Hey Grit
I got out in '62 as an E-5 0331 and went back to school and finally ended up as Pathologist. During my interview for medical School one of the board members said "I see here that you were in the Marine Corps for four years and were a Sergeant in the Infantry. Did you enjoy it?"
"No, Sir I did not." They all sort of chuckled and he asked "would you do it again?" "yes Sir, I most certainly would!" That is part of a personal identity you attain and never lose. I guess they liked my answer.

William Hosack, M.D.

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On His Rear

Sgt. Grit,

When I left home for my Junior PLC course out at Camp Upshur, MCB Quantico, in July, 1963, I was six feet tall and weighed about 160 pounds. When I returned home in August after six- weeks, I weighed 180 pounds of solid muscle, and that was the only time in my life that I had what is now referred to as a "six-pack" for abdominal muscles. Incidentally, I'm back down to about 165 these days. During the Senior course in '65, I was able to do more, physically, but my muscle tone has never been as good as after that first summer. Maybe it was because we did everything, including the morning PT's "daily dozen", in boots and utilities, rather than in tennis shoes and shorts.

The only experience I remember with pugil sticks was as a Junior PLC. Needless to say, I was no "Charles Atlas" (does this comment make me "Old Corps"?), and I was paired off against another candidate who was probably a first-string lineman for some major university. Picture a tall "PeeWee Herman" VS "Godzilla". At least, that's the way I felt at the time.

Back then, after we were handed our sticks, we stood back-to- back until the whistle blew. It was to be "best of three" rounds. At the first whistle, I pivoted to the right and proceeded to look like one of those wobble-head dolls in the back window of somebody's car, from the repeated blows to chin, then top of head, chin, top of head...until I hit the deck. Which seemed like weeks, but was only seconds. On my feet again and waiting for the next whistle, I thought, "We're trained to pivot to the right in "right face" and "to the rear march," and in formation we always face right before marching to any destination. He'll expect me to come from that direction." The whistle blew, and I pivoted to the left, swung the stick...and "Godzilla" hit the deck. (Sorry, but after forty-four years, I don't remember his real name, and I mean no disrespect. He was actually a very decent young man.) Everyone in attendance was surprised:
the sergeant with the whistle, my platoon mates watching, "Godzilla", and most of all...me. As he got to his feet, his surprised expression changed to determination, and I knew I was dead meat. Since we only have two sides to pivot from, I had no other surprises for him, and the match ended as everyone had expected. But I walked away with the satisfaction of knowing that I'd knocked him on his rear end one out of three.

Semper Fi!
Tom Downey
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine
Vietnam: Dec66-Dec67 (6 months as art'y FO for L-3/7)
Reserves: Aug69-Oct75 (Corpus Christi, TX unit--XO of "C", then CO of "D", 4th Recon Bn; combined and re-designated as C-1/23 in 1972


37 Years After

I don't feel the "need" to show off any of my tattoos, but here are two different shots of one I had put on last year: 37 years after I got back from Vietnam. Until I got that one, I hadn't gotten a tattoo, for almost 45 years!
Dave Quinn
Former U.S. Marine (Vietnam, 1970)

Iwo Jima Sand

Sgt. Grit:
Just received my packet of sand from Iwo Jima. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to possess this piece of something so sacred to the Corps.. I shall guard it, and treasure it until I am assigned to stand my watch at the Gates of Heaven.
I wanted you to know that when I opened the envelope, I had tears in my eyes as I thought of all the brave Marines that gave their lives for this small sample of sand. God Bless you and all my Brother Marines, past & present.


R.W. Hanks Sr.
D/1/1 68-69

Note for Iwo Jima Sand Recipients:
We at Sgt Grit would like to extend a HUGE thank you to:

Greg Seago USMC
2nd Tanks Bn Tow Co.
1975-1981 and 1987-1990.

He gathered the Iwo Jima Sand that we were able to distribute at Purple Beach, near the airfield, on March 11, 2007.

Team Semper Fi

My name's Brent Hopkins and I'm a reporter with the LA Daily News. We just published a story about some pretty interesting Marine vets that I thought the Sgt. Grit users might find interesting. If you'd like, here's a link:
We also did a video:
and blog post:

Thanks for your consideration.

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MCRD SD from 1/28/60 to 4/20/60 Platoon 213. We were issued our gear in driblets. First issue was maybe 3 sets of utes, 2 red sweat shirts, covers, gym shoes and 1 pair of boondockers rough side out. We smoothed the rough with a bottle or spoon and it was polished black.

Our final issue included the complete seabag right after 3 weeks at Matthews rifle range when we got our high top boots also black. I used to roll my socks over the top of the boots so that when bloused the boot polish didn't mark the ute trousers. Was that SOP?

Cpl Smialek of Marines 60-64

Full Metal Jacket

Many individuals, military as well as civilians, have no idea as to what a Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) is. Bill O'Reilly, of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, misused this term in one of his books. No, it is not a full length jacket made of some sort of metal. The title to Stanley Kubrick's extraordinary movie about Marine bootcamp and the battle of Hue City, RVN, had nothing to do with metal jackets. An FMJ refers to the "jacket" of a bullet, round or projectile, usually an armor piercing. I became very familiar with FMJ's when I was issued the 7.62mm M-14 in 1966 at PI and again in the land of the big puddle. A great weapon, especially at long range. So now we all know what a Full Metal Jacket is. Right?

