Last July, I had the honor and privilege of visiting with an elderly gentleman, Mr. Al Cialfi, USMC, 88 years old.
The purpose of my visit was to talk to him about his experiences during WW II, and to try to collect some important data, documenting his wounds in an attempt to obtain a long overdue Purple Heart.
He was short, maybe 5' 7" or so. He may have been a bit taller when he was younger, but not much. He had dark wavy hair then, now turned white and a bit thinned. He was a handsome man, now a bit wrinkled with the lines of age and character, all earned that hard way. He still had a sparkle in his eye. His handshake was strong. He had an easy smile and he looked you in the eye when he spoke to you. He was still handsome.
His mind was quick. His memory a bit dulled after all these years. However there were things he recalled, which were difficult to speak of, but he did, willingly, because he wanted to share them with me, a "young" Marine.
(I am sixty nine years old.)
Over sixty years ago, this gentle man was a young turk; full of life and energy. He went to war for his country, serving in the Pacific. He went through some of the most difficult battles of those times. He made four amphibious landings.
The last was at a place called Iwo Jima.
His was a Sergeant in the first wave to land at Blue Four, on the right flank of the landing force. He told me he was called a "Pioneer". These days he would be a Combat Engineer. He and his men were to hit the beach and work inland to clear the beach of mines, wire, and pillboxes, as well as any other obstructions that they saw. He was a squad leader in a company of two hundred Marines.
When he walked off that Island, there were twenty four Marines left. All changed men forever.
We talked for several hours about those times and experiences. Often, in mid story, he paused for a minute, to recollect himself; to regain his composure. He spoke softly, but with a clear voice, of nastiness and horror and courage. He told me they were really getting pasted by the Japs. Guys were dying, left and right. Nothing but pieces of men and equipment. Just terrible.
Then the flag went up. He told me that his thought at that moment was, "We got the Bast*rds now."
As the time came for me to go home, he paused, and told me he wanted to share one more thing with me. He searched among the neat clutter of his home and found a small plastic bag. He said he wanted me to have it, a gift from him.
The bag had some black grainy material in it. Probably an ounce or so.
It had a label.
The label says, "Sand from Iwo Jima".
Friend of Al Cialfi, USMC
Here is a pic of my Dad Gene Richards in Sasebo Japan in 1950 I believe. He served in the Pacific during WWII and is also an Iwo Jima Marine. He'll be 86 this May.
Also, this is a pic of me during Desert Storm. This donkey hung around our camp after the cease fire. I was with USMCR AT (Tow) Co. Lt. out of Broken Arrow Oklahoma and attached to 3/23. This little guy even had USMC spray painted on his side so I guess he qualifies as a mascot. I tried to feed him some dehydrated fruit from my M.R.E. but he wouldn't eat it. Instead he walked away and chewed on some plywood! Go figure.
That was BGen. Wilburt S. Brown. I heard some of his contemporaries refer to him as 'Slew-foot' Brown. Probably went back to his WW1 days. I've attached a foto of him with Lt.Gen. Franklin A. Hart (a fearful man). Brown is in the center. He was Chief Umpire for the exercise. Notice he is wearing the French Fourregere, that was a personal decoration since it has the loops outside the arm. This was during AirLex II at 29Palms. I believe it was early 1953. I was with 3rd Sig.Bn.
29 Palms was pretty nasty back then. I first went there in '52, absolutely nothing there, no shelter of any kind. Just lizards, tortoises and some old prospectors.
In a few short days it will have been 41 years since I was a young Corpsman serving with Golf 2/5 as we entered the city of Hue'. I had only been in country a little over a month but had already experienced some hard firefights and treated Marines who were victims of the Arizona Territory in the An Hoa basin.
On that early afternoon of January 31st we didn't have clue of what we were in for. I doubt any of us even knew that cities like Hue' existed in Vietnam, for us it was rice paddies, mountains and straw hooch's of the people.
A town with paved streets, brick buildings, houses with driveways and garages (with cars inside) was, at least to me, a surprise. As we moved along the first set of buildings, some of us joked that it was like the T.V. show "combat." The further up the road we got the worse it got and the joking ended. I remember us moving through a group of Marines in a deep roadside ditch, they had that wide eyed "What the ^%$&" is going on face (I later learned it was Alpha 1/1 that we moved though) little did I know that before the day would end we'd all have that look on our face.
By the late afternoon, we had taken the bridge across the Perfume River (at least a 1/4 mile across) and had attempted to enter the walls of the Citadel. We knew by now that not only were we out manned, we were out gunned and we didn't have glue as how to fight in a city but it wouldn't take long for these Marines to figure it out. I witnessed first hand Marines learning on the fly. They hot wired cars to evacuate the wounded and our KIA's. I saw them run out into the street to retrieve a downed Marine who had just been hit trying to cross the same road, I too had to learn on the go. I had to learn how to go out under cover fire to get wounded Marines, how to use buildings, walls and rooms to safely treat these men. The Marine wounded by gun shots could also be suffering wounds from flying concrete or glass. I rarely had just one wounded at a time, and with a shortage of other Corpsman (started the fight short and lost others as KIA's) I learned how to evaluate and treat pretty fast.
