Sgt Grit Newsletter

Sgt Grit Newsletter - 05 MAY 2011

In this issue:
• Liberty Card Returned
• Philippines 1958
• Prisoner? Team

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Sgt Grit,
Thank you for the newsletters I've been receiving at work. One of the District Managers came upon me while I was reading it and asked if it was work related, I stated that because I am a proud Marine (active duty 1996-2002) and still have brothers in the Corps that have sacrificed much more than my manager and I have ever gone through. That I will continue to read it whenever, wherever I please and thanked him for his concern. He never bothered me again.

Keep sending them. I can't help but feel a sense of pride of belonging to the world's fiercest fighting force in the world. Semper Fidelis.
Glenn DeGuzman

In This Issue

the Sgt Grit Facebook I am amazed weekly at the number and diversity of stories that continue to come in. It is truly a pleasure and honor to be the first to read them. Thank you all who take a few moments and write. There is a mail delivery story below. If you were in an MOS like this that was very small in number of Marines who preformed a service, write me. A lot of us don't realize what is required to make the Marine Corps work.

the Sgt Grit Blog Here we go: 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance 1940, Philippines 1958, Full Metal Jacket X 10, Whoops, I'm a fairy, more on saluting, 5 star resorts, old rifle card, DaNang liberty card, Hawk Missiles DaNang, lifer stripes, prisoners?, Gunny's pride, disrespectful and wrong, Vietnam mail, Skochi cabs, Horseshoe Ridge.

Popping Smoke!
Sgt Grit

*Come to the GriTogether*

June 11, 2011 10am-2pm
Free Food, Music, and Fun for Marines, Family and Friends!
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We've Arranged the Meeting

MCRD 1913

Sergeant Grit,

I was reading the 21 April newsletter and you have a story about the "Old MCRD San Diego". Old for Hollyweird Marines but let's think of our beloved Corps.

MCRD Norfolk VA 1913 Before MCRD Parris Island (later Parris Island) and before MCRD San Diego, there was MCRD Norfolk VA. Want proof? See attached. As a Marine it is my duty to collect USMC memorabilia and this is one of my prized pieces. Just look at the military bearing of all those tents lined up with precision as if they were proud that future Marines are sleeping under them.

If you need better scans, let me know or if you are looking for something specific, ask; I might have it!

Gung Ho and Semper Fidelis!

Cpl. Greg Ciesielski
Active duty USMC 1978-1984
Time in the Corps 1960 - 2011 (51 Years!)

PS - Do you know why only the US Coast Guard and the US Marine Corps have Latin phrases? Because we are the two smallest branches with the most education!
Semper Paratus and Semper Fidelis!

A Little Perplexed

Staff Sergeant Dan Hall and I were walking across the parking lot in front of H&HS, MCAS, Kaneohe one afternoon in 1967 or 68. Dan was one of the most squared away Marines I knew, an infantry Marine who had returned from RVN the previous year. We worked at the Station Brig together and I truly admired him. We were talking as we walked to the "Seven Day Store" and failed to notice a Marine lieutenant in his tropical uniform wearing a utility cover. To my dying day I will swear that we simply didn't see him.

The lieutenant saw us however and certainly noticed that we didn't acknowledge his presence in any manner, let alone the expected salute. He called us short and began to chew on both of us, and rightfully so from his viewpoint. We were locked up tight and he finished with "Don't you salute Marine officers, Sergeant?"

Dan replied "Yes sir, without fail. But I noticed the lieutenant was wearing a utility cover with his tropical uniform and there was no possible way that a real Marine officer would be out of uniform. I thought lieutenant might be some unauthorized personnel sneaking on base and I intended to call the MPs to detain him. Now I understand the lieutenant is truly a Marine officer, I'm sure he understands my confusion." The lieutenant looked a little perplexed and wasn't sure whether Dan was serious or screwing with him. In any event, he dismissed us with a "Carry on", returned our salute and went on his way.

Dan was every bit as competent as he was quick-witted and that was the only saluting incident I ever witnessed. A great laugh over the years caused by an intense conversation and a young Marine officer who had obviously dropped his piszcutter somewhere.

Semper Fi,

Michael Hackett

Memorial Day Shirt


In Spring 1957 I was doing my 30-day mess duty tour at the 2ndTankBn/2ndMedBn mess hall at Camp Lejeune. One day while serving peas on the lunch chow line I started to run low on peas and signaled for another tub. It was nearing the end of chow and the messhall hatch had been secured but there was still a long line of Marines waiting. There was some delay and I yelled for a resupply again. This time the Mess Sgt came out to the line; looked into my tub; looked at the number of waiting Marines and leaned over and whispered in my ear, "We're out. Give them seven peas each!"

Through the years as I recalled this incident, I came to realize that it fell into that character trait of the Corps, "When the situation is in doubt, improvise, adapt and overcome!"

