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LOL Did I stop to think how tough a drill instructors job was - while in boot camp??? I sure did. While I was on my face in the rose garden I often took notice how hard it was for them to stand over me and spew insults about my girl friend and how Jodi was back at home having his way with her. How my dad should have performed self gratification in place of impregnating my mother and how few brain cells actually dwelled within my cranium. Sgt Marando, Sgt Miller and SSgt Mattot had it pretty bad. LMAO
In This Issue
You'll find a few more outstanding "best day" stories and some funnies this week including drinking milk before the grinder, batman, and "the little people" superstitions.
The story "Learning German" is a great bit of history from an "Old Corps Marine" and we are humbled by accounts of Marine Corps leaders that made us who we are today.
Be sure to visit the Sgt Grit Blog for great extras that don't fit into the newsletter. And as always, the Sgt Grit Facebook page has a bunch of fan photos worth a look.
Fair Winds and Following Seas
Rose Garden DI
Rose Garden DI: Sgt "T" (Chuck Taliano's) Succumbs to Cancer Never knew him but he was my brother. I'm sure you'll get hundreds of these but I wanted to be a part of making sure every Marine possible knew of Chuck's passing. Heaven's the safest place and filled with Marines.
Makes No Sense
Best day in the Corps. Viet Nam 7/20/67 Golf Bn. 3/11 1st mar div. I was senior radio operator for our C.O.
We were on an operation and I had been on watch for nearly 30 hrs. finally a new operator arrived to relieve me. I rolled over into my fox hole and passed out. About 20 min. later the FNG wakes me up. He has a message that makes no sense and does not understand. Yelling and cussing I take the message. It is from the USO in SAN FRANCISCO. The red cross in Missouri says ANGELA LEA 6lbs 7ozs. MOTHER AND BABY BOTH PERFECT. I rolled back into my fox hole and cried myself to sleep.
Cpl of Marines 2273715
Sgt. Grit, my first "Best day" was final inspection before graduating boot camp at MCRD. A bird colonel was inspecting our platoon and was giving me the once over. Having found no Irish pennants nor any other non-military adornments on my form, he grabbed my web belt and turned it inside out near the buckle. He saw a dark fingerprint (a remnant of my polishing my buckle with Dura-glit) , looked me in the eyes and said "It's a good f----- G thing you fired expert with that M14."
Gotta love our leaders!
Fire for Effect: Boot Camp Blast - Back to top
Only 12 Standing
In response to B. James Naberhuis Jr. asking if anyone had memories of Camp Mathews, yes sir Mr. Naberhuis I've got quite a few of that place, and yes "Big Agony" and "Little Agony" are a big part of those memories...also tent city and the p.t. They would torture us with on the very narrow streets of that place.
Do you remember the mess hall there? I went through Mathews in July of 1964 and one toasty day our platoon commander had extra cartons of milk placed on our tables in the mess hall. We were "encouraged" to drink all we wanted, and not seeing what was coming we swilled it down like there was no tomorrow. Once we were bloated with the extra moo juice we fell out onto the mess hall grinder. Then it began.
We were made to run, in platoon formation, around the perimeter of the grinder, around and around for what seemed like forever. It was already a hot day, being in July, but the asphalt of the grinder made it so much worse. Being bloated with the extra milk guys began to drop like flies after a time.
I don't remember how long it lasted but suffice it to say it was an ordeal and when we were finally halted there were only 12 of us left standing. The rest of the platoon was stranded all around the perimeter of the grinder throwing up. For those who had dropped out the worst was to come. We were marched back to tent city and those 12 of us who didn't drop out were ordered to our tents while the rest of the platoon was p.t.'d until I'm sure they all thought they were going to die.
Some might call what our platoon commander did that day sadistic or cruel, but every time I think of the things we were put through, during those long weeks of recruit training, I keep remembering the words he spoke to us in our first weeks at MCRD: "when I am done with you people you will be a bunch of lean, mean, rock hard sons of bit-hes." When you think back to all the h-llish things that we all went through in boot camp...that was the goal wasn't it?
