A few years ago, I was at a black tie fund raiser. My personal doctor was there and he introduced me to another doctor. He said that they met in hospital corps school.

Without our knowledge another Marine overheard our conversation & he brought 4 beers to the Doc's table. He announced that anyone can become a doctor but very few can be a Doc.

Dick Haley
HMM363 RVN 67-68

Photo Caption Contest Winners

We had some GREAT caption entries for our first contest and we couldn't choose just one winner - so we picked 11!

Those who submitted the winning captions (below) will be receiving a free poster with their caption included.

They are also available to order for any who are interested:

In the event that the same caption was submitted by different people, the person who sent it in first is the winner.

caption photo

Caption #1 - Sam C.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. - George Orwell
Caption #2 - Terry F.
Chesty said there would be days like these!
Caption #3 Keith W.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil for I am a U.S. Marine!
Caption #4 - Donald W.
Not on My Watch
Caption #5 - Jeremy C.
Every Clime and Place
Caption #6 - Daniel D.
The Calm Before The Storm
Caption #7 - Roger W.
Caption #8 - Mike L.
I only worry about my front because my buddies got my back.
Caption #9 - Joel C.
Courage is being able to look into the unknown, then take a giant step forward.
Caption #10 - Tom C.
Pucker Factor
Caption #11 - Kristy F.

Bet Your Sweet A$S

Sgt Grit,
Then just last week, in a restraint I saw an older man wearing a cover that said, Iwo Jima Survivor, he was just leaving with a younger lady helping him along, he walked with a walker. I approached him and asked if he was a Marine. With a twinkle in his old eyes, he replied, "you bet your sweet *ss I am". Coulda knocked me out. We had a talk and then he turned to leave. His daughter told me how grateful she was that I had talked to him, she said he would tell the story for weeks to anyone who would listen. Geeeezzzzz, What a great brotherhood we belong to.

On Nov 10th, our Birthday I was traveling up to Maine for the annual hunting trip. I pulled into a rest stop to use the head and grab a bit of chow. I was driving my old 90 Dodge Ramcharger, that has the Marine Corps emblems on each door, and the usual Sgt Grit stickers on the rear window.

When I returned to my truck there was a handwritten note under the wiper blade. It said "Semper Fi Marine" and was signed, Marine Mom of a serving Iraq Marine. Wow, made my day.

Former Sgt of Marines, Art Caesar 59-65

Gunny's Wrath

Slap firing, while never condoned was a right of passage for most #1's, as was slapping grease on the tube {on the pig}. You had to be quick and pay close attention to what was going on. Never did it during a dog and pony, but it happened more than we care to recall, even with the then new M-198 in Beirut. Those with the job know what the deal is and that they can get the Gunny's wrath if caught.

Reply to: "Major Steed"

In response to J.T. Marvel's inquiry about Major B.C. Steed, I had the privilege of serving for Colonel B.C. Steed at the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, Ca. I checked in to the Landing Force Training Command, Pacific (LFTCPAC) in May 1994 and was there for the transition to Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific (EWTGPAC) in early 1995. I don't remember the date he checked in, but you could feel the change within the command element. I was privileged enough to be promoted to Sergeant by Colonel Steed on 01 March 1995, his guidance to this newly promoted Sergeant of Marines was quite simple, "Don't let me down". All the rumors and stories were rampant at the command during his time there, as you stated in your letter:

"He had completed every single Marine Correspondence course, he had been in Vietnam, no it was Korea, and he still ran a 300 pft. He was Chesty's long lost son. He had been a NCO in Vietnam, got a battlefield commission, therefore he could not go above the rank of Major. I think I saw step in a mud hole in P.I. one time and the water parted." None of which did I dare ask about during my time serving for him. However his demeanor and professionalism made you want to succeed in whatever mission or task you had at that time, the Marines around him simply didn't want to disappoint him for any reason.

Being at the school house we executed our live fire training at 29 Palms and I do remember his first visit to the hill to observe the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) shoot. The helo's landed and the students clamored to their places to begin their daily requirements, but one individual took his time and had a certain swagger in his step as he left the airframe. He wasn't moving with a sense of urgency as the others were, but he was moving with a purpose. Colonel Steed walked right up to the vehicle where I was at with the radios and asked which one was on the air net, I was surprised to see him there, to say the least, and I could only manage to spit out, "This one, sir" as I passed the handset along. He gave that young pilot a short yet motivating message about how that was the smoothest landing he had experienced in quite some time and thanked him for his service. From there he was off to find a spot to observe the north and south impact areas for the day's events. I brought the Colonel a helmet and flak jacket as it was not uncommon for visitors to arrive without them, he looked at them, thanked me, and set them on the ground in front of his field chair. When the first aircraft checked in and ran through its normal procedures the ordnance hit the target, steel on steel. Colonel Steed raised his arms like an NFL official and simply said, "Touchdown". The young Corporal communicator and I couldn't hold it any more, here is the Colonel, sitting on the hill, with his feet up on a stacked helmet and flak jacket, calling "Touchdown" whenever aviation ordnance hit the target. We had to go around the side of the vehicle and have a good laugh at the situation.

I believe I have a photo or two of him with his arms up and the explosion in the background at my home, but I won't be able to get to any of that until I return from my current deployment. I couldn't agree with you more about his leadership style. He displayed an uncanny ability to bring certain calm to an otherwise chaotic situation, just being in his presence made you feel as if you could take on any mission and you would succeed. His ability to guide and direct without being judgmental or micromanaging is a trait I've tried to emulate throughout my career. As I can only hope and try to continue to carry on with the legacy he left behind.

