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AmericanCourage #222     18 MAR 2010

My Grandpa Thomas served in the Army in Europe during WW1. My Dad was in the Navy serving on the Flattop Saratoga during WW 2. I'm a former Marine served with the 1st Marine Division, FMF Pacific. I was stationed just south of Chu Lai in 1966.

In the fall of 1963 I had the displeasure of telling Dad that I was not going back to college for my sophomore year and wanted to join the Navy. After some time of Dad trying to convince me that I should stay in school, he gave up. Then to my great surprise he told me "son you are not a Navy guy, you are a Marine."

We left Mom crying on the front porch as he drove to the Marine recruiters office. The rest is history. How he knew I'll never know.

M. Thomas

Mother's Day Special

In This Issue: among many other stories you will find many responses to the word Go-k and other slang terms used. An OLD Captain finishes the Mud Run, 'knowing' recognition at the gym, a little girl saluting, and the oldest Marine flag raiser.

Happy reading.
Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

I am a proud Marine mom, who for a couple of days decided I was mad at the Marines. My son was supposed to get a pre-deployment leave in April, then ship out in May. They are leaving any day now for Chile to help with the earthquake victims. I thought after all I did to raise a man good enough for the Marines to want him they should care about my feelings at least a little bit. I finally stopped being selfish and came to realize that not only will this help the people of Chile, it will help our boys to be able to help save lives before going into battle. If other Marine moms get frustrated with some of the decisions made, remember the Marines have been around a long time and they know what they're doing.
Sue Carter mother of LCpl. Michael A. Gregory

Sgt Grit,
I have been reading all of the discussion about Old Corps versus New Corps and had an event occur last night that put the whole issue to rest in my own mind. I enlisted in the USMC in December 1972 and was sent to Parris Island for boot camp and then onto ITR/ITS and points overseas.

I currently am a nurse tech in a emergency room in a north Texas hospital. Last night an ambulance brought us a gentleman that I got to do the normal inpatient workup on (vital signs, EKG, general information, etc.) During our discussion he told me that one of his eyes was false and that he had lost it on Iwo Jima with 2/26. I immediately showed him my USMC tattoo on my upper arm, we shook hands warmly and swapped Semper Fi's with each other, along with a couple of sea stories.

From that moment on, as long as he was in the ER, I saw to his needs and even some extra things that we don't normally give to patients in the ER. This valiant warrior was eventually admitted to the hospital and it was my pleasure to take him up to his room. As we exited the ER into the main part of the hospital, all of a sudden he started to speak/sing the words, "And when I get heaven, St. Peter I will tell, another Marine reporting sir, I've served my time in h&ll", which, of course, is the same song we were taught when I was at Parris Island.

So, then the two of us were moving through the hospital singing all of those verses, "You can have your Army khaki, and your Navy blue, I've got a different uniform I'll introduce to you, His uniform is unlike, any you've ever seen, the Germans called him Devildogs, his title is Marine, he was born at Parris Island, the land that God forgot, the sand was 14 inches deep, the sun was blazing hot, etc.... This Marine still remembered the song he was taught some 65 or so years ago and it is exactly the same as the one I was taught in 1972/1973.

So, for all those knuckleheads out there who still think there is some kind of difference between Marines from one era to another, I say this: BULLSH-T! That WWII Marine who fought at one of the most horrific battles of our history was no different than I am or any other Marine that I served with or meet during my work. I have also had the pleasure of having another Marine in my ER, some weeks back, who served in William Barber's company at the Chosin. We got to talk quite a bit about his experiences. Once again, just like last night's experience, there was no difference in Marine experiences other than those specific to the combat they had experienced. I truly believe now that Marines are Marines no matter when they served. To all those Marines out there, both past and present and future, I say SEMPER FI and carry on!
Bob Tollison
SSgt 0369
Sherman, TX

USMC Pacific Campaign

The Pacific is airing now on HBO

On my Blog I have posted some of my favorite observations about the first episode of The Pacific, and will do so Monday morning after each episode.
I invite you to add yours.

The Sgt Grit Blog will fill your need for a daily dose of the Corps.

The Facebook page is also growing and is a lot of fun.

Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

Sgt. Grit,
I'm Tony Packowski, I ordered all those SSGT. items from you. They were a gift to a Former Marine who was in Korea in the forgotten war. I gave the items to him on his birthday and you could see the swelling in his eyes when I gave them to him. He was so proud and thankful to get such items like that, that he could hardly talk. He is my uncle ,and he is 81 years old. After his b-day party, the thing he could say all night is thank you and BOY! do I really like these things.

The party went well, and as everybody left, I was the only one there and as I was leaving, he grabbed my arm and said, Thank you Tony, and gave me a hug. Then when I was at the door to leave, he said, Hey Marine! I turned around to look at him and he said, "SEMPER FI BROTHER" and then I left knowing that I made his day.

