I'd like to add a chow hall story. I was medivacked from the Persian Gulf in 91 and was sent to the Army Hospital in Lundstuhl Germany. On my first morning there, still in my dirty grimy chocolate chip cammie's, I followed my nose to the "dining facility" in an attempt to satisfy my craving for real coffee. I found the coffee pot but no cups. Across the room was an young Army Private setting up the chow line. I asked for a coffee cup but the private, without looking up, rather sternly informed me that the dining facility was not open and to leave.
OK, I asked again and this time offered to wash the cup when I was finished. The private replied that the dining facility did not open til 0730 and I had better get the f--- out. I told the private that if he did not provide me with a coffee cup, I was going to lay hands on him and ensure he would never have the opportunity to breed from that day forward. (Words to that effect)
He finally looked up and decided that the 6 foot, lean 200 pounds, probably very red faced and definitely pi--ed off Marine was serious. He FLED through the galley doors and disappeared. A few moments later the private returned, not with a coffee cup but the Lt. Col in charge of the dining facility. The Lt. Col took one look at me, looked to the private and told him to bring me a coffee cup, then bring both of us breakfast. I always wondered if the private did anything to the chow, but did not care, I had my morning cup of coffee and no problems at the chow hall, regardless of the time of day or night, for the rest of my stay.
Adapt Improvise and Overcome
In This Issue
We've got a chowhall story (or two), in the bush for 60+ days, Old Corps USMC missiles, more liberty cards, taking the long way home, Christmas at Camp Hague, and a Tanker's tale.
A sobering story of litter duty and sending telegraphs... some tasks we wish were not necessary.
We've got a Marine undeserving of the purple heart, no really! Plus, spotless black metal stoves, poetic justice, and the last of our 10 story 1963 Boot Camp series.
Don't forget to check out the latest blog entries and facebook posts... it never gets old folks!
*Come to the GriTogether*
June 11, 2011 10am-2pm
Free Food, Music, and Fun for Marines, Family and Friends!
Get GriTogether Details
This was taken in April 1969 on operation "Oklahoma Hills" we had been in the bush for 60+ days. I was with Hotel Co. 2/7 somewhere in north I Corps area.
William T. Dake
This is my neighbors front door. I gave her the USMC mat and last week she added the bumper sticker to her door saying all women are created equal then some become Marines. She is 85 and served in WW2
SSgt Huntsinger, 1968-75
This is some stuff. I forgot the all of the uniforms though, Dress Greens Winter Service Able, Winter service Baker dress green, no blouse, and Ike Jacket for on duty only, Tropicals, with pi-s cutters, with tie. Khaki on Base with pi-s cutter and utility's with Boone dockers around camp and in the field the Bloused trousers and field boots. Dress Blues Able, Dress Whites, Able and Dress blues Baker(no Blouse). Two over coats a tan rain coat and a wool dress overcoat
Semper Fi and Gung Ho Tom
I just want to share my latest Marine tattoo with everyone there I saw it and had to have it. Semper Fi
There has been some letters about the Hawk Missiles.
Here's some pictures of USMC missile's before the Hawks
Pictures of the 1st Medium Anti Aircraft Missile Battalion (see all).
-A missile being fired at Twentynine Palms, Ca.
-An M8 Tracked Cargo Vehicle
-TMC (Twin Missile Carrier)
-Terrier Missile Launcher
-Missiles being loaded on a launcher
L/Cpl Dawson 1831129 USMC 58 - 64
Here is a scan of my Grandfather's Liberty Card
He retired after 30 years as a CWO4 on 30 June 1957, I retired 38 years later on 30 June 1995.
I do not know when this was issued.
Thanks for a great news letter.
SSgt USMC (Ret)
It is far easier to do the right thing, than to have to explain why you didn't.
Combat Action Ribbon
hello, i just got done reading the newsletter. i didn't notice the prior comments about a Combat Action Ribbon however i read a quick story on it this week. i am in the same boat. i served in AR Ramadi Iraq in 06. myself along with almost every other Marine i was with received fire at multiple times throughout our deployment however I never received the combat action ribbon. i tried once to bring it up my chain of command but after a few months i didn't hear anything... congrats for those of you who have had this corrected...
cpl. joel fuller
Here's a picture of one of my old Liberty Cards from Jan. 1956.
I see it is not the oldest, but perhaps close to being there. I was T.A.D. to NAS North Island for joint exercises with 3rd M.A.W. (See Newspaper clipping)
Joe Miller, Cpl, 1482458, USMC
Long Way Back
I have enjoyed your numerous stories from Marines. I felt the following incident may be enjoyed by your readers.
