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Good day Sgt Grit

Just a short note to all there in the states I am a soldier here in South Africa severing in the SANDF and the old SADF I read your letters and I wish my own people are as PROUD of us as you are of your Lads God bless each one and may they come home safely
Hutch Clp Transvaal Scottish Reg SA ARMY

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Last chance - 20% off these USMC Jackets and Long Sleeved Shirts only through the weekend!

Friends Don't Let Friends Join the

You know the USMC is the greatest branch of the service! Let your Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard buddies know it with these "Friends Don't Let Friends Join The ____" shirts. You choose the branch. OohRah! Only available through March 12th...

Got Your Back

To always have your brother's back.

Recently I've read a few stories about the generosity of Marines. I can't begin to recall the amount of money I've spent over the years picking up lunches and dinners. It's always met with the same response from the waitresses. They can't believe you're serious. The last time I remember was a young couple in an Olive Garden. He in Blues and her in a nice dress. I asked for the waitress and explained the tradition. She said, "but they had a bottle of wine too", I said it didn't matter and eventually she carried out the task. I asked for a napkin and simply wrote "whether you know it or not, your back is always covered in the presence of Marines, Semper Fi". Then quietly, and anonymously left with my wife. My wife has accepted this as everyday life and once picking me up at the airport, after my flight was delayed, came out to see what looked like a ticket on her windshield, since the meter had expired. As we got closer it was a scrap of paper that said, "I saw the EGA on the window, and that the meter had run out, I put in what change I had, I only hope it was enough till you get back, Semper Fi". To the young couple of a previous newsletter, the brotherhood lives forever, and while Andrew is away, if you are recognized as such, other Marines will watch your back till he returns. And it's not about you being grateful, everyone knows you are, it's a privilege to tend to a brother and the handing down of a tradition. It's a family thing, and you are in the family.

Semper Fi.

This Guy Leans

One of the coolest things I had happen to me while I was in, was home on leave around Christmas, 2002, hadn't planned on taking leave, but had to come back for a court hearing concerning an accident I had been in before enlisting. Anyways, my buddies in 29Palms had got me into riding quads, (you either ride, drink, or make babies down there!) I had worn my Blues for this hearing, I'm standing outside of Rainier Honda in Spanaway, WA, holding my baby, (born in, you guessed it, 29!) and this white work van was sitting at the light. All of a sudden this guy leans out of the window and yells at the top of his lungs" OORAH CORPORAL!" Well that just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside so I proceed to return with a motivated OORAH which set the baby to crying and to which my wife muttered "f@#$ing crazy Marines." But don't get me wrong, my wife takes extreme pride in the fact of being a Marine Wife. CLW3
ESD Eng & PMO Hq Bn 29Palms CA

Sgt Ted "Sas" Sasiadek

Concerning Sgt Ted "Sas" Sasiadek, I have a little information about him. I was stationed at MCRD SDiego from 1977 through 1982, first as a DI then served on the base. Sasiadek did live on the base, he had no family. He spent at least 20 years in the Corps and another 30 in civil service. He lived in a room just to the right side of the arch in the General's Builing (Base HQ). Every morning he would air his bed sheets out on the bushes to the side of his room. Most everyone watched over him, being retired twice with no family a lot of women wanted his money. I got Sas to talk several times, wonderful stories about being aboard a ships detachment on a battleship, holystoning the decks. I happened to be the Staff Duty NCO for the Base one night in the HQ building when Sas came by, we greeted each other. Sas noticed I was not wearing a side arm. He said, "you on Duty?" and I replied I was. He then stated, "What the h&ll is a Marine doing on duty without a gat.! I will talk to the General about this." He then went on his way. He did talk to the General the next morning, seems he could just walk in any time he wanted, and he did. He was very well respected and loved. I wish we could have sat him down and recorded all he wanted to talk about. A lot of history is now gone. The best memory of Sas I have is every time you saw him and asked, "Hi Sas, how is it going?" Sas would always put both arms above his head, hands grasped and shake them like a prize fighter that just won the bout. I am glad he was able to spend his last years around the Marines he loved so much. I tell stories about him often, he will be truly missed.

Stephen A. Mangiameli
MSgt (1971-1992) 2770790
Son of a Marine
Father of a Marine
Married to a Marine
Semper Fi to all my brothers and sisters

Sgt Grit

I was the former Director of Sea School at MCRD San Diego from May 79 - Jan 81. Sgt Sach (as he was referred to) lived in a small room between Sea School and the Depot Chapel. Sea School now is the Hqtrs for 12th District.

His responsibilities were to clean the CG's Office area with assistance from the Sea School Students. He used the Head facilities inside Sea School to shower etc...Most of the time he could be found on the 2d deck of bldg 31 in the old barber shop!

He always wore a black dress glove on one of his hands. He was a very small man in statue but was always ready to provide a "Sea Story". He liked to tell of his duties aboard a Battle Ship during the early 1930's. He had been a successful boxer and told many stories of his fights. His room was really something special. He had two old metal wall lockers that were always ready for inspection. He had pictures of many General and senior officers signed on his bulkhead. He loved when my Gunny or 1stSgt would hold inspection as he called it. He even got me to look at his wall locker display a couple of times. He always referred to me as "Skipper"....He was a vegetarian and the secretary's and Marines were always giving him fruit and vegetables.

