Return to Archives

Pass It On...

Pass this newsletter on to anyone you feel would like it:
Send to a Friend Now

To submit your thoughts use

Update Your Subscription...

Go here to SUBSCRIBE to the list...OR... email

Items Available Only For A Limited Time

For God and Country

The Two Koreas Map - The Forgotten War

Drill Instructor Teddy Bear

See all of our Closeouts

The ranks of WW11 vets are dwindling quite rapidly. Our legs are bowed and our back are bent but our chests still swell with pride reading of our Marines. Our eyes may leak a little more rapidly than some. We have had a long time to practice. God Bless America and God Bless the Marine Corps.

Cpl. M.G.Van Lue 7th Marines '43-'46

Attention subscribers:
Please add to your address book to ensure uninterrupted service of your Sgt Grit newsletters

You Can Do It

Last week I asked for stories about the end or WWII in the Pacific. You will notice there are a few this week. See you can do it. You have outstanding stories. Keep them coming.

Sgt Grit

My Third Combat Tour

As I sit here 3 weeks away from what will be my third combat tour in Iraq and getting ready to go on my pre-deployment leave, I can't help but think once again, "what will it be like this time?" My first tour was for the initial invasion and we spent 9 months over there, a couple Purple Hearts for our unit but nothing major. Tour 2, 7 months, we lost 17 of our brothers in the al-Anbar Province, good friends and outstanding Marines (read A "Gift of Valor" on Cpl Jason Dunham, up for CMH). This time we go back to al-Anbar with a Battalion comprised of about 70% freshly minted Marines but I am still no more nervous than I was the first time. The training these new Marines have received has been first rate and even in the 3 1/2 short years since I graduated from Plt 1069 at MCRD San Diego I've noticed the changes for the better. As has been mentioned many times by the older Corps, we just seem to keep producing a better product. At any rate, to comment on a few things that I see repeatedly in the newsletter; if you're thinking of joining our Corps, only you can decide what is right for you, don't let family or friends be your deciding factor, you'll have plenty more of both upon graduation of boot camp, for those of you who have lost touch, find your brothers or sisters and say "hi", and for those of you who have lost a Marine or Sailor, please know that we share in your loss and know also that they believed in something greater than themselves enough to give every piece of their being to it, and finally to the most important members of the club, for the wives, thank you for all that you put up with and do for us, we couldn't do it without your support. Semper Fidelis and God bless.

Cpl Whittaker, J. S. USMC 0351
3rd Bn 7 Marines
"Psycho" I Co

"I'd rather patrol in H&ll than stand post in Heaven!"

Phone Call

Dear Sgt Grit,

As I sit here and read your newsletter, it brings tears to my eyes. I am the wife of a SSgt. who has been in the Marine Corps for 11yrs. He loves what he does, and would not change anything about it. On July 24th, his humvee that he was commanding ran over a land mine. He was not seriously injured, but will be emotionally scarred for life. However, there was 2 Marines in this accident that were badly hurt. I am writing to ask everyone who reads your newsletter to pray for these Marines and any others that have been injured in this war. I know that the phone call I received when he got injured was the worst moment in my life. I thank you for your time and please people Pray for ALL the troops serving OUR GREAT COUNTRY.

Wife of a Marine
Yuma, AZ

What Is An Atomic Bomb

I was on Iwo for 35 days...Shipped out for some well needed R&R back in Hawaii...The Fifth Marine Division was later designated to invade the Japanese homeland...We were several hundred miles from Japan...Early August 1945...I was down deep in the belly of a troop transport.. We heard a strange explosion...Nothing close Thank God. We always worried about subs.. Later we were told, The United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima... Marine's were saying to each other, " What is an atomic bomb. Must been a big sob to hear it from so far away...

Seven months and three days after our landing on Iwo, the Fifth landed near Sasebo, located on Kyushu, Japan's southern most island. We went in full combat ready, we had no idea what to expect...But as we neared Sasebo, a large naval base, we noticed it had been hammered...Three carriers damaged, destroyers with superstructures blown away and huge holes in in their hulls. Subs, aircraft destroyed in their pens and hangers. That base took one h&ll of a beating...Sasebo was in ruins...some thought that the same bomb might have been dropped there...Nagasaki was 40-45 miles south of Sasebo...we went through there...nothing left.. We all thought of home and loved ones that day...Understanding that the fly boys did one h&ll of a job there, had they failed, thousands of Marines would have been lost invading the Japanese homeland...Some estimates expected over one million casualties had the invasion been necessary...Had the call came to invade, we were ready..and we would have achieved our mission at any cost. The cost of freedom is expensive, but the value it brings is priceless...and never forgotten...

Semper Fi to all my Marine brothers in arms and harm's way. My thoughts and prayers are with you at all times.

Sgt. Paul J. Stammer Sr
HQ. CO. 2nd BN., 26th Marines
Fifth Marine Division (The Spearhead)

Homecoming 3/4

Sgt. Grit, My heart goes out to all the families who have lost their loved ones in this war on terrorism. These are what all of us parents and warriors alike live for. This is the homecoming of 3/4 Weapons Company and some of the members of 81's Platoon. This reunion took place at Twentynine Palms California on July 29th.

A lot of prayers were answered when these Marines arrived home after their 3rd tour of duty in Iraq. Thought you would enjoy these pics.

Semper Fi,
Pops Brandow

VMA225 Reunion

Sgt. Grit, great newsletter and merchandise. It appears that your newsletter and column reaches a lot Marines. I was wondering if you could add our reunion to your format.

VMA225 Reunion in Pensacola, Florida; 10 Nov to 13 Nov 2005. VMA225 was the first A-4C Skyhawk Squadron in country At Chu Lai, RSVN May to Oct 1965.

Information: contact Bob Paul at vma225 @

Gunner In A Tank

Just received the newsletter, thank you so much for sending it to me. I am an old WW11 Marine in his early 80's. Things never change, once a Marine always a Marine. I was lucky and served with the Fourth Division on Saipan. Tinian, and Iwo Jima, as a gunner in a tank. Shortly after the wars end we decided we should hold reunions of our Company . We met every two years some where in the U. S. A. Our last reunion was in Oct. 2004 where only 11 men could muster. The other 4 men could no longer travel, so with much we misgivings we stood if able and saluted our Captain Edward Bollard for the last time. There was not a dry eye in the house. Where as we disbanded the company. but shall be Proud Marines forever.

