I left the train in Yemassee at 0230, and walked to the barracks just up the road. I was the only passenger who got off, and I was the only person in that barracks, so I thought.
After the rest of the new recruits arrived later that morning, we all got on the bus and rode to The Island. To a man (boy) we were all scared S...less. The confusion and chaos was unbelievable. We were yelled at, rushed here, herded there, then run to the next place. Soon, we were in the shed where we were all told to "Git neked"; followed by the haircut. After losing our hair, we were ordered into the shower to wash everything off.
I distinctly recall sitting "neked" on the cold concrete. I did not know a soul in that room. Next to me was a fellow refugee who came from New York, equally "neked".
He turned, looked at me and asked' "Hey, who did you used to be?"
J Cooke, Sgt '58 - '62
Rough and Tough Marines
Sgt Grit Iraq Video Photo Montage (You Tube)
All The Chain
In response to the requests for some more recent stories, here's one from my first deployment back in 2005. At the time I was with A Btry 1/11, and we were tasked as a provisional line company in far western Iraq. Around late Jan-early Feb (rainy season) my squad was on the QRF rotation, and got the call to pull the resident MTT team out of the mud. They were stuck pretty good, but our mechanic was better, and we had them out in no time. On our way back we got the call to turn around, they were stuck again. This repeated itself 6 times. It got so we would just tail them in our 7-ton and place bets on how soon the officers would get stuck again. It was great fun, especially since both myself and Cpl Carter "Super Mech" were country boys from Oregon.
Our luck ran out though, because when the brass finally decided to give up trying to get to Saudi, they thought it would be a good idea to test out their fording kit. With a MAK-armored low- back through a lake (this is no-sh!t). Their excuse: "well Cpl there's a road going into it so we'll be fine." Roger that sir. So when they drove off the road in the middle of the lake and had to swim out...we had to go get 'em. Problem was that meant WE had to drive into the lake, and sure enough we found a hole. It took all the chain in the FOB and a few hours to get that sucker out. My deserts are still stained from that water. Oorah.
Dear Sgt. Grit
Just reading the latest News Letter and saw a reference and photo of the DaNang Ammo Dump blowing.
I was with 3/7/1 and on Operation Oklahoma Hills when it went up. I was on hole watch that night and will never forget seeing one incredibly huge explosion some 40 miles away and then seeing the bushes move from the shock wave a few seconds/minutes later and the delayed sound of the explosion. Wasn't sure if DaNang had been nuked or what. It was quite the impressive 'Mushroom Cloud'.
(The 40 miles is just a guess, we were in the Que Son Mountains.)
1965 to 66 3D Engineer BN - 3D Marine Division. A CO.
Then Went To B CO.
SEMPER - FI
I look forward to your newsletter every week, and boy the memories come flooding back and once in a while a little dust gets in my eye.
Went to Boot Camp at MCRD San Diego, 30 OCT. 1958, Plt. 1008. We were picked up from receiving barracks by Jr. Drill Instructor Sgt. Harenger.(sp?). SSgt Crevasos, Senior and Sgt. Mooney joined us a day or two later. I seem to remember the yellow footprints then. SSgt. Crevasos was a short stocky Marine. Our tallest Recruit was Pvt. Somerville. I remember SSgt Crevasos telling him that he could grab the collar of his shirt, put his foot in Somervell's fly & stand just as tall as him.
I never witnessed any of our Drill Instructors striking any recruit with a hand or fist or foot. However you just might get the flat of SSgt. Crevasos's Saber up the back of your head to wake you up (as I experienced once), and you could count on in your face screaming and very colorful language. We were on the Range at Camp Elliott the last two weeks in December. Pre-qual day was Christmas Eve and Qual day was the day after Christmas. Fired a 227 which was good for Sharpshooter. It was a long march back to MCRD. If anyone out there remembers or knows how to contact any members of 1008, or the Drill Instructors, I would like to get in touch with them. I will be forever grateful for their instilling in me, the self confidence and ability to succeed.
We were issued brown boots, shoes, & brown boondockers. The boondockers were very rough, 7 we had to spit shine them using small glass bottles recycled from Sick Bay. (Inoculation vials). We were also issued a Rain Coat with liner instead of the horse blanket overcoat, and an Eisenhower jacket, one set of Greens, two sets of tropical's and three sets of khakis & utilities.
MSgt. Herbert L. "Larry" Shaw
Oct 1958-Oct 1983
God Bless all you Jarheads out there.
Dodged 105 Rounds
About Ammo dump going up. I was in MPCOHQBN1stMarDiv, at the time. Freedom Hill with all it's new metal buildings was whipped out, as well as the Seabee compound, just inside the gate. Dog Patch was flattened. Mp Co on other side of freedom Hill, had at least three to four inches of fallout from dust and unburnt powder. During the late evening, my co asked me to take two other guy's and secure the gate at freedom hill. On the way we dodged 105 rounds laying in the road, 1st Med had all kinds of ammo on the road . When we got to the gate, it was time for the cases of small arms to go off. Almost fireworks. Ran to ditch to get away from small arms. A few months later heading home. Met a bunch of guys I had served with in Suicide Charley 1/7. They remembered the event and said they could see the munitions go off from Hill's 10, 22, and all around that area. Scuttlebutt had it was a grass fire that touched it off.