I just thought you would like to know that we all are still Brothers after all these years. It made me feel proud and honored.

I like your comments that you get from other Brothers, and I read every one. You will be hearing more stories like this in the future I'm sure. But for now, Be good, Take care, And may God Bless you and yours.

Tony (SKI) Packowski,

And I Quote...

"[A] wise and frugal government... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
--Thomas Jefferson

New Braunfels and Canyon Lake, TX

On September 19, 2009, the second annual 17.2 Mile Wounded Warrior Run was held in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. The run/race began in a light rain, however, it ended on a sunny morning. The course consisted of many curves, with some hills, as it stretched along the beautiful Guadalupe River (home of the finest river tubing in Texas). This year we added a Military Trophy for the military team who would place first in the event. Being Marines, we assembled our military "team" the night before (we wanted to "adapt and overcome") and we almost took the trophy home!

We placed 2nd (of military teams), 3rd place over all, of twenty nine teams, with an outstanding time of 1:57:57. Our team consisted of "salty" Marines (in their 40's and 50's), L - R, Sgt. Scott Glazener, MSgt Oscar Gutierrez, Sgt. James Eastland (in the orange shirt and the "race coordinator"), MGySgt Joe Sepulveda, Sgt Diaz (the youngster of the team) and SSgt R.A. Ramirez.

Photo of Sgt. Scott Glazener, MSgt Oscar Gutierrez, Sgt. James Eastland (in the orange shirt and the race coordinator), MGySgt Joe Sepulveda, Sgt Diaz (the youngester of the team) and SSgt R.A.Ramirez The first place winning team consisted of Army soldiers, in their 20's, who are an actual running team on a local San Antonio military base. However, I guarantee you, they felt the heat and the pressure of the USMC! Incredibly, our first leg runner, MSgt Oscar Gutierrez, not only ran a fast starting time for our Marine team, he also completed the entire 17.2 mile course in a super fast time. As well, his wife ran the same course in an outstanding time. Marines, we let everyone know we are always prepared for battle, even in the shortest notice!

A SPECIAL thanks to Sgt Grit and his staff for the outstanding purchase price of our race shirts (see the photograph). The event was for a wonderful cause, we asked Sgt Grit to step up the plate and they did without hesitation. I have to admit "we looked great" in our Sgt Grit shirt and the other teams could NOT touch the anchor and globe!


For more information about this annual September event, in the Texas Hill Country, please log onto our website at

Sgt Grit:
Every year we send you a picture from our chili cook-off. Here is the picture from this year's cook-off. Marines at Chili Cookoff We are the founding chapter here in Illinois.

We have 4 chapters. Us ( Central Illinois ) Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois & Eastern Illinois. We just keep growing..

By the way we will have our quarterly visit to the Danville, IL VA Hospital in May... Be asking for your donations soon...Thanx Semper Fi....
Todd Fingerle
aka "Fingers" LMCI

Sgt Grit,

Jeff Strayer and his buddies I really enjoy the newsletter, especially the pictures, so I decided to send my own. I joined the Corps in 1979 and after boot camp went to NAS Memphis for Avionics school. There I met two guys from back home, New Hampshire for me, Massachusetts for them, but home just the same.

We spent the better part of 1980 in Memphis and then received orders to different bases. I went to MCAS Beaufort, SC., Jay went to MCAS Cherry Point, NC., and Mark went home to NAS South Weymouth, MA. We kept in touch over the next 8 years and then contact kind of fell off as it can over time.

Jeff Strayer's custom coin Through a fluke Facebook encounter we linked up again and made arrangements to have lunch. What a nice time we had looking through old photographs and reminiscing about Memphis.

I purchased challenge coins and had them custom inscribed to commemorate the reunion. After all, thirty years is a long time! We had such a good time we're going to make it a regular event. So, here are my pics from that day, hope you enjoy them.

Jeff Strayer
Sgt. USMC, 1979 - 1987

And I Quote...

"There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism."
--Alexander Hamilton

Sgt Grit,

Jim Hill during the Marine Corps Mud Run I served with our Corps from 1970-78 and was on active duty from 1970-74, the highlight being a platoon commander with 3/8 from 1971-72 and a taking part in a NATO overseas deployment where, tragically, five of our Marines were killed in a helicopter crash. In honor of the Corps I was determined to remain fit and active as best I could during my aging process and have an annual adventure (includes a 30,600 feet HALO skydive, a great white shark cage dive, flying the L-39 military jet, a trip down the Amazon River and catching a piranha, etc). Last September the adventure was taking part in the Marine Corps Mud Run with a team of "youngsters" (who I made honorary Marines for the day).