Semper Fi! Proud to Have Served!
Bob Gill Cpl E-4 USMC 1956-1959; Major Retired USMCR 1960-1986

And The Beat Goes On

Sgt Grit,
Just returned from a 40th anniversary visit to DaNang/Quang Nam Province. I was a grunt lieutenant there from January-May 1971. Much of the countryside in the Rocket Belt around DaNang has been bulldozed, quarried, built-up and paved. Urban sprawl has overtaken what used to be rice paddies and small villages. What a difference 40 years makes. Rocket Ridge is a rock quarry. Only tourist go over Hai Van Pass. Everyone else goes through the new tunnel. China Beach is home to 5-star resorts and hotels with more being built. The Marble Mountain Marine Corps Air Station is a driving school. Nothing stays the same. And the beat goes on...
Truett Goodwin
1st Lt, USMCR
3rd Bn 1st Marines
Jan-May, 1971

1st Amphibious Reconnaissance 1940

Outstanding history of 1st Ampib Recon 1940

Liberty Card Returned

Just wanted you to know that after you ran that article about the liberty card I found. I was contacted by a lot of people giving me leads on sites to use to possibly find him. But later I was contacted by a Marine Veteran and now serving as a private investigator in Oregon. This investigator gave me the first 5 numbers of his social security which you and I didn't post. He gave me the guys address in Boston Mass. and two phone numbers. I called the first number and it was his Father.

I told him what was going on and he was thrilled that after 22 years someone would try to return something as simple as a Liberty card. We talked for quite a while and I learned that this guys dad was a Korea Vet, He had a brother that was also a Korea vet, And another brother that didn't come home from Korea alive. This whole family was Marine through and through. What a wonderful experience I had discussing our beloved Corps with this war veteran.

This morning I will send the liberty card to the rightful owner who was also thrilled that someone would call and try to return a small piece of memorabilia from his time in the service of our country. Ya know Grit, I know this card ain't worth the paper it is printed on but if it were me It would mean the world to me. Heck I even have my old rifle card and both of my operators licenses for Motor Transport and Heavy Equipment. I saved all those little things that meant nothing at the time but mean so much to me now.

Anyhow, None of this would have been possible without you and I just wanted to send you this update and tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have interacted with you on numerous occasions and you have always come through.
Semper Fi my brother. Gy Mac

USMC Mom Sand or White T-Shirt

Hawk Missiles in Vietnam

In response to Sgt, Frank Thompson's post pertaining to Hawk Missiles in Vietnam "About 1968". Hawks were deployed on Hill 327, overlooking the Danang Airfield, in 1965. My bunker was on the back side of Hill 327 in 1966, just behind the missile site looking down on the valley. One of the pictures in the second attached web site is one of the Hooch's occupied by 1st Radio Bn Marines. A sapper attack took out the Hawks sometime after October 1966.

Photo of Hawk Missile launcher I have seen a picture of the Hawks laying on the ground after the attack, but cannot locate it now. I'm sure there are other Marines who were up there at the time, and I just wanted to get the dates straight for the record.

More to see:

Hawk Missiles (

Vietnam Blog HullingerMarine

S/Sgt Dudley RVN 1963-66-67 Hill 327, Rockpile, Artillery
Plateau (All the High Ground)

OKC Memorial Marathon

former USMC firefighter and five of his friends (Jake Adkins, Chris Murphy, Johnathon O’Toole, Eric Jaymes and Caleb Schwartz) Sean Shearon a USMC firefighter and five of his friends (Jake Adkins, Chris Murphy, Johnathon O'Toole, Eric Jaymes and Caleb Schwartz) are doing the OKC Memorial Marathon 26.2 miles. They will each be caring a backpack containing 28lbs with totals 168lbs that equals one pound per person that were lost in the bombing.

Read the full story

Get The H-ll Out

I have to agree the Marine who told about the poor treatment of Marines. I was at Khe Sanh during the TET offensive. Water was in short supply on the base. With the base being shelled all the time one hardly wanted to get caught in the shower with nothing on. A GI bath was the order of the day. We had to fly in and out of the base to Danang. We went into a AF mess hall and tried to get something to eat. Now a reminder we had been eat C rations twice a day for two months and wanted some real food. When we tried to get something to eat we were told that because we looked and smelled so that we had to leave now. So no fresh food for us. So yes the AF did treat us like crap. Hope others got better treatment than we did.

Photo of Jon Dewitt in Khe Sanh Now later I went on down to Danang for my R&R. It was during the TET offensive still. Everyone was in formation at the R&R center. We were told that everyone was going to have to stand perimeter duty that night. Everyone was ask where they were coming from and where they were going to. Gunny got to me and I told him I was down from Khe Sanh and head to Thailand. He told me to get to h-ll out of his formation and that I had already done more than my fair share.

Attached is a photo of me taken at Khe Sanh.

Jon DeWitt

DaNang Liberty 1965

Jerry D's Liberty Card Gy Mac asked "how many Marines have an original Armed Forces Liberty Pass." At least one. Me. After my first and ONLY liberty in Da Nang in September of 1965, I have no clue why I never turned this in, nor why I was never asked for it. It was a surprise find as I went through an old wallet, many years later. It's signed by Lt. Henry "Mark" Hartzog who is now a lawyer down in Nashville TN.

Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Jerry D.

Philippines 1958

Greetings Sgt. Grit

Photo of the people known as Nigaritos While serving with the 12th Marines in 1958 during "Operation Strongback" there were Pygmy's living in the jungles of the Philippines... They were a tiny people called Negaritos who lived a very simple and secretive life style... I remember the first time I saw one of them several of us guys were bathing in this small fast flowing river, all of a sudden we look up and here comes this tiny dark skinned little man straddling a log and riding it down the rapids with only a loin cloth covering him... He didn't acknowledge us or even glance our way as he passed by...

In our C Rations we had small bars of soap and anytime we'd find a river or stream we'd strip off and jump in for a good bath, it was much better than bathing out of our helmets... When we finished we'd just leave the small pieces of soap lying on the bank...

