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AmericanCourage #221 04 MAR 2010
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I thought you and your readers might appreciate a photo of my two sons and their two wives, all of whom were married within a week of one another this past Christmas while home on leave. It was the first time my sons had seen one another since Thanksgiving 2007, although during their tours in Iraq they were stationed within 10 miles of one another for a while. Wedding plans for both were moved up because my youngest son's deployment date for Afghanistan was moved up, too.
Each Marine was the other's best man. From left to right they are Amanda Nickell and Josh Nickell and Jake Nickell and Sydnie Nickell. Josh and Amanda were married Dec. 21 at First United Methodist Church in Jackson, TN, and Jake and Sydnie were married Dec. 26 at the same church. Josh, a combat engineer, is now stationed at Edson Rifle Range at Camp Pendleton; Jake, a rifleman and radio operator, is stationed at Camp Lejeune. Among the guests attending the services was their paternal grandmother, Mrs. Joy Nickell, wife of Maj. Robert B. Nickell (deceased), who participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima in WWII.
In this Issue
The Sgt Grit Facebook has a lot of interesting content, as you can see in an example below. Also take a look at my Sgt Grit Blog. I continue to refine and improve the content and sources. In this issue you will a story taking exception to the use of go-k in combat situations. Many of the email provider filters tend to agree because many of you did not get last weeks' letter, it was filter out and not delivered to you. There is a link to the Commandants' view on the proposed changes to gays in the military. Many other stories and observations, and of course the quotes.
In 2007 I, with other Marines went on a tour of Vietnam Combat sites with VietNam Battlefield Tours. It was a terrific tour. Part of the tour was a visit to My Son Holy Land. This is an ancient religious site preceding even the Vietnamese.
While we were there a vehicle drives up. Four communist soldiers step out and go into a building. I look at the vehicle and can't believe what I am seeing. It is a Marine Corps jeep in pristine condition. It has to be from the Vietnam war so that would make it around 40 years old. I could not question the soldiers as to the details of this vehicle's history as they disappeared somewhere on the grounds. I was just wondering what the circumstances surrounding this existence of jeep might be: Did we abandon jeeps ? Was it captured ? How is it that it's condition is like new and so on ? If anyone has any ideas I would like to know.
Also the other picture is a Village (Tan Hy) Chief toasting us Marines for returning to his Village after 40 plus years; a sign of gratitude for what we did for the South Vietnamese during our time there. He gathered all the people of his village to come thank us and they prepared a feast for us, all spontaneously. It should be a message to my fellow Vietnam Vets that our sacrifice is remembered and appreciated by many South Vietnamese.
Semper Fi, Mike Riley 0311 '66-'67
From Sgt Grit Facebook
"The one in the center is my husband,
Sgt. John C. Fincannon, "Chris""
Just thought that you would enjoy a picture of my grandson with the just add a kid shirt, looks sharp if I say so myself. the other picture is of my son, Devin, and Grandson and the new dog, a boxer, from TN. By the way the grandson has the same rank as his granddad.
Harold L Ramer
And I Quote...
"You're making the wrong assumption that a Marine by himself is outnumbered."
--Gen Peter Pace, 28Jul06
I was thoroughly disappointed in the letter about Vietnam where the enemy was referred to as g--ks -- really in this day and age that is unconscionable -- my father fought in Guadalcanal and Korea and NEVER referred to anyone he fought as anything other than the enemy -- no racial slurs. Since many of these people have migrated here to the US and they or their children have served our country isn't it time to retire this type of behavior? I understand the gentleman may have written it that way but felt the editors should have replaced the words with "the enemy" (Journalism 101) after all racism should not be perpetuated in any form (and although I am a conservative, not a liberal, what is right never changes)
I understand that by demeaning the enemy makes it easier for some to cope however we should never forget they are doing their country the same service we are doing ours -- they are someone's son, brother, husband or father and just as scared as we are. We expect our brave men to lead the world on the battlefield and be honorable in all things -- reprinting racial slurs in any case and especially this long after by "One of the Finest" site is not consistent with the spirit of the Core -- retired or not. One of my sons served in Desert Storm and the other in Kosavo and both came home with epithets about the enemy but I sat them down (all 6'2" of them) and let them know how demeaning it was to themselves as proud Americans to stoop to that --- never heard them use it again.
Before my Dad passed last year you were my source for all birthdays and holiday gift giving -- I am deeply disappointed in your editors -- they need to step up and be the Finest Marines they once were with Courage, Honor and Commitment -- not perpetuate such low behavior -- we don't need the "flavor" or the person writing the letter over doing what is right Today, Tomorrow and Always.
