I always thought that having served 6 years in the Corps would somehow make going through this easier. But it has been quite the opposite. Having a better understanding of what those Marines are going through sometimes makes it harder to sleep at night...
Sgt Susan "Storm" Saldana, USMC
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XXL t-shirts. I screwed up and have too many of them in certain designs. Yes, I am doing bends and mothers forever. See www.grunt.com for a bargain.
WHEN MY HUSBAND
Just wanted to show my support to all the Marines of Delta Company, 2nd LAR BN and their families. We have had a rough couple of weeks. My husband, Sgt Brian Callendar, was the lead vehicle commander for the battalion before he was wounded and had to be MedEvac'd on April 8th. Although he is glad that he will be here for the birth of our son, I know he is also troubled by not being with his Marines. He flew out this morning to Memphis for the funeral of LCpl Tim Creager mentioned in your last newsletter. Brian and Tim were very good friends....Tim's girlfriend and I both reside in SC so they would drive down together from Camp Lejeune to see us every weekend. When my husband was assigned to leave advance party Tim promised he'd make sure Brian came home safe. My husband might have came home wounded but he came home...and I will be forever grateful to Tim for that. Shortly after Tim was KIA we received news of two more Marines from Delta Co being KIA. One was LCpl Lawrence who's wife is 9 mos pregnant with their first child and is scheduled to have labor induced today. We also have several Marines from Delta Company who had to be MedEvac'd due to serious burns from IEDs. My support and condolences go out to all the families. I always thought that having served 6 years in the Corps would somehow make going through this easier. But it has been quite the opposite. Having a better understanding of what those Marines are going through sometimes makes it harder to sleep at night...especially not being able to go back in the service and do my share after receiving a discharge due to a leg injury. I am proud to have served as the 2nd MarDiv Deployment Plans Chief in preparation for OIFI and had a hand in deploying 7488 of our Marines the 1st time around. I only regret that I could not stay and contribute this time around.
Sgt Susan "Storm" Saldana, USMC
LAST BATTLE OF WWII
I have just finished binding a book I wrote during the winter and saw a page in which I described what I called the last battle of WWII. This battle happened on Oahu when two jeeps with eight Marines returned from a beach party, stopping at a Jap POW camp to look and take some pictures.
The Japanese objected and soon a rock throwing fight ensued. To make a long story short, we soon took an early withdrawal, in my case I was due to come home and didn't want problems. In other cases, we were taking too many incoming rocks from behind the wire.
George Weber USMC-SS 44-46
Note: I would like to hear more from WWII, China and Korea Marines. Sgt Grit
WHAT DI YOU SAY??
Yo Grit, never was an '08, but when in the Ordnance bidness, did spend a lot of time around the big guns (what did you say??speak up!).........and, the way I recall the ditty for timing a saluting battery goes "If I wasn't a gunner, I wouldn't be here....Fire!" ......so, does timing a battery make one a "cannon clocker"?.... (sorry, just couldn't resist....."line of sight, &%$#!) ....been there done that....
I fully understand LCpl Garretts feelings of being forgotten. Last year I spent 6 months in Djibouti Africa as part of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn Of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and we got no press coverage, and very little television coverage. Most of the people I work with thought I was in Iraq, when I clearly sent emails and pictures from Africa. No one has a clue what we are doing in Africa. I saw a three day, 2 minute special on Fox. I am being recalled out of retirement again, to go back to Djibouti and resume my duties as the INTEL Chief for the CJTF-HOA. Too many people forget that this is a global war on terrorism, and unfortunately too many people just donâ€™t have the stomach or the memory power to support a just and sustained war in this wide spread arena. I still marvel at the fact that it was 36 years ago I entered the Corps, and I am about to serve again!! We arenâ€™t forgotten LCpl Garrett, we are doing important work in the fight against these butt heads that want our freedoms and murder our citizens. Hang in there. Remember the Wake Island defenders and how forgotten they must have felt.
God Bless our Marines, and God Bless the Marine Corps.
MGySgt USMCR (Ret.)
THE WORKING PARTY
I just read Brad Robinson's story of the "beer in the well" stash. I had a similar experience while serving aboard the USS OKINAWA. As the ncoic of our company armory during deployment with 2/3 in 1982, I was lucky enough to be given my own berthing area/weapons room. With 2 other marines we slept and lived with the company's weapons and were chained shut during sleeping hours. While out of the area one day, I returned to find my 2 comrades grinning ear to ear. It turned out that in my absence, a working party snaked past our hatch. The working party was stocking some cargo hold with of all things,"little boxes of orange juice". need I say the men forming the working party by our hatch happened to be from our company. lcpl david lance had expertly camoflaged at least 30 cases of the stuff. each case with 20? little boxes of juice. We also discovered that the air vent acted like a refrigerator and could hold about 4-5 boxes at a time.My biggest worry was trying to keep all the empty boxes out of sight from i'm sure some very angry chief.
PS we also got (3) 10 lb cans of tuna fish.