As the battle ground on I had Marines refusing to be evacuated for anything short of a life threading wound. I witnessed E-4's and later E-3's compare dates of rank so they could take charge of fire teams or squads. What I saw were Marines acting in the highest traditions of the Corps. They sucked it up, adapted and over came, yes, they kicked a$s. I am privileged to have served with these Marines, I only regret that I couldn't save more of them. May those that gave it their all in the fight rest in peace and to the families of those men, your sons will never be forgotten by his brothers.
John "Doc" Higgins
Golf 2/5, 1967-1968
Duke's Right Shoulder
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of getting together with a guy I hadn't seen since we graduated from boot camp with Platoon 145 in September of 1962 at MCRD San Diego. Henry 'Hank' Glees and I spent a couple of hours, swapping stories about boot camp and our time in the Corps. Turns out we both served a couple of months over four years and got out within five days of each other. Hank went to Sea School after graduation and spent a couple of years on one of those small aircraft carriers (I forget the name). He said he met John Wayne and brought a copy of the picture he had as proof. He gave the copy to me and I would like to share it with you. That's Hank just over the Duke's right shoulder. The time frame is sometime in 1963 or 1964 and the place is on a flat-top out of San Diego bound for Hawaii.
The Few. The Proud.
Mrs. Puller Opened The Door
I have read the many stories in the American Courage newsletters about Chesty Puller and various interactions. I don't think any of us who are a part of the brotherhood can get enough Chesty stories and I enjoy reading EVERY one of them. Well, here is mine...
I was stationed at NWS Yorktown VA from 1987-1989. While there, the Commanding Officer of the base was retiring and several dignitaries were going to be present. Several of us were preparing for the pomp and circumstance of that day, including me. At the time, I was a Corporal. I had been told that I, along with a Lance Cooley, were going to be driving to one of these dignitaries houses to pick them up. We were told to have our dress blues squared away.
That morning, I was given the address. I was told the dignitary I was going to be picking up was Virginia Puller, Chesty's wife.
We pulled into the Puller's driveway and I knocked on the door. When Mrs. Puller opened the door I gave the official "I'm here at the direction of (such and such) to escort you..." She cut me off and groveled over how good we looked in our dress blues. She then told us to come in so we could have a soda.
Breaching the portal of Chesty Puller's home sent a chill down my spine. For the next hour I was in awe as she told us stories and showed us around her home. She showed us a vase that had been given to Chesty from his time in China and various other treasured mementos that hung on the walls that he had collected from around the world. She showed us his favorite chair, his favorite pipe and his favorite book. She allowed me to look at the book, which was about Generals of the Civil War. There were several penciled inscriptions in the margins of the book in Chesty's handwriting. She had numerous family pictures on the fireplace mantel, including one of her son in a wheelchair. She went out of her way to tell us not to feel sorry for him, because he was a very successful lawyer and she was very proud of him.
We drove her to the ceremony. On the way she told us various stories about different locations relevant to the Puller's lives as we passed. Once the ceremony was over, we drove her back towards her home. She was happy the day was over and told us how her husband always hated going to official ceremonies such as the one she just attended. As we drove, she asked if we had ever been to Chesty's grave. When we said we had not, she insisted we stop.
When we arrived, she pointed out the History marker the state had installed at the entrance to the cemetery. When we arrived graveside, I was astonished at how non-descript Chesty's marker was. When I commented about this, Mrs. Puller said that's exactly what Chesty wanted. Mrs. Puller asked our opinion about the EGA on Chesty's marker. She told us when Chesty was originally buried, the original EGA looked crooked to her. She had them replace it because she knew that throughout history Marines would visit the gravesite and they of all people would notice. She said she found it unacceptable that this one symbol was anything less than perfect. She was not happy that the new EGA was sticking up higher then the rest of the marker, but she said at least that one was straight. She told us that the little church house in the same cemetery is where she and Chesty were married. As we looked into the windows of this church, she told us about that day and she began to cry.
We escorted Mrs. Puller back to her house and dropped her off. When we left, my eyes started to sweat as the realization hit me that I had just experienced a personalized front row seat to history. Thank you for the memory of a lifetime Mrs. Puller...
Sergeant Bill Covington
"Some people spend a lifetime wondering if they made a difference. Marines don't have that problem."
Wife Was Following
Last week, my wife and I came back from being on the highways and by-ways of the western U.S. for seven months. We had some very memorable experiences meeting a rather large cross section of old and young Marines.
This past Wednesday we were taking the rolling house to storage in Lakewood, California. I had a young Marine pull up on the driver's side and roll down his window to talk to me. I noticed a Marine Corps uniform hanging on the passenger side of his vehicle. He stated he worked the Lakewood Recruiting station and asked if I could come by with the motor home and he wanted to give me something. I told him I would and I knew where the recruiting station was located at the Lakewood Mall. My wife was following me with our car and thought I had lost my mind when I pulled into Mall parking lot. I parked it in the isle facing the recruiting station and went in to their office. The young man in the car turned out to be a Gunny Sgt. Luckily I carry a small pocket digital camera with me at all times. I asked if they would like their picture taken with the back of the motor home. I was most honored to take this picture and forward it to you. These fine gentlemen all have over 5 years, plus, of active service and 3 of the 4 might make it a career. The men left to right;
Gysgt Juan Contreras, SSgt Kristopher Lee, Sgt Gregory Friend, Sgt Kevin Knight.
