It's early Christmas morning and I've been reading my newsletter. Next February, it will be 50 years since I arrived at Parris Island never to be the same again. Several weeks ago, my wife and I drove over to Beaufort. Funny, I didn't even know Beaufort existed when I was in Platoon 312 in the winter of '59 at Parris Island. We were proverbial mushrooms. We arrived at night and, and 13 weeks later left before dawn. One night, shortly before final field, we patrolled the swamps peering into the darkness looking to ID German U-boats believed to be about to invade. We were prepared to defend with an M-1 that had no clip. What does that tell you about state of mind in Week 13 but let me get back to why I write.
It is 2008. Bonnie and I are sitting in Rita's have a sundae. Across the room from us was a young family - Poster Marine - linebacker sized, buff dad with Poster Family - fine-looking wife, 2 beautiful daughters - all talking and laughing while demolishing their ice creams. Life is good. Bonnie and I took pride in their happiness as we enjoyed watching them as much as our hot fudge sundaes. With me telling Bonnie that I didn't even know there was a Beaufort, SC when I was at Parris Island.
Poster Family got up to leave ... Poster Marine, in his USMC t- shirt, towered about them as he led them away from the table. It wasn't until the two girls ran ahead that we saw that our Poster Marine proudly walked on two prosthetics anchored to his thighs. Tears welled in my eyes and awe gripped my chest - What an honor it is to share a bond with those who are prepared to give and lose so much and still walk with pride in knowing who they are as a person, as a husband, as a dad, as a Marine! God Bless all our young Marines. God, Himself, recognizes just how well creation is going when he looks with pride upon His Marine Corps. SEMPER FI.
SGT (E-5) 1959 - 1964
Happy New Year!
Marines are still in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations in high tempo support.
Remember them and pray for them.
To Our Astonishment
I read with great interest the letter concerning the 150 mile march and want to add a story about another first. I joined the Corps in 1953 took basic at MCRD San Diego, CA. The training class of January of 1953 was the first group to march to Camp Matthews in lieu of the 6/6 truck ride. I have fond memories of that march, how three of us boots wound up far ahead of the rest of Platoon 38. We often looked over our shoulders to gauge how far we were ahead when we saw a solitary figure rapidly catching up with us. We immediately thought we were in deep trouble, however when the solitary figure caught up with us we found it to be a China Marine a WO who to our astonishment ask if he could join us. The four of us made it to the staging area well ahead of the rest of Platoon 38 and all the other Platoons involved in the march. The WO told us of his tour in China, the Pacific and life in the Corps. This encounter has remained with me and will always be a part of my life to remember a Marine many times my age, 19, was able to catch-up with three young hard charging boots. The old WO's attitude and physical fitness became my personal challenge to excel which I did two meritorious promotions Cpl. in 13 months and Buck Sergeant 5 months later. I sometimes wonder what ever happened to my two marching buddies from Platoon 38 MCRD January 1953. Charles H. Sillery Sgt. 1372722
Cpl A D Johnson asked in the last news letter --"Does anyone ever remember observing a Marine being drummed out of the Corps?"
I did. I was in boot camp at MCRD in July of 64'. Our platoon was at the laundry turning in our "fluff drys" when 3 other platoons marched up and formed a 3 sided square on the adjacent athletic field. We (plt. 242) were marched over to fill in the 4th side of the square, while some MPs and some officers in the middle of the square read off charges against a rouge Asst. DI who had stolen some money from his recruits. He had pilfered their personal belongings while they were away from the company area.
After charges were read I believe they stripped him of his insignia and stripes, then he was marched to the front gate, MPs holding his arms, and with two drummers drumming, while our platoons marched along behind. At the front gate, he was pitched out while we watched. What a sobering experience for a young private.
Jim Evenson 2087791
64'-67' Chu Lai, Nam in 66'
1st Mar Div
Meeting the Pullers
In October 1968 I was a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class and assigned to the Medivac detail of the Admissions Office at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. I was on limited duty following treatment for wounds received while assigned to the FMF in Vietnam. I was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart as well as a number of other decorations. It was felt that returning wounded could relate to me as the first contact upon returning to "The World".
I got a call that I was going to pick up a special medivac that flying into Philadelphia International Airport vice McGuire AFB in NJ. We were going to pick up the patient with an ambulance at the nearby Naval Shipyard after a short helicopter flight. I was not given the patient's name, but things starting getting weird as dozens of people started to show up at the ambulance dock who all wanted to go on the medivac. That did not happen. The ambulance crew included the driver, me as attendant, and the Chief of Amputee Services. When we met the chopper and when I received the paperwork I realized that the patient was LT. Lewis Burwell Puller Jr., USMC, Chesty's son. He was a double leg amputee and lost fingers as well. His body was peppered with shrapnel wounds over most of his body. I gathered the information I needed and we talked about what to expect once admitted and under treatment. The Doctor was asked by the LT if he had a sense of humor, because he was going to need it. We got him back to the hospital and up to his bed.
