AmericanCourage #237 14 OCT 2010
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No one is allowed in my "computer room" when pouring over each of the weekly Newsletters. Can't let anyone see how some of the stories bring tears to this Bad A-s Marine's eyes. Would not do much to perpetuate my Tough Marine Persona. Donchano?
Chuck Brewer, Sergeant of Marines 1967-1973, Vietnam 1969-1970, MOS 6511 Aviation Ordnanceman, Door Gunner HMM-263 1970 Proudly Fought For, and Served America with Honor, Faith, Courage, and Dignity OOHRAH!
In This Issue
Just a few teasers from what's below. Boring at Sgt Grit, something of an odd bird, ten years older, 25 cent haircuts, their turn in the long line, sounds of Parris Island, slopshoot, a quickie and Martha Raye, he squeezed the Corps, pesky sniper. That's fun putting strings of words together like that. Good reading.
The Sgt Grit Facebook page is growing daily and is mucho grande, a lot of fun and information. The Sgt Grit blog has daily post of Marine interest. This past week included, female Marines in Afghanistan, Marines moving to Guam from Okinawa and an Army punk making fun of Marines.
Fair winds and following seas.
Picture is of my wife on her birthday in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, and yes that is who you think it is, Mr. Bruce Willis. He and his group were driving through visiting troops Sept. 27, 2003. I just wish I know how to make contact with him to get it signed for her. She has this picture everywhere. On her desk, at home and I even have it on my desk, too. Great star and great down to earth person. She said he was tired, but he still took time out for a picture and wished her a happy birthday. He made her day and a dream come true of meeting him in person. Thanks Mr. Bruce Willis.
Semper Fi 1stSgt Holman
A few Marines participated in the homecoming parade at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM. My partner and I decided it was time to represent Marine Corps veterans by participating in the parade. We created our banners by utilizing a design from one of your T-shirts. Needless to say the parade went off quite swimmingly. We had 100% positive feedback from the spectators, minus a few fraternity members. HaHa.
The participants are identified from left to right in the photo where we are standing at the rear of our vehicle. Sgt John Mondragon 81-85, Leroy Manzanares Vietnam Veteran, Lt Col Dale Davis 45-67, Sgt Joshua Duke 00-08, Sgt Glenn Russ 94-98.
It should be noted that Sgt Mondragon went on to proudly serve and retire in the New Mexico Army National Guard. Sgt Duke served 4 tours in Iraq. Lt Col Davis served as an enlisted and officer. He was wounded in Korea by Chinese mortar fire. He taught as a professor of business and marketing at ENMU and retired after 33 years in that position. He is a cancer survivor and an inspiration to the men lucky enough to be on that vehicle with him.
Finally, a special thanks to Keith Wattenbarger of the 1st Civ Div who volunteered to drive these proud band of brothers. Last but not least thanks to Sgt Grit for providing several of the uniform items and for your patriotism.
As we shoved off for the parade I heard someone say it was a good day and the Colonel reply, "It's always a good day when you're with other Marines."
Sergeant of Marines
Wow! things must be boring at Sgt. Grit HQ with that answer about the difference between Hollywood vs. P.I. Marines. As they say in the FMF "Stand by for heavy waves, tie down all loose gear" or how about "The SOS is going to hit the fan" Can't wait for the next Sgt. Grit news letter with comments from both camps.
L/Cpl Joe Lacey 1956841
Plt. 127 PISC 1961
And I Quote...
"Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."
Since you guys are showing off 'Hollywood Marine' pics lately, I have included my platoon pic from Feb - April, 1962, and then it was off to Pendleton for ITR.
I had one of the 'glory' seats in this pic as I was runner up to be Honor Man. That's me to the left of the platoon Sgts, as you view it.
I wish memory served me well enough to name any of the men in the platoon. I DO remember the Sgts though! To my left as I am seated, is Sgt. Kelly, SSgt Zalanka, and Cpl. Land.
I was something of an 'odd bird' in my enlistment, as I joined the Marines married. And I returned to San Diego after ITR for Comm Elect school (Where I ended my career in the Marines teaching in 68.) No one told me I couldn't, so I went back to the boot training area and got to know my platoon sgts better. Ended up dining a couple of times with Cpl. Land, and playing catch several times at Sgt. Kelly's apt complex.
