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A Marine is a boondock operated C-ration fed beer cooled s&x starved amphibious animal that thrives on chicken sh-t.
Carl "Ka-Bar" Avery
From the inscription on his Zippo lighter he got in Vietnam.
In This Issue
You know....I never tire of putting the newsletter together. I get to see the stories first, laugh first, get sad first, watch the screen get a bit fuzzy first. I started doing it about once a month, maybe 3 weeks if I got motivated. No particular day of the week, just when I finished it. Now it is like clockwork, every Thursday. They are YOUR stories, it is really YOUR newsletter. Like sports I get an assist but you make it happen. Thank you!
I used to sell trip wire in several colors. My wife loves the stuff, she uses it like I use duct tape, for everything. My daughter just got married today and had a dress malfunction. One of her straps to her dress came loose. Panic, how could she continue to dance. The day before my wife had taken the trip wire to be used on several of the decorations and the boxes of supplies were still in the back room. Everyone is scrambling for a safety pin, sewing kit etc....when out pops the trip wire. One of her friends is a seamstress fashionesta type and sewed the wayward strap with yes...the trip wire and covered it with blue tape. And the day was saved. Improvise, adapt, overcome!
Following you will find Dad's influence on a tattoo, 132569, hitting the deck--ooops, flying frogs, and swabbies in Marine boot camp.
A lot of outstanding posts on the Blog this week. George Medals at Guadalcanal, General Mattis known for his impolitic words, and several articles about boot camp. And of course the Facebook is approaching 40,000 fans. Wow and wow again.
Fair winds and following seas.
I Tried To Keep Up
I am enclosing a picture of my Platoon from 1948. I enlisted in May of 48 in Oregon.
They gave me train ticket from Portland to San Diego, meal voucher and a bus token for the San Diego bus system. My instructions were go to the Depot, catch the train, and in San Diego take the bus to Gate 5. Report in. I was the only one going to the Marines on the train several going to Navy.
At the gate the Guard said " Stand over there, they'll come and get you". No yellow foot prints, but shortly a PFC on a bicycle came up said "you the boot follow me" and he took off. It's hot in May in California and the bike was much faster than I could walk but I tried to keep up.
That was my introduction to the USMC, and it got worse after that. When I got to the Casual barracks I found about 70 odd recruits some who had been there for over a week waiting for enough men to form a Platoon. All anybody asked was did I bring any smokes? The Drill instructors picked us up the next Monday, I think.
In the photo I'm third from the right in the row just behind the Drill Instructors. Note the one Marine in the top row still in Utilities, he was so tall they couldn't fit him with uniforms and had to order them. He went on Boot leave in civies. S/Sgt Jack H, Nash, 622369
Sgt. Bill Mitchell related a 'guidon' story in latest edition of S.G. which reminded me of a C.O.D. memory close to my heart.
"The D.I." with Jack Webb; one of the best films of our beloved Corps, features at the very end a movement which has apparently long since been removed from The Marine Corps Manual.
The movement is 'Squads About!' wherein guidon bearer and each squad leader executes a double left turn which has formation marching in opposite direction at its completion.
Along those same lines; there is one drill which I thought 'most grabastic' and should have been eliminated; and that was 'stack arms!' with M-14's.
One Marine would pose his rifle at order arms; only in front of him, and two more Marines would slip flash suppressors through a loop in web sling and move butts forward on deck, giving a tripod effect.
It looked ridiculous and we spent endless periods practicing this abortion.
The M 1 had stacking swivels and stacked Garands looked sharp, but I wonder what 'jackwagon' came up with this 'beaut'. D.G.S.G.A.S. serv.# 1973677
"The deadliest weapon in the world; a U.S. Marine and his rifle." Jack Webb (Tech. Sgt. Tim Moore).
Went Straight To Me
Dec; 1968, graduation was very close. I was 5'8" and hardly 100lb. and even thru the h&ll these wonderful DI's put me through, I never quit, Our platoon 1186 MCRD San Diego, so far had taken every single Streamer and as you know the final test is the Drill and inspection,
We were doing just great and finally rifle Drill and inspection, but when they called out right shoulder arms, Yes me the DumAzs I was went to left shoulder Arms, It was so quiet on that Black Deck, a Major and a few others went straight to me, Not a single word was said, I could feel the Major and ever who else was behind me, I was feeling the Hot air from their Nose, it lasted they said about three minutes, it seemed much longer to me. After inspection we marched back to our Q/Huts no one said a word, not even inside as we waited for the bad news, everyone eyeballing me, Glover Sh-t for Brains is what I'm thinking.
I knew my death was soon to follow. as voices came close to our metal hut, I was Highest in the PT Test and I was glade up to this Point.
