Sgt Grit Newsletter - 10 FEB 2011

In this issue:
• Rockpile
• Sent Back in Boot Camp
• Gulf War & Korea

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Newsletter Archives

VMF 311 Plaque I thought it might be a good idea to send you a copy of the plaque of our fighter squadron during our battle to kick the sh-t out of the North Korean and Chinese troops trying to take all of Korea to communism.

This plaque actually showed Sylvester's finger pointing up but Eleanor Roosevelt didn't like it that way so it was switched down. At least that was the story that was spread around.
Ed Hull


In This Issue

Marines, like most of you I see myself as a Marine first and anything else second. My second could be Okie, that is, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. Even the name Sgt Grit is because I'm from Oklahoma, otherwise one of my buddies, Hunts, Fuller, Goog, Knavel, Dirty Dick might have gotten the name.

Oklahoma is not a wet state, hence the dust bowl is part of our history. We have just been pounded by two snow storms. We don't do snow well here. Closed twice last week. Maybe should have closed today but didn't. The three whinos that shovel sand out of the back of five large trucks just can't keep up with all this snow on the road. Did I mention we don't do cold either.

Having said that or should I say having whined about it enough, I want to thank you for your patience with your orders. UPS is even behind several days due to all the snow in the Midwest. We have improvised, adapted and overcome a lot the last few weeks. Now we need a lot of sun. A lot!

the Sgt Grit Facebook the Sgt Grit Blog

I got a few responses to my request for Gulf and Korea stories. Thank you!
More on service numbers, interesting reaction to "not big on sweating", contract PFC, Time Magazine and the Rockpile.
Good story about being set back in boot camp and considered the resident sh-tbird. And the first installment of a well written 10 part series.

Semper Fi
Sgt Grit



Did Not Return

On Super Bowl Sunday, 2010 the Combat Engineers from Knoxville, Tennessee met the Iron Horse Marines RC in Palm Springs, California. When the engineers deployed to Afghanistan that April, they were escorted to March AFB by the club and took with them the USMC flag which was purchased from Sgt Grit.

Combat Engineers and USMC Sergeant, Longshot, holding a Marine Corps Flag from Sgt Grit This picture is at 0300 after being escorted back to 29 Palms MCAGCC in the middle of a night in November by the same Iron Horse Marines. The flag was signed by all the members of their platoon in honor of the men they revered - Corporal Kristopher Daniel Greer and Gunny Holley - both whom lost their lives as a result of IED wounds and did not return with them. The flag has been placed in a permanent place of honor for them, their families, and the Combat Engineers serving with them attached to the 3/1 Thundering Third. These Marines were all highly decorated because of their actions.

Respectively submitted, former USMC Sergeant, Longshot, Palm Springs, California


Amgrunt

Marine leaning over the top of an Amtrac Hello Sgt Grit,

Here my story for you.. We in Amtrac were known as Amgrunt, had the Tracks to drive but we did a lot of foot patrols. When I first got to 1st Amtrac up by the Cua Viet river we had to be a initiated into the platoon, this was done to see if we could work together as a team, first the old timers would put a ring of sand on the ramp of the amtrac, Helicopters taking off in Vietnam next we took a few swings with a sledgehammer to see if we could hit the center, then came the blindfold, to see if we still could hit the center, but unknown to us we were beating the h-ll out of our cover [keep mine for a long time].

Sure had a good time doing it to the newbies, But my first time was cut short, on my first patrol to the DMZ I was wounded, spent the next 41 days in the hospital at Cam Ranh Bay before I went back to my unit. Marines repairing treds sending you some photos of the first copter I took a ride on, I was on a stretcher up by the door, talk about a cold ride, [but another story]. Here are some pictures of me and the Amtracs (see all photos). That's me looking out of the drivers hatch. Use the ones you want,

Semper Fi
Sgt. Larry Walker
Nam 67-70


Didn't Happen

Okay, Sgt. Grit, you wanted us 'Gulf War' Marines to send a story - here goes. I was a Lance Corporal going through electronics school at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, CA. I remember our platoon packing up gear for many other platoons on their way to the Gulf. We also did clean up duty once they left their barracks. I was glad to be able to assist in any way for our troops leaving.

My platoon was hard core and motivated and often volunteered for extra assignments. When we did PT, which was daily, I even ran in combat boots! (Much to the surprise of my male comrades.) I also remember being told not to wear our utilities or any other uniform off base because of all the attention the war was getting and the potential for negative impacts on us Marines.