Semper Fi Bob "rich" Richard
Dear Sgt. Grit:
I was in platoon 3035, MCRD San Diego, April - July 1980. Though going on 30-years, I will never forget Drill Instructor Sergeant DeBord, and his tireless efforts to train a bunch of raw recruits. He led by example and he pressed us all beyond what we believed we were capable of. He taught everything from how to properly put hospital corners on a rack and march on the grinder, to how to dig a fighting hole, fire an M-16, engage in hand-to-hand combat, and everything else it takes to be part of the most dangerous fighting force on the planet. I have great stories to tell about this honorable Marine. But, more importantly, I want to thank him for making all the difference in this successful life I am engaged in. He used to ask, "You understand?" A lot! Sgt. DeBord, wherever you are, I do understand now. Semper Fi, wherever you are!
In August 1967 I arrived in-country and eventually ended up with "India" Co. 3/3 at a place called "Payable". Just a little hole in the ground along route #9 and one of the last stops before The Rock Pile, Razorback, LZ Stud (Later Named Vandergrift) and Khe Sanh. Just want to confirm with Paul Martell.... Yeah they were really loud and it took all we sometimes had to keep our shaky little hooches up after some of the outgoing barrages but, thank god for those big boys. One other note, we are the ones "India" 3/3 who saved those same Army Arty guys at Camp Carroll from getting pounded everyday from NVA Arty coming out of Dong Ha mountain. Took us a couple of days to get to the dug in Gun Positions but, we eventually ran the NVA off the mountain and captured the 75mm Howitzers. Funny thing...They turned out to be American Made!
Danny L. Medders
First Sgt, Retired
RVN 67-68 3/3
That's funny as I don't remember that call being used in the 1960's... I remember things like Gung Ho and Death before Dishonor. Recently I made a sell on EBay to a fellow Marine, I sent a short note with OOHRAH in it. He emailed me back and quickly told me we didn't used that term in the Vietnam era. I had to return the message and say, that I thought that was the new wave now. We didn't use this term in the 60's
Cpl. 1964- 68
The Real Boot Camp
Sarge, about that Marine w/ the western omelet in Boot Camp & your awe at the fact he was served a western omelet. Please refer to the Boot Camp he was trained @. You & I went to the REAL Boot Camp for Marines, Parris Island, S.C. We had reveille & chow, they had make-up call for filming that day & brunch, or so I heard. The western omelet thing sounds like my Senior D.I. S/Sgt. Schrader was telling the truth about M.C.R.D., San Diego!
I was issued my "sunglasses" at MCRD San Diego, not P.I.
Still no omelets in '68.
Preparing For A Patrol
This is a picture of me as I was preparing for a patrol while serving as an F.O. radio operator for India battery 3/11 during Operation Desoto in 1967.
I joined the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in Jan. '77, while she was in dry dock in Bremerton, WA. We did Colors every morning and evening.
On the carrier, (I assume most of them were like this), they would have Colors on the closed circuit TV system onboard, so you could watch it anywhere on ship, if you had a TV. The SOG would watch from the Guard Shack in our compartment to make sure everything was done properly.
One evening when the Color Guard went to lower the Colors, the pulley jammed and would not move, no matter how hard they pulled. Well, you know how it is, when its time for the Colors to come down they HAVE to come down.
Now, for a little background information, before I go any farther. The flag pole is about ten feet tall and on a carrier is at the extreme front edge of the flight deck. For safety purposes, a flight deck has a safety net that is five or six feet below the flight deck and it sticks out about six feet or so, but to stand at the edge and look down at it, it doesn't look like much.. The flight deck of the Kitty Hawk was 61 feet above the waterline, and the Kitty Hawk has another 35 feet below the waterline, and since we were in dry dock, it was about 105-110 feet to the concrete below from the flight deck!
Now, back to the story...
The Colors HAVE to come down, so one of the Color Guard members climbs the flag pole to get it down. Now, remember, the SOG is getting P/O because things aren't going as planned and everyone else is watching on the TV, thanking God they aren't the one doing Colors tonight. Just as he gets the rope un-stuck and the Colors down he loses his grip and falls. He doesn't just fall; he falls over the front edge and out of sight of the TV camera!
Now the SOG figured the worst and about had a cardiac! No one could believe what they just saw happened. I don't think anyone took a breath of about 60 seconds.
And then we saw it; an arm and a head pop up from over the edge of the flight deck. He was okay! That net does work! He crawls up to the flight deck, gets back to his feet, back into formation and in proper US Marine Corps fashion, the Color Guard marches off the flight deck like nothing had happened.
