In This Issue
I may not be able to send you an individual response, but know that your letters and pictures are greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Here we go: Baby brother, made from fish, the grape, Providence smiles, Female Marine Captain, tarpaper barracks, it was mom, connect at any time, Camp Talaga, you are a Russian spy, a dozen bottles, butt ugly.
"Now you may find this hard to believe, But..." Something like that lead in is often the beginning of a Marine story. An example story from my best friend Hunts. He has taken a simple Vietnam guard duty story from 40 years ago to holding off 40 NVA with an old, rusty, bent, mess spoon.
Hey Sgt Grit, Here's a picture of the birthday cake at MCRD San Diego, 1966. Happy Birthday to our family, to all our brothers and sisters, past, present, and those who yet dare to serve in our glorious United States Marine Corps. Semper Fidelis,
Corporal Ted Picado 0311
Some of the outstanding Happy Birthday responses I received:
I will drink a toast to Corps and Country on our 236th (Platoon #74's 56th) Birthday. Happy Birthday Marines!
Ahh... A Sgt Grit newsletter on our birthday! Providence smiles on us AGAIN! OORAH!
Cpl Aguilar D.F.
Thanks! This was fun to see the subject line in my in-box because my birthday happens to actually be on the same day as the Marine Corps birthday.
Semper Fi! Eddie Sedillo (USMC 1969-70)
Happy 236, Nov 10 1953 they brought hot turkey to us in the field.
A Happy early 236th Marine Corps Birthday from a U.S. Navy Veteran forever fan of the Corps. "May God bless all yall's pea pickin hearts" (Tennessee Ernie Ford's famous goodnight message to all).
Margaret Jane McAlister-Wheeler
U. S. Navy 1959-1963
Semper !~@#$%^& Fi, Happy Birthday Marines!
Mark Marcanmtelli USMC RETIRED
Photos: HartFA USMC 1951 TBS, Death Rattlers Design,Puller Birthday
Thank You Sgt. Grit,
Happy Birthday to You Too!
You don't look a day over 100!
Gilbert J. Galvan
I was reading your story about the hitchhiker in Australia when it reminded me of my own experience there. It was 1976 and we had just finished operation Kangaroo II and the ship that I was on went to Brisbane for a little R & R. Another Marine and I were walking into town when a married couple picked us up.
He was in the Australian Army Medical Corps. The couple took us to their apartment and treated us like family. For the entire week that we were there they took us around Brisbane, showed us all the sites, made us homemade meals. After the week in Brisbane the ship I was on got lucky and we went north to another town called Cairns also in Australia. When the people there found out that we were US Marines they treated us like friends. If it wasn't for the Marine Corps i would have never been able to see the parts of the world that I did.
Cpl Terry Hewitt USMC
Photos of vehicles needing restoration at the Marine Mechanized Museum at Camp Pendleton. If I am not mistaken some of those are Ontos'. I am not sure what the others are.
Had forgotten about those... by 1957, those had somehow become 'organizational property'... meaning that there were some stocks of them held in unit supply, to be issued (and recovered) much like the field jacket. C Co 1st AT drew those for some exercise at Pendleton, where we were to be part of the aggressor force... we had to sew (or glue) red triangles on the collar points, and the shirt was worn as an outer garment. (the glue was some kind of stickkum made from fish... 'salts' would use it on the inside of their green kersey wool trousers to make a sharp permanent crease... also used to see the green wool shirt from time to time on somebody who had scrounged one... worn under the utility blouse in the field for warmth... scratchy, but the neck band was nylon or silk... slick, didn't scratch. I think old timers may recall these being uniform of the day at Camp Fuji, late in the Korean War and for a year or two after...
Dunno about berets, but when Gen Randolph McCall Pate was CMC, we were up in the air about a rumor that MRS Pate was designing something like a baseball cap to replace the utility cover... and this at a time when the real salts still wore the WWII/Korea era utility cover. (I was issued two in boot camp, but one of my DI's convinced me he was doing me a favor by trading me two of the sharper new covers... he wound up spending two years in Retraining Command at Camp Elliot, but for other reasons... )
Hey Grit this should give you a chuckle or two.
While at MC.R.D. PI, SC. April, 1975 to July, 1975, my platoon had 2 junior Drill instructors sgt.'s Brummel and Williamson. It came to be known that Williamson liked to partake of the grape. (Although I am sure it was barley yeast and hops mixed quite well with jack) Well one night while on fire watch he came in the squadbay pie eyed. staggering and slurring his word. yup he was drunk off his zss...