Then we were called out into formation were our Senior Drill Instructor and two others stood, it was very quiet and about 1 min; passed, finally the Sen; DI called out My Name Pvt Glover, get up here, He said I want you all to know what Pvt Glover did to all of us, because of his left shoulder Arm's and the fact that he stood there with all those eye's on him, We got our last Streamer and made us Honor Platoon. The Maj; said he was so very impressed with everyone and the Marine that stood there at left shoulder Arms was also very impressed! I sh-t you not, on my word as a 59 year old Marine, that it what happened!
Honor Platoon! Dec; 1968
LCpl; Kelly Glover
PS, to those Great Drill Instructors, I made it Home!
Dried Fish And Rice
I was with a FO team serving with D/2/1 when the 2nd Bn went into reserve our team was sent to support the KMC'S up near the Haw chon reservoir. After hiking for 2 days we finally found on a hill overlooking the reservoir. Heat night the KMC Squad Leader told us that we did not have to stand watch, his men would cover us. Great. A whole night's sleep with out 50/50 watch.
When we woke up in the morning the KMC'S were gone! We could see them climbing the hill to our front near the erosive. Also gone was all our "C" rations, nothing but empty cans! When we finally caught up with them and told the Plt Ld what happened he lined up the squad and beat each one them with a baton on the shoulders until they fell to the ground.
They got their punishment and we got to eat their rations for the next two weeks, dried fish and rice!
MGYSGT Ralph Hoffmann (Retired)
Dad Took Me Aside
I am hopeful you'll permit me to tell you a true story regarding the enclosed photographs. When I was but a pup, my dad took me aside and told me to never-ever get a tattoo on my body, that I'd end up in prison, smoke dope, and my life would be totally ruined- now, my father was the type of man who, if he said "NO", then that was it. No discussion, no questions, no was NO and that was it.
I joined the Corps and from that moment on, I wanted a USMC tattoo so bad, but whenever I'd get close to doing it, I'd remember my dear father and that would back me away. Now I am a few months from reaching my 70th birthday, my father long ago passed away and I was recently made aware that parlors are not the same as they were in my dad's time- now they're clean!
A short while ago I received some very bad news from my doctor- I have a rare disease, genetic, no cure, fatal- I won't bore you with the details, but I marched right in to the tattoo parlor and sat down for my tattoo! When I meet St. Peter at the gate, I want him to know instantly, "This man is a United States Marine!"
I understand you have sort of a contest for tats and I'd like to proudly enter my two arms in the contest! I hope it was ok if I stole your Coming and Going idea, I've had lots of positive feedback from it- people love it and it always produces a lot of laughs. Now for the first time, I hear the message, "Thank you for your service!" What a wonderful phrase to hear.
I may not agree with the way this country is being run, but I do LOVE AMERICA!
Coming and Going Bulldog Mug
Things You Remember
It was 1944. I was Radio/Radar tech in an SB2C Helldiver Squadron in North Carolina. The radio in the CO's car quit. I was asked to fix it. As I crawled under the dashboard I noticed that under the passenger seat were ladies panties and silk stockings. That's when I envied the officer class.
But not long after I had to go out to bogue sound and retrieve the IFF gear from an SB2C which had crashed after a midair collision, killing a pilot and gunner. The plane was submerged, it was December and it was cold and I dived in my underwear from a coast guard boat - didn't envy that officer.
Strange the things you remember.
JOHN HILL, SGT 42-46
Let me assure Mike Kunkel that indeed we were referred to as privates in boot camp in the early '50s. He had asked this is a previous newsletter. It was pounded into my head and I still can recite it as if it were yesterday rather than nearly 60 years ago, "Sir, Pvt. Rader, wishes to speak to the Drill Instructor (not D.I.), Sir." Some things we never forget.
Bob Rader #1405534
Note: It was still Pvt in June '68. Actually Pvt was used when things were going well. Usually things were not going well and it was maggot this and sh-tbird that, etc...
I was a "Door Gunner" on a Marine "Huey" helicopter unit in Vietnam in 69. My MOS was 6055 which was helicopter hydraulics. All aircrew were mechanics, metal smiths, hydraulics mechanics, aviation ordinance, supply, or avionics.
We had a few "Grunts" and I do say that with the most of respect that "shipped" over to qualify and fly as "Door Gunners" and to go to aviation school in Memphis when they got back to the "world".
As we all know, there was no MOS for "Aircrew" in the USMC back then. After a few close and hairy missions, my "Grunt" friends came up with one: 132569.. I asked what that meant and he said; "Unlucky 2bit C-ckSucker.
Has been 41 years ago and still today I think how funny that was. He went back to the field after 2 weeks, lmao.
MSGT. E. Watson 1967- 1997 retired.
I was stationed at MCRD, San Diego, 1952-55. At that time there was another use for the familiar bucket. If a DI caught a Boot smoking where he shouldn't have, the DI inserted as many lighted cigarettes as the Boot's lips would hold, some say a whole pack, then placed the bucket over the Boot's head. It stayed there until the Recruit passed out.