Now when the Color Guard got down to the Guard Shack, the SOG about killed them all for scaring him to death, (but he sure was glad to see them all okay).
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) '77-'79
India, 3/6 '79
Fully Understand Why
I went through MCRD San Diego in the summer of 1964. One day, it was after the rifle range, we were on the platoon street doing squat thrusts....I hated those d*mn things. One of the junior drill instructors, a Sgt., was really pouring it on us. When we completed the exercise we came back to the position of attention and for some reason I flinched. I was in the third squad and my drill instructor saw it and came straight for me. He liked to grab you by the throat and hold you by the adam's apple and squeeze. He did exactly that with his left hand and with his right he slapped me so hard my head went numb and I saw yellow stars. He slapped me a second time but my head was so numb that I only felt the impact, not any pain or hurt. This was for a "little" breach of discipline, but even then I understood that even that could not be tolerated in the Marine Corps. When I went to Vietnam I came to fully understand why. In boot camp I was "gut punched" hit with fists and beaten with a metal dust pan but I never got hit as hard as when that Sgt. slapped me, and never since.
John Vater, Sgt. USMC
I read many of the stories and articles from fellow Marines and thought I'd share one of the funnier ones I remember from boot camp at San Diego.
June 1966 found me in Platoon 2031 MCRD San Diego. Needless to say undergoing the transformation from regular citizen to Marine was taking place at a vigorous and intense pace.
One of the interesting practices was to let the Platoon smoke at various times while lined up in front of our huts. Sometimes when DI Willingham would bark out "Smoke One", each recruit would light up and enjoy their cigarette but at other times the DI would make everyone put out the cigarettes but one and then they had to pass it around to everyone that wanted to smoke in formation. I soon stopped smoking because the non-smokers could go brush their teeth and then take a short break putting away their dental gear.
Well, some of these nicotine addicts could not get enough nicotine. Of course we had a private walking fire duty each night. If a fire was detected then the private had to beat a metal bar against an old tire wheel bolted onto a post to alert the area to the danger.
Near the latrine was a large trash dumpster and some recruits decided to adapt, improvise, and overcome their lack of smoking time. Five recruits, in the wee hours of the morning, climbed into the dumpster and lit up! Their misguided intentions went astray while inside puffing it up in the dumpster. They were careful to not start a fire but didn't recognize all of that smoke would still escape the dumpster, and, yeppers, the recruit walking fire guard saw the smoke escaping from the dumpster and hastened to wildly beat the old wheel with great enthusiasm alerting not only our platoon but at least two of the neighboring platoons that something was on fire!
Needless to say we all suffered for the smokers' ingenuity but some of their pain was special! A lesson to all of us in our growth toward organization and order!
God Bless and Protect Our Marines
Gary L. White, Sgt. USMCR
This is range lingo from the perspective of a 1961 Parris Island Marine boot (Plt. 370). See how many ring a bell today.
'1000 inch range'
windage & elevation
Prone & Kneeling
Count your rounds. (That's the only part of the movie "Full Metal Jacket" I questioned "How'd he really get the bullet he shot the D.I. with?")
"police your brass"
jerk a round
lick'em & stick'em
Cease fire, cease fire
Ready on the right, ready on the left, all ready on the firing line
"Keep that weapon pointed down range, you idiot"
Marksman, Sharpshooter, Expert
"Squeeze the trigger"
That's all I can think of at the moment, how about you?
Cpl E-4 Peter J. Stein
B Co. AmTracs
Med Cruise April 1962 ( Sailed thru Hurricane on East Coast plus was part of BLT 3/6 Cuban Crisis Oct. 1962) Dec-1962 LST 1164 USS Walworth County*
* affectionately called the Worthless Waterless W C
Caribbean Cruise Winter 1963-64 LST USS York County
And in response to the item in the Feb. 26 newsletter concerning "western omelets", I have this to say.
In the rear in Nam at Camp Faulkner, while I was still a FNG, I learned to read the cooks at the mess hall.
At morning chow, the cooks would ask how you wanted your eggs. After watching Marines b!tch about yolks being broken after ordering eggs over easy or sunny side up, I would tell that cook "Hey, I'll take those". Those cooks soon recognized me and I could do no wrong with them. Never, ever tick off the cooks. Those guys had to have one of the hardest jobs in the Corps and got no respect. Soft covers off to you!
Inspection Was Suspended
Enroute to Korea in '52, we were crammed into an old WWII troop transport. About ten days out the Co. X called for a rifle inspection. Because there wasn't space on deck to form lines for inspection we simply lined up on the rail and, as it became our turn for the inspection, we stepped up on a hatch cover and presented our rifle to the inspecting officer.