As for the Colonels whereabouts, the last I heard, when I left Coronado in June 1998, was Colonel Steed had retired and was residing in the San Diego area, rumor has it he owns and operates a Limo service, but you know how it goes with rumors. I hope this at least points you in the right direction.

Semper Fi
CWO2 J.D. Crites
Camp Fallujah, Iraq

Soon To Be Corporal

Hello Sgt Grit,

Love your website, your catalog and your newsletter.

I'd like to share a story.

I was a Cpl. Just arrived to Camp Horno at Pendleton. The battalion was 1/4, and shortly after my arrival redesignated to 2/1. I eventually became roomies with two other Cpl's in my unit, we shared a BEQ room. (Wpns Co. Dragon Plt.) I cannot for the life of me remember one of their names, but I DO remember that he was from Minnesota and was a FANATIC about snowmobile racing, the other...well, I'll get to his name later. I shared many good times and forgettable times with these guys, but there's one that I'll detail here.

When I have to sit and think about it I can say there indeed was one Marine I looked up to, but he wasn't one of my DI's, or a Plt Sgt., or ANY SNCO or Officer AT ALL! It was this soon to be named Cpl. I can remember when the night before our company was having a PFT my roomie Cpl and several other Marines were....um..."celebrating"... and when morning came this Cpl had completed his 20 pull-ups for a perfect score on his PFT all with a BROKEN HAND! and trust me, nobody but a few of us knew his hand was broken.

Does this tell you what kind of Devil Dog he was? He is the one I admired and looked up to. I knew him as Cpl Kasal. To others who might recognize the name he is SgtMaj. Kasal, recipient of the Navy Cross (why not the MOH is beyond me) and subject of a History Channel documentary about his heroism in Iraq. He also has a book out about the same topic. He was, is, my generations "Chesty"!

David Sheetz
USMC '84-'91

Greasiest Nastiest Thing

Dear Sgt Grit,

This time of year always brings back special feelings for me. I recall some fellow Marines and think of a special Christmas dinner we shared in the desert a few years ago during the first Persian Excursion. HQ Btry/2/10 we were in the staging area at a place called Al Jabial (Spelling?)

We all chipped in to buy roasted chickens from a local hadji. We each ended up with a entire half of the greasiest nastiest thing that could resemble a chicken, and proceeded to devour them with no forks or knives. Of course we had no napkins except our cammies. Being in the desert in this situation you can imagine how much sand we got with our chicken.

I still remember sitting with Cpl. Olguin and Sgt Bradford that day swallowing that greasy nasty bird, and feeling that we were in heaven for a few minutes.

No matter how old I get or where I have been in the world Christmas always brings back that day to me, and those memories of those two great guys. Those are two men I would have gladly died for, and I feel that they would have said the same. I miss them both and I hope that if they by chance read this I'll hear from them.

SSgt Jerry L. Johnson
USMC 1984-1997

Truth Be Known


I've had this one for a while, as you can see.

5thCommBn (yes, patch is on your great site)
RVN - May65-Dec66

Thanks for doing what you do.....we all benefit from it, and if the truth be known, it's most likely the smiles and tears 5th Comm Bn Patch more than the really cool stuff we can flaunt!

Semper Fi,
GPowell - Washington, DC

Give Us A Break

Hi Sgt., I just read your story on the Chosin Res. and noted you forgot the 1st Marines. I was with G/3/1 and was in that campaign also. All the books you read you would think the 5th Marines won the war. Read about Operation Drysdale and Capt. Carl Sitter MOH. Not only were we in one of the first fights but I was on the last tank up to the bridge going out. If 3/1 did not hold Hagaru no one would have gotten out. Give us a brake.
Tom Powers USMC 48 to 56

About 15 Nips

Reading the Christmas letters reminded me of one of my Christmas' in Nam. I think it was 68 although it could have been 69. My new FO had arrived, 2nd Lt Joe Robinson, a h&ll of a Marine form North Carolina. I am from the Boston area and he told me that he married a girl from just north of Boston. Anyway during the later part of Nov I had received a three pound can of ham in the mail. I vowed to carry it around with me until Christmas. Lt Robinson and my good friend Rick Morton from Detroit happened to be on a mountain top somewhere in western Nam. Lt Robinson had received a care package from his mother and inside were about 15 nips of Jack Daniels. On top of this mountain from no where we found an old Russian helmet. We scrubbed that thing out, put the ham inside, added pineapple bits and fruit cocktail from the c-rats and heated it up with C-4. Between the ham and the JD it was one of the most memorable Christmas' the three of us ever had. Oh Yea, the JD is still flowing!

Semper Fi
Happy Holidays
Jim aka "Tiny" Gauthier

First Salute

Sgt. Grit

I am attaching a picture of my son receiving his first salute from his little sister. She is a Corpsman at the Naval hospital at Camp Pendleton with 4 years in and a tour in the Sand Box under her belt.

Salute from Sister He is now with the 6th Marines, 2nd Mar Div, the same Regiment I started in when I got to the FMF in '75.

You and your readers can probably imagine how proud I was to see this event unfold. I was surprised to see how well this picture came out since I could barely see through the viewfinder as my eyeballs were sweating at the time. I can never find the right words to express how proud I am but like I said earlier, you can probably imagine.

Thanks for your newsletter and website, Semper Fidelis,
One More Proud Pop

Franz "SONNY" Creutzburg

Then You Come Back

Always read your mail Sgt Grit.
My son is a Tattoo artist so I check out the tats. He called me one day and says Dad can you believe someone came in the shop today for Eagle, Globe and Anchor. Coming from a family of Marines Wade says sure, let me see your ID. The kid says well I joined but I don't go to Boot Camp for a couple of months. His answer was well let me tell you just don't walk in here ask for a Marine Corps Tattoo and get it. You go to Boot Camp, you earn the title of Marine, then you come back and show me your ID. Then we do the Tattoo. When I joined, a Marine Tattoo in Boot Camp ya might not have made it. In fact I don't think you would have.
Merry Christmas to all Marines active inactive and retired and their families. My prayers go out to each and everyone. And a safe return for our brothers and the families that stand beside. They are in good hands with their Marine Brothers.