The next day I was working in the admissions office when I heard from our walkup window someone ask if I was there. I walked to the window and there stood an older man wearing a black and red checkered flannel shirt and carrying a felt hat. He said, "I want to thank you for taking care of my son yesterday". He then stuffed a $20 bill in my jumper pocket. I took the bill out and handed it back to him and said, "General, I can't take your money. He looked at my "Fruit Salad" and said, "Doc, you looked like you've earned it." He stuffed the bill back in my pocket and walked away saying, "Thanks Doc".
The General never did completely reconcile with his sons injuries. And the LT never did either. The General died October 11, 1971. LT Puller died by his own had on May 11, 1994. I had met two very special people, but not the way I would have wanted it. Semper Fi to both.
Philip L. "Doc" Stern
Chief Hospital Corpsman
It Came To Me
It's Zero-Dark-Thirty on 25 DEC 08.
I'm awake, as usual because (as Sgt. Grit's goodstuff says so eloquently) "If it weren't for flashbacks I wouldn't have any dreams."
The Confuser lights up, the Grit-O-Gram shows up, and I read.
First, Da Grit Hisself, pouring out his much-appreciated message of love and hope for us all.
And then the video of Santa at Boot Camp.
And the In-Country Christmas Tree story ( instead of a candle, we used a dab of Willie P for the light on top - didn't last as long, but they saw it in Bethlehem - PA).
Each letter, each paragraph, each set of words-from-hearts strung together in cohesive form began melting the Cardio-icecap that made me a cynical oulde flatulent all year long.
I read on through to the button that says, "Wait! There's more!" Of course, it was the means to tab into a fuller version of the Grit-gram.
But as I stared at that "button" it came to me in near-blinding flash: just as sure as there is a Chesty Puller - there IS more!
There's more than just what mainstream media shoves down our collective throats. I started to mentally list the positives that touch my life. And as the list grew and grew, the Cardio- ice melted and melted.
Until here I sit, with my head in that "little kid on Christmas morning" state, thankful for everything our Corps stands for and everything our Corps defends and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to face a new day and a new year!
Thank you to all of you who share your heart-felt tales in Da Grit's heart-given website! Your writings (and Da Grit's newsletter) are most Platonic: the newsletter/contents may be play for y'all, but the positive effect it has is a tonic for this oulde goat.
Merry 2009 Christmas, and Semper Fidelis!
USMC, RVN, '66 - '68
Marble Mountain and Beyond
We were winning when I left!
You sat in FDC at the 11th Marines did you not?
That same night I sat in the FDC bunker at Lima 4-11 on Hill 55.....
Merry Christmas 'lo these so many years later.
Wasn't Too Thrilled
My father in law, Don Strange, told me a story a couple years ago about when he was a corpsman with the 5th Marines out on the West coast and they had to do a 150 mile hump. He wasn't too thrilled about it because he was with 1st Marines a few months before and had to do a 40 miler there. He said he thought the Commanding Officer in charge of the 5th Marines felt challenged to beat the 40 miler. Anyway, I just read it in your newsletter and called him about it. He laughed about it and told me he got no breaks as a corpsman on that hump, 50 minute hump, 10 minutes running around taking care of his Marines, then back to humping, he said he lost more than 15 pounds in those 5 days. Don retired from the Navy after his 20 and has enjoyed life since. He has some great stories about his corpsman days with the Marine Corps, and some time in the South Pole, and time in UDT. I can tell you this, he is just as hard charging now at 70 as he must of been back in those days. Being that I was a pogue in the Corps, he has a lot better stories to tell. My father, brother, and cousin are all Former Marines also. Thanks for the great newsletter, keep up the good work! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
36 Years Ago Today. Dec 21, 1972
I marched across the main side parade deck at Parris Island with the rest of Platoon 3005, India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and graduated a Marine. A day and an experience I'll never forget.
Me and my parents on graduation day in the photo.
Take care and God bless,
Slow Cadence Beat
While stationed at MCAS El Toro, in the late 1950's, we had a corporal in our squadron that was in the brig for adultery, theft, awol, and other charges. One day we were assembled in 2 files with the squadron CO at the end and between the 2 ranks. Two MP's escorted the corporal in question to the squadron CO and the charges were read as were the findings of the Court Martial which were Dishonorable Discharge.
At that time the CO stripped the prisoner of his rank, ordered the entire squadron to do an "about face" and the prisoner was marched past us with a drummer from Field Music drumming a slow cadence beat. All this while we were faced AWAY from the prisoner.
As I write this there are tears in my eyes, not for the prisoner but because of the dishonor brought upon the Corps. As I see it, years in the brig would be nothing compared to the humility and disgrace brought upon by a "drumming out". If I did the same, I would expect the same.
Sgt of Marines 1954 - 1962
Still Have Mine
In response to Bob Rader, Sgt 53-56 reference C-Rat can openers. I was in Viet Nam from late 67 to early 69 and we were eating C- Rats packed in 1943. Each case came with four (4) P-38 can openers, also known as John Waynes. They worked, and still work, good at opening cans, screwdrivers, small pry bars, etc. And yes I STILL have mine on my key ring and use it often. It has proven to be very handy over the years.
Ralph G. Schwartz, SSgt of Marines 67-77
3rd Plt, "C" Co. 1st Tks
Dear Sgt. Grit -
Reading your article about boot camp I discovered that you and shared that experience during the same time period. I arrived on the yellow footprints on the night of April 16th, 1968 and was about six weeks along when you arrived.