The sailors were hanging on whatever they could find and harassing us with cat calls. One of our troops, dressed in an amazingly oversize uniform and as sloppy a bearing as I had ever seen stepped up on the hatch cover and presented his rifle. The inspector started to reach for it and quickly withdrew his hand exclaiming "What in the h&ll is that?" (The Pvt. had fired his M1 at the rifle range about two weeks earlier but had not even attempted to clean it. Needless to say, the weapon was the most even color of rust you've ever seen.)
The inspector proceeded to chew him a new ---hole and lectured him about the importance of his rifle. After several minutes of the tongue lashing, the Pvt. took the rifle back and threw it over the side. Whereupon the Lt. asked "What do you think you're doing? The sailors all repeated to each other "he threw it over the side' and the rest of us in earshot just stood with our mouths open. To the question asked, the Pvt replied "Sir, I'm just as ashamed of it as you are"
The inspection was suspended and we learned later that he was fined about $180.00 for the throw away.
Keep up the great work, Grit. Semper Fi to all Marines and a heartfelt "well done".
Former SSgt. of Marines AJS 1950 to 1959
Not Talk Much
So, SGT. Grit, do you remember Dec.10, 1966? Rockpile sound familiar? Right next door was the Razorback mountain. On this day Mike co. or better known as medevac Mike. Every time we went on patrol we got hit, but on this particular day, I believe Lima co. was with us.
The enemy was battalion strength. No one could hit them, they would go into the caves. We called in F14's they dropped 250s 500s, then send some Marines up the mountain, only to be wounded, or killed, we were getting nowhere.
Capt. Green called me to his spot and said Sgt. you are goin' home soon, you have the experience, what should we do? I said, "well first get our men down, take cover, call in the B-52s and I believe they are allowed to drop 2000 pounders, so give the radio operator grid coordinates - oh sir make them Napalm"
When they first hit they came out of their little caves and all Marines have field day, like hitting ducks. It was the second one, the Capt.. saw them comin' down after us. We were sort of happy. Another one was dropped and the stupid Capt.. dropped a click incoming someone yelled another voice take cover. It was a mess. I will not talk much about afterwards except body parts were flyin' past me while I was on fire. How many were left? DOES ANYONE KNOW?
A few years back (1979) I was stationed on the 6th Fleet Flag Ship USS Albany CG 10 out of Gaeta Italy. I was just a young Boot then. New to the Detachment and the Corps. My first night out to sea Approx 2200 hours I heard someone yell section fight and the entire birthing compartment erupted into a massive brawl!. About 10 minutes into the section fight someone called attention on deck! The XO of the ship was pulling birthing inspections to insure the compartments were cleaned and all trash had been dumped.
Needless to say the XO was not pleased to see all the Marines standing at attention with blood dripping off of us. As he walked around the area he just shook his head in disgust. When he finished with our compartment he went thru the hatch in the floor going to the next compartment, there was a laundry bag hanging from the hand wheel down to the next compartment. When the XO pushed the laundry bag aside to get down the ladder well a voice from within the bag yelled out (GET YOUR HAND OFF MY A$$) The XO pulled his hand back real quick and looked back into our compartment shaking his head in disgust. We all heard him say in a very clear but low voice (You F#$%^%@ Marines!)
The fight was over then and we all had a great laugh. The next morning at formation it was mentioned that there will be no more body's in the laundry bags and that section fights were not to be conducted until 2230 or later!
This was one of the many fond memories I have of the detachment.
Sgt. 1978 / 1981
Suddenly I Hear
Arrived at P.I. Sept. 28, 1960. Spent 1st night in receiving building. Next day we were temporarily assigned to Quonset huts before moving on to the Third Battalion brick barracks.
It must have been the second morning my platoon was on the island. We were in the Quonset huts. Our D.I.s were Staff Sgt. Smith, Staff Sgt Clapp and Sr. D.I. Gunny Hargrove (Scary). In those days the D.I.s would stand between the rows of huts at reveille in the morning and shout out the platoon #. (we were 392). We were supposed to immediately respond by shouting out "Platoon 392 Sir". When they entered your hut you were expected to be standing tall.
Well, on this particular morning I guess I was sleeping extra heavy. I heard nothing when the D.I.s came to get us ready for the day's training, exams, etc. Suddenly I hear what resembles English but is laced with a healthy dose of southern accent being shouted in my proximity. I take the blanket off of my head and look up and see every recruit in my hut standing tall and all three D.I.s looking down at me. I told myself that I was dead now. Gunny Hargrove continued to harangue me, the only thing I could make out was "scuzzy turd". I did manage to stay alive, graduate and become a proud Marine.
BTW Staff Sgt. Montemarano who was a D.I. in platoon 394 which was our companion boot camp platoon retired from the Corps and came on the same NYC Transit Police Dept. that I was on. Small world.
L/Cpl Wm. Joseph-"60"-"64"
Hey Sgt Grit; The question of being a combat Marine is rather a moot point as I see it. All you would have to do is ask a Marine if he would rather go to Nam for 12 months for $1,000,000 or go thru a 9 1/2 week boot camp @ Parris Island for that money. A Marine would choose Nam every time.