Semper Fi
W.R. Elder GySgt
Ps anyone miss Bob Hope?

To Scale

Sgt. Grit:

Just thought my fellow jarheads would enjoy this. The tribal with the incorporated Ka-Bar is of my own design. The Ka-Bar is tattooed EXACTLY to scale . . . I made sure of this! You can also see SEMPER FI down the tricep on my right arm. I also have a tattoo of a Bald Eagle's head with "USMC" underneath it on my left shoulder . . . will send photo of that one later. More to come - - still want an EGA somewhere!

Kabar 'to scale' Tattoo Sgt. Derek Holmen

No Other Truck Behind

Sgt Grit,
I wanted to send in this funny Christmas-related story even though its a bit late for your Christmas Newsletter.

During my first tour in Beirut, for a Christmas treat, the Los Angelos Rams cheerleaders (Anaheim Rams then I believe) visited and were putting on a show for us. I forget now where it was held in Beirut, but I vividly recalled that we were trucked there in six-bys. During the ride over, a SSGT from Tennessee, (I forget his name now, but d*mn he was funny), anyhow, this SSGT had to pee. So, as any good Marine is taught to do - he improvised and knelt down at the rear of the truck near the tail-gate and undid his fly to relieve himself. He made sure he carefully aimed in the opening between the hinge-points of the drop-down gate and of course, the pee-stream jettisoned back behind the truck which was probably traveling about 30 mph. Well, because we were tail-end Charlie, no other truck was behind us....but a Lebanese civilian was! This poor son of a gun probably had no idea what was splashing his car, but when we saw his wipers come on and spread the yellow mist across his windshield we all cracked up laughing and encouraged the good SSGT to keep peeing!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all and God bless our brothers and sisters in Iraq! Keep, safe, have as enjoyable a Christmas as you possibly can and know that we here at home think about all of you always! Keep up the fight! Semper Fi!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt

.50 Cent Piece

Sgt. Grit,
I have been reading the newsletter for some time now. I really enjoy it. I went thru boot camp in 1984. 3rd battalion "I" company, platoon 3098. I have a story I would like to share. I was 18, married and a baby on the way. The baby was due around the 15th of Oct. 3 days after graduation. Two days before graduation day, Oct 10th, when parents were walking around, we hit the "pits" to do some showing off. We had hit the same pit many, many times during our training. We had already done many exercises before we got to the push ups. I was doing pushups and as I went down, I spotted a silver coin in the sand. When we went thru boot camp, we weren't allowed to have any money so I thought it was kinda weird that it was there. I picked it up and it was a 1984 .50 cent piece. I put it in my pocket, and as we were marching to chow, my drill instructor informed the platoon my son had been born earlier that day. It ended up being around the same time we were in the pit and that I found the coin. To this day, I have the .50 cent piece along with his I.D. bracelet from the hospital kept together. One day I will pass it along to my son.

Jerry Schmitt
84 to 88

Good God

Sgt. Grit,
One moment in my life that I will never forget was on a trip from my duty station at the Marine Barracks Bangor Washington. I was on my way home for Thanksgiving and was meeting my family in Salt Lake Utah. I was wearing my dress blues and the plane landed and we disembarked from the plane on the tarmac and walked into the terminal. Normally everyone is greeting each other and talking and as I stepped through the door my 6'4" frame filled the space for a moment and EVERYONE at the gate had stopped as I walked into the building. My Uncle, who had not seen me in 10 years, blurted out "good God." Everyone started clapping as I walked up to him. He must have expected the little kid that he remembered to walk through that door and not one of our countries finest. I later found out that he knew that I had joined the military but had no idea that I am a Marine. Now that I am disabled and can no longer wear my uniform, I miss representing the Corps and my country in uniform. May God Bless all of our service men and women as they continue the fight for the freedoms that we all hold dear.

L/Cpl Will Walker

25% off HUGE After Christmas Sale

After Christmas Sale

We have a huge selection of outstanding Marine Corps items on sale. Put those gift cards to good use!

25% Off Items

6th Marine Division Reunion

Sarge, thanks for the Christmas Greeting. Same to you and yours.

Check out 6th Marine Division Official Web Site. WWII U.S. Marines.

Go to "Newsletter" and see Page 1 re Sixth Division Reunion -2007 in Oklahoma City.

I look forward to meeting you.

Semper Fi
Dick Whitake F-2-29
SIXTH Mar Div.

Along With A With

The cookie story in the last letter brought back memories. I received a package of toll house cookies at P.I. in 56. The D.I. stuffed them all in my mouth and told me to sing the Marines Hymn along with a couple whacks from his swagger stick. A week later I received another package from my girlfriend stating your mother said you love toll house cookies. It has been over fifty years and have never ate another toll house cookie. P.S. Does anyone remember having to sew the front pockets of their dress pants so they could not put there hands in the pockets?
Sgt. Perry 56-58

155mm Sound Off

Sgt Grit,
I was in a small unit, after landing in Da Nang I has never heard of them before, being a 3051 MOS, I thought well heck I be working in a warehouse somewhere, well it didn't turn out that way. I was assigned to 3rd Shore party Bn C Co in Dong Ha working the LZ. There I learned how to air lift supplies up to Feb 18th 1968, when I got orders to be transferred to A Co in Khe Sanh.

