I finally received my good news today. NLT 15 May 2007 I will report to USMC Arty Det FtSill Okla. to become an instructor. That is 364 days after being injured in Iraq. I told everyone I would return to work in a year. I look forward to seeing all the Marines I have served with in the near future. I hope all of you can help me enjoy the excitement. To serve in the Marine Corps as an above knee amputee is a great opportunity. One which I will not waste. For all of you that helped and supported me over the last 10 1/2 months I thank you. I want you to know that the support inspired me.
Semper Fi, GySgt Spanky Gibson
Sgt Grit Newsletter VS AmericanCourage Newsletter:
You receive both (alternating weeks)...so what's the difference? In short...the Sgt Grit Newsletter is HARD CORPS Marine! If you interested in topics that delve into Marine Corps history, Corps Stories, Boot Camp and other things that "only a Marine might understand" - then be sure to read the Sgt Grit Newsletter (every other week)
The AmericanCourage Newsletter has MORE family member stories, "support the Corps" stories from Marines, and patriotic quotes. It started after the events of Sept. 11, 2001 to give supporters of the Marine Corps and American patriots a voice.
Learn More about the Newsletter.
Dear Fellow Marine,
Our Nation is at war - our Corps is at war - fighting a determined enemy bent on terror and domination. Your fellow Marines need your help. Our operational tempo has increased at the same time that the President has authorized the Marine Corps to grow, and it is for this reason that your Corps again needs you - not to return to active duty but to assume an active role in recruiting the next generation of Marines. This kind of help can best be provided by those who have worn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and that's why this letter is in your hands.
This important task require the support of all Marines. You are uniquely qualified and strategically positioned to help influence the "influencers" who mentor today's youth. I ask that you, as a Marine, make a personal call to someone within your community, a teacher, a principal, a pastor, a coach - and help them to better understand the nature of our Corps.
Memorial Day 2007 Special Shirts
Wear something out this Memorial Day that demands recognition for our Marines who have gone on to guard the Gates of Heaven.
The 2007 Memorial Day T-Shirt or Long Sleeved T-Shirt is available to order only until April 22 (receive in time for Memorial Day)
Many of our countrymen do not understand that Once a Marine, always a Marine, is a phrase that has stood the test of time and is a testimony to the enduring strength of our Corps. The title of Marine is a Privilege earned in boot camp, steeled by service to the Nation, and carried with dignity throughout life. We live by our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment - both as active Marines and as quality citizens after our time in the Corps is over.
We are calling a new generation of Marines to serve. They will carry the battle tested colors of our Corps just as you once carried them - with honor and with pride. We still Make Marines, Win Battles, and Create Quality Citizens! I ask for your continued commitment to ensure this tradition endures and our proud legacy prevails.
Semper Fi, Marine!
James T. Conway
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandment of the Marine Corps
Marines Never Give Up
A few months ago my husband and I were going to dinner at the Bellagio here in Las Vegas. As we exited our vehicle, at the valet parking area, we noticed four young men in their dress Marine outfits standing in the area with their family members. My husband started towards them and asked one of the young men if they were here on vacation. He said no sir, we are being deployed and we are spending this evening with our family members before we leave. My husband wished them well and as we started to walk away, one of the young men noticed my husband's USMC ring. He said, Sir, were you in the Corps. He said yes, however that was some time ago, and you young men are privileged to serve at this time and lucky to have such advanced technology to assist you with this war. The young Marine then inquired as to when my husband was in the Corps and what was his rank. As proud as I am of my husband, he is even prouder of being a Marine. He comes from a ranch in Wyoming and always tells me that he was always proud to be a cowboy, but he is prouder to be known as a Marine. The four Marines turned to look at him to hear his answer and this is what he told them -- I was young like you, eager to serve my country as a Marine and I served from 1953 - 1975. I went to places that I would never have been if not for the USMC. I was a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, I saw countries I never would have seen in my lifetime and I served in Vietnam. I was shot three different times in Vietnam, in my back, my abdomen and my leg. I served as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island. I have often been asked why I never quit the Corps when I got shot the first time and my answer is, Marines never give up. My fellow Marines have a special camaraderie with each other and wherever you young men go you will always know that a fellow Marine will always be there for you as you will be there for them. You never leave a Marine behind, never..... One of the young men then asked him, but Sir, you have not told us what you came out as. He said I went in to the Corps as no one and came out as a Marine. As for my rank, I retired as a Sgt. Major USMC. At this point the most touching thing happened - all four of these young men clicked their heels together and stood at attention and saluted my husband the Retired Sgt. Major. Now for all of you strong, husky, brave and bold Marines, I would like you to know that my 6-foot plus husband's eyes filled with tears as he saluted them back. He said you young men do not need to salute me, I salute you young men for going to war to protect all of us here in the United States - God bless all of you and Semper Fi.
This is sent by the spouse of:
Ret. Sgt Major - USMC
4th Annual GriTogether
Saturday, May 12, 2007
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Join us for some MARINE QUALITY TIME!
Talk with fellow Marines and enjoy the days activities!
Tattoo Contest - USMC Vehicles - History Displays!
And we have free food!
Gather up the clan and come on down - it's fun for the whole family!