Da Greek USMC 1969-1972
PS: I would bet anything that CMC had 100s of pounds in AA forms requesting a combat assignment to Nam. I put in my request every month.
Had A Goat
We were in Subic Bay, I had the watch on the after brow. S/Sgt Grimes and a Cpl I do not remember were noted coming down the dock, it seemed they had a Goat between them. As they approached my post I challenged them to "HALT".
"Who Goes There?" The Cpl replied "S/Sgt Grimes and his new girl friend" Advance and be recognized S/Sgt!" "Leave the Goat" I said "request permission to come aboard" He said, I replied "Granted" He made his way up the plank.
The Cpl who I did not care for all that much, stepped forward. "HALT! you were not given permission to advance." I ordered "That must be your Goat, Cpl take it off the base to were you got it from" He looked sad that was a long walk to the main gate. He was lucky to make it back for morning Guard Mount, and colors. S/Sgt Grimes had pulled of one of the best get a Goose on the ship tricks. I fell for it, and found the bird in my rack when I was relived off the post. S/Sgt Jessie Grimes was a super Marine, loved to play tricks and still get the jobs done. WE spent 19 mos on the USS Bon Homme Richard CVA 31 in West Pack in the 1957/59. Rank was frozen back then so most of us were acting what ever rank was needed to do the Job. Grimes was a real S/Sgt. I'm sure there are other Old Sea Salts out there who stood Mail watch.
acting Marine PFC Tom Leigh-Kendall 1649003 1956 to 1963
During my "four in the Corps.", I was primarily based in 2nd MAW, Cherry Point. Anyone else notice a co-relation between stringy chicken on (mostly) Sundays to the unusual lack (on said days) of the predatory seagulls on the chow hall's roof? On other days, the gulls were all over the roofline. We had decent food otherwise. Probably an enterprising Top stretching the budget.
Keep that scuttlebutt coming - great web site!
Cpl. Mac "Thing" McDougall
H&MS-27 Avionics '72 - '75
Smokers in Platoon 1032, 1st Bn, MCRD Parris Island, S.C. would go through a ritual after chow to get a few puffs. Our Drill Instructor would order the smokers in the platoon to form a "smoking circle" outside behind the squad bay. The recruits would form a circle - in the center would be a pail filled with water. The recruits would raise their arms in unison, take a drag in unison, and extinguish the cigarettes in unison. After a few minutes, the Drill instructor would pass the order "secure smoking circle" at which time all butts would be field stripped and placed in the pail.
One day after lunch the smoking circle was formed and the Drill instructor went to his hooch. No more than one drag had been taken from the precious smokes when Pvt James (Philadelphia) called out the back hatch in his best mock Drill instructor howl "secure smoking circle". S/Sgt Covey never could figure why all the smokers were back in the squad bay standing tall when he returned from his hootch. Hard days - Great memories.
Reunion Golf 2/7
Golf 2/7 Vietnam Veterans Association will hold the company reunion in St. Louis MO July 16-19.
The Twilight Zone
I remember the 3rd batt being called Disneyland because of the brick barracks. I was in Plt 144, 'D' Co. We had the old white wooden barracks. The 2nd batt was called The Twilight Zone. This was July - Oct, 1961. We outposted on Friday 13, 1961, which has been my lucky day ever since!
My Senior DI was S/Sgt Stanley Patton and one of the Junior DI's was S/Sgt William Dilsaver. I don't remember our 3rd DI's name but he was replaced by Cpl. Mosser.
The day we graduated and I was called "Marine" for the first time was the proudest I've ever been in my life.
L/CPL James Sanders
Mis-time Their Ducking
I was the XO of the Mar Det on USS Providence CLG-6, a beautiful old cruiser (keel laid in 1944) with teakwood decks. You could always tell the newer Marines joining the Det by the healing cuts on their front and rear of their heads and their black eyes. Since the Det was responsible for security of the ship, we had many drills we practiced that required the Marines to move quickly through the ship blowing whistles to alert sailors to get out of their way as they ran full speed through the tight spaces. Most new Marines would eventually mis-time their ducking as they ran through the watertight doors at full speed. They would hit their foreheads on the sharp steel combing of the door, their momentum would carry their bodies onward so they went horizontal and then the backs of their heads would hit the sharp steel sill of the door! OUCH!
Col. USMC Ret. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing." Edmund Burke
Dear Sgt Grit,
When is friendly fire considered friendly. While I was on a patrol with a squad of 1st platoon, Hotel Co, 2/5 in Vietnam in early 1967, our unit was conducting a day long sweep of an area several miles from Liberty Bridge along the river toward An Hoa combat base.
Sometime in the early afternoon, we were coming out of a tree line patrolling near the road from Phu Loc 6 to An Hoa. We heard a Marine Corps convoy coming along the road so we stopped to watch them travel toward An Hoa. We were about 200 yards away from them on a rise above the rice patties. Between us and the road was a small ravine with a little stream running parallel near the road for about half a mile. There was a tank leading the convoy, several amtracs, several trucks with quad fifties mounted over the cabs, a tanker of fuel, several jeeps, and a tank bringing up the rear.
