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AmericanCourage #255     23 JUN 2011
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Sgt. Grit,

I would like to submit two pictures, my Boot Camp picture at PI in 1953 Platoon #73. My wife still has a letter from me stating "I love you almost as much as I love the Marine Corps" and she still married me!

The 2nd picture is of me on the left and a fellow Marine Corps League member Joe Shea laying a Wreath at the Marine Corps Monument at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery on Memorial Day 2011.

The Marine Corps has always been a big part of my life and I credit much that I have achieved in life to God, my wife, and the Marine Corps.

Just wanted to share this with my Marine Brothers and Sisters!

Semper Fi
Dick Tobin

In This Issue

Let's talk about the Sgt Grit Blog a bit. You will find stories daily that are mostly about the Marines from other news outlets, very old articles from past newsletters (2002), or youtube type videos. Titles like Worst Mom Ever?, Vietnam Stats, Marine Mathematics, That's what the 8 rounds are for, Good Bye Vietnam and PTSD, Aviators-derivation of the term. Two per day posted at 8am. Take a look, it is stuff you won't find in the newsletter.

Here we go for this week: sadly neglected, custom license plate, nightly hygiene, go for it, brutally taken, get up this hill, crapola hit the fan, made me realize.

Keep Your Powder Dry
"Gimme a huss"

Sgt Grit


It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of another one of our brothers. Ray Vondracek was a young Corporal who found himself in the battles of Saipan, Okinawa, and Tinian and later made his way to Nagasaki, Japan after the bombing. He was a demolition man and saw a lot of combat in that theater, as did most.

My father started the Honor Flights in Nebraska which Ray attended, as well as a trip to see the Marine museum in Quantico last fall. I was home on leave a few weeks back attending commissioning ceremonies for two of my brothers. After I saluted my newly commissioned Marine brother, my dad asked all of us Marines to come with him over to the nursing home to visit Ray, who we heard was ailing quickly.

We walked into his room, and when he woke up from his nap to see five Marines in dress blues at his bedside, his eyes lit up with great excitement. He was frail and hard to understand, but said he did what he had to do and has never once second guessed his decision to enlist in the Corps. It's Marines like this that inspire many to become Marines and uphold the traditions and standards that those before set in place. Ray is one h-ll of a Marine, and it's nice to know that heavens gates are being guarded by the world's finest.

Corporal Max Williams
MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

My Name is Joseph Hodson and I'm from Glassboro NJ. I took this picture while waiting for my son to compete in the Poolee Field Event on May 14, 2011 from all 15 recruiting centers in NJ which was held at the Earle Naval Weapons Station in Colts Neck NJ. I served in the Marine Corps from '82 - '86 in 3/6 and got out as a Lance Corporal. My son, Joseph Jr leaves for Parris Island on August 1, 2011. I thought this photo might show the colorful side of former Marines.

Editor's Note:
To add to this story from the AmericanCourage newsletter #254:

About a month ago my wife, Nicky, (from sunny Antigua) came across a sadly neglected Veteran's cemetery in Titusville, FL. Hearing her description, I decided to drive up and have a look- see...Story continues...

For today, duty done. We made it happen. And perhaps, most important, our poolees got their very first inkling of the real Marine Corps brotherhood that lasts a lifetime; and more. They are the ones that will carry on our traditions; they are our future. I think it was a good start, don't you?


See some pictures of the restoration (flickr)

Hi Sgt. Grit,
Thanks for a great job you guys did on my custom license plate. Special thanks to Custom Order Specialist, Lynn Lam.
Semper Fi, Jim Wood, Sgt. USMC 1963-68.

And I Quote...

"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly."
--George Washington

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Hey Sarge! Just wanted to share a photo of 'our' Marine - as his parents and I call him. My nephew, LCpl CL Vuchetich has been serving overseas with the 1/5 Marines for the last few months. Many thanks to him and all the Marines and Sailors who are sacrificing. Semper Fi!

Former LCpl
Always a Marine
GL Vuchetich

Read the story about the Marine who married a Marine, Well, I also married a Marine, I met my wife in Camp Lejeune, in late Sept. 1959, 7 weeks later we were Married in Dillon , So. Carolina. She being engaged to someone else, and I being engaged to another. But we did it, It lasted 48 years, and I lost her to breast Cancer, in 2009. She was a Pfc, and I was an E-4 Corporal. After the ceremony, we went to South of the Border, which at that time was just a restaurant, and on a Sunday, So. Carolina being a dry town, we toasted with Iced tea. It was a great life, We had twins, Boy & Girl, Girl is a retired Navy Nurse ( Lt. Comm. ) Boy doing very well also.