SGT Gary Mckruit golf co,2/3
I just recently had the privilege of reacquainting myself with MCRD San Diego and attend a graduation ceremony. I was in San Diego for work and had a free day to visit MCRD. I was surprised that I could so easily get onto base until I realized it was a graduation day. Many things have changed since i was there in 1986 but many are still the same. I was at the Theater when these 2nd Battalion recruits were finishing up their motivational run. Many, many proud parents, family, and friends were in attendance to greet them. After a brief speech the recruits were off to sh!t, shower, shave , and shine for graduation that afternoon. On a quick side note, it was great to see that the hallowed grounds of the Parade Deck are still off limits to all civilians. As a matter of fact, one of the juniors nearly killed himself running across it to "escort" some civilians off during ceremonies. Anyway, these young men received their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor at this ceremony and I am not sure who was the proudest of them: themselves, their family and friends, or me. It struck me that these men were now apart of my brotherhood, one which I love and cherish everyday of my life. I was impressed with their poise, confidence, and Esprit de Corps and was certain that our Corps was still in great hands. As a parent though, I was/am a bit concerned at how darn young these men looked. I am a mere 36 years of age and thought to myself, "I can't let these wet behind the ears kids go fight for my freedoms. I know they will do well but, d-mn, let me live a little and get some experience." It was a moment of both pride and concern to say the least. In the airport on the way home, I was fortunate to run into a few new Marines and struck a conversation with a bystander. She, and the lady at the gift shop, all agreed that they were young but we, as a country were all very proud of their commitment and dedication. I think that young Pfc. stood taller than he ever has.
To all Marines, especially you new ones, know that we pray for you daily and that we hold you in high regards, you are keeping OUR tradition at the very highest and we couldn't be more proud.
As an 'Olde' (Still surviving...) W.W.II E-2-7 1st Mar Div. Marine (Okinawa, China) , I really enjoy reading of the continuing "Esprit de Corps" that exists, with lasting enthusiasm, within in the ranks.
The 1st Mar. Div. emblem on my bumper regularly get horn blasts and Hi-5's from other's passing, of all ages...and still chokes me up.
An eternal brotherhood of "Once a Marine Always a Marine"
Cpl. Joe Colletto
I noticed one of your readers was asking about PFC's being D.I.'s-----I went through P.I. in July, August and part of September of 1953, and I had two-----and, believe this or not, I can still remember their names(and I didn't look in my graduation book)----PFC Bates and PFC Cronin----and I'm a 73 year old MARINE!! I think the reason they had them in WW11 and still in 1953 was we(US) were still engaged in War and needed as many Non-Com's as we could get!!!
--------Ron Dohre, '53', '54', '55'
Sgt. Matt Kirk was curious about PFC DI'S. This may help to inform him based on our experience in PLTN #137, MCRD San Diego in early 1954. We had a CPL as head DI and a PFC as #2. In the last week of Boot Camp these men were replaced by a Staff and a Buck. We were told that "it had come down" that all head DI'S were required to be Staff or above. We thought that with such a short time to graduation it was a H&ll of a time to make a change. Our "former" DI'S attended graduation and as we marched off the Parade Ground after graduation we were called to a Halt and our Right Guide presented our former CPL DI with the Honor Platoon Flag! By the way, he wore Korean service ribbons. Semper Fi!
Craig Murchland #1484568
Regarding Sgt. Kirk's inquiry about when the practice of PFC D.I.'s stopped - I still have my Boot Camp graduation picture taken on May 1, 1952. One of the three Drill Instructor's sitting front and center is PFC C. F. Holler. He was the one who drilled us about 80% of the time and was tough, fair and respected. All three D.I.'s are wearing "Ike" style green blouses and PFC Holler's is void of any ribbons or hash marks. I don't know how old he was at the time but doubt he was over 20 and about 90% of our platoon was 22 to 24 year old draftees. He handled it well.
Sgt Richard Rasmussen, 1290233
Dear Sgt. Grit: I got together with several old Marines a few weeks ago and one asked me if I would like a cup of coffee. I replied, "I have never had a cup of coffee in my life." I was immediately questioned how could I have spent four years in the Marine Corps ['64-'67] and not have had a cup of coffee? It was beyond their scope of thought.
Are there any Marines out there who are also non-coffee drinkers?
I know it is not a great thought provoking question like the origin of "Ooorah" or pet names for MRI's but if you have space, I sure would like to know I am not alone.
