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Peleliu, 15 Sept. 1944: Assault Across the Runway
The task facing them was to cross the airfield. It looked like a long way. Burgin guessed it was over 300 yards. At the signal, the skirmish lines of Marines ran out into the open field and across the hard white coral runway. The Japanese unleashed a barrage upon them as expected. Large shells, mortars, and machine gun bullets cut the air around them as the Marines ran east for all they were worth.
Much of the enemy's fire came from its positions on the northern end of the airfield, to King [Company's] left. Most of their regiment and all of the First Marines, therefore, stood between King and the guns. Love Company ran to their immediate left. Every step felt like their last.
As he ran, Gene "was reciting the 23 Psalm and Snafu was right next to me and I couldn't hear what he was saying, but most of it was cussing." Burgin watched the white tracers flash past him until he found cover on the far side. "I don't know how we didn't all get killed--I really don't." No one else did either.
--Hugh Ambrose, The Pacific, (Penguin Books)
In This Issue:
The above is the tradition, honor, courage, commitment we all must, every day, try to live up to if we are to call ourselves Marines. To do less would be to dishonor our history.
It is why we all take pride in wearing t-shirt with a simple USMC on it. It is why we have reunions, organizations, Balls and countless other functions.
It is why phonies and wannabees are held in such contempt. The next story shows the continued tradition, honor, courage, commitment and sacrifice.
What a great job I have, what a honor to be a part of all this. Fair winds and following seas.
The attached photo was taken of the celebration of my 100th Mission in Vietnam, flying as a RIO in F-4 fighter-bombers with VMFA-122. My pilot was Kurt Wilbrecht, shown leaning against the aircraft, who was later killed in action.
Note to Airdales: See, If you send me stories, pics, BS, lies, etc... I will print it. Come on, give me more. Same thing goes for every other Marine activity. If you don't see a story about your era, MOS, unit, it's because YOU haven't sent one in. Do it now! Sgt Grit
My Squad From Somalia
Sgt, Grit, I enjoy your e-newsletter profusely, so I thought I would contribute something to it.
I am fortunate enough to remain in contact with most of my squad from Somalia. We keep each other up-to-date on our lives, joke about the old times and talk about the future. In a conversation I had with a buddy, he told me what we all meant to us. Growing up, he said, he didn't have much of a family life. They just weren't that close. But we, his squad, were the closest he got to having a family. We watched out for each other, we lived in extremely close quarters, went through hard and scary times together, shared all our care packages so that no one missed out on something from home and even shared a shoulder to cry on when it got to be too much.
Back in those days when we were 20 we couldn't put it in the right words, but nearly 20 years later, we are beginning to realize that we were family. And we had something much different than blood holding us together. We had the bond of brotherhood and the test of hard times.
Semper Fi 1st squad, Checkpoint 16, Mogadishu!
Nicknames L to R: Stead, Beeker, Billy, Gator, Slim, Rouse, VCR, Aceves, Sgt. Tennison
I'm a Marine veteran from Desert Storm. I was blessed with a daughter 2 months ago. When we brought her home from the hospital, she was only 5 lbs. My mom and dad came over for her welcoming home and brought my original Dress Blues cover which she had kept all these years. She had an idea to put my daughter inside the hat to see how it would fit. As you can see, it gives a new meaning to "picture perfect"!
Robert Guzman Jr.
Sgt. Grit, while stationed at Camp Horno, with 7th Comm and Radio Relay & Construction Co., we had a most interesting afternoon in 1965. Our camp neighbors were an Ontos Battalion. (Anyone remember that unit and what happened to them?) I digress, as I remember 45 year ago events - seems an Ontos crewman had a little too much Lucky Lager. He decided to take an Ontos for an unauthorized ride out of Camp Horno and head toward "main side" with metal tracks moving at 40+ mph. Needless to say the asphalt didn't react well to metal tracks and neither did the MP's.
I can't remember the fate of that Marine, but his joyride was the hot topic of conversation for a long time. Anyone have additional facts they can add?
Sgt. B. James (Dutch) Naberhuis
Peace Time Marines
In January 1949, I arrived at MCAS El Toro, from MCRD San Diego, and immediately fell into the company of a bunch of malcontents, rabble rousers, trouble makers and assorted misfits (Air Wing Marines).
In those post WW2 and pre-Korean war days Marine Air Wing and Mud Marines continuously worked with their surplus WW2 equipment to hone skills and capabilities. That is why the Korean War did not catch us with "our pants down", and we were able to start kicking butts immediately.
To maintain an effective readiness, Marine units would often go on maneuvers, where you would live in tents, eat C-Rations and suffer other discomforts. Two of our people were thinking (a dangerous activity for a Marine) of some way to avoid this inconvenience. One of them came up with the idea to switch their religion from Protestant to Hebrew, this required a painful operation on a body part, where on most Marines, ( according to their wives and girl friends) their brain also resides, plus a few days in the Navy Hospital was much more preferable than going on the field exercise.