Old Sgt Fritz McDowell
I did get two Marine coffee mugs for my wife and I from these gentlemen.
While on gate duty at Paxtunt River, an individual tried to go thru the gate and I signaled him down. Looked like a gardener - not shaved and a little on the dirty side so to speak. I said "May I see your identification, Sir?" and he replied with "You don't know who I am?" and I answered "no". So he showed me his ID and it was Chesty Puller. He replied "Do you think you will recognize me the next time I come thru the gate" and I said "If you shave, Sir." He replied "Smart A$s Marine" and laughed. I made two mistakes in the Corps - Not going to OCS and was asked to try out for the rifle team. But if I made it would have meant staying in for an undetermined amount of time. I will never know if I would have qualified.
DALE LOGSDEN SGT
1950 to 1952
While serving with Bravo Company 1/9 in the vicinity of Cam Lo in 1969 we were assigned to a tank patrol. After several hours of seeing nothing, the Gunny in charge of the tank frantically requested an M16. From his perch he popped off five or six rounds. Of course we scattered and set up a perimeter expecting the worse, with a sheepish grin the gunny informed us he had shot a deer. Volunteers were requested to mount a combat patrol to retrieve it. Several of us searched for about a half-hour to no avail. On the way back riding on the tank any wild animal was fair game. With the M79 loaded with buckshot and M16s firing it must have sounded like a small rolling firefight. Fortunately we weren't hunting for supper because we came home empty-handed. Upon returning to base a special formation was called and our CO informed us that was the first and last hunting trip we would participate in. Our unauthorized hunting trip stands out in my memory as one of the few enjoyable times I spent in Vietnam.
I remember playing football for HQ BN 2nd Mar Div in 1967. Just back from Nam G-2-9 M-60's Myself Mike Ryan and Leo Black play line backer. They called us "The tubby twins" We were both grunts. We weighed about 170 lbs. I guess we were tubby considering our weight when we got home me 138, Leo 145. I can't remember the coaches name, he was a Lt Col. he use to say "I like you grunts you like to stick your face right in their numbers"
Cpl. Mike Ryan 1963-1969
I just read GySgt Tom Shirey's note about football on Okinawa in 1962.
We won the Far East Championship in Korea vs an Army team during the Thanksgiving holidays.
I wan to let Gunny Shirey know that my good friend Ed Heuring, Lt. Col. USMC (Ret) died 5 years ago of heart problems. Before the Marine Corps he was an All American tackle from U. of Maryland and played Pro ball in Montreal and Denver.
I retired in 1981.
Gerry Brodeur, Maj. USMC (Ret.)
I remember and played offensive and defensive lineman for 8th Motors. We were kind of unorganized and didn't have much equipment but we loved to knock heads. We had a Staff Sgt. for a coach. 8th Motors was next door (barracks) to 8th Comm. I was a 2531 radio operator with 1/3 in Vietnam but changed to Motor Transport in Okinawa on the way back.
Bill Bratton- Former Sergeant of Marines
I was stationed at Onslow Beach with 2nd Recon Bn in late 1969. Myself and two other Marines from Recon wanted to try out for one of the eight man teams and we were jeeped to mainside Lejeune for a week. I can't remember who the coach was. I do remember that our first day at practice they didn't have enough helmets for us but we practiced anyway. A week later I was preparing for a Med cruise and had to stop playing.
Marines playing football without helmets! There is a joke in there somewhere.
A Little Motivating
Swimmer in the Mississippi?.......around '73-74 (from memory), the Reserve unit (Ordnance Maintenance Platoon (-) ) in Moline Illinois had a separate training center (no Navy, other than our Doc). We were on the South bank of the Mississippi (look at a map or Google if you don't think the Mississippi has a South bank) at 3900 River Drive........only a two-lane street and a strip of grass away from the river shore. A Captain, name long forgotten, and a civilian bud were swimming the length of the Mississippi, or at least that was the plan. They started out somewhere up around Minneapolis, wore flippers and wet suits, were gong with the current, and had a support vehicle on shore (think the whole support crew was the Capt's wife, and a rep from their sponsor, Sioux Bee Honey). Recruiting was tough at the time, may have been right around the end of the draft.......not our direct responsibility, but the I-I staff helped wherever and however we could.......saw this as a great PR opportunity, arranged to have local TV, poolees, etc. on the shore at appointed time, and plan was to have the Captain come ashore, do a little motivating of the poolees, etc. with film at eleven. It all came off...except that, the Capt got out of the water, peeled of some of the wet suit, donned a Sioux Bee Honey windbreaker from the support van, and began to wax eloquent about the joys of honey as a training food, and ignored the poolees. Heard later that he made it all the way to New Orleans, and the civilian called it quits at St. Louis......also heard (unconfirmed) later that the Capt had been separated from the Corps for psych reasons.....he supposedly also held some sort of record for continuous sit-ups (crunch hadn't been invented yet). Was the I-I there at the time, would love to hear from any of the staff or the Reservists of the era.
S/F, Dick Dickerson, Maj USMC (Ret)
Eight Man Squad Drill
I went through P.I during the Fall of 1960. We drilled on the drill field doing what I remember was call "eight man squad drill". I seem to have heard that it was soon discontinued as a drill procedure after 1960. Does anyone know if this is the case and why was it discontinued.