I understand that during BGen Kerr's tenure as the CG, Sgt Sach was mugged outside the Depot and was injured. BGen Kerr had him moved off the Base and placed in a retirement facility.

Wish I could offer more....but that is all I remember.

M.A. Einsidler
Col USMC(Ret)

I was stationed at MCRD during the years 59-60 in Depot Motor Transport. At the same time, Sgt SAS was living in a little room in Depot Headquarters. His room was immaculate and open to all. I used to pull duty driver about once ever two weeks. He liked to tell the story about how he gave 2nd Lt Wallace M. Green a traffic citation in Puerto Rico. At that time, the Marine Corps was going from 13 man squad drill to 8 man squad drill and had no manuals for it. Sgt SAS was graceful enough to teach a small cadre of instructors for the base, because he remembered how to do the drill. You could see him every noon shadow boxing in front of Depot HQ, except Mondays. That was the day he washed his clothes, the old way, in the wash racks. Once, he started going with a WM MSgt. He told me he had to break it off. She wanted to spend too much time off base. When I asked for clarification, he told me that she wanted to go into town (San Diego) once a week for dinner and that was just too much for him.

Sgt SAS was definitely one of the highlights of my 20+ years.

Semper Fi
Art Kidd
Capt of Marines
RVN 64 (with then Maj Al Gray), 65-66, 69-70

Not sure if the is the same "old breed" I saw just about every day running and "shadow" boxing on the MCRD San Diego in 1962. I was at MCRD from November 61 to December 62. Guard Company. I could set my watch (while at gate 2 0800 to 1220 watch,) as the legendary "old corps" Marine working on his boxing style. Never had the opportunity to meet him personally, only saw him working out. As a young L/Cpl I was not about to interrupt his workout. Semper Fi

L/Cpl Ken Wheatley
1958 to 1962

Marines at Work

Actual footage of the "Big Green Machine" doing what it does best ! without the networks slant

Subject: India Company - push into Fallujah

Home video of India Company's push into Fallujah last year. If the link doesn't work, cut and paste to the web address.


Got Thru It

Hi Sarge....This is a small world. Went thru Boot at "Dago" in 42. Had a platoon buddy from Michigan. We got sent out to Camp Elliot and wound up in the 11th Replacement Battalion. Shortly we were bound for the South Pacific.

On arrival at Noumea I was disembarked and sent out to Mission St. Louis to join the First Raiders. He stayed aboard and went on to the 2nd Div in New Zealand.

He was lucky at Tarawa. Got thru it ok, but at Pelilue got his shoulder blown away and spent 18 months in hospitals. I was more fortunate, surviving 3 campaigns, to be floored with Malaria, declared not fit for combat and spent the rest of my 29 months out there in the 4th Base Depot on Banika in the Russells.

Recently my wife and I were paired with another couple for golf down here in Florida. You guessed it. It was my old buddy Dale! 62 years peeled away fast and we are now fast friends again.

Once a Marine...Always a Marine.

Semper Fi, Good Buddy. And may God Bless our people over there in harm's way.

GYSGT H. Jones
USMC '42-'46

The Ones Closest

Sgt Grit,

Thank you so much for this news letter. As a former woman Marine, I am so proud of all the women that serve, but the ones closest to my heart are the women of the Corps. There are only a few of us, but we really give out a lot of heart and soul to our beloved Corps. My experience as a female in the Corps was truly wonderful. Something that I plan to pass on to my two daughters. There is so much one can learn from the Marines in general. Our courage, honor and commitment are only a few values of what people can learn from us. We truly are apart from the rest. I got out in 2003 and I was planning on joining again but my husband was already in Iraq at the time. I truly miss it. It was something that I will never forget. Thank you to all the men and women who are serving. The future is looking up to you.

Thank you
Cpl. Sierra


Just wanted to let those of you who do not know that 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment has a web site (www.38beirut.org) For those of you interested. I was attached to them as the S-2 for two deployments to Beirut in '82-'83 and again in '84. We usually do something every summer and for the Marine Corps Birthday we try to get together at Cookies Tavern in Philly. Take a look see and come join us. The web site has all the details.


Thru The Tears

Recently my wife and I took a Carnival Cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. One night we had dinner and decided to go to the lounge to check out the show. The ships Director of Entertainment, Jason, was great a usual during his opening talk. He started talking about our men over seas and fighting to freedom in Iraqi. He then asked for everyone who had served his country to stand and be recognized - Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines. I stood and noticed a lot of gray hair as well. My wife grabbed my hand and held it tight. Being a VietNam vet this is the first time I had ever been recognized. The next request was for all Doctors, Nurses and Paramedics. My wife stood next to me. I lost it. She just squeezed my hand and leaned over and told me she was proud of me. She know of my loosing it at times when things come up about VietNam vets.