As we were watching this convoy, the tanker truck hit a mine and blew up. Then we saw several gooks running down the ravine and my squad opened up on them. Naturally the convoy couldn't see them nor us either since we were under cover firing down into the ravine. The Marines in the convoy thought we were firing at them so they opened us and everyone who had anything to fire was shooting in our direction. The tanks were even firing their cannons.
The machine guns from that convoy and the tank cannons put the fear of God into each of us for we knew that the enemy was not firing but these were Marines, and we were in a world of s = =t. We did not have the radio freq for the convoy and had to get the info relayed back through our company net, which then had to relay up the chain to get them d*mn Marines in the convoy to quit firing at us. We were all cussing them, and yelling like h&ll but due to the noise and gunfire, it did no good. There's nothing like lying behind a dike, watching machine gun bullets coming at you from a tank or one of the amtracs. Plus having the tanks fire into the trees and having limbs fall down on you.
One thing you do not mind is fighting the enemy but having to face unfriendly fire from a bunch of Marines certainly keeps your attention span focused. It probably wasn't that long until the firing stopped, but to us, every second counted. We were d*mn lucky that no one was hurt as we knew things could have gotten sour in a heartbeat. I do not need to tell you how much cussing went on afterwards as my whole squad wanted those Marines in that convey to know how much we appreciated being used as target practice. Friendly fire is only friendly to those giving it, never to those who receive it. I guess we were blessed that the Marines riding shotgun had some admin types mixed in among them or we might have been really waxed.
H 2/5 Vietnam
I was just reading the newsletter of February 26th. I was pleasantly surprised to see a letter from Sgt. Angele Manos from Platoon 307. I was in the Parris Island series that included Platoons 304, 305, 306 and his 307. I was in 304. Let me tell it the way I remember it. About 30 of us boots flew down together from Pittsburgh, PA. I was the one responsible for carrying every ones paper work. We arrived the first Wednesday in January 1969. Being the first ones there we were assigned to Platoon 304. We did not start our training weeks until ten days later when all four platoons had formed. I don't remember the three drill instructors names that were assigned to our platoon when we first arrived. There was one recruit who was a bigger boy. The drill instructors picked him out right away. He must have been a bit slow. I remember him being afraid to jump off a table as he was being made an example to everyone. He also took some poundings from the DI's. One day he was gone and we suddenly had four new drill instructors. The platoon did not turn in the DI's as indicated by Sgt. Manos, the recruit did.
The reason that we had the four drill instructors was that the first three were up on charges for what they did to the guy. My bunk was the one closest to the front of the barracks so I had a ring side seat as to how the recruit was handled. I remember Drill Instructor Justice. Our barracks were on the first floor and one day I was told to take something to the third floor of the barracks. There was Justice and another drill instructor. They were very calm and informed me that the first three DI's had been charged with a crime for what had happened to the recruit. I was asked what I had seen. I must have been a fast learner because I told them something to the effect that "the recruit did not see anything because the recruit had his eyes forward at all times and could not see the recruit and drill instructors". I was quickly dismissed so I must have give the right answer.
Just as our first training week began we were assigned three new DI's. SSgt. Smith, Sgt. Rector and Cpl. Alexander. Three names I will never forget. During the first week three of four of us recruits were sent to a court Marshall or hearing (never told what it was), to testify. Can you imagine being in boot camp two week and testifying. The next week we heard that the three DI's got off and the subject was never brought up again.
Eighty four recruits started in 304 and only 52 of the original finished. I remember my Mom and Dad coming down for graduation. We graduate on March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day.
Quick comment on another subject. It doesn't matter when you served if it was during wartime, peace time or Cold War time, if you survived boot camp and served with honor you are a MARINE. Many of us still think that we are lacking because we were not the guys who were "In the bush". I was in NAM and sometimes fell that way. It's like being on a Pro football team (The Marine Corps), going to the Super Bowl (Being in country during a war), and being the third string quarterback who didn't get in the game, ( not being in combat). You have the championship ring but didn't play. Isn't strange how we look back on things?
Sergeant, Vietnam 1970
The Eye of the Storm
Memories from an old retired Master Sergeant
(The Rest of the Story)
Usually Shut Them Up
On my 2nd tour ('69) in Viet Nam I was assigned TAD to a Forward Outpost along the Cua Viet River. This location was just South of the DMZ in what was designated the Ho Chi Minh trails. My Outpost was designated Lima Charlie while our partner Outpost was designated Lima Zulu. Each Outpost had 5 men assigned. We had our own Armorer, Radioman, and 3 Grunts. Of course as we all know basic MOS, we were all Grunts.