I guess this is in response to GySgt. James McMahon who typed his way through a career in our grand and glorious Marine Corps. Sgt., if I may, let me tell you how I spent my abbreviated career in the Corps. Yes, I too look back with a certain amount of embarrassment. Before I joined the Corps, my first civilian job was as a typewriter cleaner which, after a while I was "promoted?" to typewriter mechanic. I joined the Corps, took the MOS test and the Sgt. there asked me what kind of mechanic I was. Seems I did good on the mechanical aptitude portion. I quizzically said I fix typewriters - sir! They gave me an Army typewriter repairman test and I aced it. I was given a MOS of 3241 (typewriter mechanic) and that my friends got me stuck in the glorious sands of Parris Island/MCAS Beaufort for the entire four years and four months of my enlistment. I was extended for 4 months due to the Vietnam war. I volunteered to go but I guess nobody heard me.
I did everything I could think of short of UA to get some kind of MOS change. I worked with civilians in the base maintenance area and although this could be seen as soft duty, I felt as if I were not even a Marine during that time. I requested mast all the way up to our base commander, he was a bird colonel aviator and a good guy and he did help me; well, sort of. I got transferred to Marine Corps Supply but all that meant was they moved my typewriter fixing gear into a warehouse but hey, I count my blessings; at least I was working with other Marines. I actually volunteered to do this whereas I was in a place of no regimentation, no USMC duties - gee I hardly ever even had to make morning muster other than to say "HERE."
My re-enlistment speech was short and to the point; I said no thanks, case closed. I could b!tch and moan all I want about not seeing the world or fighting "Luke the g**k,) but where would that get me? I got on with my life and still look back to the best thing I ever did with my life and that, Sergeant McMahon was becoming a Marine. I am now 66 years old and still proud of my service with the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen. Once a Marine always a Marine - well, it is a real thing.
Betcha they don't even have an MOS of 3241 any longer, come to think about it, "what's a typewriter?"
SEMPER FIDELIS Sgt. McMahon and to everyone else as well.
Joe Doherty, Corporal of Marines 1972470/3241/0141
and d*mn proud of it. (1961 - 1966)
Marine Corps Auto Items 20% off
Select Decals, License Plates, Antenna Toppers, Hitch Covers On Sale This Week....Check them out
Gunnery Sgt Under 2
We've all heard the recruiting story of the lines of young men in front of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard recruiting tables with no one in front of the Marine recruiter, when the Gunny steps out and barks, "Alright break it off and make it even!"
True story; at 17 and freshly graduated from high school but still too young for employers that wanted minimum of 18, I decided to talk to the Navy or Coast Guard because I love boats. Also on my mind was the Army at that time guaranteeing the MOS school of your choice. I also had heard that the Air Force welcomed you with a life of ease. So I went to Newton City Hall (Mass.) where in 1961 each of the recruiters had a station in the lobby.
I got there at lunch time and all the afore mentioned recruiters were at lunch, 62 days later, I was at Parris Island and Plt 147 was forming, and I have been proud, and thankful since.
I never did talk to those other recruiters. I was most impressed by the pay chart which showed that a Gunnery Sgt under 2 years of service would make a handsome sum. I don't remember what the recruiter told me after that observation.
I made Cpl in less than 4 years!
This question from your source, and someone was kind enough to answer me back, direct. The question, When did the "yellow footprints" START. The answer was, "they were only at the receiving area"!
Checking with the Historical Section of the Marine Corps, they also did not have an answer, and related that they had been asked the question before. I can relate, factually, that when they drove us on to MCRD, Diego in August '50 there were no such things as we departed the bus, (w/the usual screaming greeting from the DI's) ONTO a gravel/rock area, west of the parade ground toward the airfield. And the way we knew our boon-dockers were in proper order was by the DI kicking them from the front until your feet had the proper alignment. Wonder if they were there during Vietnam or came later.
Chesty's last regimental command.
Falling Out Drill
I entered boot camp at Parris Island in July, 1958, Plt. 169. One of the first "drills" we were introduced to, after in-processing was "Falling out Drill." This consisted of an almost endless series of running in and out the front door of our platoon bay on the first floor of our barracks. The thing that keep us at it for a while was we had to open the screen door to get outside. The first guys would open the screen and run out and the rest of us would have to keep holding the door as we exited. Of course, it was always too slow. So back inside we would run. Finally, one of the guys suggested the first guy hold the screen open as the rest of us ran out. Good idea, right. Wrong, the guy holding the door was the last one out and he got chewed out for being too slow. We needed an new strategy. I yelled down the bay, "This time don't open the screen." When the Drill Instructor, I still can't call them DI's, ordered "Fall outside" the screen door came flying out of the doorway, shattered into many pieces and it left the Drill Instructor's laughing so hard, they informed us we had completed "Falling out drill." We didn't need any further instruction on how to fall out.
Thanks, Sgt Noonan, CDI and Sgt. Redman, JDI. God bless you where ever you are.
Ken Klein, Pvt, USMCR
Outta The Rack
SSGT Huntsinger, I had the same problem. Can remember things from Boot Camp 28 years ago, but couldn't remember Trash Day. . . .That is, until - She came into the bedroom early one morning beating the tin lid of a trash can with a wooden club, yelling "GET UP! Get Up! Get OUTTA The Rack!" "It's TRASH DAY You SORRY A$$ED Piece Uh Whale $# IT !" . . .I seem to remember every week now. I also catch myself being careful not to Eye F@#& her while standing in line at the Wal- Mart any more.
Gary Cagle, SGT 79-83
Little did I know that my arrival at Parris Island in March of 1966 would include a new name other than the title of Marine that I earned a few months later.