The next day there was a talk about what we needed to do when we returned to Galveston and the procedure to disembark. After the talk Jason said he and others of the staff would be by the stage if anyone had any questions or comments. I got in line. I wanted to thank him for the kind recognition of the service men the night before. When it was my turn I was able to thank him for the tribute the night before I lost it. Thru the tears and shaking, all I could get out was, "I'm a VietNam Vet". He did not say a word. He reached out and gave me a strong hug and again said thanks. I have always been 5'11", however, being almost 65 I am down to about 5'9 7/8". I walked away with pride and feeling at least 6'.

To all me brothers Semper Fi and thanks for the ones before and the ones that will follow. Marine for ever!

John Halpin
VietNam 66-67

Frequently Stopped

I don't know why but the other I remembered something funny. Back when each service had their own base stickers I had been transferred from Camp Pendleton to Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver Co. for Bio-Med Repair School. Fitz was also a school for MP's and we were frequently stopped because of our Navy or Marine Corps base stickers. Mine had PO3 since I was an HM3 at the time.

A young guard stopped me and looked at my base sticker confused. He then asked what PO3 stood for and I replied Petty Officer Third Class and he said. "What kind of Officer, sir?"

I knew I had a live one so I said. "Son, do you know what a warrant officer is in the Army?"

He nodded his head. "Yes sir, I do."

So I barked. "Then you better know what a Petty Officer is in the Navy!" As I drove pass he saluted and I nodded.

Needless to say I was very careful for the next few weeks when entering the base.

Semper Fi

I Can't Hear You

Greetings again Grit,

I guess it's about time for me to put in my 2 cents about the 1962 Plt. 240 Series (240,241and 242) at MCRD San Diego.

I was in the middle Plt., 241. The Series was located in some now gone Quonset Huts located on the grinder not far from Pendleton Hall. The area is now grass and palm trees, and the old 2nd Bn. mess hall was right behind where the reviewing stand and bleachers for graduation are currently located. We formed in July, and graduated 13 weeks later.

Two things to remember about this period that most people don't realize is that the WWII enlistees were coming up on 20, and that 1962 was the last year for the change from the old rank structure (no L/Cpl) to the current structure. Consequently, there were still Marines with the old chevrons without the crossed rifles running around. The deal was if you were an SSGT (old structure), and didn't get selected for SSGT (E-6), you reverted to SGT (E-5). This worked for all the ranks in the old structure, get selected up, or revert to the next lowest rank. Needless to say, there were some unhappy folks. One of my Drill Instructors, (Bronze Star, Iwo Jima) was not selected for E-6, so not only did he have to revert to SGT, but had to move from the SNCO Quarters to the SGTs Quarters. Not a good night for the platoon I assure you.

Two of my three Drill Instructors had served in both WWII and Korea. It wasn't until a few years later one night when I was trying to crawl under my helmet that I really realized that they were trying to teach us to survive.

The Series Cdr. Was a 1stLt. Gretkowski. Now this guy was tall. When I was at the position of attention, looking straight ahead, I was looking at the Marine Corps emblem in his Battle Pin (tie clasp to you newbies), and I am 5'10".

I well remember the hike to Camp Mathews (now UCSD at Torey Pines). All three Bns had series going to the range, but 2nd Bn was in the rear, and my platoon was tail end Charlie for the whole march, so as you can guess, we either ran or stood still for the whole way. The only neat thing was that the movie "The Making Of A Marine" was being filmed, and at the end of the march, we were lined up along the top of the mesa, and on command all three series ran screaming down into the arroyo. But Mathews was a nice break from the Grinder, and other than Little Agony, and locker box drill, the Drill Instructors mostly let the PMIs take over. I almost took off an ear doing locker box drill. I doubt they do locker box drill now. Sleeping in pyramid tents, with the cold fog coming in at night off the ocean, up before dawn, chow and off to the range, great times.

After two very fast weeks, we were back at the Depot, boots bloused, and collars unbuttoned, and getting saltier by the day.

About this time, were marching to evening chow. You know the point, where the platoon moves as one entity, and the Drill Instructor doesn't even have to call cadence. Well, a Uh-34D had landed over by the flag pole, and as we marched, everyone was trying to get a better look, so we got out of step. The Drill Instructor called: Plt. Halt, Left Face, Front Two Ranks Down, On My Command "Hello Helicopter", "I Can't Hear You, Again". The Crew Chief was sitting in the door, and wound up on the ground he was laughing so hard. We stayed in step the rest of the way to chow.

In those days, all graduations for all three Bns were at the Base Theater on Friday morning, after which, the series were transported to ITR at San Onofre. My platoon was not scheduled to go until the next week, so we were in kind of a casual status for a few days. We had only one Drill Instructor, and since we had graduated, things were pretty easy. The last great thing I remember was my platoon was on the street waiting to go somewhere. In the meantime one of the Drill Instructors from 242 had picked up a new platoon and had them in the huts adjacent to ours. He was doing "on the street", "in the huts" with them, and they weren't moving fast enough. He gave them "in the huts", and somehow, in the process, the door to the hut got closed. The doors to the Quonset Huts opened inward. Well, the Drill Instructor hollered "on the street", the people in the hut hit the door, the door wouldn't open, and door and frame wound up across the street up against the opposite hut. The Drill Instructor was heard to remark that he thought he had them where he wanted them.

