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As a Marine not every second of every day can be blissful. Thanks for reminding me why I leave my family behind and put myself in danger. Sometimes I lose motivation and forget why I put my feet on those yellow footprints.
It never fails that your email will find me at those exact moments. Your email has been with me in Iraq for 13 months, Kuwait for 1 month and all across the US throughout the last 4 years. Thank you for services and for all the Marines you motivate.

Semper Fi,
Sgt Daniel Green
Active Duty

5th Deployment...Merry Christmas
Marine Christmas Tree My husband is on his 5th deployment and he send me a pic of the tree I sent him. His guys helped with decorating the tree. I thought I would share with you what they did :)
Thanks and Enjoy!
Elizabeth Lynn

Christmas items on sale Our memories
Sgt Grit,
Just finished reading another great NEWSLETTER. I really had a flashback when the outdoor theaters were mentioned. For younger Marines that was like going to a Drive-In Movie but without having to worry where you have to park your car or having to disconnect the speakers. That brings also to my mind late night trips in cattle cars and the other guys looking like ghosts, do you remember how the shadows would go across the faces of your fellow Marines? How about get in the rack, get out of the rack until LIGHTS ON. Can you remember anyone Falling Out without having their boots properly bloused? Can you remember anyone going to sleep and letting their rifle fall through the bleachers? Does anyone remember VD Only signs in the Head? How about Green side out? Were you cold and tired at mountain warfare school? Hot and tired while on vacation at 29 Palms? Were you ever bitten by lava dogs while taking a stroll across lava fields at Poakuloah Hawaii? Does anyone remember white towels turned gray by volcano dust(eruption of Moana Kea) How about slippery red clay at Schofield Barracks? How about a FIREX using only blackout markers to position an artillery battalion on the darkest night on planet earth since existence? What about broken U-Joints on Gamma Goats in the middle of nowhere? How about vehicle recovery of an M151A2C that had been attacked by an outraged billy goat who rammed it's horns through the radiator? That's like walking down a lava flow and encountering a 300 lb. wild boar with tusks sharper than a K-bar and the disposition of your senior DI. Our memories are what make us.
Always Marines

Good Job Sgt
Junk on the bunk during General Inspection at Camp Lejeune 1955, 2nd Shore Party Bn. 2nd MarDiv.He inspected my gear, asked my name rank and serial. Then he looked me in the eye and said "Good job,Sgt." I felt that was a compliment I would never forget, and I haven't.
Sgt. Raymond L. Coburn 1368391 USMC

I Hope Her Life
Second Battalion Third Marines Hotel Company Some where on patrol. We could barely see from what I was told the ammo dump going up near Dong Ha. I was attached to Hotel as a HST Team. We had encountered the enemy, area was taken, and we had a casualty. Young Marine had been killed. He was brought to the landing zone wrapped in a poncho carried by his fire team. Some one handed me his personal effects in which included his identification. Included was a picture of his wife, and a baby. Baby in which he had never held. I remember thinking, this is her last happy day. Hopefully it will be several days before she knows. To this day I still see her face, and today the baby should be 40 years old. I hope her life has been full, I have never forgotten her face and hope she and her child found happiness after the loss of her husband and her baby's father.

Carl Waters Cpl. 1966 / 1969

Tom & Sherrard Semper Fi Where ever you are.

Euphrates River Yacht Club
patrol at Al Taqqadum in the Anbar Province Sgt Grit,
I was going through my photos from OIF 2 and found one that I had taken and wanted to share with your readers and any potential former members that had the honor to be a part of Small Craft Company, 2MARDIV. The picture was taken at Al Taqqadum in the Anbar Province and had roughly 60 men to patrol approximately 75% of the Euphrates.

The nick name of 'Euphrates River Yacht Club' came about during our replacement's tour of duty over there so I'm not sure as to how that came about.

Semper Fi Marines!
Cpl RJ Lenderman
2002 - till I stop having fun.

Going To Be Old Corps
Dwight Lada running in the Boot Camp Challenge Went out to MCRD in October to take part in the Boot Camp Challenge - a three mile run around the Depot that went over, under, and through many of the obstacles the recruits use. There were about 3,000 people, most civilians, taking part. All along the way DIs were strategically stationed to provide encouragement to the runners. As you can see from the DI's body posture in the picture, he was gently suggesting I pick up the pace, just like in the old days! Most folks wore running shorts and tennis shoes, but I figured if you're going to be Old Corps you might as well dress like it. It's been 37 years since boot camp, and I swear someone must have raised the height of the log and wall obstacles since then! One note for next year - don't wear white socks. They cost me about 50 bends and thrusts at various obstacles when a DI would notice them and politely inquire, "so when did we start wearing white socks in my Corps, huh?". One nice change from running the "O" course as a recruit, though - swapping sea stories and enjoying a cold one from the beer tent afterwards.

Dwight Lada

2008 Christmas Shirts almost out of stock! Strength In Combat
Dear Grit,

I recently received a package from you and have received numerous certificates from across the nation. I want to say "thank you", for the support. I have been back here in Fallujah, Iraq for over 8 months. I must admit this tour is much better than my last. My last tour was in Ramadi and it happened to be one of the most difficult times for us and the Iraqi people. Now 2 years later Al Anbar is a much better place for us and the Iraqi people. Still a dangerous place but compared to the years prior, its much better. Last tour I had to fire my weapon d*mn near every day. Now I have to unload my mags weekly just to keep the springs strong. Once again the Marines have proven their strength in combat. Al Anbar was given back to the Marines in 2004 with an understanding that getting the province back into order would nearly be impossible. Now it is turned back over to the Iraqis and some of the worst cities of fighting are being totally turned over to the Iraqi Army. We are starting to settle back and over-watch the Iraqi Army and Police. Enjoying the fact that we have trained them and they are capable to maintain good order and discipline. I wish everyone could see the common streets and how the Iraqi People feel safe to walk, play, open stores and live a civilized life again.