Joseph Alvino
Sgt of Marines - 66-72

Iwo Sand and Basilone

Sgt Grit,
I received an envelope today that contained a letter and a bag of sand. The sand is a sample of the most sacred ground in Marine Corps history, the sand of Iwo Jima. A few weeks ago I hurriedly answered some questions in your survey, then waited to see if I would be one of the first 400 to answer correctly. As I now hold this sample of the sharp course black sand in my hand, I cannot help but feel humbled in awe of the price that was paid. Thank You Sgt Grit, I will display this honorably. You may be reading this now and thinking, this just sounds all too cliché. But there are 399 other people out there that know what I am talking about. Marine Corps history abounds with the names of places such as Tun Tavern, Tripoli, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, Hue, Beirut, and Fallujah. Due to the stark moonscape of black sand, the imposing Mt Suribachi, the gritty inch by inch battle, and an unforgettable photograph, Iwo Jima holds a place in Marine Corps history like none other. That flag was raised and flew over this sand I am now holding.

One of the questions of this survey that may have stumped some of the Sgt Grit readers was "What Marine Medal of Honor recipient was killed on Iwo Jima?" Now, twenty-seven Medal of Honor citations were awarded to men that fought on Iwo Jima. But one Marine shipped out to fight on Iwo, ALREADY having received the Medal of Honor. So in my gratitude to having been given a sample of this sacred ground, I would like to present the answer of that question. Gunnery Sgt John Basilone, recipient of The Medal of Honor, fought, bled, and died taking this sand from the Japanese.

John Basilone was born in Buffalo, raised in Raritan, N.J., and was a former light-heavyweight boxer. He enlisted in the Army when he was 18 and served in the Philippines, where he picked up the nickname "Manila John." He was honorably discharged in 1937, but, anticipating World War II, he enlisted in the Marines in July 1940.

On October 24-25, 1942, Sergeant Basilone was in charge of two sections of heavy .30-caliber machine-gun platoon attached to Co. C, 7th Marines, 1stMarDiv. They where defending position on the Tenaru River at Lunga Ridge, a narrow pass to Henderson Airfield on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

A wave of Japanese soldiers knocked out the machine guns on his left. Basilone lifted a machine gun and its tripod - 90 pounds of weaponry - raced 200 yards to the silenced gun pit and started firing. Japanese bodies began stacking up in front of the emplacement. Enemy soldiers attacked his rear. He cut them down with his pistol. Short of shells, he dashed 200 yards amid a stream of bullets to an ammunition dump and returned with an armload of ammo. Flares lit up more swarms of grenade-tossing attackers. Basilone fired till heat blistered his hands and kept shooting. He also repaired machine guns during this attack, while holding together his men, some fighting off malaria as well. Bodies piled so high in front of the pit, his weapons had to be reset so the barrels could fire over the piles of corpses. At dawn, 38 enemy bodies lay stacked outside of the pit. Basilone was everywhere at once, clearing jams, calming nervous gunners, replacing parts, and repositioning guns. John Basilone inspired all who saw him that night: and for this he was awarded the citation for the Medal of Honor. John Basilone went to the hospital to visit his men before he was able to even clean up from the battle. He was barefoot, black-faced from combat, and still had his .45 stuffed into the front of his belted trousers. When he later received the nation's highest decoration, John Basilone replied modestly, "Only part of this medal belongs to me. Pieces of it belong to the boys who are still on Guadalcanal. It was rough as h&ll down there."

Basilone was a hero. He toured the country and met Hollywood starlets. His picture made the cover of Life magazine. The government offered to make him an officer and let him spend the rest of the war stateside training troops and selling was bonds. His response: "I ain't no officer, and I ain't no museum piece. I belong back with my outfit." He said farewell to his new wife, Lena Riggi ,also a Marine, and joined the 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. Ending up at Iwo Jima.

Under heavy artillery fire on February 19, 1945, the invasion ninety minutes old, he single-handedly took out an enemy blockhouse. "C'mon, you guys! Let's get these guns off the beach!" he yelled at the gunners just behind. Minutes later, an artillery round impacted in the middle of his platoon, mortally wounding him and killing four of his men. He succumbed to his injuries an hour-and-a-half later.

Sergeant Basilone was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart, making him the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive all three medals. This is the story of just ONE of the 26,000 Americans that were killed or wounded on that island.

All of a sudden this black sand that I, and 399 others, have the honor to hold means so much more, doesn't it?

G. Cagle, Sgt USMC 79-83

My New Hat Pin

Dear Sgt Grit
About 2 weeks ago I finally had the chance to go to your store. As I entered I was shocked at all of the Marine Stuff, I was there for a couple of things I saw in the Catalog. An Embassy Guard hat pin and a couple of Shirts, Well that same night Me and my wife went out to eat at one of the local Casinos just South of OKC in Norman, As we got our Dinner and picked our table an Older Gentleman was sitting next to us and said I really like your cover, (USMC) . turned to the man said thanks were you a Marine also, The Man replied 31 yrs in the Corps, I proudly shook his hand and thanked him for Serving our Country, He told me every unit he was in Dates in all , And then told me He was a Embassy Guard for 8 yrs, I told him I was also a Embassy Guard from 1982- 1986 and showed him my new Hat Pin I just got that Day, Looking at My wife I proudly took off my cover Removing the embassy Guard Pin and Handing to my wife told her to pin it on the Mans Security Jacket lapel I thought that Man Was Going to Cry, it sure did make my day, Just seeing that Marine of 31 yrs Chest out and telling me Thank you and was going to go show all his buddies.

Don Sabourin
SGT USMC 81-86 PI Platoon 2044 June of 81
Embassy Duty 82-85 Leningrad, USSR and Ottawa, Canada

It Touched My Heart

I am 100% Disabled Korean war Vet and would like to tell a little story of a Marines Heart.