I agree with you that our drill instructors "motivated and inspired" us to do far more than we ever thought we were capable of doing. My challenge was twofold, the 40-ft tower as I was terrified of heights and the PFT run. When we got to the obstacle course and came to the two 40-ft telephone poles with single cross members between them, I was near the front of the line but, let a few guys pass me to go 'up and over' the top, trying to build up my courage to give it a try. One guy on the left side looked at me and said he was afraid to go up then looked at me and said, "if I go up there, will you climb with me?" I accepted his challenge and about eight feet up, I said I'll beat you to the top and the race was on. I never looked down, just kept climbing and was almost surprised when I grabbed the top cross member, swung my leg over and started the climb back down the other side. The other guy was still two levels below me and I waited for him to make it to the top and start down before I continued. When we got to the ground I felt I had accomplished something huge and had overcome my fear of heights and that was very motivating.
I never developed a lot of endurance for running but, managed to handle the PFT in time to pass. It was still a real struggle for me over the next four years. I found that my boot camp experience gave me the courage to do thing later in life I felt were nearly impossible both physically and mentally. It also instilled in me an attitude of "can-do" that helped shape me into the person I am today.
Thanks for your story, Sgt. Grit and thanks for your great newsletter!
Sgt. of Marines '68-'74 MOS 2533
Plt. 180 MCRD, MAG-13 Comm, Chu Lai, RVN '69-'70
Cold Springs, Nevada
He Asked If
I can remember the one and only fleet CG inspection that I had to stand while being stationed with the 2nd MarDiv in 88.
I had arrived at Lejeune a year earlier from Sea Duty off the USS Iowa. I was lucky enough to have been onboard the ship during the Statue of Liberty 100 year dedication anniversary in 86. During the weekend in NYC the ship was the platform that Pres. and Mrs. Reagan used while cruising down the river for the International Naval Review on the way to the statue.
After a very long day and well after the President had left, the ship hosted a very large VIP party on the fantail. It was the place to be, the Beach Boys performed, the Commandant Gen Kelley, the CNO, the SecNav and celebrities from Hollywood and NYC were there. During this ceremony I found what I thought was a fairly quiet spot to snap some pictures and to drink a beer that was available for the VIPs on the fan tail. While standing there thinking what a scene this was someone with a very distinctive voice snapped at me for not having my military bearing, i.e. not noticing when a General Officer was near. It was none other than LtGen Al Gray, then the FMFLant CG. He asked if I would like for him to take my picture with Gen Kelley and I'm thinking I am getting ready to be busted for not snapping two and saluting. Well to make a long story short I end up getting a picture with General Kelley, myself in the middle and General Gray, all three with a beer in our hands just standing around like old beer buddies from the block.
I took that photo had it made into a 8X10, then framed it. When I reported to Camp Lejeune I sat it in my barracks room for all to see and when it came time for my JOB the CG inspector a LtCol comes in and sees it first thing. He looks and me and asks if that is who he thinks it is and I reply "YESSIR, the Commandant and former Commandant and myself sir". Without missing a beat or even looking at anything he replies to the LT that was with him that "this Marines JOB and room is outstanding" and they depart. My roommate then looks at me and said "Thanks a lot, all that work for nothing" Talk about gratitude, I know we both would have passed with outstanding even if the inspector would of searched...
Sgt of Marines 1984-1993
Walk Every Where
To Marines of 1956 to 1963,Ã‚ Colonel Schmuck, CO 5th Marines loved to walk every where, I can't ever remember a ride. We actually did 100 miles in 3 days with a big beer bust on what was the 3rd day. I loved that, got snockered,Ã‚ I won 4 cases of beer,Ã‚ rolled huge rock into the Gunny's pup tent and he could not get it out. all his gear was under that bolder. I saw two men drummed out of the Marines once at 5th Marines and once at MCRD.Ã‚ I'm 70 now and would love that hike again Semper Fi Tom G/2/5 1st Marines Reinforced FMF All The Way, and Gung Ho
We Marched Out
apparently cpl johnson was at pi the same time i was, two recruits were given their sentence on the parade field, they were from platoon 112, the platoon i was in, they were caught smoking in the head. i believe they were the last to be drummed to the brig. cpl johnsons # 1682330 is not far from mind 1695450, he may have been in the same barracks, i remember one of the platoons had a di that loved to call for volunteers, he was very short and enjoyed punching recruits in the gut. glad not to be in that platoon. i remember the drive-in movie that we finally got to go to, but someone screwed up and we marched out before the movie started, there was benches in front of where the cars would park, and that is where the recruits would watch the movie.
pvt l.l. collins, semper fi
Adamant And Ungracious
Wonsan, North Korea, November 1950 When the First Marine Division landed at Wonsan, My squadron (MGCIS-1) landed with them. We missed the Bob Hope Christmas show going on, and headed into the hills to set up our Radars. We provided air cover and air support and with MTACS-2, close air support to the First Marine Division.