Semper Fi
Tom Gafford
MSGT. Thomas A. Gafford USMC (Ret.
1946140/0811/0812/0369 RVN 68-69

Lady Leatherneck

I have always loved that particular term as a Woman Marine, something that touches me deep in my soul...the duality of those two words, lady-for I have been to taught to hold myself with dignity and honor...leatherneck-I am "tougher" than most women for I have been steeled by my brothers, who have taught me to run like the wind, cuss like a sailor on shore leave, dig a trench, pitch a tent and shoot a rifle straight and true. I've learned things most women will never experience or understand - all because they didn't dare to be one of THE FEW, one of THE PROUD. I am so glad I took that challenge in 1980 because I would not be the human being I am today. I walk with pride. I know my heart is true. My spirit is strong- for it has been molded by the USMC! I have so many stories, but I doubt you have enough space for these foolish wonderful memories. Suffice it to say it was the best time of my life. Thank you for a wonderful website and I always look forward to the latest email and your catalogs too.

God, Country, Corps!Sgt. Olga R.Castillo (Sgt "C")1980-1992

My Favorites

Sgt Grit:

I really enjoy reading the stories of past, present and future Marines. I have been out of the Marine Corps for about 15 years now but the pride will always be there

I recently order a video on Women marine Corps Boot camp and as I watch that I was reliving something that I had done years earlier but it didn't seem that long.

I am now a nurse and the women I work with are always amazed when I talk about the things that we use to do in the Corps. I am a big Gung Ho Semper Fi.

I am always proud of all the young kids that go into the Military after High School. But the Marines are always going go be my Favorites. My best friend from high school son is joining the Marines. She was fearful at first but I told her not to worry he is joining the Best family anyone could have.. I regret every day of leaving my Marine Corps career, but nursing is almost as rewarding, and Once a Marine always a Marine.. If your ever driving down the road and see a Dodge Dakota with more Marine corps magnets and stickers that Sgt Grit you will know that it was me. I'm as proud today and the day that I walked down the Parade Deck. My friends always say why the Marine, I say I always have to be the best and everyone knows that the Marines are the Best of the Best.

Thanks for letting me ramble

Semper Fi
Theresa Bonuchi (Piatt)
LftcLant, Norva

It Still Amounts

This is just a small note and comment. I am a retired Corpsman with 21 years, three of these was with MAG 26. Probably some of the best duty I had being FMF. I met a Staff Sgt at that time, now a retired E-8. We become very good friends, still to day, we both retired in 1972... He did me a great honor by naming his one son after me. Just thought I would pass this on as it still amounts to Semper fi Thanks
Bob (doc) Tillman

Under My Breath

After completing boot camp and ITR in Sept 71 I was sent to Memphis to Aviation training where I served with WM's, Sailors and the Coast Guard.

One nite a few of my friends and I hit the e-club for a few drinks. The place was pretty crowded but can't remember the occasion. Anyway we heard this loud commotion and turned around just in time to see this wm jump up and pop this sailor between the eyes knocking his a@@ completely out with one punch. From then on the only definition I had for a bam was bad a** Marine and if I call any WM a BAM it was under my breath. Semper fi Billy R Helms 1971-1980


In response to Sgt DeSpain's inquiry regarding shellbacks in the Feb. 16 Sgt Grit Newsletter, being one of the "old breed," I can speak from personal experience.

In 1944, when WWII had already been underway for two and a half years, I enlisted in the USMC one week following my 18th birthday. After boot camp at Parris Island, advanced training at LeJeune and Pendleton, 11,000 of us Marines along with navy crew set sail from San Diego aboard the U. S. S. General O. H. Ernst as my shellback certificate reads "bound south for the Equator and for the war zone, WWII, enroute to set the 'Rising Sun.'"

On December 23, 1944 we crossed the International Date Line, and no one escaped the initiation. First, we sat in a chair to get our hair cut--some with a streak shaved from ear to ear, others from forehead to back of head, or any crazy design desired by the self-appointed barber. Then we were dumped into a vat of water. Each time we came up for air, we were asked, "What are you?" And until we answered "SHELLBACK," we were continually put under again. (One poor guy nearly drowned until some sympathetic soul finally yelled, "Say shellback!") Next, we landed on a greased board where shellbacks were lined up on either side with leather straps, boards, etc. to slap each person's back side as he slid down the board on his stomach. Fortunately, I slid down so fast that they only hit where I had been. After surviving the initiation, we became trusty shellbacks. My framed shellback certificate is still proudly displayed on the wall of my home.

I went on to Guadalcanal and then island hopped through the Solomon Islands toward Okinawa--routing out any surviving Japanese, searching and securing each island, and encountering a few battles along the way. This was about the time my fellow Marines were raising the American flag on Mt. Subirachi, Iwo Jima.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945 (ironically, April Fool's Day) at 0830 hours, my 1st Marine Division, along with some of the 6th and 2nd, began going ashore in landing crafts on Okinawa. The big guns and carrier planes had plummeted the island for several days prior to the invasion. By nightfall some 90,000 ground and aviation Marines, their supplies, and vehicles had landed. We fought across Okinawa throwing grenades and "womb bombs" into caves where the Japanese were hiding. Sugar Loaf Hill changed hands 14 times before May 18th when the Stars and Stripes were raised. Okinawa was the last Japanese stronghold and proved to be one of the costliest battles in the Pacific for casualties.

