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When the fire mission came down we advised FDC that completion of the mission would overshoot our tube and our radioman advised them to give the mission to another gun. FDC had a different round count for our gun and insisted (ordered) we complete the fire mission.
If memory serves correctly, we overshot the tube by about 13 rounds before the explosion occurred. We (the gun crew) were never allowed to talk with the investigators so I have no idea what the official version of events was. I was blown off the gun into the ammo bunker and a large piece of shrapnel from the tube embedded itself into the bunker wall about 6 inches from my head.
Here is a picture of me holding the shrapnel while squatting next to a piece of the tube (laying on the ground) taken the next morning after digging the shrapnel out of the bunker. I brought that piece of shrapnel home with me and still have it to this day.
In This Issue:
Like the story above, this week we get the real story - an ambush in Vietnam, an "unlucky" Corpsman, some butt shrapnel leading to a purple heart, and secret smoking during boot camp. Also, some great additions to the "Hands on Training" series.
Outstanding reading as usual. It is great fun and humbling to be the first one to read these stories, thank you.
Get updated on your Corps family at the Sgt Grit Facebook Page.
See some great pictures on the Sgt Grit Blog
I got to go to the Marine Corps Marathon this past weekend. I will have pictures and a few observation next week. It is quite an impressive event.
Far winds and following seas.
Hello, I am Fred Steinbach, I was in the Marines from 1967-1969 and in Viet Nam from Dec. 1968- Oct.1969. I want to comment on the story by Michael Smith called Motor T. His story reminds me of mine. I wonder if it's the same story. I might know him.
I was in the first Marine division Bravo Co. and when the huskeys replaced the old ducks I was transferred into huskey company where we were sent out in the field with the grunts to carry 107 recoilless rifles and 81 mortars and their shells. This was just outside DaNang.
Me and 13 other Marine's were assigned as the reactionary force and sent on our way to give them help in the back of a 5 ton truck. On the way we were ambushed. The driver was shot through both ankles and could not give the vehicle gas. Everyone in the truck was blasting away when I felt the truck feel like it was going to go off the road. I was sitting behind the driver's seat in the back of the truck and realized that the truck was going to die out right there because of its jerking, etc. So I stuck my head in the window and pulled the gear shift into neutral. ( We also had a 60 caliber machine gun on the back of the truck.)
Now it was in neutral, the engine still running, but slowing down. At that time I screamed at the driver to put in the clutch so I could put in the granny gear but because he was shot in both ankles and in a lot of pain he couldn't. So I kept pushing it to try to get it to go in gear, the gears were grinding and I yelled at him, put in the clutch, and somehow it went into gear. We slowly rolled over this bridge, keep in mind everybody is still blasting away.
I turned to the back of the truck and looked as our machine gunner started cranking the machine gun and I saw a g-ok run across the road right behind us and throw something at us. It hit the top of the canvas of the truck and blew up off the side of it. Just as we went over this bridge they blew the 2 corners off the bridge. I think we were very lucky to keep rolling in the vehicle to get out of there and off of that bridge. The driver got a bronze star, and the machine gunner got a bronze star, and no one even realized I saved all their lives by keeping the vehicle going! hahaha My reward is I'm alive and here today to tell the story!
People's names I remember from Bravo company are Big Al, PoohBear, Poncho, TC, The Old Man, and Larry D. Moss.....
Fred L. Steinbach
1st Marine Div
Family of Marines With Combine Service of 72yrs
Me and my brothers all served in Vietnam the same time, but in different outfits. My older brother James Griffith was in 1stReconBn in Chu Lai, Me, Don Griffith, 2/9, 81 mortars and my younger brother Ken in DaNang Communication
My four sons below.
Hands On Training
I was seventeen when I started through Boot Camp July 1st 1959 at MCRDSD.
What an eye opener that was. My father was in the Marine Corps when I joined but he did not share with me what was going to happen and I am glad he didn't. Everything was going along smoothly for me until one day while in the chow line a recruit behind me said something and I ever so slightly turned my head and answered him.
Well you guessed it the Drill Instructor saw that movement and came up to me and asked if I was talking and I replied Sir Yes Sir well he told me to report to the duty hut after chow. I show up and loudly banged on the door shouting Sir Pvt Jenkins reporting as ordered Sir.
Enter he said and that is when the fun began. After four or five blows to the kidney section he told me to shimmied up the wall locker and hang on with my forearms at which time he continued the kidney blows. As I became weaker and started slipping down the wall locker he informed me that if my boots touched the deck he would kill me.
Well I didn't want to die so I tried to crawl back up, one more blow to the kidney and down I went. When I got back on my feet I made a slight turn and the Drill Instructor missed the kidney area and hit me in the gut at which point he stopped and told me to get out of his house which I did on the double time.
During all of this I had lost my cover in the duty hut and had somehow grabbed the wrong one when exiting. A few minutes later while standing in formation the Drill Instructor came up to me with my cover in his hand at which time we exchanged covers as he gently (yea right) placed mine on my head and down around my ears.
End of story but from that day on they called me Harpo Marks because I did not talk to anyone. That was 51 years ago and I would do it again in heart beat. Oh by the way for you MCRDPI guys I still have the Sun Glasses they issued us back then.
L/Cpl R E Jenkins
Just read the last issue of the "Hands On" and memories flashed though these eyeballs of my time at PISC back in the early 70's when I saw names of some of the ole HATS from that era. I, too, was in Third Bn Hotel Co and I well remember having to discipline some of my recruits at times for their screw ups.
I agree with all others that our time allowed to train them were short so we had to resort to some tactics that would whip them into shape and get their attention fast. My favorite was to take them to my "house" and make them stand just inside the hatch and then I would walk in and close the hatch so no others could see me and then after closing the hatch I would wheel around and catch them unsuspectingly in the solar plexes with my elbow. I never hit them in the face or anywhere else that would cause my superiors to question as to what happened to cause a bruise nor did I ever cause a bruise.