CAPT Howard S. Browne, MC USN (Ret)
Being a Marine changed my life, for better or worse, it changed. I have no idea what I could have, or would have been able to accomplished without the experience. But, I would change nothing. The greatest understanding of character and fortitude one could ask for was accomplished in combat. Marines are a special breed. Even without combat it's something that others cannot comprehend. THE FEW, THE PROUD.
Dave Granger, B/1/9 67-68
A hearty OHHHRAHHH to the 78 Year young Gunner and his wannabe Bad Ticker.
Marines are just like Bad Grass, you can't kill us. Plain and Simple, as we just go to H&ll and Regroup, Overthrow and take our rightful place on Duty in Heaven.
Good Night Chesty, Wherever you are...
Thanks for continuing the Newsletter. It is interesting to see my brothers (known and unknown) express many of the same feelings; those same feeling we all seem to carry with pride from the day we first put the Globe and Anchor insignia on our uniforms.
In response to "Famous" in your last newsletter. When I was in Drill Instructor School at MCRD SD in 94, there was pictures of every "Famous" person who was a Drill Instructor. Hopefully, a Current DI can post the names of all the "Famous" DI's that have served for our Beloved Corps. Semper Fi!
Ken McDaniel Sgt Mar 85 - Feb 97
I Asked The Chaplain
Dear SGT Grit Inc.,
I'm a Marine with 2/6 and we just arrived in Camp Dwyer Afghanistan, getting ready to replace 1/6 in Marjah. Me and my buddy went to the Chaplin's office to get some comfort items we didn't think to bring. I found almost everything anybody would want. I asked the chaplain where everything came from, he told me it was all donated. I was proud to see how many Americans support us over here. I wanted to write back and say thanks. I asked for a list of addresses and the chaplain printed out a list for the top ten supporters and SGT Grit's was on it. It's an honor serving those who support us. Thank you again, you'll be in our minds and hearts.
LCPL ALWAN, USMC 0351
CPL J. Talbert - This is my tattoo after 22 years.
All In Unison
During the latter portion of 1968 I was a Lance Corporal undergoing avionics training at NAS Millington just north of Memphis. Sometime before Christmas of that year I heard from my uncle, Sgt. Major A.M. Solis. He invited me to come to Birmingham and join him and his family on the long drive to our family home at the southernmost tip of Texas to spend Christmas. He picked me up at the bus station and asked me if I had brought my dress greens because the next morning he was hosting a Christmas party for his men and their families at the reserve armory.
The following morning I came into the kitchen proudly wearing my recently earned one chevron with crossed rifles. He then walks in buttoning his three chevrons, four rockers with star and hash marks from the wrist to the elbow! Wow! I had taken a leave of absence from college in my sophomore year to enlist and follow in his footsteps but WOW, how do you follow THAT?
Anyway off we go to the party. Upon arriving, I'm walking an appropriate distance to the side and a little behind him when I see his men gathered by the front door ready to greet him. You should have seen the surprise and joy in their eyes when they spy my Lance Corporal stripes! All in unison they said, "Sgt. Major you brought us a present! Thank you, thank you!".
I felt faint and ill because the lowest rank there was sergeant! He quickly explained that I was his nephew and THEN I was their buddy! Well that is until they asked my MOS. At the time the school I was attending at NAS Millington was called "fire control" and that's what I told them. To those grunts "fire control" apparently meant calling in artillery and air strikes from a forward position deep in Charlie's home turf. I should have kept my mouth shut. I was being catered to and felt like a rock star. That is, until I explained that "fire control" was radar!
Oh yeah, now I'm a joke again! "You're a zoomie, an airdale?" I spent the rest of the morning playing with their kids and wishing it was over. Hey, it was on the Sgt. Major's advice that I requested the aviation guarantee when I when to the recruiting office. I proudly served in a F4 Phantom squadron until I went back to college in 1971.
No one could follow in my uncle's footsteps, Semper Fi Sgt. Major Solis.
Oh, by the way, who did those grunts call when Charlie was "coming over the wall"? Thank God for Marine Aviation!
Corporal David Solis Martinez
1967 - 1971
Not Your Concern
I had a few experiences with ROK Marines that I will never forget. On an NATO Exercise back in the 70's, myself and some fellow Marines witnessed their form of Corporal Punishment.
It was a Flight Crew that apparently had stepped on their crank during the flight and were lined up on the Flight Line as the Pilot took his helmet and proceeded to smack everyone of them squarely upside the head.
We were "Told" to stay out of it and it's not your concern. Some bad azs sh-t!
Then when I was a Gunny @ MCRD San Diego in the late 80's I had the pleasure of meeting some ROK Marines that were @ the Depot for some training and a contemporary, I assumed equal to a Gunnery Sergeant made my acquaintance.
