I remember in the summer of 1975, as I was doing a lovely 3 month stint in beautiful PISC, my company, "B" Company, 1st RTR Bn, was having it's off season uniform inspection. Full wool uniform in the heat of August. What misery!
Anyway, then Commandant of the Marine Corps General Louis H. Wilson, was visiting Parris Island and decided he wanted to "troop the line". As he went walking down through the different ranks, who should he stop in front of but li'l ol' me. As he turned to face me, all I could see (as I dared not do anything but stare straight ahead), was this HUGE fruit salad on his chest, and the MOH sticking out like a beacon of light. Well, this ol' priv went weak in the knees, and was sweating bullets. I was scared s--tless!
He asked me what one of my General Orders was (can't remember that well), and I managed a weak reply. He stood there for a minute, and then he said, "Don't worry son, it's only a medal"....THAT I will remember all my life! Semper Fi, Marines!
Charles S. Lloyd
P.S. I had to PT until the SDI got tired when we got back, because I didn't "sound off"...
Meet a Marine
Meet Pat Burris - WWII and Korea Veteran
See the Interview
Managed To Smuggle
RE: Operation STEEL PIKE - shipped out of Charleston, SC on board the APA Geiger with MACS-6 in 1963. First day out we hit one h&ll of a storm. First lesson learned - always be the 1st person along the rail and never downwind when launching your guts. Below decks we were gathered around a GI can looking like a bunch of toy birds bobbing up and down into a water glass except we were filling the can, not emptying it.
Working on the beach watching as a transport dropped a pallet of seabags and a water buffalo into the water instead of into a mike boat. Thought it was funny until they dropped a pallet into the drink which contained part of our radar system.
Watched some idiot try to push a broached mike boat off the beach with a rough terrain forklift. Was absolutely sure the beachmaster was going to have a heart attack after the driver punched his forks through the side of the boat.
After eating C rats for the first two days, finally had to take a crap - naturally it happened while walking perimeter guard at night. Found what I thought was a secluded area, squatted, strained, relieved and looked up to see a couple of the Spanish police staring and laughing at me.
Pulled liberty in Barcelona enjoying the "night life". We had one guy with us who spoke Spanish and several of us kept interrupting his conversation with a young lady with our requests to translate what our companions were saying.
Too late I found out what a Zippo lighter with the Marine Corps emblem was worth (use your imagination). Somehow we managed to smuggle an extraordinary amount of rum aboard ship. A couple of days out of port the ship store ran out of coke and we were "forced" to drink the rum straight. To this day cannot drink rum!
RE: Base AUTO DECALS - In 1967, the automobile base decals at MCAS(H) New River were red background for enlisted and yellow background for officer (or the reverse, don't remember for sure). In any event, was sent to MCAS Beaufort as part of a CG inspection team along with my maintenance officer.
We drove from New River to Beaufort in my officers car and I was driving when we hit the gate at Beaufort. The gate sentry saluted us and asked to see my ID. When he saw that I was enlisted, he asked for the written permission for me to be driving an officer's vehicle. I told him that I didn't have such written authorization and didn't really think I needed it.
Needless to say his attitude became slightly heavy handed until my boss (CWO Katch, who had been sitting quietly in the passenger seat) intervened. Seems the base decal color scheme for Beaufort was the opposite of New River. Guess that was one of the reasons why (in addition to fiscal) they eventually switched to standard DOD base decals.
RE: PISC BARRACKS - in 1962, 2nd RTR was wooden barracks and 3rd RTR was brick. Rifle range was also wooden barracks. Don't know what 1st RTR was (and didn't really care)
1962 - 1984
Once You Go Green
This is for Sgt. Garza, who asked about female corpsmen in Viet Nam. I got home about 30 minutes ago after giving a party for the Training Staff at the Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton. As a former FMF Corpsman, I had the opportunity to do something for this group whose predecessors trained me as well as thousands of other corpsmen who found themselves part of the Marine Corps.
There were two female corpsmen in attendance, both of whom had attended Field Med School ten years or so ago. This was the first I had heard of females becoming FMF corpsmen and I spent some time chatting with them about their experiences. I did not ask, but I am quite certain that they do not function in combat roles as actual company corpsmen, but I have no doubt that they have the capabilities to do so.
As for Viet Nam, the social and political atmosphere of the time precluded females from combat roles, but I do know that there were a number of them stationed at the Naval hospital in DaNang, known as the Naval Support Activity, or NSA DaNang for short. You might want to ask her if that is where she was stationed. Hospital personnel there worked night and day providing state- of-the-art emergency medical care for our wounded comrades, often getting them onto operating tables within thirty minutes of being wounded. Helicopters provided the transportation and the first-class medical care meant a survival rate much higher than anything previously known in warfare. I suspect that if your friend worked at NSA DaNang, she can tell you stories that will make your hair curl.