The Mud Marines immediately took after about five thousand North Koreans, while we Airedale Marines set up our Radar sets and went to work providing air cover for them. The North Koreans wanted to get to boats, and escape north. The problem was we (MGCIS-1) were between them and the beach. There were approximately 100 of us, so the contest was about even between us and the North Koreans. We were required to hold our own positions as all Mud Marines were very busy. We set up our outer perimeter some distance from the camp. The perimeter was in thick pine trees and you could only see a few feet, especially at night. We operated two men to a foxhole, with one man constantly manning the field phone, so you only had to whisper to be heard in any foxhole. We went on post with our M1's and plenty of ammo, and six grenades, three Illuminators, and three Frags. I would not call it cold there, but, while on watch you could observe frost forming on your parka.
One night, while listening on the phone, post eight called post seven and asked him if he had any Illuminators, as he had used all of his. When post seven answered in the affirmative, post eight requested post seven throw one down to post eight, but to wait ten seconds as he was getting out of his foxhole (bad idea) to be ready to shoot. Post seven, while wearing heavy mittens, and after finding what felt like a smooth grenade, complied with said request, (Frags are serrated, and illuminators are smooth). The next thing I heard was a rather loud KaBang. Oops, that was a Frag.
I listened intently to see if post eight had survived. Shortly there was some heavy breathing on the phone, and then post eight immediately began to cast some doubt as to post seven's intelligence (or lack, there of) also some terrible things about his ancestry, and the fact his parents were unwed! I was terribly shocked to hear such language from a Marine!
Post seven apologized profusely, and even offered to throw another grenade (an Illuminator, hopefully). Post eight was adamant and ungracious in refusing this generous offer, and even had the audacity to suggest what post seven could do with the remainder of his grenades. I may be wrong, but I don't think even a Marine can do that. Well, maybe a couple of Marine MP's I knew!
S/Sgt USMC MGCIS-1, 1948-1952
VMF (AW) 214 "Black Sheep" 55-56
August 1960. Platoon 374, Parris Island. Our junior Drill Instructor, Sgt. Wright caught me and Boneyard, (they called him Boneyard because he was so skinny - all knees and elbows), slapping each other around a little down at the end of the squad bay just before taps. Anyway, he called us both up to the pull- up bar where we had to hang while he did a little slapping on us himself. Did I mention that Sgt. Wright had been all Marine heavy-weight boxing champ of 1956? While hanging there, and being worked over, we had to recite the following poem at the top of our lungs (of course):
"Beautiful Beaufort by The Sea"
"I am a S---bird From The Yemasee"
I've been a big poetry fan ever since.
Could Not Imagine
Cpl A. D. Johnson asked if anyone remembers anyone being drummed out of the Corps. I was a young PFC in 1962 and had just checked into HQ CO 6th Marines communications. I had been there a couple of days when we were told to fall out in front of the barracks. I remember being in the 1st squad and facing the CO. and senior staff NCO's.
After standing at parade rest for some time I remember that 2 MP's were escorting a hand cuffed prisoner from the direction of the brig.
they stopped the prisoner in front of the company area and he was facing us. The court martial decision was read as follows, 6 months in the brig, reduction to private with all pay and allowances lost and a dishonorable discharge. He was stripped of his rank.
At that point we were given the command to come to attention and commanded to about face. Once our backs were turned toward the private he was marched off by the MP's and that was the last we saw of him.
I remember thinking that his life was about over because back then a mans military record was checked by prospective employers and anything less than honorable conditions was frowned upon. I also thought that it must have been awful for this person to have his company turn their backs on him and shun him as a Marine.
I do not remember the charges against him just the events surrounding this discharge. I just could not imagine having the title Marine stripped from me.
Jim Barr (Marine for life)
Ref. Cpl Johnson's "Without Warning" News letter fm-12/18/08
I was pulling mess duty at Marine Barracks, Norfolk VA. Sometime in February of 1962. (We had 2 weeks before going to RMA School and 2 weeks after graduation) I was taking a break and was on the second floor where the mess personnel were quartered.
One of the guys yelled for us to come to the window and see this St. It was some SOB being drummed out of the Corps. As usual it was a cold drizzle of a rain type of day. There was a squad of Marines in a line an OIC and 1 drummer all waiting for the prisoner to be marched out. At the OIC's command the drummer began a one stick cadence and from our right came the prisoner with 2 chasers. The Chasers marched and the prisoner walked / swaggered to the front of the OIC. The OIC then read the charges (we couldn't hear what they were and never found out) and the punishment---he had spent about 6 months in the brig as his case was being appealed (and of course lost). The OIC then stepped closer to the prisoner and ripped off buttons, EGA and any other identifying items from his uniform stepped back gave the command for the squad to do and about face the chasers and prisoner to do a left face (the direction to the back gate.) and marched / walked to the gate and the chasers took what looked like about a dozen steps through the gate and very unceremoniously threw his sea bag at him did an about face and returned to the barracks.
We never did find out what the guy did but we all said that was the last thing any of us would ever want to happen to any of us. We did hear later that we had witnessed what was supposed to the "The Last" Drumming out. Don't know if they were talking about the Marine Barracks or the Corps.
That was with out a doubt the most chilling experience I had ever encountered not only in the Corps but to date---and I don't mean the weather either.