In December of 1967 I also went on one HST Team for two weeks, with 3/4 up to Con Tien spent one day in a bunker listening to a 155mm sound off all night. We airlifted out of there next day to the Trace and where we stayed during the cease fire. They sent me and my radio man a Navy bag with 2 -6 packs of warm beer. No hot food, it was raining and everything was wet, about 2 hours before the cease fire was over a round came in and went over our heads, to say hi there! The war is on!

I saw my first dead Marine on that trip, had to medevac out a man who stepped on a land mine, and all that was left was from his waist up, as went to put him on the chopper he rolled out of the poncho liner, I had to roll him back into it and put him on the chopper. What surprised me was the chopper was a 34 that they used in Korea.

It's a whole other story of Khe Sanh, I worked the LZ up there, airlifting supplies to the hills. They called it the 'impact zone' because it was zeroed in by artillery. Anyways Sgt Grit, ya all have a great Christmas, and lets support and help the troops coming home from Iraq,

CPL. J, Howell 3rd Shore Party BN. A Co. The DMZ, Con Tien, Quang Tri, Dong Ha, Khe Sanh, Da Nang (FLC), Phu Bai, Qua Viet River. MCRD Plt 2095, Aug 1967.

Legend To Buy The Farm

Back in 1983, I was a Marine serving with the MarDet on the carrier John F. Kennedy CV-67. We were off the coast of Beirut supporting the efforts on shore. In October, the Corps suffered the bombing at the airport. On December 4th, we lost eight Marines and Lt. Mark Lange from our carrier in action. He was a fantastic officer. Lt. Robert Goodman was being held POW by the enemy. On the 7th, my buddies and I carried the remains of Lt. Lange to our medical department so we were pretty bummed out by then. We were p!ssed off and felt frustrated at not being able to identify a clear enemy to destroy.

We had limited liberty during those long months. Bob Hope did his Christmas show that year from Beirut. I never saw the show they aired on TV but my mother did. I did see a clip from it where Bob Hope is sitting in a bunker at the airport with nervous Marines around him. I think they were under some mortar and rifle fire outside. I recall that Bob said that it was too dangerous to do the show on shore so they had to do it on one of the ships off shore. I think he had a helmet and flak jacket on. There were nervous Marines around him. I laughed because they seemed to be thinking that they were going to be the fools who allowed this legend to buy the farm. I believe they had to keep their gear on the USS Guam.

We rotated Marines out to sea to watch the shows. I believe they did a few of them. Anyway, they did the show on our ship. Brooke Shields was part of the show along with Ann Jilian, Vic Damone, Cathy Lee Crosby, George Kirby and Miss USA Julie Hayek. When they arrived with their gear, it appeared that some Marines had somehow acquired Brooke Shields clothes. We were told that she could not find them anywhere. The usual jokes went around. She went on stage wearing a navy Khaki shirt, high heal shoes and stockings. The shirt hardly covered her rear end. The stage was elevated about six feet high. Her mother was standing by the side of the stage. I found myself positioned right under her performance. My buddy was right there with his 35mm camera and it was pointing right up. All of the sailors and Marines around him were saying things like, "I want copies of those shots man!" I think he made a mint later. You really could not see anything but her stockings but we later teased the guys who were in the back of the crowd with phony stories of what we saw.

Anyway, when she walked off stage, her mother started snapping at her. I was sort of surprised. She then smacked her in the *ss as she walked by her. Something about her image being ruined. Not for us. Bob did his routine and afterwards, we gave him a camouflaged golf club that said "Beirut Country Club" on it. It was a good break from the conflict. I wish I could get a copy of that show. Some of the men who were there did not survive the remaining few months and I pray for them each day. I'm happy that they got to see that show and I hope some of them were standing near me and got to see it from my angle.

Mike Sinclair, Brooklyn NY
MarDet CV-67 May 82-Sept 84
Wpns. Plt. I. Co. 3/4 Sept 84-Oct 85

We Can Still Party All Night

I just wanted to reply to the opinion of a supposed "old Corps Marine", Michael Laemmle, e-4 in the Marines (yes that's a put-down) 61-65.

While I agree that bestowing the title MARINE should be reserved for the parade deck at graduation, I really take exception to his idea that today's Marines are a bunch of candya$$'s compared to when he went thru boot camp and served.

I went to MCRD San Diego in January of 1995 and wondered if I could really call myself a Marine when standing next to a WWII, Korea, or Vietnam combat Marine. And after I served in Iraq I feel that I can and the Marines of today can also. Today's Marine is carrying on the traditions and the war fighting lore of our beloved Corps, and is doing it well.

Every new generation of the Marine Corps is a little different than the generation before, but by no means is the Marine Corps in the sorry shape that e-4 Laemmle thinks it is. We can still party all night and PT all day and anything else the 1stSgt can think of.

I hope that you didn't make your son feel that he wasn't worthy of being a Marine in your eyes. Because when he comes home with a Combat Action Ribbon he'll know that you are the one that doesn't rate. I once had a Marine from the late 50's berate me for being a "Hollywood" Marine, when I asked him how many Combat Action Ribbons he had he promptly shut up and realized what he'd said. I still stand in awe of the Marines that served in the wars before mine, and am humbled in their presence. They are the reason I joined the Marines and are my heroes still. I am equally proud of the Marines I served with in peacetime and in combat.

You said in your letter that it was just the opinion of an OLD CORPS MARINE. Well, in the opinion of a COMBAT MARINE, you're an a$$hole.

Semper Fi
SSGT Ernie Scherman
1371 1995-1999
3rd CEB, 2d CEB
0311/0369 2002-2006
3rd Bn 24th Marines, Lima co
Operation Iraqi Freedom 2004

If you want to find out about hard core Marines, find out who PFC Ron Coker, CPL Larry Maxam, and CPL Jason Dunham are. The first two were in Vietnam, the third in Iraq.