After much combat in Korea, The truce comes and we stagger back off the hills, muddy and bloody. The Red Cross has some little wagons set up with donuts and coffee ( Which they made us pay for)

Anyway this was along time ago and needless to say we were not too fond of Orientals then, in fact very bitter toward them. After we got some tents set up in the rear and settled down a little. I was slightly limping with my right leg ( Shrapnel ) Any way as you know you have to stay in shape in the Corps, so we go on a hike down the muddy roads. There on the side of the road I saw a little Orphanage and little Korean children ragged and hungry eyes staring at us. It touched my heart. And I thought these little fellas aren't to blame.

After we got back to our tents I wrote to my Home town news paper. I am originally from Fort Worth, Texas and live in Mesa Az now. It was the Fort Worth Star Telegram and told them of this and what I saw.

I hardly ever got any mail from home so I never went to mail call, but one day one of my buddies came yelling at me to come down, that I had mail, so I strolled down and boy was I surprised. There was seven truck loads of cloths, toys and you name it for these little children.

Our Captain get hold of the head of the orphanage and they all wanted me to come down when they delivered these things, so I went. And these little children hugged and hugged me and put on a little program in my honor with their little costumes and all. It made heart glad. Marines are ROUGH AND TOUGH, BUT THEY STILL HAVE HEARTS. As they say a Marine can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I thought you might enjoy this story. And God Bless our Troops....

Billy N Barnett S/Sgt. USMC 1947- 1959
Weapons Co. 3rd Bn. 1st Marines, 1st Division.

P.S. My Mother had the article in the paper and it was almost half of the front page. Sadly it was lost at her death. I was only a Corporal in Korea.
Semper fi God Bless and thank you

Battle Jacket

I served in the Corps from Jun 1957 to Dec 1959. Went through Parris Island, Plt 166. I was issued a Battle Jacket, Not a Ike jacket.
I never heard anyone call the short jacket a Ike jacket. The Ike jacket was for army troops. Marines wore battle jackets. God Bless our Marines everywhere.

Patrick Arata
Cpl of Marines

What A Man

Sgt. Grit,
A while back you asked for suggestions for a catalog cover. I submitted Chuck Lindberg, (First Flag Raising Mt. Suribachi) and you added him to the cover. I'm sure you know that he went to be with the Lord and Chesty Puller, three weeks ago. His funeral at Fort Snelling was beyond awesome. I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck at his home a couple of times. He was quite a guy to talk with. One of the things that I always tell people about him, was his humble generosity. While talking with him he said "you guys in Vietnam sure had it rough". I remember looking at him to see if he was giving me some....he wasn't. So being a Marine I asked him if he'd recently hit his head. Stating "Chuck you made 3 island landings one being on Iwo Jima and you happened to climb Mt Suribachi". He just smiled and nodded his head. What a man. The two fly- overs that they had and all of the Marines past and present was a sight to see. One old timer there said the first time he met Chuck was when he (Chuck) helped to get him on a stretcher after being hit.
Thanks for your time..Ted.

Pvt Hercules

After reading several of the "Old Corps" Marines' reflections, many of my own came rushing back. Having joined the Corps on my 17th birthday, they were very timely in getting me a reservation at MCRD San Diego. Arriving on 14 March 1964 at 1900 hrs, the "fire-eating dragons" descended on us like a pack of starved wolves. (Little did I know that ten years later I would be one of those starving wolves) I think the one thing that will always stick in my mind is the "night of terror" in Receiving Barracks. Of course it started with the infamous yellow footprints. However, there was some levity thrown in here and there. In those days, everything we were issued was shoved into a fart- sack. The d*mn thing must have weighed 75 lbs! The recruit standing in front of me was rather short. I only remember his last name being Greene. The DI boomed at us to pick up the fart- sack and put it in front of us. While the rest of us were grunting and struggling to comply, Greene picks his up and holds it straight out in front of him. Of course the DI homed in on this like a H&llfire missile bellowing "Who the h&ll are you....Pvt Hercules?" From that moment on and for the next 14 weeks that was the only name I heard used for Pvt Greene. (Poor guy wound up being the "House Mouse" as well) As for the gear, I remember it well. Rough-out combat boots, wool greens, Trops, khakis and satin utilities (buttoned all the way up and un- bloused for the first ten weeks). Dress shoes were brown, soon to be dyed black as was the visor on the barracks cover. Buttons on the greens were brown and later m-nued black. Eagle. Globe and Anchor was brown and a little different from today's. I'm sure the Marines of today have the same memories. Semper Fi to all who earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

D. Morgan 2066616 1964-1986
First Sergeant USMC Ret.

First Tattoo

Moto Tat It didn't take me long me long to get my first moto tattoo Sgt. Grit. The great guys at Riverside Tattoo in Oxford,AL drew this EGA up for me and my buddy I went to boot camp with. I am with 4th Battalion 14th MAR,1371 Combat Engineers Support Co.
Semper Fi- LCpl Jereme Haynes

I'll Go With You

I was stationed with MAG-16 from 69-70. Radio tech. We working the mid watch, and nature gave me a call.
I guess these guys thought I said I was going to the mess hall for mid rats. What I said was... "I'm going to take a s*#t. Well, Lewinski says I'll go with you. And Charlie Workman says Bring me back a sandwich.
Thankfully, neither got what they asked for.