Henry H. Hight, Cpl 1961-1965 (and for ever)
Customs and traditions
MSGID/GenAdmin/CMC Washington DC CMC//
Subj/Customs and Traditions//
Ref/a/desc:doc/cmc Washington DC/05May2003// AMPN/ref a is MCO
p5060.20, Marine corps drill and ceremonies manual.//
1. This Almar reinforces the importance of our customs and traditions and amplifies the provisions of the reference for Rendering salutes and honors to the national flag; the proper conduct of the Marine corps birthday cake cutting ceremony; and The playing of the Marines' hymn.
2. Customs and traditions provide a link to the past; they bond Marines who have gone before with Marines who will carry the Torch through the future. Any loss of tradition or improper observation of custom blurs our identity and weakens us as an Institution. Through the faithful adherence by commanders and each individual Marine, we preserve our identity and reputation As a unique and elite fighting organization.
3. Saluting. A recent change to the law has authorized active duty and retired service members to salute the national Colors, whether covered or uncovered, indoors or out. By custom and tradition, Marines do not render the hand salute when Out of uniform or when uncovered. Let there be no confusion; that has not changed. During the playing of the national Anthem, or the raising, lowering, or passing of the national flag, Marines will continue to follow naval traditions and the Policy / procedures contained in reference (a). Specifically, Marines not in uniform will face the flag, stand at attention, And place the right hand over the heart. If covered, Marines not in uniform will remove their headgear with the right hand And place their right hand over their heart. When the flag is not present, Marines will act in the same manner while facing In the direction of the music. In cases such as indoor ceremonies, when Marines are in uniform and uncovered, they will face The flag, or the direction of the music when the flag is not present, and stand at attention.
4. The Marine corps birthday cake cutting ceremony. The Marine corps birthday cake cutting ceremony is one of our Time-honored traditions in garrison, in the field, and in combat. One of the most important elements of the ceremony is the Traditional recognition of the oldest and youngest Marines present. To clarify the language in reference (a), the commander Cuts the cake and hands the first piece to the guest of honor. Then the commander hands the second piece of cake to the Oldest Marine present as a sign of honor and respect to experience and seniority. After taking a bite, the oldest Marine Passes the second piece of cake, and a clean fork, directly to the youngest Marine present; this action symbolizes the Passing of wisdom, knowledge, and experience, as well as trust and confidence in those who will continue to carry on our Marine corps traditions.
5. Playing of the Marines' hymn. The Marines' hymn is the official hymn of the Marine corps. It is the song of praise to Our institution and the lyrics are a direct tribute to our warfighting culture. By custom and tradition, the Marines' hymn Is the last song played at ceremonies and gatherings of Marines. Although the reference allows for the playing of special Music requests before the Marines' hymn, such as "anchor's aweigh," this is by exception and at the discretion of the local Commander.
6. One of our hallmarks as Marines is that we are as good on parade as we are in the attack. Our sharp appearance - in and Out of uniform - and our success in battle are two important parts of our identity. We take pride in our traditions, and Their uniform application, wherever Marines are assigned.
7. Semper fidelis,
James t. Conway,
General, U.S. Marine Corps,
Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The Poor SOB
The "Drumming Out" ceremony mentioned in the last newsletter was truly a most traumatic experience to witness - I was a witness to one in 1961, Camp Hauge, Okinawa - anybody else out there remember seeing this event, believe it was in the early spring? I don't know what the poor SOB did but it really made those of us there think hard about our behavior! Also looking for anyone who may have played on the Marine Football teams in the fall of 1961. Several of us from the "Royals" team keep in touch and get together whenever possible. We are always looking for more members to join our reunions.
Semper Fi and Happy Holidays!
Corporal Martin Johnson, USMC 1960-66
Glow In The Dark Boots
Dear Sgt. Grit,
While going through Avionics training at NAS Memphis way back when, my duty section happened to catch the duty on a 3-day weekend.
Being restricted to base and with not much else to do between musters, I set about stripping my boots down to bare leather. Then with a new, big can of polish, a lighter and an old Tee - shirt I settled into whatever movie was playing in the rec room. 3 days and a WHOLE can of polish later I possessed a pair of chloroformed (sp?) boots ready for Friday's inspection. When Friday arrived I carried my prize to class in a paper bag, then when inspection time came, I changed into them and "duck - walked" out to the common area.
My fellow Marines instantly noticed these glow in the dark boots and refused to stand next to me as we were forming up. The GySgt. in charge of the school was conducting the inspection personally that AM. and when he looked over to see what the commotion was about. He called us to attention and from 15 ft away he looked me from the top on down- when he got to my feet his eyes visibly widened and he pointed at me and exclaimed, "give that man an outstanding"!
As luck would have it, this was the magic # 3 for me, exempting me from inspection the rest of my time at Memphis, making all that work well worth it!
And by the way, I STILL have that pair of boots!
Tyler Therrien Cpl. USMC EAS 7/87
Reunion Plt 109, 1965
MarDet USS America CVA-66 Beaufort, SC
April 16-19, 2009
Contact: Les Holzmann, 908-642-4463, lesholzmann (at) verizon.net, Plt 109, 1965.
Going back to where it all began. Semper Fi!
Thanks, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
LCpl USMC 1965-1968
PS: The Newsletters continue to be outstanding!