Military Mom and Marine Daughter
"Pacific Marine" Those two words caught my eye as I read them. My records show that I was one such Marine. I looked them up today to take them to a Social Security office. I read that they are reconsidering giving us credit for serving during that time.
I am a "Pacific Marine" having served first on New Caledonia (a lousy place), Guadalcanal, Tulagi, was on Eniwetok, Kwajalein, landed on Guam for the assault there, Oahu, T. H., Maui, Hawaii (Big Island), then to Iwo Jima for the assault there, back to Oahu and Maui and from there back home. Spent almost six months on board ships of various shapes and sizes but mostly troop transports where we quickly learned that the best place to spend the night was topside, sleeping on the deck. There is a difference in comfort between wooden decks and steel plate. The wooden decks are much softer and more comfortable.
As I grow older my service is a point of pride in my life and much more important to me.
This is a picture of son Pvt Thomas M. Yenichek. He graduated 1-29-10 from India company 3rd Battalion platoon 3012 Parris Island North Carolina.
He is headed for the School of Infantry next where he will train to be 0311.
And I Quote...
"The Constitution, which at any time exists 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all."
I was in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1970 to 1976 and still have a strong allegiance to the Corps. For the last ten years I have been participating in road races and have two specially built wheelchair/stretchers that I use to push disabled people. I would like to make an offer to a disabled Marine the opportunity to participate in this year's Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. The race is held in October and I would consider it an honor to run with those who have given so much. If you think this may be of interest let me know and I can send you pictures of the two units. Thank you for your time.
Dear Sgt Grunt,
I just read you news letter, a lot of tears and pride flowed through my eyes. Thanks to all the people who have shared their stories.
I am a 3rd generation Marine. My grandfather retired a Sgt Major, and my father a Master Gunny. I retired after 22 years as a MSGT, all of it served with the 1st Marines. I am proud to call all of you Marines serving and not, my brothers and sisters. Both my father and my grandfather told me when I became a Gunny that now I have to keep my cool when things become uncool. Everybody looks to the veteran Gunny as the one who will get them home.
My story starts at where I now work. I am a technician for a Toyota dealership. As I'm sure everyone has heard, they are going through a massive recall. The shop, like many others changed the hours of operation to include staying open 3 hours longer each night to help with the overload of customers wanting their Toyota fixed. A young kid in the shop lost his cool because of this. Making comment about customers should have to come in on the regular hours and we shouldn't have to stay for them. After hearing this for almost 6 hours, I'm sorry to say that I lost my cool.
In a manner that would make a drill instructor proud, yelling and screaming I got in his face and said one thing. "There are service men and women overseas who haven't seen their families in over a year, and they are now being told that their time is being extended. Not knowing when they will get home, they do it with great pride for the people of this country who they will never meet, including you! Think of that the next time you cry about getting home 3 hours later then you're used to. You better get some respect for others before someone beats some respect into you."
The whole shop went silent, including the service manager, who served in the Air force. The young kid walked away tail tucked between his legs.
Michael Rose Jr
1st Mar. Div. 85 - 07
This last Saturday I had the honor to be able to attend the 65th Anniv of the Flag Raising on Iwo Jima Parade in Sacaton, Az home of Ira Hayes.
Attached are pictures that I took at the parade on Saturday, due to the cold & rain my wife and I could not stay for the entire parade we were there for the first 90 minutes of the parade and it was only half done when we left. We were very disappointed that we were not able to stay for the events scheduled after the parade.
Cpl Ken Kurkowski
1966 - 1969
On 17 Dec 2009 my wife & I were able to meet with our son, 1st Lt Justin Loucks, during his long transit from the Helmand Province, Afghanistan to his home base at 29 Palms, California. Justin had been deployed with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines since May. Our time with him was brief, two hours during a scheduled stop at the Bangor Airport in Maine, but well worth the drive. This opportunity was provided in part by an organization of citizens of Bangor, Maine who call themselves The Maine Troop Greeters. Bangor International Airport is a primary entry and exit point for US Troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The Maine Troop Greeters describe themselves in their website as a non-profit group of veterans and men and women supporting our armed forces serving overseas by greeting troops who arrive at Bangor International Airport.