SSgt. Moss, my Sr. D. I. was issuing the rubber ink stamps with your initials and last name that was used for marking your gear. When he came to mine he looked at it and had some difficulty with the pronunciation. I explained to him that it was Italian and from that moment on I was referred to as Private Big Fat Ugly F&%@^&g Wop. No matter where we were, mail call, chow, exercising, etc., that was my name.
Corporal of Marines
C.A. Benizio formally aka PBFUFW
When Classes Were Over
After reading your news letter, I was reminded of a little incident at Field Medicine School, Camp Delmar, Camp Pendleton in 1956. One of our classes included the nomenclature of our T.O. Weapon - the Colt 45. During the class a couple of the Corpsmen decided to have a little fun with the SSgt, and when the SSgt named a part, one Doc would say, "SSgt, I thought that you said that was such and such, not that, and before long we had the SSgt so confused he didn't know the forward site from the trigger guard. He slammed the 45 down on the podium and walked out of the room slamming the door behind him.
We were all laughing when a Commander came into the room. He told us that we had our fun, and the SSgt was coming back into the room and for us to get serious and pay attention. The class continued without incident.
When classes were over, we would normally fall into formation and march back to the barracks on the hill and turn out for P.T. That time we fell out into formation and the SSgt started out with double time, and instead of going up the hill to the barracks we made a right turn to the beach, and we doubled timed down the beach and back up the beach and when we though we were at the end, we did it again. Finally off the beach up the hill to the barracks. Were we done - nope, more P.T. Along the way, several fell out, and those that stayed with it had to struggle. Needless to say, the SSgt never had another problem!
Later we found out that the SSgt had been transferred from M.C. Depot in San Diego up to our school - the story was that he had left something in a locker overnight - a meathead! No we never messed with the SSgt again!
Doc Hiser (FMF)
Personally Shot Us
I am a Combat Veteran of Viet Nam. I don't know why I feel the need to say so but I think it's once again because of the media, but no one used drug's nor did we abuse the population. If my First Sergeant found any of this he would have personally shot us under articles of war.
Anyway the reason I write is that I am frustrated by the strategy in Iraq while fully supportive of the war. The strategy I refer to is the time in harms way. When I served it was as follows and I rest my case; 13 months in VN, 6 months in the States and 13 Months in VN, and so on repeating until your served your time. There are exceptions for one if you have 3 purple hearts your exempt. Fortunately I was preparing for my second Tour of Duty when the war ended. If I had joined the service 1 year earlier I would have gone again. NOTE: I couldn't go a year earlier because I was 17 when I joined. So you can't go until your 18. By the time I finished training I was 18 years old, so I went 4 months later. I don't like war. It's not the thing to do however it's required because others don't follow the rules. I am a proud VN veteran! WWI, WWII, Korean and other conflict veterans are no different than me it's only in the timing.
Regards, Bob USMC
Wasted 20+ Years
Semper Fi, Sgt. Grit;
Just a note to all Marines, past and present. I served honorably from Aug. 1970-Aug. 1974. After Nam & the last two and a half years at then NAS Miramar, I became a civilian again. The stigma of being what was called a baby killer was imbedded in my brain until some 20 years later. Since 911, the patriotism of this country has reinforced the pride I once felt in boot camp, then Nam. To make a long story short, I recently joined the Badger Detachment, Marine Corps League, and I feel worthy again to be associated with my beloved Corps. Don't let anything you do while serving be criticized by anyone who has not worn the EGA. Let yourself be proud & stay proud, you've earned it, no mater what yahoo govt. official, or ill advised non-service person tells you! Believe me, I wasted 20+ years in that funk.
I would like to say something about the IKE JACKET. 50 years ago when I was in the Corps, we called that kind of jacket, our BATTLE JACKET. And the article on "GLOBE AND ANCHOR". I have a collection of Corps GLOBE AND ANCHORS, from the 40's and 50's. The ones from the 40's were made in more detail. I have a beautiful one from the 40's my brother gave me, with the rope standing out from the anchor, it was worn on the barracks cover. The ones I was issued in 57, looked like they were made in a mold. I also have Collier emblems, from the 40's in nice detail, but no rope. I think the one my brother gave me, is for officers.
BRUCE OTIS / 57-60
I have just received this message from a friend. As a former Marine,- I am saddened, p'd off and scared as I wonder where the news media priorities are. Certainly not with our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
When I was in the U.S.M.C. reserves, I had this Platoon Commander, a good officer, good MARINE. A little over a year ago, he takes an IED to his humvee and gets smeared across 50 meters of Iraqi asphalt. He got a military funeral, a blurb in the local newspaper, and a bunch of ignorant New England protestors show up at his funeral.
Yet, some drugged out, dim-witted bimbo Playboy bunny dies in her hotel room and she gets a news conference and 24 hours of live continuous television coverage.....
Thanks for having your priorities straight America....
I have had the privilege and honor of visiting many of our WW2 Marine battlefields over the years and this past January, I visited Peleliu for the second time. With almost a full week of exploration, I was able to traverse much of the battlefield and get a feel for the terrain that our Marines dealt with in 1944. While the jungle has taken over much of the battlefield, one can still readily see how impossible the terrain was......craggy, sharp coral dominates the battlefield, whether it be low-lying coral ridges or the Umobrogal Mountains. I can't imagine fighting there, especially considering that in September 1944, there was very little foliage and the temperatures hovered around 100+ degrees. We explored Bloody Nose Ridge, Pope's Ridge, the Point, and the coral Badlands, just to name a few. Signs of a desperate, horrific fight were everywhere. A Japanese tank still sits on the airfield where it was taken out by the 5th Marines...LTV's can be found.......shrapnel and battlefield debris are everywhere. We climbed and crawled through Bloody Nose Ridge, stopping at each fighting position, marveling at how the 1st Division Marines conquered a dug in enemy. While Iwo Jima and Tarawa hold much of our attention in Marine Corps history, Peleliu is arguably the toughest battle our Marines fought in WW2, when you consider the ferocity of the enemy, the climate, and the terrain.