Life Member MCL, Life Member VFW
BOXERS ON BACKWARDS
Sgt. Grit I was reading the News Letter of June 25.04 and came across the story "Why I hate Boxers" written by "Bo." I got a real chuckle out of the story which reminded me of a similar experience that I had in Boot Camp. I went to PI in August on 1972. 3rd Btn, Plt. 395. I don't need to remind everyone that's been there, how hot and humid it is at PI in August. After a couple of days we got "picked up" and finally met our DI's. We went through the process of getting out of our stinky (two days, no showers) civilian cloths and issued our gear. I just remember everyone's utilities where too long, as where the belts. 85 new recruits received all our allotment of utilities, skivvies, boots, socks & tee shirts. The process should have taken at least a half an hour, but of course we had to do it in ten minuets or less. Like many from that time, this was my first experience with boxers. (By the way, did I mention the slit in the front of a pair of boxers, doesn't include a snap to ensure everything stays inside?) Given the very limited amount of time to dress, I invariably put my boxers on backwards, got dressed and stuffed everything else in the sea bag and got formed up with the rest of the herd.
We were force marched, crowding and tripping over each other in the dust, sand and 90 degree heat for what seemed like 10 miles. (I found out years later it was maybe a mile) Somehow, in the process and probably because everything was hot and sweaty, not to mention backwards, I managed to rip my first set of boxers from top to bottom. Given the situation for the next 91 days, torn shorts were not on my list of things to really worry about.
Now fast forward to about 2 weeks before graduation. Everyone that was going to adjust to boot camp life had pretty well done so. It was early evening and one of the JDI's was conducting mail call while we were cleaning rifles, polishing boots or writing letters home. (The boot camp version of relaxing) After checking for contraband he would call out our names to come up and pick up our mail.
Wouldn't you know it, my name was called. I dropped everything and hauled a-- to the front of the squad bay, skidded to a halt in my shower shoes & boxer shorts. I "locked up" in front of the JDI sitting at a desk as he was going through the huge stack of letters from home. As luck would have it, and like the previous story, "Mr. Chubby" was peaking out of my boxers as I stood at attention in front of him. Since the DI was seated he couldn't help coming "eye to eye" with me when he glanced up. As only a DI can, he "asked me to put him away" which I did as fast as possible and locked back up. By this time, about everyone, but me, was cracking up, and the DI was doing his best to keep a straight & stern face as he was chewing me out about being some kind of sicko exhibitionist, and "who the h&ll did I think I was.....etc.". When he finally concluded, I was dismissed & told to "get out of his sight." Glad to put this whole unpleasant business behind me, and eager get back into keeping a low profile, I quickly and smartly took one step back and executed one of the best "about face" movements of my career. As I waited for him to "give me the word" to get back to my rack, I realized to my horror that I was wearing those same boxers that I had ripped on the first day. I had just "mooned" my DI directly after being chewed out for flopping out in front of him. Everything got blurry after that. I just remember the DI and everyone in the place cracking up. I was doing "Bends and Mothers" what seemed like days. Unbelievably, I actually made Platoon Honor Man & PFC. I doubt seriously that my "performance" had anything to do with it.
Thanks for trip back!
Marine Barracks, Ft. Meade, MD
Sgt. Grit: In this weeks newsletter there was the following poem;
"Now this is the Law of the Jungle
as old and as true as the sky;
and the wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back-
for the strength of the pack is the wolf,
and the strength of the wolf is the pack."
I don't know who originally penned it but I hope they don't mind the modified version that follows;
"Now this is the Law of the Jungle
as old and as true as the sky;
and the Marine that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Marine that shall break it may die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law
runneth aft and fore- for the strength of the Corps
is the Marine, and the strength of the Marine is the Corps."
EVERYTHING WAS LIGHTS OUT
Wanted to pass on a little ditty about those smart 2nd lieutenants out there. I was with MSSG-11 back in the late 80's and we were doing some training out on San Clemente island. Being in S1 and commanding an LSD (Large Steel Desk), I spent a lot of time in the CP. Everyone was told to stay clear of the CP when it was our turn to sleep. All of us "uneducated" enlisted types did just that. One night we had a 2nd lieutenant from the Motor T detachment settle in for some shut-eye about 10 yards from the tent. That night one of his NCOs came in for one reason or another. Everything was lights out so the driver never saw the Lt and ran right over his upper legs. The driver wasn't sure what it was, so he backed up...over his legs again. They brought in a huey and flew the Lt. back to Pendleton. He was back with us three days later - seems the San Clemente sand gave way enough to cushion the roll-over.. ..twice. However, he did go by Lt. MOMAT after the incident!
SGT Tom Smith (Burner-T)
You know something Sergeant Grit;
It's funny really. I watch the news, or read online, about the army chain of command falling to shreds over the abuses in Iraqi prisons. "Well, Colonel so and so authorized...." or "I'm just a dumb PFC, I was following orders from my sergeant and didn't know I could use common sense..." Point I'm making here is that there's no loyalty, they are all scurrying to bury each other and cover their worthless posteriors.
Then, I read your newsletters, and the only thing we Marines have to bicker about is the phrase OOORAHHH? I think it speaks volumes as to the character of our brothers and sisters when our only fight is from a WWII or Korea vet poking light hearted fun at us boot Desert Storm guys, or vice versa. So SEMPER FIDELIS, OORAH, ARRUGAH, and TELL YOUR SISTER THANKS FOR LAST NIGHT to all of you.