The Navy Hospital in San Diego was chosen to provide this minor (micro?) Surgery, as they had good chow and good looking Nurses. After the surgery, a couple of the Navy Nurses over heard these two "Einstein's" bragging about the genius (?) of their little deed, the two Nurses decided to have some fun and also teach them a lesson.
Each day the Nurses would go into the ward and do an imitation of Marylyn Monroe that was most revealing. This act of kindness would leave the two deep thinkers in stitches, NEW stitches! The rumor was, the "deep thinkers" spent the last few days in the hospital with cotton stuffed in their ears, and pillow cases on their heads.
When the Sgt Major heard what had transpired, he assisted these two "Brains" in their religious experience by speaking to them loudly and at length in Hebrew. At least it sounded like Hebrew, but I don't think there are that many four letter words in the Hebrew language.
Since there is a God in Heaven, the two jokers arrived back at their unit just in time to help pack for field activities as the original deployment had been delayed.
My six years in the Marines was a blast, I never stopped laughing. It was more fun than the zoo, plus they paid you money, although not much.
One advantage of being 80 years old is there is no one left to contradict your war stories!
Jim Reed, S/Sgt 1948-52, active Reserves 1954-55
Sgt Grit Welcomes Delta Co. 2nd Bn 26th Marines!
The staff at Sgt Grit had the pleasure of hosting some outstanding Marines for their reunion. There was great food, plenty of camaraderie and laughter all around. We heard former DI's calling cadence and commands, we heard great stories of their days in Vietnam and there was also some old fashioned ribbing between friends.
I spoke to a couple of Marines that told me tearfully how important this day was to them and how thankful they were to be there. It is truly an honorable experience to be in the presence of 50 heroes that are just some of the greatest people you will ever meet. Our staff always feels honored to be able to meet these men and women and we are the ones thankful to have them here. Oorah Delta Company.
Kristy and Lindsay
Sgt Grit Staff
See all photos from the Delta 2/26 Reunion
Plt 145, 1964
Dear Sgt Grit
We want to thank you and your staff for your donations to our boot camp reunion held in Colorado Springs, co. last year and Fairmont, WV this year.
We began having our reunion in 1996 when we located all four Drill Instructors, and our PMI and 59 recruits. We have since lost our Senior Drill Instructor and 13 recruits but we continue to get together somewhere in the USA each year. We still refer to each other as "private".
USMC Platoon 145, 1st Bn. Co. B RTR
MCRD San Diego, June 1964
Sgt Roger (Drill Instructor)
Charlie Battery 1/12 Reunion
July 31, 2010 was my 3rd Charlie Battery 1/12 Reunion. I like to thank every body that was there, was a great get2gether. Some Marines I haven't seen since 1979. We are Gunny Cusack Raiders of Charlie Battery. And Our Gunny Cusack was there, thank you guys for flying in. I'd like to thank you for the Donation of the items and magazines.
The Company Commander and the Gunny were in the field.
As they hit the sack for the night, the Gunny said: "Sir, Look up into the sky and tell me what you see?"
The C.O.said, "I see millions of stars."
The Gunny then asked, "And what does that tell you, Sir?"
The C.O. replied, "Astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me God is great, and that we are all small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Gunny?"
The Gunny slowly shook his head and said, "Well Sir, it tells me that somebody stole our tent!"
Hello Sgt. Grit,
In my graduation picture from PI in December 1964 we had stacked rifles. The thing I remember most about them beside being a pain in the azs was getting the strap to stay tight. Also if I remember correctly the strap had to be at a prescribed distance from the rifle and pivot points. This was with an M-14.
I am sending the picture. I have looked for information on the three DI's but no luck. All three of them would be in their 70's and the two oldest Sgt. Morgan and Corporal Violette might be pushing 80. After all this was on December, 16th. 1964. Corporal French in his 70's at least.
"Death before Dishonor"
"To The WINDS, MARCH"
While in boot camp at PISC IN PLT. 391, 6-67 TO 9-67, our Senior DI. GY. SGT. Mortise had us do a movement he called "To The WINDS, MARCH". 1St. Squad would perform a column left march, 2nd Squad would keep marchin' forward, 3rd. Squad would perform a to the rear march, and 4TH Squad would perform a column right march. Really looked good when done correctly. Took us quite a while to do it correctly. I was 2nd. Squad leader and we Squad leaders got a few "DISCIPLINES" whenever any of our troops erred.
Also, while in boot camp we were very seldom called Pvt. The one name I really enjoyed was, "NUMMIE". That came from an ADI SGT. J. E. Savage. I still use it when I come across people that need to be called nummie. I'm sure we all know a few.
While stationed in Viet Nam with HML-167, 9-69 TO 9-70 at Marble Mountain Air Facility, we flew gun cover for the ROK MARINES of the 2nd ROK MARINE BDE. near Chu Lai. Like Maddog, I witnessed corporal punishment 1st. hand. When something would go wrong, the Capt. would come out and give a Lt. a beating, then the Lt. would grab a GY. SGT. and beat him; the Gunny would then get a SSgt. or a SGT. and bestow the same to them. And this would continue until everyone was "HAPPY".
