you get what you need. Like many F.N.G.'s before me and those after me, the gear with blood on it, I do not want. Why we did not want to touch the sticky red stuff I don't know. Maybe it is just the thought of someone else's blood, because it never seems to come off your hands. Anyway, the first rain washed it off my gear. And in the hills it rained at 1:15 p.m. every day when your up as high as we were.The view was beautiful from the hillside. As I sat on my helmet it was hard to believe we were in a war. Lots of green, lots of sun and lots of rain. The only strange thing was there were no insect sounds. Nope, nada, nothing, zero, all gone. You can almost hear your heart beating when the sh!t hits the fan. We were up high enough to be just above the morning mist and fog. It cast a mystic view on everything. It was almost as if this whole mess was a dream, however, I could tell from the sweat running down my body it was not any dream I had ever had. A lot of the sweat was from carrying all the weight I had in my back pack. We were to be out for three days and we had to carry our food with us, plus all the other gear. Like the typical F.N.G. I had the complete meal pack for each meal. During the break I started reviewing just what I was going to carry and eat from then on. The list got real short, fast. "Saddle up" came the call from up the line. I instantly got up and put my helmet on. Some of the others just sat there. They knew it would be awhile before the line moved enough for us to start moving ourselves, because the point man had to check out the trail for safety. Another lesson learned and many more to come. Shortly after we started I saw my first dead body. It was almost like a plastic mannequin, lying on the ground. The eyes were looking into nothing and they reminded me of the eyes I had seen in a mounted dear's head when I was a kid. I was thinking, "So this is what we do. Kill another human so we can live". I was told to keep moving and not to worry about the body. I would be seeing more before my tour of duty was over. I did not realize I would still be seeing them many years later.
We had been moving for about and hour when I heard a new sound. "Sniper" came the call. "VC" came the next. Then the distinct sound of the enemy's AK-47 assault rifle. You never forget that sound. We all moved as one and hit the side of the trail. Some facing up the hill and some facing down the hill. I was facing up the hill and I had found a nice tree with some big roots to get next to. I saw some of the others take out their K-Bars knives and stick them in the tree roots. I learned later that a few missions back it had been hand-to-hand and the seasoned ones wanted the knife at the ready. There I was, flat on the ground, rifle ready, right in the middle of it. Oh, sh!t! What had I gotten myself into. My mind started going over the ready list. Ammo? Check! Can I get at it OK? Check! Field of fire OK? Check! Then the combat training review kicked in. OK, when I sight the enemy, remember the training back at the rifle range. Sight in, inhale, let half of it out, hold it, squeeze the trigger. Do not jerk it. If they get closer you must stand with your feet spread apart for support. Band the knees some, for better movement. This was going to be a royal-f*ck-up with the tree roots. Anyway, have the rifle pointed at the enemy as he approaches. Perry his weapon out of the way and deliver a vertical butt stroke to the jaw, then a forward butt thrust to the face. This was reviewed several times in my mind, then another strange thought entered.
What was today? I knew it was the 11th, but what was the day. It wasn't Sunday, because we had not been give the big ass horse pill for Malaria. What was today. I was getting mad because, here I was getting into combat and possibly getting killed and I did not know what the day was. I figured that if I am to die I should know what the day was. I whispered to the Marine next to me, "Hay, what is today"? He did not know and soon the question was passed along the line. The answers came back, "It's Monday", "No, it's Wednesday", till soon every day of the week was mentioned. The gun fire was getting closer to my location, as the VC tried to break the line of Marines scattered out along the winding jungle trail. My eyes were squinting to see the invisible enemy around us. To hell with inhale and let part of it out, FIRE. they F.N.G.'s were shooting at anything that moved, even a leaf falling from a tree. At the time I thought it was strange, how the little bits of dirt springing up from the ground carries death - if it touches you. I wondered about the one they say has your name on it. A mortar round went off close by, a sound I would become accustomed to during the rest of my 13 months in Nam. It was followed by the sound I did not want to get accustomed to, the sound of pain. Strange how the one word from a wounded Marine's mouth during severe pain is "Mom". I always figured it would be a lot of cussing. That came later. The silence after a fire fight is scary. It is something I never got used to. Sort of like waiting for someone to drop the second shoe, before they go to bed. Only the sounds of "Corpsman up" and the muffled sound of someone's pain were heard. "5 VC KIA" came the call from the front of the line. And next, the back to business as usual call, "Saddle up".As we made our way along the trail I could still hear the question. "What day is it?" I had made it through the day, my baptism of fire. And I still did not know what day it was.I had had been baptized that day. I also aged that day as well. I learned that I will do whatever it takes to stay alive, because the alternative hurts and it is not good for you. I had only heard but soon would learned the sound of death, the cry of pain and the horrid sound of the death rattle. I soon learned that death does not walk among the living. Death crawls, because he is heavy laden with the souls of the dead. War provides to much food for him and he has become a incapable of walking. He has to drag himself along the ground like the scavenger he his. I heard death crawl by me that day, he would be crawl close many more times before I was to return.I never kept track of the calendar dates after that day. I kept track of the days of the week. If you are going to die you should know when you did it. Combat makes you ask questions that some might think as stupid. To us there are no stupid questions. So, if someone ask what the day is, give them the day of the week. The person asking may have been in combat and he has a reason for asking.
WHO IN THE HELL MADE IT POSSIBLE
Sgt. Grit, my name is Cpl. James Panlener. I look forward to each and every one of your news ltrs. In reading the Oct 2003 ltr. my blood pressure once again soared!! The subject of my high BP is something that I have had to listen to time and again. "If you do not have/wear the CAR" then you are nothing!! When I report to in country processing in Da Nang in 69 I expected t/b sent to a line outfit, instead I was sent to MAG-36 HEADQUARTERS Bn in Phu Bai. Because I could type & had some office experience. In your news ltr. there was this fellow that was sent to an air wing outfit & another Marine told him since he was not a 0311 he was not a real Marine! Well just who in the hell made it possible for that ass*(& (pardon my french) to receive his supplies in the field?? We all serve & follow orders that we may not like or want but BY GO I DID MY DUTY & DID N