God bless Marine drill instructors, of all generations,...they know how to take civilian clay and forge it into steel, or better yet, "lean, mean, rock hard sons of bit-hes." Thanks Drill Instructors.
John Vater, class of "64"
Hi Sgt Grit,
Wanted to tell of a strange custom in boot camp. I was at PI in the summer of 1966. Back then we had one hour of "free time" that the DI told us what we could do in. One DI made everyone on watch cut out paper in the shape of a bat sign and put it on their flashlights. So at night on watch in the barracks they would shine like the bat sign.
Whenever we had free time and we wanted to write letters home the DI would tell whoever was on watch to ask Batman. The Marine on watch would then go around in the squad bay yelling:"Hey Batman, Hey Boy Wonder". After a few minutes the guard would come back and tell the DI that Batman said it was ok to write letters, to which his response was: "Doesn't the f---er ever say no". Then he would usually let us write home. Thank you Batman.
PLT 3050 Parris Island
The Little People
Sgt Grit, you will just have to forgive me, but every issue is so much gooder. We were talking about our best days in the Corps. How about funniest things you ever saw?
While serving with 1st Bn 12th Marines (Artillery) we were often deployed to the Big island of Hawaii. Our Gunny was a Filipino and really superstitious. We also had a Cpl from Samoa who shared many of the same beliefs. They told me that where we were preparing for a FIREX was sacred grounds for the menehunies. (small people who live in lava flows). All I ever saw there were wild pigs, goats, and an occasional EOD guy looking for something to blow up.
This particular night the Gunny commented to the Cpl that someone had been moving the lava rocks that the menehunies were using like altars. The Gunny said that we were in the middle of the menehune playground and were sure to experience the wrath of the little people that night. I told the Gunny if the menehunies were controlling the mosquitoes that vengeance had already started. He told me to show more respect.
Well I did and immediately went to my rack. Green cot with four sticks to keep my mosquito net out of my face and the skinniest rubber lady in the FMF.
About 3 in the morning heard a ruckus. The Gunny and the Cpl had got into the 6 by and rolled up the windows (at least 90 degrees and humidity about 200 per cent) They were certain that they were under an attack by the little people. Actually it turned out to be some of the guys throwing lava rocks once in a while.
When we got back out of the field to K-Bay one of the Marines was telling the Lt. what had happened. This Lt. was from Tennessee and liked his Red Man. He had a canteen cup that he used as a spittoon. This morning the Lt. was enjoying his coffee and the story about the menehunies. When it got to the part where the Gunny and the Cpl bailed out of the 6X6 to get to higher ground the Lt laughs so hard he took a drink out of his canteen cup instead of his coffee. Our memories are what make us ALWAYS MARINES
I was at my veterinarian about a year ago and on the wall in the waiting room was an old picture of a young Marine along with an ensemble of ribbons and medals. I asked my vet who that was and he told me it was his father, William Kuhl.
He began to tell me a couple of stories about his father in the Corps and I found them interesting, among the most interesting was a couple things, the fact his father served on the USS Yorktown when it was sunk and a story of his father's long lost sea bag.
A couple weeks later, I stopped back in and he said he brought some things from his house to show me. He had an old foot locker and an old worn, tattered cardboard box. He said his aunt (his father's sister), had kept newspaper clippings of things that had concerned his father and articles in which his father was mentioned. Dr. Kuhl started to show me pictures and newspaper articles that indeed verified his father was on the USS Yorktown. One newspaper article had even mentioned how he had shot down a J-p zero.
To make a long story somewhat shorter. Dr. Kuhl told me he had no idea as to what to do with all these articles as there was no one left in his family that was much concerned with them. I told him I had an idea and I would get back with him in a couple of days. I went home and contacted the Marine Corps Museum in Virginia and they in turn immediately contacted Dr. Kuhl. He sent them some pictures of some of the items, and their response was if everything he said he had was verified, that these items would make a one of a kind display at the museum.