John C. Carey

Memories of Iwo Jima Flag Raisers

In 1964 I was in a detachment of the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps/Rifle Drill Team out of Millington, TN. When we were told where we were going to perform and who for, for some reason it just did not sink in immediately. Probably because we were busy going and coming constantly to various functions. We arrived at the Fountain Blue Hotel in Miami, FL and this young Texas country boy was immediately awe struck by the splendor of it all, but the best was yet to come. Once we were all in the huge banquet room getting ready to perform, it finally donned on us that we were surrounded by the 5th Marine Division survivors who landed on Iwo Jima and raised the flag on top of Mt. Suribachi. It was one their reunions. After performing we were all spread thru-out the crowd and seated with the reunion attendees. After I was seated at a table and introduced myself, the "old salts" introduced themselves. I was already a nervous 19 year old PFC in the company of all these WW II Iwo Jima Marine veterans, but when Corporal Rene Gagnon and Navy "Doc" John Bradley introduced themselves I about passed out. I know I went to attention in my chair and every word from my mouth was yes sir and no sir! After a few verbal exchanges both of them tried to get me to relax and said it was ok, they were just ordinary people like everybody else. I told I them I would try to relax, but to all of us Marines they could never be just ordinary, they were our heroes. I was too nervous and never thought to get their autographs, but I still have the Fountain Blue Hotel post card I sent to my mother telling her of the meeting. I still get chills remembering my meeting these honored and brave men.

"It is a brotherhood and it is forever"

Semper Fi (Always Faithful)
Fratres Aeterni (Brothers Forever)
"Top" R. Plumlee, Sr.
Master Sergeant of Marines/Airborne (Retired)

I Understand What He

Yesterday when I read about the Marines that were killed in the war my heart went out to all of their faimies.My heart also went out to all the Marines everywhere.
It made me understand what my son meant when he said ,he wishes he was back over there. My son ,Corp. PJ McGrath has done 2 tours of duty over in Iraq. I couldn't understand way he asked to go back a 2nd time and even asked to go back a 3rd but was told no that it was someone else turn.
Today I understand what he has tried to tell me. Those Marine where his brothers and he feels like his is letting them down by not being by their side. He keeps telling me that war is what Marine are trained for. That way he became a Marine .
My son sign-up 2 days after 9-11.
Now he's time in the Marine Corps is almost up and he is not sure on what to do. I have told him that I will stand with him if he stay in or come home. But after 4 years I understand what he means.
A Marine proud Marine Mom

Neat Old Man

After getting out of the Marines in sept. of 87, i tool a job selling cars in davenport Iowa. It work out well, as my manager let me go to college and then come into work after my classes were over. One day an old man, look to be near 80, was looking at a new car. i went up to him and asked him if he needed help. Well he told me real quick fast and in a hurry he didn't need my help. I told him i would be right in my office if he need me, and i quickly made a military retreat. Finally this old man comes into my office and asked me a question about the chevy he was looking at. Not sure of the answer, i told him to have a seat and i would find out. when i came back to my office, the old man was looking through my marine photo album from my days on Okinawa. Turns out he fought on Okinawa as a young marine in WWII. Three hours later he drove away in his new car, but not before telling me some war stories of Okinawa. A very neat old man, and very proud to be a marine and serve his country. Four months later, his son showed up at the dealership. he had told me his father had passed away, and in his will, he had left me the round that was taken out of his leg while fighting in Okinawa. His son told me he had really enjoyed his time with me, and that his father never believed in buying a new car. He said he always bought used, even though he could easily afford a new one. The car i sold him was his first new car, and also the last car he had ever bought. i will never forget that old man, that brave marine.

Cpl Pete sweeney 83-87

Boot Camp Lines

"I love making recruits suffer... I love making you feel pain, and you know what? The best thing about it, is that I GET PA!D TO MAKE YOU FEEL PAIN! (Sinister, evil laugh) Ha, ha, ha...NOW GET ON YOUR FACE AND PUSH!"

"I went to Recon the other day, and they said, 'Drill Instructor, I heard the Marine Corps is getting soft...' I told them, 'H&LL NO! Not as long as I'm a Drill Instructor!'... NOW GET ON MY QUARTERDECK!"

"Today is 'Fight for your life Friday', you will fight for your LIFE!";

"One thing is for sure, once you have met me, your life will NEVER be the same...NEVER!" (Points at us with the devil horns symbol on his hands);

Semper Fi,
LCPL Diaz, Mark A.
6521 Aviation Ordnance, 1 AUG 1994 - 1 JUL 2001

How This Happened

My wife and I just recently moved from the Dallas area to Albuquerque. As our furniture was unloading we went to a local restaurant for breakfast. As we were finishing and going to pay our bill I noticed this older gentleman and his wife coming towards us. He had on a Marine Corps League cap and I had on my Marine cap. We stopped to talk and say Semper Fi. He was an airplane driver, light bomber, in WWII who got shot up and crashed landed and was pretty bunged up. I told him I was at MCAS, El Toro, and we talked for about 5 minutes. After we separated and my wife and I were walking back to our car, my wife was chuckling to herself. I asked her what was to amusing. She said she made a statement to his wife that she couldn't figure out how this happened all the time. His wife replied she didn't know how we did it either. "Must be the smell." Oh well, can't win "em all.

Jim Wallace 1950-53

On One Night

Dear Sgt Grit. I just signed up for your newsletter today after reading so many stories of others. I too was one of the Corpsmen who earned the 8404 MOS and am now very proud I had the opportunity to serve with my fellow Marines. At the time I was sent to Camp Delmar to go thru a second 'basic training' I was not one of the most enthusiastic nor happy person. They worked us hard. I remember (not fondly) doing 25 mile 'walks' stopping every 50 minutes to care for my men's feet. I was 1 and they were many and therefore my feet took second place. Where the Navy had not accomplished in making me a man, the Marines became my finishing school. That was 42 years ago. Now I take every opportunity when asked how I served, I proudly say that I served in the Marines. I still remember on one night after finishing one of my reserve meetings, several of us stopped by a local tavern to share a brewski. This was at the height of the Viet Nam conflict and when we got up to leave, we were told that our drinks were taken care of. As we turned to thank our benefactor, everyone in the house stood to applaud the dozen or so of us. One can imagine the warm feelings we had when so many men were coming home to boos and jeers. Now on my VFW cap I proudly wear both the Fouled Anchor and the Eagle Globe and Anchor Sincerely, Eason G. Pritchard, Jr, HM1 USN Ret Dallas Tx.