In 1963 I was stationed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) in Bremerton, Washington with the guard / M.P. detachment at the Marine Barracks. Since we had no training-field areas at PSNS we had a two week training in the boondocks at Fort Lewis, an army base, a few miles from Bremerton. The field maneuvers took place in September. As many of your readers would be aware September in the Northwest can be extremely wet. After the two weeks in the mud and rain we were getting ready to return to Bremerton. Of course we were still in our utilities caked with mud and grime and sweat. Our C.O informed us that we were taking the long way back to the base but did not tell us where we were going. Low and behold we ended up at the Olympia Brewery, still in our utilities. We were given a tour of the brewery and spent a fair amount of time in the tap room.
I thought this might be compared to the reception our fellow Marines at the AIR FORCE mess hall that you previously transmitted.
O L Klump Active USMC 1961-1963 USMCR 1963 -1967
Regarding Paul Lindner's post of his time at Camp Hague Okinawa in the April News letter. I was at Camp Hague from February 1960 to June 1961 with M-4-12. He has a very good memory, as it rekindled my time there just as he stated. I also remember the Drumming out Ceremony, (if you want to call it a Ceremony) very disheartening to see for me anyway. I have enclosed a picture of the 4th Battalion Mess hall sent to me by Tom Loch who served with me.
4th Bn 12th Marines Mess Hall 1959 or 1960
Jim Scott, Cpl. 59-63
Blunt And Curt
I was assigned to Task Group 79.5, Special Landing Force "Bravo" in 1967-68 and served with a Marine contingent on board both the USS Tripoli LPH-10 and the USS Valley Forge LPH-8. In addition to regular Admin duties, I was also responsible for writing the telegrams that went home to the families of Marines who had been killed or wounded. Our ships generally carried a helicopter squadron and a BLT which deployed into various parts of the country for assorted operations.
While in-country, we steamed up and down the coast between Da Nang and the DMZ while launching operations. It was particularly interesting to see the evolution of service rivalry change when operations went forward. When I transferred from one ship leaving station to another coming on station, I could see the Navy rivalry bristle when the Marine air and ground forces came on board. However, later on, when the birds launched with their squads of Grunts, it was the sailors on board who were assigned Litter Duty for the inevitable return of "Medivac Inbound" flights,.. bringing the dead and wounded Marines back to the ship.
Litter Duty required the litter crew to enter the tail end of the landing CH-46's and bring the Marines on their stretchers from the aircraft to the flight deck elevator where they would go down to the hangar deck for triage... either for emergency care or to the fantail for that final respectful preparation in returning home. It was a bloody and sobering task with high drama and frantic work on the Hangar Deck as heroic teams of Navy Doctors and medical staff struggled to save life and limbs. It was the effect of this hand-in-glove function that quickly dissolved the rivalry and bonded the Navy-Marine Team into an attitude of support and mutual respect, if not brotherly affection.
As for me, every time a Medivac Inbound announcement was given over the Ship's PA system I knew that I would soon have a stack of SRBs and OQRs land on my desk,.. each with a buckslip detailing the circumstance of the identified Marine. My task was to open each service record and translate the pertinent details of that Marine's personal data along with the information on their wounds into a telegram that would go to their family. Each service record opened directly to the photo and personal info of the affected Marine, including SGLI choices and so forth. I was often surprised at the number of Marines who chose "No Coverage" even thought they had a wife and family at home. I believe it was the self-comforting psychological act of saying, "If I choose "No coverage," I wouldn't be fair for me to get killed, so that's my best move." Regrettably, this tactic failed with sad regularity.
This was a particularly emotional task for me as I realized that the families at home who were waiting and praying for their Marine to return home safely, would soon be receiving the message that I was preparing at that very moment. Each book in the stack brought a new face, new information and new circumstances. The messages were, by necessity, both blunt and curt. A sample might read: "This is to inform you that Cpl. John Doe was wounded (or killed) by enemy small arms fire (or mortar, etc) with wounds to his left leg (torso, neck etc.) during Operation Badger Tooth in Quang Nam Province, RVN. Condition: (Critical, Serious, Fair or Good) / Prognosis: (Guarded, Critical, Serious, Fair or Good).
Sometimes the stack of service records was large,... sometimes small,... but always continual. I served on active duty in 1965-69, but joined Mag-46 at MCAS El Toro in 1974 as a reserve MP and then changed over to Air Intelligence a few years later.
In January of 1991 I was activated and sent to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm where I served in the G-2 under General Boomer before returning home in May of that year. I am exceptionally happy to say, that the Desert Storm conflict was the mirror OPPOSITE of my Vietnam war experience. I retired in 1994.
I managed to hang on to a variety of documents and photos during these many years and submit a few of them for review.
Rodney D. Johnson
MGYSGT, USMCR (ret)
After reading the article about liberty cards, I look through some of my stuff. I have a liberty card issued to me 9Jan56. Card #304, with my SN, rank (Cpl), CoI3dBn5thMarlst MarDiv(Reinf), FMF. First Class Liberty, signed by my XO at the time, Capt R.C. Schulze, one of the finest men I have ever known.