Two of my older brothers were Marines during the Vietnam era so when I told my oldest brother I wanted to be a Marine the first thing he said is 'they're going to make you cry'. Well, that didn't happen. I loved every minute of boot camp and graduated from MCRD Parris Island as a PFC. To Marines everywhere, and all those who serve, THANK YOU! Your dedication and commitment is not forgotten.

Semper Fi
LCpl Gini Vuchetich



Saddam's Troops Were Eating

Sgt. Grit,
My memories of a holiday feast during deployment sort of culminate on the Thanksgiving feast TOW plt 1st LAI had out in the desert during Desert Shield. Everything - even fruitcake. Lots of mixed nuts, big cans of fruit cocktail, of course the turkey and gravy. I guess what I really remember is that the word going around was that Saddam's troops were eating onions and tomatoes just a few miles north of us. And if I remember right we had a similar feast for Christmas, and a few days later we dug a big pit and tossed in all our extra chow, we had so much we didn't have room for all of it - even inside our vehicles. And then we tossed in pallets and set them on fire. After everything got done exploding and burning of course it was all buried

When I was a new Marine, I thought the stories about green eggs and ham were just stories until one day on Easy Peak the company got a hot breakfast from the mess hall trucked out to us, I found out that green eggs and ham really did exist. (that was back in 75 or 76, when I was a ground pounder in C1/5) So I got my stove out of my pack and a can of pork slices with juices plus a can of pineapple jam and heated that up after I did eat some green eggs and ham just so I could say I've eaten green eggs and ham.

Some of my fond memories of boot camp include after being "discovered" by my Drill Instructors towards the end of 1st Phase, the extra attention lavished on myself and my person, especially the daily (it seemed) evening visits to the whiskey locker during 3rd Phase. At the rifle range in 2nd Phase our DI's sort of backed off it seemed, but we were re-acquainted during our 17 mile nature walk to San Onefre. And afterward.

After boot camp I only met one of my drill instructors - SSgt Coates. So, Sgt Robinson and Sgt Kebe, as far as I am concerned you did your job and made me into a United States Marine.

Anyone that was in TOW plt at that time can correct me if I got events mixed up, but that is pretty much how I remember our holiday feasting during Desert Shield

Sgt. Pete


Christmas 1954, Korea

Sgt Strumpf and two of his Marine buddies Hi Sgt Grunt,

Found this picture of me (on left) with two buddies of mine taken at K-3 airbase in South Korea at Christmas time 1954. If any of you are still around from MAG-33 (we ended up at El Toro in 1955) let me know.

Semper Fi
Former Sgt Jack Strumpf
USMC 1366077/MOS 2533


Short Rounds

Sgt Grit: Please don't confuse Amtrak (a train) with Amtrac (an amphibious can of Marines).


H-ll, in 1954 I lived in Quonset huts !
SSG Westra 1393356


Semper Fi ! Sgt. Conrad (Old Corps)....we all have been there... "Love the Corps"
Sgt. Ritter - 62-66-


Don,
This little ditty should ring true for most of us.

Before I was in,
I wished I was in
When I was in
I wished I was out
When I was out
I wished I was in
Ron Morse (Sgt. 0311 USMC)


Cpl Tom Forslin 397609 H&S 3rd Bn. 11th Marines 1942 -45. Discharged from Marine Barracks Klamath Falls Oregon. Will be 90 on 13 Sept.
Semper Fi to all Marines. Grandson is in Marines now.


Dear Sgt. Grit,

Another excellent issue of American Courage! Keep up the good work. I thank Almighty God each day that I was privileged to spend my life as a United States Marine!

SEMPER FI !
Cpl. Chip Morgan 3rd Mar. Div. 1968 Northern I Corps, RVN (still wandering somewhere along the DMZ)


Did you notice in the picture of the Marines in blues had blue covers and no pockets on the blouse.
Top Sherry


I know there must be some old Marines older than me reading this news letter. However, I don't read too many on here. To you older Marines how about giving a shout? I certainly enjoy reading your news letter.
Semper Fi,
Sgt. Marion B. Stults, SN 450010


I totally agree with Cpl McFarland comments on the River Creek Incident. Sgt McKeon was an inexperienced drunk. Some tried to make a hero out of him. He never reconned the area and should have known a tidal creek will rise from six to ten feet in six hours. I was there in Platoon 67 at the time. The Corps changed a lot after that.
Sgt Perry 56-59 1584682


Not A Division or A Wing

Photo taken in 1959 at MCAS Kaneohe Bay when the 4th Marines and MAG-13 were under one command known as the 1st Marine Brigade Sgt. Grit,

Many times when I meet Marines on the road or in the Marine Corps League, I try to tell them that there was a Regiment (4th) and a MAG (13) that were neither part of a Division or a Wing. This picture was taken when I was stationed in 1959 at MCAS Kaneohe Bay when the 4th Marines and MAG-13 were under one command known as the 1st Marine Brigade.