I always talked "Loyalty" to them and never did I have anyone to make an allegation other than 1 recruit told that he never got his 20 minutes for chow. When I was confronted with the allegation I told the officer it was true and asked what was going to happen. My answer from him was "How did he know he didn't get 20 minutes as there are no clocks in the messhall and recruits aren't allowed to carry watches". That was all I heard from the incident.
I have met several of my recruits after leaving the "Field" and they were really nice to me and asked why certain things were done the way they were and my reply to them was "if it saves your life during combat why worry about the reason why"
During my time at Parris Island, during the early 70's, Third Bn was called "Thumping Third" and I guess it was because some went a little overboard with their tactics of how they disciplined their recruits.
SEMPER FI and OOOOOORAHH
MGySgt Billy J. Russell Ret'd
As a recruit and as a Drill Instructor, I would appreciate throwing my two cents in. As a recruit, I got "yoked" by one of my DI's because he just had it in for me and some of the other recruits helped him form an opinion that I was cocky. They were right. I was cocky and expected the same effort from everyone - including the sh-t birds. So, I had a reputation in the Platoon 354 (3rd Bn. PI 1973) as a ball breaker.
I never forgot the Drill Instructor calling me in to the "house" and grabbing me by the throat. Personally, I did not like it because he knew I was defenseless and just had to take it whether he was right or wrong. I never said anything to anybody about it and just chalked it up to my boot camp rite of passage.
When I went to Drill Instructor School in 1976 - also Parris Island - I was still pretty cocky but was motivated to be the best Drill Instructor on the island because I thought it was the greatest job in the Corps. I did well and was an "Honor Graduate" in class 5-76 and got to go back to "Land of the Frogs", Third Battalion, India Co and put through four Platoons and an "Assistant".
The only time I ever saw a DI actually strike a recruit was when we were on Observation in 2nd Bn. and 1 Guy I knew from Quantico was the Senior and he was just showing off and brought a "prive" in and smacked him. I totally lost respect for the guy and told him that was "chicken sh-t", but we never said anything about that either because of the "code". But, that was the only time I ever saw or tolerated anybody "thumping" a recruit.
A Drill Instructor's job is to "instruct". I had plenty of other ways to motivate the privates that abusing them. In 3rd BN, we had "the rose garden". The sand was covered with this kind of grass that had burrs and thistles in it and was a mother while doing PT in the heat. We could always grab a Senior to facilitate a trip to the rose garden and the boys hated it. And, we would run them up and down the squad bays into the class room for "school circles" until their tongues were dragging. I was famous for my "D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E lectures when they got loose.
Bottom line: I don't know of any Drill Instructor worth his salt that needs to smack a recruit. It does not teach him anything and the recruits lose respect for you. Does it happen? Sure. There is a lot of pressure to produce first rate Marines and win all your competitions and graduate a highly motivated Devil Dog and the training cycle is demanding so there bound to be some loss of temper. But, it is not tolerated by the brass.
The biggest reason I got out was the quality of the recruit and the lack of pride that accompanied the election of Jimmy Carter. But, I wish I had stayed in for Reagan and all the fun that followed. That's a story for another day. Semper Fi all you Marines. Keep the faith and we will survive Obama just like we did Carter.
Sgt. DR George
SSgt Joe Whimple talked about the bend and thrust. When in boot camp in Feb '68, I had to go so bad I didn't have time to ask for permission so I ducked out of the Quonset hut in the rain and hightailed it to the latrine. Coming back I wasn't so careful and as I rounded the corner there was the DI waiting for me. I had to do 200 squat thrusts in the rain and mud without missing any or I would have had to start over. Can't do that many today.
Cpl Paul Miller
Read more Hands On Responses
My Wife's Response
Dear Sgt. Grit,
A few years ago I was telling my wife about a news story regarding DI abuse at San Diego. According to the story the DI forced the recruit to dive head first into a trash can. The DI then allegedly shoved the recruit the rest of the way into the trash can.
(My wife married a PI Marine and we raised another PI Marine.)
My wife's response, without a moment's hesitation, "If the recruit had done it right the first time, the DI wouldn't have had to help him."
Ya gotta love a Marine wife.
1969 - 1972
For Chuck Brewer, in re his suggestion of using serial numbers vs SSAN to differentiate the Old Corps and the New Corps: I'm good to go with that Chuck...but, tell me...is that your serial number, or the national debt?
That's what the recently thawed salts from the Frozen Chosin used to ask us newer types, circa '57 ...
(I had a 16 number...somewhere out there is a Donald F Dickerson whose number was nearly identical...mine ended in 51, his in 31, and my middle initial is L instead of F... used to get his mail, forwarded from NCO school at Camp Horno (part of Pendleton, for you flea-bitten east coast swamp critters who've not had the pleasure... check your Spanish dictionary for a translation of 'Horno")... he must have been TAD there from El Toro in a previous class... finally wrote to a GF of his from Newton, Iowa...
Swaying Palms and Girls
Sgt Grit: The constant reference of 3 and 4 digit Platoon numbers, often causes me to realize that I am getting older. I enlisted 7/13/49 in Austin, MN, and at Mpls. received the first of a new block of serial numbers, i.e., 1113400 (really easy to remember), whereas the other members that accompanied me from Mpls. to San Diego to join Platoon #26 had 109's and a couple of 110's as preface numbers, if I remember correctly.