Thanks for letting me tell my story.

Dennis Cosgrove, 1692805 Cpl. E-4

Sgt Grit,
I enjoy reading the newsletter and get my motto gear at I think I've finally trained my family (I have 10 brothers/sisters) on what I want for Christmas each year. "GRIT CERTIFICATES"! $50 here, $50 there, they start to add up!

I've included a few motivational photos of my ride. As you can see with my car, I'm proud to have earned my Eagle, Globe and Anchor or EGA (PS-either way is OK for me). I even made my decals closely match the color of my car.

Keep up the great work. STAY MOTIVATED !

Semper Fi,
Craig P. Reeling
USMC & USMCR 1993-2001
1371 - Engineers Up !


Get a Sgt Grit Gift Certificate

Hi Sgt. Grit. I have just finished reading your latest weekly column and I also served proudly in the Woman Marines from 1959-1962. We did have male drill instructors and my squad's DI was Sgt. Smith. He was a great man and as most of us learned that the drill instructors at first would scare you to death but we soon learned that he would do anything for any of us. He taught us about pride in yourself and in your country and to this day it infuriates me when I'm at a ball game or any place the American anthem is played and the so called "men" do not remove their hats, or the people are talking etc and not giving the respect that this country deserves.

Thank you Sgt. Smith. I still have my pride that you gave me.
Gwen Willis

Dear Sarge,
Introducing Ella Elizabeth Horton born on November 10, 2009 as a Marine Corps birthday present to her; Grandfather Cpl. James Kotche 1955-1960 Great Grandfather PFC Arthur Corirossi, Jr. 1943-1946 Grand Uncle L/Cpl. Arthur Corirossi III 1966-1970

Wearing the "Lean & Mean" T-shirt but not sure about the boonie hat.

Can't find any liberty card but did find US Forces Japan ID card Firm Link to enter Don Muang Airport (Bangkok) Domain of the Golden Dragon (International Date Line)

Jim Kotche

In reply to M.Kunkel's comments about the female poser... she is absolutely a liar. I would pose a simple question to her about boot camp, ask her how the nightly hygiene inspections were carried out with male drill instructors. I imagine she won't be prepared for that question and wouldn't know what a hygiene inspection was! I went through boot in 87 and the only time we were ever around male drill instructors was at the rifle range down pulling butts. We also had male Marines who were our PMI's also, but that was different from DI's.

The final kicker is not responding to being referred to as a BAM, ESPECIALLY from a guy in the office whose father served, not even him! Thank God I've never heard that from someone at work, because that just might cost me my position! Yes, you're definitely dealing with a poser...

Semper Fi!
M. (Keim) Christman
Cpl of Marines
87 - 91

And I Quote...

"I do not miss the Marine Corps, I miss the Marines..."
--Ollie North

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Just wanted to drop a line to those who downgrade a wanna-be. Being part of the most prestigious group of men and women in the world is not a crime, pretending to be one of them is. From the time I was a little guy, all I ever wanted to do was to join the ranks of the Marines. I ate and slept the Marine Corps, all I could dream about was to be one of you.

When I graduated from high school, it was at the time Viet Nam was in full bloom. I found myself madly in love with the most beautiful, most intelligent young woman I have ever met, even to this day. For many, many years, I felt like I had shorted myself, had shirked my duty, that I had missed out. God only knows why I didn't pursue my dream. But I do know this, God blessed me with two wonderful daughters, because of our marriage, and our younger daughter married a Marine. Bless her.

My Son-In-Law served in Desert Storm, and I am so proud of him. To this day, when I see a Marine, I go out of my way to shake his hand and say thank you. I pray God's bountiful blessings for all you who stood up to be counted, as U.S. Marines. Thank You, Thank You.

Signed a wannabe
Stan Erwin

I just want to dedicate something for a Marine that was a reservist at my base. He was Sgt Wyman, and also a sheriff. He was the best, and was amazing. He was killed in the line of duty when working for the sheriff department. And the next day his wife had their 2nd son. He was killed for a very stupid reason too. You can look for more info about it in New York near Utica. There will be news papers and other things about it. I just would love to see something about it in Sgt Grit. My whole base would love it too. Thanks.