Semper Fi MGySgt Howard L Rainer
You are d-mned right you earned it! Let no one tell you differently!
Don B USMC ('64 -'96)
our Brother, Hal Wilson, joined guarding the streets of Heaven. was 1/9 don't think ya need machinegun(Jude)
we all are "Semper Fi"
save my spot... sarge
This is to Sgt. Bill Michell responding to my article as to how I was treated when returning from Vietnam. Thank you! I was blessed to hear that you were treated great! It cheered me up!
This is in response to Doc William Scott. He asked what happened to the 1st Marine Brigade in HI. I was stationed at Kaneohe Bay 1985-1987. When I arrived in 1985 it was still the 1st Marine Brigade. Somewhere between 86-87 the name was changed to the 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade. If the name changed after that, maybe someone else can enlighten us. Semper Fi Doc.
Sgt. DeVoe 0481/Red Patch
I regret to belatedly inform you and other Marines of the passing of Gunnery Sergeant Carson Baynard Stanley (1935-2011) of Montpelier, VA, on 21 February 2011 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was a fine individual and will be missed.
Giles Cromwell, former PFC USMCR
I still have my liberty card from H&S Co, 1st Bn 10th Marines. The 2nd Division shipped out on a Med cruise in fall 1956, but our Counter Mortar Radar section (0842's) was not slated to go. They gave us our liberty cards before leaving and I have mine - dated 9 Dec 1955 (when I arrived at CLNC from ITR) signed by D.R. Hayden, 1st Lt. CO. We were soon transferred individually "to the winds".
I just thought I would "chime in" on this "Da Nang Airbase guard" topic. I don't remember why we went there or what we did. The only memory I have of that one visit was when the gate guard told us that we had to turn in our weapons to him. I told him, "I sleep with this pistol under my pillow (when I can sleep on a pillow). And these Marines are accountable for their weapons. You're not getting them!" And we drove on through.
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine.
To CM3 Jim Hartman... LMAO @ your educating comment about the Latin Phrase and Trade Knowledge... Well Stated!
"Never hit a SeaBee in a Bar Fight He may be a Marines Father"
Sgt. Grit... Get your gear for R&R? You were a Marine, everyone knows that the Marines call that what it really is... I&I. No true Marine goes for rest and relaxation, but they all go for Intoxication and Intercourse.
Sgt Michael Perkins 57 to 61 El Toro, Yuma
When I was stationed at 29 Palms I worked in the Range Control facility aka BearMat. Tank units would request to go hot with a .22 caliber "Brewster" device. I never really knew what that was. I was if a current or former tanker could explain this to me. Thanks in advance and Semper Fi
my grandfather & dad are Both U.S.N. grandfather passed 1970. my dad is 91, born Dec. 08, 1919. He says he got to go to war for his B.D, Dec. 8 1941. He signed up 1939, got his walking papers Dec. 1945. HE was unhappy that his sons became U.S.M.C and not swabbies, my older brother was drafted 1969, I needed a place to live so I went too. but I read a lot of great stories dad has many, some not easy to hear, most of his time of in the So. PI I wish I would have recorded them they great stores. MY Brothers & me Recon 1ST
Regarding L/Cpl Tom Leigh-Kendall's letter in American Courage #252: I reported for boot camp at MCRD San Diego on 20 June 1960. One of the 'shouts' we used was ALL THE WAY, but I've never run across anyone who used it or remembers it - - until now! I'm 68, and it is such a relief to find that I haven't lost all of my marbles, after all! Thank you!
L/Cpl Billington III, Frank J. - 1910900/2533
I received my Eagle, Globe and Anchor at end of August 1959 at MCRD San Diego. We were immediately cattle trucked to Camp Pendleton for ITR. That was one wild ride. I had been there for 1 - 2 weeks and went on sick call for poison oak. 3 of us arrived back in area and found everyone gone. A SNCO called out to us from about 50 - 60 yards away. "Hey you Marines, come here". That was the first time I was called Marine and knew I was no more just a boot. We reported and a Captain took us to where our Battalion was. No chewing out either.
Cpl JC Farley
To M Harris, I had a similar experience in 1979/1980 me and another Marine were Humping Field Marching Pack and seabag From I Believe was 22 area?... Across from The Air Strip at Pendleton to Wire Mountain II Housing..well we were picked up by a MSgt and when we Tried to Thank Him More than Once all he said was Hey just do the same for another Marine or navy Corpsman! Feels Great Don't It??? "Semper Fi"
R.Y. MSgt (Ret)
What are you in here for?