I am glad to see the constant stream of letters from and about Navy Corpsmen. We consider ourselves part of The Corps, and as was stated to me just this afternoon, "Once you go Green, you never want to go back."
Doc Thompkins, HMC
Chesty with a group of Marines
DI Motivation and Inspiration
We all have something our DI's said to us or made us do. Something that inspires and motivates us to this day. Send me your example. firstname.lastname@example.org
Firewatch In The Ladderwells
To Brought Shivers:....There must have been a lot of ships that took us over there, In June of 1967 I was on the USS POPE, 1000 Marines and 4000 US Army, its a good thing no fights broke out because we had the Army outnumbered. Spots on deck were bought and sold; some guys had it worked out so buddies would relieve them to save the spots. We had to stand FIREWATCH in the ladderwells, with the upper hatch open, and when in rough water, you could watch the stars moving back and forth...back and forth, even if that didn't get you sick, the smell of everyone else's vomit got you going.
Its amazing what heavy seas will do to a ship....on Carib 3-66 on the USS Boxer, I saw waves come over the flight deck during Hurricane Isabel...why I went up there I can only attribute to sheer stupidity, they had to unclench my fingers from a tie down chain to get me below the flight deck. We stayed extra time to give Aid & Relief to the Dominican Republic ....Isabel tore havoc through that country. I was working in the butcher shop making sandwiches for nearly a week for the people that went ashore.
Mark Gallant.....Chu Lai 68
Trip Of A Lifetime
I recently completed, with 10 other former or retired Marines, all Vietnam veterans, a 14 day visit of Vietnam. Arriving in HaNoi on 27 April then traveling to and around the old I Corps area from Chu Lai to the DMZ. We visited all of the significant Marine positions and traveled what used to be part of the Ho Chi Minh trail from Khe Sanh to DaNang through the A Shau Valley (a 10 hour bus trip).
It was a trip of a lifetime that has given me memories much more pleasant than the ones I have carried since my first trip there 40 years ago.
The attached photo was taken 3 May 2009 inside the Citadel, Hue City Vietnam.
Left to right as you looking at the picture are Robert Puskar, Kevin Kennedy, Michael Lewzader, Robert Ballou, Kenneth Prewett (holding Grit's catalog) Phil Sonner, and John Harrington.
Thanks for you interest,
Note: Or you might say: 2nd Trip of a lifetime.
In December of 1973 I had moved my wife and kids back to Omaha, Ne. from Cherry Point, N.C. and was on leave before I left for Okinawa.
I had received orders for a Communication Battalion at Camp Hanson 3rd Marine Division...This is where my story begins.
My wife and I had only been married for 3 years had 2 kids and had lost the 3rd to medical complications while I was in radio school in San Diego and were and still are deeply devoted to each other, On top of that we were just kids ourselves trying to survive in a world of liars and thieves.
I had been in the Corps. for a year, survived Basic training, finished first in my class in both Radio school and Microwave Equipment school and thought I was bullet proof, larger than life, a king among peasants.
The cost of moving my family to North Carolina and back to Omaha in a six month period had left us broke, our only choice was that they stayed with her folks until she could get a job and a place for her and the children.
This was really hard for me, the feeling that I was abandoning my wife and children ran hard against the pride of being a Marine and the things I felt of responsibility that was taught to me by my Step Father.
The family threw a going away party the day before I flew to California to report for transit to Okinawa. I got plastered and was so drunk I barely remember saying goodbye at the airport in Omaha. Although my clouded brain from the boozes made it easier for me, years later as I look at the pictures she took I could see she was terrified for both her and me, and was living a living h&ll. Oh how I wish it all could have been glorious like you read in the books.
I flew to LAX in Los Angeles, my flight oversea was from San Bernardino, I had no idea the distance between the two and never gave it any thought until I landed at LAX.
On finding out it was 60 miles away, I was floored.... No money, no family, no friends and only 8 hrs until the plane left I was in a bad way.....
Standing in the middle of the LAX Terminal with everything I own over my back and a lost look on my face I must have stuck out like a sore thumb. Three Kids with long hair with piece signs around there necks came up and asked if I need help.... I explained the problem and they said they were headed that way about 10am and if I wanted I could ride with them.
They were driving a old Dodge Van that was used by the Hippy types of the time, I didn't trust them but they were my only hope at the time. We put my bag in the rear and I seat in the seat next to the slider door, all the time listening to them talk of there s&x/drugs exploits, I was sure it was all being displayed just for me. They drove around for hours every now and then I would ask if they were headed that way soon, they would just say yea pretty soon.