Well Sir, I had the good fortune of meeting up with him again at CL, NC.(Camp Lejeune NC for you Hollywood types) around 1985. He had a big red nose and was a Staff Sgt. I whoever had put on my rocker a year before meeting him again. I walked up to him and introduced myself to him "Hey Ssgt isn't your name Williamson?" Next question was "Weren't you at M.C.R.D. Parris Island around 1975?" he happily replied that he was a DI in 2nd bn.
Then he looked at me real close when I told him we had served together there at the same time. He said "Are you sure Ssgt?" I said "Well yeah, we did serve together there sort of." He asked as a DI? a PMI? CCI ? (close combat instructor) you should have seen the wind come out of his sails when I replied, "no as a recruit." plt 240. 2nd bn Senior was Ssgt Mitchell he was a junior DI. and busted my azs every time he saw my face. Then he knocked the wind from my sails when he said I must have taught you something, you got your rocker and you ain't dead yet. Good job Marine. That was the 1st time I ever heard him say that to anyone.
I often think of that day for me it was supposed to be some sort of payback, yet it just made me feel sad for that Marine. The grape got the best of him.
Well thanks for letting me talk so long grit.
God bless you and all Marines living and dead.
Semper Fidelis once a Marine always a Marine
D.P. Monington U.S.M.C.(ret.)
Some interesting comments heard back in July-August of 1963 and '65, as an officer candidate in the Junior and Senior PLC (Platoon Leaders Class) Programs out at old Camp Upshur and at "Mainside" OCS, MCB Quantico:
"Candidate ____, did your mother have any children that lived?"
"Candidate ____, you are a Russian spy, aren't you? Admit it! You were sent to f--- up my Marine Corps!"
"Candidate ____, do you have a twin brother? You must have, because no one individual could be this f---d up!"
"Candidate Downey, why do you have an elephant in the bore of your rifle?" (It was a very small piece of patch lint."
"You have five minutes to s--t, shower, and shave."
"You have twenty seconds to get out of my office and into your squad bay (across the street)!Nineteen...eighteen...!"
"Only cowboys wear 'hats', and I don't see any horse around here. Marines wear 'covers'."
"Only women and sailors wear 'pants'."
"Only bos'n mates and q---rs whistle."
"Candidate Cuddy*, I'm going to jump up on this footlocker and beat you severely about the head and shoulders with my clipboard!" (SSgt. Sevene was all of 5'7")
*[Note: My bunk-mate as a Jr PLC, Francis J. ("Frank") Cuddy, Jr, (at least 6'3" in height) was almost four years older than me. A former sergeant, he rose to the rank of colonel. A few months ago, in an old 2008 issue of Leatherneck Magazine, I found his name among those Marines who wait for us to join them as members of Heaven's Gate Guard Detail. I did an on-line search and found that he flew 988 missions as a helicopter pilot in 'Nam. He received a Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 49 air medals, a Navy Commendation Medal and a Purple Heart. In late '72 or early '73, he came off active duty and joined the Reserve. He retired after a total of 39 years of service. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2008, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.]
Semper Fi, old friend!
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine.
1963-76 (for pay purposes)
Vietnam: 4Dec66-18Dec67 (India 3/11--5+ months as FO for Lima 3/7, then FDO; and 3rd 8-Inch Howitzers--FDO watch and MTO)
HI-MARS ice sculpture from the Fox Battery, 2/14 Marine Corps Ball, 2011
Think it runs in the family this is from my baby brother, who by the way retired as a Colonel USMC, F-18 pilot and is now the Associate Dean of Business at Norwich.
This is what I've been sending everyone...
Happy 236th Birthday! I cut myself shaving this morning and bled Marine Corps red and blue.
Son #1 finished his tour in the Marine Corps and got his degree in Engineering.
Son #2 is four weeks away from finishing Recruit Training at PI (Avionics).
Son #3 is waiting to hear on his NROTC Scholarship (Marine Option); sophomore at Norwich.
Daughter #1 married to a Marine.
Godson/Nephew - Company Commander at PI.
Grandchild #5 is due ANY moment - MC Birthday maybe?
Here's health to you and to our Corps...
Been reading lots of things about the Ontos and the Marines "playing" with them In late 1965 or early 1966 I was ordered to 1st Mar Div Camp Pen. and assigned to Schools Troops. I was ordered to set up an Ontos School at Camp DelMar and train The young Marines to be Ontos crewmen. I was given a dateline of about 1 month to get operating and receive the 1st class. I knew what an Ontos looked like and that was about it!
I fell into some luck. I was given 5 Ontos with 1 Cpl for each veh. and 1 Sgt to handle them. All were combat Marines just back from Nam/. Worked out well. They quickly taught me the basic gotta know and I taught them how to TEACH what they knew. We got our 1st class is when due -had fun teaching -learning -screwing up and just being Marines. More help for us came in after that 1st class and the school was going strong when I retired a few months later. It wasn't all grin and glow! We did have several incidents that first class that could have changed several Marine Corps careers!