One pet peeve though, and I've corrected civilians on this one, so regardless of which generation GYRENE we are there is no excuse for this blunder. When the word Marine is written, it always, ALWAYS, must be capitalized. Ever notice a sentence similar to the following? "God bless all soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines?" Has a nice look, huh Sergeant?
Marines of all eras, I salute you, I love you, and I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with each and every one of you. Oh,and before you go knocking down my door, remember I was only kidding about MOST of your sisters!
Steve Arnold ("Arnie")
Camp Elmore, Norfolk VA 1988-1992
Desert Storm, 4th MEB
HE REACHED INSIDE HIS VEHICLE
Semper Fi Sgt. Grit:
Once again you have brought back ol' memories to this ol' Marine. A couple of years ago my Dad who is also a Marine from WWII and one of the ol' flying Sgts'. came to Tulsa to visit and called me on the phone to meet him at QT at 12th and Garnett. Well when I pulled in he was at the gas pump filling up and I walked up to him and said "Semper Fi Dad". He reached inside of his vehicle and pulled out some notebook protector sheets and the first thing that caught my eye was a meatball flag (Japanese). This Japanese flag was take off of a Kamaze pilot who's plane didn't go boom on Oki. Well I joined the Corps in 71 and during my child hood my Dad didn't talk much about his time in the Pacific, but here lately since I'm also a combat vet he has opened up to me more. My Dad is still going strong at 79 years young and he is still a hard charger. My Dad served with various units during WWII one that sticks in my mind is VMFN-541 the Night Hawks who was involved in the retaking of the Philippines and Okinawa and he was one of the first Marines to set foot on Japan. I have some great pictures and other memorabilia from that era but no way to share it at this time. I have shown it to my fellow Marines of the Marine Corp League here in Tulsa and to the American Legion in Sand Springs. As a ol' Retired but still a Marine I want to say Semper Fi to all our brothers and sisters who are currently serving and have served in our beloved Corps and how I wish I could reup so that I could be with them in this fight, but alas I'm too old and way to disabled to do what is required of us. My wife just doesn't understand us Marines and she never will cause she says that we are just too filled with pride of our Corps and I can't make her understand why we are so great.
GySgt Ray Lancaster
USMC forever even if retired.
I'D JUST LIKE TO SAY
My name is William Suter and I'm in the D.E.P waiting to go to Paris Island on July 26 for basic. My cousin Lance Corporal Jacob Suter is leaving for Iraq for Iraq ( he is in the LAV division out in 29 Palms, California) soon and I have a cousin who is a former Sgt. in the Marines. I'd just like to say that I'm honored to follow in their footsteps and in every other Marines footsteps. Thank you to all the Marines serving and former Marines for molding this country into what it is today.
Dear Sgt. Grit, I would like to share some pictures of my Motivation Room (I love Me Room) with you and our fellow Marines, after 23 years in the Marine Corps I still like to plaster the walls with USMC. Thanks to you and your business.
1stsgt Scott Leigh (Retired)
In your May 27th Newsletter a Sgt Wackerly BB64 USS Wisconsin '53-'56 talked about the Lobster Song. I think this might be the one he and his buddies used to sing in the slop chute at Gitmo I was tens later and we used to sing "I'm moving on." Sample: See Victor Charlie in the grass playing burp gun boogie on my young ass, I'm moving on, I'll soon be gone. I'm hauling ass I'm getting gas I'll soon be gone.(or something like that) Does any one out there know all the choruses?
Steve Bosshard 2095724 '64-'68 RVN
"Our Country won't go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won't be any AMERICA because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race!"
-Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC
OUR TEAM GETS PRETTY BUSY
Dear Patricia and members of Sgt Grits.
We received the shirts you sent to us here in Fallujah and would just like to say thank you very much. My teammates and I really appreciate your generosity and support. The shirts are definitely coming in handy. Our team provides security for VIP's and convoys. We operate out of Fallujah, but work from Baghdad to the Syrian border. We have about twenty members in our team comprised of active and reserve Marines. Most of our team is originally from California and Chicago, but we also have members from AZ, WA, NJ, and LA. The weather is getting hotter out here. It is in the 100's everyday. Our team gets pretty busy. The activity has decreased a little here; it's a little less dangerous than it was our first two months here.
Our team has several members that have received Purple Hearts, but the wounds were minor and everyone is doing fine. We really appreciate the thoughtfulness and support we are receiving from everyone back home and just wanted to take the time to say thank you for supporting us. Attached is a picture of the team
Semper Fi, SSgt Paul Zogg
VIETNAM VETS OF 2ND BN 1ST MARINES
Dates: 11 November through 14 November, 2004
Location: Holiday Inn Rosslyn Key Bridge
19 North Fort Meyers Drive
Arlington, VA 22209
Phone: For Reservations: 1-800-368-3480
Hotel Phone: 703-807-2000
For other details;
website: 2nd Battalion 1st Marines
questions; email: email@example.com (Pete Meadows)
Postal address: Vietnam Veterans of 2nd Bn, 1st Reg., 1st MarDiv, Inc.