We soon realized the Pygmy's were slipping down out of the jungle at night and gathering up all the small pieces we left... We always felt like they were watching us, but they were very seldom seen... I just found out recently some of them were working underground with the Military forces helping to defend their country... Being an 18 year old kid from Indiana it was quite a culture shock to see these things... It was a great education.

Sent Him A Highball

Dear Sgt. Grit,

Having just read of the experiences of some folks and "new- louies", I remembered my happening with a newly promoted 2nd Lt. Rocco Zullo.

This man was a squared away, tough M/Sgt, promoted from USMC Headquarters. I had spent some "off time" with him, reading and working on rules and regs from the Landing Party Manual. He was going for his Warrant test.

He had come to our guard detachment at the Severn River Naval Command, USNA, and really shaped the place up. He started a drill team, and we traveled to schools doing drills. We even did a drill in front of a theater on Baltimore, MD for a Marine movie premier.

He had received the Bronze Star in Korea and lost 16ft of his intestines. I know this because I was "chasing" a prisoner, cleaning rooms in sick bay when he stormed in demanding to see the doctor. The doctor had given him a medical for part of his test, and noted he had weak abdominal walls. While he's yelling for the doc, he jumps up and grabs a heat pipe near the ceiling and begins doing pull ups. When the doc came in Zullo says, "Does this look like somebody with weak abdominal walls?

The doc say, "Ok sergeant, come on down. I guess I was wrong."

Anyway, he didn't have to take a test for warrant, he got a commission.

On the day he had put on his new officer gear, he (OD) relieved us on duty. I happen to be coming down the walk from the brig, as he was coming in the opposite direction. He had his shaving gear, etc. for the watch in his right hand. As I approached and sent him a highball, he started to salute with his left, then moved the gear quickly to his left, started to salute, the said "Fudge it!" Or something like that ! He had received his first salute, but I guess he got too excited.

He was great Marine, and I was proud to have served with him.

Clint Johnson (XSgt)

Most Spectators

Sgt. Grit;

Here is an old Corps picture you may want to print in your newsletter.

My dad a WWII Marine Corps veteran had the attached picture with his memorabilia that I came across after he passed in 1995. I never got a lot of information from him, but he was proud of the Corps and the team.

1946 Marine Basketball Team Portland Navy Yard I remember seeing the picture when I was young and he would laugh when he told us that most spectators thought they were prisoners. They even went as far as making up offences to tell those that would listen.

The attached picture is signed on the back by all those in the photo.

Portsmouth Navy Yard
Portsmouth, NH
Marine Guard Basketball Team
Lt. Massone Detachment

Kneeling front row:
Sgt. William B. Way, Pfc. Sherman Warady, Pfc. Richard C. Moulison, Pfc. Edward "Rosen Bag" Murphy, Pfc. LeRoy Fenton, Sgt. James F. Richardson

Standing rear row:
Lt. James W. Pinkerton, Pfc. Kenneth Ward, Lt. John C. Thomas, Pfc. Eddie Carty, Pfc. P.A. Sergi, Pfc. Zigmund J. Yanofsky, Lt. Eugene B. Poole

Submitted by;
Richard C. Moulison Jr
L/Cpl 1959 - 1967

Lifer Stripes

Sgt Grit:
While there's a conversation going on regarding 2nd Lts and Senior non-coms, let me offer my two cents.

I had just reported to my first duty station and as luck would have it, we were changing barracks the first weekend I was there. There was organized pandemonium as several hundred Marines had to take all of their gear, including beds and mattresses and move them to the barracks located just next door.

The 1st. Sgt had given me an order to do something (I can't remember what) and while I was attempting to do it, the 2nd Lt (outside of hearing range of the Sgt.) in charge of the move ordered me to do something else. Now remember, I'm an E-1 just off of my 30 day leave from boot camp and I haven't the slightest idea how to handle the situation. I therefore dropped what I was doing and started doing what the Lt. had ordered. Now it was the 1st Sgt's turn. When he saw me doing something else, he told me to drop it and return to what he had told me to do. Of course you know what happened next. The Lt came back over and this time I told him the Sgt wanted me to do something different. All h-ll broke loose as the Lt. dressed down the Top Sgt. in front of me and everyone else nearby.

If my memory is correct, the Sgt never said anything and just turned and walked away but I remember his face was red as h-ll.

However, that is not the end of the story. When reporting for work Monday morning, I do not believe it was more than 5 seconds after Colors when the CO, a Major, screamed at the top of his lungs for a certain 2nd Lt. to report to him. He timed it perfectly since everyone was still assembled. Talk about a chewing out. WOW! He reminded the Lt. how long he had been in the Corps and how many lifer stripes the 1st Sgt had and who exactly runs the Marine Corps, When it was all over, the Lt. had to apologize to the 1st Sgt. in front of everyone.

You just gotta love the Marine Corps!

C F Larkin

USMC Cartoon by freddie

USMC Cartoon by Freddie

Short Rounds

I was a metal smith with Squadron VMA-332 stationed at Iwakuni Japan in 61-62. we went to Naha, Okinawa several times for exercises. I believe it was a Navy Air Base We would be there for a couple of weeks at a time while our pilots (some of the best) did training exercises. At that time they were flying the A4D2N Skyhawks. great little planes. I would love to hear from anyone from San San Ne 61-62.