Semper Fi my brothers.
CPL. T.K. Flynn 2538215
Jan. 69 Dec 70

Thanks Fellas

Dear Sgt Grit,
Marine Corps Decal The other day I got up to go to work and upon leaving noticed that someone tried to tear off my driver side mirror, they left the housing dangling and took the mirror. I just sucked it up and thought "What the heck"? I just got in the Tahoe and headed off to work. Upon departing my vehicle, I went around to the back and noticed that someone used a sharp object to scrape off my Marine Corps decal. This really ticked me off! I got to work and told a couple of co-workers about what happened. I then went on to order a replacement mirror and left it at that. At days end before leaving work I headed back to the Tahoe and low and behold someone had replaced my 4" round Marine Corps decal (Sgt Grit P/N: D16M) with a new one. This is the only form of publicity of any sort that I have on my vehicle and proud of it too. Thanks fellas who ever it was for the replacement decal and Semper Fi!

Eloy Cruz, formal Corporal of Marines.

Just Stuttering

Just love to read the salty stories of past experiences in the Corps. It brought back my first "funny" experience after boot camp, circa 1951.

I was assigned to Weapons Training Battalion on PI. After about a week on board, I was assigned guard as supernumerary for the night. As I sat in the guard office, CWO Carpenter, a big Marine, came bursting thru the door, holding his nose. Those in the know, ran to him as he cursed. When he took his hand from his nose, he had the telltale signs of the crosshatch pattern of the butt plate of an M1 and a trickle of blood. He then excitedly began his story of the incident that brought this about.

Seems he had approached a boot guarding one of those shed "on line." It was around midnight and as he got close, the boot started challenging CWO Carpenter, but didn't know the proper procedure; stumbling through the "Halt & Who Goes There." It didn't come out right after a few frightful attempts, just stuttering.

CWO Carpenter then firmly stated, "You don't know what to say, do you!" The boot returned with, "No G..D..n it, but you better not move !" At which time Carpenter advanced, and the boot delivered a "straight on" butt stroke to the CWO's face.

I never heard what became of the boot, the CWO left for the dispensary.

Clint Johnson
1157807 XSgt

Rifle PT

Somewhere between June 27 - Sept. 14, 1984. Parris Island, Hotel Co. 3rd Bat. Plt. 3084.
Drill Instructor Sgt Moore gets irritated with his platoon and orders everyone on line to grab their rifle (M-16 A1) and stand at attention. He then orders rifle PT at every position. Every rifle position is held for at least 5 minutes and the most difficult positions a bit longer. After realizing we were seasoned enough by then to carry out our orders without fail, he then kicks quite a few spit shine boots all over the squad bay in extreme disgust. After all is done, he looks at his platoon while walking away saying 'if you tell the Senior what happened, go ahead, I don't give a sh!t!.' and proceeded to walk away towards the Drill Instructor House.
The next day, we were ordered 'school circle' on the quarter deck. SDI SSGT Rozman walks in, looks at his platoon and says 'if I can get rid of Priv's, I can get rid of Drill Instructors too.' That was his way of saying Sgt Moore was fined and suspended from Drill Instructor Duty for ordering the platoon to do rifle PT in the barracks when only the SDI is authorized to do that. I believe upon condemning Sgt Moore for doing something unauthorized, he was probably noted for showing such loyalty towards his SDI. Sgt Moore was replaced by SSgt Rawling. The only problem was that it was the middle of summer and drill instructor school was backlogged to the point they had to take one DI from each platoon in our series and send them to Receiving because of the avalanche of guys coming in for recruit training. Don't forget, during that time, President Reagan was building the Defense indefinitely due to our relations with Cuba and the Russians. And because of this, the Marine Corps offered Contract PFC's after boot camp by having Poolee's sign up 2 guys while on the DEP and after 4 years a $30,000 re-enlistment bonus with duty station of choice depending on SRB evaluations. But they also froze promotions because of overstaff in the military. So, all that advertising kind of backfired in a way. In all honesty, SSgt Rawling was not ready to graduate from DI School. He was not convincing at all. But they had no choice. SSgt Sightler was getting overwhelmed and needed help. So out of 3 DI's :SSgt Sightler, SSgt Smith, and Sgt Moore, SSgt Sightler lasted the whole time. SSgt Smith was sent to Receiving Barracks and as mentioned Sgt Moore fined, suspended and replaced by SSgt Rawling. I don't know if this is a good or bad ratio, but Plt 3084 went from 61 Priv's at the start of training down to 47 Priv's at the end. At least one Priv was sent home before training even started. He was too much of a 'rock' for the DI's to even work with. And another pissed in his bed. The rest were recycled. I guess in all honesty after everything that happened, SDI SSgt Rozman did a fine job making due with what he had. He was very lenient when it came to his priv's needing to be recycled. If he knew you could work on your own problem in time, he'd rather let you graduate and let you do just that. I guess that's what caring about your men is about. Just being there for them when they're dealing with problems is better than other alternatives that could be utilized. We graduated in the morning of Sept. 14, 1984. 1st Lt Scarano order the SDI's to dismiss their platoons. After I got my sea bag and headed out, I realized something; after the DI's and SDI's take 5 days uncharged leave, it starts all over again:) During our training, our plt was in the Chapel with Sgt Major Fratterelli giving us a briefing of the Fleet. At the end, he said one thing that stuck to me for life: 'if you have a problem, talk to your Chain of Command. We've heard EVERYTHING! I congratulate you on your outstanding performance' he snapped to attention 'OO-RAH'.

Semper Fi
J.S. Elliott
0311 Basic Infantry '84-'88
Parris Island
Camp Pendleton
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

I'm Going To Lead Men Someday

Sgt. Grit,
I teach high school English, and for some reason this past year it was more necessary than usual for me to delay reading your newsletters as they arrived, in order to take care of paperwork. Before I realized it, they were "piling up" in my inbox. Consequently, I am just now catching up. With your indulgence, I'd like to reflect on some of the things I've read so far.