I am including a picture I took from the Point area on White Beach. This shows the view that the Japanese had as they took aim at our Marines landing. It is easy to see how they could inflict such heavy casualties and why taking that position and the heavy machine gun positions behind it were so key to victory. I am looking to talk to any Peleliu veterans so please contact me at my email address below if interested.
4th Division, 14th Marines
Bcarter436 @aol .com
A few months back I bought one of your Jackets with the Marine Corps Emblem on it, very simple jacket, nothing fancy, just a plain blue jacket with our emblem on it. Well, let me tell you that jacket has brought more attention to the Corps than you can ever know. I have had old salty Marines stop me in every possible place, including the head, to say Semper Fi and to let me know that they also served. I have heard more war stories, got more free drinks and met some of the most interesting people in the world because of this simple jacket. As a retired Marine I am proud to wear this jacket, and am more than happy to report that our brothers and sisters that also bear the title are out there, proud, and standing by for whatever call may come their way.
John A. Carter
GySgt, USMC, Retired
13th Annual Viet Nam Remembrance
In-Country Viet Nam Veterans in conjunction with the Vietnamese Community in Arizona and many other generous veteran organizations are holding the 13th Annual Viet Nam Remembrance Day Ceremony on April 29, 2007.
The commemoration starts at 09:00 with ceremonies at 10:00 and will be held at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Phoenix, AZ (16th Ave/17th Ave - Adams Street westbound/Jefferson Street eastbound - one way streets).
To those that will join this day of remembrance -"welcome home". To those whose names are inscribed on the Viet Nam War Memorial - "thank you". This day is for the living to pay proper homage to the fallen and to the cause to which they gave their lives.
Americans continually answer the call to arms and successfully defend our freedom and way of life. During the Vietnam war, our soldiers were joined by a brave group of Vietnamese who fought side by side in an attempt to dismantle the threat of communism in their country. The fight for freedom still continues in that small Asian country. "Without Freedom you can exist but you cannot truly live."
Many color guard units are invited to participate in the Parade of Color Guards. If your color guard unit will be attending please notify Josie Kakar-Delsi at 520-836-1022 firstname.lastname@example.org For information: POC Midge Munro 623-979-0829 email@example.com
Wounded Warrior Center at Camp Pendleton
My friend Sgt Maj. Joe Trujillo ret. and I visited the Wounded Warrior Center at Camp Pendleton a couple of days ago and I must say I was very impressed with the facility and the staff. These are some motivated and squared away Marines.
The purpose of my note is to encourage folks to support this and other facilities with donations and or volunteer work. A lot of the furniture in the center is hand made by a local woman and donated by her. Also a good portion of the entertainment equipment is donated by local stores ie. Best Buy.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Wounded Warrior Center or affiliated groups,(There are some to help Spouses of wounded vets) could contact Mr. George B. Brown at the Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton Ca. Phone 760-385 4921. Marine Corps regulations forbid direct contributions to the Center but one can 'direct' where they want contributions to go just by telling Mr. Brown your preference. Anyone who might like to contact the NCOIC of the center can reach him via email GYSGT M. L. Greer, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Gunny Greer by the way is also a wounded vet.
Sgt. USMC '67-71 RVN '68-69
Sgt. Grit, my daughter, a Marine captain, just returned from her second tour in Iraq and is stationed at camp Pendleton. After almost 40 years, I got to return there to visit her. I also made use of my time to get re-acquainted with the base and with MCRD San Diego. Many things have changed, some due to political correctness and others to the demands of the hot tempo of rapid war rotations. However, based on what I observed, what I hear, what I read, and what I see from Iraq, the Corps is still turning out Marines, young men and women, who are up to the task at hand and beyond all the negative media, still proud to serve their county.
I also want to thank the Marines at the MCRD Support Bn. for helping me in every way to go inside the old Receiving Barracks - no longer in use - which brought back a mixed bag of emotions, and which most Marines will remember as "h&ll week". Then it really got bad. Although the building is undergoing an "upgrade", the upper deck squad bay was just as I left it in 1965. The racks, with pillows, mattresses and footlockers, had not yet been moved out, as though awaiting a new batch of recruits to arrive on the yellow footprints outside. No longer spit and polished, the squad bay was dusty and in disrepair, yet still brought back a flood of memories.
1965-1971 ("Hollywood Marine" and proud of it!)
She Was A Wire Dog
Strangely enough I still look to read good leatherneck stories. I came across one that blew me away. First off I joined the Corps in 1993 in the buddy system with my best friend. Only problem with that was that my buddy didn't have the noodles in the brain housing group to pass the test. So I continued on my father was a Recon Marine and I owed him everything to that point. So I honored him and my country by joining and trying to become a grunt. The Marines were not buying what I was selling they sent me to 29 Palms to become a Data Marine. One of the few that was special weapons trained in MCT that where not sent to a Grunt unit. Still I made friends and ended up overseas in Japan. Which leads me to this "Marines Bringing Marines Together". I met an amazing woman while there. Of course she was a wire dog so I could not really like her. But her and I ended up falling hard and we spent 6 years of our lives together. She also use to make me push often due to me being 1 rank lower than her. Once that changed we were all good. This Marine was Cpl Adrienne Mercado. And yes her and her best friend do have some funny stories. And the tattoo she speaks of is a butterfly. We all made it off the Rock better people and better Marines. I ended up at the Pentagon doing comm and intelligence. I love the Corps it gives to those that give to it. Not a fancy story but hey that would take to long. Semper Fi to all those that shed blood for our Country.
