Doc, you did one h&ll of a job. I was with the 5th Marines in Korea on Hill 812 & 1052 the next hill north. We had a real rough time there and you Corpsmen were our salvation many times. Just being there was a comfort to all riflemen and support units. When the word "Corpsman" rings out everyone knows that you will be there.
God Bless you "Marine" We are all thankful for you guys.
SSgt. H. G. Shockey
5th Marines, Korea 1950-51
This Week's Poll
WHAT SHOULD WE DO in the war on terrorism?
- Be More Aggressive...
- Be More Understanding, Negotiate More...
- Cut and Run...
- More Circle Singing of Kumbaya...
Sgt Grit to host private screening of "Flags of Our Fathers".
Saturday, October 28, 2006 at 2:00pm
6001 N Martin Luther King Blvd., Oklahoma City
Price is $6.00, includes ticket, small drink, Bag of popcorn & bag of candy.
Must call 1-888-NOV-1775 (888-668-1775) to purchase tickets in advance. Limited to 260 people.
Sgt Grit staff will be at theater 1 hour prior to movie to pass out tickets.
Must have confirmation # available when you arrive.
The Corps Will Provide
After reading Deane Gilmore's column, I decided to share my experience concerning the above. I enlisted in the Corps in February, 1955 and went to Parris Island. In my first week of training at the Rifle Range, My Platoon was assigned Guard Duty. One night I received separate letters from both of my parents. They indicated they were divorcing, and my father intended to return to his native Georgia and my mother was seeking a job with the US Civil Service with the US Army in Japan. They were selling our home place in rural Knox County, TN.
This was a shock to me. As I walked post 2000 to 2400 on "A" Range I realized that soon I would have no home to return to if/when I was discharged from the Corps. I was inspected by the (recruit) Cpl of the Guard, who found me in tearful remorse and he reported it to the Duty DI, SDI SSgt McKinnon. When I got off post, I was summoned by the Senior DI. I reported to him as ordered and saw a Navy Officer in his office, a Chaplain. They counseled with me. SSgt McKinnon stated, "Pvt Green, you have some potential. Put this behind you, and continue to work hard. The Corps will provide a home for you. We take care of our own." This motivated me and cheered me up. I smiled and to my astonishment, the SDI smiled back. I decided right then that I would make the USMC my career.
The next week I applied my self and fired the second highest score of my Platoon. About two weeks later I received a letter from my Sweetheart in Oak Ridge. She informed me that her mother and step father were divorcing. Her mother had taken up with a Kentucky coal miner. I wrote her back a long letter and asked her to marry me, that we would have a struggle making ends meet, but we would survive. We were married on 10 May 55 while I was on recruit leave. We are still married. My first "permanent" duty station was Sea Duty aboard the new, first "Super Carrier," USS Forrestal (CVA-59). Being that I was one of only two Pfc's in the Marine Detachment, I was assigned plum duty as the Captain's Orderly. A year later I was promoted to Corporal (E-3) and assumed duties as a Cpl of the Guard.
There were four Sgts in the MarDet, and one of them, Sgt Robert (NMN) Smith, a Korean Vet, and the only "dark green Marine" aboard, took me under his wing and taught me how to be an NCO. He was my "Sea Daddy.," and taught me well. A year later I was promoted to Sgt (E-4), and having confidence in my abilities, I applied for DI School.
In 1958 I was a JDI in the 2nd RT Bn at P.I. and was in the same Company as SSgt Robert (NMN) Smith. We worked only one Platoon together, just the two of us. That Platoon won all the high honors a Recruit Platoon could win. I am forever indebted to Sgt Robert Smith.
Our son was born at the Naval Hospital in Beaufort in Sept, 1959. My wife and I continued our struggle. It finally eased up some after 6 years of service, when I was promoted to Sgt (E-5). Later, I applied for, and was accepted to OCS. Along the long road, I was always mentored and helped by superiors, and I, in turn, helped and mentored my subordinates. I received the honor of being allowed to lead Marine Grunts in combat in the Dominican Republic and in the Republic of South Vietnam. There is no greater bond among men than one that is forged in the crucible of combat; where men share all the horrors, discomfort, dangers, and noise, together as a team. This bond is real, it is strong, and it is forever. It confounds the understanding of all who have not experienced it. If God would turn my clock back 40 years, I would do it all again.
The worst fear of soldiers, sailors, and airmen is that they may be killed or maimed in combat. We Marines and our Navy Corpsmen are quite different. Our worse fear is that we may do, or fail to do something that would let our brothers down. Ordinary men, Marines and Corpsmen, do extraordinarily brave acts. They jump up, under fire, and run to the aid of a fallen brother.
Yes, our beloved Corps is a true Warrior Brotherhood, and our Corpsmen are a respected part of it. We look out for each other, always.
L. S. Green
Captain of Marines
This life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I ask not for more.
My life is my God, my Country, my Corps.
Before I Cross Over
I would like to know how some Marines, seem to not only locate their D.I.'s, but to let them know how much they appreciate what they did for them?
I guess it's luck. I don't know !
Reading these stories over time, makes me feel the need to express my gratitude , big time brother !
I think Marine Corps every day and nothing less. There's nothing else that keeps me going.
I can say this...before I cross over, my last thoughts will be of The Corps .
Graduated 2 Dec. 1980, Parris Island , S.C. Platoon 1084 , Bravo Co., 1st Battalion.
Sgt. Dewitt , SDI SSGT. GySgt Bell , SSgt. Dickens and GySgt. Berry.
