My Marine husband and I were stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1989-1993. We had no children of our own, but I did some babysitting, and would frequent the base library to check out books to enjoy with the young children. I'm not sure how they do it now, but back then I had to give my husband's last four to check out books. If they became overdue, he would be notified by his sergeant and I'd make sure to return the books ASAP.
One afternoon in company formation during announcements, my husband was surprised to hear his name called. "LCPL Reed", First Sergeant called. "Yes, First Sergeant", my husband answered. "You have a library book overdue, "Don't Cry Big Bird". Get it back to the library immediately!" Embarrassingly, my husband eeked out a "yes, First Sergeant". Nobody could hold back and the snickers began. Even First Sergeant cracked a smile.
After formation broke, what seemed like all of Charlie Company had something smart to say. I got an earful when he came home, and made sure never to have a book back late to the library again!
Mrs. Kristine Reed,
Proud wife of Marine LCPL Frank Reed
Persian Gulf War veteran
In This Issue
I took up scuba diving in the mid 70's and have been doing it off and on ever since. I just got back from a trip to Belize. It has the second largest coral reef next to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Belize also has jungle. Since we don't have access to the Panama jungles any longer the USA goes to Belize. Anyway, the guy who owns the dive operation had a Marine Dad. A Marine DI, Korea vet, etc... He said his Dad gave him 5 minutes to get to the breakfast table, after breakfast he had 5 minutes to make his bed and other DI oriented activities. So the dive master knows a lot about the Corps.
Back to the Marines training in the jungle. They train for 14 days. They get two days R&R on this Caribbean island. He warned the island leaders that these were not going to be your typical American tourist. After the Marines left he told the bewildered city leaders what did you expect. 19-20 year olds 14 days in the jungle turned loose with beer, beach and babes. He chuckled the whole time he was telling me the story.
Here we go; made sure we saw, buckets of sand, cot extensions, wondered if she missed me, D.I.'s were very "inspirational", his mentorship, a few of my own, keg of beer, pulls her skirt, with empty jugs, cocky sailor vs. Gunny, shy aren't you running, he sends me, you are one of us, gym lockers, I do Santa Claus, most heavily armed, classier image, character building, buy me drinkie, yes, First Sergeant.
Stay of the skyline
Fewer Prying Eyes
In reply to 1st Sgt Galants letter in the last newsletter: At MCRD/ San Diego, the "Fat Farm" or PTU (Physical Training Unit) was tucked away in a corner of MCRD alongside Motivation Platoon and Correctional Custody. As a two-time visitor to PTU, believe me, this was not where you wanted to spend time. This was in 1964-65, when "one-on-one" encounters with the D.I.'s were very "inspirational", if you catch my drift. Also, being tucked away in our own little corner meant fewer prying eyes.
A typical day could be spent running all three obstacle courses followed by a run of the perimeter fence all the way over to the Naval Training Center. On the way we would usually pass the C.C. inmates making "little ones out of big ones" with 20lb sledgehammers, carried at high port everywhere they went. In the afternoon we did "grass drill" (PT) at the MCRD Driving Range for 2-3 hours.
For a delightful change of pace, sometimes we were suited up and did pugil-stick drill with a regular platoon. As several would- be "hard-chargers" learned, painfully, there was more to the art of pugil-sticks than a headlong charge at a pizsed off PTU recruit. I guess they thought we were supposed to lay down for them. The ONLY time I ever saw our PTU D.I. smile was when we "de-cleated" a few of their future "honor-men". I'm not sure what the curriculum at Motivation Platoon was, but I know they watched "Sands of Iwo Jima" A LOT!
I Missed Her
I just finished reading the latest news letter, which I enjoyed as usual. I have one comment and a brief big cat story for you.
First, the comment, is for 1st SGT D. L. Galant. At MCRD, we also had platoons, not troops (in 1972 anyway). And we also had a "Fat body" platoon and a "Motivational" platoon. When I was later stationed at Camp Pendleton, I was the company "Fitness NCO", among other things. And the "Fat Bodies" and those needing "Motivation" in our company, were mine for "morning abuse", as they called it (officially "Remedial Physical Training"), at 05:30 every morning (including weekends) until they could pass the PFT, or were discharged as "Unfit".
Second, the story, is one that I was reminded of after reading the story from Doug Crowe about his dealings with the big cat at ITR.
When I was stationed at Camp Pendleton in 1976, I used to go running through the hills with a small group of other guys who liked to run. We would generally follow tank roads or just about any dirt trails that we could find, and do about 5 miles in the mornings before we went to work. At the time of this incident there were 5 of us who regularly ran together. And we had gotten into the routine of running the same set of trails every day, because we liked the hills and flats that it entailed. Camp Pendleton is a great place to run because of the variety of terrain you can find there!