Sh-ts For Days
Brother man happy birthday. I have many items from you SGT. Me and four other MARINES are cooking on the 9th for 75 people. It will not be SOS. Most of the members are 68-85. They will have the sh-ts for days. I thought c-rats would be in order.
SEMPER FI and I will be back again. They say we a department of the navy. I tell them all that we are in the MENS department. rock on brother, happy 236 the shirts will be great and I put your magazine in the club.
RICHARD WNEK SR
Snapped A Salute
I recently went to Pensacola FL to meet with five members of Platoon 2011, Parris Island 1958. We had not seen one another since Jan 1959. One of our members was wounded in Vietnam in 65 and is in a wheel chair but he is one tough Marine, signs is mail "Sergeant of Marines" Had a great time and one of your staff was kind enough to send us some caps etc.
My wife and I went to New Orleans and as we were out walking I noticed a group of Marines checking in to a hotel. I spotted a Female Marine Captain. Since I was wearing my Marine cover and a Marine shirt (from Sgt. Grit of course). As I walked by the Captain, I came to attention, snapped a salute that was the best a 75 year old Marine could muster. She came to attention and returned my salute with a smile and said "Thank you Sir".
The first time I went on Mess duty, I was in H&S 1/5. The cook sent me to both 2nd and 3rd Bn mess halls looking for Marbles for a Marble Cake.
SF Sgt. Grit,
GySgt. Kirk, our platoon commander of Platoon 1232 MCRD, offered us this gem about halfway through training. "It's all downhill now, people".
Also a favorite was when standing at ease and some recruits took advantage, he roared "I gave you a--holes at ease, not base liberty".
Gotta love those guys!
The day of Thanksgiving marks the sixty one year anniversary of the Chosin Reservoir Battle of which I as a Marine, participated in this very cold h-ll, surrounded by 120,000 fanatical Chinese troops. I understand they will be making a movie of this battle. To those Marines who survived can only understand what we really went through.
Semper Fi-- Cpl. Edward M. Szymciak
Dear Sargent Grit:
This Marine wishes to assist GySgt. Albert Dixon, with his "old man's moment," evidenced in his story: "Wine Tasting." The name of the Japanese town, adjacent to the then USMC base, located at the foot of Mt. Fuji, is Gotemba, Shizuoka. This Marine has not been to Gotemba, Japan for years, but the Mt. Fuji base is still hosting Marines. Mt. Fuji was home to the 3rd, 4th and 9th Marine Regiments and is now owned by the Japanese Defense Forces.
SGT Grit. when I served on the drill field Parris Island 1984 to 1986 my favorite was just begin and don't stop until I get tired. Also you have a half a heartbeat to get it done and half of that is used up, now move. and of course the old hippity hop mob stop. Do you want to be a MARINE or a slimmey civilian you whole life? Of course most if not all of these day to day sayings here mixed with extreme explicates, and colorful metaphors.
Sarge, 0311... kinda disappointed in your reply... I'm sure not one to throw stones, and everybody in the Corps did their part plus some... check the records though, 1/9 lost more than anybody else over the 4 year period that they were in the RVN, and that isn't casting dispersions or knocking anybody else, including Army, Navy and yes, even the Air Force and Coast Guard.
Happy Birthday! I just seen the Chesterfield pack of cigarettes. Long time no see! For years now I'm still trying to find the Marlbro pack of cig's that only had 8 cigarettes in the pack I think since Vietnam time. Yaw remember that pack? Used to keep in the helmet band. Take care...
Hey Grit... when I was in Korea we received the small boxes of cigarettes in our C-ration. They were all from WW2 stuff and a little on the strong side, but they were free and smoked 'em. I had never smoked until I reached Korea but everyone else was and joined in. I recall the Lucky Strikes being in the green package when were able to by cartons. Old Gold, Phillip Morris, all from the previous war. Wish I could say I quit but alas I have not since those long ago days in the Land of the Morning Calm. Hope you managed to...
Sgt. Ronald Cummins, C-1-7
While at MCRD, San Diego, I was on mess duty for a week, and observed how the mess cooks were treating the recruits, so I came up with a remedy. Before I could be assigned to get a "bucket of steam," I went to the pot shack and came up with a colander. I walked around the mess hall until I found a mess cook, who demanded to know "What the h--l are you doing, you s-------d?" I told him that I had been detailed to get a bucket of steam, but it had all leaked out. Then I got this colander, turned it upside down, but it still leaked out through the holes. the mess cook looked at me with wide eyes and told me to get out of sight and stay out. No one played with me the rest of the week.