PO Box 4009
Westford, MA 01886
Again I want to say thank you. We love you Sgt. Grit.
Denise and Tim Wells (SSgt. 68-74)
Saw the pics of the Sikorski and that brings back memories. Most Vietnam vets talk of Hueys, I never rode on one. You say you were in Phu Bai in 1967 - 68, I was with an IG inspection team January - February 1968 and we were in Phu Bai until the Hue airport was over run then the Sikorski's took us to Dong Ha to complete our mission. The most beautiful ride I had was following the Cau Viet river from Dong Ha to the mouth of the river, there was an amtrack base there we inspected and a tank company not too far away. These were not white glove inspections, it was to find vehicles that needed rebuilding, in Subic Bay.
Just some thoughts.
Kenneth J. Aune
Ord. Maint. Co., Maint. Bn,
3rd FSR Track Platoon
Camp Hansen, Okinawa
IT WAS BREATHTAKING
A good friend and fellow Marine whom I served with in the 3rd MAW was in town to visit with his family. I live in Pa and they are from Mo. We made plans to go and see the Sunset Parade at the Marines War Memorial. It was breathtaking. The band was exceptional and the silent drill team was also great... We of course then visited the other memorials and also Arlington cemetery. All in all it was a fantastic visit and I highly recommend it to anyone. Info for the presentations is on the Marine Corp Barracks website. It is a must see when in Washington DC. Semper Fi Marines.
Vincent Poandl IV
Sgt USMC 82-86
HER MOS TRAINING
Hi sgt.git my daughter Chas is now in Missouri for her mos training I wanted to write she is at fort leonard wood she says that the army personnel do not seem to like the marines training there I told her that is because most of them would have rather been marines but couldn't cut the mustard so P!ss on them!!!
any just a quick note to say hi and I love your website I don't know what I would do without it so thank you very much!!!! have a great day.
Kathy Davis a very proud mother in Ky
ALWAYS GIVE THEIR RANK
It's always great to catch up on your newsletters. No matter what my mood is or any problems I'm faced with after reading a few stories I'm good to go and ready to turn and burn.
One observation I've made since I retired from the Navy (SEABEE Chief)is whenever I talk to a Marine, old corps-new corps it doesn't make any difference they always give their rank (Sgt., Maj., Cpl., PFC.). Whenever I talk to an other service veteran they always give their paygrade(E-5, O-4, E-4, E-2). I guess regardless of rank the title Marine denotes leadership at all levels. I had the privilege of riding an LPD USS Mt Vernon from Longview to Portland during the Rose Festival a few years ago.
On it was a detachment from 1st Tanks as part of the fleet to visit Portland. I was talking to a young PFC and I addressed him as Private, he immediately corrected me with, "Excuse me sir that's Private First Class." Nobody but a Marine would do or could do that. There were a few civilians around and they didn't know what to think, I immediately acknowledged my error and stood corrected. It was a great trip and the memories of all the Marines of 1st Tanks are the best
Patrick s. Corrie
USMC Sgt 67-71
USN CPO 74-94
Hello Sgt. Grit,
I am writing you in behalf of my fiancÃ©, Cpl Shane Cooley. We live in Virginia and he is stationed at Henderson Hall Marine Corps Base. He is originally from Oklahoma City and his father who lives there still, is the one who got me subscribed to your newsletters. Shane recently went before the board and won the NCO of the Quarter and we are all very happy about it. He is such a dedicated Marine. I was just wondering if you could maybe post something on your newsletter congratulating him?
P.S- I love your newsletters and catalogues!
ONCE A MARINE
Once a Marine, always a Marine
or so the sticker asys
but there are those who doubt
because they were not Marines anyway.
Semper Fi, means, always faithful
and that is, to the end
but to those of us, who have a doubt,
that means, we were never
Marine material to begin.
It takes a special breed,
to be called Marine,
not everyone can make it,
except for the chosen few
and that's why it's written that way,
the few, the proud, the Marines,
and that's the way, it will stay.
THE CORPORATE LADDER
Sgt. Grit, my step daughter (though I never call her 'step'), recently joined the Corps. She has passed all her tests with flying colors and is currently DEP'd in as a 2739, Japanese Linguist, under Intelligence.
She has however, been selected to attempt to get one of the few NROTC scholarships. Interestingly enough, she will not be able to do the same work as an officer, if she makes it, as she wants to do as an enlisted WM.
This is all neither here nor there really, the reason this situation has brought me to writing you, is because of the feelings my 'little girl' joining 'my Corps' has stirred in me. As I love your newsletter, I thought you might be interested in this, and though it is long, you may agree that some of the active Devil Dogs need to read it.
A combination of the many discussions we have had about my beloved Corps, our PT sessions (which I need FAR more than she), but specifically being around the recruiting station and the Marines there, has awakened feelings in me that I thought long buried.