So Dr. Kuhl signed the property over to the museum and hopefully soon they will have a special place there. I mentioned earlier a newspaper article about his father's lost sea bag, so I have included here a copy of that article and a picture of his father with his sea bag. They are pretty self explanatory, so I will leave you now to enjoy. But in closing, I would like to say that as a thank you to me from Dr. Kuhl, he gave me his father's K- bar that had seen action at Guadalcanal, Iwo, and several other places along with his father's brass E.G.A. belt buckle.
Wm. "Doc" Cottrell
Chesty's Book Comments
With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
I wish there were some "Once upon a time" type stories to relay...but almost all of his comments are in the form of "notes" and "corrections" to what was actually written in the text.
For Example: There's a paragraph depicting how General Rupertus broke his ankle participating in a training exercise...The General's response on the border of that page was, "Bull Sh!t, he was drunk and fell off the porch of the shack he was staying in.." ...His contempt for General Macarthur was made clear as mud with comments like "The only way that man would read a best seller was if it came in comic book form"....On the other hand, your left with the impression that he thought Nimitz could walk on water...
So, stories, I got none..anecdotes ??..I got a ton of. One would have to sit down and go through "The Old Breed" page by page to get the big picture the General's true/actual attitude...He was definitely one opinionated son of b-tch though..that's for sure and for certain.
If anyone has any specific questions, feel free..I'll do the best I can to answer..
Cpl Mike McCaffrey
Do You Read Arabic
I served as a US Navy Corpsman from 1976-79. In 1977 I was in Okinawa at Camp Schwab with the 9th Marines. In 1978 and 79 I served at camp Pendleton with the 11th Marines. One day I went to a store across the street from my apartment owned by an Arab guy. I bought 2 packs of smokes and he charged me for 3.
I told him and he said "no, no that correct amount" I asked him do you read Arabic, he said yes I turned around and he read my shirt and I told him I was a United States Marine Corps Veteran and he gave me a handful of change called me sir and from then on charged me a buck less for a pack of smokes! I love your t shirts, wear them everywhere! Thanks Don.
Anthony "Doc" Johnson
Big PT Exercise
I just finished reading Brent MacKinnon's story about the rat bite that kept him off of Operation Dixie. His mention of "APC"- s made me think at first that he might be a "poser", since Marines didn't have "APC"-s, as such--we had am-tracks (amphibious tractors). And I had never heard of Operation Dixie. So I did a quick internet search and found that 2/5 participated in a "search and destroy" mission called "Operation Dixie" in the Quang Nam area from 7-10 April '67.
His is a very interesting story. I'm often amazed at how "but for the grace of God" we may have been somewhere else and have had something really bad happen. (Been there; done that.)
I guess the reason I never heard of Operation Dixie was because, at the time, I was otherwise occupied. 3/7 pulled out of the Duc Pho area on 9 April and turning it over to the Army at the end of Operation Desoto. Lima 3/7 had been "first- in" on Desoto on 26Jan67 and "last-out" on 9 April, and I was along for the full ride as Lima's artillery FO. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I may have been on the last chopper back to Quang Ngai. By the time we landed, Lima's 1st Platoon commander, then-2nd Lt. Bill Symolon (now a retired-"full bird"), had to scrounge around to find billeting space for his platoon for the night, with me following along behind him. Then on 10 April (according to a letter I wrote to my wife) we took a truck convoy up to Chu Lai, flew back up to Danang on a C-130, and found ourselves back (temporarily) where we had come from--on Hill 41 in the Dai Loc area, with 3/7's CP back on Hill 37 (appropriate location).
This time, Lima didn't stay on Hill 41. A few days later we took a little helicopter ride up to the top of Sa Ba Na ("Charley Ridge"), supposedly to clean up what might be left of a reported VC staging area after a B-52 strike (Operation Webster?). That turned into a big PT exercise--we found nothing but bomb craters. From there we walked (often jumping from boulder to boulder down a dry stream bed) for a total of 18 hours--12 one day and 6 the next--just to get off of that monster mountain. Then we continued west to set up the first Marine position on Hill 52 along the Song Vu Gia (river) out near the Thuong Duc Special Forces base.