I And Others Did Not

Sgt. Grit: Your last Sgt. Grit newsletter brought tears to my eyes. I remember all of my good friends in the Corps. If you will include a message to Sgt. Stammer, HQ. CO., 2nd BN, 26th Marines, 5th Div. USMC. I like Sgt. Stammer enlisted the month I turned 17 after leaving school at 16 and trying to get in, and couldn't, Then I turned 17 in early July 1945 and left for PI. I was in Plt. 472 and Sgt. Rapaz from Kalamazoo, Mich. who loved to see blood, was my DI. I really thank all the armed forces members who went before me including Sgt. Stammer, because they won the war, I and others did not have to invade Japan. I left the Corps as a Staff Sgt. when I received a direct commission in Naval Intel. , but S-Sgt is on my two cars license plates with the Eagle Globe and Anchor and Semper Fideleis. I wonder if Sgt. Stammer ever knew a Lt. Richard "Dick" Q. Lewis from Oregon, who was in a machine gun section in the 26th Marines at Iwo. He had been a Pfc., then went to Quantico, where Tyrone Power was also in OCS with him. He joined the Marine paratroops, and was wounded on Guadalcanal, before going back to Hawaii. Later he went to Iwo Jima. He had his guts blown out on the opposite side of the island from the landing. He survived after going to Fleet Hosp. 111 on Guam, then to a naval hospital on the west coast where he stayed about a year. The Marine Corps made him retire as a regular officer in 1947 because of his wounds. Dick was like a very good older brother to me. I rushed to his hospital bedside from another state and saw him just minutes before he died Jan. 13th 1987. I mention that because he had a tattoo on his shoulder-upper arm -a black cat and a 13--he had it before shipping out to Iwo. Dick told me once that Marines don't cry, but I do for all my buddies. I send this to thank Sgt. Stammer, all the "Docs", and all for serving our country and to let any survivors of Iwo who may have known Dick Lewis and wondered what had happen to him after he was taken back to the beach at Iwo. He was not expected to survive. He was in a landing craft in the dark between two Marines who died in that boat. The corpsman who saved Dick's life was shot as he attended Dick and fell across his body. Semper Fi, S/Sgt. Al Taylor

Our Own Security

Sgt. Grit,

I served in the Marine Corps. from 1966-1968, with service in Vietnam as a Combat Engineer, with B Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

Most of our operations conducted were mine sweeps (removing or destroying "improvised explosive devices" as they are now called) and construction work. We provided our own security on most sweeps and worked closely with several grunt units. Boy, did I learn to respect the grunts. God bless all of them!

After many years, I was contacted by several members of our unit from Vietnam via the Internet. Accordingly, I have attended a reunion in San Diego and am looking forward to another one in for Savannah with a Paris Island visit scheduled. Now my wife will see first hand the brotherhood she has heard so much about.

I just want to comment that reunions really are not just a big "booze" bust, but an opportunity to reconnect with long lost buddies and enjoy meeting guys that were part of our units and shared similar experiences. Reflecting back on this period I am proud to have served with so many brave men, men of high honor.


Chuck Holland
Hoover, Alabama

3/8 Beirut

3rd. Batt. 8th Marines Beirut Vets reunion;

November 10-13, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
Tour USS NEW JERSEY, Nov.11, 2005
More events planned for summer 2006

C.Eric Tischler

Know No Bounds

When the pages of history fall away, all we have left is the memories of when we stood side by side, brothers of different blood, yet related as closely as blood brothers can be. Side by side we endured the hardships and pain of an unknown and often unseen enemy, our only hope was to survive and in the process, not let our brothers down or bring dishonor on the Marines that preceded us. Tradition and bravery and integrity know no bounds of time or location and it is this tradition of dedication to our Corps that makes all Marines mindful of those that came before them and more importantly, those that will follow. Each time I hear of another Marine casualty, I am reminded of my younger days as a participant in another war and I think longingly of those days so many years ago when I lost my innocence and my youth but gained my membership in the most hallowed of all combat organizations, the United States Marine Corps. Semper Fidelis now and forever more to my fellow grunts, guardians of our traditions.

M.S. Oliver, Corporal, USMC 1968-69



I went through MCRD, San Diego April 16, 1966. Platoon 3002 .Ours was one of the first series that got the 8 week training cycle. Our PFT consisted of climbing a 50 foot knotted rope, step-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, running a 50 yard combat course, then running it again with a fallen buddy, all of his and your equipment, then doing the 3 mile run, with full combat gear, helmet, pack, canteen, and rifle. After I got to my permanent duty station, we did the PFT in shorts, T-shirt and tennis. Ah, the fond memories.

John R. Wright
U.S.M.C. 4/66-12/69, R.V.N 12/67-2/69


I was active duty 1964-68. Have thought about the PFT from time to time. I never knew or heard about anyone running it in anything but utilities and boots. Wouldn't be a real PFT any other way. I ran it at Parris Island, at school at Cory Field in Pensacola, with 10th Marines at LeJeune, at MCAF Futema on Okinawa and finally with Base Comm again at LeJeune.

The good ole squids at Cory Field just pointed fingers and laughed. Don't remember them doing any physical training whatsoever.

If I recall correctly, we started with the rope climb, then 120 step-ups representing a hill climb, pull-ups, sit-ups, a fireman's carry all leading to the 3 miler. The poor guys that didn't make the time had to report for practice PFTs for 2 weeks and then do it again.

I vividly remember hating it, but now look bad sorta fondly. Strange what age does to one.

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce.

Howard Blair
Sgt, E-5
In your last letter someone asked about the PFT long ago.

In 1965 I went to 2/7. A PFT took a half a day and was more a platoon test than an individual one. There were several tests:

One was a timed event to run 125 yards, during which you had to fall into a prone firing position twice. We did this in groups.