As I have heard from many former (I prefer 'inactive') Marines, there is a kind of longing associated with being out of the Corps, after a period of time. It began for me, many years ago, but has been rushed to the forefront during this time working with my daughter and being around Marines again. I find the whole situation most intriguing and would simply like to tell those current-active Marines one simple thing: STAY IN OUR BELOVED CORPS!
Now let me tell you why. Everything you don't like about the Corps, whatever it may be, is nine thousand times worse in the civilian sector. I was a Sr. Manager in the IT department of a Fortune 500/NASDAQ 100 company and I am now consulting, I know of what I speak.
Recently while examining these new emotions, I realized that all but one of the people I would call a friend, since I have been out of the Corps (err, inactive), and I mean ALL but ONE of them, has been prior military. Though not always Marines (we are The Few, after all), I suddenly realized that the only people I trust at all in the civilian sector, are vets.
It is human nature to segregate yourself around those who you have shared experiences with. Usually this is based on race, geographical upbringing, religion and / or socio-economic factors. However I have found an interesting dynamic in the civilian sector that is seldom discussed, that I think all active Jar-heads should know about.
If you intend to 'climb the corporate ladder', be aware of this fact: those civilians that you work with will never understand what you have been thru and they will never give it the respect it deserves, because they cannot grasp the gravity of what you have done.
Additionally I have found (especially among Marines) that there are two other dynamics at work, which make matters worse: by simply being a Marine, your baring separates you from the civilians you work with. What is a matter of 'life or death' to them, is trivial to you, for you have seen truly life or death situations, and they don't usually happen on the third floor of the office building or at the golf course. This 'calm in the eye of the storm' is unsettling to the civilians you work with; they may even resent it, or believe that you are not 'putting the requisite importance on the subject'. Nothing you do in a civilian setting, in general, will give you the same sense of importance, the same feeling of accomplishment you got everyday in the Corps.
Second, the respect you will get, especially in social settings by others when they find out you were a Marine, will also be unsettling, especially to your superiors, as they are used to getting all the respect and being at a certain level in the 'pecking order', which you have now somehow surpassed them in.
These factors when combined, will often conspire to raise feelings of envy and/or jealousy and guilt, mixed with an aversion to or loathing of the things you did (as you will inevitably 'be driven' to tell war/sea stories), culminating in a fear of the things you have done/faced and feelings of inadequacy, then an anger at themselves for their feelings which will eventually end up in a resentment of you. And I think for the majority of them, this chain of events is entirely sub-conscious and non-malicious.
They don't even realize it is happening.
Now obviously this is not true of EVERY single person you come in contact with in the civilian sector, there are always exceptions to the rule. I have had a few superiors who were self confident enough to not only 'have me around', but enjoy my company. When they were done telling their stories of the frat parties and fun in college, I'd tell about some of the things we did when I was active. Those civilians with enough self confidence and self esteem to listen to what I was saying without experiencing the feelings I outlined above, also saw the advantages I brought to the table in the civilian sector and used those advantages to their (and consequently the companies) advantage.
Those that were threatened by my 'Marine-ness', resented me and felt uncomfortable around me. And these were the civilians I had to watch out around. These individuals disliked me being allowed in the 'good ole boy's club', when I didn't come up the same way they did, and often worked contrary to me because of it.
Now there are also examples of all these situations IN the Corps, but the difference in the end is this: we too have all had a shared experience; Boot Camp. We all share a common understanding of what 'life and death' really means. And no matter what the situation, those shared experiences build a trust and professionalism you will very unlikely find in any civilian sector endeavor.
In the Corps we have the 'ten-percenters', the $hit-birds, while the other 90% are squared away. In the civilian world, you can reverse those numbers...
Semper Fi, my brothers! I miss you all!
LCpl. (shoulda stayed and made Cpl.) Parsons, inactive (active '86-'89).
0341, 2111, 0861, 8541, 9953
Sgt. Grit: Here's an item for your newsletter.
I'm sure a lot of your Newsletter readers have their own favorite "What Goes Around, Comes Around" Marine Corps story. Here's mine, with a little Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps (HQMC) and personal USMC "history" mixed in. In several instances I have used only an individuals rank and initials, omitting specific names and units only because some of them have since been "transferred to Heaven's Scenes." And though some readers may be able to identify the individuals, the initials and units used are nevertheless correct and true.
In 1966 I was a 36-year old MSgt (E8) with almost 19 years service. I had been the Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps (HQMC) Legal Assistance Chief in the Discipline Branch for almost four years, and was fairly close to making MGySgt (E9) (which I ultimately did). At that time the Corps was also looking for Second Lieutenants to send to Vietnam, so I threw my hat in the ring, though I knew my age was against me. With almost 20 years service, I was also pretty close to retirement. (In 1952-1953 I was an ATA Unit Section Leader (Wpns-1-5) and a Platoon Sergeant (E-2-5) with the 1st Marine Division in Korea).