Pete Kristall


Tiger Stripes

The information about this aircraft being no.6 aircraft belonging to HMM161, I believe to be in doubt, HMM361 borne the colors of the Esso Standard Oil Co. ir: we got tiger face decals that we put on the tail pylon just above tail plain, and we got tiger tails, that we attached to the rear edge of pylon at folding handle. But the most notable thing we did was we painted the rear transmission deck cover with yellow paint then painted tiger stripes on the cover with black paint, a tiger back as it was called.

Sgt. R.J. COPE YN 18, hmm361. 67/68.


Suddenly Appeared

As usual I start reading comments and stories from fellow Marines and the memories begin rushing through my mind faster than the 3rd herd could make head calls.

Talking about service numbers. I distinctly remember waiting in line (always in lines) so I could receive at least 5 more shots so I could run outside and wait for whatever else that was in store for us this fine wonderful morning in Southern California.

Vaguely I understood that the Corpsman was asking me the same question over and over. What is your service number A-hole? Finally I said that I didn't know. 42 years later and I still don't know from where that DI suddenly appeared. In a flash I was outside doing swat hoopies until I remembered my service number. What I can remember after all those years is 2510XXX. Our drill instructor's may have had some strange ways (at the time) to teach us those things that were necessary for our survival but I for one am glad they did.

Our memories are what make us ALWAYS US MARINES!
Darrell Womack


The Only Non-Grunt

Didn't really know how to contact you to submit an article. I was air wing, 6612, Avionics. From San Diego to NAS Memphis to MCAS New River I finally ended up at NAS New Orleans training reservists. Being from Louisiana I figured I had pretty much hit the jackpot. I was at New Orleans about a year and figured that really wasn't why I joined. Don't get me wrong I was a winger, dripped dry and needing a haircut. So what do you do - you volunteer for embassy duty. I didn't say I was the brightest winger.

As you may realize this isn't exactly an air wing story. After finishing MSG school at Henderson Hall I was sent to Caracas, Venezuela. I will never forget the night I arrived in Caracas. I was met at the airport by the Gunny in charge of the detachment. He drove me up the mountain to the city. The whole way he talked about the top notch physical training program they had in the detachment. I was the only non-grunt. I was a pretty salty corporal used to dealing with wingers. I expressed that I was not big on sweating.

Not too long after this we were all piling into our Suburban to go to the local airfield where we ran PT. The Gunny was driving and I was sitting way back smoking a cigarette. I again opened my big mouth and suggested it was not too late to call this silly s-t off. The Gunny stopped the truck and just looked at me in the rear view mirror. I figured I had gone too far.

When that truck stopped at the airfield I went out the back door and ran harder than I had since boot camp. Never looking back I circled the air field and stopped at the truck. I don't think the Gunny was more than ten feet behind me. All he said was "it's a good thing I didn't catch you." As time passed I realized the Gunny was an exceptional Marine. I learned that you just did not want to disappoint him. It wasn't because he was physically imposing or threatening. He had a way of looking at you that you felt you just did not want to let him down.

Of my detachment, two that I know of retired as Sergeants Major and one as a Gunny. He had that effect on people. The Gunny's goal was to be a Sergeant Major. He made it. My NCOIC at Caracas was Dave Sommers, the 11th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

Ed Lavelle
Sergeant 1972-1976


Ordinance Tape

Once again, you have presented us with an outstanding newsletter. The letters dealing with the "Airdales" brought back some great memories. Met some great BB Stackers (especially the WO who instigated his bunch of criminals (he even helped) to wrap me in ordinance tape and then take me to M/C.) I sure wish I could remember his name. Do remember SSgt SOLIS from South Texas. At least they did not hang me on the bomb rack of the A-6 like the F/L did for their OIC.

As the "Man" said, "Thanks for the Memories!"