One Marine commented on "saluting everything that moved," which reminded me that we PLC (Platoon Leaders Class) officer candidates were instructed to salute all automobiles bearing a red base sticker, since that color was issued to officers. Enlisted personnel had blue ones. One candidate took some ribbing after he saluted a garbage truck, which bore a brown sticker. He said he was taking no chances.

Somebody mentioned being at Parris Island in 1955 when the incident occurred involving the drowned recruits, and how their recruit training changed immediately. During my six-weeks Junior PLC course at Camp Upshur aboard MCB Quantico in the summer of 1963, my company took a forced march with full field gear before we were completely acclimated to the heat and humidity, and in my platoon, three candidates literally dropped out from heat strokes. They collapsed as we ran along a power line trail up and down hills on our way back to Upshur, and I had to jump over them. They never returned to the platoon. The word going around was that one had died and the other two were hospitalized for a month, then "NPQ-ed" (Not Physically Qualified) from the program. After that, all conditioning hikes were more like "daisy-picking" strolls.

Several people shared instances when they either had their "position corrected," were "thumped," or in other words, were hit by DI's. We PLC's didn't have DI's; we were trained by a platoon sergeant and one "sergeant-instructor." (Same people, different title.) Especially during the Junior course, we sometimes accidentally ran into a sergeant's fist.

Another form of "correction" involved our "chrome domes," helmet liners painted with aluminum paint. We generally wore them at all times while outdoors, except for early morning PT. We used them to mark our places as a formation while involved in activities such as the obstacle course or while eating in the mess hall. For such infractions as entering a building while "covered" but not "under arms," or for nodding off during classroom instruction, our platoon sergeant or sergeant- instructor would order us to hand him our chrome dome, tell us to "bend over," then thump us on the "gourd" (head) with it. I was so rattled the first time it happened to me, that I put the thing back on when he handed it to me, so he let me go through the drill again.

I can't remember if you have already published this story (I may be having a "senior moment" at almost age 64), but my most memorable "correctional" experience occurred during my second week in the Corps. We candidates could DOR (Drop-On-Request) at anytime, and many did, including athletes in much better physical shape than I, from major colleges and universities, who chose not to accept the harassment--one on our second day there. I decided over the first weekend (we had on-base liberty from 1200 Saturday until 2200 on Sunday) that I had made a terrible mistake, and fully intended to DOR as soon as possible on Monday. During that morning's PT, my mind was so occupied with thoughts of quitting, that I got out of rhythm during pushups, sit-ups, etc. I was ordered to do extra sets of each exercise and then try to catch up with the rest of the company. That made me angry, and I decided that I would not quit--they would have to kick me out!

Some time later I was called into the platoon office. When I reported to my platoon commander, Lt. :, he said, "I hear you want to quit."

(I don't know where he heard that--must be psychic!) "No sir!"

"Oh, so you're going to be a leader of men someday?"

"Yes sir!"

"Go over and tell the Second Platoon Sergeant you're going to lead him someday."

"Aye, aye, sir!"

(About face, step to the right as in marching, halt in front of the desk. Left face in front of that sergeant, whom I did not know--I was in 1st Platoon.)

"Second Platoon Sergeant, I'm going to lead you some day!"

He had been watching me from the time I entered the office, and was leaning back in his chair, while tossing and catching an aluminum canteen encased in a cover. I soon found out that the canteen was full.

He motioned with his finger for me to move between his desk and his wall locker and to assume the position of "the little pink bench"--squatting as if sitting. Maintaining that position for any length of time made it extremely difficult to stand, let alone to walk, when allowed to move from it. I remember one candidate, Tom Hicks, crawling across the company street from the platoon office Quonset hut to our squad bay Quonset hut, yelling, "Open the door!" as a sergeant counted down from twenty in a loud voice.

"So, you're going to lead me someday?"

"Yes sir!"

"What is there about you that is going to make me want to follow you?"

I had no clue. I hesitated.

Smack! Alongside my left temple came the full canteen! My head bounced off the wall locker on the right side, and I suddenly had difficulty thinking clearly. I wonder how I would have felt if the canteen cover had not padded the blow a little.


"An education, sir!"

"I have four years of college. How many do you have?"

"Two, sir!"

Smack! again, and recoil off the wall locker! Thinking became more difficult.

"Try again."

"I'll get experience, sir."

"I have twelve years. How much do you have?

"One week, sir."

Smack! the third time, and recoil off the wall locker! Who am I and what am I doing here?

"Try again."

"I don't know, sir"

I expected another blow, but instead he said, "I don't know, either. There's just something about a leader."

Then he said, "In Korea, the Chinese Communists brainwashed some American servicemen into staying in China after the ceasefire, but none of them were Marines. Do you know why?"

"No sir."

"Because we put them through so much h&ll during boot camp that the Chi-Com's couldn't do anything to break them. Now, I bet you think you really made an a$$ of yourself, don't you?"

"Yes sir!"

"Well, you didn't make as big an a$$ of yourself as you think, or you'd be crying right now."

"Thank you, sir."

"Get out of here."

"Aye, aye, sir." And I stumbled out on wobbly legs.

For the next three days, there was a spot in my vision where I couldn't see. But that was the closest thing to a compliment I heard, either that summer or two years later during the Senior course, and I took pride in hearing it.