Along about 1 pm they stopped parked on the street in front of this house that looked like a drug house, they said they had to pick someone up and if I'd like to come in, I said no I'd just wait in the van and asked if they would be long and reminded them I had to be there at 4pm.
I must have been setting there for a hour and finally decided to try to find another way. I got out of the Van, grabbed my bag and was standing there on the street probably with a dumb look on my face.
Suddenly I heard a voice over my should from the sidewalk that said, "Marine do you have a problem" I said yes Sir and proceeded to explain.
He was a Big Black Man, well dressed in suit and tie sort of fatherly figure, and from the moment he appeared, I had felt like I had known him all my life.
He said he was a retired Marine and now worked as a salesman and that his next stop was San Bernardino he could get me there on time... I was relieved with that and told him about the hippy boys and he just said he knew...for some reason I never asked him how he knew, but at the time I didn't care either.
As we drive traffic was terrible, We made small talk but never once talked about anything but the Corps.
As we arrived at the gate of the air station it was 4:15 pm and I was late.... Something that I didn't notice at the time and remembered later was as we met the guard at the gate we never stopped, and the guard saluted as we entered, but my mind was on getting to my gate and reporting.
He drove right to the Building as if he had been there before, said we were there and he would come in and explain the officer in Charge that we had been stuck in traffic.
He talked to the NCOIC and waved me over and said "ok Marine you may now report"..... After reporting in I turned to thank him and he was gone.... I looked all around and he was no where to be found, I turned back around and asked the NCOIC what happened to the big Black Man I came in with? He looked at me and said "What Black Man" You reported Alone....and you must have a Guardian Angel because your almost 1/2 hour late for this fight and they always leave on time, but this one was delayed for some reason....Get Aboard Marine.
As I think of this story it still gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes.... I'm here to tell you, you are not here alone. I never thought of getting his name, or saying thanks, but I do everyday now as I watch my Grandsons grow into men... and hope and pray he is watching over them also....
Adapt, improvise, and overcome
CPL of the Marines
My Name is Jack MacDonald (L/cpl) I'm a Beirut Veteran I served twice with Shore Party Plt. MSSG 24, 24th MAU, HMM 162. Here is a copy of my Beirut memorial Tattoo. Thank you in advance.
On behalf of myself and the members of graduating Platoon 2030 from Parris Island in 1959, we all say a big thanks to you and your wonderful staff for our successful 50th reunion on May 7th and 8th /09 in Beaufort S.C. and the great time we had together.
Your contribution was very special, and well received by all members.
The special made T-shirts for the reunion were a big hit. (in photo)
Thanks again & Semper Fi
Dave Shatzer Sgt. E-5 PI - 58/59
Left Hand Salute
I was in platoon 3120 Mike Company MCRD San Diego from July to October 1997. During our "free" time, the time we had before lights out to Shave, Shower, get uniforms ready, and those type of things, we were told not to call Attention On Deck when an officer came into the Squad bay.
We had a Recruit; we will call him Recruit M, to save some dignity. He was a big, tall, goofy guy, and not very smart. So Recruit M is coming out of the head after his shower one night in nothing but a towel and shower shoes with his hygiene bag under his right arm. Now the towels we had were not very large to say the least. In fact they were closer to the size of a Hand towel. As Recruit M gets to the Quarterdeck an Officer comes on deck, not only does Recruit M Call Attention on Deck, he lets go of his towel, and salutes the officer with his Left hand! Standing there naked waiting for the officer to respond. The young LT. turned around and walked out. The D.I. on duty got a call shortly there after and we all paid for Recruit M's mistake. But it was funny to see!
W. Scott Fomin
July 1997-October 2005
The REAL NCIS
The REAL NCIS at Camp Pendleton
this was the annual toy run and toys for tots 2008
Singing This Song
I began my 6 yrs. in the Corps at MCRD San Diego, Plt. 1003 April 1966. One of my fondest memories during my 6 yrs. occurred there. My Senior D.I., S/Sgt Facuri, a Hawaiian, taught us a Hawaiian love song. We sang it in Hawaiian as we marched, after the MCRD settled down for the day, just before dark. One night we were marching, near the end of our training, so we were good, and singing this song. We marched past the headquarters bldg. and Gen. Hochmuth stuck himself out the window, and watched us march, and sing by. The hair is up on my neck now.
God bless the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps League.
Good Night Chesty
Former Marine Sgt., Thomas L. Driscoll RVN 67/68
I Miss The Corps
I just finished reading this weeks newsletter I found two guys I have known for a long time had contributed to it.