I thought it was the sharpest marching I had ever seen, especially when done by recruits in their final weeks at P.I. I remember being thankful that my position in the platoon during drill practice did not require really intricate foot work.
L/Cpl. Wm. Joseph-"60"-"64"
You are the only Portsmouth Marine I have heard from since I left there. I was stationed at the Marine Barracks 1946-1947. My main duty post was the railroad gate at Kittery, ME. Sometimes I chased prisoners from our small brig. I believe it only had 3 or 4 cells. You may have a clearer memory of that. Our prisoners were mostly sailors from the submarines and the hospital. A few times rode shotgun for the Wells Fargo armored truck to pick up the payroll at the bank in Portsmouth. We carried a .45 and a Riot Gun for that. That was heady stuff for a 17 yr.old. Great duty and liberty but awfully cold on that gate in the winter. The wind and snow really blew over that river.
Sitting in a foxhole in China Beach, Vietnam in March, 1966 might have been a good thing if there had been lots of round- eyed women laying on the beach, except we were in the process of building Camp Hoa long and bunkers had yet to be built and there were no round eyes. On moonless nights we would intercept sappers heading for the wire at the helicopter base a couple of clicks or so up the beach. Well, one of these nights after I had got the word that I could take R&R in Japan and had received a letter from lovely friend of mine who was station at Camp Zama and said she would spend the week with me in Koyota, I decided to try out our phone system as I was also in communications as the unit that I was with was the 5th Communication Battalion.
I cranked the EE8 (how many have read this from that area and said double E eight) got the 5th Comm switch and ask them for DaNang Switch and when I got DaNang Switch I ask for Saigon Switch. Now I knew I could get to Saigon, the tricky part was getting to Japan. Once I got the operator on, I just told him that I would like to get Camp Zama switch on so I could talk to the women I was going to see in April and that I was calling from a foxhole in DaNang, he could not believe I was doing this, but told me as long as he had no priority calls he saw no problem in doing it and put me through Camp Zama.
When Camp Zama switch came on I asked to be connected to that women at her work locations, the phone rang, a flare went up, she answered and said "HI Claire, it's Bob and I am calling you from a field phone in a foxhole in Vietnam", silence and then, another flare went up down the line, but Claire and I talked about me coming to Japan the first week in April and she was taking leave and that she would buy the scotch and be ready when I got off the aircraft. We talked about 5 minutes and then the line went dead, but I will never forget how a double E eight let me talk to someone some thousands of miles of way from a foxhole in Vietnam. By the way I am still in contact with Claire and although we have not seen each other since that trip, we have renewed our friendship through, yep you guessed it, the telephone.
Robert D. Gordon
SGT Vietnam 1965-1969
Operations and Communications
Rocks & Shoals
I sure do remember them. I ran afoul of them as a PFC (My error, naturally). I have a copy. They were posted on every bulletin board. There was no excuse for anyone not being familiar with the articles. I kept one when they were removed after UCMJ came in. Those provided much harsher punishment than UCMJ. The full title was 'Articles For The Government Of The United States Navy'. Some people believe those regulations only applied to Marines when they were aboard ship, not true. They applied at all times. Some infractions that may get you a little brig time or just a good chewing out today, could be punishable by death (in peacetime) under Rocks & Shoals. Some examples: Disobeying a lawful order from a superior officer, sleeping on watch, leaving your station without being properly relieved, unlawful setting on fire or destruction of public property.
Poppin Heals And Strutting
July '59 myself, Val Connell and Bill Dunavan joined the Marine Corps in San Antonio TX. And in platoon 149 at MCRD our lives changed forever by the strict, we thought crazy, D I's SSgt R T Bellis, S/Sgt Lovette and our beloved Sgt Lewis Ha
.. After boot camp I went to 5th Marines Val to Las Vegas, Dunavan to Barstow. I went to E/2/5 Camp Margarita. On March 25th /30th 1960 I also made the 5th Marines Regimental 150 mile hike (From the Desert To The Sea ) I have a plaque on my wall proclaiming us Boondockers Supreme signed by Col.Tolson, A Smoak our Bat. Commander. Let me tell you the hike from 29 palms to Camp Margarita, it was not fun and we cussed it every mile but we made it and was proud to have made it. We would not have been good grunts if we would not have b!tched all the way. When we marched in to Camp Margarita we were poppin heals and strutting.
I was also witness to a drumming out in 1960 at Camp Margarita. They marched the prisoner out to the front of 3/5 cut all his buttons and insignias off. 3/5 did an about face then a Chaser and a single beat drummer marched him off. very sobering day.
We left 2/5 in April 1961 went to Camp Sukiran Okinawa (The Rock) as A co 1st bat 9th Mar. and the rest is history. Any one still recall being in the "Crotch" ?
PFC Ray H Phipps 1879982 42 mo. in grade. Ha From MCRD, thru Camp Pendleton, Okinawa, Japan, Subik Bay, Olongapo a quick trip to Vietnam aboard the USS Princeton and Hong Kong for R&R back to Pendleton what a life starting out as a 17 year kid.
I remember in 65 when My pal Tuttle and I went to the slop chute, and tied one on, feeling happy and giggly. when we got back to the Squadbay, around 12 AM, we turned on the Lights.