I did not graduate at the top of my class in either the Junior course or the Senior course. I was in the bottom half of those who stuck with the program each summer (about half from each of my platoons in both courses did not graduate), but I made it. And it may be that that incident helped me survive the cut during the Junior course. At least one candidate, maybe a couple more, in my platoon that summer made it all the way to the last week, only to be declared "Unsat" and removed from the program before being allowed to hear the general call us "Marines" on graduation day.

Semper Fi!
Tom Downey
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine
1963-'76 "for pay purposes"
Vietnam: 4Dec66-18Dec67 (6 months as art'y FO for L-3/7, including Operation Desoto)
Reserves: Aug 69-Oct 75 (Corpus Christi, TX unit--XO of "C" and CO of "D", 4th Recon; combined and re-designated as C-1/23 in 1972)

Thumbs Up

Sgt. Grit
I was a very great day when I found your web site. I enjoy reading what others write and it usually brings back memories that I can really relate to.

I must send in my part.

Last year I attended a meeting in Long Beach CA and my brother is a prior Marine and he meet me and 2 of my friends traveling with me for the meeting at LA international.

We made a point to go to MCRD San Diego and just visit and see the old grinder. When we arrived at the gate the Marine MP waved me up and I explained who I was and why I wanted a visitor pass to get on base. The young Marine politely told me to come back on Sunday and I could get in, I explained that I would not be able to come back on Sunday because of my meeting. The young man then said Sir thank you for your service turned around and said I have something in my eye but if you get in any trouble you are on your own. With that I said thank you for your service and I won't get in trouble.

The very first thing I drove to was the old receiving barracks by the base theater and yes the yellow foot prints were still there. Instant memories going from having hair to not having hair, my first meeting with my Drill Instructor. I have to say I was a medrep (very overweight 369lbs) so the DI had a hay day with me. My platoon was the last platoon to stay in the q. huts by the grinder. They were torn down and my platoon was the first ones to stay in the new hotels by the chow hall. Needless to say I did not pass the first PT test and I made my way to the fat farm. I lost and I made it through boot camp with no problem. I went home weighing 168lbs. but back to my day at MCRD.

After looking at the old receiving barracks I drove to the Grinder and low and behold platoons were out there drilling, God I did not know I would ever miss the call from a Drill Instructor. One of the people traveling with us was a 5ft 7 very attractive long blonde hair woman and old enough to be any of the recruits mother but could pass for 30 easy. I tried to get her out of the truck just to see if some young recruit would make the mistake and look at her but she would not get out.

We then drove around back by the O course and when I made the corner I saw a DI bent over a young recruit making it rain, the DI saw me and he backed up and I could tell he was trying to figure out who I was, I gave him a thumbs up and he smiled and went right back to making it rain. Memories again.......

I made it back to the hotel and where I stayed while I was in boot camp. Great view of the airport every night. While I was parked I had 5 DI's come up to the truck and you could tell they wanted to know who I was and what I was doing there, one staff Sgt. In his burley voice asked if he could help me and I again explained to him no, and I pointed to the 2nd story and said in 1970 my rack was right by the 3 bay window and I had not been back since then and I was just remembering. All of the DI's instantly smiled shook my brothers and my hand and said welcome home.

The best part of being there was just talking with the DI's about how things have changed for the recruits to what we had back in 1970,

I could go on more but I don't think everyone wants to go to sleep.

Thank you for having your column for us old Salts.....

7th Marine

I would like to give you my heartfelt thanks for the opportunity in winning in your Iwo Jima sand contest. I am the 7th Marine in my family, Two in WW ll, Two in Korea and Three in Vietnam. My uncle who is 87 years old and in failing health is now living with me was a PFC, Light Antiaircraft Fire Control Man with the 9th Antiaircraft Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He participated in the consolidation of the Solomon Islands, Capture and Defense of Guadalcanal, and in action against the Japanese on New Georgia and Guam. On 19 Feb 1945 his younger brother landed on Green beach at Iwo Jima with H Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. He was WIA on 20 Feb and evacuated from the Island on the 22nd of Feb. He died of his wounds on Aug 26th 1945 and is buried in the Veterans Cemetery on Cape Cod, MA. My uncle has asked me if I could go down to the Cape and put a small amount of the Iwo sand on his grave which I said I would. I hope to get there on the 28th of Aug on the 62nd anniversary of his death. Again, Thank you so very much for giving an old Marine a chance to say good bye to his brother one last time.
Semper Fi---Joe

5 Ft Of That Ash

i did not get Iwo ash as i said that i was buried from shelling when my buddy was killed next to me killing lunsdford and dorsechuck. me and red were wounded and buried under 5 ft of that ash next to no one air field.i comp 3rd batt 24 Marines 4 Marine div 4th machine gun platoon. 4th machine gun squad. i pushed my body out of that hole. then dug out red who was bleeding from his chest. i got shrapnel on my left side. would have liked to have that sand or ash as we said it was to show my grandson. i am in the book of flags of our fathers. am in bad health now. got nothing from Iwo as we were sent to the hospital ship. then back to the states. in Sarasota fla now if you have any sand left i would like to touch it before i die thanks;
guy castorani.