Dear Sgt Grit;
Someone once told me to never write a letter when you were "steamed". In retrospect I think I'm more disappointed.
I just finished your Christmas letter, and I'm disappointed that no one even mentioned our injured and wounded warriors recuperating and being rehabilitated in the Wounded Warrior Battalions on the East and West coast right now.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, my daughter said " we have so much and no one in the family really needs anything for Christmas anyhow". She asked me to see what I could do about finding a deserving family to adopt for Christmas. Using this tract, I contacted the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton. After several false starts, the family resources office came up with a family to adopt. My family pooled the money that we would have spent on needless gifts and provided a nice Christmas for a deserving family. Enough about that.
On the day my wife and I delivered Christmas for this Marine, I had a chance to observe and talk with several of the men assigned to the WW program. Every Marine assigned to this program has been wounded or injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Even these men are recovering from injuries they are still AJ Squared away and high and tight and are still treated like Marines. One I even observed was blind and didn't want help to get around, he still had his independent air. As a crusty old Gunnery Sergeant I was moved with emotion and filled with admiration at the same time.
When I tried to talk to them about Iraq, they want to talk about Viet Nam. When I said you guys really had it tough, they said Viet Nam must have been harder. They look back at what we and our forbearers from WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam did and want to uphold the traditions and heritage of the Corps.
I must say after my visit and on the way home I told my wife I wish we could have done more, and I made a personal vow to use my contacts and do more next year.
I would like to issue a challenge to every former, retired, ex Marine or whatever you call yourself, that reads this forum to do something for our wounded and injured Marines. You can find information on the Wounded Warriors online use Google or any other search engine. Marines from my era were imbedded with "Gung Ho".. work together. Come on Marines lets work together and get something big going......
Anyone that wants more information can contact me at oldgunny54 [at] yahoo.com.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Jerry R. Hattox
GySgt USMC (Ret)
Where Was My War
Being a former active duty Marine, 1988-1992( should have stayed in longer, regret everyday from getting out after 4 years, and hearing about my brothers fighting and getting killed in the desert that we chewed on during operation desert shield/storm). My best Christmas was sitting in the desert of Saudi with my fellow jarheads praying for a chance to kick some Iraqi as$, but the air war got to do all that, Americas bulldogs did not get to be taken off our chains, Where was my war my Marine Corps promised me? God bless our country and God bless our Corps, Remember Semper Fi my fellow Devil Dogs, oohraa .
CPL."HUNGLO" GRAVETTE USMC 88-92
In Our Family
Thanks for the memories; I can remember my wife of 44 years that died Dec 15,2008 from double lung cancer. She was the "real Marine" in our family. I left her in "66 & 69" for tours in RVN and a year at in WPac aboard the USS Coral Sea. As I remember the reunions and her death, I thank God for those 44 years and those who serve in our armed forces, Merry Christmas! David L. Sotelo Master Sergeant USMC(Ret)
Hi Sgt Grit, I served in the Corps from 1983 - 1991. The majority of the time that I spent in the Corps I worked at recruit chowhalls. My first duty assignment was at Messhall #569 at MCRD San Diego and my final was at Edson Range Dining Facility (notice how the terminology changed through the years). I really enjoyed my time in the Marines and was privileged to meet some of the finest people on the planet. I just want to give honor to those who have had such a positive influence on my life; SgtMaj Harvey (Okinawa 86-87), 1stSgt. Rudy Reyes (Edson Range 88-91), GySgt. Scott Ottesen (still serving), Sgt. Whiting 1st MarDiv (Camp Pendleton 87-88). Thanks to all who have served, to all who are still serving and to all of our future Marines! Service in the Corps is an experience to always be proud of - treasure the memories.
Sgt. Dawn Saunders
For A Magical Moment
For some time now I have listened to some real, some contrived stories from fellow Jarheads re anything under the son worth b.s. ing about. I especially love the Christmas Stories. I can remember a few special ones I spent in Nam with 2/7 ,1st Mar Div. One of my fondest memories was of Christmas 1968 at An Hoa combat base. "Someone" rigged the officers shi--er with a CS grenade. Of course some commissioned type took the bait and we had some tremendous laughs at his expense. The second great memory was a pyrotechnic display, flares, pop ups, etc. that rivaled if not topped anything a southerner like myself has ever see. Of course there was a Christmas cease-fire, but we still had the d*mned day patrols and night ambushes. But for just a few brief moments, we ceased to be hardened warriors and were able to be the teenagers we really were.