At HQMC I was working for a LtCol. who was both the first and only female Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps, "LtCol. Lily G." Just the two of us handled Legal Assistance for the entire Headquarters staff, (and a few other units as well), and from all military services, thanks to my boss's "recruiting" ever more work). As I result, I performed a variety of duties for military and civilian personnel from Private to General Officer, including the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and civilians from clerks to GS-16's and higher. (I'm not sure there weren't a few "homeless people" in that mix as well).
This was BC (Before Computers) so everything we did was laboriously banged out on a piece of equipment belonging to an era before recorded history called a "typewriter." It was such a "weird" machine that it didnâ€™t even have such things as "copy," "cut and paste," "insert," "format," and all the other options so basic today. Just imagine how difficult it was therefore, preparing such sensitive and lengthy documents as Wills, Powers of Attorney, Taxes, Trusts, Indebtedness Agreements, Paternity Settlements, real estate documents and any other legal document you could think of, and a few we "invented." I was sent to Federal, State and local tax courses so I could do the taxes of Privates and General Officers.
Even when the Judge Advocate General of the Navy said we couldn't (not shouldn't) do some of the things we were doing, we did it! "LtCol. Lily Gâ€™s." philosophy was "Whatever our Marines need, we'll provide it," even when it got her in trouble a few times. She just "brushed it off" and we went right back at it. (I vividly recall doing then LtCol. John Glennâ€™s Last Will and Testament and other legal work for him and Mrs. Glenn, after which he gave both of us one of his famous Astronaut photos autographed with a nice "thank you" message.
Because of this assignment I got to know a lot of HQMC officers, and there were two I was particularly fond of. One was a Major I'll call "Major Leo D" (his first name, and first letter of his last name) the other a LtCol. I'll call "LtCol M " (first initial of his last name). When the "miracle of all miracles" happened and I was selected and commissioned a Second Lt., "Major Leo D," who had been in the Retirement Branch, was now in Vietnam some five or six months. "LtCol M" now had his orders to Vietnam and knew he was going to "X" Battalion of the 4th Marines. (By then "LtCol. Lily G." had retired and I was working for a male LtCol. who wasn't too happy to be losing me, but wished me well). Knowing I would soon be commissioned and on my way to Vietnam, "LtCol M " asked me if I would be his Battalion Adjutant when I got there, and I of course gladly accepted.
Two months after being commissioned I was on my way to Vietnam. Following various training at Camp Pendleton I was on a flight into the Danang Airport. As we were landing, I wondered how I would get from there to the "X" Battalion of the 4th Marines, where I was going to be the Adjutant for "LtCol M." of the 4th Marines. I was no sooner off the plane than I saw two Marine officers approaching me. "Wow," I thought, "Being a Second Lt. is pretty good, they even have a â€˜welcoming committeeâ€™ for me." I immediately recognized "Major Leo D" from HQMC, only this time he was now a LtCol Leo D," as he was wearing the silver leaves of a LtCol. The Marine with him was Major Massey. "Jerry, how great to see you, welcome to Vietnam" said the "new" "LtCol Leo D," adding "I'd like you to meet Major Massey, your new boss." In the excitement of my just arriving in this mysterious and dangerous place called "Vietnam" and being "greeted" by these two officers, I did not hear the last part of his greeting about "my new boss." I do remember saying something like: "Thanks, Colonel, and congratulations on your promotion," and shaking hands with both officers. No wonder they both looked at me strangely when I then said "How am I going to get to the 4th Marines where I am going to be the Adjutant for "LtCol. M?" I was then informed that I was not going to the 4th Marines, but instead was going on up to the 3rd Marine Division forward headquarters in Phu Bai, to be the Asst. Division Adjutant of the 3rd Marine Division. I would be working for Major Massey, who was replacing "LtCol. Leo D" as the Division Adjutant. Though I don't remember saying it at the time, I was told years later by "LtCol. Leo D" that I said something like: "Oh I can't do that, (or I don't want to be that) I'm going to the 4th Marines!"
Following a brief "silence," I do remember almost word for word what the response from "LtCol Leo D" was: "Jerry, nothing has changed. I'll still call you Jerry, and you can call me Colonel "D," (emphasis supplied). I thus immediately became the Assistant Adjutant and Division Awards Officer of the Third Marine Division from Sept. 1966 to Sept. 1967. Though I would later visit the 4th Marines command post, I never saw "LtCol M" again. Returning home in 1967, I became the Adjutant and Casualty Notification Officer at MARTD, Andrews Air Force Base, MD, retiring in 1968.
You've just read the "what goes around" part of this story. Here's the " comes around" part:
Fast-forward about ten years from my retirement. I am now the Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General in Washington D.C., one of the 34 Officers of the U.S. Postal Service. One day the phone rings and I hear a voice I haven't heard all these years saying: "Jerry, how the h&ll are you, this is "Leo D?" I of course immediately knew it was the former and now retired "LtCol. Leo D," and told him I was of course delighted to hear from him. He then goes on to congratulate me on my position and makes other small talk. I said I hoped he was doing well, and was sure this wasn't just a "social call," and like the good "public servant" I then was, I asked what I could do for him.