Sgt Mario Perez 1998 retired
Ain't That Much Fun
This is in response to James R. McMahon, GySgt of Marines (1949-1970), who says that he can't get past the fact that he was never shot at during his time in the Corps. Gunny, I have just three words for you. "Get Over It!" You signed on, you went where you were sent, and you did what you were told to do. Every job in the Corps was and is important. If it were not for the "office pogues", the guys getting shot at would not have anything to shoot back with, or anything to eat when they were done shooting. And that would have cost us an awful lot of good men! Besides, getting shot at really ain't all that much fun! Count your blessings and hold your head high. You did your duty!
Phil "Akabu" Coffman
Sgt '72 - '82
Navy Had Turned Me Down
Sgt. John Halpin's recollection of taking every test during boot camp brought this story to mind.
I joined the USMCR in late '63 and in early '64 was in boot camp. One of my fellow boots was Gary Fors, who had also joined via the reserves, but with a different twist.
Gary wanted to be a Marine aviator, but due to some trouble with the law while a teen, he wasn't allowed to apply for OCS. The only way that he could reach that goal, he was told, was to absolutely excel in boot camp. So he did.
He became the platoon guide and finished up the honor graduate. And so, he went off to OCS and eventually became a Marine aviator.
I also took all the tests in boot camp and passed the aviation tests. So I accepted the offer to go to OCS after my six month's active duty were over with the hopes of making it into flight school. And I had my aircraft all picked out. Once, sitting on top of a hill at Pendleton, having climbed up after the helicopters had deposited us at the base of the hill (never could figure that one out), two A-4s came in low at the base of the hill and climbed the face of the hill just hundreds of feet above us. That was the aircraft for me.
So Gary and I progressed through ITR and advanced ITR, both looking forward to hitting OCS in a pretty salty state. About two weeks before we were scheduled to leave, the word came from the Navy that they wanted to do a three day blood pressure reading on me. They did that, and about two days before departure, a Marine Corps Captain came up to me and said that the Marine Corps was really p!ssed, but the Navy had turned me down due to the blood pressure readings and I wasn't heading off to fly for the Corps.
So Gary and I said our goodbyes, with me heading back to Salt Lake City, law school and the 21st Rifle Company, and he heading off to OCS.
Years later I got word that his Phantom had been shot down over Laos on December 22, 1967. Both he and his back seat got out, and his weapons systems operator, Lt. Lashlee, reported seeing Gary land not far from the wreckage, with communist troops advancing toward his landing spot. Lt. Lashlee was rescued but Capt. Fors was not. He has never been seen since. His name is engraved on The Wall.
So Gary, here's to you, from someone who wanted to be in those same skies with you. I think of you often, and raise a glass to you each November 10th.
Funny thing is that there is a good chance that high blood pressure kept my name off of that Wall...you never know. I often wonder how different my life would have been had I managed to reach that goal of flying A-4s for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Semper Fi, Gary.
1963 - 1969
Reflections in Stone
Jim Hill, Sgt. 1966-1970
Unit: Platoon 3319, MRCD San Diego
September through November 1966
A Tourist's recollections during a few moments spent standing, staring at a vertical slate of black marble; only vaguely aware of the Rain Drenched Figure standing, staring back; unable to move any closer; unwilling to turn away. All the names in chronological order, left to right, as need dictated. All needed on a given day clustered together. He was there, but it was so much easier not to look or find. Surrounded by the others, he remained silent. Isolated, he cried out. Raindrops fell and a gentle, cold wind chilled the Tourist's finger as it traced a path down the dripping slate.
Until age fifteen, he was nothing more than a name, someone older, who lived in Arizona, and mentioned when family gathered. The name Billy had no significance for me until reaching that stage of adolescence where a boy just begins to realize that baseball is a memory and the number of lazy summer afternoons has nearly come to an end. Soon a decision would be made.
If Billy had not been stationed at Camp Pendleton or come to visit, who can know the direction of my decision. During the visits, we didn't talk much, usually only over meals. I was caught up in adolescent turmoil and he preferred to spend Saturday afternoon's watching old movies on television and going out alone at night. One evening there was a brief description of training exercises in Taiwan and a possible promotion to 2nd Lt. preceding a trip "Down South." This was immediately followed by a low key statement that he did not want to be an officer or go anywhere. Only half interested and somewhat confused, I mumbled, "Why not?" The response was curt, "Being an officer has responsibilities I don't want and most young Marines are not ready for the jungle". End of discussion. I returned to weighty preparations for an evening with my girl and Billy prepared for his Saturday night ritual.
That was the extent of our military conversations until a day in October, 1966. I was three years older and at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Staff Sgt. Billy was the instructor for one of the training classes. Somehow he knew I was in the classroom. When the instruction was over, he spoke quietly to my Senior Drill Instructor, Staff Sergeant Divorak, and the scene played out.
The platoon had exited the classroom and stood in formation awaiting the Drill Instructor's command. Boot camp was seven weeks old and we were getting comfortable with the routine. Then the words that always sent icy chills down the spine of any Boot,
"Private Hill, front and center."