At any rate, we had been running this one course for about a week straight when, this one morning, we ran by one spot and there was a female cougar (the feline kind, not the over 50 kind) that we saw sitting up on this big boulder watching us run by. After a bit, we noticed that she was running along about 50 yards behind us. We weren't really worried about her, because there were enough of us. But we kept track of her just the same. She ran with us most of the course that day until we got back near the main area. Then she just turned back and disappeared.
The next day, she was back at the same spot and followed us again. And she did this every day after that, like she was just one of the group and liked our pace. Since there were 5 of us, and the trails were only wide enough to run two abreast, we would usually run in a 2, 2, 1 loose formation. After about a week of the cat running behind us, the guy who was the slowest, and therefore ran in the last position, said that he was worried about the fact that the cat was running closer to us every day. The next day we all took notice of the fact that she was now running only about 20 feet behind him. She appeared to have no fear of us at all by this point.
The next day, after our run, this guy said that he was not going to run with us anymore, because he was not comfortable being the last guy with her so close behind. After a few more days, the two guys who were now in the back also decided that they would no longer run with us because the cat was now running only about 5 feet behind them. The two of us who were still running this route continued for a few more days, until we noticed that the cat was now running so close that, at times, she would be close enough for us to touch her. Then the other guy decided that just two of us were not enough to keep her from attacking, if she decided to, and he also quit running with me.
By this time, I had become quite fond of this cat, almost as if she were a pet. Although people told me that I was nuts to go running alone with her there, I never felt that she was any kind of threat. I continued to run with her, often with her running right beside me, until I got orders back overseas. I have often wondered if she missed me when I left. I know that I missed her.
Phil "Akabu" Coffman
SGT '72 - '82
I have really enjoyed some of the photos in the news letter so I started digging. I found this one and had to send it out. Some may recognize this as the old MP station at the now closed MCAS El Toro circa 1983.
The two Marines in the center are me CPL later SGT on the left behind the car door and then LCPL later Sgt. Dave Sawyer.
The Marine in the white cover is LCPL Nickerson and the other I regretfully cannot remember his name. Dave and I still stay in touch and both of us work for the Orange County Ca. Sheriff's Dept. Finding the pictures brought back many fond memories. I will send more when I have gone through them as some Marines will recognize places they also served.
Thanks for all you do to keep morale up.
Sgt. Jeff Wolven
Here are a display of four of the flags I bought from your store. We are the 1st Mar Div Association of Orange County California and we are all attending our annual luau. Many of us were Korean war vets who fought at the Punch Bowl and other significant battle zones. We were all recently honored by the Korean government with medals of freedom for our service at Camp Pendleton and we heard from many retired and active brass.
One of our members is an OIF vet and was presented with the Navy Cross for his action and we have a few still around who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The MOS's cover a wide range as does the length of service from five years to over twenty years. I believe our highest ranking member was a Major and now serves as a veteran benefits advocate.
I bring the flags to all of our events and the fellows make sure that they are put up and displayed. However, the American flag with the EGA overlay cannot be displayed correctly so that the EGA and the USMC can be read because it is on the wrong side of the flag. I hope this can be corrected and I can be notified when it is so that I can replace the one I now have.
The American flag you see I bought from my United States Senator and it was flown over the White House on November 10, 2010 and sent to me a few weeks later. Our group also sponsors a group of Young Marines which we are very proud of and who we are helping to send to Hawaii for a dedication service. Your catalogue is brought to all of our meetings for those who want to look through it or take home with them and I personally wear one of your many t shirts every day of the week unless I have to wear my ribbons.
Thank you for being there for us and letting us go back to our youth and our best memories. I spent 10 years in the Corps, the last five as a DI in San Diego where I made many friends which will be there for a lifetime. Even more than 40 years later young Marines I had trained manage to track me down and thank me for their training or tell me about marriages, new children and the marriage of their children. A lot of fond memories.
Semper Fi, Sgt. Grit
God Bless the Marine Corps
and a fond good night to Chesty Puller, where ever he is.
S/Sgt. Ike Oshana
E 2/1 Korea 1952-1953
Buy Me Drinkie
Dear Court st.,
You were the place not to go, getting out of bootcamp in 1981 our drill instructors warned us about it, well that's a big mistake or maybe it was reverse psychology and they were trying to tell us where the memories were. Anyways before I ever set foot in Lejeune a bunch of us met at the airport and ended up at a bar in the middle of the day and it turned out to be on Court st. I spent a lot of time and money there got in a couple of fights and watched some good friends fall in love with the "buy me drinkie" oriental girls in the lower end.
There was also a fair share of night ladies walking around and I made a flip comment while walking behind one and she turned around and belted me in the chops, man I loved that place. I also got grabbed one night by some holy rollers that would try to make you get saved and being 15 drinks in there was no saving me.
My friend and I went back a few years ago for the Beirut memorial and sadly court st. had died, I think it happened when the drinking age went up, poor kids have no idea what could have been. I hardly recognized the place except for the street sign. Court st. R.I.P.