Has it really been 43 years ago?
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine.
1963-'76 (for pay purposes)
Fire for Effect: Short Rounds - Back to top
I remember my time @MCRDSD, from back in mid '70's. We were in 3 tier barracks during 1st phase, up to Edson for 2nd phase and Quonset huts for 3rd phase.
Sgt Grit: SSgt Feemster introduced himself to 75-80 young "boys" at PI in the summer of 1956 as "three quarters Cherokee and 1/4 bad-a--, any questions?? He was one of the top 1/2 dozen exceptional Marines I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Truly an outstanding DI and teacher of what the Marines are all about.
P.D. Rowe, Cpl of Marines
Does anyone who was at the rifle range at Camp Mathews in the summer of 1963 remember which platoon sang "Ghost Riders in the Sky" as they marched to morning chow? It really sounded good coming out of the early morning mist we had every morning. You could hear them coming for about 500 yards.
Sgt John Stevenson 1963-1967
From one Marine to another. Avery hearty welcome home and God bless you your loved ones The Marine Corps and God bless our troops in harm's way and America...SEMPER FI until I die.
Sgt. W.L. Early
Cpl. Kenneth L. "Rip" Stephens quoted from the TV series Pacific "And now the Congressional Medal of Honor winner... ", and he said "How could the military advisers let them get away with, once again, misnaming the Medal of Honor."
Right on Cpl, the 'Medal of Honor' and the 'Congressional Medal' are two different things. But I further take the series to task for, "..Medal of Honor winner..". No one's ever 'won' the Medal of Honor, not a Marine anyway. There has never been a lottery to distribute the MOH.
Sgt. Max Sarazin, 1951-1959
I have studied the ancient Latin most of my adult life and have always been an avid reader of old roman texts. I recently discovered the origin of several words and it turns out some of them are actually acronyms. We all know what FUBAR and SNAFU stand for but does everyone know the origin of the word ARMY. It is an anachronism for the Latin Arnotus Redias Marentha Yetha. Which literally means.
Ain't ready for Marine yet.
Boots Lounging Around
I left MCB Kaneohe, Hawaii on December 4, 1972 when the temperature was a balmy 85 degrees. I arrived at Pendleton the next day where the temperature was a chilly 55 degrees. Sometime on the morning of December 7, 1972 I and a couple of hundred other Marines received our discharges.
Needless to say by the time Cpl. Speilbaur and I arrived at LAX we were three sheets to the wind. While headed towards our gate for the trip home we came across a bunch of boots lounging around, drinking cokes, and eating pogey bait. When we neared they all came to attention, straightened their field scarfs, and buttoned their blouses. When one of them called the others to attention and said "good morning Sgt." Speilbaur and I decided to have some fun.
After a little bit of drill we told them they were not allowed any alcohol on the plane. It took a while to get on the plane because they had just started using metal detectors. If they did not ask for a specific item made of metal I did not tell them. Dog tags, keys, coins, medals, etc. etc. all came off one item at a time. I must have went through the detector ten times. Once we were under way I could see the flight attendant asking each Marine if he wanted something to drink. The first three said no but the fourth volunteered that he would but the Sgt in the back would not let them. I tried to hide under the seat.
As the flight ended I started to get alarmed as I looked out the window and saw we were landing alongside a corn field. The Kansas City airport I knew was downtown, no corn fields. I knew I had a little too much to drink but did not think I had enough to get on the wrong plane. I was beginning to get worried. Turns out in my almost two year absence Kansas City had built a new airport out in the country.
It was December and the temperature was 12 degrees. I think I stayed indoors for a month.
Former Sgt. Naberhuis asked for stories/memories of Camp Mathews recently.
When Plt. 201 went to the range in early '54, we learned to guard/remove the light bulbs in the heads. They were as precious and crown jewels and were needed to light the heads in the evenings and morns--esp. the latter because we hit the ranges as dawn broke to get early starts.