I remember meeting SSgt Zalanka in a repo lot where I went to help another Marine reclaim his car, and he told me had been mustered out for a bad ticker. I remember the look in his eyes as he told me he had to leave the Marines. He was well over twenty, so he mustered out with retirement and was working for an insurance company investigating claims. But, it was clear he loved the Marine Corps.
The wild experiences of my six plus years in the Marines were not yet even beginning ...
Kent M. Yates
A few months after the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel in 1950 I went with my parents to a community fair of some type in Santa Monica, California. I was almost seven years old, and having been around a family friend for some years who had served in the USMC right after WWI, I had the desire to serve my country by joining up with the Marines to fight the "Commies".
At the US Marines recruiting trailer/booth I asked to join and wanted go that night. The recruiting sergeant at the fair gave me the once over, and told me "to come back in ten years, and then we will take you". He was one of the tallest and most squared away man I had seen to that date. I told him I would come back when I was ten years older.
Well, I failed to be on time but twelve years later I was swearing my enlistment oath in San Francisco, CA. When I flew down to MCRD in San Diego the plane crossed over the Santa Monica area just off the coast. I thought about that sergeant and wondered what had become of him. I have him to thank for being the forever changed person I became as a US Marine.
Mike Beehler, Sgt. USMC 1963-1967, RVN 1965, 1966-67
Got assigned one time to pick up an Officer from the flight line in MCSC Iwakuni, Japan sometime in 1964. I arrived on time and met up with the recently assigned Captain. He was in his dress greens and was one of the most squared away Officers I'd ever seen.
I was directed to take him to the BOQ and then stand by for instructions. He signed into to BOQ, dropped off his gear (no civilian clothes) and then asked me to take him to the Officers Barber shop. What a hoot, I thought. Once at the Barber Shop he gave the head Barber (Japanese National) his personal clippers and told him he would be in at least every day for a high and tight. Wow, I thought, this guy gets a haircut about every day?? D-mn I thought, this is the Airwing...now this is different...
Anyway, down the road, this Officer never wore civilian clothes and I don't think had any on the base. The Captain was later known just to walk up to a Marine who needed a haircut and give them 25 cents...cuz that's what a haircut cost in the day. In addition, when he was assigned OD he would always be at the end of the chow line on Wing side. (MWHG-1) etc! and inquired to the Marines,,. (how's the chow?)...
This Officers Name was Captain Hiram V. Walker IV...no BS...bring back any memories??
John Dugan, 1989553/USMCJohnnyb!tchin
I want to express my gratitude not only to CPL Wooldridge but also to Sgt Mgt Barrett for letting us know about Cpl Wooldridge. What Cpl Wooldridge did is nothing short of amazing but not surprising for a Marine Grunt. If this does not get this young man the Medal of Honor I don't know what would.
It is people like Cpl Wooldridge that bring such honor to the Corps. Our history is filled with Cpl Wooldridges who go above and beyond because they want to protect their brothers and they do not think twice about doing it. Having been a grunt- I can imagine his frame of mind and he did what just came natural, but that in itself is beyond the call of duty.
Thank you for your news letter and for all of the Marines that are doing what comes natural for them- Serve and Protect! God Bless them all.
As a volunteer at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California, I have the opportunity to meet many men who have served in all branches of the military. However, I recently met a 29 y.o. Marine who had had a stroke and was in pretty bad shape when he came to the hospital. He had served with the Force Recon, 1st Division, and was at the battle of Fallujah when that awesome battle took place.
"Dallas" Rosaker was a quiet, unassuming young man, and during his stay with us, we became good friends. I learned that his father had been a Marine, his grandfather and assorted other friends and relatives. I used to come in early in the morning to have breakfast with him and his girl friend, Michelle, and sometimes his grandmother, and at one point I got the opportunity to meet his dad, who still looked very much the Marine he had once been.
"Dallas" is on his way home to Massachusetts now, stopping off to see friends and relatives along the way, but before he left he had ordered a ka-bar from you and had the blood groove inscribed to me with, "Semper Fi Ike, Thank you for everything..." When I got that I was taken with such emotion that I was at a loss for words.
Since he has left I have sent him a force recon challenge coin from your store, and in my note to him I told him that if I had ever had a son, I would have wanted him to be just like him. This young man has made such great strides in his rehabilitation that he was allowed to leave the hospital a lot sooner than they originally expected. Although he still has months of rehab in front of him, I have no doubt that he will one day acquire his former strength and ability and once again be able to stand tall.