Day or night, rain or shine, it is our commitment to welcome each troop home from war and to give a proper sendoff to each of the young men and women heading overseas. We accomplish this by being there to offer free cell phones to call a loved one, a snack to keep them going and a handshake to let them know we care. Since we began greeting troops in May of 2003, the Maine Troop Greeters have greeted over 4300 flights with more than 924,000 service members and 196 military dogs. And it is our pledge that as long as there are U.S. armed forces serving overseas we will be here to greet them. Their mission statement further sums up their goal: The mission of the Maine Troop Greeters is to express the nation's (and our) gratitude and appreciation to the troops, for those going overseas for a safe return and for those returning for a joyful homecoming and to make their (hopefully brief) stay in Bangor as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
When we arrived at the nearly deserted Bangor airport on the evening of Dec 16th the thermometer read 3 degrees and the wind- chill was way below zero, I wondered who would really come out in this voluntarily. The first flight was due in at 2330, the troop greeters started arriving by 2200 and began their well established routines. Cell phones, donated by Verizon and US Cellular, were checked and snacks, many donated from local businesses, were packaged. Five flights were expected throughout the night; four were homecoming, two Marine, two Army; and the last would be outbound.
When the arrival of the first flight was announced I was privileged to be standing next to 88 year old Bill Knight who, with his cap identifying him as a World War Two Veteran set at a jaunty angle, assumed his accustomed post as the first in the reception line along the entrance ramp. The surprise was evident on the faces of the first Marines as the assembled greeters line broke into applause. Bill started his well established routine with a hearty "Welcome Home Heroes" and then shook the hand of every Marine and Corpsman as they passed and offered each a "Welcome Home" and "Thank You".
Further down the line 76 year-old Marine Jerry Mundy was offering the free cell phones, "Call your Mother, wake her up and tell her you're home". The sincerely offered thank you and welcome home continued until all 130+ combat hardened Marines had passed by, there was not a dry eye, on either side of the line. Justin would be on the second plane, affording us the opportunity to talk with many of this group. As their time in Bangor drew to a close and they excitedly prepared to board the aircraft for the final leg of their journey many stopped to thank me, just for being there. Now I knew, why these citizens of Bangor gather at their airport, in the cold, in the middle of the night, night after night. The tally board had been updated while we waited; as of 16 Dec 2009 the Maine Troop Greeters have greeted 4672 flights welcoming 947,537 troops and 216 military dogs, Five flights and hundreds of troops would be added tonight.
Although no one I spoke to claimed to have met all of the flights over the years it was common agreement that Bill Knight had met "most" of them, only letting life's problems, like hospitalizations, keep him away. While exemplary, Bill's commitment reflects the norm among the Troop Greeters I met. We are one of a very small group of parents who have been able to be a part of the troop greeters as our son passed through; Bangor Maine is not easily accessible. However, many parents may find comfort, as I will should Justin redeploy to the Middle East, that in Bangor Maine there is a dedicated group of patriotic Americans who will be on hand to wish him well as he departs, and to enthusiastically welcome him home on his return to the U.S.
Fortunately there is still a great deal of concern and interest in the Support the Troops activities. I know that while Justin was deployed family, friends and associates sent many letters and parcels to him and his unit in Afghanistan, all was greatly appreciated. Others have asked me - what else we can do for the troops. In The Maine Troop Greeters I have found the ï¿½What Else'. Although recently featured in the PBS documentary, "The Way We Get By" this group is still nearly invisible, yet provides a most important function for our deploying military members. They exist on donations from local businesses and supplement with a supply of snacks that originate in their own kitchens or are purchased by the organization and the members. They will not accept any donation from the service members or their spouses. Their Website www.themainetroopgreeters.com provides more information on what we can do to help them perform their mission, or they can be contacted at: The Maine Troop Greeters, Bangor International Airport, 287 Godfrey Blvd., Bangor, ME 04401
Justin was one of the first ones to come down the ramp as the second aircraft unloaded so our attention was dominated by having our Marine home once again and we spent the two hours attempting to catch up on the past seven months. I am sure that when "our" battalion of Marines arrived at Camp Pendleton the marching bands and the cheering crowds of parents, wives and girlfriends overwhelmed the memories of Bangor, Maine. But most will never forget walking off the aircraft on their first stop on U.S. soil to the sight of World War Two Vet Bill Knight, standing at the head of the line - "Welcome Home Heroes". I know I won't.
SSGT USMC (Ret.)
My son, PFC Sandberg is also on the Gunson Hall had been diverted to Haiti and has now resumed the "Float" to APS-10 in Africa.
Proud Marine father Gary
And I Quote...
"A universal peace ... is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts."
Hi my Marine Brothers and Sisters,
Want you all to know what my feelings are about the Corps! When I tried to join the Corps in 56, the Gunny noticed my accent, came from Vienna, Austria in 47, he either met his quota or had a bad day, first words outta his mouth was "Boy are you a citizen"? I said "NO SIR", he said "Can't use you, go check out the Army Recruiter next door"! Saw the Army Sgt, he said "sign this contract"! 26 years later I retired in 83.