Semper Fidelis Marines,
Cpl, USMC 80-84
Index Finger Just So
Hi Sgt. Grit:
In Bill's message below he wondered if there was a wave or some motion that was used as a signal to another Marine in passing. How about that so perfect Marine salute? You remember, the one the DI's drilled into you during your boot camp days. The arm and hand in perfect alignment with the index finger just so at the edge of the right eyebrow. That to me is the perfect way to acknowledge a fellow Marine regardless of rank. My husband and I are both Marines - he saw the pullout of Viet Nam and I was peace time right after. That's the way we have acknowledged fellow jarheads in the past and even though we get strange looks from the civilians, it cements that bond between us Marines.
Pvt Alyce Kolenovsky
Sgt Jim Kolenovsky
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Tried To Stand Down
I have been putting off writing this letter, much to the dismay of a good friend and fellow Marine, who thinks that by writing this, it may help me, and possibly others, deal with what he and I believe to be a common issue amongst "former" active duty Leathernecks.
I am a proud Corporal of Marines, 1988-1992. I was trained as a machine gunner, 0331, and served as a Sea Duty Marine (Security Forces) on board the USS Wisconsin during both Desert Shield and Storm.
Ever since 9/11, I have been fighting a selfish feeling of unfinished business, as has my Viet Nam buddy since he came back to the world in 1971. Although nearly a generation apart we both feel relatively the same and many have told us that we have done our part, and now it's time to let today's' Active Duty Marines do their job. To let them serve with the same honor, dedication, distinction and pride that was instilled in all of us by our DI's.
Okay, so I have tried to stand down. My watch has been relieved, but, I still have trouble with the issue of not finishing the job that I volunteered to do. I have been told by my buddy that over time that feeling does wane some, but does not ever go away entirely. This has become apparent to me, since he completely understands my dilemma, and hence our on-going conversations on the subject.
But, I still want to fight the "apparent" enemy. I want to stop terrorism in its tracks. I want my family, and my neighbors, and fellow Americans to BE safe and to let them all live a worry free, unabated lifestyle, guaranteed by our Constitution. The same Constitution that I gave my personal oath to defend, and at times, I feel that I haven't done enough for.
In essence, I still want to "get some!" My fighting spirit is still there.
Recently there were news stories of the U. S. Marine Corps activating the IRR. This announcement has resurfaced, with a vengeance, my feeling of not completing my assigned task. Is this my chance to get my old body, slightly busted up, back into the fight? Or am I fooling myself due to my position in life now, and am I being selfish (foolish) to think that I could put on the uniform again, and perform at the level expected of today's' Marines? Could I leave behind my beautiful wife (of 17 years; loyally staying stateside through my "Hitch"), and our two fabulous sons who have grown up with Dads' stories, their "war" stories. Now they hear daily of IED's, car bombers, snipers, these "new" combatants our troops (and future Dads) are facing.
I want to find out if I am eligible to go back on active duty, and I don't. I find myself at a crossroad. This is a dilemma that hurts so much inside. I am apprehensive to find out the answers: Am I physically washed up? Should I leave my secure and lucrative job? Should, in fact, could I leave my family behind to chase a dream? Or, am I just pining for those glory days gone past and should I just suck it up and carry on?
I know that I am probably not eligible (again) as I was discharged because of my knees. I "rehabbed" the h&ll out them but still they were not good enough and I was discharged Honorably with a "settlement". My knees uphold their daunting task of reminding me daily of the "old days". And I gratefully, thankfully, live on to raise my sons and to love my wife. But I still wonder, "What if?" Should I call the recruiter and try to volunteer one more time? Am I fit to do the job, again? Is there a place in today's Corps for this old salt?
I know the answer to most, if not all the questions, as does my buddy. But we are curious if there are others that feel the same way we do.
We want to know what others are doing to satiate their feelings.
I want to add that I am extremely proud and grateful of our current Active Duty and Reserve Marines, of their personal sacrifices and that they are genuinely appreciated, and I will always wish that I were with them, still doing my part, defending our national freedoms. My family and I pray for their safety and I am personally hurt and angered anytime I hear news of a fallen Marine.
Finally, Capt. Paul Blanc, USMC, a truer friend, comrade and mentor could not be found.
CPL Dale Haines
MarDet USS Wisconsin
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How Many Times
In response to Bill de Kryer RVN Class of 68, I too have entertained a similar thought. Being a Harley rider, I'm accustomed to the low biker wave and it seems we Marines and FMF Corpsmen outta have something special too. We do such an excellent job of advertising our identity, that the overt acknowledgement to another Marine should be a reality.
How many times have we passed a fellow Marine or Doc and seen the USMC identifier and waved at them, never knowing if it was really seen. We bikers don't have such doubts and there's no place for such ambiguity amongst Marines.
I am in the habit of snapping off a salute and I know protocol would shout me down in a skinny minute, but it does bring positive response on many occasions. There is a MOM (Mother of Marine) in my town and see just lights up when I render her the honor. I don't know her name or where she lives but I do know she has contributed much to the Corps through her son/daughter's service and has the ever present worry about a loved one being deployed. Being a dad with a son in the Air Force with two deployments under our belts, I know the drill she goes through.
Anyhow, let's hear from others on the subject and take it easy on the old "doc" for his salutes, remember, your shot card could just disappear someday!
"Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers to fight". Ps 144:1
Rank Of General
Prior to my four year Marine Corps tour (1979-83), I played with war games from Avalon Hill, and took on the rank of General as one of my nicknames. When I entered the Corps at MCRD SD, I kempt it to myself. Once I was done with training, I was ordered to MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan. I had the name (in Japanese) put on a civvie shirt I purchased while there. One day while off duty, I when into town wearing it, from 20 yds away from me this older Japanese (50-60's?) was saluting me. It took me five or more to finally realize that he was saluting me because of the writing on my shirt. I returned the salute and he walked away before I could try to talk to him.