The main purpose for the 2 Outpost was for Recon to enter and exit between the 2 of us each night and early morning. Going out on patrol was simple enough but coming back we would require smoke identification. The reason I am bringing attention to this system is because of an incident that happened one night.
One night the patrol made its usual exit. We were monitoring the radio when we heard the patrol was heading in. This was our first time to find out that even as early as Viet Nam satellite imaging was in use. From Base Camp a radio message went out that the patrol had 2 bogeys following them in. The patrol was instructed to give chase and try to capture them. Yeah sure, night time and these guys were behind them. Needless to say the bogeys got away. It was nice to know though that this technology was being used because it might have been a different story had they made it through our line.
On another note if I have time for one more, during my time in this Outpost one day we had a new 2nd Lieutenant (Peanut Butter Bar) making his way out to our Outpost. You have to understand a swath had been cut from about a mile back and about 20' wide to where our post was. Otherwise it was well wooded on both sides. The whole time, all we could see were those bars shining in the Sun that whole distance as this Lieutenant made his way to our Outpost.
Once he arrived his first comment was, "So this is Lima Charlie, I hear you guys every night on the radio requesting to engage the enemy, I just had to come out here and meet you". Of course we couldn't resist in telling him how we appreciated his praise but he may not being hearing us again depending on his getting safely back down that mile long open stretch without attracting any snipers. The best we could do for him was have him remove his bars and cover him as far down the path as possible. Happy ending, he made it back but learned an important lesson.
We did draw our usually night time visitors but it had always been a game between us and them. We would set our claymores (Sp) and they would sneak in and turn them around on us. We would reset them with a booby trap and they would move our trap. Needless to say I can't remember us ever firing off those claymores (Sp). They were pretty brazen at night, you could actually hear them across the river so we would lob a few M79 rounds their way. Usually shut them up for awhile so we could catch some well deserved shut eye.
3rd Mar. Div.
Dong Ha, Viet Nam
Bring In The Heard
Interesting story about the guy that didn't know what he was doing while drilling.
I went to PI in Aug. of 1960 and was assigned to Platoon 386. All we were taught was the 8 Man Squad Drill, and we became the masters of it, with one exception. S/Sgt Ribblett was marching us through the 2nd Bat. during the first 2 weeks of being on the Island when we broke step. God help us because one knows the consequences of this flub-up. Got to the barracks and the guide- on opened the door and yelled "the barn doors open, bring in the heard". Never again did we break step. Our DI's got their rocks off marching us through the 1st and 2nd Bat. areas, never calling cadence, but watching other platoons break step just listening to us march. We became so good, that at our final field inspection, the inspecting Officer put down his clipboard and told our SDI that we were the best that he had ever seen. When we got back to the barracks, we were called "Girls" for the rest of the day, the highest compliment that we had received. We were also told that the Corps was abandoning the 8 Man Squad Drill in favor of the LPM, and that we were among the last platoons to use it.
I never saw this type of drill again, and that's a shame. When performed properly it was the most beautiful thing to witness.
We made our DI's happy in our performance. SDI S/Sgt Gallagher, DI's S/Sgt Ribblett and Sgt. Foster. I have never forgotten them, but would never put up with their sh!t again.
R. J. Boyle
The ONTOS in your video brought to mind my time with 1stATBn from July 67 to Dec 67. Our CP was a few miles outside DaNang and our letter companies were in support of various infantry units in 1stMarDiv. The Battalion was disbanded in Dec 67 with most ONTOS being attached to 1st Tank Bn and sent North to the DMZ. I am including a few pix which may be of interest to other readers.
Captain USMC (Ret)
Dong Ha Ammo
The Dong Ha ammo dump story that you had on your Feb 26th newsletter prompted me to send you these images taken mostly from the 3rd Tank Battalion maintenance ramp on June 20, 1968. It was an amazing pyrotechnics display of the magnitude that I'll never experience again. Many years later I read a very interesting story that was published in the official history, "The US Marine Corps in Vietnam - 1968" printed by the History and Museums Division, HQ US Marine Corps. On Page 360 they write that the North Vietnamese, fearing that the rumors of a US invasion into their country was about to take place, fired a massive artillery bombardment into the huge Dong Ha Combat Base striking the ammunition dump that was located at the far southern edge of the base. This left the 3rd Mar Div "desperately short" of artillery ammunition and the planned invasion was delayed.
Thought I'd drop a line or two to the Sarge. When the war broke out I had tried to enlist in New York City but the enlistment lines went around the block. So I decided to go back to my home in Saratoga Springs, NY area. And headed for Glens Falls, NY where there was a Marine Corps office for enlistments.
I had to go looking for the enlistment Sarge. There were no lines. Several months later I ended up at Parris Island. We snapped in with 03 Springfield, just when we were getting the hang of the rifle they handed us the 'Garand'.
I ended up with a nice black right eye the day before we fired for 'record'. Got hit with the base plate when the rifle kicked. Wasn't use to the rifle yet. Was firing expert before and ended up just qualifying. I have forgotten the platoon number that I was in. But I think that it was # 634 or something very close too that number. That was 67 years ago. Give me a break.