While on mess duty at an air station, the Navy Chief in charge decided that all of us, Navy and Marine alike, would stay in the same barracks, and would stand a "junk on the bunk" inspection. When he showed up to inspect, and saw that the Marines had their helmet, pack, and rifle present, he went ballistic, and demanded to know why we included our weapons. He was told that we don't go anywhere without our weapons. He just shook his head, and gave up on the idea of everyone being housed together.
Just before being sent to Nam with my outfit, I was assigned to the Camp Hague mess hall. Great Duty. I was assigned to the SNCO section of the mess hall. While on noon break, before lunch, the other Marine and I got a wild hair and decided to have a bit of fun. Just as the Okinawan messmen set up a large vat of iced tea, I emptied two bottles of hot sauce into a coffee cup, and tipped it into the large vat. Of course, the next one to dip out a cup was the mess sgt. who proceeded to go off on the Okinawans, who were clueless and were angry, but drained it before tasting, and no one discovered me.
One afternoon, while in the SNCO mess, enjoying a bowl of ice cream, a new cook, a corporal who was just out of school, breezed in and asked me if I needed anything, and he would be glad to get it for me. Well, I just wanted to be left alone, so I glibly replied that "although the number of SNCO's eating at the mess was increasing, the amount of available room was decreasing. Would you be so kind to get the wall-stretcher from the supply shack?" After looking for several minutes, and asking the Mess sgt., he returned, and as soon as I saw him I knew the s--- had hit the fan. He grabbed me by the ear and towed me to the scullery and gave me my new assignment. "You are to peel 300 lbs. of potatoes a day and that is all you do" he thundered. What a pogue job. I dumped 300 lbs. of potatoes in the potato peeling machine, placed the finished product in water to soak, then I was done for the day.
Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the memories! Semper Fi!
Cpl. George Seitz
Actually 'pith' is not from a Marine with a lisp, it is another name for cork. Its existence goes a far back as the 1840's to the 1870's. The Corps first issued pith or 'elephant hats' to the 1st MarDiv in Gitmo in 1940. It was worn mainly in the areas of the South Pacific and in boot camp. The primary use was during WWII in hot climates due to its ventilating capability. No, I was not around during that time.
Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis,
Lt. Col. Don B
Marine Corps Display
Michigan Antique Arms Collectors is hosting a show @ Surburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI on November 26 and 27. The featured historical display will be "The Early Marine Corp from 1775 to WWI and beyond" with an emphasis on John Philip Sousa and the Marine Corp Band (presented by club member Dale Kuche). All currently active military personnel will be admitted free of charge, if in uniform. (Spouses included).
Show hours are Saturday, Nov 26 from 9:00-5:00 and Sunday, Nov. 27 from 9:00-3:00. Surburban Collectors Showplace is located @ 46100 Grand River in Novi, MI. (696 Beck Rd. Exit) Any questions please call Gary Christmann (President of MAAC) 586-286-3905. Visit our website www.michiganantiquearms.com
192nd Dinner Menu
Here is a copy of 192nd 3rd Marine Div Birthday Dinner Menu when I was in country. The Commanding General Hockmuth was the only General to be killed in Vietnam. Use it if you like next birthday or whenever.
It is Nov 10th 2011 Happy Birthday Marines. I was just reading your latest newsletter and seen another Birthday Menu, then I remembered that I had a menu from the 187th in Okinawa 1962 At that time I was aboard the USS General Mann on my way to Camp Sukiran, Okinawa. Here are some pictures of the Menu.
Cpl G. D. Sprenkle 1961 to 1966
Sgt Grit, Just got your newsletter and there is a letter from Doran Cooper that was at Camp Gifu and was in Anglico. I was at Camp Gifu 1955 in Hg Bn Hg Co Comm Anglico Plt.
Here's some pictures. One is Me, Bernie standing in front of our tarpaper barracks. The others are taken on Iwo Jima Feb 1956 of the monument on top of Mt Suribachi. The coast line from there and the Mt from below. We made a landing there set up Radio nets remoted our Jeeps to the CP. There was air strikes.
Maybe I can hear from Sgt Cooper and find if we were there at the same time Bernie Caldwell PFC at that time Later CPL. Hartford Illinois.
Still fellowshipping with Marines and celebrating the 236th Birthday tonight 11/10/11 Happy Birthday all you Jarheads
It Was Mom
I always knew my Dad was a Marine. He would speak of times that he had to endure, while just explaining why I couldn't get into scraps with the other kids on the block. He told Me, and my brother Mike, that we were not allowed to fight. "I did the fighting, so you two wouldn't have to". Fine. So we went on as a family, doing cook outs, camping, and so forth. Until.
On my way home from school one day, the bullies of the area pounced. I was beaten pretty good. My younger brother Mike, being much bigger, stepped in and ended the party. But by then I was pretty well trashed. When we got home, my Dad took one look at Me and looked at my Mom. I knew in that instant that it was Mom that didn't want me to fight.