Cpl. C.E. Walters 6441 1867xxx

This note is for Cpl. Mark Smith who wrote about meeting up with LtGen. Lew Walt on a trail at An Hoa in late 1967. I absolutely believe that is exactly the way it happened, but not at that time. LtGen. Robt. Cushman replaced LtGen. Walt on 1 June 1967 as CG, IIIMAF.
Gary Nash
0302, RVN '67-'69

By your reasoning that means that Doc's that were FMF and served with their Marine -buddies should not wear the EGA . I was given my EGA at the end of FMF school and I felt that I earned it. I have always been proud of my time with the Corps.
John (DOC) Mulholland HM2 Ret

Thanks Sarg... survivor of the bombing @ Marine Barracks Beirut 1983... lost my medals in house fire... time to show the Grand kids who I represent... semper fi

This ain't no big thing but after reading the letter regarding a found liberty pass from the 70's I went right to my wallet and checked the date on my liberty pass from 2nd Recon Bn. It was dated 18 March 1961. I've carried it ever since (just in case SP stops me).

Cpl Mike McCaffrey
USMC 1928702

More great Marine Corps stories! Keep up the good work SGT. GRIT ! SEMPER FI my Brother!
Cpl. Chip Morgan

In respond to James V. Meri Ser. #1655980 about joining the American Legion, I believe the early date for Viet Nam Era is 1959 to join any Legions Post. I hope this will help him out.

Cpl. Moe LeBlanc (60-64) 1937250

Carlton L. Davenport, 69, of Leland, NC, formerly of Chesterfield County, Virginia, passed away Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Carl retired in August of 1980 after serving 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, which included three tours in Vietnam. After retiring from the Corps, he owned Davenport Motors in Richmond, Virginia.

No Atheists

Sgt. Grit-

Somebody in this newsletter who said he went through boot camp at MCRD San Diego in '56 said something about an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning if he didn't go to religious services. That must have been something new, I went through boot camp there in '52 (Plt. 445). You didn't HAVE to go to religious services, but while the Catholics went the Protestants did cleanup duty and while the Protestants went the Catholics did cleanup duty ("policing the area", etc.). I don't recall that we had any Atheists in those days.

Gerald R. Brookman, '52-'55, Korean Vet, made Sgt. (E-4) before release from active duty.

Other Things Kept

Good picture and a reminder. Going through boot, Sept/Oct, of 1950, there were no huts! From the parade ground, west to the fence at Lindbergh Field, nothing but dirt and gravel. In the picture, just south of the huts is the mess hall that we used and it's west of the auditorium. Where the hut's are shown we had a FEW times were the D I , taught us how to do a little, 'duck-walk', Ah, sweet memories.

And up on returning in '52, don't remember and huts at that time also, but wasn't too interested in the buildings on the base, other things kept my mind occupied!

Norman Callahan
Chesty's last regimental command.

Marine Pride

Jerry and the back of his motorhome Hello Sgt Grit;

Everyone else is showing their Marine Corps pride. I thought I'd show mine. My wife and I live full time in a motor home. I recently found a small Marine Corps Seal decal. I thought it would look cool on the back of my rig. enclosed is the picture. In case you are wondering the decal is 40 inches in diameter... Semper Fi.

Marine Corps emblem on Motorhome Close up of Marine Corps Emblem


Jerry R. Hattox
GySgt USMC (Ret)
1954-1978 TID

Regarding the story about the First Sergeant and the 2nd Lieutenant

Simple matter. the Lt was right, the First shirt was both disrespectful and wrong.

No other point of view is, or can be, correct. The Corps has a rank structure. It exists for a reason. That First Sergeant acted like a dirt bag, and should have been written up. He willfully disrespected an officer for no valid reason other than he felt like it, and then thought he would be a smart azs about it. That officer should have jacked his azs up right then and there and he might have learned from it. Particularly if there were other Marines there to see his unprofessional and immature behavior, and the azs reaming he got for his troubles. I doubt a tactful pulling aside and corrective action would have worked with him, with that attitude so sterner measures would have no doubt been needed.

One does not have to like an officer, or even other Marines, but the rules and regulations are there to be followed. If one is a Marine, they do so, period. If they don't, they are f#cking up my Marine Corps and have no place in it.

Based upon a number of experiences I had with officers in the Corps, I neither trusted nor had much affection for them as a rule unless they showed they rated it. But I always behaved professionally towards them, because I had given my word when I enlisted to play by the Corps's rules even when they make no sense or are just plain screwed up. That First Shirt is neither to be admired nor emulated. He is an undisciplined embarrassment to all of us. We all made mistakes in our tours of duty, but this was simple disrespect, and is always something to be punished, not admired.

Steve Cox
SSgt USMC Ret.

Full Metal Jacket Multiplied By 10

Sgt. Grit,

I was reading the story about the Marine that was in Nam and the Air Force Guy kicking them out of the chow hall. It reminded me of a time that I was in the PX at Lejeune. One of my fellow Cpl's and myself were taking a little mid day liberty at the base PX. We were in the food court when a gaggle of Air Force guys come strolling in.

Now we all know that stateside and in garrison it's a huge no no to walk around with your hands in your pockets. Well these guys had their hands in their pockets, covers on cocked back on their heads, laughing and basically looking like a high school JROTC unit.

Well right before the other Cpl and myself had a chance to say something, and mind you we were primed to rip into them, up walks two Capts in Charlies. The look on their faces was one of pure horror and anger. Well the Air Force guys did not see the writing wall and didn't even think to come to even parade rest.