"Leo D" then told me he was the "Executive Director" of a major Trade Association located in Washington D. C. that was "having some real postal problems." He "wondered" if I could send some "Postal Experts" out to look into it, and perhaps "train" some of his people on Postal practices and procedures.
There was then this "deadly silence" as neither of us spoke. Finally "Leo D." said, "Jerry, are you still there?" Deliberately pausing yet another moment, and like it was only yesterday I remember exactly what I replied: "Leo, nothing has changed. I'll still call you "Leo" and you can call me Mr. Merna!" There was another briefer pause before "Leo" broke out laughing and said something like: "You â€˜ol son of a (gun?), you never forgot, did you?" We then both then laughed enthusiastically, remembering the moment, and joking about it. That's when he "reminded" me of what I said at the Danang airport about "I am going to the 4th Marines!
I remember also telling him that he, "Leo D"probably saved my life by not letting me go to the 4th Marines, whom history will recall had more than their share of casualties while I was there. We also talked about my luck while flying on many choppers and hiking all over the 3rd Marine Division helping field units, including making weekly flights from 3rdMarDiv HQ to the 1st ARVN Division HQ with Maj.Gen. Bruno Hochmuth. He was the 3rdMarDiv Commanding General and only General killed in Vietnam (when the same chopper I rode with him got shot down months after I left, though some claim it was an "accident").
Gerald F. Merna
Mustang 1stLt USMC (Ret.)
I'LL BRING YOU BACK
Semper Fi, is about as common to a Marine as breathing air. But I found not so with some people in about their 40's. My Fallen Marine Detail had just finished presenting a MCL certificate and were out side in the parking lot and just as I started in get in my car a 40'ish couple came up as said "sir may we ask you a question?". First let me back up about 15 minutes. After we presented the slow military salute to the Marine , then turned and gave the daughter the certificate, I said a few words to her then I said Semper Fi and we gave her a quick salute. Now back to the parking lot, this couple's question was, "Sir what is Semper Fi?". Now my inter thoughts were, What Planet Are You Two From? . But being a Chaplain , a Marine, a Gentleman, etc. I told them it was a short version of Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for "Always Faithful", which is short for I'm covering your back, I'll bring you back even if I have to carry you, I'm your brother and you are always with me,Etc, Etc. Which I bet all the Marines reading this can come up with more of what is Semper Fi. But I got my point across, in closing I said mam and sir, "It's a United States Marine thing", to that they said OH! and left. Good grief what would happen they would have asked "Chesty", I bet we know what he would have told them.........
Paul R. Renfro, USMC 51/54,
Let's all remember what Semper Fidelis means for our brothers and sisters in the big sand pit Iraq and Afghanistan
BEST ENLISTED RANK
I have beat this around the bush a few times over the years with different Marines. In many SNCO clubs we always discuss what's the best rank to have as a enlisted Marine. The majority of us say its the Gunny, because no one messes with the Gunny. If the Gunny said get it done, you get it done. Some say its being a SGT or being a CPL when you first pin on the blood stripe. When you want things done its the company Gunny, the 1stSgt, SGTSMajor and the MGYSGT all go to the company Gunny who is in the middle as a SNCO.I felt I had more power as a Gunny than I did as a MSGT or a MGYSGT, because you never wanted to p!ss off the Gunny. As the Gunny you gave a better butt chewing to Marines before they got to the 1stSgt or the CO. This is just my opinion at the water holes in Staff Clubs across our Corps.
To Corporal Ryan and all other brother Marines who get hit with the statement, "Do you know why ships have Marines aboard? So the sailors have someone to dance with." The answer is simple. "Yes, because we are the male part of the Navy."
There are "active duty" Marines, retired Marines, and a much larger brotherhood of Marines who are neither retired nor on active duty. I refer to this latter group, myself included, as "Marines At Large"; which is to say, not currently under orders, but still supportive of Country and Corps and forever a Marine.
Marine At Large
In time of conflict, the thought of death enter's everyone's mind...whether it be yours, or the death of someone else... It is the level of concern that differs from person to person...
As a Marine I am a little tired of people who haven't earned the right to use 'Semper FI' using it. I hate to think that it has just become another phrase instead of a way of life. I mean I was always taught that only another Marine or a doc attached with the Marines could fully comprehend and understand the meaning behind it. I am tired of seeing people other than Marines use it. Just had to sound off.
~ Cpl M. Smith, USMC
Reservations are being accepted for the San Jose, CA MCLD #1122 Birthday Ball being celebrated on Wednesday November 10 at the Hilton Santa Clara, CA. For more information please contact George Mavrakis at 408 241 3269. Event is open to all military branches. Dinner is $35
Mary Ellen Salzano
New Bumper Sticker
The most dangerous place is between A Marine and His Country!