Also recall that there were no heads in the butts at that time and if you had to go, you either held it or dug a "cat hole."
Bob Rader Sgt '53-'56
We don't promise you a rose garden!
I missed seeing initial news about Charles A. Taliano and his battle with cancer.
He is the DI on the poster I had in back of my '64 Plymouth Barracuda back in 74-75 before I was bused off to PI.
We don't promise you a rose garden...ain't that the truth! Then and now.
He's the stern image on an historic poster.
I served initially on active duty 75-79. And returned to served again in the GWT. Upon return from successful deployment to Iraq with Fox Battery, 2/14, we went through Camp Lejeune where I had served my years of active duty. I stopped by the MCA store by the PX. Saw the poster and told the lady it was from my era of service in the 70s. She went to the back room and brought out an autographed copy and gave it to me. It's signed Semper Fidelis Charles A. Taliano. It's setting here in front of me as I type this letter, and so fitting -
This morning at 0300 I played DI getting my oldest son out of the rack (my other son jumped out of his rack in the other room quicker, and the dog trembled!), took him to the airport, put him on a plane heading to Quantico to attend OCS. He was one of three from OK chosen to attend this summer. He knows WE DON'T PROMISE ... A ROSE GARDEN. I gave him a little of what to expect, taking him on runs (4 to 6 milers), conducting PFT & CFT, Fartlek course, a 10.2 mile forced march with 50lb pack in the hills of Jenks & Glenpool, OK. Reviewed Land Nav, Leadership, Interior Guard, History with him. So much for his brain housing to absorb and his body to endure. But he is confident, and intends to give his all to earn the title Marine.
To Chuck Taliano, thanks for not promising us a rose garden. To my PI DIs - PLT 161, 06-09/75, SSgt E. Talley SDI, SSgt R.D. Kelly ADI, Sgt W.J. Miller ADI - Thanks, you made me a MARINE. To all you DIs, some of us can only dream or pretend to be what you are - the ultimate Maker of Marines.
Joe "Gunny Ski" Pawlowski
Fire for Effect: Definite Leadership - Back to top
What 2+2 Was
I graduated from MCRDSD on October 14th, 1976 Plt. 2074. After commencement services releasing all of us, the base commanding General's motorcade drove up in front of the theater at the end of the parade deck. Everyone stood back as Major General Kenneth J. Houghton got out of his car, and walked directly up to my father. My senior DI turned white.
Apparently whilst I was in boot camp, the General was misquoted saying his recruits these days contained many illiterate candidates for boot camp. My father wrote him a letter explaining his dismay at the newspapers comments. The General wrote back, and said it was a misquote. He had my father to MCRDSD for lunch three times while I was in boot camp to give him an update on my training.
After the motorcade stopped and Major General Houghton walked up to my father, he looked me in the eye and he asked me what 2 + 2 was. I told him 4. My father and him had a good laugh. I did not have a clue what it was all about, and was ready to make a head call myself I was so nervous. I found all this out on the way home. Here is a picture with my father and Major General Houghton the day of my graduation on 10/14/1976. Thought you might enjoy the picture and story.
Although my name is Doug, the caption reads, " To Pvt. Thomas Blackburn, a fine young Marine. Best Wishes as you embark on your tour as a U.S. Marine. Major General Kenneth J. Houghton, USMC "
After they took some pictures, the general got back in his car, and motorcade sped off to another part of the base. If any Marines remember me from Plt. 2074, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org Our Senior drill instructor was Staff Sergeant Wallace. Happy Days...
Sgt. Grit, love the newsletter, brother. Concerning your Best Day in the Corps series, I'd like to submit mine even though it was somewhat bittersweet.
In 1979, I was a LCpl on an exercise in S. Korea, training with ROK Marines. Being fairly close to the DMZ, it was an exciting experience for myself and my fellow troopers. One day I was called to the CO's office and wondered what in the world I could have done to receive such a summons. When I got there, the SgtMaj and CO were waiting. They had bad news, they said and handed me a piece of message traffic.