Well right as the Capts started talking here comes this SGTMAJ in Charlies. He had at least a 5 or 6 stack of ribbons and medals and right there in the middle I say the Drill Instructor ribbon with a gold service star. At this point the Cpl I was with and myself just moved off to the side of the food court, because we knew what was about to happen.

When the SGTMAJ unleashed it was a thing of epic proportions. The only way I can describe it is Gunny Hartman from Full Metal Jacket multiplied by 10. The Air Force guys were in shell shock, bodies locked at attention. When it was all said and done they SPRINTED out of the PX. My buddy and me were off to the side trying our very hardest not to laugh out loud. That was one of the moments of my active duty career were I knew that we as Marines are a step above and beyond other services.

Sgt. M.R.T. Linen USMC/1812


In August, 1950 when we arrived in California (On our way to Korea) the drinking age was 21. Our 1st Sgt. Wilcox issued "Liberty Cards" to all of us under 21 that said we were 21. All the bartenders in Oceanside knew it was "BS", but they all knew where we going and some were not coming back. They were not going to deny us our last states side drink

Ralph Hoffmann
"E" Bty, 2nd Bn., 11th Marines

Gung Ho

The term "Gung Ho" was not originated during the Boxer Rebellion as explained by Frank Bricino in the April 21 issue of Sgt Grit.

It was coined by Col. Evans F. Carlson of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion during WWII. It's Chinese for "Work in Harmony" or "Work Together". Carlson learned it when he was in China prior to the U.S. entry into the war. He used it to galvanize his troops in preparation for the raid on Makin Island in August 1942. Semper Fi was always there but Gung Ho was the preferred version during the 40's and 50's in the 'Old Corps'. Now they've come up with "Ooohrah!" Go figure.

Check out the 1943 movie "Gung Ho" starring Randolph Scott and Robert Mitchum. It's a fictionalized version of the Makin raid. It's on DVD.

Jack Strumpf
USMC 1953-57

Regarding the comment of
Frank Briceno
USMC 1960-1964

In the 60's, we did not use the term "Semper Fi"... We used "Gung Ho". Started in boot camp at MCRD San Diego. In the 70's while in the Reserves, "Semper Fi" was used. When someone would say "Semper Fi", the response was "Do or die". We were also given the explanation of Gung Ho as coming from the Boxer Revolution.

I enlisted in Feb, 62, and checked out with an honorable medical in Mar, 68, and well remember using BOTH 'Semper Fi' and 'Gung Ho'. My brief 'familiarization' training with RECON at Camp Del Mar taught me their 'mantra' which then was:

"Semper Fi
Do or Die!
Gung Ho!
Gung Ho!
Gung Ho!"

So, brother Briceno is right on both accounts. I recall a LOT of affection for active RECON Marines. Many of us looked up to them. You either thought they were brave beyond measure or nutz! Having run, fought, and jumped once with them, my respect was ardent. So was everything I later wrote about them. Though the moment is a foggy one, I think it was a RECON patrol that saved my butt in early 67.

I was totally deaf and partially blind for three weeks to a month, so it's hard to recall. Some things are better left unremembered. I was discharged in Mar, 68, honorable medical. I have never pursued PTSD, but all my friends now (Mostly X doggies) keep pushing me to pursue it. I guess they don't know our code.

Kent M. Yates
1989310 62-68
Primary MOS - Wire Tech (TTRS)
Cross trained in Sniping, Squad Tactics, NCO leadership, Land Mine Warfare and Demo, and 'Special Operations'.

Boot Camp Stories from 1963, Lessons for Life 8 of 10

William N. Thompson, Honorable Discharge, USMC, Pfc (E-2), Ph.D., Retired

8. You Ain't Off this Island Yet Prive

After a few weeks on Parris Island, a recruit can begin to notice the small signs on other recruits from other companies that reveal their place in the training cycle. A first week recruit is noticeable as his skull is still very white. A first day routine includes having all of one's hair shaved off. In the second week, one is still hairless, but a tanning process has ensued so that the skull is no longer white. In the third week hair begins to grow back, but the recruit is still wearing tennis shoes during physical training. In the fourth week, the recruit wears combat boots to physical training, but wears a USMC tee shirt with his fatigue trousers. A week later he has a full fatigue uniform on during physical training. In another week, recruits carry rifles to physical training. In later weeks while platoons are marching the drill instructor may lead them in singing chants. The trained eye can discern just about how long one has been on the Island, and just how long one has to remain on the Island.

When a recruit is give a day to be on a specially assigned detail, it is usually a benefit to be enjoyed. It is a chance to get away from daily routines, and opportunities for a drill instructor to pick on you. It is also a day to miss physical training. A social benefit is also provided. You usually get to spend some time with other recruits from other platoons, and you can talk with them without being under the eye of a drill instructor. The conversation might be about hometowns, news about sports game results or other current events. While with your own platoon, you were permitted to speak to others only with permission of a drill instructor-or with a fear that a drill instructor will see you breaking that rule. I was sent off on special details on two days during my training.