Read more about Sgt Kurt Wyman (article)

My husband was in Vietnam and was listed MIA. His Mother received a telegram.

John was in Charlie Company, 1st. Bn, 3rd Marines. They were on a patrol and wound up in area they didn't belong. It took about 3 weeks for them to get back to their HQ. This took place in Oct. 1966. So yes there were telegrams.

Sue McQuiston
Wife of a Vietnam Veteran

Every Marine has a soft spot; it is called his daughter! Sgt Kral with his daughter Jamie.

In Photo: Recruiter Sgt Kral with 8MCD RS Oklahoma City RSS Lawton (AKA Rotten Lawton)
Jamie Kral (5 years old)

Sgt Grit,

After reading the letter in American Courage #253 about the two Marines at Camp Horno who saluted a Chief Corpsman, it reminded me of a similar incident a friend of mine, a retired black Master Chief, told me. When he was at the exchange at El Toro one day, he walked past two young black Marines who both saluted him. After walking past them, he overheard one say to the other, "It's about time one of our brothers got ahead."

Tom Kano
SSgt USMC 60-67
CWO-4 ret USMCR 68-93


On you wearing Marine items. Go for it!

Gunny Walters
USMC 1961-81
Vietnam 1963 & 67-68

And I Quote...

"Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later."
--Benjamin Franklin

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Sgt Grit,

I thought I would pass on the following PCS for 1stLt Gilbert Olson to the Pearly Gates. 1stLt Olson was the CO for the Marine Detachment on the troopship USS Wakefield during WWII. He and his detachment made 22 crossings of the Atlantic Ocean. His last trip on the Wakefield was in the Pacific with Marines heading for the invasion of Japan when Japan surrendered. As of 23May11, he is now in charge of a detachment of Marines guarding the streets of gold.

Respectfully Submitted

Randy Lehmann/Sgt/USMC
1976-79 Active Duty, Presently unassigned

See more outstanding photos submitted to the Sgt Grit Facebook page

Sgt. Grit,

As a Marine, I have no problem with Navy Corpsmen who served with Marines wearing the Marine Emblem. Doubly so if they served in a combat situation. For a Marine, I had a pretty easy tour in Vietnam and was very lucky. But I was at Da Nang one night in July, 67 when they came in with about 50 rockets. So I've heard shrapnel buzzing overhead and guys who were hit calling for Corpsmen. And the Corpsman's job was to get up and go help them in the middle of that, not knowing where the next rocket would hit. All I had to do was hug the ground and pray or curse, as the spirit moved me. Can they wear our Emblem and belong to the League? You bet.

Nor do I have a problem with Marine family or girlfriends wearing the Emblem on shirts, caps and pins or putting it on their cars to honor their Marines. I had a guy whose deceased father served on the Canal tell me he had his dad's buckle with the Emblem, but didn't want to wear it for fear people would think he was claiming to be a Marine. I bought him a web belt, told him to wear it and tell everyone who noticed the story of his dad, to honor his Marine. (But phony wannabes? No. Did I like seeing pictures of then-Senator Obama playing basketball in a USMC tee-shirt? No. When I said "Semper Fi" to a strapping young fellow in a Marine tee in a cafe and found out he "just liked the shirt," did I say something? You bet.)

Lighten up, Marines. Our country has worse challenges then this we need to focus on.

Robert A. Hall
Cpl, USMC 64-68
SSgt, USMCR 77-83

Dear Sgt. Grit.

I am a Marine Corps Veteran from the Vietnam era, 1966-1967. On more than one occasion on Memorial Day, and Veterans Day over many years I have heard the comment "they gave their lives for their country". No combat veterans that I know of ever gave their lives for their country. It was most often brutally "TAKEN" from them. I would appreciate our country noting this, especially our elected officials. Would appreciate feedback on this from my fellow Marines. Semper Fi

And I Quote...

"A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts."
--James Madison

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In response to the article entitled "The LOOK of a MARINE". John E. Halpin, Sgt.

John your article is close to the bone, so my father said. My Father SSgt Roger VanTassell, Korea 1951 to 1953, was reading Sgt Grit articles and yours was the one that actually made him feel better about his medical problems.