Back in '66 I had to go down to "Charlie Med" outside DaNang. I had heard about a Marine that stepped on a VC bear trap while on patrol. As I walked around, there he was with a cast on his leg, bear trap swung over his shoulder and a smile on his face.
Just before returning to my unit, I noticed a lot of hubbub at one of the patient tents. I approached to get a better look at what was going on. It was Gen. Wait presenting purple hearts to the men. As he reached each man's cot, the General began with how proud he was to present the award for their sacrifice.
Finally he reached a young Marine and began his speech. "No Sir" I don't deserve the award. The General somewhat taken back spoke, "why sure you do son, you were wounded for your country". Again the young Marine repeated "no sir, I don't deserve this". General Wait, getting a little perturbed asked the Marine why do you say that? What are you in here for? Quietly the Marine murmured, a circumcision sir! The General wheeled, glared at his adjutant and flew out of the tent!
Department Of The Pacific
Hi Sgt. Grit et al,
I've really enjoyed reading the posted stories, as a relatively new subscriber, and thought I would throw in my 2-bits worth. I'm strictly a cold war vet, served from '56 through '62, with 2 of those years in the reserves. My bootcamp was MCRD, Platoon 270 initially, changing to 370 by graduation (13weeks), then on to Camp Pendleton for a swell 30 days of mess duty (Camp San Onofre),and finally into ITR with November Company, 2nd ITR, finishing up in September '56, after fighting forest fires for a couple of miserable weeks in August.
I had applied for Air Traffic Control school in Memphis, but classes were full so I was assigned a bandsman's MOS (trombone) and sent to San Francisco. Anyone out there recall the Department of the Pacific? HQ was at 100 Harrison St., but we were billeted on Treasure Island. The only rifle I was ever issued was an M-1 Garand (fine shooting weapon), and we qualified with it annually at Mare Island.
As a band, since we weren't assigned to any regiment, or wing, or division, we were heavily involved with recruiting, and as such we appeared at every d-mn cherry blossom or apple festival on the west coast and as far east as Salt Lake City. I'm not complaining. It was great duty. We were the sole U.S. military representative at the bicentennial celebration of British Columbia in 1958, but that's another story. Think of a Canadian bagpipe player tied up in a fart sack dangling from a second story window...
Anyway, we sided with the British Royal Marines from Kent, England against the Canadian units for 3 weeks and it was interesting. We did all of the Guard Mounts, Changes of Command, and retirement ceremonies at Alameda NAS, Mare Island, Concord (Port Chicago) Naval Weapons Depot, Hawthorne Naval Weapons Depot (Nev.), Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, Moffat Field NAS and several ships of the fleet. I know, I know, nothing but Market Street commandos, but it worked out... I think. I stayed there for 3 and a half years! Have no idea how that happened.
My dad was a 'China Marine', landing in Shanghai with Smedley Butler and the 4th Marines in 1927. Interestingly, he was also a bandsman.
So far in my life, I've only encountered one other individual who was stationed with the Department of the Pacific, and I know there are others out there. The band unit was dissolved in early summer of 1960, just as I was discharged from active duty and transferred to the reserves. I think the administrative end of it on Harrison Street left shortly thereafter.
Dean Stoker, Sgt. (E-4), 1537114
W E Scerine 1665730 plt 355 June 1957 to Sept 1957 I was there to see Satchmo the same time you were. Then I went to ITR at Camp Pendleton, after that, HQ 11th Marines, cold weather training in Bridgeport (TAD) and back to 11th. About Jan or Feb of 1959 I was transferred to H&S 1-1 for some more training and shots to participate in the 1st transplacement Battalion.
My MOS is 2543, our base was Sukaran Okinawa, the concrete barracks. We were not there very long, most of our time was on ships FMF 7th Fleet. We went from Okinawa to Mt.. Fuji Japan and down to Borneo where we participated in SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization exercise "Saddle Up". We were with units from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, to promote a closer working relationship between SEATO member nations.
Then some R&R in Hong Kong, and to get the ship painted. We would go back to Okinawa from time to time then back out, I don' t remember every stop but we made some landings by helicopter and some by higgins boats. R&R in Subic Bay Philippines. The first week or so of May 1960 we started back to San Diego, it took about 25 days by ship. I was discharged when we got back.
Green Tails and Polka Dots
This is to Cpl C. E. Walters; I was with VMA-332 at that time. I also remember NAS Cubi Point on our way to Udorn, Thailand. I agree with you about our pilots, who borrowed our planes to fly, were the best. You brought me back to something I had forgotten San San Ne. How about our call letters EA Elastic A--ho1es, I know there were more but I really can't remember any of the others. How about the Green Tails at Cherry Point and the Polka Dots at Iwakuni. Was it you guys who painted the green tails and added the polka dots?