Unfortunately, I was unable to return with my platoon. Instead, I had to be carried back to the tent set up as a field hospital and then was transported by hospital ship to Kaneoha Naval Hospital in Hawaii, where I spent four months. After the Japanese surrender, my long-awaited return to the U. S. occurred on the Matsonian Luxury Liner, which had been converted into a hospital ship. My bunk was located in the former swimming pool where bunks were stacked five high. After coming under the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco and disembarking, I--along with many other war-weary Marines suffering physical and mental casualties of war--were stationed at the Klamath Falls Marine Barracks Hospital in the mountains of southern Oregon. Some recovered and went back to duty; others received a medical discharge.

I still wear my USMC 1st Division cover regularly, and my heart never ceases to swell with pride when a stranger walks up, extends a hand, and says, "Thanks for your service, SIR." Now, at age 81, I still remember my shellback initiation ceremony as if it were yesterday and regret that some of today's younger Marines have not encountered such a memorable experience.

Semper Fi,

John S. Smith, WWII USMC, 1st Div.
Chaplain, MCL Kenneth Black Detachment # 1166
Athens, Alabama

The story that the Marine had about becoming a shellback from a Pollywog, had me laughing. I was on board a LST doing the Liberty Run out of Okinawa in 1979 when we crossed the equator. They woke us up at 0400, made us put our clothes on inside out/backwards. Made to crawl on our hands and knees to the chow hall, where we were fed cold purple noodles. All the time being harassed and "flogged", smeared with grease, and led like dogs with chains around our necks.

On our knees again, and taken out on the deck, where we were to retrieve our "ticket" (a raw oyster) out of a urinal that was flowing with "the stream of life". Our ticket had to stay in our mouth, and when we got to the stern of the ship, we were greeted by the King and the Queen. After told what our "crime" was, we were flogged and had to eat the cherry out of the Kings belly button. (And this guy did not adhere to the Navys weight control program).

The final test was the tube of 55 gallon barrels they had cut and made a tube of, and filled with what had to be most foulest looking and smelling goo I have ever seen. Coming out the other end, we were ceremoniously given the Shellback award and tapped on the shoulder by some odd looking pirate.

The clothes were thrown over board and we ran the ship dry of hot water. The bad part is, I never got again to go over the Equator to do the honors to anyone else.

Semper Fi
Daryl Riggs SSgt (Ret)

I was fortunate enough to have participated in this ritual while serving aboard the USS Belleau Wood in 1989. Having a Sergeant who had already gone through this and was a member of the Trusted Order of Shellbacks, I was volunteered to be his Wog Dog. As such, I was collared and led around the ship by my master to engage in fights with other Wog Dogs and to eat some of the finest chow a wog should ever eat.

(most of this food was leftovers lovingly ground into a nasty mess with several condiments added for my enjoyment.) Upon entering the hangar, I was released by my master to run the gauntlet lined by all other trusted shellbacks who were more than happy to use their shellallees (pieces of fire hose taped at one end and used as beating instruments) on our backsides.

When we reached the flight deck, two wogs on either side of the pad eyes (used to tie down helos and our Harriers) were ordered to blow the nasty water out onto each others' faces. Several other tricks, courses, rituals were included until we reached the Wog Queen. The queen was the fattest smelliest Navy squid I have ever seen with a belly smeared with lard, butter, oil, etc. that was procured from the galley.

Our order was to rub our face in "her" belly and proclaim our love for her. A tub full of sea water and floating food particulars was the final obstacle where an order to "swim" through to the other side awaited us. After emerging from the tub, we were asked what we were. If we answered Wog, we had to go back to the beginning of the maze. If we answered shellback, we were christened as a shellback.

Still have the wallet-sized ID card and the large wall hanging proving my existence as a trusty shellback.

Gerard Torres
VMA-513/13th MEU

I was with MAG 15 in I think June of '66 and we went overseas on the USS Sumner County 1148 LST and upon crossing the International Date Line, we went through the ceremony and got the certificate stating that we had done so. That was one slow ship but got us there.

I would like to remind everyone, that you are a Marine until you die, and then you become a dead Marine.

Doc Hamilton
Viet Nam '66 & '67

To Sgt DeSpain,
I crossed the line in Feb of 1993. As the day of the crossing approached I was understandably nervous. As an HMC with 17 years in a was one if not the senior enlisted wog. Much to my relief there was a masterchief on the ship that was a wog so I was off that hook. As my doctor, our two Marine pilots and I awaited our turn with "Davey Jones" and King Neptunus Rex I looked up and saw our Commanding Officer, a Marine LTCOL being led across the deck on his hands and knees, on a leash, by the Ship's CO. After seeing that everything else they did was nothing. We were laughing so hard about the Colonel being "dogged" that the trials we went through didn't bother us that much. As a side note we had a team from the states on board that was there to help the returning troops get ready to get back to family life. It consisted of two women and one man. Those three individuals earned the respect of the whole ship by going through the crossing the line ceremony along with the rest of us. I have since forgotten their names but their camaraderie will always stay with me.