Graduated from MCRD ("old" Quonset huts weren't even there at that time, and sometimes had to run from the barracks, across the grinder to the fence "to retrieve" a particular stone/rock for our DI), and subsequently moved on to complete 23 years with a variety of assignments both overseas and Stateside, culminating with being a Marine Corps Junior ROTC Instructor for an additional 17 years, and retiring as a MGySgt.
Side story: After listening to the MC Recruiter in Austin tell me of "swaying palms, travel, education, beautiful women, exotic places", I took the bait..came back, after making the Inchon Landing, in Korea, went to the Recruiting Office and informed the Sgt. there, that "You lied to me..Korea was colder than MN ever thought of being, and I didn't see any swaying palm trees"...we both got a good laugh and I don't regret any of the years..Semper Fi...Richard A. Swank, MGySgt, USMC, (Ret.)
I really enjoy the Boot Camp Graduation pics, but how about one from ITR? This is:
United States Marine Corps. Company "F" 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California, 22 May 1964
I am the 17th Marine from the left, top row. What a serious looking bunch!
Of course PI photo was in black and white, the color photo technology was issued to Hollywood Marines first!
Semper FI Marines...
87-91 Cpl of Marines
While reading the "bends and thrusts" comments, this is what I fondly remember: "Bends and thrusts 'til I get tired... understand me???"
Cpl, MCRDPI Plt. 352/July 74-June77
In reply to Jim Potter's problem with the hitch cover's. I had this problem also and I went and bought me a lock that goes through the hitch and the cover. Problem solved.
Sgt David Dabney Sr.
O.K. I've read all about Boot Camp follies but no one has mentioned "Elbows and Toes" Have we all forgotten? and How about, how did the slop chute get its name?
On September 29 2010, former Marine Sgt. Daniel Edward McIntyre, passed away. Sgt. McIntyre, proudly served his country as a Sergeant in the UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS. He was a demolition specialist, serving tours in Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima.
In response to Chuck Brewer, Sergeant of the "Old Corps Marines". AmericanCourage #238 28 Oct. 2010
2166834 Cpl. Champneys Class of 1967 MCRD-SD
Reading the story about Jack Webb brought back a memory of a roommate of mine. We were MarCads (Marine Aviation Cadets) at Pensacola, he told me he was in the DI movie, I thought "sure you were". Later I saw the movie again and sure enough his name was listed with the recruits. Douglas E. Wilson III he was right.
I would like everyone to say a prayer for "Darkhorse" 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and they have lost 9 Marines in four days. They are the TRUE heroes of this great nation. God Bless our soldiers!, show your support.
Please call with any questions (330)506-6668
Semper Fi, Jeff
I was 10 at the time, and l2 years away from being a Marine, but me and my brother were "killing J-ps" out in the woods behind our house while our Dad was away in the Navy.
Cpl. Charles Miller USMCR 1959-57.
Subject: Member has unsubscribed.
The following member has unsubscribed: --- from all lists. They were logged on the Opt Out List for all lists.
Reason: Not a marine anymore. Once a marine, always disgruntled.
We all know of the love and respect shared between the Marines and "THEIR" Corpsman. A great quote I heard one time sums it all up. I submit the following:
Do you know why God made Corpsmen?
So Marines could have heroes.
Served my Country, and Corps, with Honor, Faith, Courage, and Dignity
Why, in the Marine Corps does everything start at 0400
"Fall in for roll call at 0400 with sea bag, load your sea bag into a waiting truck and march to mess hall for early breakfast. Please, (now that's a first) stay in formation. Transportation will leave the chow hall in fifteen minutes, be sure you are aboard."
In the light of dawn, as we arrived at a large port, I saw a ship and was told it was the "U.S.S. Breckenridge taking on supplies for an unknown port. "Lose lips sink ships"
No news men or photos and no demonstrators, just much activity with vendors selling ice cream to Marines that would lower a line with money. The food or item purchased would be sent up to the Marines topside. It was now 0500 and the Top Sgt. whispered to me "Shot, don't eat anything for the next three days," but I did.
I looked for my good friend from Boot Camp, Matuski, but his name was not called as we marched up a wooden gang plank. I remember sailors yelling at us "Sea Going Bell Hops, Glory Boys and other names like Jarhead. One Marine yelled back, "The last bell I hopped was your sister and she wasn't all that good!" They were outnumbered at that point so best to let it go. To change the attitude as we boarded I was the first Marine to salute the flag and say to the First Deck officer, "Permission to come aboard Sir."
I heard the first officer say to another officer "That Marine must be from Virginia," and I was. Later the officer told me he was from Norfolk. He said that if I was up to some advice I should stay away from guard duty and ask for mess duty. All mess duty men received fresh water showers, all others showered with sea water. I found this to be the best advice ever as salt water showers make you itch for twenty eight days I am told
Once again, at 0400 I reported to the chow deck and was promptly put on the line serving food that didn't look all that good at that time of day. We were in port for three days taking on supplies and other Marines. Many men were sorry they had eaten anything once we left port and you could still see shore when heads were seen leaning over the rail.
As for me I reported for mess duty and given a harness with a long line that the Mess Sgt. tied to the bulkhead. After being in port for such a long time you can guess what the garbage would be. A cargo door was opened and we were about three feet from the water line and getting wet, the shore line lights still in sight. "Everything in this room goes overboard and now." I ask a silly question about the line and harness but the noise was so great I did not get an answer. I soon found out the hard way as a large crate was going out the hatch and my foot got tangled in part of a tarp. I was lucky and only lost a rubber boot. The cook said "boots don't come in one's, you just bought a pair"! So that's what the harness is for. All that garbage going out this close to shore, and no newsmen with their cameras, no demonstrators to picket what had to be done.