He walked my brother and me to the backyard, double-time, and commenced the Training. Common sense, respect, proficiency with firearms, hand to hand defense, basic drill, etc. Then, we grew up.
I received the standard "When you have to pull the trigger "sit down talk from Dad during Vietnam. He has always been an inspiration. A font of information if only you ask. Wood working, machining, archery, leather working, and more.
I am the son of a Marine, The nephew of a Marine, and the Proud Father of a Marine, who after learning to take people apart in the middle east, is now finishing medical school, and, is a Doctor. He wants to give back. So. In his own words "I want to take care of our own, I want to help the vets coming home."
I will always appreciate the sacrifice of our Armed Forces, My Son in law is U.S. Army, Sgt., and many I know are still attached to various branches of our forces. I'm gettin' old, and I thank you for letting me vent a little.
Semper Fi to you all. Thomas P. Foley, Sr.
Just a short funny story that happened last night. I put my son into the Young Marines and we meet every Wed. Last night as the platoon was dismissed I walked over to the CO and XO, both Marines no longer on active duty and wished them both a happy birthday and they wished me the same.
One of the Young Marines said. "Isn't that funny they all have the same birthday?"
Hearing this the CO, a retired Gunny called the platoon back into formation and proceeded with a short history lesson. But in a way the young man was correct, we who served all share the same birthday.
Luis M. Del La Cruz USN/FMF 3rd Tracs
son of Frank Valtierra USMC (RET) Chosin Korea
Both served in the 1st MarDiv.
Since 2011 Thanksgiving coming up I would like to send you a Menu from 1970 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in the Republic of Vietnam.
Hope our Marines in harm's way be served good meal
Endre O Farkas
MSgt USMS ( Ret)
In 1955 my Battleship (USS Wisconsin BB-64) was in Brooklyn Naval Shipyard undergoing refitting (whatever that is) and for that birthday we were invited to a nightclub on Long Island with the Shipyard Marines and others from the area. Some very brilliant person invited all off duty telephone operators as they knew lots of us were not near home...
Many very comely ladies showed up and there were lots of invites for Thanksgiving and other things... Very successful... An aside... Ma Bell in her hunt to increase revenue took a main deck compartment and installed a bank of 50 or 100 pay phones... They were much used by everyone and an added perk materialized... Some way the numbers got in circulation and many many... incoming calls from "lonely" ladies came in all day and night. This was before "entrapment" and the other problems of today, really quite harmless... but productive. On night duty you could walk to the phone room and connect at any time with someone in a matter of minutes... Did it myself once or twice.
Sgt D. Wackerly 53-56..
I've read every newsletter since I subscribed. In the most recent (10/27/2011) under "I'm Not Dead Kane wrote that at Camp Pendleton there was nothing past Camp Mateo. Well there was and still is. Camp Talaga. The 5th Engineer Battalion was there when I was stationed there in 67 - 68. It was a camp of all Quonset Huts, wild coyotes, fields of construction equipment way out in the boonies and a walk in outdoor theater with only one bus. The San Clemente Stage Line that came in and out on the weekends. I know it is still there, because of friend of mine who recently was deployed to Iraq as a Corpsman was stationed there for staging before they left. He said it hasn't changed a bit.
Keep the good times rolling, thanks for the newsletter.
Dan Griffin, USMC, Corps. 66- 69
While I was in AE school in Jacksonville, Florida, I was going to swoop up to the Charlotte, NC area to see my mom, my grandmother, and of course, my girlfriend. Four others wanted to go and a couple of them were going to go on a little further from there on a bus.
I had a Chevelle Super Sport and kept it in top shape mechanically and cosmetically. I would not let anybody smoke in it. The other guys all smoked. They all wanted to get some beer to drink on the trip, but I did not want to have to stop every half hour for a "rest" stop. I told them too, that when I stopped for gas, they of course could smoke. Also, if they were not in the car when I closed my door, I would leave them.
They all tried to smoke at least two and all made it in the car in time. I was trying to make it to Charlotte so the two who were going to catch a bus could make the connection and ended up getting a speeding ticket. They still made the connection though.
Mark Ryalls 1968-1972
Semper Fi, Marines
I celebrated USMC Birthday #186 with "P" Company Marines at Camp Geiger. Many of us were from Platoon 253 at PI.
It doesn't seem like it's been 50 years.
2d HvyArtyRktBtry 2d FAG
Hq Btry 10th Marines
Hq Btry 4th Bn 12th Marines
San Diego '46
Happy birthday St. Grit and all my USMC brothers. I thought I would give you a look of my tattoo which I got a couple of months ago.