You see my father has had 3 major cancer surgeries, at age 80 he is still a Marine. After his first of 3 surgeries (he had 6 inches of his Esophagus removed), he woke from his morphine nap and looked right in my eyes and said "d-mnit son, if you don't work harder to get up this hill we will all be shot and bayoneted" he didn't speak again for 46 days because his throat was too dry and he couldn't take any liquids down his throat. At the same time he was telling me this, he pulled all his tubes out and created a near death situation.

For over a year I wondered where he was and who he was talking to when he said that to me.. He doesn't remember saying it but he does remember Pork Chop Hill. He does remember pulling out the tubes, he said the he had to escape and evade.
Sgt. Todd VanTassell
Semper Fi.

I was glad to see the comment regarding Anglico. I was in Second Anglico at Courthouse Bay, Camp Lejeune from 1959 to 1963. I went to CW School in Norfolk, Virginia and was then sent to Second Anglico. I was a forward air controller. In 1961 I went on a med cruise and was at GITMO twice.

Thank you,

Bill Schneider

I recently read an article on how to put up our nation's flag and different meanings if it was done wrong. In September 1975, I reported to MCAS Beaufort South Carolina as the first female Military Police Officer there. After a short sleep (I arrived around 0200), I reported to the Provost Sergeant. It was around 0800, time for the morning flag raising.

Needless to say the Sergeant that was on flag detail put the American Flag upside down. Boy, did the crapola hit the fan. I never saw people scramble so fast to try to find another flag to raise, so they could bring down the distress signal the upside down flag represented. Unfortunately there was not another American Flag in the building. Several units had to be called before a spare was found and placed on the other flag pole. The Sergeant was thoroughly chewed out for about forty-five minutes and I learned a very important lesson that day, of which I will never forget.

GySgt T. J. (Gilreath) Belville, USMC Ret.

Hi Sarge

In regard to telegrams informing next of kin of wounded or killed, may I add my 2 cents. The first time my son was wounded we had a telegram delivered by taxi at 2:00 a.m. However, the 2nd time a Maj. and Enlisted man came to my office to inform me of his serious injuries. The next day and every day after that til he was stateside, we received a telegram delivered by taxi. I still have every telegram and the Marine Corps could not have treated us any better. They were there for me every step of the way til his death 20 months later. I will uphold the Marine Corps with my dying breath.

Semper Fi (Mom of Viet Nam Veteran 67-68 and passed 8/29/70)

And I Quote...

"It is a happy circumstance in human affairs that evils which are not cured in one way will cure themselves in some other."
--Thomas Jefferson

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Dear Sgt. Grit,
I was reading with pride the story of John E. Halpin, Sgt. Viet- Nam 1966-1967, 2/9 and his story "The Look of a Marine." After I got out, I went a lot of years wanting to just forget about my time in. I had my reasons. Then several years ago I got the pride back. That pride went to a new level when I read the words " ... John is a Marine and nothing puts down a Marine." It made me realize why we Marines never lose our identity, why it is important to us that we are, and continue to be, Marines.

Now, I am not naive enough to believe that we are superhuman in any way (though some believe we are), but rather because we have been pushed beyond limits that we thought we sane. And we did it. Maybe that's what makes us kinda superhuman. Our esteem has been built up so high by doing things we thought we couldn't but did, that we say things like 'nothing puts down a Marine.'

So why wouldn't we think that. We know we have been pushed harder than most ever dreamed was possible so of course we are gonna be a little cocky. In John's case, it probably gave him the motivation to beat his terrible disease. Till my last days I know I will be proud to be a Marine and have association with such fine brothers and sisters.

Well, just a few random thoughts this morning. I was very touched by this and wanted to share. May God bless him with a continuing long life. John, if you are reading this, thank you, brother!
Kevin Sadaj, USMC '89 - '93
Somalia Veteran

Sgt Grit,
One more for you, it was kind of an afterthought. This gentleman/Marine was also known to me, he was one of the two barbers that used to cut my hair as a kid and I attended high school with his kids. Great guy, quiet demeanor, a solid part of our community... I would have never thought that he was a Marine, much less a highly decorated hero at that. He kept that stuff to himself, as did most WWII vets did (my dad included). I will copy part of his obituary, a nice write up:

Alfred Bartowski got his PCS for Guard Co at Heavens gates on 23 March 2011. "In October 1943, Alfred left home, much to the dismay of his mother, to join the Marines. His basic training took place at Camp Elliot in California. Serving with the 1st Marine Division-K Company, Alfred saw action in the South Pacific in the Battle of Peleliu which had the highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacific War and has been called the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines. Alfred was awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Purple Heart "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity... in action against the enemy on Peleliu Island". His citation reads "His daring example of heroism, indomitable fighting spirit and unswerving devotion to duty were an inspiration to his comrades." After recovering from multiple wounds suffered in the Battle of Peleliu, he was deployed to Okinawa where he served for 45 days before sustaining another wound which resulted in his hospitalization in Hawaii and his return to the mainland. He was honorably discharged on December 7, 1945."