As I read it, I tried to absorb the meaning of the words "SNM's mother has cancer of the heart, liver, lungs and brain and is not expected to live more than 24-48 hours." Since my dad died during Vietnam while serving in the Air Force, I was naturally quite stunned since I had no idea my mom had even been sick. The worse part of the message was that it was dated 2 days earlier which meant that my mom was probably already dead.
The exercise we were on was highly secret so it took the Corps a while to locate me. Within 30 minutes I was lifted out on a CH-46 to an aircraft carrier in the sea nearby. From there I was flown to Okinawa. There I met a Captain also named Howerton who had seen the message and made it a point of meeting me, even though we were no relation that I know of. He got me squared away which included getting me some advance pay and billeted for the night.
Since there wasn't an available flight out immediately, the CG (and I never even knew his name) had me put aboard his Lear Jet and had me flown to mainland Japan to catch a transport back to the west coast. Once I landed in California, I was pretty much on my own and secured a flight to New Orleans via Dallas which would take me close to Biloxi, MS which is where my mom was hospitalized.
Due to the nature of my trip I hadn't been able to sleep since I left Korea. When I landed in Dallas, there was supposed to be a one hour layover until the flight to New Orleans. Unfortunately, Dallas was socked in with fog and so was New Orleans. I waited in the airport at Dallas for about 6 hours before finally taking off. After about 20 minutes in the air, the pilot came on and said we would have to return to Dallas since the airport at New Orleans was too foggy to land.
When I heard that, I finally cracked. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I cried and cried hard. I started praying with everything I had to God to please let me see my mother before she died. Five minutes later, the pilot announced the sky in New Orleans had cleared and we were resuming our trip. I don't know what the flight attendants or other passengers thought when they saw a 20 year old, 6'2" 190lb. Marine in Dress Greens blubbering like a baby but by that time, I really didn't give a d*mn. God answered my prayer.
I took a taxi from New Orleans to Biloxi (which about ate up my advance pay) but I saw my mother before she died. I believe she hung on since I was the last of her 6 kids to show up. She died the next morning. If it hadn't been for the help of fellow Marines (the Captain Howerton I never saw again and the Command General whose name I never learned) I would have never seen my mom again. They have my eternal gratitude. Marines really do take care of their own. Semper Fi and God Bless to all my fellow Marines, past, present and future.
James A. Howerton II
SSgt USMC (Ret)
Recognized The Voice
One of my best days in the Marine Corps was the day of an IG Inspection in 1984. I was with H&MS 26, MAG 26, MCAS New River, Jacksonville, NC. For the inspection I was assigned to the" troop and stomp" portion. We were to be tested on drill and Marine Corps knowledge. I had half heartily studied my Guidebook for Marines for the knowledge portion of the inspection. I was definitely a little nervous about the questions I would be asked. I knew I did not know as much as I should and hoped I would be able to answer them correctly.
After the drill portion of the IG Inspection I was standing in platoon formation, at parade rest with my rifle waiting for the inspection team to stand in front of me. I was to perform inspection arms and answer whatever questions were thrown at me. We were being scored on both inspection arms as well as our Marine Corps knowledge. As the inspection team was making its way down the column toward me I realized that I recognized the voice of one of the inspectors. It was the voice of one of my drill instructors, SSgt Felts, Oh My God! I thought I was nervous before, now my knees were starting to quake and the butterflies were swarming. I could not believe one of my former drill instructors was about to be standing in front of me again.
Moments later SSgt Felts appeared in front of me; I popped to attention and nervously performed inspection arms. SSgt Felts looked at me very carefully and said "Marine, do I know you?" I responded "Yes Sir!" SSgt Felts asked me if I was in one of his platoons. I responded; "Yes Sir platoon 2017 Sir." SSgt Felts said "outstanding, St. Onge correct?", "Yes Sir!" I responded. SSgt Felts asked me a couple of personal questions about how my time in the Corps had been and whether or not I was planning on reenlisting. I told him I had not decided if I was going to reenlist or not. SSgt Felts turned to the Marine beside him that was taking down the scores and said "give this Marine a 10."