Gary L. COON
MSgt USMC (Ret)
Maint Admin/Control VMA(AW) 242
1984-88


Wise A-s Kid

Dear Sgt. Grit,

Recently I heard from Cpl. Tom Flynn about his brother SSgt. William Flynn, who was my senior drill instructor. We were in Parris Island from July to October in 1962 when then SSgt. Flynn and his assistants Sgts. Carswell, Joyce and Lee introduced us to the Marine Corps. I owe him a great deal for turning me from a wise a-s kid to a man who was able to accept the challenges of life. He was great, and you could tell that his job was in his heart.

I don't remember that any of us were physically abused, although we were subjected to other niceties that only those of us who went through boot camp can relate too. To all of you guys that were in Plt. 352, Tom told me that Sgt. Flynn stayed in the Marine Corps and retired as a MGySgt. Says a lot for him, doesn't it. MGySgt. Flynn is now guarding the streets of heaven. Thought you guys would like to know, and thanks Tom for the information on your brother.

Charlie Ducar
Cpl. of Marines
1962-1967


Tail Number

Sgt Grit,
After having looked at the picture of the plane that Ken Martin sent you and then blowing it up some I have determined that the tail number might be as follows. 5341J RE-3

Of course the more I blew up the pic the more distorted the image became but this is my best guess as to the tail number. I'm also guessing that the reason the EGA is in reverse is because of the same reason they are reversed on our uniform collars. I've even noticed the same image in a couple of movies made during that time period. Sadly, I can't remember the names of the movies though.
Semper Fi,
Carl Conkling


Going By The Wayside

Hi Sgt Grit,

The below article uses EGA in place of Eagle Globe and Anchor. Has this become an acceptable reference? I retired in March of 2000 and at that time it was very frowned on and my fellow 9999's and I (as well as The SgtsMaj of the Marine Corps) fought the use of it. We felt it was degrading and an "Army" way of treating the revered emblem. I hope Eagle Globe and Anchor isn't going by the wayside like the ID (Identification) tag became the dog tag.

To me they are as bad as sarge or staff. If we aren't careful we will lose are identity as an elite fighting force and just be one of the guys in uniform.

I don't want to come across as a stuffed shirt on the topic but I could go on and on with comparisons and about what makes the Marine Corps the Marine Corps and the pitfalls of becoming like the other branches so I'll just sign of and wait for a response.

Michael L. Miller
1stSgt (not 1st shirt) USMCret 1969-2000
21 active, 10 reserve


Cpl(E3) Within A Week

Sgt. Grit:
I have always considered the "Old Corps" prior to the rank changes in the 1950's; some of us can relate to that better than others. I was promoted to SSgt(E5) in May 1959, then went through the rank conversion to Sgt(E5), and then finally promoted to SSgt(E6), in March 1966.
Transferred to HQMC the following March, and promoted to GySgt(E7) in January 1968.
I chose to retire in January 1970, after my initial enlistment in March 1949, in the local USMCR, "C" Co, 14thInfBn. I was promoted to PFC in September 1949, and the company was activated in July 1950, and shipped off, on a troop train, to Camp Pendleton in August.
Further assignment to MCRDep, San Diego, in April 1951, to boot camp. Probably the only Marine ever promoted to Cpl(E3) within a week after finishing boot camp, in June 1951.
Semper Fi,
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines


Handed My Certificate

To:
SSgt Bennett
1988-1996, 2004-2007

I understand your disappointment as I too was a "contract" PFC. I graduated with Platoon 1001, 1st Battalion, A Co. on March 21, 1980. I had taken 3-1/2 years of Jr. ROTC in high school and scored very well on my ASFAB test. Not only was there no ceremony, I was not permitted to wear the rank until after graduation. To be perfectly honest, I was so glad to have graduated and be able to get off that island I really didn't care. Maybe a little.

That was not the only time I was promoted without ceremony. After finishing my Avionics Electronics school at NAS Memphis and serving with VMFA-122 for 3 years, I served 4 years in the reserves, stationed with HML-771 at NAS South Weymouth. I earned the rank of Sgt. and was very proud and excited.

When called to admin concerning my promotion I was told there was no time for a ceremony, I was handed my certificate and my Sgt. stripes and congratulated with a handshake. That was it.

My experience has been, "reservists don't get no respect". Even though I had been an active duty Marine for 4 years I still was not treated with the kind of respect ANY Marine should be.

I've gotten over it, I still love the Corps and am a member of the Seacoast Detachment #394 Marine Corps League, Portsmouth, NH. There are as-h-les everywhere, but none better than in the United States Marine Corps. Ooh-rah!