The first time I was sent off, I was quite disappointed as the recruit I was with had absolutely no desire to talk about anything. On my second detail day, things were quite different. My work partner was all too eager to run at the mouth. In retrospect his banter was not that atypical. Like many a Marine I have met long since training ended, he had the worse drill instructor ever to walk on Parris Island, or even upon this earth. His drill instructor was by far the meanest and most cruel of all time. And he offered clear detailed evidence to back up his case. His "favorite" drill instructor regularly hit recruits on the face and head. Some had to miss training to go to the infirmary as a result. The drill instructor made his platoon do unauthorized exercises and take painful muscle killing positions. He refused to allow them to have smoking privileges they were supposed to have-ones that other platoons had. He would not let them write home the three times a week we were allowed to do so. He sure made his case-in aces and spades. I was impressed by the litany of miserable experiences that were endured by his platoon because they had the meanest drill instructor ever.

He asked me about our drill instructors, and I told him that they did not come close to his on the misery index. I told him about the many good things our drill instructors did for us. I told him about the time a drill instructor noticed a rash on my leg and ordered me to the clinic where I got a curative lotion. My drill instructors made sure if we had a cold or fever that we got to a doctor for some medicine. They would order us to the clinic even when we did not want to go. We naturally feared that if we missed a critical day of training due to an illness, we might be put into another platoon. That did happen on one occasion. Our drill instructors also made sure we ate properly, and on Sundays they marched us to church. Every night, when the switched the lights off, they initiated the "Lord's Prayer," and we recited it with them. So my world view (which I admittedly slanted just a bit in a positive way) was very very different than my fellow recruit's picture of Parris Island life.

As our special-assignment day ended and we parted ways, I offered a "goodbye," and a "by the way, I feel sorry for you, I'm sorry to hear about your platoon, good luck and I hope things get better for you." He responded. "What? Are you crazy? Did you say you feel sorry for ME? Man, you are nuts. I feel sorry for YOU. I'm in my eighth week, I only have three weeks left and I'm off this Island. You got four weeks to go."

The ordeal of Boot Camp certainly made most of us feel at many moments that the singular goal in life was to be able to "get off this Island." But life is not this way. Goals are to be achieved and also captured and used as platforms for things we can do with improved skills. I reflect on this story and tell it to students who get involved in the many steps they need to take in order to finish a class or a degree program. When I hear utterances such as "I only want to get this paper finished," I wonder, if that is truly the case, why did you even start the paper, or the course, or the program. When I think of my eleven weeks at Parris Island, I think of what I gained from the entire experience-not just the ceremony of graduation day. I also reflect that this branch of the military service was filled with volunteers. I asked for my boot camp, and I got the full dose of it, thank you!

A Short Poem

There is a short poem that sums up your experience:

"It doesn't matter if you really care,
The fact remains,

ps; If you want to read about how WE were treated when we returned, read this:

"Achilles in Vietnam", by Jonanthan Shay, MD, PhD.

P.C. Formaz
GySgt of Marines
3rd MarDiv
'Nam in the early days: 1966-68

Vietnam Mail

Sgt. Grit: I only caught the reply from the Marine who took care of the mail for individuals on his firebase or AO. I was assigned to the 1st Marine Division/1st Marine Air Wing Post Office in DaNang from October of 1968 through January of 1970. We had responsibility for care and distribution of all the U.S. Mail for every Marine, Sailor, Soldier and Airman attached to both units. It was a rewarding and yet tiring job, the conditions were not as severe or hazardous as those faced by our fellow Marines, but some situations were extremely emotionally draining. We had our own LZ for mail to be brought in from and sent out to outlying units, sometimes we would be the offload point for Marines with prisoners and more likely than not we would see the 'ambulance transports' for graves registration before the choppers arrived, those were off loaded first.

My own job was in what we called the Reg Cage where we made distribution of Registered Mail, which has to be tracked from sender to recipient by signature. Please forgive me when I was assigned to the Reg Cage, I was glad, that meant I caught no Reaction Force Zulu and very seldom had to burn the sh-tt-rs or catch any guard duty. But, me and 3 other Marines did have to receive and account for hundreds of pieces of registered mail, each with an accountable number that was sent from someone here at home to a serviceman doing his job in VietNam.

We had packages, large flats small flats letters from attorneys, letters from collectors, some packages had Granddad's Best, which was illegal as h-ll, and made it usually in broken bottles, I recall one Marine in An Hoa, received a case of Coors in 11oz. cans from his brother in Golden Colorado. I had the drop assignment for An Hoa and LZ Baldy so that Marine got his package, and a stern advisory from the Division Postal Officer, Captain Lester Rickman.

I had to get signatures on delivery receipts for registered mail and in firebases this sometimes meant finding my own 'ride'. Most units like An Hoa where, if memory serves, was the home base for 1st Marines or 5th Marines had a 'post office' that was staffed by Division postal people, and they, like us would protect with their lives the 'gold' from home that our Marines got. But the Registered Mail still had to be held in highest regard, because it held something that someone cared enough about to start a tracking procedure on that slowed it down but guaranteed delivery to the intended Marines' hand and it would track him until he received it or until it was determined he couldn't receive it (KIA, MIA) or wouldn't (refused) receive it.

Early on I had a real eye opening experience, I had delivered a small flat package to a Marine in 1st Recon's area and he signed for it and hurriedly tore it open and found some new photos of a new born son, with his young wife and a long letter. He was in tears and thanked me profusely, invited me to stay in the area for dinner that evening and have a beer or two, I should have done it but I had more stuff to drop at Division HqCo office and went on about my business. We became fast friends and for the next 13 or 14 months we spoke often generally when I was on my way to HqCo and he was not in the bush. We both came home Sgt. E-5s. That was a good one,

I delivered multipage letters from Dowe Cheetem & How Attorney @ Law more than I care to recall, in these situations I was immediately the bad guy, the letters were to advise the Marine that his wife was divorcing him, or his car/truck/house/whatever was being 'recovered' by the bank or finance company, or often there were letters with nothing but an engagement ring and a short 'Dear John'.