Down in the hole were our sleeping quarters. Bunks were as I remember seven high and were pulled down at night and raised during the day for room. Never mind that some had been on guard duty and missed their sleep. Soon the water was a deep blue and we were on our way in a calm sea which made it better for those and yours truly being sea sick. Never did know why the red lights below stayed still and the ship swayed in the bunk area.
On the third day out bells started going off and the crew were sent to their stations. We had no idea what was happening but I was sure things weren't right. The ship had listed and we were going in circles. The officer on deck had spotted a life boat and we were obligated to be sure it was empty.
The next excitement was a Marine was dropped off at Midway Island for an emergency appendectomy. All we saw was a dot on the horizon and I wondered how this Island marked the first turnaround of World War 11. Word passed around that we would see land in a few days. It was "Lots Wife," a huge rock with no vegetation or birds on it. It's only use was for navigation and reminded me of sitting in a tub and looking at your big toe up out of the water. By this time I had made friends with a Marine, Donald Beabout from Saint Louis. Later we would be attached to the same living quarters in the French Arsenal at Tinsin
Working on mess duty it was most important that our clothes were clean. We would tie a line to khaki pants at throw them off the fantail. It took only less than a minute and they were clean. My wash was out for over three minutes and when I brought in the line everything was in shreds. Quickly I grabbed another line and left the area. The pants fit however later one of the ships officers "had his eye on me" but made no comment.
On one of my morning treks to the gunwale, (sea sickness) I noted that the sea was a very light yellow and we saw fishing junks with their bat wings for sails. Is the China Sea really yellow as I had read in books at Fairfax High School? No doubt the land must be solid red clay to taint the sea miles from shore. A three day layover in Shanghai harbor was interesting watching the junks and Chinese children dive for coins as their parents were trying to sell trinkets. The Officer from Norfolk put me wise but other Marines got burned and tossed their bounty so as not to show they had been taken.
I found out that we picked up some Chinese pilots to drop off at Taku Reefs and with them were some guards straight out of the "Arabian Nights." They had large baggy pants with a sash that held the largest curved sword that I have ever seen. They had a heavy beard and large mustache. Of special note to me was the turban that the guard wore on his head and seemed very important to his stature. I wanted that turban. However, thinking straight by then, Donald and I gave him a "thumbs up" and moved on. I took a quick look back at him and he lunged at his sword - I ran and he laughed.
It was the rainy season - On to Taku Reefs
Stewart L. Shotwell
Within 15 Minutes
I pulled two tours at MCRD, 56-58 and 64-65. The major goal many DI's had on the first tour was to get back to the FMF with the same chevrons they had when they got there. We were all under a microscope, because of march into the swamp at PI. I was a brand new HM2, and had already served with WEAP CO 2/7, and Easy Med Co First Marine Div.
I was 21, with SNCO privileges, and they placed me in charge of the shot hut down by the airport fence. What I didn't know was that Billy Cook HMC was not doing me any favors.
The first week we lost a recruit as he stepped away from his first shot. One of the other corpsman plunged a needle into his heart but he was already gone.
The second week I was outside checking TB results and a recruit ran passed me to his DI complaining about one of my guys inside the hut. Seems one corpsman had made "X" marks on his shoulder and another had sprayed alcohol on his other "gun". Well I couldn't believe it and told the DI to take it up with the Doctor in Bldg 310. He had a different chain of command.
Within 15 minutes I was, along with the other two Corpsman, standing tall against the front of the shot hut while the recruits picked out the evil doers. I thought I had escaped the thunder when this Bn. CO. said "which of you is in charge"? Sir I'm in charge I answered! The HN and the HM3 got courts and I got to meet the CO of MCRD for Office hours. He had been tech adviser for "Battle Cry" and he may have had at least 2 Navy Cross's, ribbons going from his pocket to shoulder.
He started "son these two fine Chiefs and this letter from the Navy Officer In Charge, swear that you are a dedicated Corpsman who has served well in the FMF" which is where I wish I was at that second. Son if I was in a whale boat with a chief boats mate, a WO and a Lt Commander, who would be in charge of that boat"? I knew the answer ! You would be Sir ! Yes you are correct, and you where in charge of that Shot Hut! Reduced to HM3 and that is suspended, and I had better never see your azs on MY CARPET !
I've got a lot of sea stories about MCRD and I knew GYSGT Howard MOH and HM1 Fitzpatrick from Nam in 65. Fitz could shot an M14 with the best. They where the best of the best and now lay together in San Diego National Cemetery.
B.J SILER HMC/FMFUSN RT
Thanksgiving, Vietnam 1966
Dear Sgt Grit:
This is the eve of Thanksgiving and I just wanted to share some thoughts of a Thanksgiving day in Vietnam. I joined 2nd Bn 5th Marines on Hill 69 at An Ton Bridge near Chu Lai in 1966. Several companies were up north near the DMZ on Operation Prairie and in late November 1966 our battalion conducted Operation Mississippi in the An Hoa basin SW of Da Nang relieving 3rd Bn 9th Marines. We had assumed the TAOR of protecting Liberty Bridge, Nong Song (coal mine), and the An Hoa industrial complex area and Duc Duc district refugee compound. We also had responsibility of the Que Son Valley and were a blocking force to keep the NVA from closing in and rocketing Da Nang.
On Thanksgiving Day, in the middle of a driving rainstorm during the monsoon season, I was in a Hotel Company rifle squad that conducted a day long patrol that eventually ended up with us spending the night on the edge of a Vietnamese village. As Marines, we only had the chow which we carried in our packs and since our patrol was scheduled as a day patrol, we had only taken one C-rat meal with us. The patrol was one of those which turned out to be a total cluster as we were new in the area and were only supposed to recon out several clicks and report on designated check points and then back to the An Hoa combat base. Due to the rain, high water, and thick mud in the rice patties, our patrol took longer than expected and we were forced to spend the night in Indian country.