It took me 65 years to make up my mind to get one. Five of us went to a tattoo parlor in San Diego in '46. I and two others chickened out. For years I was sorry I didn't make the commitment. So, after all these years I decided to get one to take with me when I go.
And believe me it is much better than the ones we got in the forties. Semper Fi, Walt Anderson. El Toro, Airedale
The Most Poignant Part
A Vietnam Story
Thought I would pass along an interesting story from Aug 1969. I was #5 gun commander with Mike 4/11 (155 SP Howitzer). We had departed An Hoa on a mine road clearing operation to Liberty Bridge (10 klics). Our outfit would share the duty with tanks at An Hoa and send out two guns to protect the grunts doing the mine clearing. This was done every morning and after reaching Liberty Bridge, The grunts would get on top of the guns and we would dee dee back to An Hoa. I was a Sgt at the time and commanding the two M109's.
As we were progressing down the road there was a commotion up ahead and the column was stopped. That is a no no in Marine Corps tradition. You just can't stop and let your gun become a stationary target for our little friends. (vietcong) I got off the gun and walked up front to see what was holding us up. The road had about a foot of red dust and the guns and personnel were covered in the stuff.
Lo and behold I run into a Gunnery Sgt by the name of Harmon. He was commanding a group of 4 Ontos and were blocking the road. The road was only wide enough for one of our guns. Someone had to go into the rice paddies and probably will be stuck there until they can be pulled out. Gunny Harmon was screaming (and neck veins bulging) that his Ontos were not going into the rice paddies and I kindly reminded him of rules of the road and who had priority on passing.
Now here we are out in the middle of the road, both of us covered in red dust except where we lifted our goggles and could see each other's eyes. Kind of a raccoon effect. After contacting our headquarters, the Gunny was politely told to get the Ontos out of the way and into the rice paddies. He was fuming and cussing up a storm (dinky dao) but did as he was ordered to do.
Four Ontos into the goo and one happy Sgt of Marines as we started back on our mission. On the way back to An Hoa we passed the four Ontos and were told a tank retriever was on the way to pull them out of the muck. Psychic reward! The most poignant part of the story is that Gunny Harmon was one of my drill instructors (and a real SOB) from Platoon 137, San Diego, 1964. A little bit of history from the good ol days in the Nam.
Semper Fi and Happy Birthday Marines!
Lewis E Wood
Sgt USMC 2107662
Get In The Back Smith
I was a Corporal attached to Comm Plt, H&S Company, 2nd Tanks Bn, 2nd Mar Div during a NATO float in Oct-Dec 1976. As a 2841, I was accompanying the Comm Officer Captain Randy Rounds and my Comm Chief MSgt Thompson during a field operation off the coast of North Germany.
While guarding a pile of dead NiCad batteries along the road, some local kids walked by. Having taken German in High School, I could speak a little. I gave them $10 American dollars and said bring me some beer. I totally expected to not see the money or any beer, but about an hour later they returned with a grocery bag full! I am talking 3 kinds and about a dozen bottles.
I no sooner got them stuffed into my Field jacket and trousers when the jeep with my Capt and Top pulled up. "Get in the back Smith, we are going to the Battalion CP", "Aye Sir". As I was crawling into the back of the jeep being extra careful (so I thought) not to make any noise I finally got situated thinking "Phew, made it". Both Capt Rounds and Top Thompson slowly turned around, looked at me and asked "Smith... do you have beer in your jacket?" I responded, "Why yes Sir, what kind would you like?" ALL OF IT! I am sure they laughed about later as they enjoyed them.
Happy Birthday, we are 236 today.
Top Shooter for the year
While growing up in this small Illinois town we went to the drive inn theatre a lot.., I remember one summer when my older brother worked there, another young man working there with him was Ron Koskovitch.
While we were stationed in Okinawa at Camp Hanson we had to go to Camp Schwab for rifle qualification. It was quite a hike from Schwab to the rifle range back then (1964) although the distance has long gone from this tired old Marines mind. Well, there was a sign as you entered the rifle range with the top shooters name on it. I was a very proud Marine that day as we entered the rifle range. There for all to see was Cpl Ron Koskovitch Top Shooter for the year at this rifle range hometown Streator, Illinois.
I do not believe he has any relatives around here anymore but I still remember him from the old drive in days, and am still happy to remember his achievements at that rifle range.
This is my first shirt from 1988. I called it 'Nam Talk' in my ads back then. 11 years after it came out my Nam buddy SSgt Dan Huntsinger framed it and sent it back to me as a gift.
The note on the back describes the shirt as 'Butt Ugly', which is was/is. But as it goes on to say, yes humble beginnings.