We had a rewrap cage where packages that had collapsed around the contents or become undone, or the contents were suspect, remember alcohol firearms, explosives, etc couldn't be shipped via USPS and often it was the responsibility of the Div PO to rewrap packages where bottles had broken or someone had tried to pull some stupid stuff. I can honestly say that most everything, including some of Granddads Best did make it through, if at all possible, I took my job seriously and although I hated what I sometimes had to do. Somebody had to do it and it just as well be me.

I'm a Marine just like the rest of you I went through boot camp and qualified expert with the M-14 and the M1911A1 every time I got the opportunity, and I worked with and for some of the most devoted Marines ever, Captain Lester Rickman, SSgt. Don Litalion, Gunny V.L. Bruner, and there are so many more. They shaped my life even after my service in RVN. There are many more stories. I'll tell more later.

Sid Lawrence
USMC 1968-1974
Rangely, CO

PI Humor 1946

Just a story of one of the few moments of humor I experienced during my 1946 stint at PI. Since I'm now 81 years old, I guess I can be listed as an "Old Marine."

We had a guy in our platoon who was constantly singing while in ranks. He sang real low and you could hardly hear him, but unfortunately one day, while marching to chow, our DI PltSgt. Younce, heard him. When he called halt at the entrance to the mess hall, he called the guilty party forward.

There had been some construction at PI so there was a nice pile of dirt right at the mess hall entrance. He ordered the private on top of the pile and informed him; not very kindly; to sing the following ditty at the top of his voice.

"I used to flirt with all the girls,
But they were quite contrary,
So now I flirt with all the boys,
Whoops, I'm a fairy."

Needless to say, you did not laugh or even crack a smile. There were many boots entering and leaving the mess hall, bleeding at the mouth from biting their lips to assure they did not become a part of a duet on the dirt pile.

Sgt. Clyde Fortner
Plt. 294 1946

1st Marine Brigade

Dear Sir:
Do any of you Marines know what happened to the 1st Marine Brigade that was located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii?

Marines are still there but not known as the 1st Marine Brigade. I am very interested in knowing as my sea duty as a Navy Hospital Corpsman was with the 1st Marine Brigade, Co. B 3rd Medical Battalion 1962. I really enjoyed bring with the Marines and I am hoping that somebody in your Company might know what happened to the 1st Marine Brigade or know who to contact to find out for me.

Sincerely and thank you:
William H. Scott

Hawks, Boots, Levi's

Geez... beginning to feel like some unofficial historian of Marine Corps matters minutiae... (or...crap! I'm getting old!)... re the Homing All the Way Killer, or HAWK missile... haven't researched for the actual date that the missile system was fielded, but our Guard Officer at Marine Barracks, Naha, Lt. Brad Foster... '60-'62... was a Hawk missile type... and, could be wrong about this, but other than the helo squadron that sort of disappeared from Futema earlier (and showed up in VN as 'civilian' birds and crews. (operation Shu Fly???)... remember a Life magazine photo where the "Marines" on the side of a H-34 was visible through the 'civilian' paint...) I think the Hawk missile batteries were already in place around Hill 327, protecting DaNang airfield... before the 1965 beach landings... have also heard that the only missiles to ever 'leave the rails' in all the years the battery was up there were sort of launched from sapper explosives detonating... think there are lots of tales out there from Hawk Marines who read your stuff, would sure hope they send them in...

For the 'brown to black' changes... at the time, was in H&S 2/1 at San Mateo, during the 'lock-on' work up prior to 2/1 rotating to Okinawa, (as the second in a long line of 'transplacement battalions'... we became 2/1/9, 3rdMarDiv, at Sukeran... as it was spelled then)... anyway, the sneaky way and specifically unauthorized way to get a really good shine on BROWN boots was to incorporate some BLACK Lincoln brand (larger can, blue, w/yellow lettering, and considerably more expensive than Kiwi) as the base coat (s). These were rough side out boots, too... it was a lot of work. Had invested in two cans of Lincoln black, stowed in the footlocker... and lo, the word came down: "anybody caught with black polish is going to get office hours"... so... at not inconsiderable pain, considering the cost... the cans of Lincoln black went into the dumpster. This, of course, was less than a week before the next official word came down... "all leather gear is to be dyed/polished black"... so, here we are, over fifty years later... with rough side out, brown boots... and no polish, at least so far... makes me smile every time I get to see a contemporary hard-charger in utilities.

I know it would be difficult for today's crop to believe... but there was a time when Levi's (or Wranglers, etc.) could not be worn on Pendleton, or on liberty there from... I believe it was a Col Shmuck, CO of the 5th Marines at Margarita, and a genuine cowboy, who got that changed... would welcome anybody else's memories on that...


Okinawa Skoshi Cabs

Cpl. Lindner is right on the mark about units on Okinawa. I was there during the same period as NCOIC of comm section, "A" company 3d Recon. Henoko was the liberty ville for Recon and the 3d Marines of Camp Schwab. The town didn't have that many bars so many of us took skoshi cabs to BC street and beyond.