I had a hard time, at first, eating in their mess tent. Every table had a bowl of kimchi and a bowl of wild rice on it. Even though the tent flaps were open, it smelled terrible at first, but after trying it a few times, found out it was pretty good. Still have the Kimchi sometimes, but have the wild rice often. Not as good as theirs.
John "JJ" Novotnak
Platoon 256, October 1963
Graduating class Platoon 256 Parris Island, SC. I am second row, third from right. If any Marine classmates would be interested in contacting me I can be reached at kat.gunny @ verizon .net. I would really like to hear from you and catch up on old times.
Herbert P Davis Jr (Gysgt USMC)
I think reading your newsletter is sometimes better than reading LEATHERNECK magazine. Some of the stories really bring back memories (mostly quite fond at that). Anyway, I'd like to submit one of my favorite boot camp stories (and what Marine doesn't have some favorites from there?)
I was in Plt. 529, 2nd BN at Parris Island from Sept. to Dec. 1952 in which SSgt W. Johnson was the Senior Drill Instructor. For the first few weeks or so of our "pleasant indoctrination" into the Corps, we would often have classes after evening chow in the barracks with SSgt Johnson standing on a table in the center of the squad bay teaching whatever the subject matter was.
One night, he conducted two classes: one was the T/O of the Marine Corps from the Commandant on down to the Junior Drill Instructor and the other was the use and nomenclature of the two back packs of those days, the haversack and the knapsack. We boots would sit on our locker boxes at the foot of our racks and absorb (hopefully) all this new knowledge upon which we would be tested the same night with him throwing questions out to his loyal followers. (He, of course, had quite a few other names for us, and to this day I don't know how a Yemmassee sh-tbird is any different than any other sh-tbird).
When the questioning began, he called upon the recruit to my immediate right who, in proper form (this was the only time I ever saw that @#%$#&*^% do anything right as he was the one and only recruit responsible for the platoon to claim the title of "duckwalkers of the year") arose to answer the question, "Pvt. So-and-so," (I'll leave his last name out as today he might be a politician, journalist or army general) "who is the commandant of the Marine Corps?" Now, you should know that this flunky had an IQ in the negative numbers, i.e., he definitely was not a Rhodes Scholar or member of MENSA. He did not know who the Commandant was (Gen Lemuel C. Sheppard), so I helped him out a bit by whispering the answer to him. In a loud voice, loud enough for the 1st BN across the grinder to hear it, responded with "General Haversack, Sir!"
SSgt Johnson was a typical Drill Instructor. He never smiled, let alone laugh; all he did was growl, bark, holler, yell, berate, etc., etc. This night, however, he showed that he was a human being and not a monster as a small smile crossed his lips; one he tried to hide from the rest of us. Needless to say, nobody smiled or laughed with him because after only a couple of weeks at PI we had not yet turned into the salty boots that left the rifle range for our week of mess duty.
Sgt Grit, I sent you a boot camp story for your great newsletter in the unlikely event you see any merit in this tale from the crypt (PI). However, in my haste to respond to my wife's chow call and the fact that along with age comes senility (wisdom is on the bottom of the list), I plum forgot to identify the writer. That would be me: Chris Vail, Sgt., USMC, 1952 - 1958.
Catholics may say five Hail Marys for such a digression, but I will gladly give you ten Semper Fi's as atonement.
He Said Hawaii
First let me say that I think he is full of sh-t, and secondly it was Marines like him that gave my beloved Marine Corps a bad name. What a weasel he was to dime out the young Marine who happened to drink too much. That is real easy to do when you see another Sr. Enlisted Marine already chewing his azs.
If Barnes was as "hard-core" as he claims, he would have stepped up and removed the Marine from S-1, got in his asz on his own, and made a positive impact on that young Marine. As far as the other crap he writes about, I think we all would have had to be there to believe it and I am actually somewhat shocked that Sgt Grit even posted his letter.
It reminds me of a party I went to when I was home on leave back in 1998. I was playing cards with a few fellas and the conversation of me being in the Marines came up. One of the guys who was playing said he used to be in the Corps, but "they kicked him out for being too crazy". I read through his BS right from jump street and I asked him where he went to boot camp...you can imagine my shock and my laughter when he said Hawaii. LMAO!
This guys insisted for the next 3+ hours that he went to boot camp in Hawaii... People will do anything to try and claim our Title, and it appears there are still those unfortunate few like R. Barnes who have to try and make-up stories to sound even more important...wasn't being a Jarhead enough?
SEMPER FI to all and God Bless!
Brent A. Bernard
When I was at Parris Island in 1981, we in Third battalion were always called privates, but those training in First and Second Battalion were called recruits.
We also had more drill instructors than the other platoons in our series. SDI SSgt Carson, SSgt White, Sgt Smith, Sgt Guillory, and for a few weeks Cpl Hall. Platoon 3012.