Currently unassigned,
Sgt. J. Strayer
USMC ?79-?87

Note:
I was promoted three times in Vietnam, 11th Marines. I do not remember a ceremony for any of them, LCpl, Cpl, Sgt. The hand shake and a certificate rings a bell. As I think of it, I don't remember anything for PFC either. Sgt Grit


A Parting Shot

Sgt Grit,
When you do things right there isn't much to say. The ground war was like going on a "96" and for me personally, I never fired a shot. nada, zip. I carried 120 rds of M-16 ammo the whole time I was there, turned it all in the week before we left Saudi to come back to the states. When we parked in the Kuwait City Airport, Saddam's boys sent a parting shot at us, a missile which detonated out in the desert, I remember listening to someone call it in and a half hour later the sound of jets overhead announced the last air sortie of the war. I was the plt guide in TOWS 1st LAI. Maybe some of the section leaders (Vitalli, Pinkard ) could send you an after action report if they know about your site, and if they feel like it or if any of them are still alive.
Fair winds and following seas
Semper Fi, Mac
Sgt Peterson (Tired Of Walking)


Lost Traditions

Sgt. Grit:

I agree with SSGT Bennett about some of the lost traditions. I know we must move on but we need to remember where we came from. I remember when I was handed my three EGA's for my Alpha's for graduation. Most importantly when I pinned them on. I am glad they hold a ceremony for this but I agree this should be done at graduation so the story can be told to the others in the "Marine Family" of how important this is to a newly minted Marine.

Just my two cents for scuttle butt.

Sgt. Jeff Wolven
1980-1985


World War II Remembrance

In this 70th Anniversary year of Pearl Harbor and the entry of America into World War II and also the recent introduction of the mini-series, 'The Pacific', we wanted to have a program to honor some of the Marines and Navy individuals who fought in that theater of war. Our goal is to have veterans from as many of those Pacific amphibious assaults as is possible to join us for an opportunity to share experiences and give us an opportunity to show our admiration and respect for the great sacrifices they made for all of us. The program is designed to be an inter-generational learning experience for some young people to meet and gain insight into a period of our history that may seem a long time ago to them but was 'only yesterday' to some of our honored guests.

In the preface to Eric Hammel's book, Pacific Warriors, The U.S. Marines in World War II, he so eloquently states, "It all happened a lifetime ago, their lifetime ago. We owe them our freedom because they fought bravely to victory in global war against fascism. And we owe them our lives because they were our fathers and grandfathers."

Semper Fidelis,
Bruce Behner
USMC 1966-68
bruce behner [brucebehner@mac.com]


Sent Back

Dear Sgt Grit,
Just another little bit of Juice, to Stir up the Pot, re. Service Numbers.. Evidently, they were "ISSUED" to some Recruiting Office, but that doesn't mean they were "Issued to a New Recruit" during that time frame.

Namely; {USMC Enlisted (1943-1953), 1,000,000-1,699,999}. (see attached list from Wikipedia) My number was issued to me well after 1953, as you can see below.

I enlisted on 20 June 1957 in Cincinnati, OH, along with 69 other recruits. We formed Platoon 164 & were flown to San Diego, CA for boot camp. From everything that I've read, I have No Regrets for missing the Sand Fleas @ PI.

My Service Number was/is '1,663,9xx'. Because I was a victim of the FLU Pandemic in July 1957, I was in the USN Hospital for over a week with Broncho-Pneumonia. I heard later that there were a few that didn't make it. That's back in the day when news didn't travel much, out of the local area. So, the families back home wouldn't have know what was going on, unless they got a letter their surviving son, or the Commandant.

I got to finish boot camp with a platoon of 'Salty' Reservists from San Jose. Nothing like being the 'Resident $#!t Bird', because you got 'Sent Back', regardless of why, EH? A GCT score of 143 didn't help much either. "If you're so smart, why did you get Sent Back, HUH?" I heard that almost every day from the recruits & Drill Instructors, alike.

Since I did not graduate with my original platoon, I have lost track of them, but hopefully someone might see this and 'put in their two cents'. Would love to know what happened to them. My nickname was Harr Don. Also, there were no family members present at graduation. Times have sure changed, as far as getting the Family involved.