Since being a Proud Member of the Patriot Guard Riders, I've attended over 200 Missions Honoring our Fallen Heroes and Veterans, have attended too many Missions for our Marine KIA's and Veterans! When I introduce myself to the various Marine Honor Guards, I let them know how proud I am of their service to our country and how I wish I were a MARINE! My feeling of the Corps is that they have the best Esprit de Corps, the best discipline and the sharpest uniform of all the services! If this ole First Sgt were able to enter Boot Camp and graduate....I'd be finally able to say "I'M a PROUD MARINE!
Am heading out with some of my Marine PGR members in the morning for the Iwo Jima Flag Raising ceremony in Sacaton, AZ. I will be honored to be able to attend this important event with my Marine friends! Semper Fi and God Bless You All!
Jerry "PopPop" Zimmermann
US Army 1st Sgt (Ret.)
Proud Patriot Guard Rider #3764
"Riding With Respect"
I like quotes.
"You don't get to choose the Manner in which I deliver your freedom"
"Sleep tight America we got your back"
"I look forward to being taken for granted by people who have no Idea what I went through to preserve their freedom"
"I accept with honor, the opportunity to preserve our freedom from the last for the next generation."
On the news tonight is first time I've seen a Afghan flag raised. It sure was a great sight. Thanks to all who made it possible.
Curtiss A. Greer
In God We Trust
First Marine Division Association Reunion
And I Quote...
"Amplification is the vice of modern oratory."
I am writing today because it is the 50th anniversary of my father's death.
I was only four years old when my dad died suddenly on Feb. 25, 1960. I am proud to say that my father served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. I hope that he would be equally proud to know that his only son grew up to be a United States Marine.
I have always felt so privileged to be able to claim that title: United States Marine. The past year of my life has seen difficulties arise that I have never had to face before. I have often wondered during that time if I could take it.
But I have also drawn inspiration from my fellow Marines, knowing the courage and fortitude Marines have always displayed... improvise, adapt, overcome. It has helped me during this difficult time to keep faith with myself and my fellow Marines.
It has famously been said that, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine." I believe that this is true. But there is more to it. Having once and forever earned the right to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem of the U.S. Marine Corps, it is incumbent upon every Marine to always act in ways that honor the values and traditions of the Marine Corps. It is not only the privilege of being a United States Marine that lasts a lifetime...it is also the responsibility. The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor should continue to guide our lives long after we hang up our uniforms for the last time.
The Commandant speaks to the gays in the military issue... read the article
I am very proud to announce we have (2) new Marines in our family. Our sons Pfc. Andrew M. Boston (21) & Pfc. Jimmy H. Boston III. (20). They Graduated Boot camp aboard MCRD San Diego, Dec. 18th, 2009 as part of 1st bn. Charlie Co. Plt. 1053. They are currently attending MCT at Fort Pendleton in preparation for their MOS school 6111 Tilt rotor/ Helo mechanic.
My wife and I along with our Daughter -in-law (Andrews wife) were in attendance. During our visit to San Diego we stayed in billeting aboard MCRD. Doing this afforded us the opportunity to witness a lot more of the young Marines way of life that most ever get to see without becoming one of the Few and the Proud. I witnessed in the early morning dark, the lone calling of cadence coming from the drill instructors as young Marines marched in lock step. I could hear them, long before I could see them. As they marched out of the darkness and mist I was struck by the changes in my young sons. It was like someone had hit me with a hammer. Now, they were not only young men but young Marines. I must say I have never been prouder than to see my only (2) sons come marching across that parade deck as U.S. Marines.....Semper Fi! HoooRah!
Jim & Marsha Boston
Proud Parents of U.S. Marines
Hey Sgt. Grit, As usual the newsletter is superb, and that FaceBook should create a lot of messages from Marines all over....Semper Fi jv
And I Quote...
"it is no good going to the country solely on the platform of your opponents' mistakes".
65 years ago today - 24 February, 1945 - elements of the 3rd Marine Division, including the 9th Marine regiment, were landed on a festering little piece of excrement called Iwo Jima. Among the 3rd Battalion of the 9th Marines was a young field telephone man whose high, wide forehead had earned him the nickname, "Moon," because his face reminded his buddies of a moonrise. (Later, he would tell his sons he got that name by having a moonshine still where he made raisin jack that was the stuff of legend. He was ratted out by one of his buddies in 2000.) His name was Sgt. Rufus Benjamin Rodgers, Jr.. Sgt. Rodgers survived Iwo Jima. He never told his story, except for a few tiny snippets.
I've been working on a project on my blog to write a haiku a day for a month. I hope my father will forgive the irony of my using a classic Japanese form to mark this day.