The second time it came up was in MCAS YUMA, my last duty station. I was part of the S-3 group while then, and among my duties, the flag football team's photographer, self assigned and accepted (by the team). This team had all the ranks from PFC to LTCOL. on it, while I was now a LCPL (passed over CPL four times), I retained my name during my off duty hours. One day while on duty, I had to Marine Corps business at S-3, I took the latest batch of photos in to show the Marines on duty. Every one took a look and commented on them (including the XO and unit's master gunny). As I was leaving at office from two SSGTs, in the proper rank and uniform of the day, One of them said loudly, "see you later, general". At the same time, two pilots was checking in at the weather desk, I was in the hallway headed to the doors to exit the building. They heard this, turned around in snap, bring their arms to the proper salute position. They looked all over for this general officer and only saw me. I saluted them as was I was suppose to, they returned it, and left the building. I can still remember the confused looks on the pilots faces to this day.
Daniel McEachren (general) LCPL USMC
Pulling Their Leg
For some years now I have worn western hats. In south- eastern Michigan these are not seen all that often but they are very practical in that they keep the sun off my head, the snow off my ears and since I work in an auto plant with a lot of open door to let the birds in they keep the pigeon poop off of my head.
On the front of my hat I proudly display a Marine Corps emblem. Going through airport security is always fun because there are a lot of inactive Marines working as airport security guards. I have gotten so many comments such as "In (?) years in the Corp I never saw a hat like that" that I just had to come up with an answer for them. I did. What I tell them is "You are too young Marine. This is old Corps. I was in the Marine Cavalry." Some of them know right away that I am pulling their leg but there are a few that just look at me for a few seconds and say something like "Your kidding, right?" I just give them a Semper Fi Marine and go on my way with a smile.
Here's to all of you active and inactive Marines. I'm proud of you all!
Cpl. Gerald A. Pinkerton
Iwo Jima Ka-Bar
I just ordered the Iwo Jima Anniversary Ka-Bar and other items fom your company and I wanted to share some photos and story of my father with you.
My father John F. Jarvis served on Iwo Jima as a Master Sergeant with the 2nd Separate Engineer Battalion attached to the 5th Amphibious Corps (patch on his right shoulder in photo). He joined the Marine Corps on December 8th, 1941 and sailed for the Pacific in October 1942. He was promoted to Sergeant aboard ship and then participated in the occupation and defense of Guadalcanal from January 1943 to July 1944 where he was promoted to Staff Sergeant on February 1, 1943 and then to Supply Sergeant (Gunny) on December 1, 1943.
In July 1944, my father participated in the assault, capture and liberation of Guam. In February 1945, his unit sailed to Iwo Jima and he landed there on February 20, 1945. He served on Iwo Jima during the battle where his unit helped repair the airstrip at Motoyama Airfield so that B-29s could land there. On Iwo Jima, he served as the Acting Battalion Quartermaster and was promoted to Master Sergeant February 25, 1945. In the second photo on Iwo Jima my father is on the left wearing the Ka-bar with an unidentified Marine buddy. You can see some aircraft and probably a Japanese artillery piece at the edge of the Motoyama airfield.
I have attached a photo of him wearing his Ka-Bar on Iwo Jima. It must have been taken at the end of the battle on or about March 27th, 1945, the day his unit sailed back to Guam. Also, I am sending a photo of my father at the 50th Anniversary of Iwo Jima commemoration on February 19, 1995 at the Marine Corps War Memorial. It was quite a day since they sat us in the front row between John Basilone's sister and Lt. Gen Lawrence Snowden who was a Captain on Iwo Jima. My Dad was 82 at the ceremony and had difficulty walking so we arrived early. A Marine Major tried to deflect us to the seats in the back trying to save the front seats for VIPs, but a Sgt Major "advised" the Major that this man is going to sit in the front row.
My father looked great for his age, but I had just put him in a nursing home a few months earlier with Alzheimer's. I couldn't take him back to Iwo like I had promised him, but there was no way that he was going to miss the Iwo Jima 50th anniversary in D.C. It was a great alternative for nearly 1,800 Iwo Jima survivors and thousands of their friends and families that could commemorate the battle with their loved ones.
Needless to say we were pleasantly surprised and watched the whole ceremony seated just a few seats from President and Mrs. Clinton. The media loved my Dad and they all filmed him and took a lot of pictures. Numerous news reporters wanted to interview my Dad, but then realized that he had Alzheimer's. I helped him answer their questions as best I could. Luckily, my Dad did remember some things about Iwo Jima that day. One reporter asked my father what his most vivid memory of Iwo Jima was and he replied "We kicked the Japs Ass". Needless to say, that never made it to print, but we all got a good laugh. Apparently my father forgot that the Japanese had done a little ass kicking themselves during that 36 day battle!
Later that day, CNN started off the news every 30 minutes with a close-up of my father and then the two of us walking along the red carpet up to the Marine Corps War Memorial. We stood in front of the monument of the Iwo Jima flag raisers where my father offered a final salute to his comrades. As we turned around I noticed all the television cameras were focused on me and my father. Suddenly, I felt extremely proud to be the son of the "old man" in his VFW shirt. I remember being a little embarrassed as a young kid because my father was always waving the flag and always organized and marched in all of our local hometown Veteran's and Memorial Day parades. Of course, after I joined the Marines I understood where his patriotism came from.