Sgt McCracken, D.L.
To D.G.S.G.A.S. serv.# 1973677 - In "The D.I." (made in 1957) I don't think they were "stacking arms" with a M-14. Still had the ol' reliable M-1 back then.
I remember the bucket treatment in 1953 since I experienced it and I didn't smoke.
Sgt. J Dana
I joined in 67 retired in 92. When I talk about things in my and my brothers past I always used the MOS of 1369. I'm a west Marine. I laugh when I heard the story of the 132569 door gunner. I and them grunts must have crossed paths back then. I work in a juvenile detention center and consider them all 1.9 Delinquents and my and others job it to get them to the 4.0 Pro & Con level. HAHA They hear a lot of stories from me and a few understand our 14 principal & traits.
OOORAAAAH Walter Contreras MGySgt Retired.
Have you seen the new Geico ad with R. Lee? It's hilarious, but someone needs to inform their spokesman
that R. Lee was NEVER a drill Sgt, He was a Drill Instructor!
Ron Morse Sgt 2568687
July 27, 1953
The shooting stopped, (officially, for a while).
Sgt Grit - I have been looking at my dress greens hanging in my closet for many years now and it just doesn't seem right. They are there because they mean too much to me but no one, and rarely myself will ever see them. I tried them on recently and apparently they used some weird material (51 years ago) because the uniform has really shrunk! I can't even get the coat on over my shoulders and I'd have to use bungee cords to fasten the front if I did get it on. I'm certain the muscle in my body didn't expand THAT much!
I recently saw a thing on TV showing a very kind person that made teddy bears from military uniforms. My sister-in-law (Deb) is a schoolteacher (elementary grades) and an expert with a sewing machine. After very little begging and pleading, she offered to make a teddy bear for me, which I have labeled "Corporal Kenny."
Rather than make the teddy bear from the uniform, she made the teddy bear from suede leather because it somewhat resembled fur. Then she cut the uniform down to size to fit the teddy bear. While reducing the size of the uniform, she was careful to retain the original shoulder patches and belt. The belt and hat both still have my original name stamp on the inside.
I've attached some pictures to show the final product. One picture is with me so you can get an idea of the size of the teddy bear (not me). Others shows a closer look the bear, the detail on the arm and pocket, and the dress shoes and shoe laces.
The only problem now is finding just the right spot in the house to display Corporal Kenny, and it will be out in the open because I think it is really neat. Deb said it was labor intensive but she would be maybe willing to make a few more if somebody else wanted one. She is not looking for a career on the sewing machine however and it would be on her schedule. You can email me if interested. Maybe this would be an opportunity for somebody else that has experience with making teddy bears to jump in here to offer their services.
I just know that I'm very pleased with Corporal Kenny and glad to see my uniform come back to life.
Cpl Ken Schweim
1959 Platoon 104
kschweim @ hickorytech .net
Toys for ...err..ahh..Tots
I thought I'd send you a picture of some of the ladies from Hooters Of Rockford, IL who helped raise money for T4T on 24 July. This year marked the 7th consecutive year our friends at Hooters have lent a hand in the quest to make a brighter Christmas for those less fortunate.
Once again reading the latest newsletter triggered a memory. Percy Price, wow did that bring back memories. Being in artillery after a few years I realized that this is where the Marine Corps puts "jocks".
My first unit, K-4-12, on Okinawa everyone who was in longer than I, was talking about Big Al Wilson. He was all service in the late fifties. Got to Camp Lejeune, G-3-10, Sgt John Roseboro, Heavy weight Judo Champion, and we had a MSgt Alexander a shooter, both in the battery for a while. They didn't go on the Med with us.
Fast forward to Viet Nam, 2nd tour, I-3-11, hill 65 new name Art Reddin (sic). He's in 8", a Plt on top of the hill. SSgt Washington knows him he came down for a visit. All Marine, All Service, Pan am Champion. In '73 we (the U.S.) are turning the "Rock" back to Japan, Percy was in the Regt. I got a chance to talk with him a couple of times.
Even when I was in Correctional Services Co. at the Pendleton Brig one of the SNCO's was GySgt Wiggins, was a catcher for the Marine Corps, word was he turned down a Pro contract to stay in. By that time '64/'65 the Marine Corps was phasing out varsity sports.
My wife wonders why I look forward to your Newsletter, it's not the news of what's going on, it's the event or name that brings us old f**ts back to our youth and we remember the good old days. Can't say it enough keep it up.
Jim Leonard (60-80)
Dipsey Dumpsters On Wheels
-DEFEATED CASSIUS CLAY! Remembrances of SSgt Percy J. Price by Cpl Ken White.
I was a PFC in Staging Bn. in Feb/Mar 1967. SSgt. Percy J. Price was my Plt. Sgt in (I think) 4th Plt. in Staging Bn. We left on Mar 16 for Viet Nam. SSgt. Price had an old station wagon (don't remember the make) he traded it in for a 1968 vehicle (again, don't remember what make) that he would pick up upon his return from his second tour in Viet Nam. He was ask "What if you don't return." He said "I been there once and returned and will return from this tour, wanna bet." No one would take the bet. if saw him in Viet Nam on two occasions.