BTW, just as a point in passing; when we 'Banged the 2x4', to enter the Duty Hut, our Vociferous Yell was, "SIR, Private XXXXXXX requests permission to enter the DUTY HUT, SIR!" Note the word 'Private'.Not 'Recruit', Not 'Maggot', but 'Private'. Evidently, at that time you were given the rank, but the title of MARINE wasn't bestowed until graduation.

And Yes, a few good whacks from a broomstick/Swagger Stick were lavished upon those misfortunate souls that 'Strayed from the Straight and Narrow'. Don't recall anyone writing their Congressman though. It was a great 'Attitude Adjustment' for those on the receiving end. YEAH, I was one of them. HA! HA! HA!

I'd like to extend a Huge "THANK YOU" to all Brothers & Sisters, currently in Harm's Way or otherwise Deployed.
Semper Fi! & 'Gung Ho!' (didn't have any 'HOO-RAH' back then)

Otto Strampfer, CPL/E-4 '57-'63


Boot Camp Stories from 1963, Lessons for Life

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

Introduction

Colonel Ollie North tells war stories on television each week. He knows of real war. I suppose I can say I am lucky because I don't have any "real" war stories. Somehow I avoided service in military war zones. Not on purpose, but that was the result anyway. I had hoped to be included among the military that served in such overseas places-sort of, I guess. I quit law school in the second semester of the most humiliating academic endeavor of my career (which included three academic degrees, in addition to graduation from Ann Arbor Senior High School, and 46 years as a teacher). The next day I joined the Marine Corps.

It was February 1963. The officer program I sought to enter had a four year obligation. I was sworn-in, and I was given a date to report to Quantico, Virginia. I was quite knowledgeable about the impending (and ongoing) conflict in Viet Nam. In addition to my law school interlude, I had been working on my Masters Degree in Political Science from Michigan State University. Several of my professors at State had served in Viet Nam as consultants to the Diem government on various security matters. They assured me that I would get to go there too, if I joined the Marine Corps.

Even though the signs were already in the sand (Viet Nam was a reality in 1963), the budget makers in Washington, D.C., did not have the foresight to know that the Marine Corps would need lots and lots of new bodies. Instead in June 1963, I got a letter from the Marine Corps saying that they had recruited too many officer candidates, and that they had no training spot for me at Quantico. The letter said that I was released from all obligations to the Marines. At the time, I didn't know it, but I guess the letter might have been saying, "For now, you get to live."

Now that might be taken as good news in some quarters, but all I knew for sure at the time was that I had told about a hundred people that I had joined the Marines. I suppose I told people that because, other than being true, it was easier to say that I was joining the Marines, than it was to say I had quit law school. For several days I struggled with the potential embarrassment of telling people that the Marines didn't have a place for me, after all. But then a friend who had joined the National Guard asked me to join his unit. My heart wasn't in it. Then he added, "Oh, if you think the Marines are so good, just join their reserves. They have a unit in town. It is a six month program, just like the Guard." He went on to say that with the reserves I could get back in grad school soon and work on a Ph.D.

It sounded good, so I joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves. I started going to meetings at their center in Lansing, Michigan, and on 20 August 1963, I headed off to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.

So I don't get to tell any "war" stories. But now, over 47 years later, I do recall some stories from boot camp and from Infantry Training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. These stores have stuck with me, and I still like to tell people I made it through boot camp, more than I like to say that I quit law school. I really have tried to forget law school. There I felt self-deficient as I found my instructors and fellow students to be mostly (but not in all cases) genuine a-s-holes, their goal seemingly to be to make all their fellow human beings feel inferior. On the other hand, I reflect upon my drill instructors as being honorable good human beings, who truly looked after the welfare of other people. I can say the same for my fellow Marine recruits. I have often said, and shall repeat now, if given the choice, I would now be more willing go back to Parris Island for eleven more weeks of boot camp, than I would be willing to go back to law school for one single week.

The stories out of Marine training are stories that affirm the goodness of life. They offer good lessons for the continuing drama of life-Always-Semper Fi. Here are some of my boot camp and infantry training stories.


Laying Awake

Dear Sgt. Grit
Thank you for the latest Sgt. Grit via e-mail. I was reading some article about "Ribbon Creek" and it brought back a memory of when I was at Parris Island in 1960. I was in the 3rd. battalion. We were at the rifle range about to pull butts one day, (D range) standing at attention waiting for the word to get behind the bunker. My D I walked up to me and asked" do you know the name of that river boy?" Sir, no sir was my reply. I will never forget what he said. He said "Why, that's ribbon creek boy". He then smiled and said "that's where we killed them". I didn't realize until that night laying awake in my rack that he was referring to Sgt. McKeon and what happened in 1956. I knew my DI was in WWII and made several landing in the Pacific, but didn't think he was serious about the glee in his smile and eyes when he told me "that's where we killed them". As I remember it, I saw a small wooden structure with 2 or 3 steps leading up to a small, broken platform. And as I remember the water was quite high (it had been raining for 3 or 4 days).