Boot Camp and ITR - 1966
October 19, 1965. I went down to the Marine Corps recruiting office and enlisted. My father went with me and I could tell he wasn't at all happy about it. I was eighteen, though, and thought I knew what I was doing. My parents had done everything they could to try and change my mind, but one of my more unfortunate traits is having more stubbornness than good sense.
The recruiter was a real nice guy. He was a Staff Sergeant, and wore undress blues: blue trousers with red NCO stripes down each leg, tropical shirt, with a chest full of ribbons. Spit shined shoes, polished brass. A real poster Marine. At that time, you could enlist for two, three, or four years. Yep. I signed up for four. After all, wasn't I going to make it a career? The Vietnam War was just getting going good and I wanted in on it. I wanted to be like John Wayne and all the other war movie heroes I had been raised on. The recruiter beamed. My father just looked sadder.
I didn't leave for boot camp until March 18, 1966. They gave you five months to think about what you had gotten yourself into. Oh, they wouldn't let you out, but they let you think about it. And I thought about it, wondering if I had really done the right thing, now that it was too late to do anything about it. On March 17, 1966, I got on a bus and went to Oklahoma City. The Marine Corps put us up in an old flea bag hotel and the next morning, we were bused to the airport. Away we went.
Read the rest of the story
I was a Teenage Poolie
A Marine Wantabe in Waiting
I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps between my junior and senior years of high school, the year was 1977. The summer had just begun and I had been out goofing off as usual. I arrived home and my mother told me that the recruiter had called and wanted to talk to me. Now I had already decided that I was going to enlist, I just didn't know that I could do it so soon. You see my brother-in-law had enlisted in the Corps several years prior and my older brother had enlisted just the year before. I had visited the Air Force recruiter when I was just 15 with an older friend that was thinking about joining. I remember telling my Dad about this and he, being a retired Air Force Technical Sergeant (having been passed over for Master Sergeant), told me that if I wanted to join the Air Force that he would NOT sign the papers.
Flash back one year to 1976; I remember the day my brother got home for boot camp. I was in school so could not go with my parents to pick him up from the airport. I was however home from school when they arrived. I heard the car doors and knew it was them so I trotted out to meet my big brother and welcome him home. As I'm approaching him he reaches into the car and with one hand pulls out his sea bag (duffel bag for you airmen) says "catch" and tosses it to me. Well I caught it alright, and ended up flat on my back in the middle of the yard under 100 pounds of dirty laundry. Needless to say we all got a laugh out of that little prank. I wonder if he planned it????
Quickly flash forward 2 years to 1978 and another incident involving my brother and myself. I had just returned home from boot camp and my brother was also home. He had planned leave to make sure we could be home together. We are sitting at the bar in our kitchen and like normal we took each other on in a match of arm wrestling. Now up to this point in my life I had never been able to beat him (he was after all 2 years older than me). But this day was different. This time we were evenly matched. We locked arms and went after it.
Our mom was watching and laughing, so proud of her 2 young Marines; so proud and laughing at us groaning and straining and turning bright red. We finally decided that it was a draw; my brother complemented me on my new found strength and we laughed about it. Our mom offers us a piece of fresh cherry pie and being her 2 hungry young warriors, we accepted. She gets a whole freshly baked cherry pie, cuts it in half, then we say in unison "That's good" and proceed to each eat our half. She laughed and I think was somewhat amazed that these two eating machines devoured the entire pie without stopping. In our defense I will say that it was the first real home cooking either of us had had in several months. And besides, we were hungry. She said that our dad was going to be mad that we didn't save any for him but that she'd make another one. We both promised to let him share in the next one... We did.
Ok, enough time travel, back to 1977. I got the recruiter's number from my mom and gave him a call; we set up a meeting for the next day. He arrived on schedule and proceeded to go into his "sales pitch". After a few minutes I interrupted him and told him about my dad, brother-in-law and older brother. I told him I was ready to sign, go to strange and exotic lands, meet wondrous and foreign people, and kill them, easiest sale he ever made. It all happened so fast that I was on the bus the next day to go to the AFEES center. In my day there was some confusion in acronyms, we had AFEES (Armed Forces Entrance and Exam Stations) and AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Service). I was glad they finally cleared that up with MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station).
So the next day I journeyed from Wichita Falls, TX to Amarillo, TX by bus; stopping at every stop sign, crossroad and wide spot in the road, and I do believe we did even pick up a few stragglers along the way. Anyway at the AFEES or MEPS we underwent the normal procedures; which for some odd reason involved us running around most the day in our underwear. And yes, I did have on clean undies, no streaks, no runs, no errors. What sticks out in my mind from that day was when we were in line to "give" blood (like we had a choice). I was the smallest guy in the room, and the only one enlisting in the Marine Corps. Right in front of me there was a guy that must have been the high school quarterback, big, tall, wide shoulders. When he was next in line watching the enlistee in front of him get poked, this big bulk of a boy took a nose dive to the floor, he passed smooth out. I stood there behind him, the corpsman looks at me and says "well I guess your next", so I stepped over this human speed bump, sat down in the little school chair, placed my right arm in "poking" position and proceed to "give".