Oh, did I mention that the PFT test was in utilities with boots, helmet, 782 gear, light marching pack and rifle/pistol?

Another event was to run 50 yards, pick up a "wounded" Marine and fireman carry him back. It was astonishing how many guys dropped their rifles when trying to pick up the "wounded".

Another event was to run a 100 yard course with an 8 foot trench to jump over and a rope swing across a water hazard.

The final event was to traverse (run) 3 miles, with the above equipment, and your platoon all had to finish together. I think we had 35 or 40 minutes to make the run. When finished you, your utilities, pack and rifle needed to be cleaned... Everyone smoked so there was a lot of wheezing near the finish line :-)

Through the 70's the equipment was reduced to just the utility uniform, then a 'T' shirt, pants and boots and finally down to tennis shoes and shorts.

Around 1972 they went to the (choices) push-ups/pull-ups, standing-long-jump/standing-high-jump, sit-ups/squat-thrusts and 3 mile run. It was an individual test, rather than a group test.

By '79 it was sit-ups, pull-ups and a run with the time reduced to about 29 minutes (age dependant).

Hope this helps,
Scott McClellan
MSgt USMC Ret.
In 1969-70 Platoon 3228, MCRD San Diego, we did what was then called the CMC test. We ran it in utes & boots. It consisted of a rope climb, broad jump, jump & reach, leg raises, sit-ups, push-ups, and ended with a three mile run.
v Hi to GySgt. Gale Owen formerly of 1/24. We were both deployed with 1/24 to Okinawa. It was quite a tour. Gunny Owen left out the part about our deployment to Subic Bay and our participation in Operation Fiery Vigil - the eruption of Mt Pinatubo, along with our effort in the subsequent clean-up. It is a book in itself.

Semper Fi,
Angelo Lema Jr
MSgt., USMCR, ret.
This is in response to Sgt Matt Brzycki: When I went to Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island in December 1967, the PFT did not exist as you knew it. We had the Physical Readiness Test (PRT). The PRT consisted of the Jump and Reach (had to touch 18" above your standing reach), the Standing Broad Jump (Had to jump 6'), 40+ sit-ups and the 3 -mile run in under 28 minutes. These were all done in utilities wearing combat boots. In 1971 or 1972, I think, the PRT gave way to the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). In mid 1973, I was assigned to the 2nd MAW Inspection Team for the purpose of conducting PFT testing for all 2nd MAW commands. There had been problems with Marines short counting the sit-ups of fellow Marines. Weight standards were being ignored and Marines were becoming obese. Our job was to ensure accurate reporting of the physical condition of all 2nd MAW Marines and recommend corrective action.

During boot camp, I was selected as the guide for my platoon on the day we were to take our initial strength test. I was 6'2" and 140 pounds. I had run track and cross country in high school and could easily run with a 36" stride. When we got to the pull- up bars, our senior DI, GySgt John L. Bolton , said 'Let's see how many pull-ups my guide can do." I jumped up on the bar, but couldn't even do one pull-up. Needless to say, I was no longer the guide. Due to my weight, I was always first into the mess hall and the last out. Over the course of boot camp, I went up to 175 pounds and could barely do 3 pull-ups. However, I could easily do 80 sit-ups and ran 3-miles in under 24 minutes. While I was on the Wing Inspector team, I was able to improve my pull- ups to 9.

I retired in September 1988, still able to easily pass the PFT. Semper Fi!

Jay R. Anderson
Danang, RVN & Nam Phong, Thailand 1972
1st, 2nd & 3rd MAW


To Sgt Wallen:

I was part of Platoon 388 at P.I. in August 1954.

I remember our D.I was Sgt. Campbell and fondly ha ha remember duck walking to chow hall and having the rifles on our finger tips when some yo ho would get caught smoking.

Also vividly remember going to the movies when we gifted Sgt. Campbell with $96.00 so he and his significant other could go out on the town. Boot camp was a special experience for me and I will never forget it. After reenlisting for sunny California (ended up at Pickle Meadows) I decided six years was enough, but am proud to say that I consider myself a Marine to this day.

Sgt Harvey 1507369

Made Myself A Promise

I served on active duty from 1970-74 and when I left active duty I made myself a promise that I would never do anything to embarrass the Corps, either by my actions or my appearance. I still wear a Marine Corps watch, have a Marine Corps pin on my suit jacket lapel, and wear Marine Corps t-shirts when I run (all bought from Sgt. Grit). Although I am 57 years old, I run 4 miles 3 days a week, bike 8 miles once a week and have a weight program at the gym once a week. I scuba dive, sky dive, horse back ride, hike the NC and Southwest mountains and generally try to live each day as an adventure. The Corps gave me pride in myself. My cousin, also a Marine veteran, is 65 years old and still active bike riding, lifting weights and hiking. My wife, a Marine wife, has had hip replacement surgery and two breast cancers, but she has belts in Tae Kwon Do and Combat Hapkido plus has a weight lifting and aerobics program she does several days a week. It's all about the commitment.

Many other times, though, I've had patients come into the ER wearing Iwo Jima or other WWII battle caps and they still carry themselves with the same pride they were taught in the Corps. Excepting the veterans who were injured or have a chronic illness which keeps them unable to maintain a fitness program, we all have an obligation to represent the Corps as the Corps deserves to be represented. Whenever we put on a Marine Corps identifying piece of gear, we should be sure that anyone who sees us with that gear will think positively about the Corps.

That's just my personal quirk. "The change is forever".

Jim Hill
Captain, USMC

Wounded And Evacuated

Dear Sgt. Grit: On July 31st, 2005, at 0930 my father Charles Barsalona passed away. We are a 3rd generation marine family. My grandmother was a WM in WW1, my father a marine in WW2 and myself in Viet Nam. My father was a field telephone man in the Fourth Mar Div. He fought in the Pacific and was wounded and evacuated from Iwo Jima. He spent a year in the Naval hospital in San Diego and was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds. Although my two brothers and I grew up knowing our dad was a Marine, he never spoke of the war until I returned from Viet Nam, and than only him and I spoke of our experiences. I was given all his Marine Corps memorabilia by my brothers, and I will treasure it and pass it on. The one regret I do have is him not seeing the World War ll Memorial in Washington,DC.