Hey Sgt. Grit,
I can't tell you how excited I was to be one of the lucky 400 to win sand from Iwo Jima. As I read the letter and held that little packet of history in my hands, I was overwhelmed by so many emotions. I felt honored to own such a precious part of Marine Corps history, I felt excited and wanted to tell everyone I knew, but the strongest emotion I felt was awe. I thought of my brothers who gave all on Iwo Jima and I just cried. Sgt. Grit, thank you for that contest. I plan to purchase a print of the flag raising, have it matted and framed and have the sand incorporated in the final product. I will cherish it forever! May all of your readers keep our brothers over seas in their hearts and prayers. I pray that God will keep them safe and bring every single one of them home SOON!
Semper Fi,
Diane Sollers

Worse Duty

received my first sgtgtitnews was outstanding joined the first time 29sep50 till 28sep54 first duty was Marine barracks rodman canal zone next was experimental 4th Bn 8th Marines got orders for 33rd draft war ended 2 days after getting to camp delmar was put in fox co. 2/4 was sent to camp nara jp. came back got out shipped over 2 months later then was wpns instructor at 1st itr . next was e-2-9 on Okinawa was mg sec. ldr. next was wpns co at Quantico. left there jun 58 for sea duty on uss newport news ca148 tillsep60. then h&s 1/2 as 81 mortar sec ldr. got out may61 went back may67 chased prisoners for 2 months at Pendleton worse duty any one could have. next back in e 2/9 again in RVN. next from dec68 till feb69 wpns instructor 1st itr joined e 2/9 nine again 8apr69 wia 23apr69 medically retired jan70. now i work with GEN RAYMOND DAVIS YOUNG MARINES at nas atlanta . am also jr vice of greater atlanta mcl # 647. wore boondockers & leggings hate the leggings. pay was 75.00 a months. hope i didn't bore you to much.

Up-Side-Down Chevron

Dear Sgt. Grit:
I just finished reading this week's newsletter and the lead-off letter from Robert L. Duke. His words, "I nearly broke my hand..." struck a nerve.

I honor every person's right to freedom of speech and expression, but last night, while watching "So You Think You Can Dance" on TV, I felt rage that someone would dishonor the uniform of my Marine Corps.

One of the "judges" was wearing a modified version of a Dress Blues jacket, with Lance Corporal chevrons on each arm. Except the stripes were sewn up-side-down (crossed rifles above the chevrons) and they were attached just above the woman's wrists. When I saw this pompous woman's flagrant fashion statement, I "saw red" and felt that her up-side-down chevrons represented the same (to me) as our nation's flag being flown up-side-down.

I wanted to call the TV station and FIND the website for the show, in order to voice my angry disdain. My wife, who is always my "voice of reason" reminded me of our first amendment rights. Her logic also made sense, when she said, "If you let them know that it made you angry, they won't care...But, they will consider you another person they can add to their number of viewers.

I too, wanted to break my hand, or something else, but instead I think it broke my heart to see this insult promoted on national TV. I thought about the angry, opinionated letters that have been sent to you, in the past and I asked myself, "Is it ME, who's thinking is opinionated, screwed up and irrational?"

Semper Fi !
JJ Haight, 60-64

Is There A Law

On Wednesday, 25 July 2007, my wife was watching "So You Think You Can Dance."
She told me that I needed to see something and what I saw made me sick. One of the female dance judges was wearing our Dress Blues Coat. It had no emblems to identify the coat, however, it did have the buttons and it had LCPL chevrons upside down around the wrist of the sleeves.

The reason I point this out is to ask this question -- first some background on the past.
While stationed at Marine Barracks Long Beach, CA in the early 70s, word made it to the Marines stationed there that an individual was seen out in downtown Long Beach wearing one of our Dress Blues coats with Sgt chevrons. Needless to say, we went looking for him. To someone's luck, we never found him.

One of the Marines did some research and found out that there was a law against anyone but Marines wearing our uniform or parts thereof. In fact, I think they even got Leatherneck to print a copy of that law.

My question, is there a law that makes it illegal for anyone except for a Marine to wear parts of our uniform? If there is, could you print a copy of it in your newsletter or tell me how I can get a copy? I am not going to go looking for bad guys or bad girls who wear our uniform or parts thereof, I just want to see if I am right in memory or just going old in memory.

Thank you for your assistance on this matter.

Gary L. COON
MSgt USMC (Ret)

More 'Think You Can Dance'

Sgt. Grit,
I'm just trying to get the word out.

I was watching Fox's "So you think you can dance" with my family the other night and was offended by what I saw.

One of the judges, Mia Michaels was wearing a Dress Blues jacket with a Lance Corporals chevron upside down on her lower right sleeve.

I emailed Fox with my disgust and wanted to inform other Marines who may be offended as well and ask them to email Fox. I have already emailed a bunch of my buddies but I figured contacting Sgt. Grit would be a good way to get the word out.
Fox's email address is: askfox@fox.com

Cpl. Davis
Lima 3/5

I Was Speechless

Sgt. Grit,

Just wanted to express my thanks, I was one of the fortunate recipients of a bag of Iwo Jima sand. My father and my father- in-law both served in the 4th Marine Division during WWII. My father was involved in taking and holding Tinian and my father- in-law fought on Iwo Jima. I was speechless when I received my bag of black sand, it has become one of my most prized possessions. Thank you for the opportunity to acquire something that is held sacred by Marines young and old, it is sincerely appreciated.