Ability To Shoot

Sgt. Grit, Expert Tattoo

It took me quite a few years to determine what I wanted as a USMC tattoo. I served my country for over 4 years and was honorably discharged after breaking my back in two places. The one thing that I loved about the Corps was the ability to shoot. I earned my 4th Award Expert badge so this tattoo was fitting.

L/Cpl Walker

Look Of Disgust

Concerning J.T. Marvel Question about Major Steed. I also served in 2/3. I checked in to the battalion in jan.1980. I was a boot, but had spent a few months in 3/2 at Lejeune. So when the S1 lieut asked our newbie group "anyone have a jeep license? I was the only sap to raise my hand. Good, he says, your now the xo's jeep driver. square yourself and report to him! Major Steed was indeed one of the most squared away Marines ever. He wasn't a loud mouth, actually somewhat quiet, but his look alone could melt the wicked witch of the east. He pretty much frightened the h&ll out of me by his gaze. I remember being at the motor pool at KBay, Doing touchup painting on his jeep. Next thing I know there he is. I pop to attention, still holding a paint brush. As I report, He gazes down, Then with a look of disgust, walks away. My paintbrush was dripping paint all over my boots. I felt like a complete ditz. Semper fi major. You too Cpl.Marvel, I didn't know you well, but I remember you also!
G.Mckruit H&S and Golf 2/3. 79-83

Better Than Frozen C-Rats

My most memorable Christmas was in 1950. I was being transported by train from Yokuska Naval Hospital, Japan, to Otsu, Japan, Casual Company. Recovering from wounds received coming out of Chosin. Missed out on both lunch and Christmas dinner. Either way, it was better than frozen C-Rats.
M.R. Norton

Wish Me A Merry Christmas

Sgt Grit,

I remember Christmas 1969 well. I arrived at DaNang on Christmas Eve on a Continental Airlines flight and was put in a holding barracks somewhere. We were told we would be sent out to our units the next day. We weren't issued weapons and most of us were pretty nervous as there seemed to be sporadic gunfire happening all night. In retrospect it was probably celebratory gunfire as we learned that the Vietnamese loved to shoot off a few rounds during holiday celebrations.

The next day, still with no weapons I was shuttled out to Hill 55 and the First Marines where I arrived just in time for Christmas chow in a field kitchen. It was raining and cold and most of the grunts were wearing ponchos looking like something out of a Korean war movie instead of Vietnam.

I'm sure me and the others stood out as FNGs because we were wearing clean stateside utilities instead of the Vietnam jungle Utes. The Grunts were looking at us strangely. I remember a Colonel came up and wished me a Merry Christmas and told me to get in line for Turkey and trimmings. The rest is a blur. I eventually made my way to First Battalion and was finally issued a weapon that night only because some Corporal said we might get hit. We weren't but I was in the "war" and the rest as they say is history.

Jesse Brown
1/1 Vietnam 69-70

Gen Al Gray

Sgt. Grit,

I enjoy reading your newsletter very much. I just read the note about the young lady who was going home for Christmas but couldn't make a connection to get to Houston. When she said the older gentleman who offered her a ride was General Al Gray, it brought back some good memories of the General when he was Captain Al Gray. He was our operations officer for 1st Composite Radio Co. in Hawaii in about 1959-1961. That is something he would do because he was a down to earth guy. He played sports with us at the company and always allowed a couple of days layover in Japan when we were TAD. He was a great man and served our Corps with the greatest distinction.

L/CPL Harold Beasley

Bowed His Head

Sgt Grit
Again I want to thank you for the newsletters an hearing real life stories bout my fellow Marines. I work part time at a hardware store in my town and I run into former and active Marines all the time, last week while helping an older than I gentlemen find parts he needed I had not noticed his hat that he was wearing but when the man bent down in front of me I could see massive scares on the back of his head an when he stood back up I noticed the Vietnam service cap an ribbons and of course the Eagle Globe and Anchor pin he started to say something but all I could do was proudly say Semper Fi Brother. He bowed his head for a moment an straightened up an responded "Ooo Rah" he then told me he had done two tours in nam an started to cry as he shook my hand then gave me a hug.

He asked when I served. I told him 80 to 84 an said I had not seen combat in my time active. I expected he would just drop service talk and continue with shopping for parts but he said to me" We are all brothers of a different breed but we all fight the same fight no matter what we did in Corps". The rest of the day seemed dull compared to his words an made me feel proud to be able to carry the name Marine.

Semper Fi Brothers an Sisters
Active or Nonactive
K Turkington

Fallen Down

Sgt Grit,
When I read Cpl Epps story about all the things that were stolen from him it reminded me of the squadron (I was an airdale) at MCAS Cherry Point. I was in that squadron from about Oct. 1960 to about Oct. 1962. We had a thief in our barracks, several things were stolen, including money. When our Sgt. Major heard of it he called all the troops together that lived in the barracks and informed us that if anybody caught the thief he first would come before him, and he expected the thief to have fallen down the steps "several" times before he saw him. Then he would be taken to our Commanding Officer. Guess what the problem went away, no one reported anything stolen again. So there is a way to handle things. I've got more stories, but for a latter time.

Cpl of Marines Bob R. Jan 1960 - Dec 1963
Once a Marine, always a Marine, Semper Fi

General Al Gray

Just a few weeks ago, I was in Korea. As a Korean vet, I (and a number of others) was invited back as a guest of the Korean Veterans Association. The senior Marine for this week was General Al Gray. We chatted a number of times, and I was reminded that as Commandant he drank his coffee from a canteen cup. He told me he had a number of canteen cups, but his favorite was a camouflage decorated one!