Jim Hill's teammates during the Marine Corps Mud Run While in Columbia, SC at the Marine Corps Reserve Center doing the Marine Corps Mud Run, we helped to raise about $200,000 for the Marine Corps Foundation supporting families of Marines injured and killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were 1,800 4- person teams (ours was named "Fortune Favors the Brave" - the motto of 3/8) taking part.

The course was 4.25 miles long and included 30 obstacles--from jumping up and over 5 foot concrete ledges, muddy hill climbs, rope swings over mud pits, climbing a 10 foot wall, a combat cargo net climb, 25 feet up-and-over ladder obstacles, climbing over logs in the water, crawling through water pits with netting 6 inches above our heads, a 25 yard swim through a 14 feet deep mud pit, log walks over mud pits, multiple mud pit runs, etc. My teammates were ages 27, 17 and 15 and I kept up with them every step of the way and even led them through a number of the obstacles.

Jim Hill and Teammates Marine Corps Mud Run I ended up with multiple abrasions and bruises on both legs and even fell 5 feet off the combat cargo net onto my back (just knocked the wind out of me for a minute fortunately) and I had to live on Tylenol for several days, but it was great fun and made money for a terrific cause. I may be 61 but the Marine Corps tells me that "pain is just weakness leaving your body" so I am (must be) pretty darn strong. I just wish it didn't hurt so much :)

Most people know me well enough by now that they know just how much an impact the Marine Corps had on my life. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that we should all, "Do one thing every day that scares you." The Mud Run was that one thing for 2009. I also love the quote by an anonymous person who said that, "Life is an incredible adventure or it is nothing at all." That's the way I've tried to live my life and hope never to have to give up on that. We'll be back again to do it September 25, and flying the CH-46 helicopter is on that list for 2010, too.


Jim Hill
Former Captain, Still a Marine

With all due respect to Mr Ryan the kid is a kid. I'm not saying everything he's doing is correct or excusable but he's a 16-18 year old kid. We all did dumb things at that age and thought half of them were super cool while we were doing them. Even after entering the Marine Corps I know I made stupid decisions characteristic of a 19-23 year old American male.

Today the internet just gives folks the chance to be stupid with a wider audience. I wish the young poolie luck and hope he becomes a recruiting poster worthy Marine...or just a good, solid, reliable Marine. Either way he'll be a credit to the Corps, the country, and himself.

Andrew Mathias
Cpl 7011 97-01
Who was most definitely not a poster worthy Marine but did his job correctly and reliably and is proud of his service.

P.S. While the Marine Corps remains the same and Marines do as well, times change. I have the greatest respect for previous generations of Marines. I sat on the side of a runway and went deaf in peacetime. I didn't fight in Iraq, Hue, Kuwait City, Guadalcanal, Chosin, Belleau Wood, or anywhere else for that matter. That said folks, take off the rose colored glasses. 20 or so year old Marines are still of the same stock as most 20 year old kids and they're as a rule smarmy, belligerent, self important, and know it alls. Being in the Marines just gives them an opportunity to both screw up bigger or realize they don't really know everything but still have the Marine swagger.

My husband and I went to the gym last night as we always do and we noticed a couple of Marines that also frequent this gym. One of them is an older Marine, who always wears his Marine Corps ball cap. I often wear something Marine Corps and so does my husband.

Last evening I was on the elliptical machine, wearing my Cannon Cockers shirt with my husband's unit information on it, and I saw this older Marine in the room again. He walked behind me on his way to another machine and belted out a loud devil dog pride cry. A lot of the people in the gym looked up, but seemed confused.

I knew what he meant and I simply smiled and nodded my head. It occurred to me at that moment, as it has many times before, that we were the only two in the room that understood that. Although I am not a Marine, my husband is; it felt outstanding to know that only a few knew what that meant and that the Marines are truly an elite brotherhood for the few and the proud. Oorah!

Kristy Fomin,
Marine Wife

And I Quote...

"I like Marines, because being a Marine is serious business. We're not a social club or a fraternal organization and we don't pretend to be one. We're a brotherhood of warriors - - nothing more, nothing less, pure and simple. We are in the azs-kicking business, and unfortunately, these days business is good."
--Colonel James M. Lowe, Commander, Marine Corps Base Quantico. 2004

Hello, Sergeant Grit!

I've been interviewing Vietnam Veterans-- especially Marines-- since the age of seventeen. My first book, "Camouflaged Heroes" was published when I was nineteen, and it just took off from there. A little over nine years later, and I'm still in the business, writing my second book on what it was like for our combat vets in Nam. I've found that writing biographies for our Marines is my life's calling, and my life has been enriched by it. I'm humbled that so many have put their faith in me, and trusted me with such personal and painful experiences. Marines are a big part of my life, you could say.