Well Cpl. Cannon came out from the NCOs part of the Squadbay, he was BIG and looked like KING KONG. He came up to us and told us "IF YOU TWO ever do that again I will stuff you two in that locker box" and I believe he could do it.
We became friends kind of, and one day he was at the desk at the hatch where you check in and out to go places, and I asked him, "CPL, Canon what does D.T. mean", (his name was D.T. Cannon), he looked at us with that same locker box time face and said "Dynamite Tornado" Then I asked what his daughter's name was (all I knew it was H. Cannon), he told us Hurricane. LOL
Just some FUNNY INPUT from when I was in A-1-10.
LCpl. William Russo
Other Side Of The Fence
After reading the interesting and varied letters from other Marines, I would like to share some of my experiences that I am sure other Marines, young and old can relate to.
Back in 1949 I told my Father that some of us were going to enlist in the Marine Corps. Now he was a Sgt. in the Army during the first world war and he said that "I don't think you'll make it. That's a tough outfit". Now that statement made me even more determined to enlist. So the day after graduation four of us went to the Post Office to join the Marines. After talking with the Recruiter, he said to one that" the Marine weren't for you, to go see the Navy down the hall". To the other two he said " you two go see the Army in the next room". Then he asked me why I wanted to join the Marines and first I told him what my Father said and that made me more determined to join.
With that he had me sign a pile of forms and said I would go to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital for my physical. After passing, I left for the train station and headed for Parris Island. I was assigned to Platoon # 32 in the 2nd Marine Training Bn. Off with the hair, took a "De-lousing" shower, was issued clothes and all the web gear, a pair of sneakers, etc. Then we were marched off to the wooden barracks that were built on poles as I recall. That was to end of life as I remembered it.
There were many experiences that we went through (some did not make it and were sent home). One especially I'll never forget. It was during one of our forced marches around the island (which is mostly sand and hot as h### in the summer). Any way at one point (near exhaustion) the DI called a 10 minute break until the stragglers caught up. It was then while sitting and laying in the sand that one of the recruits slapped a sand flea. The DI saw that and stormed over yelling "by slapping that poor little sand flea you just got yourself killed if you did that in combat" Then he said "what s&x was it? The poor recruit said "a male Sir". The DI then ordered the platoon to find the flea for a "Military burial". Soon after a recruit came forward with a dead sand flea. The DI looked at the flea and said "that's a female, keep looking". Then another recruit brought the DI another flea. Then the DI held a military funeral. Break over, we continued our training. One thing about Parris Island is that I would never be anywhere else for training.
Later when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, my CO, Captain Ellis called me in and said the he was sending me to San Diego for Drill Instructor training. Now I was on the other side of the fence. Great memories.
General Victor Krulak
I was visiting with the Gunny at the Recruiting Station in Flagstaff the other day, and he handed me the article that spoke of the passing of General Victor Krulak at age 95. Tears came to my eyes, as I recalled this unique, and most impressionable officer I have ever met. I had served as a Drill Instructor from 1957-1959, and at the end of my tour on the Drill field, I was given an assignment to Sea School at MCRD, San Diego, as an Instructor.
General Krulak became Base Commander, replacing General Thomas Wornham, at about the same time, and I was honored one hot, sunny day when a Lieutenant, approached some Sea School Students, in "modified Blues",I was drilling on the Grinder that hot summers day, and I halted the troops.
The Lieutenant told us "the General wanted to let us know we were a fine looking group of Marines, and he enjoyed watching us drill "from Building 31, where his Headquarters were located! We were a proud group to receive his comments.
Later, while teaching in a classroom setting, General Krulak would occasionally visit our school and sit in on our presentations, never wanting to acknowledge his visit nor interrupt our classes.
In 1959, I felt a hand on my shoulder while visiting his headquarters, and he paused to say "Merry Xmas to you and your family, Sgt. Stauffer", and I was honored "always to be in his presence!" I consider General Victor Krulak to be the epitome of Marine Officers, and I can visualize he and General Lewis Burwell Puller standing at the Pearly Gates, where Marines will be greeting the Army and the Navy as they visit Heaven's scenes.
I pray that I'll have a position in that Guard Detachment!
Former Sgt of Marines
Richard A. Stauffer 51/60
Just read Gunny Wasmund Letter about the 150 mile march from 29 Palms to Camp Pendleton. I was in Hotel Co. 2nd Batt. Our company commander was Captain Cook (6'4, legs to his shoulders). We had hiked all over Pendleton to get ourselves in shape for the "Desert to the Sea March". Our Battalion CO was LtCol. Linane. I remember the USO Show, but I didn't go, to exhausted. We did not have one man fall out during the march, though a lot of them had blisters the size of silver dollars, we kept everyone going.
MSGT. Michael Ray, Ret
Semper Fi, OOHRAH
No Better Duty
In 1972 I was dragged kicking and screaming to Field Medical Service School at Camp Lejeune North Carolina. After Field Med I had orders to Third Marine Division, Okinawa Japan. I was a young HN with a wife and small daughter and the last thing I wanted to do was leave them for a year with the Corps, especially with Vietnam still going on.