We set up on the edge of a Vietnamese village and dug our fighting holes which filled with water faster than we could dip them out. It was almost like standing in a river of mud. We had eaten our chow earlier in the afternoon and only had our canteens of water and I had several coconut candy bars which I had traded over several days and was saving. Someone had a few packs of kool aid. We mixed several canteens of the kool aid, and divided up the candy into as many pieces as the men in the squad. Here it was Thanksgiving day, and we were all in a foreign land serving our country. We never made a big deal out of our lot that it was Thanksgiving Day and we missed the big dinner at An Hoa base we were sure had turkey and all the trimmings.
We were grateful that we lived among men who cared about each other and shared all we had and made the best Thanksgiving meal of kool aid and left over coconut bars. We all shared what few cigarettes we had as we set in the cold rain thinking of past dinners and were blessed that we had each other to depend on. Lots of things mattered, but that night it only meant we all shared a memorable Thanksgiving together and that's where we all wanted to be, facing danger together. We could never have been more thankful for what we had. We were friends, we were warriors, and most importantly we were Marines, nothing could have meant more. Semper Fi to all.
Roger Doc Ware
Hotel 2/5 Vietnam
Note: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years....Send in your holiday on deployment stories!
Some Things Always Remain
Sgt. Grit, been awhile since I last sent a letter. Reading this latest post two things caught my attention. The Corpsman who said he introduces himself as navy, served as Corpsman with the Marines. Don't know where he hangs out, but in my territory Corpsman are Marines. We all are part of the naval service, If you serve in a combat role as corpsman you are a Marine in my part of the world.
Secondly, General Puller was identified with the 7th Marines. In Korea Col Puller commanded the First Marines, not the 7th. That was Col Homer Litzenberg. I served under Puller at Pearl Harbor pre Korea. I ended up in the 1st Prov. Marine Brigade, made up of the 5th and 11th Marines and 1st MAW.
First return visit to Pearl was Feb. 09 on my 50th wedding anniversary. We stayed aboard Kaneohe MCB. When I drove over to Pearl I found our old barracks still standing, now named Puller Hall. The door was padlocked with a very large combo lock. I knocked on the door until it was answered. I told the officer at the door, an army LtCol. That this had been my barracks in 1948 and I was curious enough to want to see the inside. He informed me it was now headquarters for the army intelligence, Western Pacific. He then graciously offered to give my wife and I a tour of the building. Some things change and some things always remain the same when you carry memories of it. But my thanks to LtCol Zimmerman, army intelligence, for his hospitality.
Lastly. I graduated MCRD San Diego December 1948, Platoon 97. DI's Swenson, Boyd and Henson. I wonder who in that platoon is still around. In all the old platoon photos and comments, I've never seen platoon 97 mentioned. If one of your readers sees this I'd like to hear from them.
Ray L. Walker
Kaneohe & Pearl 1/05/49 - 7/20/50
3rd Platoon A/1/5 August-December 1950.
U.S. Naval station Terminal Island 3/10/51 - 8/29/52
I don't think most people on this site realize how much you do for all of us. You were smart enough and took a chance to open a business, which employees many people and provides a service to Marines and their families. You have done well and given back to all the Marine reunions and your community. This web site has given Marines and their families a place to voice their opinions and stories of the Corps. Your business sense has enlightened many Marines as to what they can do in life. Your caring is a breath of fresh air for a bunch of crusty old Marines. I only hope this site remains up and running for many years to come. Please publish this, so all of us can be reminded that your perseverance comes from your heart and training of the United States Marine Corps. Thank you and keep up the great work.
Sgt. F. McDowell
"May all Marines lives be blessed, since you've done your time in h&ll".
One H&ll Of A Combat Marine
I was in the Corps from 66 to 72. I joined at age 17 and was an 0331. I was sent to Nam in Feb. 67 and joined L Co. / 3/26, 3rd platoon, as an M-60 machine gunner. This battalion had been formed on the west coast, trained in Hawaii, and were sent to Nam in late 66. I came in as a replacement.
Our platoon commander was 2nd Lt. McCarthy. He was a Mustang, I believe from E-8, and was a Korean War vet. He was the finest combat Marine I ever served with. His ability to read terrain and out-fox the enemy was amazing. I believe that he and Sgt. Brown, Navy Cross post., zapped more g-oks than the rest of us put together. He was badly wounded at the battle of Hill 689 in June of 67. I helped carry him to a medivac chopper and inherited his shotgun.
I ran into him a couple of years later in the p-sser at the drive-in movie theater in Jacksonville. If memory serves me, he told me was promoted to Maj. and was setting up jungle warfare schools at Quantico. So many Mustangers were reverted back to enlisted; what a waste of experience. There is an old saying that says "The Corps eats its own".
If Maj. McCarthy is out there and reads this I would like to say Thank You. What you taught us saved many of our lives and taught us how to win against a tough enemy. My son became a Navy SEAL and was brought up on your lessons and was able to use them on several occasions. You were the father to all of us. Tough, wise, but forgiving. A Marine's Marine.
Gary Neely (Sgt. of Marines)
Turned Out To Be
Sgt Grit; I have enjoyed your products and your newsletters for several years now. Please keep up the good work and the excellent quality, but then I would expect nothing less from a Marine.
I am very happy to correspond with another 2531 from the 11th Marines. I went to Comm. school as I suspect you did at Camp Horno on Camp Pendleton. It was a nice experience; we especially liked the cook and bakers school at the same camp; we ate good there! I was with H/3/11 from 2/62 until 4/63. Good outfit and I enjoyed the time I spent there. We had a great section chief SSgt Thomas who was fair and treated us very well. Always wondered what happened to him.