First was from Cpl Ken Schweim: Ken and I enlisted together (our serial numbers are two digits apart) in January of 1959, completed boot camp together and then more or less lost track of one another. As Ken stated, he was one of the few in the platoon that was issued herringbone utilities. Ken also was issued herringbone utility covers which were much lighter in color than everyone else's, being one of the tallest members of the platoon, he stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
The other entry was from MGySgt Rosenwirth who I have known for nearly forty years. Like Rosy, I too was kicked out after 30 years for just plain having too much fun!
A while back I realized that since I have been retired for going on 21 years, there are Marines who enlisted after I retired and have themselves served long enough to have retired. That really makes you feel old. I miss the Corps every day.
Lee H. Marshall, 1854979
SgtMaj, USMC (Ret) 59-89
Korea Cold Weather Gear
Sgt Grit: Enclosed is result of contact between G. Robinson and myself, regarding a prior article I had written. With all the current reference of Korea, thought you'd like to see the resulting pictures.
Thanks for the quick reply, Top.
I thought you might enjoy seeing pictures of the vest I referred to plus the USMC long parkas. First the parka...
Then here's the alpaca vest I picked up last week:
It has your name over a breast pocket and is the only one of these I've ever seen with a pocket. And it has what looks like Korean language characters printed on the loop of cloth at the collar.
Rear of the vest with your name and service number
I've seen the so called "pile liners" for the M1943 field jacket. They had pieces of woven string that hooked over the buttons for closure of the jacket. It was an Army item and never knew that the Marines used those. Is this the jacket you referred to?
So you were an 0141 assigned to Army X Corps? I guess when the 1st Marine Division was pulled out after the Chosin Reservoir campaign you were among them?
The fella who sold me the vest thought you were in a Marine tank outfit. He even said he had two jackets that belonged to you both of which had artwork on the back depicting Marine tankers and had the name of a Marine tank Bn. I assume that was a total fabrication.......or was that a later assignment during your career?
So what did you do after Korea? I assume you spent some time in Southeast Asia before you retired?
I live in the Atlanta area. I spent six years in the Marine Reserve from 1967 until 1973. I was trained at Camp Pendleton as an 0141 but was re-trained as a truck driver when I got to my Reserve unit. I drove the 2 1/2 ton 6X6's.
Been to Las Vegas a couple times but prefer Lake Tahoe when I'm out your way. That's a nice area.
One Squared Away Marine
This Marine serviced at Quantico in the 1959-1962 timeframe? His name is Manuel (Manny) Dacosta or DeCosta. I believe he may have left active duty as a LCpl. One squared away young Marine! Notice the gold collar emblems and scarlet/gold 'pogey rope'. He would now be in his late 60's/ Let me know please.
Dear Sgt Grit,
In reply to Sgt Arturo Garza's question about, "Was there any female Navy Corpsmen in Vietnam". The only female medical personnel were nurses on board USS Sanctuary and USS Repose (hospital ships) and at NSA. They may have been more nurses at the field hospitals or medical battalions but there were no female corpsmen assigned to the FMF units during Vietnam.
The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery only assigned male corpsmen to the Marine Corps units in combat. Perhaps the corpsmen you spoke of may have been stationed on Okinawa at a medical unit and not down South in Vietnam. There were no females assigned to other ships except the hospital ships. The aviation squadrons didn't have any females either back in those days. Perhaps other FMF corpsmen might reply about this too.
HAL(3) Seawolves 71-72
All Of Us Ablaze
Sgt Grit ~ Have been trying to get in touch Marines from Plt 3345, MCRD San Diego, 16 Nov 68 - 26 Feb 69 The Sr. D.I. was S/Sgt Sloan, and the next "Sr" D.I. was S/Sgt K.R. SOUTHERN, the craziest SOB I've ever met in my life. I can remember Lee Crumpler and Lanny Wilkinson, both from Katy, Tx., and John Rocha, from Brownsville, Tx., Randy Shelsta, from Fargo, N.D., I think? And how about Joe Prarie Hen and Anthony Eagle Bear, who came "down" from Canada to enlist in the Corps, when a lot of guys were going "north" to avoid the draft? And Raymond Ginn, who enlisted in Houston, Tx., at the same time I did, and "we" were enlisted on the "buddy plan", although we had never laid eyes on each until the swearing-in ceremonies! And Milton Clark, from God-knows- where....but he had STYLE....especially at the final PT ! And, God-forbid, who could forget Guadalupe A. Moncebaiz.....the THIRD? And Jasper Nunn, who, if I remember correctly, became a Chaplins Asst., for the 3rd AmTrac Bn., Camp Pendleton.. There were also Bill Norris, and "Pilotte" ( I think "Tony"? ), and Robin Molden....who's pictures from his girl- friend set ALL of us ablaze !