Thank You again and Semper Fi,
MSgt Spanky Gibson

General Puller Inspected
Sgt. Grit,

I had the opportunity to meet General Puller on two different occasions, once in 1966 when he inspected the troops at El Toro & I was just out of boot & visiting an Uncle who was stationed there & again in 1967 when he inspected us at Camp Lejeune.

We were on the parade deck for a couple of hours in the heat & waiting his arrival. Fellow Marines were passing out from heat exhaustion. General Puller inspected my platoon out of the battalion waiting for him, then went up on the stage, saluted our Commanding Officer & said," the troops look good take me to the brig so I can inspect the men". He also stated before he died, "there will be a beer vending machines in all barracks & a BAM issued to every Marine." Probably a rumor, but I heard after I got out they had the vending machines in the barracks.

I was also fortunate enough to date a M/Sgt. Tippis' Daughter while in California,ne'er got to meet him, but from what I understand, he was the last of nine enlisted pilots in the Marines at that time.

Outside of actually being able to serve under him, I feel very lucky to have been able to meet General Puller, to serve under him had to be the ultimate.

Semper Fi
Joseph Hrejsa

St Patrick's Day Shirt Dumb $hit Award
Sgt. Grit:

At the Crash Crew at MCAS Camp Pendleton, back when it was a MCAF, we had what was known as the Dumb $hit Award. To earn this illustrious award you really had to screw up bad. Thus enters Sgt. Dixon, a re-enlistee who had been a cook. Don’t get me wrong, Sgt. Dixon tried hard to be good at what he did and he was well liked, mainly for the laughs he provided. We use to do off-station repelling drills from UH1Ns in case we had an off station crash. We would spend half day at the repelling towers up by San Onofre and half day repelling out of the UH1N.

It’s pretty simple stuff. Get hooked up, stand on the skid and when the repel master gave you the signal you’d repel down breaking along the way since we were 150-200 feet up. In the distance we could see the section leader’s emergency vehicle where he and the OIC would watch our progress. Sgt Dixon was on the skid and got the signal to repel. The next thing we see is the section leader’s vehicle move forward with the beacon lights on. We looked over the side and Sgt. Dixon was laying flat on his back. He didn’t break once going down. Broke his ankle and had to have surgery at the NRMC Camp Pendleton. He was on 6 weeks light duty before he could man a crew again.

About a month after rejoining his crew, Sgt. Dixon was on "hotspot" which is the first responding vehicle on the airfield in case of an emergency. Every vehicle has a place to be in an emergency. While Sgt. Dixon and his crew were on hotspot, an emergency came up and the tower notified us that the helicopter was going to set down at the head of the active (runway). All vehicles have numbers and Sgt. Dixon and crew were on Rodeo 33. While responding to the emergency we heard the tower call down to Rodeo 33 as it was heading down the active, "Rodeo 33 be advised you dropped some bunker gear... and it’s moving." As we pulled up and rolled the bunker gear (protective clothing firemen and crash crew wear while fighting fire) over, we found that it was Sgt. Dixon. He had fallen off the back of the truck while putting on his gear and, wait for it.... Broke The Other Ankle. Needless to say his picture was taken and it was enshrined on the Dumb $hit Award for months. I’ve always wondered what happened to Sgt. Dixon yet was afraid to ask.

Semper Fi
SSgt Julian Etheridge
7051 Crash Fire Rescue Specialist
1974 - 1985

Farm And Livestock
Gen. Krulak cutting one of the graduation cakes at the school photo of Gen. Krulak speaking at the Food Services School at Camp Lejeune Chesty cutting one of Ski's ( to the right) USMC Birthday cakes, Pearl 1949 Interesting that Gen. Krulak closed the Mess Hall. He knew a little about USMC Food Services, as he had a friend who was the first commissioned officer( Chesty pinned on his bars) in what Food Services of the Corps is today. The Lt.Col. I am speaking of, Peter Paul Yezerski, was a good friend , and at the time the oldest living , having served the earliest of any known Old Breed China Marine, before his passing. Went through boot at Parris Island when they had a farm and livestock as did most bases at the time to feed the troops. Ski was from Mass. also, enlisted at 15 in 1931 and at 16 was in China. Gen. Krulak and Ski were friends, when Ski asked the Gen. for anything he usually got it as was the case with most Marines Ski served with. Here's a photo of Gen. Krulak speaking at the Food Services School at Camp Lejeune. Ski is to the left, with the glasses, of Gen. Krulak. Another photo is Gen. Krulak cutting one of the graduation cakes at the school and the third is Chesty cutting one of Ski's ( to the right) USMC Birthday cakes, Pearl 1949

Semper Fi,
Jim Donovan

Immediately Introduced Himself
clip of newspaper featuring photo of Gary Keller I first met LCpl Gary Keller during ITR (advanced infantry training) at Camp Pendleton in late 1966. All the Marines looked alike in their utilities and short cropped hair. One stood out from the others. He appeared to be more mature and with no chevrons, I assumed he was an officer. He was a private. It was our first day at the training facility and we were being assigned billeting in Quonset huts. As I was putting my gear away, a Marine tapped me on the shoulder. "My name is Gary Keller and I am from Yakima, Washington." I introduced myself as PFC John Foster. I was surprised that Keller had just completed boot camp. I thought he was older but he was 18, just like me. After we all got settled in, we were called out on the deck for a promotion ceremony. About 6 Marines were being promoted to LCpl. Gary was one of them but he was getting his first promotion to PFC.