A few years ago, I met my dear friend, Jim, who is one of the few Walking Dead who served in Nam that we have left. I was the first one he spoke with about the war, and the first one to see his photo album he'd put together over 40 years ago.... Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time for me to go see where my family has been; I am going to Vietnam, and I'm going to see Khe Sanh, Con Thien, Quang Tri, Marble Mountain, The Rock (I'm hiking up Razorback!)... Basically, I'm touring I Corps. Upon mentioning it to Jim, and asking if he would accompany me, he said yes! I never could have imagined that he would go, and frankly, neither did he. This is a man who never used to talk about Vietnam until about six months ago, and now he's going back... And he's asked a few friends he served with to go along. They'll interview with me while there, and I'm going to do some writing as I see these battlefields for myself. We're in agreement that these stories are important, and so are the Marines... These stories need to be told! So, there you have it... A 25 year-old biographer and a few good 1/9'ers. Going back to Vietnam.

Semper Fi!
Karen Cadonau-Scott

8 Year Old Girl Made The Marine Cry
(True story, that just happened to me, a local veteran)

I took my wife and 2 of my sons to Clearwater Veterans Appreciation day 5th Annual Events on 11/7/2009 at the bright house field. (a 2 hr Drive away)

I was in Uniform, and had a great time. I met Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Civilians, Vets, SEALS, Pj's, Rangers and so on.

Watched the Coast Guard Silent Drill Team (from D.C.) and High School Drill Teams. Met Rear Admiral D.B. Lloyd (Coast Guard) and his staff. Thanked him and the local Mayor, Shook hands and thanked the members of the Silent Drill Team.
Had a GREAT time.

As we were getting ready to leave, and getting some drinks out of the trunk, for the long drive back home, a car stopped behind us, and a gentleman and a young girl got out. The man stated that his daughter had something to say to me.
I got down on a knee and said "yes ma'am"

The girl said "Thanks for being my soldier" and handed me a challenge coin. One side says thanks for being my soldier and the other side has "I salute you" and has her name and date of birth. (She's 8 yrs old)

When I finished reading it, I looked up and this little girl was saluting me.

I stood up, came to attention and returned this little girls salute. I then turned and saluted the dad.

The girl then gave me a hug. They got in their car and left. I got in my car and cried for 10 min. My wife and kids didn't say anything.

That little girl from Tampa (Ms. Wieser), and what she did that day, means more to me than any of the brass and big wigs that I met that day.


SSGT T. E. Laudenslager
U.S.M.C 1983-1996

Sgt Grit, There is a song called Surfer has the following phrase...Joe joined Uncle Sam's Marines today they stationed him at Pendleton not far away, they got off his long blond locks I am told and when they went on maneuvers Joe caught cold.... that being said I was stationed at Horno next camp up the road from San Onofre and AIT(?) not sure if that is the correct term or not.

Anyway I had to cover as a corpsman some of the ..shall we say...remedial hill climbing exercises. And I actually treated a young Marine who went out for an exercise with what was thought a cold but that I later diagnosed as pneumonia. His name was Joe and he had been a surfer and was a blonde. Any way that is my West Coast Marine story.

He was out there humping with the other Marines in his platoon in spite of having pneumonia...impressive but foolish. I medevacd him to the base hospital as soon as I thought he had it.

Dennis aka Ol' Doc Herdina HM1 FMF 1968 to 1994

Always forbidden on occasion mandatory MAHALO Dennis

And I Quote...

"If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself..."

All of the men & women who are fighting for us needs to know that we as Americans Thanks them for what they have done for all of us . My little 10 yr old son was asked who was his heroes, He said the people who fought for all of us to be free & gave their lives to save ours that's who everyone should be thankful for. Because they gave up their whole world to help the people they don't even know. My little boy tells everyone that he wants to be a Marine because it's his duty to give back to the ones who lost their lives & are still fighting for us to protect us from harm's way.

Sgt Grit, I was in the Marine Corps in 1958 to 1961 and never once did I see or ever attempt to wear my cover with the strap over the bill in the middle above the bill.

Today on the Lets Make a Deal a young Marine was in his dress blues and his strap was in the middle above his bill? If it is a new regulation I will accept that but if it is a Marine trying to be a smart a*z then he needs to called on it by his CO....

I know we tried to tweek this and that but to be on national TV I feel it was a disgrace to the uniform and the United States Marine Corps to be out of uniform as far as I am concerned.

The program was aired March 4th 2010 and Wayne Brady is the host...

I enjoy the things I have purchased from you and will continue to do so and love looking forward to your weekly article.
Semper Fi
Mike Conners
Plt. 305 MCRD 1958

Sgt Grit,

I lost my beloved Marine brother on St. Patrick's Day of 2006. I live over 2,000 miles from his final resting place and got the idea that since I can't decorate his grave on Memorial Day, I would find someone locally who had no family and decorate that Marine's grave in my brother's honor.

I've been wondering if anyone else might have the same situation and be interested in "adopting" a grave? I would be willing to set up a listing of people who would like to participate and maybe there would be some matches. Regardless, I will continue to decorate my adopted Marine's grave in honor of my brother, MSGT Kenneth E. Boyle.