Thru the grace of God, we got back to the world in one piece. That was a h&ll'uva time to enlist in the Corps, my Brothers......Where are you now?
Jeff Fletcher Plt. # 3345 MCRD San Diego
I had the globe and anchor done a few years ago. Last week I added the bamboo and "NAM-65"...It somehow makes my Vietnam [65-66] experience more meaningful.
James "SARGE" Thomas
Slipped Back Into The World
Vietnam. The word brings different images to different people, often with some sort of negative connotation of a quagmire of a war fought as much in the political arena as on the battlefield, although the stakes were much higher for those on the battlefield. Most people I think would even have trouble finding Vietnam on a map, if they could do it at all.
When I think of Vietnam, I think of "Joe". Joe can find Vietnam without a map. He usually finds it in the middle of the night when he wakes up in a cold sweat and shaking because he just realized that he's still alive... again. He's been finding it every night for 40 years, but he probably won't tell you about it because the first time he tried to tell someone he got burned. The last time, nobody cared anymore.
Joe isn't one person of course, he's 3 million American's who went to Vietnam for no other reason than their country asked them to and then shamed them for going. 58 thousand of them came home in boxes; 155 thousand came home in pieces and the rest wake up at night shaking. That's Joe.
My Joe is a smaller group of people, maybe half a dozen that have I been honored to know and have blended together to try and tell a bit of their story. Joe decided to join the service in 1967 because at 18, he thought he could make a difference in the world. He went to his local recruiter and proudly announced that he was there to join the war effort to go stop communists in Vietnam. After an interview and a couple of weeks of meetings and evaluations, it was decided that he would he would leave for boot camp in 6 weeks. Several days later at the dinner table of his parents' home, he received a phone call letting him know that a slot had become available immediately and that he could leave for boot camp the following morning.
Unfortunately, he had neglected to tell his parents anything about his plans yet. Why should he have? He still had six more weeks, and that is a LONG time... well, it is if your 18, isn't it? "Mom, Dad, I have something I need to talk to you about. I've been thinking about it and, well, I've joined the military and I'm going to serve in Vietnam. I know what you're thinking, but I've already made up my mind and I signed all the papers earlier today." Silence. "Mom... Dad?" Finally, dad mustered up a few words. "When do you leave?" "Tomorrow morning. I go to boot camp for 13 weeks and then probably straight to Vietnam. I don't know when I'll be home again after tonight."
His mother now lost what remaining vestige of calm she had left and fled the room in tears. Dad was able to keep control of himself in rapt silence, but Joe found out later that he had a nervous breakdown not long after he left for the war and Mom ended up being the glue that held the family together.
Boot Camp is where you lose your identity and then get a new one back. You are stripped of any sense of self, and you learn a humility that is beyond imagination to most of us. I'm not just talking about sleeping in a bunkhouse with 100 other people or changing your clothes in public. I'm talking about 10 toilets in a room with no walls or doors. Variations on the word "I" will be used only under pain of a million pushups, and replaced with "this recruit". The closest you will come to even being acknowledged by your peers is when you are screamed at by a drill instructor at 3 o'clock in the morning because there is a bug on your bunk, because you have no peers.
You are a recruit, and that is the worst scum on the earth. Even the other recruits aren't your peers, because they are you. All sense of identity is lost here. What comes out at the other end however, is a sight to behold. Boys come out men and girls come out women with a whole new identity. They are the most polite, cleanest, responsible, and well behaved group of young people you ever will meet. They are also your worst nightmare if they need to be.
Joe actually liked boot camp. Sure, he would write letters home complaining about the food, or more specifically the lack of it, or about the drill instructors and the physical demands, but he felt like he was starting to fit in. He was learning to trust himself, and to trust the person on his left and the one on his right. And as much of a jerk as that drill instructor seemed to be, Joe was coming to realize that this was a person he would never forget. To this day, he has not.
On graduation day, Joe and his fellow recruits were marched onto the parade grounds to perform a very elaborate ceremony that would be witnessed by a handful of officers and noncoms but an otherwise empty grandstand. Joe's parents were not there, but he expected that, no one's parents were there. To the outside observer, it must have seemed a very lonely and sad day, but Joe had never felt like he belonged anywhere more than he belonged here at this exact moment. These were his people now.
For the next three years, Joe's story mostly disappears for those of us who stayed home. To be sure we have movies and books and newsreels, but for the most part we don't hear the stories from the people who lived them and I'm not sure we ever will. I'm not sure we ever want to.
For something to be so horrible that close to 3 million men and women hold it inside for nearly 40 years, it cannot be easy to bear. What we do hear is the stories of friendship and the bonds that were created between them, which is where my Joe comes back into the telling. His best friend was kneeling over him holding his hand and trying to reassure him that he was going to be all right.