I have been in contact with several radio and wire buddies from those days. At that time the 11th Marines was in the 16 area of mainside at Camp Pendleton. WWII era wooden barracks, 2 floors, squad bays. I was transferred back to MCRDSD in 4/63 for electronics tech school; there for a year, always thought I would end up back at division fixing radios. But it was not to be; I went to aviation radar school also and was sent to the 3rd wing; MACS 1 as a radar tech(6641). Great billet and enjoyed it.
MACS 1 was at MCAS Yuma, AZ. When I got orders nobody could tell me anything about the place. EVERYBODY knew about the oppressive heat, but that was it. Turned out to be a great duty station, no pressure, no inspections, very few people, great mess hall with 4 man tables etc, and no BS. And did I mention 2 men rooms! Turns out that the MC took over Vincent AF base which was built to standard AF design/procedures.
Don't know if it is true or not, but rumor had it that the MC tried everything to turn those barracks into squad bay style. Everything from no doors on the rooms to taking out all of the walls between rooms was discussed to no end as the buildings would collapse if you take out the walls between rooms. Yuma was a training base and aircraft range control only at that time; we had no resident flying aircraft squadrons, only support squadrons. When a squadron would be assigned quarters for their training exercise they were all mystified. They would stop the permanent duty personal all over the base checking to make sure they were not in the wrong quarters area or violating some sacrosanct MC laws! I was there from 3/64 to 1/66.
Lastly; can I use this vehicle to look for my boot platoon? Several friends and I are trying to put together a 50th "boot" reunion. We were in Platoon 175 at MCRDSD from Sept 1961 until Dec 1961 followed by 1st ITR at camp Pendleton in early 1962. We have several other sources and continue to do so, but with your coverage and loyal customer base maybe we can pull this off.
Thanks Sgt. Grit
L/CPL Wayne Mailhiot
PFC After Four
Hello, Well I can't tell you the names of my DI's or what platoon I was in everything burned when our home burned with all my things just right out of ITR. I joined July 1963 sent right on to PI - I was 17 and so skinny you could use me as thread 123 lbs when I left for ITR 175lbs waist stayed 28. No I would never get it back, It was bad sometimes V.N. 3-28-Beach... Hq Co. 2nd Bt.9th. Mar. 3rd Mar. Div., from Nov. 1963 to DEC. 1964 was with 2nd. Anglico where I earned my wings, but I never amounted to much otherwise left a Pfc after 4 years it was pretty bad when I got back from V.N. allot of real hate going around then, it followed me for a long time finely got some help getting a handle on it... by the way we had m-14's in boot camp...and the Nam. to...
A Few Grenades
Ha ha on Bob Gordon. He and I served together for part of our tours in the Land of the Little People. I'd like to relate a small story on his receipt of the Purple Heart. In late March we were both in adjacent bunkers at 5 Comm at Camp Hoa Long. Beautiful little space on China Beach with cold beer, no women, and bunker duty. Which was just fine after nearly five months in the field with Ops Double Eagle I and II and a two month stint up at Phu Bai with 2/4 as a radio operator.
Anyway - Bob was smoking and joking, I'm sure, when a couple of Victor Charlies decided to throw a few grenades into his bunker. I think they threw them back out with the exception of one. And the Red Baron got a chunk of it in his butt. It was hilarious! My bunker mate and myself, being alert and oriented Marines, plus so squared away we could hardly stand ourselves, KIA'd the two guys who threw the grenades as they attempted to egress the AO.
The funniest part was when Bob asked about the Heart for getting hit in the butt. He was informed that as soon as the particle came out of his butt, and it was determined that he was indeed hit by the particle, they would put him in for the Heart. Took 10 days or so for that little piece to work its way out and then he got his Heart - chickenpoop or what? I think that's why I spent most of my time in the bush with the grunts as the rear was a bit too spiffy for me.
Anyway - I enjoy the e-mails and stories. Loved seeing Bob in the news.
Cpl. Steve "Eliot" Neff (Ret) USMC 62-67 and Vietnam 65-66
My Next Platoon
Sgt Grit, Thanks for everything you do for Marines. We appreciate it! Your news letters are awesome!
The recent story and picture about MCRD San Diego (Sgt Robert D Gordon) brought back a lot of memories. I was going through Boot Camp sixty (60) years ago this October at San Diego. My first Platoon was in the upper deck of one of the main buildings by the Grinder. During fire watch I had a great view of the Airport. During one of our training exercises, I injured my kneecap. I tried to hide it, but the Drill Instructor noticed me favoring it and ordered me to sick bay. The Corpsman and Dr. said I needed to go to the Hospital. This set me back two weeks. My next Platoon was on the lower deck of one of the main buildings by the Grinder. I remember these buildings were not too far from the Mess Hall.
After three divorces, I don't have any idea what my Platoon numbers were or what happened to any of my records. I remember my second Drill Instructors name was Sgt Carlson and he liked to partake of adult beverages and raise a little ruckus when he returned from Liberty. Anyhow, I made it and graduated. A lot of people said I wouldn't make it because I was a skinny little guy from Tulsa, Oklahoma who turned 20-years old during Boot Camp. But somehow, I managed to make it.
I went on to Camp Pendleton - Korea - McAlester OK Ammunition Depot and Parris Island. My name is also Robert Gordon. How ironic is that! It was a great experience and I think it helped me to be a better person in life. I carried this work ethic with me and worked for one Company for 39-years with a good record. Couldn't seem to manage marriages, but that's another story I won't bore you with.
Robert E Gordon 115**** Cpl of Marines 0337 Korea 1951
Never Were Caught
Hi, Sgt. Grit, and Staff,
This story took place even before I became a Marine. I guess you could say I was BECOMING a Marine.