After some broken but understandable dialogue we exchanged Covers, my Woodland for his ROK Marine Beret with the coolest Marine Corps Emblem. In place of the Globe was a Big Star...I still admire that fine piece of history from some kick azs fellow Marines.
Snickering And Shuffling
It's August 1963 at MCRD San Diego. Platoon 249 is doing its regular after noon chow run around the perimeter fence by the bay. As we run by, some navy boots are practicing rowing their whaleboats right on the other side of the fence. Two of them hollered out "look at the dumb Marines ."
Our D.I., a really cool Ssgt who had been in since 1942, said "Platoon, halt." He then went to the fence and said, "anybody over there in charge of these a--holes"? A third class petty officer (E-4) came over and said, "Yes Sgt., these are my idiots. i apologize for their rudeness." While he's doing this, the two navy boots in question are laughing it up in the background.
Our D.I. says, "can't you control your men?" The P.O. Says "these two have been giving me trouble all week". I think they're trying to get kicked out of the navy". Our D.I. says "They just don't know when they're well off. Why don't you let me and my platoon have them for the rest of the afternoon. I bet they'll be glad to be back in the navy by the time of our afternoon run at 1800."
By this time, we're all snickering and shuffling around in anticipation. The two navy boots are really looking worried. The P.O. unlocks the gate and has four men from his group grab the two troublemakers and shove them through the gate. We then grab them and put them in the middle of our platoon.
By this time, the two are yelling and crying, in tears, apologizing to the P.O. and begging to get back on the navy side of the fence. SSgt.Walsh says, "platoon, attention!" we snap to. He then says, "do what you have to do to keep or guests with us!"
We ran and P.T.'d those poor swabbies all afternoon. They were really glad to get back to the navy at 1800. The next day, when we were running by the fence, the same P.O. was waiting. We stopped and he said, "you won't believe how easy it is to control all my recruits now. They obey every command immediately and willingly. All the rest are scared they'll spend the day with the Marines if they screw up".
This is the same D.I. who got us a radio and lit the smoking lamp the whole afternoon on pre-qual day to "loosen us up for qualification day". The whole platoon qualified. The platoon next to us, run by martinets, spent the afternoon doing P.T. and getting screamed at. They didn't have 100% qualification. SSgt. E. L. Walsh and Sgt. J. C. Lincoln were two D.I.'s who believed in doing what it took to get the job done.
Sgt. John Stevenson USMC 1963-1967.
Guns Actually Went Off
Coming home to the world in Nov. 69, I had orders for Camp Lejeune. Not wanting to clean radios for another two years, I volunteered for 8th & I on our transition at Okinawa. After three months of training, our first detail was the retirement of an Admiral at a little park behind our barracks in the Washington Navy Yard.
During the practice, the narrator would go through what was being done including the ringing of the ship's bell and firing of the deck guns mounted behind where the two platoons of Navy and two of Marines were standing.
During the actual ceremony, when the guns actually went off, two platoons of Marines hit the deck. Stilll a little nervous I guess. I only ducked as I had been a radio operator in Kilo 4/11, a 155 outfit and used to big guns going off. Our Lt. turned around and you could have cooked an egg on his face. He yelled Attention! and we quickly came to present arms again. You could hear the Navy guys almost busting a gut.
After the ceremony the Admiral told our Lt not to punish us. We were greatly relieved.
Cpl Paul Miller
Kilo 4/11 68-69
Super Natural Powers
Reference Newsletter #231.
Letter from Chuck Moseman mentioned his D.I.'s, one being Sgt Zygmont. He was one of my D.I.'s in Plt 166 from Jun to Sept 1966. He was a very quiet, but very business like Marine. We all thought he had super natural powers as he knew everything that happened, sometimes even before it happened. We were more scared of him than the other D.I.'s. I want to thank him, and the other D.I.'s, for teaching this young, lost kid what it took to be a man. I have carried what I was taught at P.I. as a Marine and for 20 years in the U.S. Army. I am proud to have worn the uniform of the U.S. Navy Reserves, The U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army. I have been retired almost 30 years now and I still miss it every day. God bless the United States Military.
Airman (U.S. Navy Sept 54- Jun 56)
Cpl of Marines (Jun 56-Dec 59)
Sfc U.S. Army (Jun 61-Oct 80)
I Locked The Door
I was on the way back to my unit, 3rd Support Bn in Okinawa in 1993, standing in LAX along with my buddy SSGT Bill Barlow when we notice a young Marine over at the bar trying to stay seated on the stool. He was drunk, no, way past drunk. We said something to the extent of we had better go get him and quick before somebody else does. OOPS too late. A First Sergeant had radar locked in and was on his way too. Well we met up at the same time and this kid didn't know night from day he was so knee walking snot slinging drunk.