Joe was bleeding badly and his unit was in the middle of an intense firefight but he could hear the helicopters finally coming in to get him and the other wounded out. He had no idea how badly he had been hit, but he knew that he couldn't move his arm and that he was starting to lose consciousness. His friend had patched him up as best as he could and helped get him on the waiting helicopter, which then sped out of the jungle without time for a goodbye. They would not see each other again for 40 years, not even knowing if the other was still alive but when they finally did meet again, it was as if two brothers long ago separated had found each other. They had both cheated death together, and they knew it.
His next memory is of being in a bunk on board a naval hospital ship in pain and without enough room in his bunk even to roll over, let alone get comfortable. He had just about decided that his life was as bad as it possibly could get when he turned to look at a young man in the bunk below him who was driving him nuts with all of his moaning and whining. The young man was in a similar bunk, but he was confined to his back not because of the cramped space, but because he no longer had arms or legs. It was at that moment that Joe decided never to feel sorry for himself again; to my knowledge, he never has.
Eighteen months later, the war now over for him and his wounds as much healed as they were ever likely to get, Joe came home on a commercial flight and landed at his hometown airport. There was no pomp or fanfare or cheering throngs with welcome home signs. He was one of the lucky ones, left alone that night. No protesters were there to meet him because it was too late in the evening to be bothered with going out to spit on another soldier or call him a baby killer and so he quietly grabbed his bags, walked out of the terminal and slipped back into the world as alone as he was the day before boot camp. The country he had given so much of himself to didn't even know he was home, and sometimes didn't care.
Today, Joe is an executive, and a truck driver, and a teacher, and a police officer, and a friend. Sadly, he or she may have gotten too lost to get back and is no longer with us, but more often he is right among us still hanging onto an anonymity that protects him from any more hurt. More and more though, he is starting to emerge as America finally starts to understand that he is still here and deserving of our respect. He organizes crowds at the airport to make sure that our newest generation of fighting men and women come home to the sort of welcome that he should have had. He volunteers to pack care packages for our troops overseas even after working ten hours and driving 90 minutes to get there, and he gives his dog tags to a young Marine heading into battle.
As a society, we need to make sure that he keeps coming out; that he knows that we are a grateful nation and understand that without his sacrifice, not even protests would have been possible, let alone prosperity and freedom. If you know a veteran, tell him thank you; it might just be the first time anyone ever has. Write a letter and take it to the Veteran's Affairs office. Do something to let these men and women know that they don't need to hide anymore, that we're proud of them, and that we get it at last. And if you see someone wearing a yellow bar tipped on the ends in green with three vertical red stripes through the middle, that's Joe. Shake his hand and tell him that you know who he is, and that you appreciate what he did. Remember, he's been to h≪ he'd go again if we asked him to, and he might go there tonight before he wakes up shaking.
Thanks Joe... and Roger... and Mike... and Lloyd... and Jim...
My Memorial Day 2009
Was it because, U. S. M. C. was on the silverware? was it because of the film: "Sands of Iwo Jima"? with the flag raising at the end? was it because Bill Turney my Uncle served in the U. S. M. C. in the cold of Korea? I cannot put it to anything that is above, but for what ever it was I joined the Corps in July 1978. The yellow footprints, the same as my uncle. The "Goodnight Chesty wherever you are". The title so few can achieve.
Thank you Drill Instructors: SSgt. M. E. Molina, SSgt. J. G. Gomez, Sgt. J. W. Dorsett. for taking this boy from Arkansas and turning him into a U. S. Marine. Job well done.
Thank you God, and Drill Instructors for making me who I am today.
Harold L Ramer
I leaned Over
When my wife and I were seated in our booth in our local IHOP this morning, I noted a man eating his breakfast in a booth to my right, directly across from us.
The first thing I noticed was that he was wearing a black baseball cap, but because all I could see was his "profile" and not his full face, I could only make out the letters "US" and what appeared to be a small American Legion insignia on his cap.
After we gave the waitress our order, sensing this man just might be a Marine, I waited for him to turn his head our way so I could satisfy my "curiosity." Sure enough, he briefly turned my way while he answered (or placed) a call on his cell phone. That's when I saw the letters "USMC" and a small "Bulldog" that I thought was an American Legion emblem.