Semper Fi
Barsalona L/Cpl. 68-71

Concerning Drill Instructor R. L. Hiles

Cpl Gulch, I read your story in Sgt. Grit's newsletter dated August 4, 2005, concerning running into Sgt. Hiles in Vietnam in 1966 or 1967. Cpl. Hiles was one of my 3 drill instructors (Platoon 162, graduated October 6, 1965). I remember he was promoted to Sergeant, while we were in boot camp. Since you did not state it, I presume you did not run into him since then.

Our three drill instructors were outstanding, but I must admit that Sgt. Hiles warmed up to the platoon toward the end of our training, so I would have to vote him the friendliest of the three (Don't tell him that if you see him though). I remember him marching the platoon to the base theater, where we were treated to a concert by the Everly Brothers. What a thrill that was!

This is the first that I hear about any of my drill instructors since all that time, 1965. Thanks for your story and the memories.

As for me, I arrived in Vietnam on January 21, 1966 and spent my 13 months with the 106 platoon, H&S Co. 1/7. I left active duty on August 2, 1968. The rest of my 3 years were spent with 106's, H&S, 1/2, Camp Lejeune. I went back into the Marine Reserves in October 1973 and ended by service in October 1987.

God Bless and Semper FI.

Juan Reyna
2142426, Sgt, USMC

Is Your Name Tony

Hey Sgt Grit... You mentioned about the chance meeting of two Marines who haven't seen each other since enlisting...I am the Commander of a VFW in Royersford, PA and Tony signed up about a year ago. He is a Vietnam era Marine. About three months ago Joe signed up who is also Vietnam era Marine. By chance they wound up sitting next to each other enjoying a cold one. Now as the saying goes, not as lean, not as mean, but still a Marine. Obviously these two have changed quite a bit over the years, but as they sat there, Tony looked at Joe and said I know you...Joe said is your name Tony? Yep...Holy...

They had gone into boot camp together and hadn't see each other since graduation. The funny thing is that neither of them are from our area, but both wound up members of our VFW and enjoying a cold beer after a long day's work. Imagine that...

Michelle Christman
Commander, Royersford VFW
CPL of Marines 87 - 91

Authority To Do

We all feel it when a brother goes down. Where's the Enola Gay when we need her. I've had about all I want to see and hear. My kid's on his second tour 1/5. Let's stop trying to be so political correct and give these Marines the authority to do what they need to do. Firstly, shoot the press.

Respectfully, Jesse Vaughn
3rd Force Recon, 1965-66, 1968-69.

Will Read About

It's surreal to think that only a few months ago I went to go bury one of our Brothers LCpl. Lance T. Graham who was KIA on May 7, 2005. A brother who was given special leave came down from Miramar so that we could go and bury him together. Now with recent events another 20 Marines from his same unit 3/25 were KIA. That battalion has paid a high price but forever will their names be etched in Marine Corps history. Future recruits will read about Fallujah and 3/25 and all of the accomplishments that our brothers and sisters have made and will make in Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else those evil S.O.B.'s want to hide.

Semper Fi Devil Dogs
May the Lord Jesus Christ bless our service men and women and their families God Bless the families and Marines of 3/25 And for those of us who wish we could be there- GET SOME

SVillarreal- "Villa"

The Way That It Should Be

Sgt. Grit,
I served in Vietnam with 2/3, during 1968-69. When I left for Vietnam, in April '68, I left at home a two month old son. That son has now been in the Marine Corps for over 18 years, and is a Gunny. He served in the first gulf war, and has already served one tour in the current war in Iraq, and I believe he is scheduled for his second tour in about April of next year. He is one of the best Marines that I have ever known. He and those like him, carry on the best of what the Marine Corps stands for. Although I hate to admit it, ( Old Corps vs New Corps ), I do really believe that each new generation of Marines gets better than the last . I guess that's the way that it should be. All the Marines now currently serving, prove my point. I am so proud. My heart and my prayers, are with all those who serve our Corps

As a Viet vet, I am always keeping an eye out for pretty much anything that has to do with Vietnam. I guess I still look for familiar names or places, almost as though maybe some of the guys that I knew were still there. The time has passed so quickly, yet it still seems as though it were yesterday. I'm sure you understand.

Richard "Pancho" Duran
2nd Bn 3rd Mar
VietNam Class of '68-69


This past weekend my wife and I who are both former Marines took a trip to Ohio. We did this to attend a reunion with Marines we served with at MCB 29 Palms in the 70's. I have a full compliment of Sgt. Grit goodies for my vehicle, and added a few extra for the reunion. Coming from upstate New York where I really don't get too many reactions from my gear, I received quite a pleasant surprise once I reached Ohio.

I thought I was being "tailgated" way to often, but then each car would pass us and we would receive salutes, thumbs ups, and proud smiles. These people had "tailgated" so they could enjoy the rolling tribute to the "Corps" that my vehicle is. It seems as though the entire state was hurting from the loss of their Marines, and they wanted to let us know how proud and committed they were even in their grief.

I was humbled to be the recipient of so much good will. I'm certain that the "Ohio Marines" will live on eternally with the great people of their state. God Bless all of our fallen Brothers.

Semper Fi
Steve Fredericks
Cpl. of Marines 74-78

Some Tough Days For The Corps

Twenty one Marines have been killed in the past three days. Almost all of them were from the same unit, Third Battalion, 25th Marines, and many of them were from the same town and state. The devastating news of their deaths has left a huge emotional and personal hole in those communities. Suddenly, those left behind at home know someone close by who also lost a Marine to hostile fire. A news network's website carried some of their photos showing many of them in uniform. I clicked through each picture and stared at their faces. Their faces never change. The hair styles look a bit different and the pictures themselves might be a bit clearer due to advanced photographic technology, but the eyes and the commitment to something bigger than themselves remains constant. They might just as well have been crouched in a landing craft headed for Red Beach on Iwo Jima or filing up the rear ramp of a CH-46 inbound to Khe Sanh. They were Marines, the rest is unimportant. Some would say it was a waste. What have we gotten for all this carnage? Show me something about this whole situation that is worth just one of their young, promising lives. This response is easy to understand and quite reasonable when spoken by a grieving loved one. Not that long ago, as Marine reservists, they were going to weekend drills augmented by training deployments to hone their skills. Then came the big orders to deploy to Iraq. Jobs were abandoned, lives were interrupted, families were separated, and all of a sudden, a small Ohio town sent a few of her best off to war. None of them had been drafted; no one had been forced to go. Each in his own way had made that conscious decision to join knowing, that as a reservist, in time of need, their unit would be called to serve in combat. They knew that that call would change forever the secure and safe roles they had as civilians. Yet, still they went.and now, fewer of them will emerge from the planes that bring their battalion home to the States when their current tour ends.