We were well into our training days, I guess we had been there for a couple of months or more. As everyone that has been there knows, on Sunday morning we always had free time. Time to go to church, or if not that, we could clean our rifle, polish our boots, write letters home, etc.
Well, at MCRD SD, we were living in the Quonset huts, and each of our four huts and a heater in the middle of the hut. I think it ran on kerosene. I'm not sure because we were never allowed to use it. BUT! We still had to stand fire watch every night.
Anyway, we were getting pretty dogone SALTY by this time, I believe we were at the point where we were allowed to blouse our utilities and unbutton our top shirt button. So, on Sundays, we would take turns standing at the door keeping a watch out for our Drill Instructor while some of the guys would hover around that heater. I don't know if everyone knows this, but with the little door open on that heater, there was an updraft created. So, we would light up a smoke, and keep it and our face right at that little door and all the smoke, and odor was drafted up the pipe to the outside.
Well, I got curious one day. I knew that smoke had to be going SOMEWHERE. So, I went to the door, looked outside at the chimney, and sure enough, I saw a PUFF of smoke. Then after a few seconds, I saw ANOTHER PUFF of smoke. It seemed that all our Drill Instructor had to do was look UP one day, and we would be busted. But we kept on doing it every Sunday, and we never got caught.
Those were some of the sweetest tasting smokes I ever had. OOHRAH!
Chuck Brewer, Sergeant of Marines, 1967-1973, MOS 6511 Aviation Ordnanceman, Nam 1969-1970, H&MS-16 Ordnance Dump, MCAS Marble Mountain Vietnam, Volunteer Door Gunner HMM-263 1970, Senior instructor NCO Leadership MCAS Beaufort SC 1970
Proudly Fought For and Served My Country with Honor, Faith, Courage, and Dignity, in the US Marine Corps Best Fighting Organization this World has Ever Seen or Will See! God Bless Our Corps, and Chesty Puller Wherever He May Be
We Could Do Little
Sgt. The Corps had a big recruiting drive in Dec 1950, "enlist with a buddy, guaranteed that you will do boot together". I took the bait. I had a couple of weeks before leaving in January, so I suggested to a co-worker at the office that since the draft was after us, that he join with me. He said that he was thinking Air Force. A few days later he said that he had been to see the Marine Recruiter, but had not made a decision.
January 8, '51, about 40 of us were assembled at the Federal Building in Trenton. The Navy med people came up from Phila to give physicals, we were tested, Marched up and across the street to the City Hall where we were sworn in, in the council chambers, marched down to the train station and boarded a train loaded with recruits from the Northeast. We arrived at PI the next morning. You all know what took place then.
About a week or so before graduation, as I was walking down the aisle in the mess hall at evening chow, I heard my name called. I looked around and low and behold there was George Waropay, my co-worker. We could do little more than acknowledge each other.
In the Fall of that year while on a Division maneuver in Vieques, PR, I received a letter from home with the announcement of George's death, KIA in Korea after being wounded Sept 15, 1951. Later in my tour, while stationed at NAS Lakehurst, NJ, his body was returned and we were asked to furnish a burial detail for him. Friends don't let friends join the Army, but I sure should have let George go in the Air Force. I was Platoon 19, George was Platoon 101. It would be interesting to hear from anyone that may have been with him in Korea.
Now to a lighter subject, last month Clint Johnson 1157807, commented on what our DIs would think of the singing cadence now in vogue. I recall while at Tent Camp Two (San Onofre, Pendleton), occasionally a person conducting close order drill would try it. He was usually shouted down by others conducting a drill and suggested that he join the Army.
There are two things about my short career that I regret, not going to Korea ( I was in the 17th draft), and not re-enlisting.
Jim Black, 1157806, S/Sgt Jan51-Jan54
More Hands On
I went to P.I. in October 2001. I joined the Marine Corps over the Army, Navy, Etc... because I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it through the hardest, most challenging boot camp that the military has to offer. I had watched the movie Full Metal Jacket and couldn't imagine that boot camp would be that hard, but in fact it was harder.
My initial Senior D.I. was replaced during third phase for "hands on training", and believe it or not the platoon was sad to see him go. I felt as though my parents got divorced and my father was moving out never to be seen again. He was FIRM yet fair. It was perfectly normal to see a D.I. hit a recruit in the chest. While recruits were on the Quarter Deck I clearly remember one of my D.I.'s on several occasions "helping" the recruit if he was having trouble doing push-ups by doing a quick look over his shoulder and thrusting a boot into his chest.
I accepted this as the way Marines are trained and really thought it was common practice. They taught us that if you screw up, or do not follow directions whether in training or combat, there will be harsh consequences. I have talked with fellow Marines how did not receive this kind of treatment while at P.I.. As for the D.I.'s who trained us this way I commend them. They were getting us ready for war and expecting nothing but perfection from us. They were and are true professionals. I follow their career's still and not to be specific but they are still in the business of training recruits, only in different ways.
I have been reading the arguments concerning recruit treatment and the era that it occurred in. I graduated from MCRD San Diego in August of 89. There was some of that going on even then, but it was the least of my worries and wasn't that bad in any case.
Our junior Drill Instructor grabbed our elected guide by the web belt and the throat, spun him around and slammed him into a column in the squad bay. This was on T-2, so when the Series Commander came to the door, nobody called attention on deck. The Lieutenant saw it all and asked the Drill Instructor if he could speak with him for a moment. We didn't hear what was said, but we never saw that Sgt. again. We didn't get a replacement for him until 3rd phase. In between, we would sometimes get poked/jabbed in the solar plexus, but that was just to get our attention and never hard enough to drop us. Another recruit was taken into the whiskey locker for straightening out and we had no idea what happened to him as he refused to talk about it.