Cpl Bob Reiseck 6412 - Jet Mechanic
Salute The Blue Sticker
I was with Comm Support Company attached to 1st Marine Brigade at Kaneohe in 1971 and 1972. We had a young 2nd Lieutenant that would often make you wonder if somehow Quantico had made a mistake. At Camp Smith he took the top off the base of a Collins Remote Controlled Antenna and then went to lunch. According to him he did not know it rained that often in Hawaii. From that day one we had to turn the antenna by hand. We were sent to Pokaloa on the Big Island of Hawaii for training and before we left we were issued long underwear and sleeping bags. In case you did not know it gets a little cold on the side of those mountains. For some reason he thought he would be staying in the BOQ and only brought sheets. I hope by now you are starting to get the picture that he was not real sharp.
I distinctly remember him chastising two seasoned Marines when they failed to salute him. He raised his hand in salute and said in a loud voice "Good Morning Marines". One of the Marines looked at his watch and said. "It's afternoon sir" and then walked off. I had to hide behind the building so he could not see me laughing.
How many of you remember when you had to salute officers driving by in cars? You were to salute the blue sticker on the car that signified it belonged to an officer even if his teen age daughter was driving.
I also remember having to have a liberty card to get off base at MCRD San Diego. You had to go to the duty office at Communications Schools and check out your liberty card. If your name was not on the list you had to stay on base. Once when on duty I stole my liberty card thinking I could then get off base whether my name was on the list or not. However I never had the courage to use the stolen card.
Jim Grimes Former Sgt. But still a Marine.
Don't really want to know
For Cpl Walters... yup, it was "Naval Air Facility, Naha"... on an Air Force Base. There was also an Army missile battery on the base, and of course, a Marine Barracks... there to provide security for the Navy's weapons stored on the little island of Senaga Shima... just off the southwest perimeter of the base, and accessible only via two causeways across the coral tidal flats. I remember the small jets... seemed like the entire arse end was jet exhaust. We would get Navy A3 bombers in from Cubi point from time to time, and had to post plane watch sentries to guard them. We assumed that was for all the classified stuff on the planes, but it meant 'day on and stay on' for the duration of their stay. Fortunately one of the Navy crew members was running off at the mouth at the E-club one night, and told the truth... our sentries were there to protect their bicycles and cameras. That was the end of that when the word got to our Major.
The Navy Patrol squadron based there, VP-4, flew P2V planes ('two turnin', two burnin'), patrolling the Taiwan straits. They had a picture posted on a bulletin board in Ops, with some challenge to 'show this kind of dedication', or something like that. The picture was taken over at White Beach, and depicted a Sea-Going Marine of the MarDet on the USS Saint Paul... at the time, the flagship of the 7th Fleet... the Marine was at a sharp 'parade rest'... with his M-1, glistening double-soled shoes, 'pony-tail knot in his tie and 'sea-going dip' in his frame cap. The unusual part was that he had been assigned as the forward brow sentry... and the Saint Paul, behind him in the picture, was obviously standing out to sea... he had not been relieved, and in accordance with his General Orders, was standing his post. Period. Have long wondered what happened to his Corporal of the Guard...
That 18 months at the Marine Barracks included some of the most dangerous duty of my entire career. The Air Force had civilian Okinawan guards on their flight line gates... the Navy gates were un-manned....until Capt (USN) Saxe P. Gantz, CO of the NAF, decided that just wouldn't do. The Barracks lacked the manpower to take on two additional posts, so it was determined that these gates would be manned by Sailors....which meant that every three months, a new crop of boot Sailors would be assigned to the Marine Barracks. They would stand Guard Mount as the fourth rank, be posted/relieved by our Corporals of the Guard, etc., and would be armed with a 1911A1 .45 cal pistol. As the Port Section Leader, and de facto Assistant Guard Chief, it fell my lot to take each new crop of squidlets out to the AF pistol range, and conduct FamFire...scary days, those... "Sir, my gun..." Boy, you turn like that just one more time and"... well, you can imagine. Recall we only ever had one round through the armory ceiling. (The whole Barracks at the time consisted of five Quonset huts, a flagpole, and what had once been the concrete deck of a mess hall for a parade ground... it was later moved to building 908, which is probably in use by the Japanese SDF if still standing).
Was never aware that there were slow-learner programs for PHD's, but former PFC/P.HD (ret) Thompson may have been in such a program... as he has once again used the term 'fatigues' to refer to utilities or dungarees... and, YOU, Grit... let him get away with it!
Re Gunny Archuleta and the 'skosh' cabs... those were mostly Datsuns, and for whatever reason, insurance, maybe? were not allowed on base... from memory, in '59-'60, it was six cents to drop the flag, and a penny (US) a mile thereafter. I quit riding skosh cabs after I got in one when the driver was wearing a motorcycle helmet. The big cabs were more expensive... more like a quarter to drop the flag and four cents per mile. Not unusual to read Plymouth on the hood, Dodge or Desoto on the trunk, or vice versa... all sorts of stories about them (all MOPARS) being Canadian rejects, or assembled from rejected parts... guaranteed to rust completely out in three years in that climate.