Thanks again and keep up the good work with the newsletter and great products, R/S Randy Lehmann/Sgt/USMC/Unassigned

And I Quote...

"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy."
--Benjamin Franklin

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Sgt. Grit,

In June of 1956 I was fortunate to join the Avionic shop of MAG-35 MCAS Cherry Point, NC. The group consisted of two squadrons, VMR-153 and VMR-252 of R3Q-2 "flying boxcars." My shop supervisor was then Capt. Robert O. Arthur of Wake Island VMF-211 fame. He was the spitting image of "Smiling Jack" the cartoon character with the pencil thin mustache. The Captain was a big man full of good humor and a great C.O. He drove a small Renault which was way too small for his large frame. When he wasn't flying he always joined us at the noon time card game. We all knew the Capt. had spent most of WWIIF in a Japanese prison camp after the capture of Wake Island but none of us knew of his heroism. He never bragged nor did he talk much about his prison camp experience. One day we were visited by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Gen. Randolph McCall Pate. I was standing on top of an aircraft in our hanger when the Commandant entered. I heard the Commandant yell "Bob" and the two walked swiftly toward each other and sharing greetings they embraced. I knew then there must be something special about our Capt.

I remember one day when the Capt. Was flying and our shop Master Sgt. Washburn decided to pull a prank on the Capt. He got a bunch of us together and we picked up the Capt.'s Renault and carried it inside our hanger and hid it in a cage. When the Capt. Returned he was shocked to find his car missing and it took him some time to find it. Instead of being angry he viewed the incident with great amusement.

On a personnel note I was responsible for maintaining the ARN-6 (Bird Dog} among other equipment. We had lost several units that had been assigned for repair by Overhaul and Repair. Several weeks passed without any action being taken whereupon I took it upon myself to seek cooperation from a Tech Sgt. In the mechanic shop to see if we could fix the broken equipment ourselves. The mechanic quickly solved the problem and he restored the broken equipment to online condition. This was of course a breach of Marine Corps operating procedures. Because I was behind this action I had to face my Capt. on charges for the orders I had violated. After dressing me down the Capt. quickly changed his tune, shook my hand and complemented me for my out of the box action. That's the kind of man he was.

Out of great respect and admiration I'd like to share with all Marines who read this newsletter what was said about the Capt.'s heroic action on Wake Island.

Navy Cross
Awarded for actions during the World War II The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Staff Sergeant Robert O. Arthur (MCSN: 265415), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as a Pilot of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED ELEVEN (VMF-211), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Wake Island, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. In the devastating Japanese air raid on 8 December, Staff Sergeant Arthur was severely wounded in the left wrist, completely losing the use of his left hand. In spite of this handicap, he rendered gallant service in rescuing more seriously wounded comrades from burning airplanes and camp areas and refused to be evacuated until all others had received medical aid. After a single day's treatment, he left the island hospital and returned to duty. Again evacuated, he persisted in his determined efforts to aid in the defense of the island, returned to his squadron and, after several days of secret experimentation, demonstrated to his squadron commander that he could attach his bandaged hand to the throttle of an airplane and was permitted to fly on reconnaissance patrol. Later, he armed himself with a pistol and, with his left hand still useless, fought beside his comrades throughout the final moments of combat until the island defenses were overwhelmed by superior Japanese forces. Staff Sergeant Arthur's initiative, fortitude and courageous devotion to duty at the risk of his life enhanced the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific Forces: Serial 2915
(June 27, 1947) Action Date: December 8 - 23, 1941
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Company: Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF-211)
Regiment: Marine Air Group 22 (MAG-22)
Division: Naval Air Station, Wake Island

Needless to say, who wouldn't be proud to say they served under this Marine. Major Arthur died of cancer in 2002.

Cpl. Fred Finch (then Buck Sgt.) USMC 1955-1959

God Bless America!
Semper Fi
Sgt Grit