Marines around the world feel this loss. The Brotherhood is smaller now by a count of 21. Now, too old to be over there, I can only watch, read about, pray for and deeply appreciate their sacrifice. For those who share these circumstances, our time has come and gone. We still pay attention though. Young men fighting in the most dangerous combat environments deeply bonded to one another by a blood oath to watch each other's matter what. Each of them, clear on the mission; stop it here and stop it now. The mindless, gutless rhetoric spouted by some who sent them and now are having second thoughts escapes them. They have long since crossed the line of departure and the fight is theirs now. They have sized it and rationalized it and have determined that those whom they fight and kill and those who kill them in return must be defeated.

The concepts and tactics taught them in the Corps make sense now and are put to immediate use. Their commanders and leaders watch them in awe as they go about the bloody, dangerous business of eliminating a foe that plays by no rules whatsoever.

Marines I have had the privilege to know have had that unselfish and uncanny knack of sorting out and accepting the risks inherent in their chosen profession. For that period of time when the value of all else in their lives had to be subordinated to the accomplishment of the tasks at hand, they stepped forward and got them done. Those young Marines we just lost knew all this. I don't know the specific circumstances involving their loss, but I do know that somewhere in the events preceding their deaths, some selfless, duty-bound decisions were made and 21 Marines gave it all. I know enough from experience that the potential for this outcome was a risk that they quietly accepted as part of their job.

Now, we who survive have a set of decisions to make. Do we look at these losses and say, "Enough"? It's time to quit the field and bring them home. Maybe, we need to cave in to these monsters who want the world order to be designed their way. Do we say to our service-age children, "I don't want you going into the military any time soon"? Do we march in protest against this war and policy? Do we smirk at their deaths and feel these Marines got what they deserved? Or. do we cry our tears, console one another, and comfort their loved ones, pray for their peaceful and eternal rest while recognizing that each of them saw something in all this worth fighting and dying for. Shouldn't we at least try to understand what that is?

Some tough days for the Corps? You bet.but they'll work through it and continue the mission.just like they always have.

Semper Fidelis, Brothers,

Rest in Peace. We'll take it from here.

Dave St. John

To My Family

When I was a young man I took a trip. It wasn't a vacation, but it was still a trip I felt I needed to take in my road to being a man. I saw many things of wonder and many things I wish I could forget; yet I took this trip because I felt I needed to do so.

I didn't take many pictures on this trip, but I remember the sights as vivid as if they were yesterday; in fact many are as vivid as last night. It wasn't a long trip, just 18 months in my life; 18 months that still talk to me every day of my life.

I was young, just 18, barely a man. I grew up fast on this trip; I became 18 going on 80. I saw people struggle and strive to make a life from nothing. I saw happiness, sorrow, pain and joy. I saw honor and pride and I saw heartbreak and even death. I saw new life and children grown old, men crushed by life's burdens and women laughing and weeping. I saw God's beautiful nature in its best form and man's depravity at its lowest ebb.

I grew into a man. I found a wonderful woman, fathered beautiful children and started life all over again. I worked to try to bring happiness and joy into the world, but I had taken a trip as a young man. I watched as my daughters grew into young women and my grandchildren grew into fine young men. I wanted to provide them the best; but I had taken a trip as a young man. I watched my lovely wife suffer as each day passed, hoping life would bring me forgetfulness. Wishing my trip could drift into the distant past and be forgotten. I took a trip as a young man, and she didn't know that until too late.

I wanted to experience the beauty of this world in peace and harmony, but I had taken a trip as a young man. I wanted to live in the loving arms of my God every day, but I had taken a trip as a young man. I wanted to give the world the total experience of my love and caring, but I took a trip as a young man.

I saw my youth burned away in the crucible of war; my innocence sacrificed on the altar of service. I spend every day remembering that trip of a lifetime and for all its pain I am thankful. I thank God I could take that trip and I thank God for all who have taken it before me and those who will have taken it after my time.

In every generation some must take this trip so all others do not have to. Some must travel to the h&lls that abide in the expanse of mankind to provide balance in the world. In a perfect world no one would ever take this trip; but no world is perfect. I am grateful I was allowed to take that trip. If I hadn't been allowed to do so; I would never have understood the true meaning of life. We do not live for ourselves, we do not live for today; we live for the future of others.

The pain and suffering we face every day and night we bear in pride, knowing we have made our trip. At times I curse the things this trip has brought me in my life, yet I regret the travel not. I am shamed by my pride in loving this trip; and humbled that I was chosen to take it.

Someday, someone will see the marker on my grave and wonder for a brief instant, who was this man? In that fleeting moment of time I will live again, remembered. But who will know of my trip? Who will learn enough to know the trip must be taken to save us all?

If my God were to ask me to live my life again and grant me the power to change anything I wished, I would still take the trip. I would still take the trip for my soul.

GySgt Grady Rainbow, USMC Ret.

Now Wondering

Sgt Grit, I am an HM1 FMF Corpsman who got out of the service in 2002, new wife wanted me out. I lost some of the MARINES I used to be with in Iraq. I am now wondering if I could have made a difference in saving them. Regretting getting out. I should be with the MARINES always and forever. TO the MARINE that wrote a letter to the other defense depts. notice I wrote MARINE in capital letters. it should always be that way.

MARINE-wise , Semper fi,
Doc Miller.

News With My Wife

Sgt Grit,
Just finished reading a few of the stories in your newsletter. I am eagerly waiting for the items I ordered from you last week. Packages to GTMO can take several weeks. Anyway thought I would share this with those who have time and care to read.