The First Sergeant snagged him and went to the ticket counter and had him put on the next flight so he could sober up first. Well as fate would have it, as I am checking back in with S-1 low and behold here is this kid standing there. He is getting read the riot act from the Sergeant in S-1 as to where he had been. Me being the nice guy, a former Drill Instructor and BN close combat instructor, I chimed in with well you finally made it huh? I can tell you where he's been, he was drunk in LAX and a First Sergeant drug him out the bar and put him on the next flight.
Well about this time my First Sergeant comes in and all h&ll broke loose. It was a long year on the rock for this kid. Me, I did another three months on my tour and went back stateside. But it was a very eventful three months. But those are other stories.
Think about it. When you teach martial arts for the BN word gets out not to try you. But some people don't listen. Like the Sergeant that kept putting rocks on my bicycle seat. He was warned. But that one day when I came out of the chow hall and there it was, making an indention in my foam seat. He was peddling up the street and I caught him. I rode up next to him and said I thought I told you about f'in with my sh--. He said and what are going to do about it. Well I showed him real quick. He took a boot to the side and off the bike he went hitting the curb and off the road into the grass. Never did come near me or my bike after that.
Then there was the Gunny that wanted to come to my formation and tell me he said everybody was supposed to be there. Where were my men? I said in the rack since they were going out on the road from 2100 to 0600. He proceeded to rant and rave and said he wanted to talk to me after this. I told everybody to start field day and don't let me catch them screwing around, then it was, Well Gunny you know where my room is, last one on the left far end third deck, its unlocked. He made the mistake of going in before me. I locked the door and said, now what did you want to talk about. He started stuttering and back tracking then. I told him he could get tossed out the port hole and nothing would be said. He left real quick.
My buddy was standing outside in the hallway and said night Gunny. First Sergeant summoned me to his office the next morning asking the usual questions and after answering him, he said why didn't you just kick his old a--. D-mn it, that's not the first time you said that to me. Had I known I would not get into trouble I would have First Sergeant. Ever notice how word travels when you do something. First Sergeant always hears about it somehow.
I'll have to tell you about the chow hall incident some other time, same time frame and duty station too.
Case Of Beer
Dear Sgt. Grit:
I don't see many stories from Marines of my era. I must be a salt?
I was in Platoon 299 in 1953 at San Diego. My senior DI was Cpl Phillips. He was from Louisiana and had the smoothest cadence you will ever hear. About 1/2 way through boot Cpl. Phillips announced that anyone who broke the stock on their M1 while doing the manual of arms, he would buy them a case of beer.
Being squad leader of 1st squad I mar'ched behind our right guide and Cpl. Phillips. One bright morning on the grinder we were marching and doing all the manual. As I slammed my -1 into my left shoulder I heard a loud crack. Was not initially sure if I have broken the stock or my shoulder'! Cpl. Phillips halted the platoon and come over to me and wanted my rifle. He verified that my stock was broken.
Cpl. Phillips, if you are still with us, you still owe me a case of beer!
Anybody in this boot camp grad picture who was a member of Platoon 109? If you're still with us I would like to hear from you, including the DIs.
That's me circled in center of photo.
Email: jackstrumpf @ cox .net
Korea, April, 1951
I just got a call from a Marine who just wanted to tell his story to someone who would understand. He was in Korea April, 1951. His hill was surrounded, they took over 100 casualties out of 300. He was the BAR man and got wounded in the shoulder. The corpsman was wounded in the knee and couldn't make it to him. His Captain helped him to a tank which was full and couldn't take him, so they moved on to where he could get help. For several decades he remembered the kindness and help this Captain had extended to him. He finally goes to his unit reunion and learns the identity of the Captain:
General Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
US Marine Navajo Code Talker Joe Kellwood and Marine Eric C. Gagomiros cut the Birthday Ball cake as the oldest and youngest Marines in attendance.
Pup Eric C. Gagomiros
West Valley Devil Dogs
Pound # 332
I Respected Him
I was fortunate enough to celebrate the 200th Marine Corps Birthday on active duty. I was also blessed to be in the Washington DC area for our country's 200th birthday a few months later. I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial watching the laser show spinning from the apex of the Washington Monument. It lit off spreading brilliant blues and greens into the tidal basin and reflecting pool. Fireworks filled the sky above the mall. The Jefferson Memorial's dome was radiant. I'll never forget it.
The Marine Ball was held, as I recall, in a room above the Officers Club at Fort Meade MD. It was a small affair as we were a close-knit unit. The required roast beef was perfectly prepared by the Army staff and after dinner we were honored to accept their invitation to the lounge downstairs. The barkeep would not take any money and yet he always kept my glass full. I hope I tipped him enough from my meager non-com pay.