The 50th Anniversary of Iwo Jima reunion and ceremony was quite a thrill for me and my family. The President and Mrs. Clinton came over to speak with us after the ceremony and the White House sent me that attached photo. The next day, there was a large photo of my father in the Washington Post in the story of the Iwo Jima 50th Anniversary. We got to meet a lot of people that included five members of my father's battalion. Three of them were in my father's company and remembered him well and shared some nice stories with me. Sadly, my father didn't remember his old buddies. They were ten years younger and I guess we always remember the senior guys.
There was a great photo of me and my father was in the June 1995 Leatherneck magazine in an article about Iwo Jima. He was also featured in the Pentagon Press Release for the 50th anniversary and in the Navy Reserve magazine, The Mariner.
In March 2005, I went to Iwo Jima for the 60th Anniversary with about 450 other military history buffs to include about 80 Iwo Jima veterans and their families. I carried my father's scrapbook up to Mount Suribachi with all of the attached photos. It was great trip. I walked invasion beach and hadn't realized that the Marines that landed there had to run uphill as the proceeded inland. I met some great Marines and Seabees. I returned some photos of Japanese soldiers to the Japanese contingent on Iwo Jima after the ceremony.
Well, I hope that I haven't bored you too much. The film "Flags of our Fathers" is scheduled to be released on October 20, 2006 and I have been doing some research about my father's unit on Iwo Jima. I remembered that photo of my Dad wearing his Ka-Bar on Iwo Jima. When I saw your website with that Ka-Bar, I just had to order it.
My father died on April 30, 1999 at age 85. At the funeral, we had a Marine Corps Honor Guard, 21 gun salute, a bagpiper and a big crowd. It was a fitting tribute to one of the greatest generation. Semper Fi Dad!
You may put the photos of my father on your WWII site if you wish.
Keep up the good work.
3rd Amtrac Bn 1st MARDIV 1974-1976
MSG Bn Cameroon and Panama 1976-1979
About three years ago I had to meet my wife at the half-way point between where our Boy Scout Troop and home was after some key gear was left behind for a camp-out. We stopped in the Electronic Department at Wal Mart to purchase film and batteries and elderly employee wanted to discuss his experiences as a Boy Scout and a leader. After about 40 minutes of discussing Scouting, the gentleman said, "I have carried my Eagle Scout card since 1948 and I went to the Yalu river with it."
I replied, "You were at Chosin?"
After a brief moment of silence, he asked "How did you know about Chosin?, you are the first person I have talked to in years that knows about it" I told him that every Marine knows about Chosin and that I was with 3/7 in the early 80's.
His got all excited; he was with the 7th Marines also. I asked him if he had the honor of meeting Chesty Puller and he said he had. He then brought the conversation back to the Boy Scouts. So many of the Corpsman had been wounded that Col. Puller passed the word to find out who the former Eagle Scouts were; they would know some basic first aid.
Michael Becker, 1st Lt.
3rd Plt. Co. L, 3rd BN 7th Marines
Never Said Anything
I was never in the Corps. My father was in the Corps 4th Marine div. ww2, he had rejoined much to my mothers chagrin. His first enlistment was 1924 -1930. my mom convinced him to not stay in. he always was sorry he didn't.. my older brother joined just after ww2 , and was stationed in occupied Japan, my next brother was in Korea, my brother 3 yrs younger then i was in nam.. so i have grown up breathing the Corps. i am proud to be the sister and daughter of Marines... I now have a 15 yr old grandson who wants to join.. and the thing is that we never said anything about the Corps.. he has seen the Marine memorabilia in my home but never asked questions.. so when my daughter said he wanted to join i of course let out a big yeah. Daughter was not happy. i told her hey his is 15 he may change his mind.. well he is in jrotc. and got a chance to participate in a wonderful program called devil pups... it is held at camp pendleton. kind of a miniboot camp we figured this would make him or break him.. he did things we didn't think he could do and absolutely loved it... he is not a squad leader in his jrotc unit and is looking forward to goin to devil pups next year again.. and plans on going to P.I. for training.. when he came home i talked to him and gave his mom my dads ega pin that he wore during ww2 and told him when he finished basic his mom could give it to him cuz then he had earned it...
i enjoy readin your newsletter
daughter of ed white ww2
sister of ed white, 47-49
bob white -korea
alan white -nam.
god bless all the young men protecting us in the Corps
In answer to Bill's "Should Be" post. There is a recognized Marine wave when meeting or passing another Marine. I have the American flag and the Marine Corps flag flying from my boat. When a passing Marine spots the flags, they usually point to it & salute (the flag) me. Passing Marines on the street, I usually just get a "Semper Fi". I usually give them the old "High Ball" in acknowledgement.
One day while traveling with my wife to Colorado, a young Marine (in Civvies) walked up to me & asked if I enjoyed my time in the Corps. I didn't hear exactly what he said & looked puzzled. My wife punches me & says, he's a Marine, you dope. I forgot that I had my Marine Corps ball cap on. He was so young!
My brother & I joined the Marine Corps League, Sunrise Detachment, Massapequa, NY. There are Marines from Iwo Jima to Korea, Viet Nam to Iraq. Many are Viet Nam vets, including my brother who did 2 tours there. What a great bunch of men. Sorry, we also have a few Women Marines. Someone asked one of the WM's "What do you call a Woman Marine? She answered..."MARINE"!
SEMPER FI, MARINES
Ed Iraci, L/Cpl USMC 1961 - 1966 1st Bn, 4th Marines 1st Marine Brigade Kaneohe Bay, HI SDT, Quantico, VA
I Have Revisited
As I read the letter from Cpl. Joseph Miller about his visit back to Parris Island after almost 50 years and saw that he was in Plt. 214 in 1954, I just had to say hello to him. I was at Parris Island from April of 1954 to June of 1954 and was in Plt. 216. We were there at almost the same time, in fact my plt. graduated on June 19th.