"Dallas" is a glowing example of what you can do with Attitude, and as Marines, we know that it is everything. Semper Fi, Dallas, and may your recovery, your strength and your strength of character bring a smile to the lips of Chest. Semper Fi, Dallas, and a big OOHRAH to the courage you have shown in your present situation and against the enemy. Love ya, brother. You can only get better.
S.Sgt. Ike Oshana, Ret.
2/1 Division '52-'62
And I Quote...
"Things in our country run in spite of the government, not by the aid of it."
-- Will Rogers
Subject: Parris Island platoon 2065-1966 & 2010
I just recently returned from a four-day mini vacation with two other buddies of mine from my old Marine Corps fireteam from Viet Nam, the Red Beach Raiders, driving down to, and visiting, of all places, Parris Island, SC. What an incredible trip! On the trip was "Moe" Mosher (Woodridge, NJ), Jerry "the General" Harding, and myself, "Steve San" Jansen.
On Friday, the day we entered the island, we understood that there would be a graduation ceremony, and we would be hooked up with a tour group from North Carolina that would cover the base after witnessing the graduation ceremony.
Remembering my graduation in 1966, I was in platoon 2065, Second Recruit Training Battalion, when my mother, father, sister, girlfriend, and girlfriend's mother drove down from Margate, NJ to watch me graduate on that day. Like last Fridays graduation, the weather was in the 90s and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful, and the palm trees slowly swayed in the gentle breeze as the proud families gathered in the bleacher stands to watch their son/grandson/nephew, whomever, graduate from boot camp after a totally all consuming and incredibly demanding twelve weeks of strenuous training, testing to the max his physical and mental capabilities. It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, becoming a US Marine in 1966. And there I was, watching the Marines gain that title forty four years later in 2010.
As the proceedings began, it occurred to me that I was actually watching the platoon graduate from the eyes of my family all of these years later. What I didn't know was that my old platoon, 2065, was to graduate with a new batch of fresh recruits on that day. Without any previous knowledge of what platoon was to graduate on that day, there was my old battalion, and platoon were on the drill field, in ceremony formation, ready to graduate. What an incredible feeling, sitting there and actually witnessing what my family saw forty four years ago when I was the one marching out, and standing on that very same field.
As the battalion marched out, the Parris Island Marine Corps band played several Sousa marches as the recruits sharply marched into platoon formations. There, in the second formation was platoon 2065, my old alma mater. I focused in on the Marine who was the second from the front in the first squad, where I stood in 1966. It was unbelievable, to say the least, and I was moved beyond description. There I stood, vicariously, of course, on the same field, in the same battalion, in the same exact platoon, in the same exact position, but in 2010, forty four years later. It was almost out of an episode of "The Twilight Zone", it was that bizarre. I could not have loved it more.
As the procession began, they gave a short etiology of the Corps, segments of its history, and of course the traditions of the Corps, even to include bringing out the Marine Mascot, an English Bull dog, this one named "Hummer" (after the vehicle that replaced the proverbial old Jeep). He was proudly marched out on to the field, and then whisked away before he could misbehave in front of a few hundred people.
When the Colonel came out and spoke, he gave a dissertation on the age of the recruits on 9/11/01. At the time, they were just eleven years old. Then on to when they were 13 when the first Marine received the Navy Cross for his actions in the liberation of Iraq, then on to when they were 17 when the first Marine earned the posthumous Medal of Honor after placing his helmet over a grenade and shielding his buddies from the explosion with his body, saving the lives of three other fellow Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom. And there they were, their turn in the long line of Marine Corps generations.
Then, as the band played the Marines Hymn, proudly through my tears, I watched my old platoon graduate, becoming officially United States Marines, once and always, from that day on and forever.
As the dismissal order was given, and the platoon dispersed, I saw, as I did in 1966, the proud families and girlfriends of the Marines pour out onto the field, running to and embracing their loved ones. It was almost a time warp for me, and we had no idea what platoon was to graduate, only that there was to be a graduation ceremony that we were invited to attend. It could not have been any better.
Afterwards we boarded the bus with the tour group, and they gave us a guided tour of the base. It was great, we fired simulated and computerized M-16s at the rifle range, saw the drown proofing pool center, the gas chamber, the confidence course, slide for life, and had lunch at the mess hall. The food had, indeed, improved, and the servers on what I would describe as a buffet line were all civilian employees. The mess hall was for the permanent personnel, not a more spartan recruit mess hall, used china plates, instead of steel trays, and it had curtains on the windows, with venetian blinds. Not your father's mess hall!