We became very good friends and spent most of our off-duty hours together. One weekend we had a three-day pass and decided to hitchhike to my hometown, Santa Cruz, California. We caught a ride right away. Gary immediately introduced himself to the driver, "My name is Gary Keller and I'm from Yakima." The driver who was driving to San Francisco gave us a ride all the way to Santa Cruz which was a seven hour drive. Gary kept me and the driver entertained all the way with stories of life in Yakima. When the driver dropped us off at my Mom's house, Gary gave the driver a $100 bill. That was more than we made in a month. That $100 could have paid for both of us to fly round trip.

After several weeks of intense infantry training, we were ready to take on the entire Viet Cong and NVA. Gary wasn't scared at all. He was more interested in visiting a lush tropical country and getting to know their people.

We flew to Vietnam aboard a Flying Tiger DC-10. Gar began introducing himself to the stewardesses and crew. "My name isa Gary keller and I am from Yakima." We were on our way to war yet Gary helped make the flight reasonably pleasant. He returned all the money he won in poker games. And if he saw a Marine who seemed nervous, he would start a conversation to cheer them up. As we got off the plane in Da Nang, many of the Marines were pleading with the stewardesses for a last goodbye kiss. They only obliged with a hug. As Gary was leaving the plane, he said goodbye to one of the ladies and then whispered something in her ear. She replied with a kiss on his lips. I would have never believed it if I hadn't seen it. Must have been his charm. There was a staging area in Da Nang for all the new arrivals. Unlike the War in Iraq, we never deployed over as a unit. We went as a group and once there, we were individually assigned units. I was immediately assigned to 2/9, 3rd MarDiv. I lost contact with Gary and never knew what unit he went to.

We arrived in country during some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. I often wondered how Gary was doing. I figured he would use his charm to survive.

I was wounded during Tet of 68. The million dollar wound got me back to the states. While I was recuperating in a military hospital, someone gave me a copy of the May, 1968 issue of Leatherneck Magazine. In it was an article about the Battle of Hue. And there was a picture of Gary giving protection for his men with his M-60 machine gun. I then learned that he had been assigned to Hotel, 2/5. When I got out of the hospital I wrote Gary a letter. I sent a picture of me, my new girlfriend and my 56 Chevy. I never got a response from Gary.

About a year later, while attending Marine Security Guard School. I ran into a Marine by the name of Rooker. Rooker had trained with us and was even on our flight to Vietnam. He then told me that Gary had shown him the letter I sent. "Well the dirty rat didn't write me back." I said. Rooker then told me that Gary had been killed in July of 1968. He apparently tripped an anti-personnel mine. I was devastated. I wanted to call his family but didn't know who or how to call.

It had taken me 40 years to put this letter together and I am appreciative that the Yakima Helad Republic newspaper allowed me to include it in their Veterans Day issue.

One of the reasons I put the article in the paper was in hopes that it would flush out a relative of Gary's. Sure enough it did. At 10:00 am on Veteran's Day I received a call from Lynn Keller Locke, Gary's sister. I had a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball. I didn't quite know what to say. I didn't have to say anything. She was so grateful and she expressed her gratitude with tears of joy and sadness at the same time. She had been awaken out of bed by her aunt who first read the article. She then awaken her mother who is also Gary's mother. Her name is Anna and she is still going strong at 90 years of age. Lynn put her Mom on the phone and I now have two lumps in my throat. I was so overwhelmed with the conversation. Anna began thanking me for remembering her son. She was mostly apologizing for crying. I told that it was perfectly okay. "If it makes you feel better, I'm crying too." I also told her that Gary was a hero. No, he was never awarded any medals for valor but he was a hero just the same. His character made him loved by all that knew him. He wasn't your stereotype Marine. He was too charming. But I believe that Gary was also a hero on the battlefield. He was proficient with his M-60 and it was that proficiency that allowed many of his brothers in arms come home.

GySgt John D. Foster
USMC veteran
Echo 2/9 67-68

Numerous T Model
Sgt Grit
With respect to Mr Tonkin's former Army armorer acquaintance there was never a M1A1 Garand rifle. From the early prototypes to the last ones made in the 50's they all had an American style stock with the pistol grip as scene in every WWII picture it's featured in. There were numerous T model prototypes but I've never run across one with an "English style" non-pistol grip "straight stock". He may be thinking of the M1903 Springfield which in it's original configuration had a non-pistol grip stock and eventually in the M1903A3 had a pistol grip stock introduced.

He also might be confusing the M1 carbine and M1A1 carbine with the M1 Garand. The M1 Garand was only ever the M1 Garand. No official submodels were ever created or designated. The M1A1 carbine did have a folding stock with a M16/M4 style pistol grip. Just a thought.

Andrew Mathias
Cpl 97-01 and gun enthusiast 78-forever

P.S. Don't get me started on the M60. Thank lord for the M240G...too bad the rest of the world had it since we started with the M60...only took us 30+ years...