I have revisited Parris Island twice since, the first time being around 1999 and then in 2004, one of my buddies and I revisited Parris Island and Camp LeJuene. We spent three days roaming around a recalling so many great memories that were not really that great in 1954 but neither one of us would trade our experiences as U. S. Marines for anything we can think of.
My buddy that arrived at Parris Island in June of 1954 has since joined a group of Marines from St. Louis and Memphis that rode a bus back to Parris Island and actually spent a couple of nights in the barracks (no more Quonset huts) and ate in the chow hall. They said it was great.
So, if you haven't been back, both Tom and I highly recommend that you do it.
A Little Slower
Once a Marine---Yes, that's the saying, but I really means something. You never get over being a Marine, or the training that you went through. You stay a Marine for the rest of your life, and probably act like you never got out.
S/sgt.Porter and Cpl. Gardner put the Marine in me during the summer of '64 with Plt. 242 at San Diego MCRD. I'm still proud to have gone through Boot Camp, and served in Nam with 3/11 and 1st Mar Div.. The "can do" attitude that I learned has served me well ever since.
I'm a little slower now, but I still keep in good shape, and 3 years ago I even entered a Martial Arts program, and began studying Karate. Now at 62 years young I have just earned my Brown Belt, and hope to earn a Black Belt in two more years. I can also still shoot a rifle as good as good as I could after Boot Camp. I actually still qualify every year but am now rated higher than expert as a High Master service rifle shooter and have earned the Gold Marksmanship badge of Distinguished Rifleman----1256th civilian to do so since 1903. In 2005 and 2006 I won the MN Service Rifle State Championship as a Senior. With an M16, I can hit a dinner plate at 600 yds.
So, you see "Once a Marine always a Marine" is a true statement and a fact.
Boot camp, San Diego, Oct60-Jan61. The first night after our plt was filled, our senior drill instructor briefed the Plt in one of our huts. One of his remarks was, "You WILL write a letter home every night. When you write to your mother, you will say, 'Dear Mom, I am fine.' Sign you name, and send it off. If you write to your girlfriend, you will say, 'Dear P...y, I wish I had some.' Sign your name, and send it off." When I think back to many of the things the DI's did and said, I end up laughing to myself. Of course, it wasn't funny at the time! That was the longest 13 weeks in my life, but the most memorable.
CWO-4 USMCR (ret)
In a recent newsletter a Marine asked if there is a Marine "wave" we can use between each other. Everything I recall of my time in the Corps, RVN 70-71, and today's Marines is that they keep things pretty simple and a "wave" would not fit the simplicity of the Corps. But no Marine can help but recognize an actual "salute" as it is the most crisp salute of all services. Just a thought.
Regarding a health update, I recently had quadruple by-pass surgery and can only assimilate it to diving on a grenade as it went off and then laying there for four days before someone found you. On the fifth day a corner is turned and the long journey home begins.
Cpl. Tom Gillespie
Saving Countless Lives
Recently a legendary WWII Marine and close friend of mine passed away. Guy Gabaldon fought in Saipan and single-handely captured over a thousand Japanese prisoners, saving countless lives on both sides. For his actions, he received the Silver Star and it was later elevated to the Navy Cross. (Efforts have been underway to upgrade it to the Medal of Honor). He appeared on the TV show "This is Your Life" back in the 50s and a movie was made of his exploits starring Jeffrey Hunter as Guy. The movie "From H&ll to Eternity" received wide acclaim.
A few days ago, his wife, Ohana requested of me if I could find her a urn or wooden chest with the Marine Corps emblem for Guy's ashes. She wanted to carry them in this way to a Memorial on Saipan and one scheduled in Montebello, California on December 9th. Of course my first search was in Sgt Grit's Catalog and I found a suitable chest which I ordered (It has a MC emblem on top and a slot for Guy's photo). Because there was very little time before Ohana departed for Saipan, I called in a special request to your store and spoke to Heidi who was extremely helpful in ensuring the box was suitable and would mail it so Ohana would receive it on time. The chest arrive the next day and Ohana was delighted with it.. Please relay my thanks to Heidi and to all your staff. You run a great store. Semper Fi.
Sgt Maj Sal Navarro, USMC (Ret)
In 1982, June - August, Parris Island, SC, I was in the 3rdRTBn, HCo, Platoon 3040, there were 70 of us sweating to earn the title Marine! One recruit, Henderson, was always smiling as long as the DI's didn't see him, he was smiling! He was at the far end of our squad bay, but you could see his smile! What little chances we could all of us would talk to each other, Henderson just never stopped smiling and we were sure if the DI's caught him we would all pay for it. Our DI's never caught him, we all graduated on 2 August 1982, all of us were eager to leave and not so eager at the same time! I could only wave at Henderson and yep! He was smiling as always! After some leave I reported to Camp Johnson for the Administration and Disbursing School, then after that graduation I was at 8thEngSptBn, 2d FSSG, Camp Lejeune. We had Marines in Beirut, and one Sunday morning, 23 October 1982, I woke up, turned on the TV and was shocked and stunned to hear that the Marine Barracks in Beirut was destroyed by a suicide truck bomber, about four days later, a list was published at Battalion Personnel where I was an SRB Clerk, I began looking over the list of names, all Marines, all brothers, and I came to a name and stopped, LCpl Ferrandy Henderson died that day! At Parris Island, our DI's said that when a Marine dies, part of us will die with him/her! Part of me died that day too! And I really understood what my DI's meant! I couldn't believe he was gone! I didn't know what or how to feel and I realized his smile was always going to be with me and not a day has gone by that I don't think of Henderson, I believe he's in Heaven and probably pulling guard duty and smiling and he will always be with me! Never forgotten and remembered every day! Semper Fi! Henderson! Scott "Sgt" Beal
That was the first thought that went through my head at the VA Hospital here in Spokane. I had just been through my yearly physical and it was 4 days later. The Dr. said there was a "slight" anomaly in one of my tests. They needed to do another blood draw. Half an hour later he came back into the room and said there was "a problem". First "Oh crap". He said my blood sugar was a bit high â€¦ 595! Normal is 100. Second "Oh crap". Then the bomb dropped; he said I had Type II diabetes mellitus! "Oh s**t!"