Private Hill thought to himself, "Oh sh!t, what have I done now? First I couldn't do a TO THE REAR MARCH and got called out of formation for "private lessons" with Sgt Chernowski and now this. Maybe it has something to do with Billy teaching the class."
As trained to do, I double-timed to the front of the formation, stood as a 2x4 in front of Staff Sgt Divorak., and bellowed "Private Hill, reporting as ordered, SIR!"
Staff Sgt Divorak, with a Cheshire cat grin and an unusually friendly whisper, "Private Hill, do you know Staff Sgt Martin?"
"Yes, SIR!" Thinking to myself, "Oh sh!t, I'm in trouble now. He'll probably want to give some "private lessons" too.
With a gleam in his eye and the preverbal DI's deep throated bawl, Sgt Divorak declared emphatically, "Private Hill, all Marines are brothers...you aren't a part of the brotherhood yet...you won't be until you graduate from boot camp,... if you do. ..That means that Sgt Martin and I are brothers,... you're not even part of the family ... isn't that right, Private Hill?"
With the eyes still gleaming and a roar only slightly less than that of a jet-fighter on takeoff, "Private Hill, I am sure you know what kind of Marine Sgt Martin is, don't you?"
"Well Private Hill,...why don't you tell your platoon....what kind of Marine Sgt Martin is!"
Then, with all bravado that an eighteen year old adolescent can muster, remember I was only four months out of high school and, in spite of a 6'4" frame, weighed only 170 pounds, with rifle and full pack: "SIR, Sgt Martin is a RECON MARINE, SIR!"
To be a Recon Marine, one must excel physically and undergo special training; learning to parachute jump, scuba dive, rock and mountain climb. They receive prolonged hot and cold weather training. They learn how to survive in the jungle and desert with only a knife and their wits. A typical training exercise consists of a night parachute jump into an area designated as enemy territory, then carry out a specific task, while an opposing army is out trying to capture you. They are trained to work alone and in small groups. The Marines think of themselves as an elite group. Recon Marines are the elite of the elite.
"Yes,... Private Hill,...Sgt Martin is a Recon Marine... and if just one of you,... out of this whole f--king platoon, can one day... become half the Marine Sgt Martin is,...my job as a drill instructor has been done.... Now, Private Hill, Sgt Martin wants a word with you...when he has finished you will double time back to the platoon area, understood?"
As Sgt Divorak called Platoon 3319 to attention and marched it away, I was left standing before the man who, without knowing it and certainly not wanting it, had led me to that very moment. I was more apprehensive standing before Cousin Billy, than if he had been a total stranger. I had been in Boot camp long enough to know how to react to Staff Sgt Strangers; I know what they wanted and expected from me. But how should I respond to a blood relative, who was also a Marine, and not only a Marine but one of the very elite Marines. Would he expect me to respond as if he was just another Staff Sgt? As if he was someone who just happened to be at the Recruit Depot trying to make me and my fellow "Boots" into more than we ever wanted to be, or dreamed we would have to be. What should I do? How should I respond?
I stood looking at him; I had to look down for he was 5' 10"; stocky, solid and built like the NFL running back of which it was said, "Tackling him is like tackling a bowling ball". In spite of his credentials, Cousin Billy had a poet's face, a look of tenderness in his eyes and a grin that spoke of forgotten joys. While he did not say it out loud, the eyes asked the real question. "What are you doing here? You come from another world. Yours is a world for visiting when I leave this place. Yours is a world I never knew and never will know. And, besides, you're much too tall to be a Marine; much too easy a target."
His eyes made the decision for me. They were correct. I did come from a different world and I would make an easy target, but that day I would those eyes proud. When the mouth opened and barked out the question, I answered as I had been trained.
"Have you been to the rifle range yet?"
"Yes, SIR!" That experience was still very fresh in my mind and it would vividly remain so for a long time. In spite of several unpleasant events the experience had turned out positively.
"Did you qualify?"
"What is you rating?"
With a little boy grin and twinkle in his eye, this time in a softer voice: "Just barely made it, heh?"
Even softer now and this time with almost a hint of family affection, he asked, "Is there anything you need or anything you want me to tell your mother?"
"No, SIR! I have everything I need SIR!"
"OK, good luck, dismissed!"
"Thank you Sir!" And I did an about face and double-timed away. That was the last time I ever saw Staff Sgt. William E. Martin, USMC.
If I had a son, his name would be William Martin Hill. But that didn't happen, so today, the only place that the name lives is on a flat, bronze tombstone in Prescott Arizona, on a vertical black slate of marble in Washington DC and in the memory of those who knew and loved him. While knowledge of his short life and tragic death is sketchy at best, there is no doubt of the impact he had on my life. What white, eighteen year old, in 1966, from a middleclass background, with all the financial and intellectual tools necessary for a successful college stint, went out on a pretty day in May to enlist in the United States Marine Corps?
A hand salute, the barely audible words "Semper Fi, Lt, Martin" a left face and the Tourist marched up the gentle slope, he and the Rain Drenched Figure. One in front of, one behind and both on either side of all those names etched on that dripping slate of black marble.
Again I apologize if your tattoo story is not in this week. It is just not possible to print all the tattoo responses. Let the world see your Tat, take a picture of your tattoo and email it to me for my Tattoo page. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org Sgt Grit
You and apparently your CO are recipients of bad scoop. Tattoos are allowed. Sleeves or excessive tattoos are not. In order for me to serve on Embassy Duty, it was forbidden to have a tattoo that showed below the short sleeve. That was 81 to 90. The sleeve tattoos are only recent in the history of the Corps. It was unacceptable then as is it today.