It Was Thought
To GySgt wasmund (ret.)
Interesting enough immediately after this newsletter came out I received the following email from my dad who remembers this and talks about it to this day. "Tina this is the march I told you about that we made. That was the one there was no one dropped out and each and every one that started the march finished on their feet. Now they fly back and forth. That march was after we had spent 30 days on a live fire training with a desert environment when it was thought that we would go to the conflict in Egypt."
Thanks GySgt wasmund for mentioning this.

For my dad...Sgt Ron Miles
From his very proud daughter Tina Minkkinen

35 Miles
Regarding the 150 mile hike from 29 Palms to Camp Margarita, I was there. A/1/3/5, our Bn. Co. was Major Miller. We started out in lead position, the Major decided to try a short-cut to put us further ahead, we ended up bringing up the rear. I think the most we did in one day was 35 miles. I remember a house we went by out in the boonies about 100 yds. away from the line of march, a woman standing on the porch waving at all of the Marines. This hike was after Desert Training, immediately before that was Cold Weather Training at Pickle Meadows. I was Plt. Guide, Plt. Sgt. was GySgt. L.L. Lazan, Plt. Ldr. was Lt. Thomas Swift Taylor. The story on the Lt. was that he was of the Swift Packing Co. family and that he had spent his childhood on one of the family beef ranches in Argentina.
Dennis R. Smith
Cpl. USMC 1957-1961

Those Five Days
To Gy/Sgt.Wasmund USMC Retired. H&ll yes, there are still a few other old F--ts, around, who still have fond memories of that March from the Desert to the Sea. I Can still recall, the first day of that march started out with a 30 something Hike. The second day we did something like 33 miles. If you remember, it were up early at first light, eat breakfast, FILLED Canteens, and moved out. March/hike for 50 minutes, 10 minute break, and then on your feet, and head out towards the distant Sea. Starting on the 2nd day, The Corpsmen, started to treat the walking Wounded(blisters Galore) Many of our men had to be ordered to board trucks, because of the sever damage to their feet, and tried to disobey boarding the Trucks. Yes Gunny. I remember those five days. I also remember, that At BARSTOW California, after our evening Meal, there was a USO Unit, from Hollywood, that came out to entertain us,. and one of those young Ladies, who at the time, was Very Patriotic, and was none other then Jane Fonda, .I also remember, that when we finally marched upon our regimental Headquarters, we were greeted by our Families and friends. ( The first thing my wife, asked me, was "would I take her Dancing that evening ".)... Yes Gunny, I too think of that Hike from time to time, and wonder how many of us are still around to reminisce about that Long, Long walk to the Sea. I sometimes even wonder, about how many pair of bone docks, had to be cut up to allow the swollen feet and Blisters to expand, so that some of our men could continue to "Stay the Course" One can hardly believe, that that was over 47 years ago.

Of all the men who made that Hike, I doubt, that there are too many of us still around, any how, thanks for your Service to the Corps., and to our Country,
Semper Fi
John Morash
SSgt USMC Retired

Without Warning
Sgt Grit;

Does anyone ever remember observing a Marine being drummed out of the Corps? In the fall of 1957 I was in a detail to observe this and it has stuck in my mind even after 50 some years. I carried the BAR in ITR. The first experience I had with the BAR was at Camp Mathews. One very foggy morning we where marched out to the range with one hand on the Marine in front of you and half of us where sent down to the butts to pull targets. We where leaning against the wall with the smoking lamp lit waiting for the fog to burn off. The Cpl in charge had his radio on and Paul Anaka was singing Oh Dianna, the first time I herd that song. Without warning they let loose and rounds where bouncing everyway. You never seen a group of Marines hit the deck so fast! It's funny I still remember the five steps to clear the BAR. Push pull tap the mag aim and attempt to fire. That old Marine Corps training still is in there ...
Semper Fi and Happy Holidays Cpl A D Johnson 1682330 1957-1961

Only One Thing Lower
Sgt. Grit:

The letter from Sgt. Rannie Hampton caught my attention. A slight correction. When Sgt. Hampton was a toddler, crawling up on the platform where Puller was speaking, Puller was at the time a colonel, just forming the 1st Marines for the Korean War.

Just prior to that Col. Puller was C/O at Pearl Harbor, where I served as a Pfc. on base patrol. I wrote a young Jg. a ticket for speeding and noted he'd been drinking. He was assigned to the USS Bumper at Sub Base. He and his boat C/O appeared before Col. Puller for Mast. I stated the circumstances of the incident, repeating some of the poorly thought out comments the Jg. had made to me as a result of my temerity in stopping an officer. The Jg. had nothing to say in his defense and his C/O had a resigned look on his face.

Col. Puller than said, "Young man, there is only one thing lower in this world than a LtJg in the United States Navy, and that is whale sh!t, and it's on the bottom of the ocean. When you speak to one of my Marines on duty, you are speaking directly to me!"

On occasion several of us were detailed to "watch the boy" referring to his young son who would be riding his stick horse outside the Admin. Bldg, while we'd be shining brass.

Col. Puller was an enlisted man's officer. I could relate long stories of his taking care of his men and teaching lessons I never forgot.

When Korea broke out most of us at Pearl volunteered and were shipped out as the 1st replacement draft for the 1stProvMarBrigade, arriving in Pusan about 20 Aug.50. Col. Puller went to Pendleton to organize the 1st Marines, which is where Sgt. Hampton "met" the colonel, not yet a general officer. Col. Puller and the 1st Marines joined us at Inchon. On the road to Seoul he passed through our lines and we were waving and yelling at him. He stopped and chatted for a minute, recognizing several of us who had served with him at Pearl. And the rest is, as they say, history.