At Sukeran, on payday, you could flag down a big cab, give the driver a dollar... he would drive into town (Futenema?), get you a benjo box of Om fried rice, bring it right back to you, and be happy when you told him 'keep the change' ("Om" meaning with egg on top... might have been shrimp or chicken or... don't really want to know, even fifty years later...LOL)
AF Chow Hall
Shortly after arriving at Camp Schwab Okinawa from Nam we (bravo1/9) were sent down to Naha AFB for guard duty because of riots by the Okinawan workers because of layoffs. We were directed to a chow hall and on entering we stopped dead in our tracks. We saw 4 person tables with table clothes, centerpieces, and waitresses. We just knew we were in officer country. told the guy at the door "we're enlisted Marines, we need the enlisted mess hall", Were told this is it! Sure not what we were used to at Schwab.
Cpl. Bravo 1/9
I sent this to an idiot that did not know what Semper Fi meant, and she asked me, and then she said I was offensive in my answer. I thought I was being courteous??
As Marines we are a group of elite, combat hardened, men and women who pledge an oath to defend the United States of America against all enemies foreign or domestic.. To us this is a blood oath that every Marine carries in his or her heart forever. Being a Marine is forever, from boot camp to the grave and everything in between.
In case you don't know what Semper Fidelis means it is our creed, and our oath and it is Latin for, Always Faithful.
He Hisses At Me
BACKGROUND: I am the gunner on a tank that was situated at Cam Lo Hill in Northern I Corps Vietnam in the spring of 1968. I was ordered to report to our company Commanding Officer who was in "The Rear" at Quang Tri.
THE STORY: When our truck arrives at the Quang Tri Combat Base, we pass through the main gate and in no time we pull up to the entrance of the 3rd Tank Battalion HQ. The driver applies the brakes and he pauses a moment and then shouts, "All ashore that are going ashore." What a goof ball! He thinks he's on a boat pulling up to the dock. Oh h-ll, I won't rain on his parade.
As I am jumping off the truck, I yell to the driver, "Thanks buddy! Hey! Don't forget me when you are heading back to Cam Lo Hill, ok?" He waves to me, puts the big truck in gear and heads off in a cloud of dust for the 3rd Mar Div mail room.
As the dust clears, I take a look around and see the two H&S Company gun tanks parked next to a big tent to the far left of the dozen or so "hardback" hooch's that make up 3rd Tank Battalion rear area. These are the same tanks that were in Hue City with me during The Tet offensive fighting to free the city just a few months ago. As I am walking over toward the tanker's tent, a huge Master Gunnery Sgt strides up to me and he holds out his hand like a traffic cop indicating me to stop. Of course, I stop dead in my tracks. He then puts his face almost nose to nose with me and says in the most menacing voice (through clenched teeth), "Marine, where is your f--kin' cover?"
I come to a slack form of attention and say, "It blew off my head on the truck from Cam Lo Hill, Gunny."
"That's MASTER Gunny to you, Marine."
"Aye-aye, Master Gunny."
"Now, why are you in MY f--kin' battalion area without a f--kin' proper United States Marine Corps issued cover, Marine?" He hisses at me, again through seething clenched teeth, toes to toes and nose to nose.
"Give me some slack will you? I just got out of the fighting in Hue, my tank just hit a mine at Cam Vu and I lost my cover about five minutes ago."
"Don't speak to me like that Marine or I will have your a-s thrown in the f--kin' brig."
"What do you want me to do, Master Gunny?"
"Get a f--kin' cover on your f--kin' head or get out of my f-- kin' battalion area, most rikitick!"
"Aye-aye, Master Gunny."
I turn and practically run for the H&S Company tank crew's tent and I don't look back until I get to the door way. As I enter the tent, I see sittings on their racks "Marty" Martinez, "Willy" Williams, Mike Andregg and some of the other guys who fought the NVA in Hue with me. Sitting just outside of the ring of "salty" tankers is a New Guy named Esquival. As it turns out he is a Mexican-American from Los Angeles and for some strange reason this dude cannot speak Spanish worth a sh-t. "Marty" Martinez is in the process of giving him a ration of -hit (unmercifully razzing him).
When Marty sees me he shouts out, "-hit Esquival, this white-as- ed gringo, Wear, can speak better Spanish than you! You're disgrasiado (disgraceful)! Puto Pendajo!" This row seems to come up every time I see Marty and this "new guy" all during my time in-country.