Jerry K '81-'85
M42 Light Tank
Lot of talk about the ONTOS lately but I would like to hear about the M42 Light Tank. Joined the reserve while in high school and even made PFC before going to boot camp in 1958. Went to two summer camps at 29 Palms while in the M 42 outfit and was even a tank commander the second year. I loved that anti aircraft unit and was shocked to find out that it had been discontinued while I was serving on my six month active duty.
Primarily used to protect airports it went the way of most outdated equipment because of newer rocket defense programs. After 8 years I went on to become Comm Chief but never forgot my first love with the M 42. Now I can't find anything about this unit. I'm into model making with my grandson and would like to find a M 42 model to make. Anyone out there have pictures or stories on the M 42 ?
W W McFarland, Cpl USMCR
Late October, 1966 I arrived at my new duty station, Hill - 54, a small mountain on Hwy. 1 just north of Chu Lai. After meeting my new squad leader and getting squared away in my new home, he sent me and another FNG down to the armory to get our weapons and web gear. And each of us were then told to go to supply to pick-up 30 feet of chow-line and a set of boot-stretchers.
After getting a few snickers from some of the guys in supply, I being an "OLD SALT" figured out was up (I had about 1.5 years in the Corps by then) We went back and told our squad leader that they were out of the things requested and that he would have to go himself to fill-out a request for those things. Also told him that the supply guys told me to tell you that the cot-extensions were in. (they didn't) He just smiled and said no more.
Paul A McNally - Cpl. of Marines, Delta 1/5, 1st Marine Div. 10-66 to 6-67
Bouncing Microwave Signals
Sgt Grit, some years ago (1964-65) while stationed at 7th Regt, Headquarters company, communication platoon at Las Pulgas I was part of an "elite" outfit that managed to conduct research and development on bouncing microwave signals off objects (other than the intended receiving dish). Using the AN/TRC-27 Radio set, Transportable, multichannel microwave TDM relay set "horn" we would aim at metallic objects in our area to see how effective a bounce signal would be to receive. We started out with the area's Butler buildings, eventually even using the UH-34 choppers that came over the Pulgas area for our "bounce effects".
Needless to say the idea of sending UHF frequency power at people in those objects was never a concern for us. Our platoon sergeant was always missing from these experiments, and I suspect the Regimental communications officer had no idea either. Of course the lowly comm. guys thought this use of expensive military technology was entirely appropriate, after all we were bright, bored, and way too sure of ourselves. Only later did we end up at Chu Lai, and various other vacation spots in Vietnam. If only we had know then what we know now.
Mike Beehler, 1963-67, Sgt.
So He Chose Me
In your 22 Sept 2011 newsletter there was an article concerning the different platoons a recruit could be assigned to other than an actual training platoon in a series. I was a D.I. at MCRD San Diego and the different platoons such as Physical Conditioning Platoon and Motivation Platoon were used.
As noted the recruit was assigned to the PCP after the initial physical fitness testing. Those recruits who were overweight or had issues with their physical condition were sent to PCP for a number of weeks. They were generally there until they reached the weight level they needed to be at or they could pass the physical fitness test.
The motivation platoon was just that. Recruits who needed an attitude adjustment were sent there generally for 2 to 4 weeks depending on the issues surrounding the recruits problems. They also had one day Motivation Platoon in that each platoon was "required" to send a recruit to this one day training. It just so happens that as a recruit my Senior D.I. called me up to the office and advised me I would be going to this fun day of training. He said I did not do anything wrong or that would require me to be sent to the Motivational Platoon but he had to send someone so he chose me.
I spent the day crawling through a trench filled with water and sand, carrying buckets of sand, doing bend and mothers forever and many more fun activities. We stopped just before chow at noon and at evening meal. At about 1800 hours we were all sent back to our platoons. The Senior D.I. met me at the hatch to the squad bay and inquired as to how my day was and how I enjoyed the training. I responded in the normal affirmative answer and that it was very motivational for the private. I looked like a walking sandbar and was still very wet. The Senior D.I. had a good laugh and sent me off to shower and change.
There were other platoons such as the medical platoon for as the D.I.'s called it the sick, lame and lazy platoon. Most of the privates there needed to be there due to injuries received during training. The discharge platoon was the one everyone stayed clear of because no one want to be associated with these individuals. These were the recruits who no longer desired to become Marines and claimed to be gay, enlisted too early age wise, had a criminal record they did not disclose or were being medically discharged. Towards the end of my time on the field the last two months I was assigned as one of the D.I.'s for this platoon. I knew why and that was because I was injured on the field after nearly two years and was being transferred pending discharge due to that injury.
It is strange that after some 36 years you still remember these things from your time in service.
Joseph E. Whimple
SSGT U.S.M.C. 2/70 -12/76
Pork Chop Platoon
1st Sgt. D L Galant, USMC, (Ret), made a comment about PCP Platoon and Motivation Platoon. We had them in San Diego, 1969. PCP: Physical Conditioning Platoon. Fat bodies. (No offense). A reserve Marine I used to work with, early 90's called it "Pork Chop Platoon".