I'm sure he said those things to scare me and all those within earshot, but don't know for sure. Looking back on my Marine Corps days, I had come to realize that those were some of the best days of my life. I've been out now since 1963, and am a very active member of my Marine Corps League. As a matter of fact I am a Charter member of the Detachment I helped start in 2004.

Thanks for your newsletters Sgt. Grit, keep them coming.

L/Cpl Rich Lombardo 1927262
1960-1963


Rockpile Resupply

Loading a helicopter atop the Rockpile An UH-34 in the air at the Rockpile. If you look close, you can see T.L. Smith standing in the door of his UH-34 with the tail number 6 on it. How Many Marines have a picture of themselves taken in the field while flying a resupply mission to those of us who held the Rockpile? They were our "Life Line", and I'd like to be able to thank him after 45 years.

If you don't know about The Rockpile, the attach word file is from Time Magazine in Oct 1966.
S/Sgt. Ted Dudley

Time Magazine, October 1966

UH-34D making a resupply run. The terrain was as tough as any the U.S. Marines had ever contested. It combined the horror of a Guadalcanal jungle with the exhausting steepness of the slopes at Chapultepec. Added to that were fusillades of bullets as ferocious as at Tarawa and showers of shrapnel that turned the forest into a tropical Belleau Wood. But "the Rock-pile," as Viet Nam's latest big battleground has come to be called, is weirdly unique. There, just south of the inaccurately named Demilitarized Zone, a task force of six Marine battalions has been battling two entire divisions of North Vietnamese regulars whose apparent aim is to invade Quang Tri province. So far the Reds have failed. Over the past few months, Hanoi's hordes have shifted away from their old infiltration route, the Ho Chi Minh trail, which empties into the isolated Central Highlands. Instead, more and more have been striking directly southward into the populous coastal plain (see map). The aim of the Marines' "Operation Prairie" is to cut those arteries from the DMZ and push the Reds so far west that they will once again be forced to use the trail.

UH-34D landing atop the Rockpile Key to the fighting is "the Rock," a jagged, 750-ft. fang of granite that thrusts upward at the intersection of three river valleys and two enemy trails. During July's Operation Hastings, the Marines established a reconnaissance post atop the Rock, and a lone sniper fed by airdrops of C rations controlled the area. Now it is a Marine battalion command post, under almost steady siege. Across from the Rock rears the Razorback-a steep ridge whose sides are pocked with caves dug by the Japanese in World War II, but now occupied by North Vietnamese. Several hundred yards below the Rock, the Reds have dug "spider holes" from which they lob mortar fire and mount ambushes. Two miles to the south stands Hill 400, dominating the Rock-pile and infested with Reds. Last week the Marines moved simultaneously against the Razorback and Hill 400. By week's end, both were in their hands.

Snakes & Lanterns. Fighter-bombers seared both hills with flaming napalm, then returned with rockets, heavy fragmentation bombs and machine gun fire. For three days, the Reds on Hill 400 hit back with mortar and small-arms fire so intense that Medevac helicopters could not land to take out Marine wounded. Finally, Marine pilots used 1,000-lb. bombs to blast craters deep enough to provide cover for the choppers, and a few critical cases were evacuated. Then the Marines moved out, stormed the hill with satchel charges,* and blasted the Reds out of their holes. They found a Communist regimental command post replete with underground rooms and trenches.

Near the Razorback, Marines were treated to an eerie spectacle at night: dim lanterns moving back and forth on the ridge across from them. "The North Vietnamese are afraid of snakes," sneered one Marine. "That's why they carry them flashlights." Whatever their purpose, the lights provided excellent targets for artillery and air strikes. To date, Operation Prairie has killed 943 Reds, and the Marines have taken moderate casualties in the process.


Yellow Stars

Was reading the January 27 issue of the news letter and a submission by Sam Goody. Why is it that anytime someone submits a story about getting whacked around in boot camp that there is a response by someone to tell them to stop complaining? I have written, in this newsletter before, that when I went through MCRD San Diego in 1964 that I got punched in the face several times, gut punched, slapped so d-mned hard I saw yellow stars, and my head went numb, and beat with a metal dust pan, and I mean beat. But this is not a complaint, nor do I harbor some secret hatred for my Drill Instructors.