By the end of the day I had done it, I was a Marine, or rather signed up to be a Marine. I was in the delayed entry program and officially in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. It was the proudest day of my young life; I had done something that I thought meant something. I had made a commitment and there was no turning back now. I had taken the oath (clothed) and was ready for my first assignment and it came immediately. I was to return home, complete high school (successfully) and try to recruit others I knew to join "The World's Finest". Since I was in high school Army ROTC I was already guaranteed PFC (E-2) at enlistment so I didn't really feel an urgent need to add to the ranks. I did however tell my best friend Doug what I did and since he also had an older brother in the Corps he enlisted. Then there was my lifelong friend Greg, I'm not sure if I "recruited" him or not, but he also enlisted.
So I'm back home, the new school year has started, my senior year. And like all 17 year old boys I was a hormone looking for a place to happen; never much of a student; except for ROTC. That was the class I loved, that was my focus. In those days the Texas Board of Education had the students on a trimester system. That is the school year was divided into three equal parts of 3 months each. They had also designated summer school as the fourth trimester, now I'm not a mathematician, but I do believe that "tri" indicates "three" not "four", but let's not get off into the Texas education system.
Anyway, not being much of a "bookworm" I was less than eager to endure 9 months of this mind numbing torture. But endure I did, as best I could, for as long as I could. I was getting very frustrated and wanted to drop out, just leave and head to the Marines. Now I'm a little guy, at that time, 5'4" 105 pounds. I was almost underweight for the Corps so my recruiter kept very close tabs on me and on many occasions bought me vanilla milkshakes (my favorite) to keep me from losing weight. He didn't want to lose this little poolie.
On one of those occasions, near the end of the 2nd trimester (it sounds like I'm pregnant), I told him of my frustration about school and wanting to just quit and head to the Marines. He told me that I had a "conditional contract" that required me to successfully complete high school in order to be accepted for active duty. I have no idea if he was telling the truth or not, but he did manage to keep me in school with that argument and with an offer he placed in front of me. He told me about VOE (Vocational Office Education) a school program that allowed me to go to school half a day and work the other half. And then he clinched the deal, he said I could "work" for him at the recruiting office (for no pay) and he would "validate" my enrollment into VOE.
So I was hooked, it sounded like a great deal to me. He told me my only duty would be to answer the phone and he would buy me a vanilla shake every day. What a deal, half day at school and free shakes! The only down side (from my perspective at the time) was I had no "wheels", at least not the motorized kind, I was stuck with my brothers old 10 speed bike. Now it was 7 miles each way from my parent's house to the recruiting office downtown, so if I wanted this "deal" I would have to suck it up and make the ride, round trip, 5 days a week. I took the deal, made the ride and finished high school (I got to walk across the stage and they handed me something and said don't come back).
In retrospect I can see my recruiter did me a great service, not only did he keep me in school to the end and see it successfully completed, but he also gave me 3 months of good physical exercise that, no doubt, helped me make it through what was to be the most intensive physical and mental challenge I've ever endured. And even today, when I'm faced with what might seem like impossible odds, I remember those days on "the grinder" and think to myself "this isn't so bad". But at this point in my life "The Grinder" was yet to come.
John H. Hardin
1978 - 1984
I recently read an interesting book and thought you might like to see the following quote. Old Marine
From a book on the Korean War, This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach (page 119)
"The situation is critical and Miryang must not be lost. The division has driven a division-sized salient across the Naktong. More will cross the river tonight. If Miryang is lost *** we will be faced with a withdrawal from Korea. I am heartened that the Marine Brigade will move against the Naktong Salient tomorrow. They are faced with impossible odds, and I have no valid reason to substantiate it, but I have the feeling they will halt the enemy.
* These Marines have the swagger, confidence, and hardness that must have been in Stonewall Jackson's Army of the Shenandoah. They remind one of the Coldstreams at Dunkirk. Upon this thin line of reasoning, I cling to the hope of victory."
--From a wire dispatched 16 August 1950 by a British military observer at Miryang.
"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread."
"[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another."
"A Marine will dive into the Jaws of Death and bring back the Jaw Bone."
--WWII era Comedian whose Brother was a Marine
"Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things."
Did you ever notice that after Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says W T F.
"He shows the Resolute countenance of a Marine who just went through H-ll and has lit his cigarette on the tines of the Devils pitchfork."
--A Marine Serving in Iraq or Afghanistan
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."