I got to Okinawa in October 1972 and was sent to "Charlie Med" 3rd Medical Battalion at Camp Hanson. I wasn't too impressed with Okinawa so when they asked for volunteers to go on float with 1/4 I jumped on it. I didn't know it but I loved being a "Grunt". At the end of the float we were supposed to head back to Okinawa but got pulled to the Gulf of Thailand to stand by to pull American Civilians and Embassy personnel out of Phenom Penh (yes we DID have Marines in Cambodia in 1973...don't let them BS you). After 30 some days the Ambassador said Phenom Penh was going to hold so they sent us back to Okinawa. When we got back, after serving with the grunts, I started reenlistment papers.
I ended up spending 9 years on active duty, most of it with the Corps (per my request). My last unit on active duty was 3rd Battalion 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division as Senior Battalion Corpsman. I liked being a "Cannon Ccker" almost as much as being a "grunt". Did another 5 years Reserve duty with 4th Medical Battalion Detachment "F".
There is no better duty in the United States Navy than a Corpsman serving with the Marines. There is a bond between a "Doc" and his Marines that is special and unbreakable. Every Marine I ever served with is still one of my Marines as is any Marine I meet now. God Bless the United States Marine Corps and the Guardian Angels they call "Doc". There is no higher honor than to be bestowed that title.
Semper Fi !
The Trained Killer
I was stationed at Subic Bay, Philippines, 1967-1971, and provided Technical Services to the fleet on weapons and weapon systems. I was assigned to ComFairWestPac, Cubi Point.
There were several Clubs at Subic Bay. Two of the Clubs were the Cubi Point Officers Club, and the Skyclub at the Marines MAU Camp on the hill. The Cubi Point Officers club was a formal, quiet, and sedate club where Naval Aviators gathered to frolic.
The Skyclub was quiet different, dress was informal, (but, you had to wear something), and fun things were permitted as long as nothing was brought along that made a loud noise and expelled projectiles.
Most of the patrons attended the club to have a cold (usually alcoholic) beverage, and discuss the flora and fauna of the Philippines.
Discussions usually covered the female of the species fauna, which were in abundance in any of the "upscale" night clubs in Olongapo. Where, for a relatively modest fee, one could considerably widen one's knowledge of said subject.
One night, a Marine MEU, A Marine Recon Unit, and a couple of seal teams, were visiting, plus, the Aircraft Carrier USS Constellation was in port.
In spite of this influx of various warrior groups, things were running along smoothly, until a Skyclub patron turned to another, and mentioned the fact that he was nothing but a trained Killer. The person spoken to promptly informed the trained Killer that he was nothing but a trained Killer Killer.
The trained Killer, taking umbrage at this affront, strongly suggested that the trained Killer Killer go some place and conduct an act on himself most people would deem impossible.
(Since the Vice President of the United States recently told a certain Senator to do the same thing, it must be possible) As their philosophical discussion continued, other trained Killers and trained Killer Killers, desiring that all points be heard, joined in.
Some of the trained Killers and trained Killer Killers mistook the Waltz the trained Killer and the trained Killer Killer were doing, for a Tango, and decided to participate. This additional activity promptly turned into a Rumba or Rumble, I forget which.
At the conclusion of the night's entertainment, most trained Killers and trained Killer Killers returned to their commands somewhat intact. The same could not be said for the Skyclub, as it was now a pile of rubble.
When the Cubi Point Commanding Officer saw the rubble the next day, he was asked what he was going to do about it. He, being a guy who had "come up through the ranks", and knowing most of the people involved had been, and were going back, into harms way, simply said: "rebuild it".
Hey Marines, some of you were there that night, and I would like to hear your version of this story.
Jim Reed S/SGT MGCIS-1 1948-52
VMF (AW) 214 Black Sheep, 1954-55.
NCTS Point Mugu 1966-90 (Aviation Ordnance Association plank owner)
...As they marched out of our company area, the drummer was drumming a beat on his drum. In the vernacular of the Marine Corps, this guy was a first class sh!t-bird. It is now 56 years since I witnessed this disgraced individual being "drummed" out of the Corps. He got just what he deserved.
E.G. Matthews--Semper Fi
Funny, I saw this posting. I was just thinking about how many Marines have actually witnessed such a tradition as I did in 1987.
I transferred as a Cpl. from Marine Bks. Alameda in the spring of 1987 to fox co. 2/8, 2nd Mar.Div.
We had a Marine who was trying his damnedest to get kicked out of the Corps and he succeeded.
It was probably two to three months after I arrived that we had a company formation out in the quad on Camp Geiger. I found it strange to see a taxi cab sitting just off in the distance.
After being called to attention, First Sgt.Toomer was reading a dishonorable discharge as the "person" (I don't want to call him Marine anymore) was escorted out in civilian attire by two of the largest Marines in the unit. I remember the "person" having a few choice words as the First Sgt. had us do an about face as he was placed into the taxi cab and removed from base.
That was one of my first introductions into the Grunts, and I thought it was cool as h&ll to witness such a tradition first hand.
I don't recall any officers present, Just the first Sgt. & Co. Gunny.
I would be interested to know if any others had such an experience as we did in Fox 2/8, 1987.
Speaking of being drummed out, I was assigned as a brig chaser at the Stumps in 67, and was part of the group that delivered a BCD fellow to the gate. At that time, there was a pretty much deserted road outside the gate, and the nearest building was four miles away, a honky tonk we enjoyed on weekends.