One of my fondest memories was Christmas 1969. LAX(airport). It wasn't a particularly popular time for us returning, "Baby Killers". But one special woman, asked me to keep her company in the airport lounge, treated me like a long lost love and gave me a tremendous hug and kiss and told me how much she appreciated me as we departed company. I never did ask her name, nor she mine. But for a magical moment the war was far behind me and I felt proud to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
Carl Raines, Sr.
proud father of L/Cpl. Carl L. Raines II,
KIa 10-06-05,Al Qaim, Iraq
Gunny" Lou LeGarie
Dear Sgt Grit,
I read over the info submitted by Frank Morelli in regards to ole Chief Lou LeGarie at FMSS, in DelMar. I had the good pleasure to serve as a corpsman with 2nd Bn 5th Marines in 66 and 67 in Vietnam from Hill 69 An Ton Bridge at Chu Lai, to the DMZ, and then to An Hoa where 2/5 relieved 3/9 after Operation Mississippi. "Gunny" Lou LeGarie came to 2/5 after leaving the states and served in 67 at An Hoa and then on to Phu Bai and Hue during Tet 68. I had the good fortune to know Lou then as he taught me the grunt way to do things. He was a motivator of FMF corpsmen and had lots of experience as he was a China Marine, served in WWII, wounded twice in Korea during the Chosin battle and march to the sea, and then in Vietnam. Because he took time to teach me so many things, I decided to make a career of the navy, and finally retired after 32 years with 28 of those years serving with or supporting various Marine units. Lou is retired and living in Menlo Park, CA near Stanford University. Guess he's close enough to give knowledge to the true sand crab civilians.
I speak with him several times a week and he's still going strong. He invited me to be his guest at the Chosin Few reunion banquet in August at Crystal City, VA. He and I spent a few minutes telling sea stories with Senator Jim Webb of Va (he was the guest speaker) and he's a 1/5 Marine who received the Navy Cross, Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars and 2 Purple Hearts during duty in Vietnam. We shared some of the same dirt out near Phu Loc 6 and Liberty Bridge op area. We spoke of Corpsman David Ray who was awarded the Medal of Honor (KIA with D Bat, 2/11) at Phu Loc 6 when the compound was overrun in Mar 69. Lou is a walking legacy and a legend within the Marine Corps. He managed the club system at K-Bay, Hawaii and the Marines named the "Legarie Room" in his honor at the "O" club. He enjoys the camaraderie of several past USMC Commandants and numerous senior general officers in the Corps. I am extremely proud to know Lou and count him among my closest friends.
Hotel, 2/5 Vietnam 66/67
HAL(3) Binh Thuy, 71/72 Vietnam
There Was Something
Thanks for your Christmas memories. I enjoyed them.
My thoughts centered on being on watch or having the duty. It seemed like the brown baggers always got off while single guys were on the watch list. It happened year after year until I became resentful. However, as more years ticked by, I began to enjoy it. There was something about having the duty and making sure that everything was quiet that was satisfying... I think those Christmases brought home what we are about...
That is, doing the duty, walking a post, being Sergeant of the Guard gives a satisfaction a civilian can not know like a Marine knows when he is sure his bunch and their dependents were together, safe and happy.
Gallagher Rule 643721/053072
You Didn't Eat
To Bob Rader Sgt 53-56
Regarding the c-rat opener. Yes it was one thing that you kept. If you didn't have it you didn't eat. I still have mine on my key chain with an original dog tag.
It reads US 62
4 butts in a pack. Usually Lucky Strikes with a green circle and not a red one on it. Remember the package with the 2 chicklets in it?
Dick Sullivan USA 59-67 VN 66-67
Rendition of "Twas the Night before Christmas" done by 26th MEU
Improvise, adapt, overcome!
What Did We Do To Deserve This?
Below the Manchurian boarder, Korea is the spot
We are doomed to spend our lives in a place God forgot
Through the paddies with our weapons, digging foxholes with a pick
Doing the work of a gosh darn Mule, to d*mm tried to kick
We sweat, we swear, we freeze, it is more than we can stand
We are really not convicts, we are defenders of our land
We are the troops of The Corps, earning our measly pay
Guarding our Country's millions, for a lousy $ 4 a day
Living with our memories, wanting to see our best girl
Hoping to see her, before she marries our best pal
Nobody knows we are living, nobody gives a d*mm
Back home we are soon forgotten, as the nephews of Uncle Sam
When we climb that final mountain, right up to that Golden Bell,
St. Peter will say, "Welcome MarineS you served your time in h&ll!"
MGYSGT. Ralph E. Hoffman (Retired)
D-2-1, KOREA 15 SEPT, 1950 - 11 JULY 1951
In late 1966, 2 Army artillery battalions were sent to the DMZ to be attached to the 3rd Marine Division's 12th Regiment. My unit was the 1st Battalion 40th Artillery composed of 105mm SP's. The other unit was the 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery composed of 175mm SP's. The 1/40's base camp was at Dong Ha and we rotated the firing Batteries between Dong Ha, the Rockpile, and Gio Linh. The 2/94 was based at Camp Carroll. I was an artillery surveyor and was all over the DMZ and was at the ammo dump September 3, 1967 when the ammo dump was hit by NVA artillery.
One of the things I love to do is harass Marines who were there in 1966 and 1967. The average Marine didn't know that a couple of Army artillery units were there firing in support. I've had several Marine's get upset with me saying that I was at the DMZ those years, but when I start naming places, Dong Ha, Cam Lo, Con Thien, Gio Linh, Ca Lu you can see the change in there attitude about my comments.
I am so proud that we were sent to the DMZ to support the 3rd Mar Div. We received the Navy Presidential Unit Citation for the very period I was there in recognition of our actions, and we saw a lot of it.
Brings back memories of Christmas' past.
One last one in the Corps was in December '55.