Had one since 1946, still looks good, upper arm. At 79 I'm still glad I got it! H. Sherer S/Sgt
Someone is failing to get the overseas Corporal the correct information concerning Commandant Conway's new policy on tattoos.
As stated in ALMAR 014/07, the Commandant knows that "...many tattoos are in good taste and many represent pride for our Corps or remembrance of fallen comrades...". It is clear from reading the ALMAR that the Commandant is not banning tattoos from the Corps, simply regulating the size and placement of said tattoos.
The Corporal was also upset that tattoos would "...destroy our promotion status...". Also untrue! As clearly stated in MARADMIN 198/07, which detailed the revisions and additions to the tattoo policy in MCO P1020.34G (Marine Corps Uniform Regulations) Marines who currently have a sleeve tattoo(s) will be grandfathered. This backs the statement in ALMAR 014/07 that "Marines must understand that acquiring excessive tattoos may adversely affect both their retention and assignment to special duty". Place the accent on acquiring and excessive!
Sergeant Grit, I somehow served twenty-two years of active duty without acquiring a tattoo, but my son, presently an active duty Marine, has a large tattoo on his back, which is completely covered by a short sleeve tee or PT shirt, and my daughter, a college student, has several small tattoos, which are also covered when she is dressed. Body art has become more pervasive in recent years, and I believe the Commandant is correct to regulate this art, just as hair length, moustache length, civilian attire, etc. are regulated.
MSgt. Marshall Schiller, USMC (Ret)
1969 - 1990
In recent sgt grit emails there have been mention to different tattoos Marines have gotten and the reasoning behind them. I just wanted to share my husband's tattoo and why he chose this design. We were traveling down south last summer and we were outside Camp Lejeune visiting a cousin. My husband ran across the place where he received his first Marine Corps tattoo after his boot camp and training. He had talked about getting another tattoo since he returned from his deployment, so this seemed the time and the place. He chose a design to remember the 48 Marines that were killed from his battalion during their deployment. And it was actually designed by a fellow Marine. It was an awesome design and my husband proudly wears this tattoo on his back. Hope you enjoy!
I'm an old Vietnam veteran and I got nothing against tattoos in general, BUT, when it comes to having them so they show with a shirt sleeve shirt, that's where I draw the line, and on the neck, too.
I think it looks BAD. And I'm sorry if today's Marines think its OK. In uniform, you need to look sharp, and with an arm full of tattoos, I feel it discredits the uniform.
Have you seen what they look like after a few years? You can't tell what they were.
Thanks for letting me air my thoughts
James "Trigger" Kadas
FLC, FLSG-B, MTM
Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Vietnam
Oct 67 to Dec 69
Are they going to start requiring your pinky stick out when sipping tea in the chow halls from now on as well?
G.Cagle, Sgt 79-83
I write regarding the CPL who wrote "I always thought that tattoos were a tradition to the Corps."
My father is a Mexican immigrant born in 1930. His conservative ways demanded no earrings, no long hair, no drugs, and definitely no tattoos. One day in 1998, as a young 19 year old punk, I showed up at home with a tattoo on my arm. To say that the old man was p!ssed and disappointed is an understatement. He was yelling and throwing insults my way. Finally in his broken English, he states, "ONLY PRISONERS and MARINES GET TATTOOS."
Needless to say, I joined the Corps soon after.
Who gives a $%^& what civilians think about the tattoos. The way the Marine handles himself will reaffirm to them that this is a good individual. My father's fears were that tattoos are a reflection of a less than honorable lifestyle. But, to his own admission, he has been proven wrong. I have 3 deployments under my belt since the war began, I have been selected for staff and have recently been hired by a federal law enforcement agency.
The old man couldn't be prouder.
So, to the Senior Marine Corps leadership, judge the Marine by his actions and not by what is on his forearms.
Heavily inked Sergeant of Marines.
If I read the recent Commandant's message concerning tattoos correctly the problem is not having a tattoo it's how much of it is visible in uniform, dress or utility. "Utility uniform", did I give my age away? I joined in September 1965 and retired in October 1985. If I remember correctly during my early time on active duty, Marines couldn't have a tattoo that was visible when wearing a short sleeve 'trop' shirt. My USMC Bulldog I got before going to Vietnam barely qualified. I remember in 1968 a friend of mine at Camp LeJeune, Cpl Dekette, being told by the company 1stSgt in morning formation that because of the number of tattoos he had all over his chest and back and arms, that he had to wear a "shirt" on the beach even on liberty. It was probably the two birds on his chest that were diving with their beaks open and a certain part of the chest anatomy inside the open beaks that upset the 1st Sgt. I personally agree with the new directive, when a Marine in uniform walks by the only thing visible should be the uniform.
CWO3 - Retired
Dear Sgt. Grit,
Tattoos are fine as long as you are young and it holds it's colors. But, I'm a retired Gy. Sgt. 78 years old and I got two tattoos in San Francisco in 1948 prior to going over seas. After almost sixty years they look horrible, the colors are all run together and I cannot make out the wording , and they are small ones. I would hesitate to say what some of these large tattoos the guys are getting now will look like in Sixty years. So, I would say to these young Marines, FORGET THE TATTOOS. Go buy a couple of six packs for you and your buddies.