When the other 5 Plt's would be going on liberty 4th Plt. would be doing excessive, massive badly needed P.T. so that we would survive in Viet Nam, so he told us. We would be Humping up Old Ship SH-T and other Mt's and he would stop every so often and holler "Come on you Zoomies and Dipsey Dumpsters on Wheels, what's wrong." Me and PFC Butts would be right behind him and it seems like the rest of the Plt. would be way behind us. When we would catch up to him he would run off and leave us two behind again only to stop and holler the same quote again.
I was a SgtMaj stationed at CLNC when he passed to the big square circle in HEAVEN and attended his funeral. A quote that was repeated often in those days was "The More You Sweat In Peace The Less You Bleed In War."
I am proud of my 30 years in the Corps. Couldn't do it again but would sure as h&ll like to try. Today marks 44 years ago that I entered Boot Camp at MCRD San Diego.
I strongly feel that I am alive and well today because of Marines like GySgt. Percy J. Price, my D.I's, and Troop handlers at I.T.R. GySgt Price R.I.P.
Raymond ED"WAR"DO Edwards. SgtMaj Ret. 29 July 1966-1 Aug 1996. Viet Nam Mar 67-Apr 68
The Sergeant Replied
When a female reporter asked a Marine sergeant about he and his men being possibly sent into harm's way, the sergeant replied, "Ma'am, we're United States Marines. We ARE harm's way."
Squads Right About
I was a Jr Di in 57 when the DI was being filmed. Eight man Squad Drill was being taught and used in boot camp at the express wishes of the commandant. Recruit platoons were made up of eight man squads which of course did not fit the FMF. Each position within a squad had a specific set of steps, half steps and pivots. Unique commands such as :Squads Right Column Right" and "Squads Right About" resulted
It was dropped late 57 or early 58. I don't think anyone cried over its demise. But it was great to watch a well taught tenth week platoon performing. Oh and you could do Squads Left about as well. Front row left man pivoted on the left foot and marked time for six counts and stepped off. I won't bore you with what the rest of the squad did.
Merle Fountain Sgt 1953 -1961
Towards The Back
I was in Vietnam the same time you were and not far away from you in Danang. At the time I was with MAG-11. I have a funny nickname you might like to hear the story. In boot camp I was towards the back of the platoon because of my height. I am of a stocky build and was marching one day when the Drill Instructor, Sgt Root, came running up to me and looking at me with my short, round neck and said from now on you are Private Turtle!
I guess I had pulled my neck down into my utilities for a low profile as not to be noticed. It did not work. Well, as I gained rank so did the turtle. As you can see from my e-mail address it has even carried over to my civilian life. I get a lot of questions about it and all the Marines that hear it just say yep, that sounds like the boot camp they went to.
I read all the newsletter's and have bought many things from the store and tell all the Marines about you I talk to. Keep up the good work you do and I hope the store does great also.
Ken Perry AKA Sgt Turtle
2261520 RVN 68/69
A Highly Successful Operation
Grit, should know better than to think I was going to get a well-deserved nap on a Thursday morning, when that's newsletter time...(was out on a two-fer EMS run at 03:30...volunteer FD sort of thing)
Re the whaleboats at NTC San Diego and the Navy boot camp just on the other side of the channel (creek?)...the fine gentlemen who ran the Physical Conditioning Platoon (AKA The Fat Farm) at MCRD, including Sgts Rolf Iverson, Mike Myers, Savoie, and others from other sub units in Special Training Branch (Motivation Platoon in my case, circa '64-'66) would take the plump persons to the west end of MCRD on Wednesday afternoons, and move them over to the Navy's boat dock by means of having them go single file side-stepping across slippery rocks whilst hanging onto the chain link fence at the street end of the channel.
Once there, by arrangement with the friendly Chief Bos'un's Mate who ran the place, we would use the whale boats for a change up in physical conditioning routine. (If you've never pulled an oar on a whale boat...it can be strenuous). Each boat would have a DI as coxs'un...and being Marines, and DI's to boot (probably a pun in there somewhere, but I digress...) this would be a competitive event...down the channel to Harbor Drive, and back, maybe while singing "Row, Row your...etc"
We were allowed to pick the most likely lads from the platoon for our individual crews, and, on occasion, even allowed to hand-pick the crew for Rolf's boat. (There possibly may have been wagers placed...can't say until I find out the statute of limitations covering gambling on DOD property)
The one thing we could NOT do was use Rolf's choice of boats...all other hull numbers were up for grabs...Week after week, no matter what we did to, for, or with our crews...Iverson won the race! As we later found out, it was not due to his superior seamanship, nor any particular boat, but it was due to the fact that he had a deal with the Chief Bos'un...before our arrival, the Chief would ensure that every boat but one (which would be the one Rolph would pick...) had a bucket on a painter (for you boots, 'painter' is a nautical term describing a length of line.....in storage, it's a 'rope', once aboard, it's a 'line")... tied low on the stern.