Place of agony,
Stinking, horrid, ashen death -
Dad was so young then.
Semper Fidelis, Pap.
And one a brighter note, 19 years later, on 24 February, 1964, Sgt. and Mrs. Rodgers' second son, John K, was born. Happy Birthday, my brother.
I am saddened to report that another Korea Marine has gone on to guard the "Gates". PFC Patrick J. McCarthy of No. Dartmouth, Ma, was laid to rest last Friday and was honored by a Marine Burial detail. My brother in law, Pat, in his obit, it mentioned how many shooting medals he had achieved at the local gun club, a hobby first learned at Parris Island.
Art Caesar, Sgt of Marines
21 months ago I lost my Marine grandson . I wear the Marine memorial patch over my left breast on my motorcycle jacket . the president of the Philadelphia, Pa. Leathernecks M.C. spotted it, and pinned on the fallen heroes pin right beside it . I wear it very proudly, thank you fellow Marines . We do take care of our own .
And I Quote...
"In Platoon 311, the rule was "equal opportunity for all, special privilege for none." The DIs were truly color-blind, equal opportunity persecutors to whom each of their human charges was just another flesh-and-blood mechanism awaiting the tender mercies of their hands-on instructional techniques."
--Zell Miller, Corps Values
There is a growing effort to have Marine Corps added to the official name of the Navy. The legislation, H.R. 24 and S.504, would change the name of the Department of the Navy to the "Department of the Navy and Marine Corps" and the Secretary of the Navy to the "Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps."
What do you think? Stick with the tradition, "Old Corps" or make a change, "New Corps".
OPERATION MONKEY was started by a scout and a former US Marine Sergeant (who is one of your customers). It is an Eagle Scout Project co-sponsored by the Westchester County Marine Corps League.
Located in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York its mission is to support deployed soldiers, recuperating soldiers, soldiers whose families are having difficulties, and soldiers preparing to deploy.
If anyone knows of a deployed soldier who will be 'in country' until at least the 3rd week of May 2010 please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org Our site is: www.operationmonkey.org
3Bn 9thMar 1980-1984
And I Quote...
"Agree, for the law is costly."
--Sir William Camden
Hello Sgt Grit,
I don't know if you can use this in the newsletter or if you could locate his recruiter.
This maggot made me sick.
Am I over reacting?
Can we see what your readers think?
I stumbled across this guy; a poolie in serious need of an attitude adjustment.
The pictures are correct as shown by the emblem of the left front side.
I didn't notice at the time but his white web belt has NCO Eagle Globe & Anchor.
I hope his recruiter finds out about this creep.
His page his question
Our exchange (pg 2)
old fart/ real jarhead
Arlington National Cemetery can be a very lonesome place after a huge Washington, DC snowstorm. My friend Michael Bailey and I decided we would pay a visit to Arlington on Feb. 19th to visit four special gravesite's; unfortunately, due to the heavy snow blanketing the ground, we could not find the graves of two of the four. Of the two we found, one was my brother George's Memorial Site; he was a WWII LST-577 Navy Signalman killed on 11Feb45 when his ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine (see some photos).
The other gravesite was that of one of our Marine Corps Heroes, "Dark Horse Six," the "call sign" of Navy Cross and TWO Silver Star Medals recipient Colonel Robert D. Taplett, USMC (Ret.). Bob Taplett, former Commanding Officer of The Basic School at Quantico, during the Korean War's winter months of 1950 (with temperatures falling to 40 degrees below zero at night), led his 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in the grueling strategic retreat at the Chosin Reservoir. (For details on Col. Taplett, his Marine Corps career, subsequent civilian employment, and his book "Dark Horse Six" (published shortly before he died at age 86 in December 2004), see: Taplett Tribute). It should be noted that Bob's dear wife, Patricia Kingston Taplett, died less than three years after he did and is reunited with him in the "Home of Heroes."
I'd like to "headline" the below pictures we took on Feb. 19th at Arlington National Cemetery, "John Deere Meets Marine One." That's because as the pictures show, without the "help" of the capable Arlington Cemetery staff and their "snow plows," my "Marine1" VA licensed Buick would not have made it to any grave site. While searching all four gravesite areas Mike and I "sloshed" through snow almost waist high, since although the main roads were fairly clear, the gravesites of course were not, and snow drifts made headstone identification difficult if not impossible.
I hope your readers will enjoy these photos:
Gerald F. Merna
1stLt USMC (Ret.)
4'x6' Nylon Embroidered USA Flag
Vietnam Ribbon Men's Assorted Colors Golf Shirt
God Bless America!