Gy. Sgt. Richard M. Hall
I have a USMC bull dog tattoo on my right forearm that I got in 1980. I got it while I was home on leave after boot camp. What I didn't know when I got the tattoo is that I would never be able to go on embassy duty, because to be on embassy duty, a tattoo cannot show while in uniform.
I remember being told that technically you could get office hours for getting a tattoo, since it could be considered destruction of government property. I never received office hours, but I never was able to go on embassy duty either.
United States Marine Veteran
I completed boot training at MCRD-PI in May, '53 and was assigned to How Co., 3/6 at Camp Lejeune. On one of my early liberties in beautiful downtown Jacksonville I got a large two-color "USMC" and my ser. # "1388627" tattooed on my left forearm.
Fifty four years have passed - the tattoo has been scratched and scarred, the inks have faded and blurred but I am as proud of it today as I was the evening that the art work was done. This tattoo has, over the years, initiated more sea stories with brother Marines than I can count and has also been the root cause of interesting conversations with non-Marines, male and female, as well.
Never have I regretted having the tattoo nor has it in any way hindered me in my business career.
My former wife, however, hated it! Nuff said.
Cpl. Bill Hart
3rd Bn., 6th Mar., 2nd Mar.Div. '53-'56
6th Force Recon. Co., Hawaii, '62-'66
Ok, personally I'm disgusted and think all the crap about it doesn't fit with our spit and polish image is pure politics. I'm a Marine Sergeant in the reserves. I joined in 89-93. 95-97 and came back in 2005 for this war. Tattoos are a tradition and are one of the many things that separates us from other branches....our pride.
Members of the Green Machine have always had Tats...Who is this a$shole who is trying to change my Corps?
D.L. Worton USMC (Ret)
This is in answer to the Cpl overseas questioning the opinion of others about TATTOO'S:
Why would you want to blemish your body with tattoo's just to prove yourself a MARINE? If you followed all your training while in boot camp then you have no need to mark your body with the ink. A proud MARINE does not need to have a TATTOO to show the world who they are. Your actions and discipline is enough to prove whom you are by the way you carry yourself and your actions speak louder than a little ink under your skin that will never wear off.
I have been a MARINE for 45 years and I would never consider marking myself just to prove whom I am. Personally I feel that I don't need a tattoo to show who I am or where I have been. Just the way I carry myself is enough for those to know about the MARINES to know I am one. I get many comments from strangers saying "I bet your are a Marine by the way you wear your hair, stand straight and speak your mind" to which I reply "You are so correct.".
I agree with the MARINE CORPS about the Tattoo's and personally feel that it should have been enforced many years ago. Not once in my career had I ever thought about putting one on my body.
If you feel that you do want to mark your body with a tattoo AFTER you are out of service then have at it and cover your whole body with them if that is what you want.
Billy J Russell 2007227
MGySgt Ret'd 1962-1985
I think that the only restrictions on new tattoos in our Marine Corps is to make sure that a Marine can stand at attention in his Dress Blues or Service Alpha's and have no visible tattoos (on the neck, head, or hands). My tattoos are all above the elbow (so far), but I think that this is an awful order that should be rescinded or revised.
Former Sergeant of Marines,
I'm a Navy Corpsman currently serving in Iraq, Close to the end of my tour.
having just heard about eh new USMC tattoo policy, I don't agree with it. It ain't the tattoo's that make the person, it's the ability to do the job, and bring your Marines home. The Corps is gonna lose a lot of good people that IT NEEDS, due to this new policy. The Commandant and USMCHQ needs to re-think this policy before it hurts the Corps.
I always thought that the image of the Corps was a tattooed person that was ready for everything! One of the things that most Marines ask me when they find out I am a Marine is to see my tattoo. I proudly wear it and will proudly wear it too my grave. The Marines are a large part of me, and I believe it is so for all Marines. This is the way that we show the world that we are proud of who we are, and that you can take the Marine out of the Corps but you cant take the Corps out of the Marine!
As a Corporal '74-'79 I never did get a tattoo. I was absolutely honored by my current Marine son's request to get mutual EGA tattoos upon his graduation from PI in 2002. He made me a bet that if he graduated company honor grad we would both get the EGA. I really enjoy my "new" tattoo. If I had gotten it 30 years ago it wouldn't look as good. I have seen many Marines that have taken the tattoo to extremes. I believe a simple EGA with "Marines", USMC or Semper Fidelis should not be outlawed by the Corps.
Of course we should allow tattoos. What a bunch of politically correct crap. If you want to have all your people look pretty, join the air force. This type of political correctness must be eradicated from our Corps. The next thing you know, they won't want us to carry weapons because they make us look scary.
1st Sgt 83-01.
This is disturbing to me! I mean just how many Marines do u know that do not have any?
Cpl, Stiles, Kevin m
eagle,globe,anchor---right upper arm. tattoos a must. 1960-1964.
When I was allowed to join in '62, I saw a few "Old salts" with tats. Before I got any of those, I noticed that the ones with the LEAST amount of tattoos were usually the most squared away of all. Don't ever remember seeing anyone above E-7 with anything visible on their arms! Most especially DI's! So young Marine, tattoos have NOTHING to do with being a Marine. It's just a current cultural thing! Real Marines don't need pictures to prove it!
Never Got that Drunk or that Stupid!
Saw up close and personal what happened when my brothers tattoo got infected.
R. Podgorski, LCpl 66 - 69
I served 1979-1989 in the KC-130 community. I did not get tattoos du