Assigned to Headquarters Battalion at Henderson Hall in Arlington VA, I spent over three great years just a few doors down from the Commandant's corner office in the Navy Annex. Our mission was supplying secure communication to the General staff.
The bicentennial occasion was the first time I wore full dress blues. And it almost didn't happen. I'd been promoted a week earlier and proud to pick up a third stripe. But just as my shoulders were starting to heal from having them pinned on I realized my blues hadn't been updated since the day I bought them as a PFC. The incredible PX tailor took care of me on really short notice. He carefully hemmed and striped my trousers and let out the tunic a tad so I could breathe. I wish he was still around today. When I get nostalgic and pull it out of the back of my closet it doesn't button at all. I doubt that there is enough material left for a further alteration.
Thirty-five years ago I was given the opportunity to serve my country alongside some of the finest men I've ever known. Our outfit was heavy with officers but I was always treated with respect. The Corps and our mission came first and they were instrumental into turning a young kid into the man I've become.
I appreciate the forum you've provided and hate taking up so much room. But if you'd please bear with me I'd like to mention the Marines I admired most. Colonel James Quisenberry was a mustang and his enthusiasm was contagious to the enlisted men. He had a rakish moustache that he would twist the corners of as he told one of his more fanciful big fish stories. I imagine they were all true and I was saddened to hear of his passing last year.
Captain Walt Bishop had flown missions over Vietnam and our group was fortunate to have him as an analyst. He always found time to "hang out" with us in the comm center when traffic was light. He had a California soul and wore it well. I respected him highly as an officer and as a friend.
Master Gunnery Sergeant Bob Berndt was probably my greatest influence. The Top knew everything and reminded you quietly if somehow protocol was compromised. I think he was well into his forties in 1975 and I was only a couple years out of high school. But the man was in much better shape than I was. The guy rode a bike into work most days. He talked about cycling around lava flows while stationed in Hawaii with First Radio Battalion. A rumor was he'd breezed completely through OCS at Quantico only to be washed out by a final eye exam. He must have worn contact lenses. I remember that he blinked a lot but that tic added to his colorful character. A finer Marine I've never met.
I was a peacetime Marine. In my four years in uniform I never served overseas in any conflict. My ardent wish is that all our wartime brothers come home safely_after their assigned mission is accomplished of course. More Marines deserve a tour of duty like mine. Hopefully the time will come sooner than later.
Sgt. Mitchell L. Smith
If you will look on the fin assembly of the 2.75 rocket, you will notice There is a snap ring that locks it in place. Now, if you take that snap ring off of the rocket, you can remove the fins and the balastite. You probably should not do this where you are right now. We did it when we were in the ammo dump at MCAS Marble Mountain, about 4 1/2 miles southeast of Da Nang.
We were way out at the corner of the base but at the perimeter of the base on the shore of the South China Sea. You could almost throw a rock in the sea from that corner of the base. We had our hootch out there with our ammo, way away from tent city where everybody else lived.
It was nice. We had a nice WOODEN building that we lived in. We had two Vietnamese girls that kept our hootch clean, did our laundry, shined our boots. Yes, shined. Even though we were in a war zone, we were on a base and some things had to be done. Like a hair cut every week, and polished boots.
So, anyway, we got bored easily when we went any length of time without receiving income from the enemy. Anticipation made us nervous. So, being young men, Marines, we would find things to do. Now, all of the ammo on that base came thru us. So, we had our hands on a lot of fun stuff.
We assembled about 2000 2.75 rockets a day for the different squadrons. We Got a lot of returned, "could not fire" rockets. But you know a lot of that was just due to the rocket pods or something else. Anyway, we took one of the "duds" and took the fin assembly off. Inside was this translucent red balastite. It was maybe the most beautiful red I had ever seen. But it didn't hold much promise for something to do. Even there we knew we couldn't just light a whole stick of balastite and watch it burn. So we put that aside.
We turned our attention to the shiny little electric igniter. THAT had possibilities. Now we knew it was electrically fired, so we wondered if the "clicker" for a Claymore Mine would be enough to set it off. So, we dug a Deep hole in the sand, everything there was sand, and we buried that little igniter. Not knowing how strong that thing was we buried it pretty deep. SLICK ! Nothing. CLICK, CLICK. D*mn. It doesn't work. So, we dig up The igniter. IT DID WORK! We just had it too deep.
So, we take apart another rocket, take the shiny little igniter, bury it. But not so deep. CLICK! POOF! Pretty good pile of sand blew up into the air. We were onto something.
We take TWO more rockets apart. Now, guys, I don't want you thinking we Were taking brand new rockets apart. That would have hurt the war effort. Nope! We were taking apart the ones that were returned to us.
So, like I said, we take two rockets apart, get the igniters out, wire TWO Of them together, bury them, CLICK! BANG! THAT was pretty good. Well, blowing holes in the sand was no fun. We needed something to DO with those igniters.