I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You and God Bless The Marine Corps. I am preparing to retire AGAIN. I thought I retired on Aug 31 2001 then a GySgt with 20 years in. Then 9/11 happened and it changed a lot of American lives. As most retired Marines I watched the news with interest. Many times wishing I could do more than place a "I support our troops" ribbon on my vehicles (never did that). I was however presented the opportunity to do what few Americans and even fewer Marines can do. In Nov of 2004 I read a posting on the Official USMC website that retired Marines, less than five years out, medically qualified were being asked to re-activate. I immediately shared the news with my wife of 32 years. Yes that's right 32 years. I married young but not that young, I'm 52 now. Anyway back to my story. Her reply was typical of any Marine wife. She said "don't you think we have sacrificed enough already"? Notice she didn't say "YOU". I replied "not nearly as much as the young men and women who are dying each day in the desert. So being the Outstanding wife she has always been tried to appeal to my sense of commitment. "You can't quite your job, we need the money", she persisted. "Fine" say's I. She thought that was that. I went to work as a Lincoln, NE Airport Police Officer and advised my supervisor that I was contemplating returning to active duty. It didn't take long for the boss to get wind of my request cause he knew me and he knew I was serious. Maybe I forgot to tell my wife that my boss is a Former Marine Officer. I had his full support and he authorized a leave of absence. That was about 15 Nov 2004. I contact the USMC number provided and spoke with a SSgt in Quantico. I gave him my SSN and about a week later I get a call from the Pentagon, really. On 25 Nov I was reactivated, issued 4 sets of new digitals, covers, boots and a seabag and told I was going to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to support The Office For the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants (OARDEC). I will admit I was a bit apprehensive as I was flying in, until my boots hit the deck. I immediately knew I had done the right thing. I work inside the wire Camp "D" building #7. My title is Joint Detention Operations Group (JDOG), Liaison. They recently removed the Operations part to make it JDG to get away from the "dog" issues. Amway I support the Officers that are currently on the Administrative Review Boards (ARBs). At least once a week we have "media" visit. I've had Jewish, Australian, Japanese, British and most the big time US news folks in my building. I just make certain the process works, that's all I can say from here, my desk inside this maximum security prison. As reported regularly on the news we have over 500 Enemy Combatants here. Almost all of them have come to my building some several times.

And now, again I am nearing retirement. I will depart GTMO on or about 22 Oct, participate in the 30th anniversary Marine Corps Marathon then return back to my job, wife, son (Former Marine HMX MP), daughter (Former Air Force Capt.), 4 grandsons and youngest and only granddaughter. For those families who have lost your family members in this and all conflicts, I'm sorry. I wish I could do more. The Marine Corps obviously does not need me in the desert or I would be there. Thank you again America for allowing me the privilege to serve again. Besides the Marine Corps Security Force Company that guards "the wire" (Cuba) there are very few Marine in this Joint Task Force (JTF) as such we don't see each other often enough. Except once a month around the 10th we get together as we will do tonight and visit and hoist a few toasts "To The Marine Corps".

Semper Fi
12 Aug 2005
(aka my 33rd anniversary, today)
GySgt Faz, John L.

Gentle Reminder

This is in response to a letter from 1st. Sgt. Ed Keene, U.S.M.C.R. (ret)...With reference to the remarks of a Mr. J. F. Dunnigan about the various Navy rejects becoming Marines... Perhaps a gentle reminder is in order that the Marine Corps is in fact a Department of the Navy...

The Mens Department...

Henry Dillenkofer Cpl. U.S.M.C. (Korea, 53-54)

During My Time

Sgt. Grit, I have been receiving your newsletter for about 6 months. I have enjoyed hearing from our Brother's and Sister's of the Corps and our Sister Services.

I joined the Marine Corps September 1961 until September 1967. I was able to go back in the Marine Corps in July 1972 and I got out in August 1975.

During my time in the Corps, I was able to be on the Drill Field from July 1965 to August 1967 and again from May 1973 to June 1975. The time I spent as a Drill Instructor was the best time in the Corps. To see a boy come in and then 12 weeks later be a man and a proud U.S. Marine was great! I was stationed at MCRD San Diego, CA.

Even at the age of 63, if the Marine Corps would let us, I would go back in to help train our new Marines.

I truly benefited by being in the Marine Corps. We talk about the Corps at work. I, also, display Marine emblems on my car and truck and my motorcycle. I feel it an honor to fly our flag in front of our home.

My heart goes out to all of our Marines and Sister Services that are keeping us free.

We are Marines for life and we are all Brother's and Sister's forever.

Semper Fidelis
Sgt. Donald Knepper
USMC 61-67 and 72-75

Carries On

Dear Sgt. Grit, Please let ALL your Marine, Marine family members and friends of Marines know that there are: no "Ex-Marines", no "Past Marines", no "Former Marines", no "I was a Marine", no I used to be a Marine", etc. There are ONLY Marines!

The Marine statement; "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" isn't JUST a statement, it is a PROUD acknowledgement shared by ALL Marines. It seems that many Marines have forgotten that they will "always be a Marine". Marines are the proudest people in all of Military history. This pride begins in Boot Camp and carries on throughout a Marines entire life.

Semper Fi Marines,
Neal P. Monda - A Marine
Korea 1951-1952

Multiple Emails

I once read a piece that said Marines come in all shapes and sizes, various levels of sobriety and so on. They left out one important part. They also come with various size hearts and affection. Forty (40) years ago my beloved brother Michael Gillespie went through boot camp and ended up in Vietnam (1965 as an S-2 Scout. Upon his passing 18 years ago I put a posting on his units web site to inform his fellow Marines of his untimely passing at the age of 42. Today, August 13th, 2005 I not only received multiple e-mails from Marines he served with but also a phone call from "Buzz" who went through boot camp and went to Vietnam with my brother 40 years ago. Being a Marine Vietnam veteran myself (70-71 Hotel Company 2/1), our conversation flowed as if we were "old salts" having a beer. The Corps is incredible in this regard and even after 40 years Buzz was choked up with emotion speaking of his dear friend "Doc" , short for Doctor Gillespie of the TV series at the time. Thank you Marines and I'm proud to be one of you.