The best, and toughest Marine I knew in my 6 years in the Corps, was my Platoon Commander in boot camp. Sgt. Broadhead was as tough as a keg of nails and he trained us in the manner that he felt would make us "Marines." All Drill Instructors do this... some may whack you, some may not, but because someone says that they got whacked around that does not make them a cry baby or an ingrate, it just means that our Drill Instructors used different methods. It doesn't mean that one is any better than another.

A couple of newsletters ago a retired Gunnery Sergeant, and Drill Instructor, implied that he would not want the type of recruits in his platoon that needed to be physically hit, that somehow, in his opinion, they would be sub-standard recruits. Excuse me Gunny, but I got punched many times, just like the rest of the guys in my platoon, but I was a d-mned good recruit, and Marine, just like they were. Because of my physical fitness scores, I scored the third highest in my platoon, and because of my conduct as a recruit, one of my Drill Instructors announced, in front of the platoon the day before graduation, that myself and two other recruits were some of the best he had seen come through there. Does that sound like we were sub-standard Gunny?

I served with BLT 2/7 in Vietnam and saw combat, and the courage of my fellow Marines Gunny, and most of us went through when hitting recruits was just part of the training. In retrospect I would say that striking recruits was not, and is not necessary. Today's Marines, I think, are just as tough as my generation of Marines were, and better trained, and they were not hit. Army Rangers and Navy SEALs go through tough schools and they are not hit, yet, like today's Marines they are tough, and well trained.

Time, experimentation, and evolution reveals the best methods, but for those of us who went through at a time when striking and "torturing" recruits was accepted, we also came out tough and disciplined, and d-mned good Marines. Because we talk about it does not mean we are complaining. As I said in a prior newsletter... we brag about it, it's a badge of honor to us, but we don't think it's makes us better than those who weren't. It just means our Drill Instructors used different methods.

Respectfully,
John Vater 0811/0311


Flash Memories

As for the 'Dickerson Head Count'... there was also a SSGT Dickerson about that time, and in fact, we worked a platoon together in L company, both as Juniors, as I recall, as it was his first platoon out of DI School.

Was setting in my office at 29 Palms about 1980 or so (Equipment Allowance Pool, AKA 'Rentawreck') when this humongous Master Sergeant filled my doorway... one of our 'customers' , come to draw some equipment... mean lookin' sucker, too. He said "you don't remember me, do you, Major?"... since he was blocking the only door, I had one of those flash memories of every recruit who had displeased me... and, indeed, he was one of them

DDick


Two Different Wars

Thanks Grit, I do remember a Dave McCacken from boot camp, and I was with PLT 3012. Our Senior DI was S/Sgt Larry Carson, who later became the MCRT Regt Sgt Major. S/Sgt Bill White was another of our DI's, who had been a "Tunnel Rat" in Vietnam. We also had Sgt Smith, another Vietnam Marine and another Sgt that I can't remember his name, but h was a scary mother--cker that used to go up the rope climb and hang upside down. We also had a Cpl Hall from Jamaica I think, because we couldn't understand a d-mn thing he said.

Bill White gave me the name Pvt Crazy, and on Graduation, he said I would make a good 0300. I later ran into him at Camp Lejeune, just before I shipped out for the "Root", and he told me to look him up when I got back, that then we would have something in common. From May to November 1983, we endured "H-ll", and when I got back to the world, Bill and I became good friends. And we had a lot in common, experiences from two different wars, but very much the same. I will send Dave an email, and I greatly appreciate the security.
Thanks, Semper Fi


A Lot Of Marines

A lot of Marines come in my store. I meet many of them. I met a Marine a few weeks ago we chatted a few minutes. He noted he was in Vietnam for 5 years. I was surprised at 5 years, but we got off on to something else before I could follow up. Nice guy bought some stuff, help me pay the rent. He went on his way.

Cherea, who works the walk-in sales area, comes to see me after he left and said did you hear his story. I had not. He was Thomas R. Leonard, one of the best snipers ever. See this link, scroll down to Vietnam. http://www.scribd.com/doc/27019806/Sniper-Log-Table What a great job I have.
Geeezzzz... I do need to ask more questions.

Semper Fi
Sgt Grit



Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!
Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

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