I felt great, no symptoms as far as I could tell. I had just finished a Shriner Clown parade of 2 miles in 90Â°+ weather and loved it! Drank a little extra ice tea, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. After about 2 hours of instructions on how to take a blood sample for testing, how to draw the insulin and give myself an injection, he asked "Were you in Vietnam?" Of course the answer was "Yes". He then went on to explain that it appeared to be Agent Orange-induced. Thirty-nine years later and this happens! I filed the paperwork for service-connected disability this week for the diabetes. There is NO time limit on this. If you were in 'Nam and have, or get diabetes, it will be taken care of by the VA! It is a rated disability! But you have to get checked regularly.
I can put up with the injections and pills for the rest of my life; and I'm not looking for sympathy. I just want every swing d**k that was in 'Nam to get an annual physical, including a PSA (prostate cancer check) and A1C (hemoglobin sugar) test. It may take an hour or two, but isn't your life worth it after all you've been through? The alternative really sucks, and it's permanent! Ignorance is bliss and a slow death! Get it done NOW!
Gunny of Marines
Did Your Job
You were attached to the 5th Marines. You provided assistance to a man attached to a unit other than your own. You did so at personal risk after having been wounded yourself. You did what you could to provide care under "less than ideal" conditions. You got a living body to the next echelon of care-providers. That's the basic facts.
I hardly know were to begin describing just how out of line the doctor was in saying what he said. For openers, HE was NOT there. There is no way he can second guess the care you provided under the conditions as they were. For instance, if blood had gelled or dried then you had no business removing any clothing attached to the wound --- which would restart the bleeding and put the patients life at risk. It is the job of the prep nurses to debride wounds --- NOT yours.
You did your job Joseph, you delivered a warm, living body to the surgical staff. Anything beyond that was the responsibility of others. I know that we always feel responsible for our patients, that's what makes us Corpsmen. Don't let the fact that you had to deal with an unthinking egocentric get too you. Sounds to me like he needed a punch in the eye to bring his humanity into focus.
HM1; E 2/1; '65-
I've read a lot of stories regarding the sacred status of the "Grinder" and have my own little sea story to add. I was in boot camp in 1964. A Hollywood Marine. MCRD San Diego. 2nd RTR Plt. 225. Plt. Commander SSgt. Wayne Pichler, Sgt. Connor and Cpl. Paddy. During our training Hollywood really did arrive. We had already been told how angry our platoon commander had been when he had trained and graduated a couple of reservists, brothers from Hollywood, named Everly and all those Hollywood folks had shown up. He had mentioned how" those people" had soiled his beloved Marine Depot with their presence. As a matter of fact, I believe my platoon did numerous pushups/squat thrusts/ up-and- on shoulders etc. each time he thought of it.
I digress. My Grinder story is about Gomer Pyle. While my platoon was training the TV crew and Jim Nabors showed up to shoot the program. The first couple of episodes involved Gomer going through boot camp and then going to his permanent duty station along with his DI Sgt Carter. Members of all three battalions were utilized during the filming and provided background footage for the opening credits and the first several episodes. Long story short, in the opening credits Gomer is marching in a platoon of recruits on the "Grinder". Of course he's out of step, diddy bopping and being a "maggot". Sgt Carter has to give him a little verbal adjustment screaming in his right ear. I see myself one row over and several back, one scared 18 year old pimple faced recruit. They shot the scenes many times with many different platoons, so many Marines may see themselves being filmed in the early episodes of the program. Every time that stupid program comes on TV I can't help noticing myself and it makes me remember the hours of marching, sweating and PT we did on that sacred ground. If you won't stay off it for the Marine Corps' sake, stay off it for Gomer! We truly were "Hollywood Marines" and I have the video to prove it.
Steve Bosshard 2095724
USMC Sgt ' 64-'68 RVN
To Make Cold
I don't know if this will fly...something I cooked up 1 afternoon on my mail route, courtesy of a Mr. Ford!
I woke up this morning before the sun did shine,
had a date with Ma Deuce, so we walked to the line.
Shot 16 "rags" who'd reached their goal,
and the ol' Gunny said, "Well bless my soul,
you shot 16 "rags" and what did you get,
2 lines of print in the Marine Corps Gazette!"
Saint Puller don't you call me, cause I'm not old,
got 16 more "rags" I got to make cold.
The "rags" see us coming and they step aside,
some "rags' don't and those "rags" died.
One fist a 'bar, the other a .45,
if the left one don't get 'em, the right one will!
Saint Puller when you call me, after I get old,
means there ain't no "rags" left to leave cold!
John R. Nagel, HMCS/IDT/SW/USN
That's What I Want
About six years ago a co-worker brought his son to work with him. While introducing his son to me, he told him that I had been in the Marines. His son looked at me and said "that's what I want to be when I grow up". I told him that if he decides to join that I would be there the day he graduated boot camp. I had not been to Parris Island since I graduated over 25 years ago.