Semper Fi,
Tom Gillespie
USMC 70 -71

Give Him One

L/Cpl Montgomery was my son-in-law cousin and what a funeral they put on for this brave person. During the ride to the final resting place children were standing and saluting and putting their hands over their hearts instead of playing, high school football players were standing along the field during training and held there helmets under there arms and giving respect, people were getting out of there cars and either saluting or putting there hands over there hearts. During the funeral his brother whom is a Marine told the people in church that he received word from his commanding officer that they got the bastard. Then at the cemetery he said his brother always wanted a standing ovation and ask everyone to give him one now and they did. God bless this Marine and all others for there great sacrifice for our freedom.

Semper Fi
Dan Chapman USMC 64-68

Sgt Stamper

hi: sgt stamper here,1972-1976 forest troops command, lejuene, nc. i was really touched by all these great letters. mostly the Iowa farmer.and the man who wrote:still a marine,not as lean and not as mean.i had tears just from reading it and remembering that i had a lady call me a baby killer in front of her son in a airport in ohio.i had just left sunny parris island,sc that very really hurt me for i know what the marine corps stands for and she didn't hope all come home safe and a live.

Pressed For Time

Sgt. Stammer - I enlisted in the Marine Corps in August of 1946, three years after you did. I too went thru boot camp at MCRD San Diego. During the ensuing years I made several business trips to California all with the intent of taking time to go back to San Diego for a visit and to see a graduation ceremony for the new Marines. However, I always seemed to be pressed for time and would say "next trip". It wasn't until December of 2004 that my wife and flew to San Diego for my first visit since graduating boot camp in October of 1946. In April of this year I took my wife, two sons, and a granddaughter to San Diego and El Toro for a visit. It gave me a chance to share some of the great memories with them. I urge you not to delay any longer. You will not regret the trip. Those places have memories that I cherish very much. My only regret is that I didn't make the trips sooner and more often.

Ray Cox


By George Peto

The 81 mm mortar is the heaviest piece of ordinance available to the Battalion's Commander. With two guns to each section it takes fifty-eight men to man the guns and carry the ammunition. Once the guns have been zeroed in they can put out some serious firepower. In many a battle they turned a defeat into victory. Not only are they devastating to the enemy but they take the morale down a notch. Mortar men get very little praise for the hard work they do. It takes a good man to be a mortar man, the guns and ammo are lugged through jungle, swamp, up mountains, all by the sweat and muscle of the mortar men. They can set the guns up in minutes and be ready to fire at a moments notice.

In World War II at the battle for Okinawa, the 81 mm mortars of the Third Battalion, First Marines took a direct hit from Japanese artillery. The platoon lost about thirty men and all of the guns. So with a few days rest and fifty percent replacements they were called back to action. Needless to say the new men received "on the job training". Most of them had never heard of a mortar yet alone ever fired one. But with the capable help of the old timers, in short order they were performing like professionals.

My job was to be the eyes and ears of the mortar platoon, as I was the forward observer for the guns. My four year hitch had two months to go. I managed to get thirty-two months overseas service. It was my fourth campaign. So it was from this perspective that I am telling this story and why my heroes will always be Marine mortar men.

The time was mid June 1945 at the southern tip of Okinawa and also the last battle for the Third Battalion, First Marines. The First Division fought in the jungles of the southwest Pacific for three years and jungle fighting is like being in the dark. You only know what is happening to yourself and the guy next to you and the scuttlebutt is a thick as fleas on a dog. But that day the God's of war were smiling down upon us. We were at the base of a mountain and below us was the enemy. They were dug into a ridge with tunnels underground. Their only escape was a four by four foot tunnel to the surface. Their plan was to hold their position till they were overrun, then up the ladders four at a time to the next ridge and the same plan over again. The plan was a good one, as it had cost the Marines a lot of good men. But not this time as I had plenty of time to zero in on the obvious escape routes before the attack took place. Mortars are not tack drivers, if you land one within twenty-five yards of your target, it's a hit. So my plan was to take the number two gun under the command of Bill Mikel the Gun Captain, Tom Avants the Gunner, and Matthew Frenchic the Assistant Gunner on the gun and have them to cover the escape hole on top of the ridge. The attack went as planned as the Marines advanced on the position, the Japanese poured out of the hole. I gave five rounds for effect and Bill and his crew had all five rounds in the air before the first one hit the ground. All five rounds hit on the ridge. Japanese bodies were flying everywhere. We repeated this tactic several more times. There would be no ambush at the next ridge. There were few survivors that day, thanks to the mortar men. What a fitting way to end the war but our good fortune was not over.

The Commander of the Third Amphibious Corps, Lt. General Roy Geiger chose to observe the Third Battalion in action. It is not often you get to perform for the Corps Commander. A week earlier General Simeon Bolliver Buckner, Commander of the Tenth Army, who was also the overall Commander in the area, was killed while visiting a Marine observation post in the area. Lt. General Geiger was given the job as the Commander of the Tenth Army, the only time a Marine commanded an Army. This was like extra frosting on the cake. Upon observing our fire, his comment was "I have never seen mortar fire like that in my thirty years in the Corps" and requested to speak to the Officer in Charge. Our platoon leader, Lieutenant Haggerty was on the scene. He informed the General that the credit belonged to me. Consequently I received the Navy Marine Corp Commendation Medal with Combat V signed by Lt. General Geiger.

To this day I feel that Bill, Tom and Matthew earned the medal but as the old saying suggests, so goes the fortunes of war.

Semper Fi

As A Retired Corpsman

Sgt Grit, As a retired Corpsman I keep my skills up by riding with the local ambulance. the other night we got called out for an auto accident. the police found the wreck but couldn't locate the driver. while we were standing around waiting for the searchers to find out patient I was talking with the local Paramedic. It turns out he was a an HM2 reserve. I asked him if he knew about your website and he said no so I started describing some of the things in there to him. As we were talking a gentleman (former Marine) walked up, heard me telling the other Doc about your catalog and said "if you want to see what the bumper stickers are like go look at my truck" It turns out that he is also a subscriber to the Sgt Grit newsletter. You just never know when you are going to run into another Marine Corps "family" member. Keep it up.

Semper Fi.
Doc Higgin