We then went to the Parris Island Museum, and, of course the gift shop. As we stepped out of the museum, I stared down the street, towards the barracks, now all made of brick, and realized I was on my old company road, the road where we formed up every day on to march to whatever course we had on that day. Our barracks back in '66 were painted white, wooden, pre-WWII barracks, all rebuilt with brick. Another deja vue, to be sure. We split from the group at the base PX and went on our own way, going back to our hotel exhausted, but in nothing but total awe of the day.
Just a little slice of life of an old Marine's return to his birthplace
Stephen E. Jansen
2283543USMC RVN '67-'68
Sgt Grit, I am proud to have served in the Corps and it shows in my truck. I have it decorated with a few items purchased from your website. I recently paid a visit to my older brother who is coming to an end of a 23 year career in the Corps. While there he took me to the Semper Spirit store on Camp Pendleton where I purchased a rather large Eagle Globe and Anchor window sticker that I placed on the back window. (did not get to take a picture of it)
Two weeks ago my truck was stolen from my driveway in the middle of the night. I walked out in morning to go to work and I was shocked, angry and saddened to see that it was gone. That along with all my little league baseball gear and my original dog tags worn during my time serving. I coach two teams of 4-6 year olds and a team of 13-14 year olds. All of our batting helmets, catchers gear, baseballs and gloves were in the back of my truck. The thief caught me with my guard down as I never heard the alarm go off or the truck start.
It is obvious that some criminals have no honor, no pride, no dignity. My truck and all its contents can be replaced in time. What is lost is my faith, my faith in thinking that even a criminal would respect those of us who served our country.
Cpl USMC 87-91
And I Quote...
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."
Just read your latest mail and was surprised to see a pic of that platoon that graduated in Sept 62. What caught my eye was the platoon number. I graduated the same day as they did only my platoon # was 245. enclosed is my grad pic of the platoon. they look the same except for the number
Merle Thompson Sgt. "62-67"
Dear Sgt Grit,
My daughter Erica Rogan was recently in your store. She lives in CA and was visiting Oklahoma. Her first stop was of course Sgt Grit's Store. You happened to be in the store that day. It was your birthday.
You were so kind to take a picture with her and also autograph a catalog for me. I will be framing that. Thank You! I read every newsletter and regularly order from you online store.
I am a volunteer for Remembering The Brave. I also volunteer for a local Gratitude and Honor Memorial here in my City of Irvine CA: Northwood Memorial. After years of setting up a temporary memorial in our local park to honor the fallen from OIF and OEF we have finally convinced the city to allow us to have a permanent memorial. It is currently under construction and will be dedicated on Nov, 14, 2010.
I also won 2nd place in this year's birthday ball picture contest. I sent in a picture of my parents attending the birthday ball back in the early 50's.
Thank you for all you do.
Over the years I have tried unsuccessfully to locate Marines that I went through Boot Camp with. I really would like to connect with those guys. My name is Sgt. Michael James Smith USMC (Ret) ( Hollywood ) I was in Plt.114 "C" Company (Feb 10 to May 31 1965 ) I do have four buddies that were in the same series Plt.115, but none from my own Platoon 114. I am looking for help.
Our D.I.'s were Sgt. D.L. Hatten, Cpl. G.S. Giles and Cpl. R.D. Smith. Most of the guy's in our platoon would remember me from my nick name ( Hollywood ) The D.I.'s nailed me on day one, after reading my enlistment record. I lived in Hollywood, Ca. I went to Hollywood High School, My father worked for a major "Hollywood Movie Studio". And the recruiting office where I joined was located on Hollywood Blvd. I was the " Real McCoy " A walking, talking Hollywood Marine. That nick name stuck with me my whole time in the Corps.
Sgt. Michael James Smith USMC (Ret.)
(Hollywood) Feb.10 to May 31, 1965 Plt. 114
I take great pride introducing to Sgt Grit and his staff, the group picture of the members that attended the 2nd Annual Get- to-gether of the Halls of Montezuma in Branson, Missouri the first week of September 2010.
Thank you Kristy Fomin for the wonderful gifts that were donated as all the members present really appreciated them. Hopefully, the photo of the group will happen...
South Daytona, Florida
I have ordered a number of items from your store and I enjoy reading about all the heroics your guys have talked about.