I don't know how these 2.75 rockets are packaged today, but in Nam, they Were packed four rocket motors, and for warheads, in a wooden box. Then inside the box, each rocket and each warhead was packed in a heavy cardboard tube that looked like it had tar on it to seal it. Those tubes fit very snug on those rockets.
So, someone says lets stand the rocket tube up in the sand, we will put an igniter down into the tube and put a cardboard lit on the tube and see what happens. So, we did this. CLICK! That lid came off the rocket tube, but is wasn't anything special. So, someone says, let's use two igniters. That really worked! We shot that tube lid pretty high.
Okay, now what were we going to do with this? Someone says, hey, let's put A frog on the top of the tube and launch him. GOOD IDEA! There were PLENTY of frog around there. So, we stand the rocket motor tube up in the sand. We take THREE igniters, wire them together, put them down in the tube, slip the cardboard lit down over the tube, set the frog on top of the lid, and just as we were ready to launch, the d*mn frog jumped off. How the h&ll are we gonna make that frog stay there. TIE HIM UP! Nah, that's no fun.
Somebody said let's make him a parachute! No!! Lets open up some pop-up Flares and get the parachutes out of them. GREAT!
We get some parachutes, cut them loose, tie the lines together. Now, not a One of us knew anything about packing a chute, so we just tied it to the frog, and wrapped it around the frog being careful to wrap his legs so he couldn't jump off the launch vehicle.
We wrap him up, drop three igniters down into the tube, put the lid on, Place the frog on top of the lid, CLICK! KA BOOM! We launched that sucker into low level orbit. Pretty soon we saw him coming down. The chute had opened just like it was supposed to. We did this for a while and then it was chow time.
We pack it in, get cleaned up, drive to the chow hall for dinner, and the whole time we were in the chow hall all we heard was Marines talking about the strange explosions that were going off on the base.
Seems these explosions didn't sound like mortars, didn't sound like rockets. What the h&ll was the enemy throwing at us? Never heard that kind of Weapon before.
Well, needless to say, the days of the H&MS-16 Ordnance Space Administration were over. We put our launcher away and pretty soon the talk all died down. Damn, they never did learn what kind of weapon the enemy was using against Us that day. Seems we weren't as far out in the boonies as we though.
Such was the story of the flying frogs in Vietnam. We had fun, but it wasn't worth "Office Hours", or A Court Martial. Was fun though.
Now, DO NOT try this IN IRAQ. You may not get away with it like we did.
Semper Fi Marines!
Sgt Grit: When I was just a private at Marine Barracks, NOB in 1964, I viewed a Gunnery Sgt being drummed out of the Corps. His offense was that he was caught in the top floor bowling alley in the barracks having a young male Marine perform a s-xual act on him. His punishment was total reduction in rank to Pvt, loss of all pay & allowances, & a Bad Conduct Discharge.
The entire Marine Barracks personnel, including the bull dog mascot, fall out in formation. The gunny was then called to the front, where he had his rank chevrons cut off, & all of his medals & badges removed. He was then paraded among the ranks, a la inspection formation, with all the ranks doing an about face so their backs were turned to him, including the mascot.
He was then put between 4 Marine guards, and proceeded by a Marine drummer, escorted to the main gate of NOB, and put out of the Naval Base, & into civilian land. The young Marine was allowed to transfer out of the Marine Corps & into the Army.
This was an important lesson to the young Marines, as what would happen to us, if we ever were caught in a similar position. And they want to get off the don't ask, don't tell policy of the Defense Dept?
Sgt John McAniff 1964-1972 ( including Vietnam). Semper Fi.
John Wayne Quote? Or Not?
"Life's tough...it's even tougher if you're stupid."
When I arrived at my first duty station after graduating from Plt. 2005, Hotel Co., 2nd Battalion, 2ndRTR, MCRD, Parris Island, SC in April 1981; I was assigned to the Squadron Office - S-1, H&HS, MCAS, Cherry Point, NC.
My admin Chief, MSgt. "Top" Richer, had one of those huge, Philippine, hand-carved pen holders on his desk. The "Quote" read: "Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid". The Squadron SgtMaj. had a photo of "John Wayne" as Sgt. Striker in the movie "Sands of Iwo Jima".
One night during field day in the squadron office; I copied the photo of John Wayne and hand-typed Top's quote on his desk to the (see original #1 copy attached) top and right of the photo, blew-up copies on the printer and passed them out. (They travelled all over the U.S. Marine Corps!).
In 1984 while assigned to the Commandant's Office (General Barrow and the, Gen. P.X. Kelley (CMC Code (SPD) at HQMC, Washington, DC, I had phone watch in the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps' Office. He and I were shooting the s-t about something (who knows) and he said: "Hey Boyles, come here and look on the wall behind my desk".