Motivation Platoon: didn't know left from right. couldn't say sir. You, me, him etc. Would see them every day. Carried buckets and e-tools. Dig a hole. Put dirt in bucket. Pile dirt. One bucket at a time. Then refill bucket. Place back in original hole. All day long.
We also had CC Platoon. Correctional Custody Platoon. The guys who got caught smoking. Or, AWOL. They wore the black and white striped uniforms, with cap to match. Carried Sledge Hammers. Ball & Chain. Busted rocks all day. The powers that be, made sure we saw them. Motivated me.
Then there was MRP, Medical Rehabilitation Platoon. (I was there). Our barracks were next door to Motivation Platoon. Oh, mercy!
One Of Us
It is never easy when you hear a story of a good Marine who survives war only to be taken in such an unexpected and unnecessary way. Obviously, God had need of a Guardian Angel and your son earned the job. You call yourself a Marine Mom Forever and I'm here to tell you, Darn right, you are and I know a couple hundred thousand men and women who will agree. Consider this a much needed group hug and Semper Fidelis. You can only leave this family by your own choice. You are one of us and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Yours Truly and with my condolences,
Cpl. Michael S. Lewis, 1988-1994
Along the lines of being sent for a box of grid squares, in HMH-461, at the time a CH-53D squadron, we would send boots to pick up a roll of flight line or send them after the key for the gust lock.
I arrived at P.I. in July 1959. Age 17 years 1 month. Weight 121 @ 5ft. 10in. Left in November Weight 161 @ 6ft.
No fat Marines in Plt. 348
I was very moved by Ben's mom's letter. How tragic and sad to lose her son, all the more sad after surviving two tours over there. My heart goes out to their family. Yes, ma'am you are truly, and will always be, a member of the Marine Corps family. Your service contains just as much sacrifice as those who sign the dotted line. Semper Fi from a fellow Michigan Marine!
89 - 93
Morning Sgt. Grit:
I read the comment on Court Street and I remember it the same as Sgt. Kunkel.
I was an MP and we used to have Town Patrol and many a payday weekend we were hauling intoxicated subjects (not only Marines) out of there. Most were kids like me away from home. But what memories. Grows you up fast.
Sgt. Jeff Wolven
In the 29 Sept 2011 newsletter Michael Hanley asked if in 1967 were ITR Companies XYZ were located at a place called Stone Bay. Well I can't say if they were located there in 1967 but in December 1965 I went through ITR at Stone Bay in X-Ray company. I remember walking that path/trail several times daily. For some reason, that escapes me now, we called the other end "Main Side". I do remember that the Mess Hall was at the 'other end'.
CWO-3 Rick Leach
BTW, I'm and ex- jarhead, but never an ex-Marine. I do Santa Claus now and the hair and beard are long, and I've met four other "old" Marines that do Santa, I wonder how many others there are that read your newsletter each week?
Sgt. Grit, once again a great article.
Regarding CWO DeLaricheliere, the Commandant is right "a Marine is a Marine", we earned the title when we pinned the Eagle, Goble & Anchor, It doesn't matter what our MOS was or is or if you were an officer or enlisted, how long you served nor if you were combat veteran or not.
One other thing, why is the term hero used so loosely today, am I being too objective!
The answer to Michael Hanley's question. Stone Bay was my first duty station when I left ITR at Camp Geiger Feb. 1957 3rd AAA Bn Atlan FMF was there its next to the rifle range at Camp Lejeune.
Cpl James E White Jr
I remember being told to go to supply for a spool of shoreline, or a box of grid squares. I also once heard a newbie told to "Go to supply and check out an NBC suit cause you're going to pull butts at the flame thrower range".
Sgt. RF "Barney" Barnitz
For 1stSgt Galant... in the spring of '66 I was sent to "FAT- BODY" Platoon at P.I., spent about a week there... lost 25-30 pnds... everything I ate was green and maybe a small piece of meat the evening meal... cereal only for breakfast... When I returned, I was of course 1 week behind, different platoon and the D.I.s (SSgt Martin, Sgt Jones and Sgt Petty), were a lot meaner... and today I thank the Lord for that, they made me a Marine... the week I missed, was the week everyone went to Ellis Beach and did all that rope climbing, wall climbing and other stuff... I know nothing about that week since all I did was run up and down 3 levels of stairs all week... till there was enough sweat on the stairs to mop with.
L/Cpl Gallant, M. H... USMC... US ARMY Ret
God Bless the United States Marine Corps
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States:
Junior Past Commander in Chief Richard Eubank, USMC
Commander in Chief Richard DeNoyer USMC (Drill Instructor, Mustang)
Adjutant General Allen "Gunner" Kent USMC
Senior Vice Commander in Chief John Hamilton USMC
National Chaplain John Holland USMC (God help us!)