The General paid tribute to both the United States military who died in the war, but also at the Korean National Cemetery. We were there over November 10 and attended one of the finest Marine Corps Birthday Balls ever! General Gray, dressed in his cammy blazer, spoke to the attendees. He strolled as he spoke, never referring to notes.

I suspect that the story of him giving the girl a ride in the aircraft occurred shortly after the above described Korean adventure.

James Murphy
Mustang, Marine Engineer
Major retired.

But A Statement

Sgt. Grit,
After reading all those interesting stories, I felt compelled to add my few words. Long ago, during WW-2, I read about the saga unfolding at Wake Island. I was 10 years old at the time. Well that was the reason for me to join The Marine Corps when I came of age. Then in June, 1949 I enlisted in the Marines and was sent to Parris Island (an experience I'll never forget). After 14 weeks of Boot Camp my platoon #32 graduated as an" Honor Platoon".

After a number of different assignments, this is when Korea broke out, I requested Korean duty four times. The fourth time I requested, the Co, Major Ellis said to me that "I don't want to see you face here again. We can't send everyone there, someone has to stay back and train new Marines coming in, so You're being transferred to San Diego to DI School. That was the best job I ever had. I stayed a DI until the date of my discharge in 1952.

Now years later, as I went through the airport security I was signaled over for a "shake-down". As I stepped up on a small stool the security person said to me "You were in the Marines". It wasn't a question but a statement. At 75 years old at that time, it still shows. I think it was the spit shined shoes.

Anyway, to get to the present. I'm now 77 and I was walking alone down a street when I noticed two young men fall in behind me. I thought "I'm in for it now". I was wearing my USMC baseball hat, and I sharpened by stride and assumed the military cadence. They kept following and closed on me at which time I stopped, turned around and gave them my hardest Drill Instructor look. They immediately crossed the street and walked away. That was almost as good as being back in the Corps, Semper-Fi and Gung Ho (the "Old Corps cry".)

Sgt. Ken Fahringer, USMCR

About Face

I need to clarify a point: "Once a Marine always a Marine" is not always correct. I was CO of an engineer company (Camp Talega, Camp Pendleton) when the 1stSgt told me of a man coming out of the brig with a BCD. I had the Gunny form the company. The soon-to-be ex Marine got out of the jeep. I approached him, and with a very sharp knife removed any reference to the Corps from his clothing. At my word, the Gunny gave the order: "About face." The troops turned their back on the man; he was loaded back into the jeep and driven to the Christianitos gate and removed from the base. That, my friend, is an exMarine! The rest of us can stand proud!

James Murphy
Mustang, Marine Engineer
Major retired.

Question And Answer Session

During vets day recently, I was invited to speak before the middle school kids along with an Army Blackhawk pilot. I was the first to speak, and I told the kids about the old days in Viet Nam where I was with the Combined Action Platoon near Phu Bai and Hue. I told them a bit about boot camp in San Diego and what it was like to roam through the jungle during the night hours and the dangers we encountered. Had to be careful, remembering this was kids I was talking to, and therefore no blood and gore type stories. I finished speaking and the kids seems thrilled about what I had said. Next the Army warrant officer spoke and talked about going to the middle east, about flying the helicopters and the Army. He was very proud of being a part of Air Cav. and was dressed in the black hat, flight suit, and spurs on his boots. He then did a question and answer session and answered several questions from the kids. One small little boy raised his hand and was recognized and stood up and asked this question, "WHY did you NOT JOIN the MARINES"? You could have heard a pin drop, and the Army Warrant officer was stumped on how to answer that question. I could and would have hugged that little boy if I could have. Made my day for sure.

Old Marine Sgt. Jim "TEX" Lyles, Nam 67-68, CAC/CAP Alpha 2.

Others I Try To Share

I know you been around for a while now, and I have no excuse for not contacting you before this, a lot of Marines and former Marines and their family have shared their stories with all of us through your newsletter. When reading these letters it takes me back so many years ago (1964, & 1968) when I also played in the Southeast Asian War Games. . some things I wish to never remember others I try to share with my son's. . . so many stories have been told through your newsletter that may otherwise never have been heard of except by other Marines sons.

Semper Fi
Richard Starkey
Sgt USMC 1962 - Forever

Behold The Birth Of

I bought this 1977 CJ-5 5 years ago. A friend and I were in the Army/Navy store trying on wool clothing when as we went to leave and hadn't purchased anything it occurred to me that we should. Beside the cash register was a rack with sticker bullet holes 6 for $1.49. Bingo I grabbed them and out we went. He asked what I was going to do with them and I told him the jeep had a crinkled fender and these would be way cheaper and easier than fixing it. About a week later we invaded Iraq.

1977 CJ-5 On the way to work I heard about a peace protest at the college so I pulled into my friendly Marine Corps recruiter and asked for some stickers. Behold the birth of my Marine Jeep.

My dad: William M Beatty served and was wounded on Iwo, March 7, 1945. (my birthday March 7, 1949)
Myself: William T Beatty served in Vietnam, 1967-1970.
My son: William J Beatty served 1987-1991.

We were all Cpl's and 18 when we entered the Corps. It is proudly dedicated to all who have served and sacrificed for the freedoms we all hold so dear. Semper Fi.

P!ssed Off The Co. 1stSgt

Hey Sgt Grit,

My wife and I were in the Marine Corps back in 1977 thru 1989. She's not a Marine officially, but may as well be.

I had just finished combat training school at Camp Pendleton and my wife and kids showed up at the base. At that time I was a private in H&S 3/7 at San Mateo, Camp Pendleton, CA. Needless to say, we didn't have a pot to p!ss in. And on top of that I had just really p!ssed off the Co. 1stSgt.