Just prior to his senior year in high school he enlisted and would leave for Parris Island upon graduation.
On 9-6-2006 his father and I departed Cincinnati Ohio in a motor home bound for Parris Island. We arrived in Beaufort at about 1730 that evening. Since we were early for a dinner that was to take place at 1900, we decided to go onto base. Upon arriving at the gate my chest began to swell with pride. As we drove through the base a lot of memories came rushing back, especially as we drove through third battalion. Not much had changed, a few new building here and there, but still pretty much the same.
On 9-7-2006 we attended two events that were new to me. The moto run and the EGA ceremony. The moto run was great for the families as this was the first time they had seen their sons. The EGA ceremony was awesome, to see these young men addressed as Marines for the first time. When these new Marines sang the hymn it was awesome. I've been in football stadium that were not that loud.
The next morning was graduation. What an outstanding ceremony. When the Marine running the ceremony asked those in attendance that had served in the Corps to stand and be recognized my chest again swelled with pride. After the company was dismissed one platoon at a time, I made my way to the parade deck to shake the hand of a boy I had always known as Geoff and shook the hand of a brother I will forever know as Marine.
To my brothers and sisters around the world, our beloved Corps is in great hands.(I did not expect any less)
Sgt Tom Cranmer
The Best Duty
I was a Fleet Marine Corpsman assigned to 2nd Plt. India Co. 3/9 9th MEB March Viet Nam 1965 till April 1966. I remember when I my orders to FMF I was not to happy. When I got to Field Med. School at Camp Del Mar Camp Pendleton . And that when I realize I had possibly the best duty a Corpsman could get. How ever I got stuck in a C Medical Company 7th Marines. The Medical Co. had so many Corpsman you may have Dispensary Duty or work in the Company warehouse fixing Field Gear.
I final got orders to the Third Marine Div. When I reported in at the Rock I found out that 3/9 had landed in Viet Nam I would join them a few days later. Well I meet my Platoon at the base of Hill 327 in March of 1965. I final it may it to the best duty possible. I was a Platoon Corpsman. There were times it was not so nice and there were times that where some fun. But during the time I spent as a Platoon Corpsman I realize that I wanted to be with the best fighting machine in the World and that is the Marine Corps. Once again I thank the Corps for showing me how much I was able to deal with and react to the situation at hand.
I was very upset when I got back from Nam because I got a ship for my duty station. I was assigned to Sub Tender at San Diego. While aboard the ship I realize I preferred the Marine Corps. I got out a few months later in 1966.
But I thank the Marine Corps for making me Proud of my self and for letting me wear the EAGLE, GLOBE & ANCHOR and serving with the best
I-3/9 Nam 1965-1966
Every Bit As Gung Ho
Dear Sgt. Grit -
I have been receiving your newsletter for about a year now and enjoy each and every edition. Like many of your readers, I was permanently infected with a profound love for our Corps while serving during the Vietnam War. Since leaving the Corps in 1977, I have found that inactive Marines are every bit as GUNG HO as the active Marines. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where we do not have Marine Bases close by, but you would never know it by the number of cars with Marine bumper stickers, emblems, etc. Additionally, if a home in this area displays a service flag, 99.5% of the time, it will be the Marine Corps flag. We are a proud band of brothers and sisters and aren't afraid to demonstrate that pride in every way possible.
Last year, I discovered a Woman Marines Association (WMA) Chapter in my area and promptly joined. It was a wonderful decision and has allowed me to be in the company of women who proudly served and who love the Corps every bit as much today as they ever did while active. During the first week of September 2006, I attended my first WMA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky and it was a wonderful experience. The majority of women in the WMA are from the WWII and Korean Eras and they are the most amazing group of women you can ever imagine. What a thrill it was just to be in the company of these exceptional women. I even managed to visit with my OCS roommate, another of our classmates and our series lieutenant. We visited like it was yesterday and it had been 38 years since we had seen each other.
Additionally, we had about 20 young active duty Marines who were a delight to be around. They ranged in rank from LCpl through BGen and each and every one of them was a credit to the Corps and to themselves. They were very outgoing, had great respect for the women who blazed the trail for them to follow and were full of Esprit de Corps. These young people are living in a Corps that is very different from the one we knew, but they are performing each and every task assigned to them with the same Marine "CAN DO" attitude we all shared. Almost all of them has served at least one tour in Iraq and they approached that assignment like they would any other in spite of the difficult conditions and ever present danger. These women are a credit to their Country, to their Corps, to their families and to themselves. I wish them all success and safety in all future assignments.
Our final gathering at the convention was made extra special by a visit from General Michael W. Hagee, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He shared some very interesting and amazing stories about the Corps and the 11,000 women currently serving. The Commandant was very gracious and took photos with all who asked. It was wonderful to share those few hours with such an exceptional representative of our Corps. Thank you General Hagee!
To any women who have served in the Corps and would like to share their experiences with other women of similar background, I recommend that you locate and join your local WMA Chapter. Believe it or not, there doesn't even need to be a physical chapter in your area because WMA can now support virtual chapters using on-line tools like e- mail. The National WMA address is WMA, P.O.Box 8405, Falls Church, VA. 22041-8408. They can help you locate a chapter near you. If any old friends see this letter and want to contact me, my e-mail address is Ktwright11 @ comcast .net.
To all who share the motto "The Fewer, The Prouder, The Women Marines", I say Semper Fidelis.
Sgt., USMC, 1965-1968
Capt., USMC 1968-1977
Pass The Torch
To Cpl. Haines, and the rest of us...I am a Viet Nam vet, 64 (Gulf of Tonkin), 65 and 66 on the ground...I was a radio Op (2533) and attached out to several different units...I still carry my pride and completion of my part of service with the Marine Corps.