God Bless the United States Marine Corps God Bless America
Holland, 2229533 Sergeant, 1966-1970
Streets Of Heaven
Today the Marine Corps and the Young Marines lost a great man. Master Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Martone spent 30 years serving his beloved Corps. In 2003 MGySgt Martone joined me in supporting and running the Liberty Young Marine unit of the Young Marines. His wisdom, knowledge, and experience were some of the best I have ever received and his mentorship went way beyond our weekly meetings or outings.
MGySgt Martone took command of the Liberty Young Marines in March 2006 when I was medically discharged from the Marine Corps. He remained the unit leader until his passing. His dedication to those children who had the pleasure of being a part of our unit was unparalleled. Among his success stories he can count Young Marines that became, or are, a 2nd Lieutenant, 2 Sergeants, 1 Corporal, a Sailor, and an Airman, among others. Not to mention his grandson who just became a Corporal meritoriously!
The streets of heaven will surely be guarded by this Marine. Semper Fi Master Guns!
Like To Add
SSgt H who, on August 28th, wrote about the boys and girls who join the Marine Corps and stand on the yellow footprints and weather many names other than their real name. This is due largely to the MC ritual of breaking one down from their former civilian life to give them the opportunity to become a Marine. SSgt H went on to mention, accurately, that regardless of the MOS achieved at the end of basic training, we have only One MOS: rifleman.
SSgt H also mentioned places like Khe Sanh, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan. I would like to add a few of my own. I served in the Marine from 1964 to 1970 and was with the 4th Marines in Vietnam from 1/66 to 6/67 and many of my senior Marines were veterans of both WWII and Korea, so I will add to his list The Frozen Chosen, Saipan, Guadalcanal, Con Thien, The Rockpile, Gio Lin, Chu Lai, Bataan and Wake Island. I was with K 3/4 for Operations Hastings in July 1966 in the area near Con Thien. Though heavily outnumbered and suffering enormous casualties, we defeated the 234th B Division of the NVA.
Got this from El Jeffe as well... just brought to mind the late 90's year that the daughter and I ran the Bay to Breakers in SF... nominally 7 miles or so, with a couple killer hills, and although illegal, nude runners (only ones I saw should not have been allowed to be unclothed within the confines of their own living space if the lights were on...) Truly a mob scene at the start, but as it began to thin, spotted a 3x5' Marine Corps flag on a staff, being carried by a group in front of us... also pushing a grocery cart, containing a keg of beer, tap in place, and ample supply of plastic glasses... free to any takers. Not sure if they were from the RS or the Reserve Arty unit over in Alameda, but boldly supporting and encouraging their fellow runner persons in a truly worthwhile fashion...
Couple Of Beers
Responding to Mike Kunkel and Court Street, J'ville: This street was also referred to as "Second Front." Now, Sgt Grit, you may have to edit my notes.
Winter time and it gets cool. One night I was in a bar and this slightly overweight broad comes in, sees me, drops into my side of the booth and slams me with her hip. "Geez Krist, I'm freezin' my f-kin' balls off!" Well, I could see this was going to be a great evening! "You gonna buy one or be one?" She sez.
After a couple of beers she pulls her skirt up to her crouch. There, tattooed on the inside of her thigh was cherry. "Here's mine, where's yours?" She asked. I looked at my buddy and we agreed we ought to figure a way to make an exit. I went to the head, and he started to join me but went the other way. I was able to get out the back exit and never looked back.
(Then) Pfc James Murphy
(Now) Maj (ret)
1982-83 Camp Pendleton, Lima 2/11 155mm Towed Artillery (The Iron Pigs); we used to send the FNG's out with empty jugs to get gallons of muzzle blast, run over to supply and get fifty-feet of gun line, a tube stretcher (to make the barrel longer... they get compressed when fired you know)... kept one kid running for hours one day!
Along the same line as Sgt Gerling's use of the word "pants"; I still have a tendency to remind anyone, especially male personnel, that Marines only wear trousers.
I had joined the local Reserve unit in March, 1949, and didn't go through boot camp, at MCRDep, San Diego, until April, 1951. The three DI's for my platoon were, Sgt John Medas(Sr), Cpl William Ockert, and PFC Bipes.
Constantly drummed into us was that only Sailors and women wear pants!
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines (1949-1970)
Cocky Sailor vs. Gunny
My name is Francisco n I'm a U.S Marine. I'm here to tell you a short story about a cocky sailor who tried to take control of a Marine post at the barracks. Long story short. A sailor walks in to a room full of jarheads. He walks in like he owns the place wanting to move the refrigerator from one place to another for no d-mn reason.
GySgt walks up to him n politely asked the sailor to replace the refrigerator back to its original place. Sailor refused to obey so the gunny grab him from the neck with one single hand n pull him in the air and with the other hand he punch him right in the mouth causing the sailor to bleed and remain consciously on the ground. At the end other sailor's who happen to be at the scene quickly move back the refrigerator jejej Oorah! 1 btl 7th Marines. get sum.