Semper Fi

Joseph Polette
USMC, Sgt, 1971-1975

Marked Man

When I went to boot camp I was A marked man. My senior DI was my brothers platoon Sgt. in Nam. My series Gunny was in my brothers platoon & my DI was in my brothers platoon when got there my DI showed me A picture. He asked do you know this Marine? Like A fool I said yes! that's my brother & he replied o no its not. Even tho it was! From that on til grad. day { I was on the sh&t list }

Semper Fi
Cpl. Steve Lacy

My Dad

I was just flipping through my dad's enlisted records and while reading the message from "Gunner in a Tank," I about fell out of my chair when he mentioned, "Captain Edward Bollard." There in my dad's service record--his WWII service was with the 4th Tank Battalion--I see Edward R. Bollard's signature nearly everywhere. The last 4th Tank Battalion entry on my dad's service record is dated "24 April 1945," where as a member of Co. A, Fourth Tank Battalion, Edward Bollard recommends my dad, Sgt. Owen Isom Thompson, for acceptance to Officer Candidates School.
Bollard in his recommendation says, "Sergeant Thompson participated in the invasions of the Marshall Islands, Saipan and Tinian, and Iwo Jima. Shortly after the Tinian operation he became communication chief of this unit and at that time new tanks along with new type radios were acquired by this unit. Sergeant Thompson organized the school for the operators and set up a maintenance section which operated with most satisfactory results. During the Iwo Jima operation, communications were greatly improved over past operations. Much of the credit can be attributed to the outstanding service of Sergeant Thompson." My dad, Owen, was commissioned and served with the 1st Marines in China and left the USMC in late 1949 as a regular commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. As a civilian he was an electrical engineer and died in January of 1977, after a long illness at only 55 years old.
Of his WWII Pacific invasions dad said, "The first (the Marshalls) was a turkey shoot; the second (Saipan) was a drawl; and the last (Iwo) we lost!" He also often said, "The Marine Corps only promises its members three things: A rifle, a pack, and a hard time!"
As far as I know, my dad never attended any 4th Marine Division reunions. I am delighted to know that some 4th Tank Battalion members are still alive and wonder if Mr. John C. Carey remembers my dad.
John C. Thompson
(USMC, 1971-1973)

"Hooper's Manual" from the early 1940's

Thanks for taking time to reply. I asked around and found out that it was written by First Lieutenant Walter R. Hooper, copyright 1943. Official title "Guide to ADMINISTRATION U. S. Marine Corps." Has a very complimentary forward by Colonel Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. It tells everything you would need to know about personnel adm and many other subjects. At one time there was one on every First Sergeant's and Adjutant's desk. It is fascinating in a nostalgic way.
Robert Simmons, Jr.

Old Habits Are Hard To Break

I get up in the morning just before the sun, old habits really are hard to break. I sit for a few moments and conduct a visual recon out my porthole to the world, before I rise. Something strange to others I suppose. I am not looking for anything in particular, just assuring myself everything is where I last saw it, and where its suppose to be.

Old habits are hard to break.

I see the neighbors lights are on as they begin their day and with my eyes cover their movement out the drive way and down the block till they are out of sight on their way to work.

I report to the coffee mess and start my first cup and turn on my computer and comes the word a Corpsman, Daniel S. Noble has been killed in Iraq assigned permanently to the 1st Mar Div, it says, indeed for all time I say to myself.

I pass the word among those whom I know really do care as to what has happened here and some three thousand times and more before. In silence I stare at a half full cup and reflect upon a half lived life spent at the side of Marines who needed him most this 'Noble'. indeed.

Old habits are hard to break.

I remain confident when he went down, others rushed to his side the way he must have done for them before, and I know that's where someone stayed and remains as he is brought home to hallowed ground.

That a family friends and loved ones are struck as well.

This is the thing of it war, never changes for ever more.

A young man I never knew, standing by for me and you, we Marines know him tried and true, his casket covered in red white and blue, I step outside upon the porch, lower my flags in his honor.

Old habits are hard to break.

stewart resmer
Lima 4-11
RVN 69-70

Short Rounds

I am slowly thinking that the "Old Corps" has Service Numbers and the "New Corps" has Social Security Numbers but... Marines are the same! God Bless the New Corps, they are outstanding!
R Olson 1957-58-59 Once a Marine always a Marine!

Sgt Grit,
To R. C. Bailey Jr - he wanted to know some of the meal blessings we said at chow during boot camp - I remember one: "O Lord, thou who has made us and all good things, receive our thanks and strengthen us to do Thy will."
(I remember it because it was the shortest one to choose from, and we wanted to eat as fast as we could!)
Hank Oliver 61-83

SGT GRIT, It is better to die standing on your feet, like a Man Than on your knees in disgrace
A Philippine Gen. Quote

thank you for putting this out every other week. I am a former Marine and a current Border Patrol Agent who has been battling cancer for two years and this letter motivates the h&ll out of me. Stay in the fight.
Sgt./Agent J. Williams

I received my small piece of Marine Corps history in the form of small bag of dark, volcanic sand from Iwo Jima. You would have thought it was a bar of gold. I shall treasure it and keep it with all my other Marine Stuff.
Sgt. D.R. George, 0311,8511,8531, 1973 to 1977. Semper Fi.

HEY SARGE! I hear Japan is changing the name of the inland IWO JIMA to IWO TO. I guess that was the original name. Like retired Maj. General Fred Haynes said "They can call it whatever they want......We'll stick to IWO JIMA!"

Lighted Marine Corps Emblem Sgt Grit,
A couple of years ago I mentioned that I'd like to have a lighted Marine Corps emblem, not available at that time.
Thankfully, I was able to finally order one from you, received recently. It is now in a place of honor in my front window for all passersby to enjoy, and it works fine, an outstanding item, indeed. Thank you, Sir! SEMPER FIDELIS
Orville B. King, USMC, WW2, Pacific.

"What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media were definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!"
- General Giap, North Vietnam (memoirs)

President Reagan Quote Coin
President Ronald Reagan Quote Coin

Dear Enemy, Take a Deep Breath
Dear Enemy, Take a Deep Breath

Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!
Semper Fi, Mac
Gung Ho

Sgt Grit

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