Sgt. Grit,

When I was a kid growing up in Roanoke, Norman Woods was my next-door neighbor. I still remember those "herringbones" that he wore so proudly:
This obituary is from the Roanoke, VA Times-News:

Norman Alaric Woods, 83, of Roanoke, Va., passed away at his home Sunday, January 17, 2010. He was a member of the Virginia Heights Baptist Church and a United States Marine veteran of World War II, serving on Iwo Jima, where he received a purple heart for injuries he received.

Semper Fi,

Jim Doss
MOS 1371, Sgt. of Marines 1970-1976

I served for 35 months in the Pacific during WW2. I lost my hearing and have been wearing expensive hearing aids. With the help of an American Legion Service Officer I applied for VA assistance to get new hearing aids. My current ones are 7 years old and one is in for repair. My hearing aide specialist wants me to buy new ones but I cannot afford them - they are too expensive. The paper work has been in Phoenix for such a long time I believe they are ignoring me. My Service Officer told me to see him if I get turned down. I believe the VA in Phoenix are awaiting for me to kick the bucket so they won't have to deal with the issues. At my age I won't be around too much longer. I guess that is the solution for WW2 Vets - wait for them to die off and they won't have to be dealt with.

Marion B. Stults
USMC, S/N 450010

I love Sgt Grit. I will always regret I was never able to serve. Someday I hope to meet a Marine to marry. They are the best.

Dear Sgt. Grit,

I greatly enjoy reading your newsletter and rarely do I come away dry-eyed. I never had the honor of serving in the Marine Corps, but my Father did. He was in the Third Marine Division and spent 3 years in and 13 months in Korea as a combat engineer. He was a Sergeant, Donald Lee Sherman, and epitomized the fact that there are no ex-Marines. He celebrated the birthday of the Corps every year with a lunch at his workplace.

I asked him once, in my state of blissful ignorance, why he joined. He seemed kind of puzzled that I would ask, and his answer has stayed with me since. He said he joined to kill communists. Plain and simple and probably very alien-sounding to a lot of people now days. Made and makes perfect sense to me. Because of him I am steeped in the traditions and lore of the Marine Corps. He has gone on to his reward now, Semper Fi Dad!

There was a letter and pictures from a Mike Riley who had made a return trip to Vietnam. Mr. Riley saw some communist soldiers drive up in a pristine Marine jeep and he was musing about the origins of the jeep and if the US abandoned equipment. I remember reading an excellent book, Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam, by CBS journalist Morley Safer. In this book Mr. Safer recounts seeing a very large fenced in area in a large South Vietnamese city which was packed full of US military equipment, helicopters, wheeled vehicles, etc. Mr. Safer stated his handlers did not really want him to see this area and that he found out it was being sold as scrap to various foreign countries. Japan was named as a large buyer and we are probably still buying automobiles from the Japanese made from this material. I would refer Mr. Riley to this book.

Thank you,

Chuck Sherman
Beaumont, Texas

Sgt. Grit,

My son graduated from Parris Island January 22, 2010. I am so very proud of my son. Here are some pictures of My Marine...PFC Childress, Christopher, B.

His grandmother and Great grandmother are also in one of the pictures.

PFC Christopher Childress PFC Childress and Mom by Iwo Jima Statue

PFC Childress with Grandma and Great Grandma PFC Childress and Mom

I will always be a faithful and Proud Marine Mom.

I Love My Marine and one of the PROUDEST MARINE MOM...

Semper fi!

Stephanie Rutledge
Proud Marine Mom

And I Quote...

"Thoughtless, dilettante or purblind worldlings sometimes ask us, 'What is it that Britain and France are fighting for?' To this I answer, 'If we left off fighting, you would soon find out.' "
--Winston Churchill

My son proudly served six years in the Marines and now works in the defense industry. He still refers to himself as a Marine with pride, once a Marine always a Marine is the right way to think, all Marines who served with honor have earned this right. What about the parents I am still proud of my son's service but don't want to belittle a active duty parents place by keeping my Marine Corps stickers ect on my truck. How can I still show my support and pride in the finest group of young people I have ever had the honor to meet and call my friends? thanks for any feedback on this subject.

Richard Cartie EMT-PARAMEDIC and proud USMC supporter.

Once a Marine, always a Marine.
Once a Marine Dad, always a Marine Dad.
Keep the decals. You are not detracting from anything or anybody.
Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

And I Quote...