I enlisted in the Marine Corps in St. Louis Mo. on 21 Sep 1946. I received the Victory medal for service during the National Emergency which expired on 31 Dec 46. I was in Parris Island boot camp Plt 370-A and was sent to Cherry point upon graduation. I was later transferred to Aviation Fundamentals School at Jacksonville FL, then, Air Mechanics School at NAS Memphis, ultimately arriving at MCAS El Toro in 1947. I was assigned to SMS 33 as an air mechanic, but got interested in carburetion and fuel systems and later became SSN 956 aircraft Fuel and Inductions system technician and flight engineer.
I, unlike all the guys who glory in their combat experience, served during the peaceful interval between WW 11 and the Korean War from 1946 to 1950. I think I am no less a Marine, as I am still, at 82, as Gung Ho as the combat guys.
I present this as a testimony that, thanks to the circumstances, was able to qualify for the GI Bill and become an Architect... not just an Architect, but one who worked and studied with Frank Lloyd Wright during his last 6 years on this earth. I have tried to practice what he taught, all my life.
I will never forget what the Marine Corps meant to me and I still shed a happy tear when I read all the incredible accounts of others in your columns.
I have also amassed, over the years, a medal collection of some 1200 specimens, which decorate one of the walls of my Frank Lloyd Wright inspired house
All my best
David C. Wheatley
USMC Serial Number 634892
And I Quote...
"You're making the wrong assumption that a Marine by himself is outnumbered."
--Gen Peter Pace, 28Jul06
In your latest Newsletter there were several mentions of recording's made of boot camp and they all seemed to refer to MCRDSD. One of the Marines asked where he could find this record.
I have a record but it's called "Sounds of Parris Island". It's 33 1/3 and I think it was made in 1956. It was made by Gold Star Recording Inc., 520 Fifth Avenue, New York 17, New York. I don't know if this company is still around. This is a truly good album as it has all the actual sounds and reality of:
Train to Parris Island. Getting off at Yemassee SC train station
The Drill Instructor
Exterior/Interior Mess hall sounds
Rifle Issue, Riflemen's Creed, Rifle Drill, Close order drill.
In the Hatch
Night Prayers, Bedding Down
Reveille, Head Call
Physical Training, Mail Call, Pay Call
Guard Mount, Bayonet Practice, Judo Instruction, Rifle Range,
Target Marking Smoking Lamp is Lit Graduation Marine Corps Hymn
On 1 October, 1954 I got off that train in Yemassee SC about 24 hours after leaving Pgh. Pa. It was around 11 PM and we were met by our "hosts". We were invited, (courteously of course) to get out as--'s into the barracks in about 10 seconds or else! We were then instructed on how to make our "rack" up the Marine Corps way. Of course two hours later we still had the proverbial 10% that were screwing up. Our "hosts" finally gave up and said we would all probably die on the Island since we couldn't even make a rack up properly. But, before doing the get in, get out of the rack routine that would become standard on the Island he asked if anyone had been in The Marine Corps Reserve. I, stupid 17 year old replied in the affirmative, first big mistake. As I later learned, and I'm sure many Marines have learned in the past, never volunteer. Well, my affirmative got me fire watch duty for two hours since I was "salty!" By then it was 0400 and I hit the rack. An hour and a half later all h&ll broke loose and we were tossed out of the racks and told to hit the head where we had 5 min. to s/s/&shave.
The above all happened after having been on the train, it seemed like forever, playing cards, having a few "pops" and, the most important part of the trip, trying to stay up and keep up with a whole car load of women Marine recruits headed to the island. First I experience heaven, and then h&ll!! Heaven was encountered only once more on the island when I had mess duty at the Woman's Battalion and saw some of those ladies again.
I think our platoon was one of the first to begin the Squad's Drill instead of the FMF Drill. It was very difficult and I remember spending many a night on fire watch reading the drill manual as I was the right guide of the platoon and was required to know all the movements.
In the end it all worked out thanks' to S/Sgt. R. Griffing, SDI, Sgt. K.R.Jones, JDI and Cpl. B.M. Wise JDI.
Platoon 423 was named Depot Honor Platoon 17 December, 1954.
Detachment 1070 MCL
Sgt. Ken Jones would later be KIA in RVN serving as a First Sgt.