Ray L. Walker
Franklin, TN

Were All Sitting
The "Green Beret" movie reminded me of an incident up at Phu Bai. We were all sitting on our 106 recoilless round crates watching "The Bible" when the old man in robes comes on the screen. Everyone knew what was coming next. In a booming voice, God said "Noah!" and everyone in the crowd yelled in unison "Saayyyy whaaatttt?" This was followed by everyone falling off the crates, rolling in the sand and laughing. For those younger Marines out there, it was from one of Bill Cosby's earliest comedy albums.

Wayne Stafford

So I Stuck With Top
It has been almost 30 years since my departure from Parris Island into a terminal leave status. I have often thought of the Marines that I had the honor of learning from and serving with both at the Provost Marshalls Office, and the rest of the base. Since leaving in Jan 79, I have only run into one other Marine that I served with, and we ended up both working for the same state agency in Texas.

While at PISC, we called him Gentle Ben, after the bear in the TV series starring Dennis Weaver as a Florida Game Warden. Gentle Ben never seemed to get mad about anything. Those were some great times and great people. I like to remember these as the formative years.

This year, on the Marine Corps Birthday, I attempted to get in touch with our former Provost Sergeant, MGySgt Jack Blyzes. I was finally able to locate him, still living in the Beaufort area. I located his number, but when I called, he was out, so I left a message. The next day I answered my phone and heard a voice I will never forget say "Semper Fi Marine". It was of course Top Blyzes, but now it was Captain Blyzes, as he was retired and upon retirement, his rank was changed to reflect the Limited Duty Officer Status he held during the Vietnam War. Now it just did not seem appropriate to me to call him an officer, so I stuck with Top which I know was well earned, and a title he would not mind.

At one point he was the second senior enlisted man in the Corps, and his knowledge was at times unbelievable. What this man had seen personally, and managed to live thru, and he was still in the mix. When I reported to the PMO, PISC, and I initially met Top, I feared the man that wore that many stripes on his sleeve, me being a brand new Lance Corporal and junior in time in service to everyone else assigned to the PMO except those who had arrive from MP School with me. I was only blessed at being a quick learner in some ways, but slow in others, like the time I volunteered to stay over and help the Desk Sgt catch up with his typing the blotter entries for the Commanding General's Office. Well that got me kinda noticed, so thanks to that I was assigned to other extracurricular duties. But in the long run, that turned out OK.

It added me to the loop of people in the know about what was going on around the entire base, and aided me in gaining more respect than fear of Top Blyzes. In meetings he would talk, and the entire room would listen, the officers included. Top placed me on priority details that got me noticed even more, which I took as a sign of trust. Top took me to meetings with the Commanding General, where I was really nervous until the conversations started. Then they talked like I was not even in the room, even calling each other by first names. I was in shock, and still standing at attention, till told to take a seat by the General.

I came to respect Top not only for his rank, but also for the man he was, and I could tell that many other Marines respected him also, Officers especially, and a lot of the enlisted. Top would call me in and talk with me about issues, sometimes seeking my opinion, or giving instructions about some detail, or talking to me about my life (mostly about getting it under control cause I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof), and never once did he ever raise his voice or become angry at me, even when I inevitably screwed up.

Eventually I was moved into a shift supervisor position and I would occasionally counsel with Top about problem personnel and the best way to perform corrective action, while still motivating them. Bottom Line I learned, Take Care Of Your Personnel And They Will Take Care Of You. And I learned from one of the best, and all Marines know that manner of learning can only make you better.

Needless to say, Top Blyzes became a hero, a living legend, to me. I never took the time to learn what all the ribbons on his chest were for, but he had so many rows of them they were up under the khaki collar of his shirt. Top taught me like a father would teach a son, and I accepted him as an adopted father. As I earned rank, I tried to impart his teachings and philosophy to those who worked along side of me.

Now MGySgt Jack Blyzes may never be in a book about Marine Heroes, but he should be. In all the time I served with him he dedicated himself to the utmost qualities of a U.S. Marine. I sincerely wish I had listened to Top when he spoke to me of staying with my Marine Corps family instead of leaving to go home to Law Enforcement. My big mistake. But I survived civilian employment through what I learned in the Corps, and from Top, and I will never be able to repay the debt I owe him and the Corps, for making me a better person than I could have ever hoped to be. And I do wish I could have become half the Marine that Top Blyzes is, and has been, since I have known him.

Jack Blyzes, it has been an honor and privilege to know and serve with you. Semper Fi, and may God Bless you, and the United States Marine Corps.

Russell Weaver
USMC Recruit to Sgt, MCRDep, PISC, 1975-79
God, Country, Corps
God Bless America
One Nation Under God

Since The First Time
Wow! I was moved by these stories. I only wish I was in the SgtMaj's shoes back then, I love my wife but, I would have taken the SgtMaj of the Marine Corps (with my wife's support). I enlisted in 1974 and yes I did miss the VietNam war but, I watch TV about back then when I was a freshman in High School and what got me going was movies of John Wayne. "Iwo Jima" made me join. I was at MCRD and one thing I can say to this day is the "Discipline" I learned then has been with me since the first time I stepped on the yellow prints. I was 22 years old but, one thing I did do while in boot camp is set a new record for the PFT in the 3-miles run and it stood until February of 2006. I ran a 14:32 back then and I was so proud and so were my Drill Instructors. I learned that if you really want something really bad, never quit. I got out in 1980 (because of a woman) went back into the reserves in 1988 and have been ever since. Two tours since then. Our last one we just got back from Iraq this April and gone for 7-months is no comparison to want those Marines did in your articles. I am now a MGySgt and proud to be a Marine and will stay in until the Corps feels I've had enough. Thank you for your time, Semper Fi

"Once a Marine, always a Marine."
MGySgt Garza

Dear Sgt Grit,

I'm reading today's Sgt Grit newsletter (Dec 4) and read the letter, "Venerable M-1" from John Tonkin, and in the letter he said the younger Marines had told him they wished they had an M-1. Please advise them that they CAN have their own M-1Garand -- and at a bargain price -- by logging into the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) website at I sent my order in about a month ago, and am patiently waiting the 2-3 months until my M-1 arrives at my front door. I can't wait!