When my now "new Marine friend" let up a bit from eating, I leaned over slightly towards him and said, "What's a Marine doing wearing his cover indoors?" He reacted with a bit of surprise as I smiled at him and extended my hand which he instinctively reached for and we shook hands, as he realized I was also a Marine by my use of the term "cover." He said "sorry" and immediately removed his cover as we were shaking hands
When I asked him if he recalled the "custom" that a Marine could only be "covered" indoors if he was "Under Arms" he indicated he did not. I then explained what I remembered from my time in the Corps (1947-1968) when I believe all Marine Corps clubs (though I'm not too sure about the Enlisted Clubs, which might have explained why he didn't know or couldn't recall the custom) but I'm certain about staff and officer's clubs), had small posters located at or near the bar that proclaimed, "He who enters covered here, will buy the House a round of cheer." Located near this poster/sign was a Ship's Bell which the Bartender or other Marine nearest to the bell would ring upon noticing a Marine entering the club wearing his cover.
I jokingly added that any Marine who found himself in that "predicament" never made the same mistake twice, especially with our "pay tables" being far from adequate.
I asked him when he was in the Corps and he indicated he served two separate enlistments, I believe the last one was in the early 2000's. Asking me the same question I said, "I retired in 1968," and he said, "Oh, you were in the "Old Corps."
I fessed' up, "I guess I was, but then again, any Marine who enlists one day earlier than another Marine was always "In the Old Corps." This brought a chuckle from him, and he got up to leave. We shook hands again with another "Semper Fi" and my wife and I remained to finish our breakfast.
When we asked our waitress for the check, she said "that man that sat across from you paid your check as he left,"adding that he left a note for me." I was stunned as she handed me our check where he had written this note on the back of it: "Thank you for correcting this Marine! This one's on me. Semper Fi, Sgt. C." (Attached is a scanned copy of the original).
My wife and I couldn't get over this. It has been a long time since another Marine (or others for that matter) has done something like this for us. We are usually the one's that do this for other Marines we meet or even just see in a restaurant. In fact, in this particular IHOP we often meet the Parish Priest who renewed our marriage vows for our 50th wedding anniversary (eight years ago already) and we always pay his tab, even when he has several Nuns from his Parish with him.
I asked the waitress if she knew this other "customer" as I heard them speak fluent Spanish with one another. She indicated she did not, but that in talking with him he told her he was originally from Columbia and now lived in nearby Reston, VA.
So, "Sgt. C from Reston," should you by chance be reading this, or should our paths cross again in IHOP or in Reston, be assured we want to return the favor, but for now, we thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I'm sure you know I wasn't "correcting" you Marine, but rather relishing the opportunity to revisit one of our revered Corps' many traditions.
Gerald F. Merna
Mustang 1stLt Retired
Still Do Things
I am currently serving as a Sheriff Deputy in Dona Ana County, New Mexico U.S.A. It has been two years and six months since I've been away from my beloved Marine Corps. After discussing with some of my fellow deputies who are also Marines, we all found out from each other that we still do things like, fresh high and tights each week, tuck your boot laces into the boot when they are off your feet, we hang our uniforms in a military manner, boots spit shined everyday, and many other things. The point is, the Corps hasn't left us it still governs the way we go about our daily lives. That is why I finally went through with getting my first Marine Corps tattoo. I don't know if you can post the artists name, but if you can his name is Moises. This young artist resides in my home town of Las Cruces.
Thank you in advance if you do post my tattoo, and Thank you either way just providing this web page for us to look back on great times.
Soft Tail Custom
You also asked for some bike photos so here are a couple of my 2007 FXSTC. It is a Soft tail Custom and had the Harley Marine Corps covers on it. The local dealer Killer Creek Harley had to find the air cleaner lid in New York as Harley Davidson stopped making them. I am not sure if they have resumed making them or not. Thanks and Semper Fi!
My First Return Trip
I read with interest Brian Schultz's experience being thanked for his service during the Vietnam War. I would like to recount to you and the Marine Corps community my experience in Da Nang in 2002.
I served with MAG-13, VMFA-115 Ordnance at Chu Lai in 69 and 70. After doing my part for the Marine Air-Ground Team, I returned to the World to become a second class citizen or worse for supporting for my brothers in arms. Although my family and friends were overjoyed and relieved to see me return with all my pieces intact, they could not disguise their burden of having a Vietnam Vet in the family.
In 2002 I made my first return trip back to see how things turned out. I flew a turboprop into Da Nang and on approach looked out over the farms and rice fields. I felt the same old fear descend on my worried mind. I wondered if they would hate me and was sure this would be a terrible week. The driver from the My Khe Beach Hotel met me at the airport as promised and took me on a slow meandering ride through Da Nang. The city looked shabby and old as if nothing had changed.
Later in the week I was out taking some photos of Three Corners near the old French and American Bridges. An older guy went by me, turned around and stopped. I wasn't sure what he was going to try to sell me. I got the standard four questions; where are you from, how old are you, how many children do you have and (the most important one) have you ever been to Vietnam before? I'm sure he knew the answer to all these questions because I was wearing a black boonie hat with a miniature Vietnam Service Ribbon and carrying my 782 gear Field Marching Pack.