Dear Sgt. Grit,
I read with interest the item from David Schooling and Pickel Meadows. This is the first time I have ever heard of anyone besides myself going to that camp (although I'm sure many have). I went through Cold Weather Training, Prisoner of War Training and a brief course in Mountain Climbing Training while I was there. After we completed the POW training we received a red card stating that we had been through the camp and as I recall it also stated that we never had to go through that training again---my memory may be faulty on the wording because it was in about 1964.
(A previous Marine)
Hi there Sgt. Grit:
Remember when "Dirty Harry" said, "Go ahead. Make my day". Well this instance made my day.
During a WWII liberty day in L.A. (from the San Diego Navel Hospital) I was in a slopshoot having a quickie when Martha Ray, she was in uniform and had a Captains rating in the Entertainment Corps, and two Air Force Captains walked in.
During their conversations it became known that both of these Captains would like to take this actress, Martha Ray, to bed. This banter went on for about another five or ten minutes when Martha Ray stated that "no body is going to take the pants off of this gal". After that announcement, both of the Captains walked out of the bar.
I then turned to Ms. Ray and said "If you were an enlisted person they would have brought you up on charges of Insubordination". She laughed, bought me another drink and departed. That gal "made my day".
Pfc. Arlington W. Kirk -- B15
Last month was the Mike 3/7 Viet Nam Association Reunion held in San Diego. Part of the activities was a trip to the SOI at Camp Pendleton where we got to meet a bunch of young hard chargers including SgtMaj Brad Kassal. Navy Cross recipient from the Iraq War..Quite an honor.
The purpose of my writing is to tell a short story about an encounter I had with a young Staff Sergeant while standing in line at the chow hall (BTW the chow was excellent). I was telling him about going on MedCaps with 3/7 as security, usually a fire team or two, and how before it was over there would be maybe, just maybe, one Marine for security and the rest would be helping the Corpsman with sick or hurt Vietnamese. He smiled and told me that they have the same problem with Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Just my opinion, but a pretty good problem to have.
BTW the reunion, hosted by Mike Reed, Tom McCarthy, Gunner Gib Bolton, and GySgt. Dan McIntyre and their wives was a great success. Job well done Marines!
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."
A fellow recruit in my boot camp platoon (Platoon 145, 1962 at MCRD San Diego) and son of Col. Francis Fox Parry, a three war Marine and author of the book "Three War Marine", sent this to me. It's a copy of his dad's speech, at the Naval Inventory Control Point, Philadelphia, PA celebration for the Marine Corps 230th birthday, November 10, 2005.
It's a privilege to be here. Thank you, Colonel Ivory, for inviting me.
Now let me take you back briefly to 1949. President Truman had a well-known prejudice against the Marine Corps. He called it the "Navy's Police Force with a propaganda machine almost equal to Stalin's".
To carry out his wishes with respect to the Armed Forces, he called on a friend, with which in World War 1, he had shared service in France and knew in the American Legion -- Louis Johnson (to be Secretary of Defense). Johnson understood that Truman wanted the Maritime Services brought to heel.
In General Krulak's book, "First to Fight", he quotes a conversation that Johnson had with the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Conolly, soon after he took over. "Admiral, the Navy is on the way out, there is no reason for having a Navy and a Marine Corps. General Bradley tells me amphibious operations are a thing of the past. We'll never have any more amphibious operations. That does away with the Marine Corps. And the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do so that does away with the Navy."
Johnson then proceeded to starve all of the services. He squeezed the Corps in many ways, limiting its ammunition for training; also it's aviation gasoline. He had the Navy assign the available amphibious ships to the Army so that the Marines could not practice for its amphibious responsibilities. He was even so petty as to scratch the Commandant's name off the list of Officials who rated a chauffeured limousine. He excluded the Commandant from JCS deliberations. He even forbade the Corps from celebrating its birthday.
In 1950 he had a plan to reduce the Corps to six Infantry Battalions and supporting troops. His ultimate objective was to assign these remnants to the Army and Air Force.
Fortunately, the Korean War intervened. For the Corps' pre- eminent role in that war demonstrated to even the most prejudiced politician the country's vital need for a force-in- readiness. Let me explain --
General MacArthur, confronted with a victorious North Korean Army racing through South Korea and with few frontline troops to stop them, asked for a war-strength Marine Division. The Commandant knew that the Corps' future hung in the balance so the Marines promptly consolidated the two Marine Division shells into the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton and activated the Reserve to flesh it out.