We left Yokosuka Japan headed Stateside on a USTS transport. We had a lot of bets on arrival by Christmas. Considering the time it took to get to Yokohama on the way over, most felt we wouldn't make it.
We knew we were in trouble when the Red Cross Christmas presents were delivered after 14 days out.
I think all involved with the ship poured on the coal because we went under the Golden Gate bridge on Dec.22.
They rushed us through Treasure Island. Pecker checks, pay, leave time, new orders, travel arrangements etc. Amazing what the Military can do when all want to get home for Christmas. Got home Christmas eve afternoon. Surprised my Mother. Great Christmas.
Sgt. Jack Gross '53-'56
Uniform Of The Day
While serving with L/3/5 in 1961, one guy from our battalion was drummed out for stealing money from fellow Marines. Not a good thing to watch. The company was formed, the thief was brought out in front of the formation. The uniform of the day was winter Class A greens with p!sscutter. All buttons, rank insignias were cut of the blouse, EGA was taken of his p!sscutter. The company was brought to attention, command for About Face was given, the guy was taken to a jeep and deposited at the Main Gate, Camp Pendleton.
In the 1960's, the uniforms that we were issued were: Winter Class A, Summer Class A, Summer khaki and utilities. Covers were: p!sscutters in khaki, Summer Class A, Winter Class A. We were also issued barracks covers with Summer Class A and Winter Class covers and utility covers. Also had shirts in khaki and Summer Class A, short and long sleeve. You had to buy your blues unless sea duty or embassy. Don't know about guys serving in Marine Barracks.
Frank D Briceno
Down to One Marine
On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs.
He was a combat veteran of World War II. Reason enough to honor him. But this Marine was a little different. This Marine was Mitchell Paige.
It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 26, 1942.
The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the20beach on Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.
You Navy guys can hold those letters. Of course Nimitz, Fletcher and Halsey had to ration what few ships they had. I've written separately about the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942, violating the stern War College edict against committing capital ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in their bunkers to get them there and back.
Those American destroyer captains need not have worried about carrying enough fuel to get home. By 11 p.m., outnumbered better than three- to-one by a massive Japanese task force driving down from the northwest, every one of those four American destroyers had been shot up, sunk, or set aflame. And while the South Dakota -- known throughout the fleet as a jinx ship -- had damaged some lesser Japanese vessels, she continued to be plagued with electrical and fire control problems.
"Washington was now the only intact ship left in the force," writes naval historian David Lippman. "In fact, at that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet. She was the only barrier between (Admiral) Kondo's ships and Guadalcanal. If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. ..."
On Washington's bridge, Lieutenant Ray Hunter had the conn. He had just seen the destroyers Walke and Preston "blown sky high." Dead ahead lay their burning wreckage. Hundreds of men were swimming in the water and the Japanese ships racing in.
"Hunter had to do something. The course he took now could decide the war," Lippman writes. "'Come left,' he said. ... Washington's rudder change put the burning destroyers between her and the enemy, preventing her from being silhouetted by their fires.
"The move made the Japanese momentarily cease fire. Lacking radar, they could not spot Washington behind the fires. ..." Washington raced through burning seas. Dozens of destroyer men were in the water clinging to floating wreckage. "Get after them, Washington!" one shouted.
Sacrificing their ships by maneuvering into the path of torpedoes intended for the Washington, the captains of the American destroyers had given China Lee one final chance.
Blinded by the smoke and flames, the Japanese battleship Kirishima turned on her searchlights, illuminating the helpless South Dakota, and opened fire. Finally, as her own muzzle blasts illuminated her in the darkness, Admiral Lee and Captain Glenn Davis could positively identify an enemy target.
The Washington's main batteries opened fire at 12 midnight precisely. Her radar fire control system functioned perfectly. During the first seven minutes of Nov. 14, 1942, the "last ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet" fired 75 of her 16-inch shells at the battleship Kirishima. Aboard Kirishima, it rained steel. At 3:25 a.m., her burning hulk officially became the first enemy sunk by an American battleship since the Spanish-American War. Stunned, the Japanese withdrew. Within days, Japanese commander Isoroku Yamamoto recommended the unthinkable to the emperor -- withdrawal from Guadalcanal.
But that was still weeks in the future. We were still with Mitchell Paige back on the god-forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal, placed like a speed bump at the end of the long blue-water slot between New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago ... the very route the Japanese Navy would have to take to reach Australia.
On Guadalcanal the Marines struggled to complete an airfield. Yamamoto knew what that meant. No effort would be spared to dislodge these upstart Yanks from a position that could endanger his ships. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven supporting U.S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.
As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings, manning their section of the thin khaki line which was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942, it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 desperate and motivated attackers?
Nor did the commanders of the mighty Japanese Army, who had swept all before them for decades, expect their advance to be halted on some God- forsaken jungle ridge manned by one thin line of Yanks in khaki in October of 1942.
But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. .... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."
You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.
The citation for Paige's Congressional Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machinegun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."
In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt- fed Brownings -- the same design which John Moses Browning famously fired for a continuous 25 minutes until it ran out of ammunition, glowing cherry red, at its first U.S. Army trial -- and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.
And the weapon did not fail.
Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was first to discover the answer to our question: How many able-bodied Marines does it take to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat?
On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.