Low and behold! It was a copy of my original #1 photo! I explained the whole story to the SgtMaj. of the MC and then my immediate CO, Col William H. Dabney (Navy Cross, Chesty Puller's son-in-law). In just a little over 2 years, the photo and quote had made it to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps' wall. It truly is a "Small" Corps.
I see it now all over, in magazines, the Internet, etc. and people actually think, believe, and report that it is an ACTUAL JOHN WAYNE QUOTE!. It's absolutely amazing! Talk about LAMAO!
Over the years, I've redefined the image and moved the quote to the bottom of the photo. Here is the latest version: (Original#2) attached.
Sgt. Blake Boyles, USMC 1980-1989
Defeated Cassius Clay
As anyone who has ever been a troop or as we called ourselves cargo would know life on a ship is a combination of cramped, hot, boring and scary conditions as you wait for the call to action when you finally get to your destination.
I had the honor and privilege to serve on the USS Okinawa off the coast of Vietnam with a man who represented the United States Marine Corps as fine as any I ever met. He not only helped prepare us for the job at hand but helped fight the boredom by organizing smokers (boxing matches) He told me once I was slow, didn't punch very hard and couldn't take much of a punch. He would be rooting for me but I shouldn't be offended If I found out later he bet on the other guy.
My record by the way was one win one loss and one draw. He has been gone for a few years now but I only recently found out about his passing. So Thanks Sgt Price for all you did for us knuckleheads.
Ken White CPL
Here is the Wikipedia description of Sgt Price:
Percy Price entered the US Marine Corps in 1955 and joined the Marine boxing team. He made the 1960 Olympic team, and defeated Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali in trial matches to earn the position as the US heavyweight at Roma. Price won one match in Roma but lost in the quarter-finals. He is the last American heavyweight Olympian to not become a professional boxer. He remained in the Marines as a career military man, but he continued to box. He would later win three All-Marine Championships, two Interservice Titles, and won one title at the Conseil Internationale du Sport Militarie (CISM) meet. Price served two tours in Vietnam as a staff sergeant. He retired from the Marines in 1976 but settled in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where he had been stationed at Camp Lejeune. He died rather young from a kidney infection.
This is one of the best nicknames I can recall from my time in the Marine Corps.
While on Iwo Jima, our company was joined by another outfit. One of them that joined us was a kid from Chattanooga that was always checking on all the others to make sure there were ok, and had everything they needed. Someone gave him the nickname "Grandma' because of that.
One a day when we were under a tremendous amount of fire power from the enemy, one of the leaders of the company shouted out to the rest of us, "You all grab your gear, and me and Grandma will try to hold them off while you get out of here."
USMC/1943 - 1946
Per your request for best nicknames. I'm not sure it qualifies as best but its mine. Notice my e-mail name is Cplcharley. Back in "67" after my first tour in Vietnam, I was assigned to the 5th Shore Party Bn. in the newly reactivated 5th Div. Half my platoon was made up of new guys (boots) and us "Old Salts". Most of us "Old Salts" went to Vietnam as a group and came back as a group so we all knew each other pretty well. We were all on a first name basis even after some of our group became Corporals and one or two became Sergeant.
Late "67" I managed to pick up a Corporal stripe about the same time a few new guys fresh from ITR joined the platoon. These guys never heard my last name because I was always just Charley. Well, one day, a new guy had a question for me and he didn't know how to address me. He was nervous so of course I let him suffer a little bit. Finally he said " Uh, Cpl. Charley? ". Well that cracked me up and I still like to tell the story. Of course back in the civilian world, I'm just Charley again.
Notched Dog Tags
The answer is NO....the notch you see in WWII and Korean era dog tags was simply there so that when the tag was being stamped it could line up correctly in the stamping machine.
Another thing of note, is that during WWII the United States Marine Corps did not use this style of dog tag, instead they used a thin dog tag that was a small oval with two holes on either end. The same type of dog tag used by the US Navy. This style of dog tag was specifically made out of a certain medal that did not rust so that if a body was lost at sea, the dog tags would be able to reveal who it was.
As far as the notch in the dog tags...I remember my DI telling us it was to be used to jam in the teeth of a fallen Marine so that they could I.D. them. The truth is...the notch was an alignment notch for the machine that punched the letters in the dog tag. Good story about jamming them in the teeth, and a bit believable to recruits who thought their DI's were God incarnate, but just a trench warfare legend. Ask any Remington Raider who made them...
You'll probably have to ask an Army man. The WWII and Korea Navy/Marine dog-tags were oval shaped (at least in my time) and I don't recall a notch. The current style of tags were introduced in the Corps later. In any case I never saw them jammed in the teeth. Maybe Graves Registration might have done that. When I recovered dead Marines, I did not separate the tags. They stayed on at least until we got them to Bn. CP. After that, I can't say.
Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!