My personal experience in this all-out effort is illustrative - I took over the peace strength 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines in Camp Lejeune in late June of 1950, soon after the war had started. That is 2 Batteries of 4 - 105mm howitzers each, instead of 3 batteries of 6 howitzers each - about 300 men instead of 700.
Soon, we were headed, by troop train for the chaos that was Camp Pendleton. There we formed the 3rd Firing Battery, joined men and drew equipment and got ready to board ship.
Colonel Litzenberg, the 7th Marines Regimental Combat Team Commander, of which my battalion now re-designated 3/11 was a part, told me that we'd probably have a month or two in Japan to train. I didn't believe this, so I decided to get in some firing practice if I could. There were monumental problems, not the least of which was no 105mm ammunition.
We urged Base to find some. They rounded up all the surveyed rounds from Army posts and depots west of the Mississippi, about 300 in all.
We borrowed trucks from base motor transport to ferry each Battery in turn to the firing range. Each Battery used the same 6 howitzers of the 8 we had brought from Camp Lejeune. We didn't receive our other 10 howitzers until we landed at Inchon. By this extra effort, we managed to have each gun crew cadre (the crews were only at 1/2 strength) shoot 16 rounds.
This minimal training was essential and enabled us to take on our Fire Support role with confidence when we landed at Inchon. Another key element of our Gunnery team, the Fire Direction Center, was necessarily formed and trained aboard ship. It controlled its first fire over our troops in Seoul without having controlled a single round in training. With 60% Reserves, (170 joined a day before we embarked) we were ready only in spirit.
Was a Battalion ever thrown into battle under worse conditions? The rest of 1st Marine Division had similar, if lesser, problems. What saved us was our WWII combat experience, which almost all the officers and NCO's had in abundance.
So what did this hastily assembled Marine Division of over 15,000 men accomplish?
The 5th Marines reinforced, was rushed to the Pusan perimeter and was largely responsible for keeping U.S. forces from being pushed into the sea.
The 1st Marine Division conducted a very difficult amphibious assault at Inchon, despite an 18-foot tide, captured Seoul and threw the North Korean Army into headlong retreat.
The 1st Marine Division, two months later, fought its way out of encirclement at the Chosin Reservoir, mauling 12 Chinese Divisions. Although outnumbered 8 to 1, we prevented these 12 Divisions from attacking the flank of the U.S. 8th Army and perhaps forcing its evacuation to Japan.
General MacArthur, himself, acknowledged that the Chosin Reservoir action was the crucial battle of the Korean War. It is safe to say that the Marines' performance in Korea in 1950 saved the Corps. (Emphasis by the Colonel, in his original speech notes. J.D.)
Persons in authority learned the value of a force-in-readiness. We must never let them forget it. The Hallmark of Marines is to be prepared to undertake any job, anywhere, at a moment's notice.
Contrast our situation in 1950 to that of today. The two senior U.S. General officers are both Marines. General Jim Jones is Supreme Allied Commander in NATO and General Peter Pace as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Who could imagine such success 55 years ago? But let us not forget how we got here. Semper Fi!
Col. Parry passed away last year and a portion of his obituary reads:
Colonel Francis Fox Parry (Frank), USMC (Ret), August 5, 1918- October 28, 2009, died peacefully of natural causes at age 91. Frank was born in Philadelphia, the son of Judge George Gowen and Sara Fox Parry. He graduated from the Naval Academy in February of 1941. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and went on to serve for over 26 years. During his career, he fought in the Pacific (WW2), Korea, and Vietnam. During the Korean War, among other things, he commanded a Battalion at the Chosin Reservoir. In Vietnam, he was a member of General Westmoreland's staff in Saigon. His decorations include the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, and the Legion of Merit.
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
My dad was stationed in the Philippines - he never really talked about WW II but did say he had something to do with clearing the jungle and building airstrips for the air corps. His army buddies shared this particular bit of jungle with some Marines delegated to eliminating the remaining Japanese (snipers) so the army guys could work.
Dad liked to tell the story that was guaranteed to start a fight. Some smartasz army guy would shout "What color's sh-t?" The response was always "MUH- REEN GREEN!" and the fight was on. I'm sure the Marines had "comments" about the army guys but Dad spared my young ears. The only other story I remember was about a particularly pesky sniper and that he was eliminated. By guess who? Apparently some good natured hijinks but also respect between the two groups.
God Bless America!