Why Aren't You Running
I enjoy the stories because they bring back memories of good and bad times that I wouldn't give up for nothing. The prick gunny brought up memories of my slick-sleeve entry into the 11th Marines at Camp Pendleton. Of course we called our radios prick 9s. My first trip aboard ship I was told by the comm chief to up and see the ship's captain and get a box of radio waves, so doing what I had be taught I barged up into officer's country. You'd thought that I had slap Jesus. The comm section had a big laugh, but I thought I was headed for the brig.
But once I got my legs and became a salt, I joined the in-crowd. I became a section chief on a 105 and we got this brand new LT who would go to Fort Sill later. One day in the field, I told him that he had to qualify with an ax to be a good artilleryman. He said okay. So to qualify I told him he had to hit a piece of wood ten times blind folded. Putting a mask on him, we told him we would hold his cover so as to make sure he didn't peek. Well he swung that ax with gusto. When he finished he removed the mask and a look of pure surprise as he saw what he had done to his cover. He took it good natured and that cover all the time we were in the field so everyone would know he qualified as a good artilleryman.
Now the story of duck walking at Camp Matthews brought back the Sunday the recruits were allowed visitors. Those of us who had no one coming were volunteered to be runners. So sitting near the main gate, I was sent to one of the platoon for a recruit. Once I entered the duty tent and told the DI why I was there he sent for the man. Meanwhile the senior DI walked in and wanted to know who the h-ll I was and why I was there. I told him in the third person that I was a runner. Then why wasn't I running. I had to stationery double-time until the recruit came in. We both had to run back to the visitor's area. I was so glad I only had the visitor. The hike back to San Diego is another story.
But I would not trade these experiences for all the money.
Semper Fi Forever
GySgt, USMC, Ret.
A friend is like family: An open letter to my Marine friends
I am now old enough to have had "my younger days." I can look back now on experiences I had 20-plus years ago and see quite a different person. I'm completely the same, while completely different. (I have talked to enough of you that I know you know what I mean.) Youthful exuberance and excitement have been replaced by cautious exuberance, and yes, even sloth. While excitement and great joy still occur in my life, "the way it was" can never be captured again. I guess that is how it should be. God willing, I am a long way from the end of my journey. Here are some of my thoughts on friendship as I approach 40.
Over the weekend, I had a small reunion with two of my best friends - John Botten and Gabe Nieto. These were men I spent my formative years with as a Marine. People who I see a lot nowadays have never met these people. In fact, I saw John last year and before that it had been over 16 years. And Gabe. He completed an entire career in the U.S. Army since we last saw each other.
And yet they still are my "best friends," Why one might ask? What I really liked about Gabe when I first met him was he was hilarious. I remember we talked about our moms. His was always worried about him, and mine was always worried about me. As different as our lives might have at first seemed, we were really just the same. John was the prototypical Marine - square jaw, outstanding physical condition and focused - but to talk to him, he was the nicest guy with depth of feeling. Both were crazy mothers, too, who liked to party. I could say something for each of my friends during this period of my life.
As newly stamped Marines, still in our teens, we travelled to places around the world, experienced the same rites of passage, got into the same youthful trouble and overall just had a h-ll of a good time in places both seedy and tawdry. We were Marines, for God's sake, and we were impervious to any physical force, even bullets, so we thought. So how could two people (in fact most of the guys I served with) still be considered so close? The brotherhood of Marines is part of the answer. That brotherhood was instilled in us like parents who instill the pride of family name or ethnicity. You don't remember when your parents started doing it. It was always just there. Same for the Marine Corps. Pride in being a Marine was always just there, too. As Marine recruits, we were immediately taught that if we made it through boot camp, we would not be "in" the Marines, but rather would "be" a Marine - always and forever.
Our small get-together that afternoon was filled with stories that were tearfully hilarious and tearfully sad. Philosophical and just plain stupid. It was just good for the soul to see people who "knew me back when." The cool thing is, there is no awkwardness. We pick up right where we left off.
The other big part, and this isn't an original idea, was these guys - and all the others we served with - were like a surrogate family. Our blood families could not be with us, but our friends sure were. There's something about shared hardship that builds bonds.
Other than the odd guy who was a seemingly ancient 25 or 28, we were all, "boots to life," a term any Marine would immediately understand. We were young and inexperienced. In literally every corner of the world, we experienced new and exciting and shocking and terrifying things for the first time together, like brothers do growing up. How could you not want to remain in contact with these people?
At times - like living with my squad in a cramped room in Mogadishu - we got on each other's nerves. We worked out our differences with sarcasm, talking, yelling, and sometimes fists. But we always settled them. If something bad happened, if something good happened, if nothing happened, they were there and you could never be depressed because you were alone.
During one of the most life changing periods in my life, in Somalia, I was a fire team leader and sometimes squad leader. No matter what was happening, how scary or depressing it was, good ole Beeker (that was his nickname) was smiling. Without him even knowing it, it provided great comfort. If I've never thanked you before, I am doing it now. Thank you.