Semper Fi,
Robb Manning
USMC 1990-2000, SSgt.

On A Coke Box
I was in Platoon 148 in 1956 at Parris Island when the recruits were drown in the swamp. The base was in a turmoil for several months. One of the highlights was when Gen Puller arrived to testify about why, how and what we trained our comrades. SSgt McKean (sp) was court-martialed and did quite well later at Cherry Point MAS. There was a parade held for Gen Puller and I remember him passing by in a jeep. He was standing on a coke box in order to see over the hand rail. He might have been short but he was impressive.
Jesse W, Shanks, SGT USMC1586290 1956-1961.

Way Before My Time
Sgt Grit,

A quick lesson on the terms "Poagee Bait" and "Geedunk".

Back in the day (way before my time) you got better service from the "Admin Poog's" (as they were called back then) if you bribed them with a candy bar from your C-RATS. Thus the term "Poagee Bait" came to mean any type of food used to get that Admin Clerk to process your paperwork a little quicker!

The term "Geedunk" evolved with the invent of soda/candy machines that take coins (money). The sound that the machines make when you drop your nickel in it is GEE--DUNK. Thus the term Geedunk came to mean a place where you could drop your coins to buy POAGEE BAIT.

Please study the lesson well, there will be a test on Monday!

Cyber Fi,
Brooks "Da' Cajun Gunny" Bergeron

The Other End
Death before Dishonor NCO and Officer crossed swords tattoo This photo depicts my life in the USMC. i've spent 6 yrs, 2002-2008, as a radio operator enlisted, and now i'm newly commissioned and contracted to fly. the banner reads: "Death Before Dishonor". there is an nco sword going through the top of the globe with an officer's sword coming out the other end.

James Hale

Perpetual Grin
Sgt Grit
With all the stories of fighting Marines I thought I would relate a short story about a Marine I served with and his experiences at home on leave.

I got conked in the head while late in '98 and was on light duty for a while afterward in early '99. Ended up doing admin work in our Airfield Services section that my shop was part of. There was a young Marine in our section who was recently out of his tech school. Nice guy from Oklahoma who couldn't have weighed 150lbs and was about 5'6" tall. He hadn't gone home on leave since after boot camp so he took a week of leave and went home during my admin time.

One afternoon I get a phone call from the Sheriff of a town in Oklahoma. It seems this nameless Marine had gone home on leave and one evening while going out to eat with his brother was confronted by some of the local human debris. These folks were apparently former High School classmates of his who remembered when he was even smaller and had been a victim of a lot of verbal and physical abuse. Thinking they'd start up where they left off and beat up a Marine they got physical with him. In not much time on a public sidewalk he had either beaten or disabled all of them. Someone saw the fight and called the cops and quickly all were carted off to the local cop shop, our nameless Marine included.

The Sheriff just asked me if he was in fact a Marine in our unit and I informed him he was. The Sheriff seemed pleased by this and asked a few more questions, thanked me, said Semper Fi, and a few days later the nameless Marine showed back up at the end of his leave with a perpetual grin that lasted for months. Andrew Mathias
Cpl 97-01

Join The Party
I just read about missing out on some valuable flying lessons while I was in Okinawa in 1976. Where was I? We would have been more than glad to join in the party.

I remember several Typhoons and several major drinking sessions on the Beach, but sadly, no flying lessons.

One of our Battalion parties at the beach involved volleyball (we needed a 6X6 to haul the booze). We did eat raw steaks that day, but I just don't remember flying.

I think the only flying I remember was when our repair shop had to repair a TSC-15 comm van that the Navy had dropped on the pier. (It was about 6 inches shorter than originally manufactured). Oddly, Repair school in 29 palms didn't show us how to use bondo. Fortunately, we found it easy to adapt & overcome.


Rick Cassel, Sgt of Marines
USMC 1974-78

My Attitude
Sgt. Grit,
I graduated from Plt. 2067 in 1974 and at that time we were being issued M-16A1s. My first impression of this plastic rifle was "when do I get a real weapon?" After going through Edison Range and putting 9 of 10 in the black at 500 meters, my attitude was drastically altered. The M-16 may have started as a lame duck but sure ended up as a beautiful bird. I carried one from CamPen and Turkey to USCENTCOM at McDill AFB, Fla.

Thanks for the great newsletter. Makes me feel at home.

John D. Coughlin
Sgt. 1974-1978/1161

Tasted Much Better After
Yo, Sgt. Grit !

Not so long ago the newsletter contained a recipe for 'S O S' (stuff on a shingle). Finally got around to making up a batch. One taste and it sure brought back memories ! Seems like I remember they occasionally used chipped beef (like you can buy in little jars) instead of ground beef.