I gave him the answers and told him I had been with the Marines in Chu Lai in 69.
His eyes lit up. He grabbed my free hand in both of his, shook it vigorously and said in very good English, "Your country sent so many young people here to die. We are so ashamed. Thank you so much for helping my small, poor, unworthy country." He looked down, turned around and got back on his bike.
I was stunned and deeply moved. I had never been thanked by anyone before for being a Vietnam Veteran. I never had any idea there was anyone, other than us, who cared at all. I knew he wasn't thanking me but was thanking us and I knew it wasn't him alone.
The Vietnamese know the price of freedom unrealized. They, more than others, know terror, fear, intimidation and murder. They know we came to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty"; a liberty they have never had. Their (north and south) hopes rested with us and we let them down. The shame of Vietnam isn't with us who did our duty when our country called but with the American people who in the end victimized us to cover their inherent weakness of spirit. You have been thanked by the people of Vietnam for our service to their country.
They know, and now, you do to.
Richard "Charlie" Brown
VMFA-115 Ordnance, Chu Lai
Only One Battle
On Memorial Day, I had run to the grocery store to pick up a few things I'd forgotten. While waiting in the check-out line, I noticed the man in front of me - a somewhat frail-looking elderly man wearing a red baseball cap. When he turned towards me, the writing on the front of his cap jumped out at me: "Once a Marine, Always a Marine." When I thanked him for his service, he told me he was a WWII vet. Then he said quite simply, almost nonchalantly, "I fought in only one battle. Iwo Jima."
ONLY one? That's like saying our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are only a couple of pieces of paper with some writing on them! Admiral Chester Nimitz said it best, "For those who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
I never caught the gentleman's name, but I left the store thoroughly humbled and very much in awe.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Proud mom of LCpl. Jason Betancourt
Korea, 54 Pictures
In the year of 1950 I was 19 years old when the Korean War broke out. I had graduated from High School in 1948. I lived in a small town between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. I was born and raised there and had two brothers and two sisters who were all younger than me. My youngest brother was 17. We both decided to join the service and fight for our Country; which did not set well with our Mom. We finally convinced her that it was the right thing to do. My brother decided on the Navy and as I had 1/2 Year of ROTC at North Texas College in Arlington, Texas. I wanted to join the Marines. We did and were shipped off at approximately the same time. I lost track of my brother at this time and did not see him until later on in life: Which is another story in life itself.
I was shipped to 1stRTrngBn., MCRDep. San Diego, Calif. in Aug. 1950. In Nov. 1950.
I was promoted to PFC and assigned to HQ.BN.TRNG. & REPL.COM. CAMP J. H. PENDLETON. In the middle of Nov. 1950 I was assigned to 3rd. Inf Trng Bn T&RC Camp J. H. PENDLETON.
In Jan. 1951 I was assigned to 5th. REPLN. DRAFT. In Feb. 1951 I was assigned to H & S Co. 1stBn 5thMar. In Apr. 1951 I was transferred to Co. A 1stBn 5thMar.
This is truly where the story begins. In A Company I wound up in the 60mm mortar squad even though when I went to Korea I was a truck driver. The guys I was with were a great bunch of Americans from all around the United States. I guess that is the way all Marines feel when you live together in a Foreign place for 13 months and have to depend on each other to protect you so you can get home safe to your family. The 13 months was supposed to be 9 months except the North Koreans and Chinese did not want to cooperate with us.
The reason I am writing this story is I would like to find some of the guys that I was in Korea with.
I have 54 pictures of them while I was there and I had written there names and where they were from on the backs of the pictures. Also if some of them have passed on which is very likely since I am now 78 years old, I would like to hear from members of their families.
When I returned to the States I was placed in the hospital with PTSD and have no memory of the time I was in the Hospital except flash backs of the shock treatments and the wraps in sheets and placed in tubs of ice water.
If you were in this group of Marines I would like to hear from you. maybe it will jog my memory of what had happened to me during that time.
Since then I have had a wonderful life raising two boys and one girl and their families.
Remembrance by some. The area in question and one hill in particular, has acquired several names, by different writers of their recollections. One hill in particular, where the first battalion was assigned, was known initially as hill 307, as that was the elevation of the hill that was used during that time frame, and was stamped by the Library of Congress, as August 1, 1950, and was the official map used during that time period.
Within a week, and article was written by the media, and the name "Horseshoe Ridge" was utilized the first time. And this seems to be the popular name that has been maintained for the area.
In October 1951, and article about the above was written by a person with the 7th Marines, Tech. Sgt. George S. Chappers, a person in the Public Information office, about his recollection of the battle and he used the term