Once in the fleet, pinning was common upon promotion; collar rank insignia as well as the gauntlet. This was to be expected and even anticipated. It was tradition. I still have the scars from my rank insignia pins and bear them with pride. I love it when someone asks me about them. All of this was part and parcel of becoming a Marine and maintaining Esprit de Corps, because it reminds one of the sacrifices made and the ones that are still to be made.
I take GySgt Formaz's position on this (except I have never heard you snivel, Sgt. Grit). The rest of what he said made total sense to me. We are Marines, not Girl Scouts! I felt sick to my stomach when a video of the pinning ceremony of a graduating Marine jump class was sent to Congress and the subsequent fall-out over that. No nausea for the pinning, but for the lack of integrity someone showed in crying about it.
Honestly, it was nobody else's business. So what? Pins driven into your skin and rubbed down? It hurts, sure, but it doesn't hurt that bad.
Paul D. Raines, LCpl
I graduated Platoon 277, Echo Co, MCRD San Diego in Nov 1965. Except for occasional and deserved slaps against rifle butts or tops of heads when bouncing while marching, I don't ever remember seeing anyone physically abused and never saw a DI punch or kick a recruit when they were down.
I do remember instances in which selected recruits were invited into the DI's office for a cup of coffee and I heard wall- lockers banging and the recruit leaving, wearing the coffee. Group punishment/training came in the form of late night mattress drills or marching into the infamous sand pits for 1-2hr PT sessions. After graduation when it was my turn to shake my Platoon Commander's hand, SSgt Elmore, I extended my hand, he gut-punched me, then shook my hand and congratulated me, calling me a Marine. I never felt that gut-punch after that.
In 1980, I was a GySgt, assigned to MMEA-84A, Aviation/Communication Section at HQMC as the Avionics Monitor. Representing all of the Aviation monitors, I accompanied General Barrow and SgtMaj Crawford and several other monitors on a West Coast monitor trip. We went to MCRD San Diego first where I set up shop and talked to our Aviation Marines serving as Drill Instructors.
After meeting with a few DI's, I wandered off into the Recruit Training area (where I wasn't supposed to be) to see first-hand if the training had changed. I was delighted to see that for the most part, it had not. While DI's might have been more careful what they said when others were around, I heard some of the other endearing names and terms used 15 years earlier.
MSgt, USMC Retired
I read the article regarding "hands on", and I can tell you that in 1952 it was a lot different.
The "ear twist" by our Sr. D.I. S/Sgt Johnson was one of my favorites.
Nobody got hurt, and we became well trained Marines, thanks to our junior drill instructor,
Cpl. "Red" Fabyunkey, [ later on a "Gunny" in Viet Nam ].
Red never put his hands on us. He didn't have to. We respected him too much to let him down.
God Rest his soul.
Then we were off to Korea. I spent half of my three years of service there.
Sgt. Robert W. Roper
V.P. Korean War Veterans Association, Colorado Springs CO Parris Island Plt. 456 August 1952 [age 17]
Dear Gunny Formaz,
I just read your response to hands on training. Although I may have missed one of the stories (doubtful) not one had in any sniveling in it! They were in direct response to the one story in which a Marine stated he had never seen a recruit hit while in boot camp. I like the others that wrote on the story contradicting the fact he stated. Most Marine are proud to be considered Old Corps and have a "My Drill Instructor was Meaner Than Your Drill Instructor" mentality.
We wear our long since healed bruises as badges of honor, either you didn't read the post thoroughly or they were read with bias! I earned my EGA Oct 1968, I also earned the right not to be called maggot and the right to use the initials DI. My only Drill Instructors were in charge of Platoon 3012 PI, 08/68-10/68 ! Semper FI, William Whitley, CPL of Marines
I just read some of the stories about boot camp and about some whimpers. I didn't like my DIs, nor did I ever wanted to go back and visit, but I thank God for them because they made me grow up, be a man and take responsibility for my actions. As for the treatment, I started out by being slow during rifle inspection and received a rifle butt in the stomach. Next somehow I got out of step during drill and received a swift kick in the you know what.
Camp Matthews rifle range. I dropped my rifle (I swore at God). I had to sleep with my rifle placed horizontally across the bunk. The platoon for a breach of being late was to duck walk from the tent area to Easy range. We took it and no one cried to their parents
Our DIs were tough and took no S--t off of any of us. If we didn't do it right or the Marine Corps right, You would pray to God to end your life right then. So I was choked, kicked, and knocked out. I was molded and I took my training with me into my career as a Marine. By the way we were the last series to do 8 man squad drill. And when we left boot camp, we took our M1s with us. You may forget over the years many names, but your DI's are embedded in your brain forever; along with your service number.
Semper Fi to all
Albert Dixon, GySgt, USMC, Ret.
Was just reading the Oct. 21 news letter. I think Gunny Formaz should read more of your newsletters. I agree, and I think that most of us would, that from time to time someone will b--ch about how they were treated in boot camp, but most of those who comment about this do it just as a statement of fact of how things were. I think most of us look back at these events and laugh about them.
I also think that most of us who went through when eating a fist sandwich for screwing up was part of boot camp wear it as a badge of honor. I went through in 1964 and any breach of discipline, the smallest mistake, would get you a hard whack, or whacks, on the side of the head, or gut punched, and some times worse. I know because I was on the receiving end at least several times. Then they would pt you until you thought you were going to die. PT was always like that. I don't complain about it
Gunny, I KNOW what it did for me, and I know why my drill instructors did it. I think most of us think the same way. You guys, you drill instructors, are respected and revered by most of us because of what you did for us. You made us Marines, and for that we will always be grateful. Don't misunderstand what we are saying when we talk about our days in boot camp. In most cases it's not "sniveling"...its bragging.
Sgt. 1964-1970, Vietnam vet.
Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!