As I walk further in to the tent, the group is in a heated discussion over the merits of the rapid deployment of the Israeli tanks that occurred during the recent Seven-Day War with Egypt. Esquival seems to be an expert in the details of each and every tank battle that went on. I have not read one word about this war (other than what I read in Time Magazine a few months before). I make a mental note to find time to read more so that I can understand more about this momentous time in tank history. As Mike Andregg said, "Those d-mn Heb's really kicked those camel jockey's a--es but good."
Willy says, "Hey New Guy (meaning me), what are you doing down here?"
I explain that for some reason that I do not know, I am in Quang Tri is to report to Lt. Georgaklis who is now H&S Company Commanding Officer (our new CO).
Marty says, "I wonder what the Lieutenant has in mind for you, Wherro (pale guy)."
I come back, "No se, (I don't know) pincheway (stingy ba--ard)- but if it's good, I'll let you know. Oh! By the way, who is that huge bad a--ed lifer master gunnery sergeant who just ate my a-z out for not having a cover on in HIS battalion area?"
Mike Andregg comes back, "Whew! That was Master Gunnery Sgt. Cornelius. The baldest, meanest, most Gung Ho Marine that ever walked the Earth. What did he say to you?"
"He said that he was going to throw me in the brig if I stayed in HIS battalion area without a cover."
"He'll do it just to prove a point."
"No way! Can he?"
"Yes he can and he will." Willy says. "We had to endure him in Phu Bai for six months. But you know what? He is one of the toughest and most knowledgeable Marines that you will ever know. He is really fair but let me tell you, Brother, he is strictly by The Book. And if The Book says something is supposed to be a certain way then that is the word of God to Master Gunny Cornelius. If you do good-he'll tell you that you did good-but if you f--k up, you'd better look out!"
He then adds, "Here Wear take my pi-s pot (steel helmet) but bring it back when you're done."
With the pi-s pot on my head, I amble over to the H&S Company Office, keeping an eye out for that crazy Master Gunny. I walk up the hardback hooch's stairs, knock on the screen door and open it slowly. Inside I see a new office pogue who I haven't seen before. I tell say to him. "I'm Cpl. Wear. The Skipper ordered me to report to him today."
Lt. Georgaklis is sitting at his desk inside an open door and barks at me, "Wear get your skinny a-- in her on the double!"
My eyes get really big and I utter to myself under my breath, "Oh -hit, am I in trouble? What did I do?"
I remove my pi-s pot, enter his office and stand at attention in front of his desk. "Cpl Wear reporting as ordered, Sir." By the way, Marines do not salute when not under cover (without a hat on) and we do not wear covers indoors.
He replies, "At ease, Wear. You are not in trouble. In fact, you are about to be rewarded for your knowledge of tanks and for your leadership."
The Skipper dispenses with the small talk and asks me, "Cpl. Wear, if you want to go to a gun tank company, I can get you into any company and any platoon that you want to go to. Once you get there I cannot guarantee that you'll be made a tank commander right away. The alternative that I am offering you is that since you have so much time in grade as a Corporal, you can take over the entire third flame section if you want to. That's all three 3rd Section flame tanks. Plus there is a brand new flame tank sitting at Dong Ha with your name on the TC's cupola."
Hummmmm, this is a tough one. I ponder that I know for a fact that being in "garbage burners" (-flame tanks-.) is not too cool. Gun tanks are the place to be anytime, anywhere and anyhow. The sweetener to the Lt.'s deal is that I can go back to Dong Ha right now and claim my brand NEW flame tank. Of course, I take the "easy" way, and stay in flames. Why? It'll look good on my "resume"!
Now when I reflect back on my decision, I recall that just before I was transferred to Vietnam, I had applied to go to Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS). I stopped that whole process with a letter written to the Commandant of the Marine Corps explaining that in order to be a more effective Marine officer that I wanted to get some combat experience as an enlisted man prior to becoming a Marine officer. As you can tell, since I am in Nam as I speak these words, the Commandant of the Marine Corps agreed with me. So this Tank Section Leader job will, in fact, look really good on my resume! In retrospect, I probably should have gone to gun tanks. You can blow away a whole lot more g--ks using a 90-mm cannon than you can with a "garbage burning" Zippo (-flame thrower-) tank. Oh well. Wadda ya gonna do? But you know? As it turns out my fellow Zippo tankers are a special breed.
The skipper offers me his hand as I thank him for his gift and I turn to leave the company office. I replace the pi-- pot on my head and head back to the HQ tank platoon tent. I return Andregg's helmet and then I walk out to the main road just as the Task Force six by truck comes by. I jump on and we're out the Quang Tri main gate and heading on back to Cam Lo Hill in the blink of an eye. We pass through the north gate at Dong Ha and out the west gate without stopping-and in no time we arrive at Cam Lo Hill. As I jump off the back of the truck, I see Goodie and Charlie sitting on the back of CRISPY CRITTERS cleaning the machine guns. I shout over to them, "Hey guess what? Charlie you were right, I got my own tank!"