I also recall that it tasted MUCH better when eaten after the morning half hour or so of jumping jacks, push-ups & stuff. Anyway, once a month is plenty enough for me. Maybe next time I'll try it using some venison.

Thanks again for the interesting newsletters. Keep up the good work.

Semper Fi
Dave Roth, 1629181
(corporal), U.S.M.C., 1956-1961

A Marine is traveling home on Christmas leave in his blues and the airline puts him in first class when he checks in.

He boards the plane and sits down next to a Catholic Priest - also traveling in first class.

The stewardess comes over immediately and offers the young Marine a drink. The young Marine asks "ma'am, may I have a glass of scotch... Read More?" The flight attendant replies with a smile "absolutely, sir."

She looks at the Priest and says "father would you like something to drink as well." Very uncharacteristically for a catholic priest, he replies with a scowl "young lady, I would rather be r*ped by brazen whores than to have a drop of liquor touch these lips!"

The Marine quickly raises a finger and says "Ma'am, I'm sorry, I'd like to change my order; I didn't realize I had that kind of a choice!"

Semper Fidelis.
Mike Hendrickson

"Hard is not hopeless." General David H. Petraeus, USA

But That One
Sgt Grit;
Having been a member of the 1st Motor-T in Korea I can relate to being asked to fix a lot of things. The one that stopped me was the day a new 2nd Lt cam in the mobile shop and asked to have a Cam Shaft made for a Budda Diesel Generator. He said that Supply did not have one and the generator was not running right. I had quite a time explaining that we did not have the machinery to make one. I'm still not sure he believed me, but after a while he gave up and went away. Yes, we did repair a lot of equipment, but that one stopped us.

Edwin H. Tate
Gysgt (Ret)

Nasty Chore
Sgt. Grit,
I served with 1st Platoon "Golf" Company 2/1 Marines in Vietnam 1966-67. One of the chores in those days was sanitizing the outhouse. Now a days Marines in the field are usually blessed with port-o-lets. These old structures were erected over a large hole (8'x8'x 4' deep). The structure consisted of a 2x4 and plywood floor with plywood 4' up the wall with the upper 4' of the wall being screen wire. Over the top was a tin or plywood roof. These structures were a luxury compared to digging a hole with your e-tool in the rice paddies or jungle floor.

During the Fall of 1966 we got duty as security on the bridge crossing the river on Hwy 1 just south of DaNang about 12 miles. This was skating duty compared to the patrols, ambushes, & operations that Marine grunts usually carry out. All we had to do was check the Vietnamese civilians ID cards and check their packages before they crossed to make sure they had no explosives to blow the bridge. At night we guarded against attempts by the NVA & Viet-Cong to blow the bridge. We even had hootches to sleep in when we were off duty for the night. One morning just as I woke in my hootch here come Sgt.Bonners yelling & screaming for me to burn out the st-thouse (outhouse) that morning. Some Marines are lucky enough to get mess duty, fill sandbags, or stretch barbwire. But anytime there was a nasty chore to be done Sgt.Bonners always made sure I got stuck with it. And burning out the outhouse was as nasty as they come.

In combat, stress builds up in a Marine over a period of days or weeks. At some point Marines would have to blow off this steam or stress. This was one of those days. I quickly stood at attention facing Sgt.Bonners and yelled back "Aye aye Sgt.Bonners, I'll take care of your sh-thouse". I ask a Buddy of mine named Hannah to give me a hand with this nasty chore. Normally the procedure was to take a 5 gallon can of gas and burn one gallon at a time in the hole under the outhouse until all 5 gallons had burned. This procedure supposedly sanitizes the out house. This particular morning Sgt.Bonners got on my bad side. I was determined to put his precious outhouse into orbit. This outhouse had eight holes with spring loaded plywood lids over each hole. Usually you opened up all eight holes when you burn the gallon of gas to keep it from exploding. Not this morning though. I told Hannah to pour in all 5 gallons of gas at once. And then to close all eight lids over the holes. Hannah looked at me and said "Are you sure?" I said d*mn right, I'm putting this thing into orbit today. This will be the last time I ever have this nasty detail.

When we got this thing fueled up ready to go I ask Hannah to just open one lid just enough that I could chunk a match in it. I told Hannah to run like h&ll after throwing in the match. Man this thing, when it went off, was like an F-4 Phantom with the after burners kicked in. WHOOM< WHOOM< WHOOM< it went! And with every WHOOM the lids would blow open belching out big balls of fire. Why you could hear this thing trying to take off for a mile away.

Unfortunately there were two Marines (Goodbalot & Sheridan) on the roof putting down plastic to stop leaks when it rained. Flames boiled out the screen walls all the way around the structure and went another 4' or 5' up in the air over the roof. Fearing this thing was about to leave earth, Goodbalot & Sheridan jumped for the ground below. One of them twisted an ankle. Needless to say all this got the attention of Sgt.Bonners. He was right in my face yelling & screaming that he was having me wrote up on Office Hours. So staying in step with him all the way we marched to the CP bunker where S/Sgt.Daclison was on duty. I had been in the Corps a little less than a year. And my record was clean until now.

With me standing at attention in front of S/Sgt.Daclison, Sgt.Bonners started telling about my dastardly deed. When he was finally finished S/Sgt.Daclison told him to return to his duties and that he would take care of it. Now with Sgt.Bonners gone I was bracing for the worse. S/Sgt.Daclison sat there looking at the smoldering outhouse. He had witnessed the whole event from his field desk in the CP bunker. He ask me what the h&ll happened? I told him that things kinda got out of hand. Soon he started to smile and then started laughing real hard. I just knew he was going to throw the book at me.