"All of it is clear to a person who has understanding and right to those who have acquired knowledge."
--Proverbs 8:6-9

article clipping that shows young marines raising flag on Iwo Jima Dear Sgt Grit,
I am a 70 year young MARINE.I was in the Corps from 1960 to 1964, Like the saying goes "once a MARINE always a MARINE"

In 2005 I went to Iwo Jima with Military Tours. I'm enclosing an article and picture an incident that took place on Mt. Surabachi. I'm the MARINE with the blk leather jacket (EGA patch I purchased from Sgt. Grit.) raising the American flag; thus becoming the oldest MARINE to raise the flag on Iwo Jima. Also enclosing a pic of one of the 13 times I ran trips back to the Holy Land (Parris Island)

photo of young marines raising flag on Iwo Jima photo of Young Marines John Basilon Det.

USMC Guidons Please note guidon flag was purchased from Sgt. Grit. Keep up the good work.

Semper Fi
Mel (Blackie) Meszaros
L/Cpl 1884405

Terminology for the Enemy:

There seems to be some aversion to slang terminology for one's enemy. A recent reference to g__k, I'll use the politically correct spelling for this exercise, was considered derogatory and it was suggested it shouldn't be used. This brings to mind an episode that may shed some light on why this term was used.

The morning of February 24, 1969 a flight of two UH-34D helicopters was cruising up from Phu Bai having just refueled at Quang Tri when they received a call to pick up a young man who had camped overnight about 6 klicks from FSB Cunningham. He had either a blister from hiking in the woods the day before or had been shot in the head last night. I forget which.

We passed through a canyon with steep, granite walls and a river flowing just below us on our way to Cunningham. It was overcast and cold as usual this time of year so the cloud layer sealed the canyon above. At 0820 we were on our way to help a Marine in distress. Upon arriving, we became the chase plane and our wingman landed as close as reasonable so the injured Marine's friends could help him to his ride.

While double parked, our wingman started to hear the sound of firecrackers and little holes appeared in the helicopter. It was well known that the boys in the neighborhood were a precocious bunch and would pull pranks on visitors. It seems the week before in the middle of the night these same kids set off all kinds of fireworks at Cunningham to the point where the Reaction Platoon had to shoo them away and clean up the mess. Anyway, once the young lad was loaded we proceeded to the nearest hospital.

While passing back through the canyon some individual, I'll call him Charles, must have borrowed his Uncle Ho's hunting rifle and started shooting at us. Talk about disruptive behavior. So why would someone use a term such as g__k , zip or any of a litany of slang to describe these poor unfortunates?

Let me summarize. The Vietnamese Captain I shared some Johnny Walker Red with in Hue was not a g__k, Tony the ARVN officer who lives near here who fought to the last and ended up in a reeducation camp is not a g__k and those 3000 Vietnamese who were murdered in Hue were not g__ks. Those nephews of Uncle Ho are any f__ing thing I want to call them.

Wayne Stafford
USMC 66-70
RVN 68-69

I have been wanting to answer the submission from Krystle Hunter that was placed into the March newsletter. She sighted the use of the derogatory word "Go-k" as racist and there was no place in this culture for its use. I want to respond to her as a Viet Nam veteran, and I speak only for myself. I have used the words: Gooner, Go-k, Slope head, and many others. I offer no excuse but read on and realize the reason. Whether you were in DaNang, Khe Sanh, Dong Ha, or wherever, a different language was used. The language that was used was called "reality".

Where we were was our reality. They were not our friends. We had no one there to stop the artillery to correct our language. There was no one there to stop the ambush to say: "don't yell into the radio that there are Go-ks in the wire". Each and every combat veteran has used what you have deemed "racist" statements. World War II was J*p, Towel-head has been used lately". Is it right? Absolutely not, but it was their reality. Of all the scars, both physical and mental, we do not need to have racist added to our resume.

That being said; as I have been back for forty years, "reality", my language has changed. I agree that name calling is totally inappropriate. Most of the veterans that I am in contact with are good, honorable, committed men. They do not use racial epithets because it is wrong. They are in a different reality.

I would also like to point out another aspect of her submission. She said that the editors of the newsletter should have replaced the word "Go-k" with "the enemy". Why? The editor let the submitter speak his mind. That is called FREEDOM. If I do not like a person's language or demeanor I simply walk away or don't listen. I have not the right to make them change just because I do not like what they say. Sgt Grit has a newsletter for all to speak their mind, and he lets the original, uncensored words be printed. It stimulated conversation.

I just disagree with you on this subject but I still have respect for you for being a Marine Wife and a Marine Mom.

SSgt DJ Huntsinger

Just finished reading the letter from Krystle Hunter taking you over the coals for the word/term "Go-k". I don't recall this ever being used in a derogatory manner. It was an identification of the enemy. I know they didn't care for it, but no one seemed to care at the time. This was in both WWII and Korea.
Edwin Tate Gysgt ret'd

. It's a shame political correctness has reared its head in your newsletter - I guess the end is near. Marines, especially Vietnam Marines are not always politically correct, and we do not mean to offend anyone but I think we may expect a pass because we are talking to other Marines and not daughters of, or Mothers of Marines. The Corps belong to "Warriors" and they are better now than ever - thank God (whoops religious reference - is that offensive also)?