Doc Higgins

In September of 1993, I was stationed aboard the USS Germantown LSD 42. Part of LAV Platoon Reinforced, attached to 1/5 with the 31st MEU. We knew that the impending doom of Wog Day was coming up, and with the posting of the Orders of the Deep with a bunch of stuff from Davy Jones himself, it was crawling near. We reconnoitered as much information as we could without tripping up too much of the old salts, but only so much could be gleaned.

Our own platoon Sgt, SSgt Marsh, was shellbacked and he threw out enough stuff to really cause confusion and a fearful anticipation of the coming day. Two nights before the day was to be, two or three of the squids from the galley came round Marine country and solicited help. It seems the Mess Chief had been saving garbage and food scraps for 3 days, and this was to be used for our hazing pleasure. After explaining what horrors awaited us, we (about 14 Marines) decided to help these poor squids who feared the demise of there dignity (as we did as well). We all proceeded to the galley and pulled out bag after bag of smelly garbage. Since the lights were out due to our clandestine training operation, we heard from no one, nor were we asked any questions. As a matter of fact, we sponged up about 20 more Marines to help us, and soon we just resembled a fire- bucket brigade, passing bag after bag of trash and tossing them overboard. 2 or 3 days passed, and as Wog Day came to us, we found the mess Chief had another idea for garbage: He had the messmen boil up several hundred pounds of pasta! They even added food dyes to color it to make it look like garbage! Rancid pasta. I wonder how much better it would have been if we had left the garbage alone.

Shellback Certificate

Golden Shellback Certificate

Emerald Shellback Certificate

You Best Be

Hey Sgt Grit,

Thanks for the great sharing place. I read every word of your news letter.

Today I saw a remembrance from a Sgt I once served with but I don't know if he remembers me, but I have a great memory of names.

its like a voice from the past when you see a name that strikes a bell. I served in H&S-1-9 in 1963, I was in BnMT and S4.

My bumper tags and stickers have gotten me out of a few tight spots too. I remember once when 4 friends and I were returning from a 96 hour pass and an Arizona State Trooper somewhere in Western Ariz stopped me for speeding about 2 in the morning. I don't even know how fast I was driving, just that the 61 Volvo was floor boarded when the red lights flashed. The trooper walked up and flashed hi light and asked where was I going in such a f...ing hurry. I looked at my watch and said , "we have to be at Camp Pendleton at 0800". He handed me back my license and said, "you best be hurrying along then, Semper Fi Marines". I think we were out of sight before he got back in his cruiser.

My Sgt Grit, Crimson US Marine Retired cover gets me "thanks for your service" regularly. Grateful people have paid for my groceries, gasoline, movie tickets and more things than I care to mention. I don't wear it for that purpose, I wear it because I love the Marine Corps, and my time there.

Keep publishing the letters and all good works.

Semper Fi.
GySgt Jerry R. Hattox
USMC 1954-1978 retired
Nam 65-66, 68-69

USMC/Combat Helicopter Association

Sgt. Grit:

I've been a faithful reader of your newsletter for about three years and would like to use this forum to enlist new members into our Association and invite them to join us at our bi-annual reunion - held this year in Fort Worth Texas from August 10-13.

Until a couple of years ago, our Association was known as the USMC Vietnam Helicopter Association. Membership was available to those pilots, crew chiefs, door gunners, corpsmen and flight surgeons who served with a helicopter squadron in Vietnam. Membership has now been extended to all Marines who have served in combat (in any war) with a helicopter squadron and the name of the Association has subsequently changed to the USMC/Combat Helicopter Association.

A reunion is held every two years - the 2004 reunion in Reno was the largest attended reunion to date. We are looking forward to another great time this year in Fort Worth and would like to invite new members to join us. Please visit www.popasmoke.com to join the Association and learn more about the reunion.

On a personal note, we are finding more and more guys who served with VMO-3, but there are still a lot of guys out there that we are trying to locate. The designation of VMO-3 only lasted for a few years (it changed to HML-367), so the list of VMO-3 guys is not that long - but we are still trying to locate as many as possible.

Hope to see you in Forth Worth in August. Semper Fi !

Jim Oakey, 2130946
Sgt. VMO-3
Phu Bai: 12/66-01/68

Herding Them

I wrote you about Marines smiling back at Death. At least when we go to H&ll we take enough water and ammo for the trip. I would not be so worried about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, as I would about the squad of Marines herding them in a Hummer.

I am a Parris Island Marine - Yea, though I walk thru the valley of Death, I will fear no evil because I was trained there.

John Halpin
2/9 Viet-Nam

Reunion 2/11

Sgt. Grit:
A reunion for all Marines and Corpsmen that have ever served Second Battalion Eleventh Marines is being planned for June 21-25 2006 at Oceanside, California. Could you please post this notice to your newsletter.
For reunion information visit the 2/11 web-page provided.