I am fortunate to have re-established contact with my Marine friends. They are the most important group of friends I have or will ever have. Nothing can replace them. When I see them, as I did yesterday, it is as if I'm 19 years old for a few hours. That is pretty cool to have once in a while. I think it will become more important as I get older.
This is dedicated all those who shared that part of my life. You know who you are.
Kevin Sadaj, 89 - 93
You Want Me
I was a JDI, F/2 at MCRD SDiego in 58-59. I recall two shooting incidents/accidents at Matthews that involved one of my platoons and our competing platoon.
Sgt Sam Holt and I were standing back smoking cigarettes while the platoons were on the .22 range. When the command was given to clear weapons and hang them up on the adjoining post, one recruit of Sams didn't move. Sam looked at him and hollered for him to clear and hang up his weapon. The recruit slowly came to attention and said, "Sir, the private just shot himself." Sam and I both jumped and headed for the recruit. Sure enough, he had shot himself in the foot. Not sure just how but he had a bullet hole in the top of his foot. The range corpsman was already headed for us and we helped the recruit to sit on an ammo box while the corpsman began his medical aid. The bullet had gone all the way thru the boot and sole and slid between two toes, barely breaking the skin but bleeding profusely. The recruit was getting pasty white and requested permission to smoke a cigarette. Sam came unglued and started in on the recruit. The kid again came to attention while sitting on the ammo box and Sam says, "You shoot a f--kin hole in your inspection boots and you want ME to let YOU smoke a cigarette?" Needless to say it got the attention of all our recruits.
On another "visit" to Matthews, on the .45 range, one of my recruits didn't follow directions and when his 1911 malfunctioned by not going into battery, the recruit pointed the pistol down and began pushing on the rear of the slide. Well, it went off and the bullet entered his leg, slid between the bones and came out just above his ankle. The recruit next to him went down screaming "I'm HIT I'm HIT". We didn't know what had happened and the recruit who had indeed shot himself just stood there looking stupid. The bullet had hit the cement and bounced up hitting a skinny recruit next to him on the line in the thigh and knocked him down. All he got was a bruise. The other recruit ended up at Balboa and eventually mustered out. I went to visit him at the hospital and that was the last I saw or heard of him.
Lots of memories of Camp Matthews where I literally grew up in the early 40's when my father was a range officer. In later years I spent many days there while competing on several different teams in the late 50's, early 60's in addition to my time there as a JDI.
Sgt Rocky Kemp - Distinguished Pistol
He Sends Me
After boot camp and Camp Geiger I went to Cherry Point to H & MS 24 as a supply warehouseman. At the first day's muster the Gunny calls me over for a favor. He sends me with a driver to all our support units as well as base supply with an emergency requisition for "100 yards of flight line"- I was ribbed for a month - and wouldn't you know the Gunny said we are getting a new Marine next week and would you send him on a wild goose chase !
We had a lot of good clean fun, and the imaginations ran wild for newbies. I try to remember all the good things and friends I made over 40 years ago and I keep in touch with two of my fellow Marines, and one staff NCO that I e-mail both weekly.
I read with pleasure the stories of Court Street in Jacksonville and never had the pleasure of ever getting to the east coast. After boot camp at San Diego in 1967, I returned there to attend Basic Telephone/Teletype Repair School for what was supposed to be an 11 month course. It was cut short due to Nam and my class shipped out there early, but that is a story for another time.
After classes most days, my buddies and I were always looking for a cold beer, and all of us only being 18 or 19 couldn't legally drink in Calif. But, being motivated and adaptable to any situation, we found a small bowling alley on the 2nd floor of one of the buildings downtown San Diego. As I recall, they had four alleys and a bunch of small lockers (like gym lockers) in the front, for shoes I guess. Anyway, the guy running the place would sell beer to anyone, but if you were underage, you had to keep the bottles in the lockers. I don't think we even had to bowl. So, there we were, standing in front of these lockers, shootin' the sh-t, open the locker door, take a drink, replace the bottle, close the door. And if the bowling alley happened to be closed, there was Tijuana a short round trip bus ride away. But, that too is a story for another time. What great memories!
Cpl. Keith Newton
Most Heavily Armed
It's very gratifying to see all of the posts regarding the Most Heavily Armed Vehicle in the Armed Forces of its era. I first got acquainted with the Thing in the Summer of 65 at Track Vehicle Repair School Camp Del Mar. I became a 2143 MOS proudly. It truly was a beast with 6-106 recoilless rifles,4-.50cal. spotters, 1-.30cal.MG. Powered by a Chrysler 318cu.