Until you've experienced it, you have no idea just how much drag a 3-gallon bucket can create. We had no idea, would never have thought to look. I think CWO Iverson is standing OOD watches and presenting the logbook on relief to St. Pete. If anyone reading this knows otherwise, please advise.....from memory, he was an Engineer.
Correctional Custody Platoon's daily routine took them double- timing out to a strip of land between NTC and the end of the Lindbergh Field runway....at port sledgehammer, with clip-on steel toe protectors on their boots. Once there, they would literally make 'small ones out of big ones', by reducing concrete chunks dumped by Facilities Maintenance to aggregate (a lot of which got carried back to CC's rock garden...close by the old swimming pool, east of the theatre...two buckets at a time at noon chow...the afternoon run back to work with only empty buckets to carry was the highlight of the inmate's day) This strip of land, long since absorbed by the airport, led to a chained and locked gate on Harbor drive......the fence on the west (other) side was the boundary of NTC (you can see where this is going, right?) On more than one occasion, a Navy recruit, having forgotten to draw a Liberty Card, might be found in that area by the fatherly-type DI's of Correctional Custody...a phone call to the Squidlet's "Company Commander "(usually a Chief) would take care of things......knew of one who spent 3 full days with CC, left a changed man...really happy to see his Chief when he came to get him...
(The recidivism rate for CC was zero...zip...nada...zilch. Nobody ever came back for seconds, ergo, a highly successful operation
The last dozen or so catalogs from your organization have shown a question from one of your customers. They have a picture of the POW Compound at the 3rd MP Battalion outside of Da Nang. He asked whatever happened to the place and the residents in the POW Compound.
I can give an update. I may not have the exact dates because that was too long ago and my mind is a bit fuzzy. I arrived in Vietnam in June 1968 and was assigned as the Motor Transport Officer of the 3rd MP Bn. Our Vietnamese complex was right next door to the POW Compound and the only thing that separated us was a small drainage ditch and fence.
In the front of the compound was an administration building that had a few cells for the local VCs that were captured. The main part of the compound had several small one-man buildings (those we the ones in the picture), one for each POW. It is to my understanding that there were two or three high ranking North Vietnamese prisoners and one of the prisoners was an Admiral that spoke several languages.
Since I was also a Battalion Safety Officer, I went in the compound at least once per month checking for fire hazards, mosquito eradications, etc. We were not allowed to converse with the prisoners but they nodded to us when we passed by them. During my time there, we were hit by a sapper attack and killed some sappers. I don't remember the number but it was interesting that they tried to enter our wire on the opposite end of the POW Compound (or away from the compound?).
Later, the ammunition dump right next door caught fire and started cooking off. I had to help evacuate the Battalion and the POW's were separated from the main population because they were going in a different direction for temporary housing. The dump blew up for about 3 or 4 days!
While all of the Battalion buildings were blown up, caught fire, or suffered major damage, I remember the small individual huts remained intact and the POW's were returned there. We took a few rounds of small arms fire and heard the rockets going overhead during the mini-TET of 1969 but there were no impacts on the POW Compound.
During the summer of 1969, two or three of the North Vietnamese prisoners were moved to another location or returned to their respective country. We sort of figured our compound was in for a shellacking because our protection was gone. I left Vietnam in early August 1969! A couple weeks after I left, the entire Battalion area was hit with over 100 rounds of mortar or rockets one evening. That count was before we were able to return fire.
My later roommate and Company XO, when we were in California together, was there during that time and he was the one that reported the event to me. His name is Danny Cross, if anyone knows him. The 3rd MP Bn also had Company "D" in downtown Da Nang, plus we had the 3rd MAF Brigade. One fence line of the Brigade was adjacent to the POW Compound, though was separated by some space. The inmates rioted one evening and set fire to the maximum security building. The smoke from that fire basically covered the POW Compound intermittently but there were no damage to the compound. I hope this information was helpful. Semper Fi!
Former Captain, USMC
Don R. Saunders
And Serial Number
RE: Bob Rader #1405534 forgot to mention when you requested permission to speak to your D.I. you gave in addition to your full name, and rank your Serial Number also. And repeated it all before every response.
R.W.Chester firstname.lastname@example.org USMCR #578765
Note: Wow, this must be real OLD Corps, this was not done in 1968.
Shoved The Whole Pack
In response to CAPT. Howard S. Browne's letter in the July 29th news letter about the unusual uses of the issued bucket. In my PLT (191) at Parris Island, one private who was on fire watch was caught smoking in the head by the Senior Drill Instructor. The result was that the SDI woke every one up at 03:30 called a "school circle" and the said private was called to the front of the squad bay and made to stand at attention.