We had an apartment in Oceanside, CA. That's all. But, some really nice people, Marines in the legal department and my Co. 1st Sgt made sure we had a nice Christmas. Tree, food, present's, the whole nine yards.

Anyway, without that one truly outstanding act of kindness we would never be where we are today. That's what it's all about Marines always take care of one another. I still live by what the Marine Corps has taught me, no regrets. Semper Fi. and Merry Christmas.....

Burning Desire

There were three remarks in the latest newsletter that caused me a burning desire for responses:

1) To the veteran in prison who mentioned all the special operations, recon, drug chasing in central America veterans he runs into; all I have to say is good on you. But, every once in awhile, one of those bast*rds might be telling you the truth. I was with first recon back in the early 80's. You wouldn't know it to look at me today. I'm a large and rotund middle aged man with a bunch of boys to raise. I write books and poetry for god sakes. I have run into a few former recon Marines that had their doubts about me (and I them)...until we talked for awhile and said enough to validate our sea stories. One Marine and I had chewed up a lot of the same ground, knew a lot of the same people, and could fill in some of the blanks for each other. but we never met each other. He was with Force Recon later, but during my tour, he wasn't with Recon--he was at ANGLICO, while I was with Bravo Company. I think we did a few jumps together, but that at least is foggy now. We did train a lot together, though we never met. And, once in awhile, very seldom, some crazy bast*rd does get involved with some operation in a sh!t hole country--though I doubt he would brag about it. That would be sort of like having a terrible case of gastroenteritis and then taking your friends and family to the privy so they could see the mess you made.

2) To the Marine who shared his love/hate relationship with the Corps, I can only say that time and distance makes those terrible experiences easier to forget. Thankfully! I too saw Marines acting in a manner that was completely unacceptable. It is a long story, but I saw a Marine get booted out of the Corps because he was charged by another Marine with being a hom os&xual. A charge this young private denied strongly. There was an investigation, but no evidence of wrong doing was ever uncovered. So, one night his squad led by his squad leader (and they were all drunk), beat the h&ll out of him--it was a most violent blanket party. His squad leader told him that he better fess up most rikitiki or the *ss whippings would continue every day. I was able to enjoy this spectacle because we shared the same Quonset hut at Talega. I also had to listen to the kid cry after his squad left. He was out of the company the next day. If he was a homos&xual, I didn't want to have to share a Quonset hut with him. On the other hand, what happened to this Marine was absolute bullsh!t. Shameful!

All of that to say, I saw my share of stupid sh!t in the Marine Corps--stuff worse than even that. If life were perfect, we wouldn't need to train warriors. But, since there is fighting to do, and sometimes people need killing, they make some of us into Marines, with everything that entails: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Fortunately, most of us get over it eventually.

3) To the Marine who is obviously against the war in Iraq and isn't so keen about the war in Vietnam either...you have earned the right to have those opinions. And, I will defend to the death your right to express them. However, you should work on sentence structure so that the points you are making are clear and you ramble a bit less.

As Marines we don't get to pick our wars; we go where we are sent and we kill the people we are told to kill. That is the job. Once we get out of the military, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that we put the right leaders in place so that we don't end up in wars that we would be better off not fighting. That requires a great deal of critical thinking and enough information to think critically about. Both critical thinking and information are sorely absent from the pro/con Iraqi war debate. It seems that we are all guilty of confirmation bias. That is, we tend to accept information that confirms what we already wish to believe...a common human trait actually.

Nevertheless, we are occupying Iraq and it does no good to call people names because you don't agree with their position on said occupation. That will not solve the problem. We are in an intractable situation -- leaving Iraq will cause the place to destabilize. Beyond the risk to our oil supply -- the cost in human lives would be intolerable and inexcusable, and we would be responsible for the blood bath. For whatever reasons we got to Iraq, the fact remains, we are fv~king there and we need to make the best of it. If you broke it you gotta pay for it--so until someone comes up with an idea that isn't just a sophomoric or self-absorbed version of throwing rocks at glass houses, we must stay the course and we must support our brothers and sisters who are in harms way. It is up to them to unfv*k the mess that our politicians have made. Same as it ever was.

And, hopefully we are all doing our part to ensure that the right people are making it into office -- if not, we truly have the government we deserve.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Lurtsema,

Stayed On To Fight

Got word at 2200 last night that an OUTSTANDING MARINE passed away. Frank Bifulk of B-1-7 1950 -1951 suffered 6 months with cancer and gave up the Ghost at 2100 -26 Dec 2007. He was one of only two Marines from the Mortars of B-1-7 to walk aboard ship at Hungnam. Stayed on to fight until rotated after 1 year in Korea. Frank is going to be missed by all who knew him

Semper Fi
MSgt Pat Burris

Improvise, Adapt And Overcome

Grit - just a short story that brought the memories flooding back. I was with MASS-2 in Dong Ha during the early part of the monsoon season in late 1968. As an enlisted pogue, we did not have hard liquor available at the club, but we pretty much made do with beer. Anyway, in one of my letters to Mom, I must have complained about the availability of good liquor. I know I always looked forward to care packages from home and would share everything with our brothers, I was very surprised one day when I received a somewhat beat up care package from home that looked like it had been through its fair share of postal inspections. Upon receiving this package, I took it back to my hooch and opened it. Inside was a moldy, beat up, crumbly loaf of (at one time) good New Jersey Italian bread tied up with string and wrapped in tin foil.