V-8 w/$12,000.00 3-speed A/T It would go like H-ll. Never got to RVN as after 1 year was crap rolled, and kicked to the curb for a non-service connected disability. Would really like to find an ONTOS decal to display on my vehicle. The real heroes were the 03's that operated these little beasts as the attrition rate I believe for wounded, or KIA was 20%-25% .I was stationed with Maint.Co.2nd Service Bn.2nd Marine Div.FMF Camp Lejeune, NC. I enjoy your news letters very much Thank You.
Semper Fi Brother, and Sister Marines
Pfc. Gerald (Jay)Bicknell Marine Vet.
Just wanted to add more to the Court Street subject that has taken off well. I forgot to mention in my original post, and some of the recent stories reminded me, but there was a side street off of Court Street that had a small USO building and it looked as if it had been there for many years. This was 1981, but the place was still playing Sands of Iwo Jima and other Jarhead movies on the weekends, and as I recall had a bunch of old books and magazines stockpiled in there with board games and such, and a fair amount of Viet Nam era military items around on display, but that's all I recall about the place. It did have a few phone booths as I recall, but despite the lack of amenities, it was a nice place to go to and in a weird sort of way was a good compliment to the bars and strip-joints. I went there when I was in ITS several times and then a few other times after I went to 3/8, but not too much after that.
I do recall at least one topless joint on Court Street if memory serves me correctly, but most were just your standard seedy bars. Some places were nicer than others and tried to give off a classier (for lack of a better term) image, but it was still Court Street. Aside from what seemed like the nightly Jarhead fight out on the street - not too much action and certainly not much going on if you were looking for the ladies! Lol
Weapons Plt, L 3/8
The recent duck walking discussions bring to mind my duck walking story.
I went through Parris Island in 1961, so as you may suspect duck walking has a history. I confess before I joined the Marines and went to boot camp I'd never heard of it, nor would imagine anything other than a duck doing it.
Those who enjoyed their training at PI know that in September it's still on the warm side generally referred to as hot & humid as H-ll. I was in Plt 383 quartered on the 3rd deck of a 3 storied barracks. Great place for DI as you're less likely to be disturbed. I don't recall air con either, but I could be wrong on that.
As I recall it, the Sr DI took offense at how someone's rack was made up, & having noticed that decided there was a lot of room for improvement in the Platoon as a whole, and worked himself up quite a bit.
I don't know what time of day or night it was, but suffice to say the DI found room in our busy schedule for some extra attitude adjustment.
So he scrambled our asses ordering post haste to roll our bedding, including the mattress up, hoist it on to our heads and assume the duck walk position.
The left face, and left right etc. And off we go, round and round the perimeter on the squad bay in front of our bunks. And H-ll to pay if you let anything touch the deck or drop anything. So it took the fun out of it if you did a crappy job of making that bedroll.
Round and round we went with him calling cadence. Sweat! God it's hard to describe it as I'm one of those types who perspire like a horse. This went on for what seemed like an eternity. Until... one of the guys, a recruit from Philly by name of Smith or Smitty, saw the humor of it, and let out a snort/laugh, which hit the DI's radar like a laser beam. He descended on him like a duck on a bug and pulled him out of the line, to attention (we continued to waddle on). In DI language he asked him if he found this funny. NO SIR! Well it sounded like you were having a good time! I like my recruits to have a good time. Tell you what... follow me. And he led him back to the rec room. This is the room that by design is where recruits kick back, do recreational stuff like ping pong, or cards or such. Right! It's the room that recruits never set foot in, has a water fountain that only DI's use, and which recruits clean when we have a field day. We heard his instructions. Squat down, put your bedroll on your head, Good! Now I want to know you're enjoying this, so I want to hear you laugh. LAUGH! and then it started. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha... etc. DI "I can't hear you". HA HA HA HA... I can't hear you HA HA HA HA.
Now through all this we've continued to waddle under the watchful and critical eye of the Jr DI. And the Sr Returns and we go into Eternity Act II. Try and imagine this. 79 recruits waddling around a tight perimeter, bedrolls on their heads, sweating like hogs with the constant accomaniment of HA HA HA HA HA with a frequent "I Can't Hear You" This goes on like another forever.
And you may have guessed it. If it didn't strike someone as funny before, it did now and in awhile someone else couldn't hold back a laugh. I served with some Gunnys who served as DI's and one told me the two hardest things he had to personally struggle with was... really losing his temper... Or trying not to laugh. He said sometimes he'd have to leave the squad bay, go out of hearing and laugh his a-s off and get back his control. And we had this problem now. It's so hard to not laugh... And before long there were two guys, back there, then, three, then 4, up to five. So before this ordeal ended we were waddling around with a chorus of HA HA HA HA in the background.
I think he went his course when the day's training schedule or SOP said the DI had run out of time, as he finally had us stop, restore the bedding and move out.
So when I hear the words duck walk, this character building exercise comes right to mind
"I made my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game."
"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act."
--British author George Orwell (1903-1950)
"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities... because it is the quality which guarantees all others."
"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in larger ones either."
"The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become."
You're Bouncin' Girls, You're Bouncin'
Keep your interval!