Now he looked at me and to my surprise said L/Cpl.Gatlin go on about your duty. He continued to tell me that Sgt.Bonners could not proceed with the Office Hours without his signature. That he was not signing anything against me. As I was leaving the CP bunker S/Sgt.Daclison said that was the funniest thing he had saw since being in country. The outhouse didn't go into orbit. But it did have the burn marks to prove I had been there. That was the last time I ever had to burn out the outhouse. S/Sgt.Daclison died in 1999 in Hawaii. I really miss him. And I cherish his memory.
Semper Fidelis,
Sgt.Maddog Gatlin U.S.M.C.

Didn't Recognize A Thing
my motor home with the EGA and bulldog on the back of it You have been kind enough to post a picture of my wife and my motor home with the EGA and bulldog on the back of it. This logo has been seen by many in the last six months of traveling the western United States. I've had nothing but positive responses from motorists and campers alike in the many campgrounds we've stopped at. The number of Marines, young and old, I've ran across has been mind staggering. I've had the pleasure to meet 4 Viet Nam fighter and chopper pilots(F-4's/Hueys) in our current travels. I thanked each one for covering my backside while in Viet Nam. More than once, I watched them fly over us doing bombing or scraping missions. I didn't realize that you could read serial numbers on the bottom of their wings at those speeds. I asked them why they flew that low over us. All replied, When our boys were in trouble, we would land on top of you guys to get you out of trouble. They all went on to be commercial airline pilots and have since retired. One even had a super 8mm movie camera attached to his cockpit while doing bombing runs. He had it converted to a DVD and I got to watch it, this was in an area I was on the ground. Needless to say, I told him I didn't recognize a thing from air. He laughed and said he wouldn't recognize a thing from the ground.

I wish to extend a happy greeting to all current and former Marines for the holidays.
The brotherhood lives on with Marines of all mos's and ages.
Former Sgt Fritz McDowell

P.S. Maybe we could get a few stories from the Marine flyboys.

Letting Me Vent

It has been 10 years since I finished my enlistment in God’s Corps, my father was a Green Beret in Vietnam. All I hear is crap from him about how the Army is so much better then the Corps. Usually I just ignore him, but he asked me if I knew what sh!t sounded like when it hit the fan? Marine. Being the tactful Marine that I am I had to answer him and say do you know what Army stands for? Ain’t Ready For Marines Yet, so when you are ready to play LETS GO!

Thanks for letting me vent a little,


New Zealand
Dear Sgt Grit,
I read the letter commenting on the Marines in New Zealand, at the same base as my father was, Pikockariki, and I asked my father about it when he came over for coffee.

He sat for a moment, then he slowly smiled," Wonder if he was in on the Great Train Robbery" he said, and proceeded to tell me about the time that several hundred Marines, in a desire to get back to their base before being marked UA, helped themselves to a train, when the crew took time off for tea.

This comment, of course, brought out a load of memories that had us all laughing, such as the use of Marines to unload ships when the NZ longshoremen went on strike, and the sad loss of a great deal of butter right off the end of the dock, along with the equipment used to move it. When complaints were lodged, my father said a gunny, with a very bald head and a handlebar mustache stood up and bellowed, "H&ll son, we're fighters, you got something that needs killing, no problem, but don't come whining to us when we're doing your job, so we can do ours!" My father said his time there was wonderful, but he did have a few problems during the "Battle of Wellington" when some of the natives came home to find that their girls were stepping out with Marines, and the fight lasted for quite a while.

My father went on from there to several islands in the Pacific, ending up in the Marianas where he spent nearly 29 months, before moving on. He said those of his unit that survived, were living textbooks for military doctors to learn about Dengue Fever, Malaria, and several nasty forms of skin infections when they got back stateside.

That letter brought up a great many good memories for my father, who rarely talks about his experiences.

Glynis Sakowicz, retired Marine, daughter of same, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of same as well.

Now Serving
I am a VietNam Marine veteran with a Bronze star and 2 Purple Hearts. I was a scout sniper in VietNam. Nothing I did or could do will ever match up to the brave men and women now serving. I pray every night for them and their families. I know how much my family missed me during my service. My kid brother also served in VietNam. Our youngest brother served as a Naval officer on an aircraft carrier. God Bless you all, Semper Fi!
Sgt. Mike Kelly, USMC

Was More Important
How many of you kept that C-rat opener around your neck on your dog tag chain?
That little d*mn thing was more important than what was in the rations.
I kept mine for several years after I got out in '56. As far as my favorite ration...beans and franks by far. Plus, those four-packs of butts that were in each of those old packages.
Semper Fi,
Bob Rader Sgt '53-'56

It Was 0400
Our Marine, LCpl Adam Cole called from Maine on his way home from Afghanistan. This was our warning order to get in the wind. It was 1630 on Sunday. We drove from Phoenix to "The Stumps" in 4.5 hours and the waiting began. The band played, the coffee kept coming and it grew colder as the evening and then the morning came. Finally 2/7 Fox company, led by their Captain, marched onto the field. We couldn't see Adam in the first pass, but after they entered the field there he was; broad shouldered and strong. I positioned my former sailor wife right behind our son and when the "dismissed" command came and he about-faced he was right in his mom's hug - it was 0400. The long wait was well worth seeing all those great Marines come home. All the families and friends gathered around to welcome them and hug them. I know it's been said before, but this was a lot better than when we came home from 'Nam . . . I lov