Semper Fi
Mike Weber.
D/2/11 65/66

How It Felt

A year and a half ago (Sept 04) there were 5 Marines I served with that kept in constant touch. I suggested to these 5 devildogs that a reunion was in order. As an avid hunter, I had a 3000 acre hunting ranch that could support our reunion sleeping 15 without a problem. Everyone jumped on board without hesitation. A date in May 05' was agreed upon. Operation HMM-364 Purple Alamo went into the planning stage. After all we are the Purple Foxes. Within days through websites and other internet searches other Purple Foxes were coming out of the woodwork. Our small group of 5 Marines bloomed into 33. The ranch could not support an exercise of this size but after talking to a local hotel about the reunion we received a h&ll of a deal to include our own hospitality suite. Marines and their wives all booked rooms for the weekend long reunion. With all the information from our brothers Purple Fox address books, commemorative operation t-shirts, and covers were made. A handful of Marines even made a week long vacation in San Antonio out of the event. Marines came from all across the country. From Washington State to Florida. As the Foxes arrived it absolutely amazed me how it felt to sit down, have a "soda-pop" with my brothers. It was like we had never been apart. Our stories and experiences flowed forth like they happened yesterday. The only difference seemed to be different career paths and a lot of kids pictures. The reunion started on Fri. with a pre-flight brief in the ready room (hospitality suite) followed by a party hosted by my local watering hole within staggering distance of the hotel. The bar at no co$t to us put on a spread of food and decorations to include professionally made banners. Upon arrival the bar owners met everyone of us at the door introducing themselves and thanking all for their service to our great country. Sat. was spent on the river walk downtown. Sun. a safety stand down was held featuring good ol' Texas BBQ. was held. We had a couple of lap top computers downloading everyone's pictures from the weekend and even some of the active duty pics the guys brought from back in the day. I write this letter because I have had a hard time physically since I left the Corps and this weekend was a huge part of my healing process. I know there are others like myself. I wanted to voice what the quality people I met in the Marines and what the bond of brotherhood still does for me today almost 16 yrs. removed from active duty. To the active duty Marines now, the friendships forged in the Marines are lifelong. Get addresses, keep in touch, and don't just let the time go by. I know there are not many Marines out there that have not asked the question, I wonder what ever happened to...... Just add a name.

Semper Fi
Ed Messineo, CPL
USMC 86-91
HMM-364 88-90


Dear Sgt. Grit,

Shortly after receiving my commission as a bright and shiny 2ndLt., I married a sweet young flower of the South. Several years later, I was stationed in Okinawa and Japan. In the name of "unencumbered readiness," Marine Corps families were not allowed to live in the Far East in those days, so my family was in the States.

My wife was shopping one day with my blue-eyed, blonde son in tow. He was three years old, and had not seen me for about 18 months. The boy saw a black soldier wearing the Army green uniform, became very excited and bellowed "DADDY" in his loudest voice. He ran toward the soldier, who seemed a little embarrassed. My wife hurried over, took my son by the hand, smiled and---in her mellifluous southern drawl---told him, "No son, that isn't your daddy; that man is a soldier and your daddy is a Marine!" The soldier smiled, rendered a soft salute, and asked her to give me his best wishes.

I was very proud of my lady for that.

J. Himmelheber, Maj. USMCR 1954 - 1970

Send Me Hershey's

My name in Lance Corporal Jerry Fennell and after reading this weeks letter I recall my welcome home experience. In 2003 when I was in Iraq the kindergarten classes at the school my mom was principal at wrote me letters. They intended to send me Hershey's Hugs and Kisses but due to the weather it just didn't happened. When I returned home I decide to visit these young motivators to say thank you. Their gift-giving didn't stop when I was in Iraq these little people ages 4-6 years old sang to me Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud To Be An American while I, choked back tears. To this day whenever I hear that I still choke back tears.

Lcpl Jerry Fennell
Weapons Co. 2nd Battalion 23rd Marines

Reunion Marine Air Base Squadron-43 and 49

Marine Air Base Squadron-43 & Marine Air Base Squadron-49 in Willow Grove, PA; 23 Sep 2006, Col Chuck McGarigle (Ret), 23 Greenwood Dr, Bordentown, NJ 08505, (609) 291-9617, col_of_mar_ret@comcast.net

Sick Cartoon

Sgt Grit:

I totally agree with Gordon Nichols regarding Tom Toles' sick cartoon. I've been to the Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed Hospitals over 85 times to visit our wounded Marine from the Sand Box to see what we can do for them, even if its only a simple act of saying "Semper Fi" and that we're here for you. Seeing what I have in real life and then seeing that sick cartoon really disgusted me. I doubt if Tom Toles or the Washington Post editors have even seen or care about our wounded brethren. I have sent my email protest to the Washington Post editors, suggesting that if it were up to me, I'd fire Tome Toles. But, one email will not bring success. We need lots of them to have any impact. Let's get behind this effort!