Yes, the completion. If I were to be recalled for whatever reason, I wouldn't hesitate to go...but after watching some of the new breed, their equipment, and realize that I can no more go a mile in their boots (physically), I feel I can pass the torch of defending freedom to the other Marines of today, the counter parts of us, from yesterday, as my dad passed it on to me, and feel the pride of a continuing family and brotherhood, and knowing that if I were again called, I would make every effort to go, and do what I could.
Bob Yount, Sgt
What I Passed On
Dear Sgt Grit,
I think you hit the nail on the head with this past article. I have a feeling that about 99% of all of us Marines who got out when our time was up want to be helping the team out in some way. I was in between the years of 1996-2000 when the world was somewhat stable and there wasn't too much going on unlike today. I like to think that what I passed on to the Marines of my platoon was passed on to the Marines in the fight presently and hopefully keeping them safe. I too very much want to be in the fight, but lets face it, we have been sitting the bench for too long. Our wants could possibly get someone hurt or even killed. I'm planning on contacting a recruiter, not to join back up but to maybe help out with the future Marines looking to stand on those yellow foot prints.
I read your letter stating how you feel about unfinished business. As a medically retired Corpsman Vietnam 1968, I can attest to those feelings. For years I have felt that I have left things undone when I was medevac out of KheSanh in 68. I felt like I had abandoned my watch with my beloved Marines.
I sought ?, during my early years after getting out going to college, getting a degree in Physical Education, teaching school and not being happy in what I was doing. I ended up going back into my beloved field of medicine as an LPN and eventually went to work for the VA. Eventually I had to retire due to PTSD brought on about "Unfinished Business" I had always gave 150% to my fellow vets and couldn't put up with the non caring attitudes of others not giving their best.
Please as a favor to me and the ones who went before you, continue working in your present job. However, give as much support you can by making sure any one coming back from war, etc is not forgotten as we were when we returned from Vietnam. God Bless you and your family and God bless the USA and the watchdogs of us all, The USMC!
Charles D. Bunner aka Doc Bunner or more importantly to my 1st Platoon comrades from Alpha Company, 1st Mar Div "Doc Bunny"
Rest assured Cpl, you are not alone.
We are Marines! We are the hardest charging group of women and men our country has to offer. We are drawn to the Corps because we are at heart, warriors. Those of us who did not see combat will probably ALWAYS feel as if we did not do our job, are slacking, unsat etc etc. We are trained and socialized by or time in to look down upon those %10 'ers who are not pulling their weight. I will always feel as if I SHOULD be there with "my" Marines, fighting the good fight ( which means any fight we are told to go to, regardless of politics ).
This feeling is, I guess, pretty common.
After reading another book on Iwo Jima, I noted that a Marine Lt. mentioned in the book lived not too far away from my home town. I googled him, found a retired Dr. and by every measure a very successful and balanced individual. When I mentioned my feelings of inadequacy, of being a slacker, he said he understood. This Marine, who spent some three weeks of combat on Iwo, attacking EVERY day ALL day, said he had the exact same feelings of inadequacy because he spent ONLY three weeks fighting. Imagine that. He lost about %70 of his platoon, led Marines incredibly well, was a hero to his men and he felt as if he did not do enough. NOT ENOUGH!
I realized then, that I will ALWAYS feel this way. I am trained to feel this way. If this hero still feels this way, I should honor my own service, be proud of being a Marine who did not see combat (it was not my fault the winds of war were not blowing at the time) and get on with life with all the gusto and warrior spirit I have. I may be a peacetime Marine, but I am still one hard charging, fired up, willing to give all to my country, individual. Such is my lot in life.
I now live as a Marine in this civilian world. I did more for this country than most did. I was WILLING to fight, WANTING to fight. Sometimes that has to be enough.
Scott E. Gray
Sgt. Lima 3/1 84'-87'
I take exception to the person named "Okey, Plt. 141, 1957" who wrote about a Cpl. Stouts story that apparently failed to use the what he deemed were the proper words and implied that those of us that went through Parris Island didn't 'talk the talk'. Cpl. Stouts may very well have had a mental lapse after so many years of being a civvie. I can assure you that as a graduate of MCRD - Parris Island, Plt. 374, November, 1963, we also called them utilities, ladders, hatches, chow, skivvies, etc., additionally we were also told that we were the real Marines - not Hollywood Marines, like the other group of men and women who were in MCRD - San Diego. Our DI's were meaner, our training tougher, our barracks had no air conditioning, and our sand fleas were bigger. So there ! All kidding aside, it seems that this was the only Marine, inner Corps rivalry, that I ever saw during my time as an active duty Marine.
Other than that, we are of the same breed. We are all brothers and sisters, and we will tell the world what the others proudly can't say, "We're Marines!"
Stephen M. Blank
2nd Force Recon
USMCR, 1963 - 1969
I Had To Do
Of course the rest of us old Marines feel the same as you do. I have gone through similar internal struggles about not serving our country in its time of need. But as I'm sure you know, there are many great support organizations in which you could become involved. The Semper Fi Fund, which supports wounded Marines is just one of many such organizations.
As far as re-upping goes, you won't know until you try. I myself was too old to go back into the Corps. However, I discovered that the National Guard will take people up to 50 years old if they have enough prior service time. So I got my sh%t together, dropped 70 pnds and contacted a recruiter. By next month I should be accepting an Army National Guard commission. My kids think I'm crazy but my wife is supportive. In any case, it's just something that I had to do. It's not the Marine Corps but I will still get to do my part for our country. As you know, it's not li