Ishikawa was the liberty town for the tankers of Camp Hansen as Kin ville was not active as it is today and if you were not a tanker it was wise to stay away from Ishikawa unless you were in the mood for a fight. The helicopter Marines were probably from MCAF Futenma. I remember the bars had "1", "2", and "3" signs indicating the level of sanitation I believe. I don't recall seeing the "A" signs in the bars until I returned to Okinawa in 1963. Also besides the skoshi cabs there were cabs we called the "big" cabs which had access to the camps where the skoshi cabs did not. This is my two cents worth. Semper Fi.

GySgt G.R. Archuleta
USMC Retired

"Horseshoe Ridge"

It started as 6 a.m. Dallas time to 8 p.m., 14 hours of some tough time, April 23, 1951. The first battalion was sent to a hill, to set up and stop any enemy that might come that way. It started the night before at nearly midnight, when we were in reserve from that one day and told to 'saddle-up', we were put on trucks and rode all night long until the next day after noon when we got off the trucks.

Passed through an artillery unit and proceed to the hill, and at that time we knew it as '307' only, as that was the designation of same on the map utilized. It later had several other names, one assigned to it by a writer miles away from the action, and he tagged it with "Horseshoe Ridge", and his writing was held up under censorship until May 1st, until the outcome of the Chinese spring offensive was determined, and that name has stuck to it since that writing.

We got on the hill in the afternoon, and were told to dig-in our foxholes, and deep. The terrain wasn't conducive for such, but we did as well as it would allow. During that time, Handley, our squad leader told me to go out front out start cutting down the small cane that was growing in front of out positions. When we on the hill, we could see, all around us, the Chinese digging their positions, also, at a distance where shooting would have been wasteful. They were there to let us know, they were coming. It has been recorded that they were a division, in force.

I cut down the foliage until I was called up to get back into position, as Handley, with his field glasses could see their movement toward us. In retrospect, I could have easily been eliminated, right then, but that would have given away their position. At the top of 307, were TWO squads, one a rifle squad, with one fire team short, or 8 men, and a machine gun squad with 8 men, both on the apex of the position, to remain there for the 14 hours. At 8 p.m. it started, and with the firing, I distinctly remember, in perfect English, the words, "Charge, kill them all", and until we left the hill the next day, it basically stayed that way.

During the night, the machine gun, alone put over 10,000 rounds through the ONE barrel, without any misfire, and good for us as Sgt. Handley, who was the squad leader, and was wounded twice before he had to evacuate his hole, had, as he found out later at the bottom of the hill, our shell extractor in his jacket pocket. That would have caused us a lot of trouble if we needed same.

With the firing starting as said, it continued on and off until departure the next morning. As related, the rifle squad, who was headed up by Cpl. Leo Marquez, was tied in with our squad the total time. When we left the hill, his squad, had, I think 3 men remaining, and the MG squad had only 2, so out of the 16, five came off the hill now W/KIA in that firefight. Leo, with duties to his squad, ALSO walked the line of the two squads that night, giving us the support needed and he along with others, humped ammo up to the squads and guns all night long, and for what he did, was awarded the Silver star.

Several people in the First Battalion who have written about their remembrances, mostly have given their perspective from what they experienced and some quite vivid. John Welch, who was on the hill, in the 90's compiles a book of remembrances of the ones who contributed and did a great job. Also the fight was written up in Vol. # 4, off the official writings of the History of the Marines in the Korean war.

And something not written but referenced to all by Capt. Bob Wray, commander of Charlie Company, during the above, who related when he left to go home, about a week after the above, he flew home with a friend of his, who was a Major or Colonel in the 11th regiment, which was the Artillery unit for the first division. Wray's initial guesstimate of the KIA's of the enemy was 400 or 500. The Officer, who went home with him, flew over the area the next morning, told him if there was one KIA, there was at least 2,400 or 2,500 of them, and some think that is the reason the attack in our area wasn't continuous, as with that many of the above they didn't have enough to pursue anything.

And in a letter written in May about a month later, it said, we had between 15 & 20 KIA's and 110 to 120 WIA's, which would have been about 60% of Charlie Company. And yesterday, in an email, from Frank Albano, he related that he would take that day with him to the other side of the grass, and believe me, so will all the others. We have with us, today, a person on the hill that was on Iwo Jima, and he has said, he never saw anything like that night. And to all the casualties mentioned above, and the ones who have gone on since, WE REMEMBER, AND ARE,

One person's remembrance, 60 yesteryears!


The USMC is over 222 years of romping, stomping, h-ll, death and destruction. The finest fighting machine the world has ever seen. We were born in a bomb crater, our Mother was an M-16, and our Father was the Devil. Each moment that I live is an additional threat upon your life. I am a rough looking, roving soldier of the sea. I am cocky, self-centered, overbearing, and do not know the meaning of fear, for I am fear itself. I am a green amphibious monster, made of blood and guts, who arose from the sea, feasting on anti-Americans throughout the globe. Whenever it may arise, and when my time comes, I will die a glorious death on the battlefield, giving my life for Mom, the Corps, and the American Flag. We stole the eagle from the Air Force, the anchor from the Navy, and the rope from the Army. On the 7th day, while God rested, we over-ran his perimeter and stole the globe, and we've been running the show ever since. We live like soldiers and talk like sailors and slap the H-ll out of both of them. Soldier by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice,

"Keep your powder dry "
"Keep kicking at darkness until it bleeds light!"
Sgt Grit

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