I am writing in regards to the Letter from Krystle Hunter who was upset with the use of go-ks in describing the enemy in Viet Nam. Ms. Hunter, I am sorry that the use of the word to describe the enemy upset you, but there are many things that you must take under advisement. The term, go-k, slope, Victor Charlie, plus many other so called racial slurs was used by many or most of the MEN who fought the war in Viet Nam. Going to suggest you put yourself in the 60's in Viet Nam, and depending on your job what you were exposed to on a day to day, night to night basis.

The LINE MARINES, the ones who walked the jungles, the ones who dealt with 100 degree temps, the mosquito's, the leeches, the arty fire, the air strikes, the booby traps, the ambushes are the ones you need to in your mind put yourself right beside them. Good friends blown away, shot, or shot at on a daily basis. Also throw in monsoon season where you stay wet 24/7 for around 4 months.

The ENEMY did not play by rules like we Marines had to, or like our government demanded, just ask the prisoners held in North Viet Nam. Just ask them if being political correct ever crossed their mind while they were being beaten, and things done to them that was very much unhuman.

Believe me MAM, if you had to endure yourself, what many of AMERICA'S FINEST has to endure, you might not be upset by the term, go-k or other words. In Boot camp, we were called worse things then go-k, and we were not offended, we were scared to death of the Drill Instructors.

I spent my time in Viet Nam attached to a CAC/CAP unit living with the Viets in a village near Phu Bai in most of 67 and 68, and we helped those folks a lot, security wise, health wise and became good friends with most of them, and they helped us a lot with information about the movement of the enemy.

Look what happened during TET of early 68, for in HUE, the go- ks, VC, NVA sneaked in and killed thousands of people, teachers, police officers, government officials and tons of innocent folks for the only reason they did not kneel down to the communist government. MASS GRAVES full of Viet People who were killed by these enemy who was just doing their job(as you said) as directed by the Communist Government of North Viet Nam.

SORRY MAM, all I can tell you is this fact, you had to be there, experience it and see how ugly the enemy can be where they have no rules of engagement, like our men had. I lived in a Viet village for 10 months, loved the people, and we did our best of help them any way we could, and they were not go-ks, they were not slopes, they were human beings caught in the middle of a terrible war, but the VC, the NVA would do things to their own people that would scare you to death and could not believe it could happen, BUT IT DID HAPPEN.

One last thing, Ms. Hunter, our own brave people, all branches of the US MILITARY back then, if they managed to live to come home, what about the things that they were called by the hippies and such on finally being about to set foot back on American soil. You wonder about the attitude of the men and women who managed to survive the Viet Nam war, well based on what many of them endured in Vietnam, and what they faced on arriving home, hummmm, wonder what your attitude would be.
Jim "TEX" Lyles SGT. CAC/CAP ALPHA 2- 1967-68

Sgt Grit:
What gives this female/mom/daughter the right to admonish a brother who chose to use politically incorrect vernacular to refer to the enemy as a GO-K???? When she said what she did about her correcting his choice of words--guess she wouldn't like "DINK, SLOPE, or ZIP would she??? If she was offended maybe she should "UNSUBSCRIBE" ?? I have been a customer and reader for a long time and this is the first time I have ever seen this type of "TRIPE" in your newsletter!! If she wanted political correctness she should watch "OPRAH"? Your newsletter is for "MARINES". Let her discipline her sons not the rest of us.

To quote John McCain when he referred to his captors as "GO-KS" during a speech---"we have Vietnamese people, but the ones who beat me and the other POWs everyday will forever be GOO-KS" for someone who has never been in combat, she should shut her trap!

R. Gallman RVN 67-69

Dear Mrs. Hunter,
I would like to thank you for letting your sons become Marines, like your father. Sorry, but I've never met to many soft spoken or easy going Marines in my life. When one returns from combat, they aren't filled with love and what's politically correct. They've had a belly full of that from the leaders of this country trying to tell them how to fight a war and stay alive at the same time.

When we lose friends in combat, some I wouldn't begin to describe on this site, let alone in person or to people who've never been there. Yes, we hold a lot of hostility inside and it never goes away, just dims slowly with years gone by. Maybe this site is a little too strong for your liking, try his other site more for the civilian side. Personally I'm tired of people and this politically correct subject, this site is for Marines who have been there and done it. I like the fact that old and young Marines have a place they can write and complain about some of the old and new problems facing our brave and young Marines.

Marines don't attempt or purposefully try and offend people. But please remember this is our site to write what we want and how we honestly feel. I know an 86 year old living Marine, who made a lot of the island landings in WWII, he still has a hatred for the J*ps. Unless you've been there Mrs. Hunter, please let us have our site to say what we truly feel, not to worry about this politically correct image that some people think is nice.