Tony Begenwald
Cochairman, Dept of Maryland's
Marines Helping Marines Program
Chaplain, Free State Marine Corps League Detachment

All New York State Marine Corps Reunion, NYMAR 2007

An invitation to all Marines and Corpsmen who are from NYS, were stationed in NYS, who visited NYS or wish to visit NYS. Active duty, Reserve, retired or just plain tired, all are invited to have a good time gathering together with the best of the best, Marines! The reunion will take place from June 7th to June 10th, 2007 at the Holiday Inn Select in Niagara Falls New York. For more information please e-mail me at cjs9@cornell.edu or by phone 607 844 5168 evenings, 607 255 2371 workdays.
Carl Steckler USMC 1966 - 1972

Make It

To Cpl Tom Gillespie,

Your wonderful note and tribute to your wife made my eyes "sweat"...It truly blessed me to read your note and know that there is another very lucky June bride out there! My husband and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this coming June and he still calls me his "young bride". In fact he surprised me with a complete chapter about me in the book he just published: Lucky Enough. For sure when we celebrate this year....you and your bride will also be in my thoughts. There truly are many of us that have made it. I have many other "thoughts" swirling through my head but just can't seem to put then into words today. I do want to thank you though for your story. There are many of us out here who did manage to "make it" through the PTSD and all the other things that can tear a couple apart...and I think that is something to brag about! Thanks also for enclosing the pictures! How special to see you both! Again...I'll be sending thoughts your way in June!

Connie Beesley
PROUD WIFE of Cpl Eddie Beesley

Feared By Fish

As I was reflecting yesterday on the 25th anniversary of my own graduation from Parris Island, a friend and Marine Brother was receiving orders to report to Sky 6 (Actual) for assignment to Marine Security Detachment, Marine Barracks Pearly Gates. Larry (Lawrence P.) McShane, retired Philadelphia Police homicide detective, Vietnam veteran Marine and feared by fish the world over, departed this life 27 Feb, 2006.
Semper Fi-

Tom McCourt

Took Her Back Home

Sgt. Grit. I was taken with the story from Cpl. Tom Gillispie in your last new letter. Something to the same effect happened to the wife and I when I started my military career in the Marine Corps. I came home on boot camp leave from MCRD San Diego in Sept. of 1958. I asked my best friend at the time if he new any good looking girls I could go out with and he said yes, her name was Lois. So he called her up and arranged a blind date for us. At the time she was 18 and I was 20. On Sept. 19th of 1958 I met her and we went to a movie and dinner for our date. The next night we had another date. The following Thurs., Sept. 25, 1958 my friend, Lois friend, Lois and I went to Elko, Nv. and got married. We were in a wreck on the way down to Elko and limped into and back from there. At the time I had never been inside of her house or met any of her family and she had never met any of mine. As you can surmise it was a shock to everyone. It gets better[or worse]Three days later I left[3days]to return to boot camp where a group of us Marines got on a plane and headed for Jacksonville, Fl. for aviation school. While at aviation school she came down and of course she became pregnant. At xmas of 1958 I took leave and took her back home to Idaho. We rode a bus from Jacksonville, Fl. to Twin Falls Idaho.

We lost a baby boy in 1959. We finally started living together permanently in June of 1959 at MCAS El Toro. We now have two daughters, two granddaughters, two grandsons[one who is in the Corps at Camp Pendleton]and two greatgrandsons.

We have been married now for 48yrs this Sept. Not everything has been rosy all the time but it never is when to people marry I don't care how long the new each other. I spent my time overseas while she raised the girls. I was in the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan along with may different places in the U.S. She was always there, if not in body, in spirit. I have many stories I could tell about uprooting her and the girls and going TD or PCS but I won't bore you with them. The story of Cpl. Gillispie hit home and I just wanted to relate to him or anyone else the importance of loving someone, having faith in them, and cherishing what you build and have together. People said we were crazy and our marriage would never last and we told them we would be here together when they were gone, and we are.

I love to Corps and all the men and women that are serving today, helping to giving me the right to write this, the freedom for my family and may God bless everyone one of them.

Sgt. Howard Tennant-VMA 211

Short Rounds

U.S. Navy Rules of Gunfighting
1.Adopt an aggressive offshore posture.
2.Send in the Marines.
3.Drink coffee.

Dear Sgt Grit,

Whatever happened to the cartoon "Sledge"? I remember it during the Vietnam period. It featured a FUBAR grunt as its central character. It was carried by the Air Force Times, Army Times and Navy Times to the best of my knowledge. Is it still around?

Charles Rich

Hi Sgt Grit
I would however like to remind my fellow jarheads that there is another whole fighting unit in the air that supports our troops on the ground. I'm a Korean veteran and was a member of Marine Attack Squadron 225. Any other Air Wing guys out there? Dick "Boggie" Varvel Sgt. 51' 54'
Note: How about more Air Wing stories?
Sgt Grit

Petition for a memorial stamp for our fallen brothers in Beirut

Theodore Roosevelt quote has questionable roots.
This was included in the last newsletter.

Sgt Grit
As a telephone, teletype, and crypto repairman (2817) I can remember being referred to as a twidget or a mushroom.
Patrick S. Corrie
Sgt USMC 67-71

Walk the Walk or Shut Up!
Walk the Walk or Shut Up!

Machine Gunner 0331 Accuracy by Volume Machine Gunner 0331 Accuracy by Volume

Welcome home Marines, Job Well Done!
Semper fi
Sgt Grit

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