The SDI pealed the top and bottom half off a pack of cigarettes, leaving a strip in the middle leaving the butt and the tip of the cigarettes exposed. He then told the private to open his mouth and shoved the whole pack in his mouth. Then he lit all the cigarettes and told the private to keep puffing until all of them were up to the butt's. He then proceeded to put the bucket over his head and then a slicker over the bucket and made him run in place with a firm threat not to drop any of the smokes. Needless to say the private didn't make it and we all paid for his screw up (as usual). I didn't smoke at the time but still felt sorry for the guy's that did and only got one smoke every 3 or 4 days.
Hey, did anyone else do the manual of arms with a full foot locker?
Many Moons Ago
As a Marine Musician, we have separate seasons compared to the rest of the world: Change of Command/Retirement season, Concert season, Tour season, and Birthday Ball season. For me, it was in the middle of my last Birthday Ball season. Our gig was in China Lake, CA.
Being such a long drive from 29 Palms, we booked rooms for us to stay in for the night, which meant that unlike most other BBs, we could actually hang around after the ceremony. The ceremony went smooth. The excitement came afterward. We weren't the only musicians there that night. A local rock group, called Mojave Blue, was there along with the spouses of the performers. I was sitting at their table and they asked me to go up on stage later on and perform with them. Apparently, they asked the other musicians with us the same thing, and they all declined according to them. I figured "what the h&ll, why not..." After dinner, the wife of one of the singers asks me for a dance, and I accepted, since I'm too polite to say no to that kind of an offer. When we were done, she said to me, "Next time, bring a date!"
Then I got bold. I went up to the Colonel's daughter and asked her for a dance. Much to my surprise, she accepted, after getting permission from her mom. It was at this point when I realized I was treading in very dangerous waters. One, she's the Colonel's daughter. Two, she couldn't have been older than 19. But we still went out and danced, or at least, tried. Turns out she knew less about dancing than I did, but we laughed it off and overall had a good time. Asking her for a dance definitely earned me some bragging rights, even more so for not getting in trouble with the Colonel.
Once that was over, the wife of a Lt. Cmdr. asked me for a dance, and again I was too polite to say no, so I accepted. Then the wild part of the night came. The Mojave Blue summoned me to the stage. They introduced me to the crowd, resulting in a lot of cheering. I had no idea what the songs were that they were playing, except that they must've been huge hits based on how much the crowd loved them. I did as any pro musician would, and asked what key they were playing the songs in, and did what I could on a French horn. Overall, the crowd thought it was awesome I was up there playing with Mojave Blue. What a night!
A couple weeks later, one of the musicians who was with us that night told me that he told the two wives to ask me for a dance. I told this to a few people I know, who immediately responded that he was simply jealous.
Regardless if he "helped" me with my popularity or not, this was the 2nd best BB I've ever been to.
SF Sgt. Grit,
While in the Nam at LZ Baldy, I got to know some Korean Marines fairly well. Marine choppers flew them from our LZ on their missions for a time. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong in remembering that ROK's in Vietnam were with the Blue Dragons. I traded menthol cigarettes with a captain who gave me in return, packages of Korean cigs that featured a blue dragon on them. I seem to recall that these were special cigarettes that were sent to only the Korean Marines in Nam. They were not bad smokes either. The captain would relate to me the results of their patrols and told me they were especially fond of "chasing down the bad guys". They took no prisoners.
One particular enlisted ROK was very burly and we found that he wrestled back in Korea. One day he and Cpl. John Lytle wrestled to a draw on the LZ matting. John was from Florida and I think he must have "rassled" alligators there. The Korean was much impressed by John's performance and we all got along better as a result.
After leaving Baldy in the spring of 1971, we relocated to FLC near Danang. To the north of our compound was a small body of water that separated us from a ROK compound. I do not know if it was the same outfit that was at Baldy with us. One day a small boat with civilians on board made the mistake of encroaching on the ROK's shoreline. One burst of M60 rounds and the boat was making a large wake with only a couple of paddles for power!
Thanks for letting me share my memories with you.
L/Cpl Dan Buchanan
The University of Rice 1970-71
In the 231 issue of American Courage I noticed the menu for the 3rd Marine Division. I clicked it on and enlarged the print. It was November 10, l956. I was happy to see what was served being as I and most of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Middle Camp Fuji didn't get to eat it.
On that day we were trucked to Yokosuka and boarded the APA 210, USS Telfair and USS Oak Hill LSD 7 for a long cruise. A couple of days out we had a real bad storm and were secured below decks for 2 days. We didn't return to Japan until February 1957.
I was wondering if any of the "Old Salts" out there remember or even heard of BLT/3/3? A little known event to any except those of us who participated. We were shipped out as a reinforced Battalion. Destination the Middle East. During the Suez War the powers to be thought it was necessary to send troops to that area to protect American interests located there. We got the word to move out in the early morning of November 8 and left port November 10.
During all the activity of re-equipping ( they issued us Ka-Bars and surveyed any old/worn weapons and 782 gear)packing and preparing to move out I don't know anyone who got to eat. Some of us were given permission to go to the Chow Hall across the street and grab what we could before boarding trucks. I think I got a turkey leg. Too bad, because in the Corps we had 3 good meals during the year. Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Marine Corps Birthday.