As I was in the company office, preparing to deliver the man to the gate, I heard the gunny tell one of the clerks to call the sheriff and let them know there would be a man walking down the road after a certain time. When I asked the reason for calling the sheriff, I was informed that California has/had a vagrancy law. If you were stopped on a roadway, and did not have a job, or a minimum of fifty dollars on your person, you were considered a vagrant, and could be arrested. Additionally, I learned that when you receive BCD or DD you are given fifty dollars (I guess kinda separation pay) and out of that money you buy your clothes to depart the base with. Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that using some of the money to buy clothes, would leave a person with less than the required amount needed to not be a vagrant.
I heard stories of people being drummed out, and having their uniforms desecrated at the gate, but I never witnessed it personally. Just pushing them out the gate in civvies.
...At this point, a drummer and two sergeants marched to the head of the formation. The drummer positioned himself behind the C.O. and the 1st Sgt. The two sergeants flanked the prisoner, and on the 1st Sgt commanding "get this fu*king piece of sh*t off my base" (yes, that was a direct quote), they executed an about face and "slow marched" him back down the line. As they did, each Marine in line facing each other executed an about face as they came abreast of them. At the end, a white pickup was parked and they placed him in the bed of the truck. We were told that they drove him to the gate and dropped off there. To this day, if anyone needs explained what true humiliation is, all I have to do is explain what was in his face that day.
SSgt. Russ Shinert
....did an about face...the charges were read and then the prisoner was escorted to the jeep...was taken to the front gate and told not to look back...of course the story went was that he got 6-6-and a kick....the kick was supposed to be given at the gate and they were never to set foot on an installation again....
LCpl. John Cerullo
A-1-2-2 and MCAS
I was at Camp Laflores, with 5th tanks in 1970 when we stood in formation. When they dishonorably discharged a guy from the Marines. It was a h&ll of a experience for a 18 yr old. They read the charges and cut all his buttons off his uniform and eagle globe and anchor. Them we did a about face and turned our back on him When the MP drove him to the gate, back gate. that was it. The only thing they left on his uniform was his medals and he had a lot. That's one thing they can't take from you. When he came back from Nam. Couldn't adjust I guess no excuse for it.
CPL Bill (69-71) Semper-FI
Good Morning and Semper Fi,
I have looked through your catalog many times and have bought a few items. Your items are great and I thank you, and your staff, for your quick and dependable service.
I am one of those unfortunate Marines, or fortunate depending on your point of view, to be in peace time service during the Cold War. I am sorry to say I never had to face enemy fire. I was a grunt from June 1980 to July 1983, I lived in fox holes all over the world, in "every clime and place," but never fired a shot in anger. I volunteered for duty in Beirut in late 1982 but never got there. I must confess lack of combat service has caused me much heartache over the years. I often wonder if me and my buddies would have done our job like all the other Marines before us? Would we have performed well under fire? I believe we would have but I'll NEVER know for sure. Not having been in combat makes me fell like less of a Marine, less of a veteran.
My oldest boy is now in The Corps. He is almost ready to be assigned to a unit and get deployed. With great sadness and frustration I realized there was not a damn thing I could tell him in regards to combat. I have no words of wisdom to offer him. I took my youngest boy to the Marine Corps Museum. As we walked along the time-line we came to my point of service. I was a little ashamed because there was almost nothing there.
I know from your newsletter that a lot a Marines and former Marines send you email on all different topics. Has anyone else ever written to you about this topic before? Also, have you ever thought of developing a few items for those of us who never got in the game?
Thanks for your time and letting me share these thoughts with you. I am still proud to call myself a Marine. I just regret that I did not do more to earn the title.
Andy De Cusati
Lima 3/5 Reunion
May 27, 2009, Charleston, SC.
Behind The Mess Hall
Tom's story about Red Ebert brought back memories of when Red was Bn SgtMaj 1st Bn 10th Marines. I was assigned to H&S Co as a Counter Battery Radar Operator at that time (0842). On TRAEX 1-56 to Vieques, PR our tent city was set up and we rotated guard assignments throughout the compound. One of these was (as usual) guarding the messhall. (Just why, I never completely understood.) Red was our "reveille" via the rigged-up loudspeaker system and screamed us out of the rack every morning, with one notable exception.
One night, apparently the relief sentry failed to show up to relieve his man at the mess hall post. Being a good Marine, the sentry on duty would not leave his post without being properly relieved (See General Orders). When nature called, he did what he had to do and left the pile for all to see. That morning, Red gently awakened us in a truly gentle voice with something like this:
"Good morning Marines. I hope you rested well last night. As you arise, I have just one question for you: WHO'S the DIRTY Son-of- a-B*#@* WHO SH-- BEHIND the MESS HALL?" We never heard who that Marine was, nor did we forget Red Ebert.
Red did a lot of good for his Marines. He sent a friend of mine into recruiting duty at a time and in a city where Marines were not held in high regard. A reserve unit from that city had suffered severe casualties in the early days of the Korean War and the citizens held the Corps responsible for those losses. And Red sent me to a Top Secret station that we now know was #3 on the Soviet ICBM target list. Thanks, Red, wherever you are.