Mom knew how much I loved good Italian bread, but I just figured she had gone off the deep end in trying to get a loaf of bread sent to Nam and expecting it to stay fresh. My hooch mates were well-acquainted with the quality of care packages I had previously received and were looking forward to more of Mom's baked goods. They urged me to look a little closer since I was ranting and raving about what I thought was complete insanity and was on the verge of tossing it in the sh*tcan. Upon further inspection, I found that crafty old Mom had taken a big loaf of Italian bread, sliced it lengthwise, scraped out the inside of the loaf, tucked a bottle of Jack Daniels inside, tied it up, wrapped and boxed it to avoid detection by postal authorities, and sent it to her loving, though somewhat doubtful, son. Well, my respect for Mom's ability to improvise, adapt and overcome skyrocketed along with my popularity. We must have laughed for hours at her ingeniousness. A subsequent memorable evening was had by all present. We lost Mom not too awful long ago at age 93, but what a gal!

Semper Fi
Gerry Zanzalari
Corporal of Marines
RVN 1968-1969

395 Days

Is a book about a young Marine being sent to Vietnam and my experiences in the infantry. Assign to the 1st Battalion 9th Marines, Charlie Company 2nd Platoon. Just before I get to my new outfit, a Marine that has been in Vietnam for a while come up to us and tells us that we're going to a badass outfit.


Responses to GySgt Carr

Original Story

Sgt Grit
Thanks for The gunny carr piece. Maybe you ought to send him that long list of terrorist attacks that you have run before. He seems an intelligent man, but I sure he thinks all these things were just more government conspiracy. I was going to call him, but I had a little respect for his rank, if he has one. I'll try later.

Sgt. FG Young
USMC 69-78

Anyone who was offended by this guys' opinion remember this: Admire their dedication but question their ignorance. Here is my New Years wish for you Jimmy boy. May your belly be filled with apricots and your gray matter with Ham and M***F**er's.

Cpl Chris DeSpain
Vietnam 68/69

Gunny Carr needs to look through Sgt Grit's catalog more often:

Except for ending slavery, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism, War has never solved anything. War Never Solved Anything bumper sticker

I can say for sure WWII ended the suffering of the Jews in the Nazi death camp my grandfather's Army unit freed from the Germans. Seems like now most people just want to throw mud and call names and disparage the president while avoiding the fact that we're there, can't get out easily even if we wanted to or it was the best course of action, and there's lots of good going on over there that you WON'T hear about or be shown by the national media and many of our "leaders".

Andrew Mathias
Cpl 97-01


I don't agree! That's what makes this country great!

J. Blair Raftree - 2232250
Cpl - USMC - Inactive

In reply to Retired GySgt. J.Carr .
I would suggest that you quit believing the BS you are receiving from the anti American media. You speak of people thinking for themselves, you should try it some time. Try actually doing some research, or paying attention to what is written in this Newsletter, or what is no longer mentioned in the press, (no more talk about the surge not working, no more talk of quagmire) instead of parroting enemy propaganda. Former PFC Thomas C. Bogan
77-80 MTM Co
2nd Maint Bn.

Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it.
G. Santayana

There is one thing that I will agree with you on, and that is, there is a similarity to Vietnam. The similarity is this, the American public has lost the stomach to fight and win a war. If we had attempted to fight WWI and WWII in today's society we would have been over run inside a year. Who can blame the people for there impatience today, the only stories that make the news are the negative ones. The stories that show how things are really going don't fit their agenda or sell enough papers. I know a few Vietnam Vets, who would give you a reminder of how that war was lost. It was not lost by our fighting men. This war is not being lost, and the only reason it is taking so long is that we have not been allowed to our jobs properly. The serge is working it should have been done earlier and should continue until we are finished. It makes no since to keep just enough boots on the ground to get the job done. I digress (really) Your little history lesson about the Devil not showing up until 365 A.D. while interesting, neither fit with or contributed to you letter at all.

Jason B. Robinson
Cpl, USMC Forever
Oklahoma City, Ok.
(Don't understand the balls thing)

You sound like a coward who never put his or her *ss on the line. You have a right to your point of view but not the right to denigrate (look it up, it's a big word) my country or my President! You disgrace my beloved Corps. and your cohorts (IVAW) are probably as stupid as you are. My MOS was 0311, what's yours. That good conduct ribbon on your chest looks awfully lonely. Why?

Leo J. Sullivan, Cpl.
USMC Retired.

You state that we are getting our butts kicked, comparing the Middle East to Vietnam. I must again state that I'm no expert, but permit me an observation or two:

1. Every Vietnam Vet I've ever spoken to felt they won the war; the politicians who were swayed by non-military voices who hadn't been on the ground did the losing for everybody. Every account I've read, every story I've heard about the combat in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to say we win every battle. Handily.

2. It seems even Democrats are acknowledging everything the Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, reservists, Iraqis, and objective observers are saying: the surge is succeeding, and violence is decreasing. More and more people are joining the real peace effort: getting rid of the non-Iraqi terrorists.

3. You seem to have a conspiracy fetish. Or is my saying that further proof that you are right? I like a good story just like every body else, but you have no basis for what you said about JFK and LBJ. None. And you know it.

4. We aren't bound by the UN anymore than North Korea, pre-2003 Iraq, Iran, Sudan, China, or any other country is. It seems to be a good forum for debate. I'm not anti-UN, but put it where it belongs. It has good ideas, but to bind our nation to it is silly. Since when do we need to be "sanctioned" by anybody?

5. Anyone can pull out a relatively isolated incident like My Lai, and claim that there are parallels to Iraq. (By the way Mr. Carr, that is the correct spelling of "parallel". Do you even own spell check? A dictionary?) That has nothing to do with what our fighting men and women are accomplishing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe you were just trying to take a stab at lengthening your email, trying desperately to make sense, with an irrelevant paragraph? C'mon, maybe? You can admit it, w