After a short stop in Brunei Bay, Borneo for wet net/landing practice and a hike we re-boarded ship and continued on. About halfway into the Indian Ocean we got the word the Suez War was over and now we were on a good-will cruise.
We stopped at Karachi Pakistan, Bombay India, Colombo Ceylon,(spent Christmas there) Singapore and Hong Kong and crossed the equator on the way back. We got back to Japan and within a few months all the ground troops were transferred to Okinawa.
I'd be interested to see anyone who reads Sgt Grit remembers this Cruise.
W. R. Nicoll 1556006
LMG Platoon, George Company 3/3
Japan & Okinawa 1956 - 1957
I am a proud Marine 1988-1993 now living outside the U.S. and your news letter never fails in making me feel the PRIDE that only a Marines knows.
Each time I read your publication I always laugh a little, remember a lot, swell with pride and more often than I want to admit get pretty choked up.
In the course of my job I am lucky enough to bump into a former Marine every now and again and the bond is always immediate. Always elicits a comment or two from those that have never seen it or understand what it is to be a Marine.
Thank you and thanks to my family of Marines.
From a Marine on long term deployment outside of CONUS,
I Honestly Did Not Know
I rotated back to "the world" from Charley 1/4 in November of 1974 and was assigned to Quantico, Weapons Bn, as an 8531, Primary Marksmanship Instructor (PMI). As a PMI, I worked on the rifle and pistol range as a coach, as well as a classroom instructor for The Basic School and PLC's. As a PMI, we were issued the coveted Campaign Cover or "Smokey Bear" hat which we wore daily on the line during our duties.
Quantico was the site for the 1975 Interservice Matches that summer and all the branches sent their best marksman to compete with rifle and pistol. And even though I shot on the MCDEC team and had won some NRA matches, was nowhere near good enough to make the USMC team. So, it just so happened that 1975 I crossed paths with Gunny Carlos Hathcock who was shooting on the rifle team that year. I honestly did not know of the exploits of the legendary "White Feather" sniper that was in our midst. I was still a relatively new Sgt. with only a couple of years in the Corps and was just trying to do my job and working hard on my career.
Anyway, word got around in the tiny chow hall there at Weapons Bn. that this team shooter needed a "hat" to wear during the matches and for the team Pics. We were wearing soft covers with utilities while working the line so I volunteered mine. I wrote my name on the inside of the sweatband while the Gunny wrote his name on the outside of the sweatband. When the matches were over (which the Army won), I got my hat back and went on about my business. Gunny stayed and started the HRT Sniper school with Major Land and I was one of the first three selected to initiated the course. I was only there two weeks when I accepted orders to the Drill Field at Parris Island.
That hat went into retirement until I was out and was "encouraged" to donate it my Dad's boss, who has an extensive hat collection. As far as I know, his widow - or perhaps his sons - still has the hat. I have asked my Dad to inquire to see if I could not back, but he could not get an answer from anyone. Last know location is Hickory, NC. under the name Regan. Would I love to have that hat back now. I would gladly donate it to the Marine Corps Museum there at Quantico where it belongs as a relic worn by one of our Corps beloved heroes.
Daniel R. George
Long time and loyal customer who will remain anonymous came into the store last week. And just as every customer comes in to shop they get a BIG, "Hello, how are you today?" This particular customer gave a, "GRRRR, I've been better." So I didn't dig to much more into it because some people have their days where they just want to be left alone, so I went about my business.
This is when the gentleman's brother (who was actually Army) approaches me and tells me, "Don't mind him, he's just grumpy because he SHOT himself in the leg last night." "WHAT?" I exclaimed. This is when the story unfolded. The two brothers where visiting about "Old Times" and "War Stories" and the MARINE had a .45 on his right leg he then starts to get up to put the gun away... POW! His thumb grazed the trigger and he shot himself in the left leg! Bullet went straight through. He even had a pocket of change and money which they later had to dig about .60 cents out of his thigh.
He said all he said was, "D*MN IT!" So the story is over and all I can do is ask, "Honey, what are doing here shopping and limping around, you should be taking it easy!?" He gave the greatest response, "I come out here because........It makes me feel better!" Don't you just love those Sgt Grit customers!
So There We Were
We had just graduated in Dec. 64 at MCRD San Diego. All in formation, waiting for the buses for the trip to Camp Pendleton to start I.T.R. training. As the buses were pulling up our D.I. (Sgt McMann) just had to show us that he was still in control up to the last minute. He gave us one last command before boarding. The one all Marines have heard from the first day of Boot Camp and still in their sleep! "ON your FACES,MAGGOTS"! So there we were, 60+ new Marines in full Dress Greens pumping out Pushups. So much for all the hours working on the dress Shoes! I can still see the S_ _t eating grin on Sgt McMann's face as we pulled away. ONLY IN the CORPS!
J.K. Mc Daniel 2108089
Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!