John Tonkin, Pvt, PFC, Cpl - almost Sgt - PFC
As If They
I look forward to reading your e-mail publication when it arrives. I think it brings all Marines closer together as we read the stories of others.
I really enjoyed reading of the visits of Lt General Chesty Puller to Quantico, VA and Camp LeJeune in the middle sixties as I was at both bases during the visits. Reading of his visits brought me right back to those days as if they were yesterday. And I can say from my brief meeting that he was truly "A Marines' Marine"
Semper Fi To All
Under My Pillow
I will never forget the day when I was ordered to present myself at the company formation, November 10, 1955. I was working at the tank park at Camp Lejeune and was ordered to double time it to the company site. I fell in and upon given the order "front and center" which I didn't know what to do, stepped up and stood there in my soiled utilities with an old Corps Marine Gunny Sergeant wearing Dress Blues, with more hash marks then I could count. They brought a cake front and center, and as per Marine tradition, cut it and gave it to the Gunny and then he presented it to me because I was the youngest Marine on board. That night I slept with that piece of cake under my pillow dreaming of visions of Chesty Puller and all the traditions and history of the Corps going threw my head. It was a proud day for me, one that I will never forget.
One of the Proud,
Sgt. 1955 - 1959
"Once a Marine, Always a Marine" Not everyone can lay claim to the privilege of wearing the EGA. Note the number of Marine decals in relation to the "other" military establishments on passing vehicles.
The Corps is very unique in the unity and immediate attraction of its former members. The quantity of Marines in relation has always been a smaller number.
There are at least two organizations that appreciate your service (Not everyone gets called to be in harms way, yet all have been prepared and stand at the ready). The two organizations that know you and still want you are the U.S. Marine Corps and their affiliate the Marine Corps League.
I issue you an invitation to continue wearing your EGA and serve God, Family, Country, and Corps with the Marine Corps League.
Jan 1966 - Jan 1991
MASS-3 Chu Lai May 67 - Jun 68
Haven't seen anything about "Stolen Valor" ever mentioned in your news's letter in the years I've been reading it. Don't know if you'll display this or not in your next news's letter but thought I'd send it anyway to get the word out of what happens to someone who may have great expectations of doing so. There's more to find out about this person on the web, but this is the final results.
A Former Marine
Semper - Fi
Now For A Few
RVN, 1965, Hill 54, lstBn, 5thMarines. Gen. Krulak came out to the bush to visit our battalion and to award various decorations to members of the 5th Marines. LtCol Coffman, our CO had a talk with the battalion about the General reminding all of us about his height and never, never look down at the General. That's o.k. for Marines who are 5'11" to about 6' tall. Now for the few Marines who are 6' 7" the General comes just about to the bottom of your chin, all I could see was clear blue sky and these pearly blue eyes just kept looking out into space. He would talk and you would respond looking out in space. And no, I never looked down..... General Krulak, you made a difference to our Corps and to all Marines, then and now. Semper Fi, for we will meet again.
Corporal of Marines, 0311
H&S Co., Alpha Co.
Rubber Boat Drills
The submarine's klaxon that sounded 'Aaroogah' in preparation to dive came from the fondness of the Model-T Ford's horn we learn from an old Navy man, not from Germany, even though 'klaxon' sounds German.
Anyway, the WWII Marine Raiders from the old Camp Catlin used to go out of Pearl Harbor aboard a submarine for rubber boat drills. They would pull their rubber boat up through the sub's hatch, inflate it on deck and go ashore. In actual circumstances, they would sneak ashore under cover of darkness.
These Marines copied the klaxon sound and said 'Aaroogah', but it never caught on. It was 1st Amphib Recon that heard the Raiders, and made their own 'Oohrah' which we use today.
In the early 1950's, 1st ANGLICO, out of Camp Catlin conducted rubber boat drills from a destroyer out of Pearl Harbor, again hitting a beach on Oahu, and when finished, met a 6x6 with a keg, and ended with a beer bust, and bringing the equipment back to base. Oohrah!
Sgt. Max Sarazin, 1st ANGLICO, 3/'52 to 3/'54
If We Were Called
In Reply To CPL Gaytan's letter, "not as lean, not as mean"
First off, you must have caught h&ll in boot camp with your last name.
I'm pretty much in the same predicament as you. I served on active duty from 83-87 and then did some reserve time. I got out as a Sgt. We served, although not in combat or any theater of operations. I have been in civil service since 1988 and they do not recognize your time served, unless you served in combat (or in theater) or a disabled veteran. You must have some sort of expeditionary medal. This pretty much goes across the board. As an honorably discharged veteran, the only thing you rate is burial in a veteran's cemetery with a gov't issued headstone.
Although we did not serve in combat, we should still be proud of our service. Just being in the military, particularly the Corps, is a great service to our nation. We served during the Cold War, and because we did our time, and were there in case anything happened, we saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and basically the fall of the Russian empire. If we were called upon during our time in, I'm sure we would have performed just like every other Marine that ever served in a theater of operations.
Semper Fi Corporal.
Sgt. Ed DeVoe USMC
Drop A Dime
CPL Chris Harrington asked about the origin of the phrase "dropping the dime." Back in the days before cell phones there were public telephones in places such as drugstores, candy stores and in phone b