Thankfully SSgt Felts never did ask me any knowledge questions, and I was one of only two Marines that scored a 10 on the IG Inspection that day. It is unbelievable the impact that our drill instructors had on us. As I found out, running into one of them even years later can get your heart pounding again. Thank you to all the drill instructors out there that somehow managed to teach us all kinds of things in 13 weeks that we were incapable of learning in the prior 18 years.
Mark St. Onge
Dear Sgt. Grit,
In regards to Don Kaag's letter about General Wilson touring Westpac in 1974, I served under General Wilson's command as CMC from 1978 to 1979 when I was an Aviation Monitor at HQMC. General Wilson was not Commandant in 1974; he was Commanding General (LtGen) of FMFPAC and was promoted to General and served as CMC from 1 July 1975 to 30 June 1979. When he retired and all of us at HQMC gathered in formation in front of the Navy Annex in Arlington, we listened to his farewell speech and hand- over of his command to General Barrow. His last official act and order as Commandant was to give us the rest of the day off! He was the epitome of the word Marine in every sense and I shall never forget him.
Semper Fidelis, General Wilson.
Gene Hays, MSgt, USMC, Retired
Fire for Effect: Tale of 2 Grunts - Back to top
A bit of history about Bruce Dunthorne and myself: Both he and I were (as we would be called today) Grunts, Riflemen assigned to "B" Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and we carried Springfield '03s. Both he and I enlisted much too early to have been issued the Garand.
Anyhow, we both went thru Parris island and were assigned to our unit in what was then called "New River", and as I remember it, there was only one main gate to the camp which led out to a road lined with about two dozen houses that served as "Slopshoots". The next liberty town was New Bern, I forget how far it was, but a Marine didn't get to that town very often on $19.80 a month. At that time the pay scale was $20.00 per month with .20 cents taken out for hospitalization.
On or about the 13th of May, 1942 the camp was bussed to Norfolk. VA. where we boarded the U.S. Wakefield (formally a cruise liner, the S.S. Manhattan) a troop ship. Dunthorne said "were going south" and he shaved his head in prep for the warm weather. Little did he know that it was winter time in New Zealand. After departing Norfolk, on the 15th of May, we were escorted by a Cruiser, four destroyers and following us was another ship loaded with Nurses bound for Panama.
I must say, the voyage down the coast to Panama was without storms and incidents.
Arriving in Panama, we pulled into a docking space alongside of a pier that was guarded by the Army (Dog faces). Somebody started to bark and that started the whole ship to barking. After about 10 seconds of that the paging system came into being and notified all that if the barking continues we would be confined below decks. All barking stopped. We were to wait here for orders to proceed thru the Canal, which came quickly.
Exiting the Canal we were escorted south by Torpedo Boats and two or three PBYs until nightfall.
The ship headed south for the "Roaring Forties". That area was below south latitude 40 degrees where the wind blows from west to east and there is nothing but stormy weather. This was to bypass any J@p subs as they would not patrol this stretch of water due to the weather. Needless to say, there were many Marines that came down with sea sickness on this trip, me included. I can remember many times that the weather was so rough the stern props were out of the water due to the pitching. When the stern came down it was with a great big Whoomp.
At long last we made port in Wellington, New Zealand. What a relief.
During the ship unloading a bunch of Marines took a 75 mm half- track into town and proceeded to drive around on the right side of the road, just the opposite of local laws. Of course they were stopped by the local Police and set straight.
After the unloading B Company was sent to a place called Pycockariki (Phonic spelling), about 28 miles north of Wellington. The locals called it Pycock.
Dunthorne had learned to speak German in High School and I, being of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, also could understand the language somewhat. I convinced Dunthorne to teach me of the language that I didn't know. We began a series of German language speaking sessions in the camp and on liberty. This created some problems in the camp and in Wellington. Most of the fello