Sgt (Don) Grit keep up the great work and don't filter out what combat Marines have to say. The 1st amendment is still on the books, unless our government has taken that one away, which I haven't heard of yet.

Old Sgt
Fritz McDowell
Viet Nam

The proper Korean language word for an American, any citizen of the U.S., is MIGUK. Pronounced mee-gu-k. (Both North and South Koreans speak the same language) When in Korea any American is called a miguk. Just their native word for an American.

During the Korean War opposing bunkers and defensive lines of combat opponents were frequently within shouting distance of one another. Besides blowing on trumpets during the night, North Korean troops would occasionally call out loudly in the dark, "Mee-guk, Mee-guk!" (American, American!) hoping to localize one or more of our American troops as a target. Few of our U.S. or UN forces fighting in Korea had studied or were familiar with any language other than English.

Korean tends to be an especially difficult language for us because Koreans use vowel sounds placed deep in the throat. Vowel sounds we don't easily hear or recognize. So most of our combat troops in the Korean War weren't linguists. But most had sat through several Tarzan movies and were deeply familiar with Tarzan dialogue of that period such as "Me Tarzan. You Jane." Troops familiar with Tarzan movies quickly mistranslated mee-guk as "I am a go-k".

Just a name resulting from that inaccurate translation. Not at all an ethnic pejorative term. Nor intended as such. Now that you know that you are a miguk, perhaps you'll better understand how the term go-k entered our language. Nothing nasty or offensive about it. Just Tarzan movie dialogue at work during a war. Kam-sam-ni-dah.

Pfc Chuck Hines, USMC,
Platoon 203, MCRD San Diego, February 1952.

Having served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam I was offended by Ms Krystal Hunter's letter. According to her we must treat the enemy with Respect even though he drives cars full of explosives into our area with the sole purpose of killing us and many of our young Military as they can, in today's world in Iraq and Afghanistan. During World War II the Japanese captured our Military, then tortured them and killed them. I, also, remember the R*pe of Nanking where thousands of Chinese were killed with some of the most despicable horror, reading this History should be part of every ones learning.

Then in Korea the same thing happened to Prisoners captured. They were tortured, starved and treated inhumanely, killing hundreds if not thousands.

Vietnam still leaves a hole in my heart when it comes to their treatment of Prisoners of War, going back to Deinbenphu where hundreds of French were captured, tortured, murdered and many not returned to their homes for years even when the War ended. We have many of the Survivors of the Prisoner of War Camps in Vietnam still alive today who have reminded us of the Torture they went through.

I could remind her of the torture and beheading of American Military in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't know of a Case of any American Military being Treated Humanely when becoming a Prisoner of War in any war we have been in since World War II.

Unfortunately it isn't just the Military that were Murdered but nice people like Ms. Krystal Hunter by the enemies of Christianity, Humanity, and our way of Life. That's the reason our young men fight these Terrorists and their Leaders and do not doubt that the Japanese were Terrorists as were the North Koreans, as well as the VC and NVA in Vietnam. Even trying to equate who was the worse, including those of today, would be awash in my book. As to name calling, it is always interesting to me that name calling comes up when people wish to remind us to be nice to Terrorists. Name calling is a Fact of Life and doesn't make a man any less of a Man, even less as a Christian. I have heard Chaplains refer to the enemy as such during Services being held in Fox Holes because they too were handicapped with the terrible loss of Life and the way to handle it or console the men under their care.

I'm sorry for Ms. Krystal Hunter because she is thinking of caring for them rather than caring for the men that have to fight the savages of humanity.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Ret.

Dear Sgt Grit-
I can't help but respond to Krystle Hunter regarding her letter about "racial slurs" and her error in referring to the USMC as the "core". Ms. Hunter, it is THE CORPS.

As far as calling the enemy a "racial slur" perhaps you should read the book by E. B. Sledge "With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa". The brutality of the enemy described in that book will help you understand how a Veteran could refer to the enemy in a "politically incorrect" manner. I appreciate Ms. Hunter's wanting to put our Veterans and Active Duty above the racial slurs, but please, Ms. Hunter, you were not there, were you?

The manner in which one of our Veterans refers to the enemy is likely earned and deserved by what our fine fighting forces witnessed and experienced. I have no doubt that many of the people who are of the same race as our historical enemies understand what our brave Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen were up against. Just remember this, offense can never be given, it can only be taken. How one chooses to respond to a verbalization is up to them, and only them. If you find the language offensive, Ms. Hunter, perhaps you should read Martha Stewart or Oprah rather than SGT GRIT.

However, in the spirit of being a supporter of all our troops and their families, thank you, Ms. Hunter for raising someone brave enough to serve.

Semper Fi,
Momma Karey
Marine Mom and WWII Marine daughter

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