Campaigns were tail end of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, [the forgotten war] liberator of 'Guam' and finally Iwo. Landed on the 23 of Feb and witnessed the first flag raising. My friend ''Charlie Lindberg'' was one of the Marines who raised the first flag. After many years we met again back in 2000, at a military park dedication in South Corinth, NY. Charlie was one of the guest speakers. Semper Fi Sgt. Jim Smith Jr.
Incidentally my final assignment was at the 'Brooklyn Navy Yard Brig. As Sgt. of the Guard.
Tears To My Eyes
Semper Fi Sarge, just thought I'd check to make sure that you know that Charles Lindberg, and I had a nice talk back in June 2000 when he was invited to speak at a Veterans Memorial Park dedication in Corinth, NY. As you may well know that Charlie has passed away since then, I was with the 3rd. Div when we landed on the beach at Iwo and working on one of my tanks trying to get the track back on because of the volcanic ash. I told Charlie I looked up at the flag as it went up and it brought tears to my eyes to see that flag going up.
Semper fi --- Sgt. Jim Smith Co. B 3rd Tank Battalion, 1st. Platoon.
At The Range
I read your letters with a great deal of enjoyment, and at times sadness. In the short time I have received your newsletter, I have not read any comments about basic rifle training. We were all trained as basic riflemen regardless of our future MOS's. My generation trained and humped the M-14. To me, the best long gun the Corps issued ( except for the M1 Garand or the Springfield 03A3). The M-14 with optics could reach out and touch some-one.
I remember the barracks at the range. You have to understand that we were still part of the long line of the Old Corps Marines to rack in the Squad Quonset huts at M.C.R.D. In door head & showers on the same deck that you racked out on. You had to be there. If memory serves, we were bused to Camp Pendleton. All transportation on Base was in Cattle Cars. Beat any and all amusement rides to date. I may have the C.C.'s confused with Staging & not Boot Camp. (we may have hiked.) Memories kind of ride together. But, if you want to lose a fight before it starts, ride in the back of a Cattle Car with a young L/Cpl who just received a Dear John letter from his wife/girl friend back home in the Ozarks.
I remember well the Basic Rifle Training. The snapping in. Sight Picture & Triangulation. Windage & Elevation. Making & marking targets. The crack as the round passed overhead when pulling butts. Record Book. Getting into extremely un-natural positions with Sling & Rifle. Take up all the slack in the trigger & SQUEEEEEEZE. Chow was excellent. Even the K-rats at the range were outstanding. (this from a guy that considers road kill acceptable on the menu.) Record Day. Three qualifications. Expert. Sharpshooter. Marksman (the toilet seat.) Every boot was shooting for the crossed rifles.
Blacking out the sights. NOT CLEANING our weapons prior to Record day. Smoking all of my cigarettes at once when the smoking lamp was lit. Nah, none of us boots were under any pressure. Our Drill Instructors made it very clear to us that our first score stayed in our jackets to the end of days. And that every Officer, from a Butter Bar (2nd Lt.) to the Commandant of the Marine Corps would look at our Recruit Training Rifle score prior to any part of our jacket. ( I still believe that.)
Was it me, or did our Drill Instructors cut us some slack during that time? Nah, I'm just getting pre-Alzheimer. Cutting boots slack, NOT in the manual. Period. We would be up prior to the sun making an appearance, sitting on the deck. Back to back. And fall asleep immediately. Only Marines, (past and present) are qualified for this natural behavior. After the first time I was allowed live fire, I decided to name my first born Springfield. (No, never came up. I married and Italian. Springfield not even an option. As payback, I named my wife's dog Fart.)
Yes, I shot Expert. For the Corps and my Grandfather, who would have unscrewed my head from my shoulders and done un-natural things to me prior to screwing it back on if I had come home with a toilet seat on my chest.
Sgt. T. Petersen 1967-
I Gave Them Food
While serving as a fire team leader with Company K, Third Battalion, First Marine Division in Vietnam, my unit detained a Vietnamese family, We held them overnight, planning to take them to Da Nang for interrogation the next day.
Later that day, I saw some of the soldiers abusing the family members and at one point, they seemed ready to abuse the 12- year-old-girl.
I stepped up and told them that if they didn't leave the family alone, I would shoot them.
The lieutenant in charge said that since I 'love' them so much, I would be in charge of guarding them all night and into the following day.
I gave them food and warm blankets for the night and gave candy to the children and cigarettes to the adults. The next morning they were taken to Da Nang and I never heard anything else about them.
Two months later, on Sept. 10, 1968 during operation Houston IV, I was on a night patrol. I was instructed to take my squad several miles from camp and set up an ambush.
On the way, we passed through a village. The same family I had helped ran out of a shack, telling me not to go further because the enemy was waiting for us.
I took my squad around the other side of the village where