Charlie comes back, "That's just fine. When do you leave?' "Right now. Bye-bye!"
Sgt 3rd Tanks, '68 - '69
HqCo 9th Marines 3rd Mar Div RVN 65-69 Reunion Update
Semper Fi and thank you for all that you do for Marines. We have just returned from the 4th reunion of Headquarters Company 9th Marine Regiment 3rd Marine Division RVN 65-69 which was located in San Diego this year. Thank you for the "gift package" that you donated for our "gathering".
Attached are two photos, one of HqCo 9th Marines on the "yellow footprints" and the other was taken while on a dinner cruise in San Diego Harbor. The pretty lady in the second photo was a complete stranger that was coached away from her date so she could have her picture taken with some Marines.
Am beginning to wonder about the good Doctor... multiple infractions with 'fatigues' and now, 'KP'... again, strictly Army/AF lingo, and for the AF, probably not since barracks became 'dormitories'... Marines have 'mess duty'... Navy usually referred to mess duty as 'mess cooking' or 'cookin' ' in my experience...
Summer of '68, was TAD (again, 'TDY' is those other folks...) to an Army school at Redstone Arsenal... among other things, subjects (some classified) taught there involved things like RedEye missiles, etc. There were quite a few NATO servicemen sent there for school as well. As any red-blooded American knows, English, if spoken loudly enough and slowly enough, can be understood by anyone, even Europeans. The school I was attending didn't see many Marine officers, being 'a low density MOS' school (although... those who knew some of us may have challenged the 'dense' part, claiming we were highly dense) Uniform of the day was summer service Charlie... trou, short sleeve tropical shirt, ribbons, and the cap with so many nicknames... the only Marine Corps emblem in this ensemble was on said cap, and once that had been doffed and tucked under the belt, the emblem was not visible.
As I was proceeding down the second deck passageway (that would be the second floor hallway for any of our readers not of the Sea Services) I was stopped by an Army Lieutenant instructor... absolutely splendiferous in his highwater trousers and twinkly things scattered about his upper garment... brass lions, green loops (I think they call them 'tabs), some sort of typing speed award, plastic name tag, etc... he could've been a mobile Christmas tree, but didn't sport an extension cord. He began to speak, slowly, and in a loud clear tone; "Parhdon me... but I do not recognize your uniform... Which of the NATO countries are you from?"
Nice guy that I used to be, I threw my arm around his spindly shoulders, gave him a fraternal hug, and said; "Bub... you ain't gonna believe this... but I'm on YOUR side!"... (then went and told the other instructors on him)... oh, yeah... it was the Ammunition Officer course... MOS 2040 in the day...
From my picture archive. Taken on the backside of Hill 327 in March 1969.
I wrote on the back of the pic that they were NIKE MISSLES?
After reading your newsletter, can they be HAWK's ?
Marine Corps Basic Class 6-68, AUG.26-27, 2011
Foxtrot Co., 6-68 (TBS-Quantico) meeting in Chicago Aug.26-27.
Visit official website: www.tbs6-68.com/ or contact
rlorish @ gmail .com
or GuentherD1 @ aol .com
See More Reunions or Add yours!
"General" Order #11
After boot camp, (1958) due to a self-imposed SNAFU situation, I was stationed at PI for a year, finally being stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps. I had only been there for a few weeks when I pulled my first guard duty in the big building. As a young Lance Corporal having never been away from the spit and polish atmosphere of our beloved Marine Corps University, I was one very "by the book" Marine.
Guard duty at Headquarters consisted of checking that doors on secured areas and classified filing cabinets were locked, that no classified documents had been left lying on desks or in GI cans, and wandering around in the darkness in the basement archives where thousands of filing cabinets housed the records of (we were told) every Marine since the beginning of time. Even in the daytime the "Tombs" was an eerie place; at night, walking between rows upon rows of filing cabinets in a seemingly endless basement lighted by precious few dim, naked bulbs, expecting a Russian spy to be lurking in every shadow, the place took on an even more sinister aspect. I never would have admitted it at the time, but every sound in that dark hole ran a bit of a chill up the center-crease of a "tropical shirt."
It was around 0300 hrs.; I had finished my rounds of the Tombs, had climbed the ladder at the back of the building, and had gone through the hatchway to the long corridor leading to the main entrance by the Commandant's Office, when I noticed that there was a person coming toward me. The only light was coming from the lighted lobby far down the corridor, so all I could see was the silhouette of a man advancing toward me, with what appeared to be a rather staggering gait. He wasn't wearing a cover or side-arm so I knew it wasn't the OD, and at 03-DARK, I knew that no one else was supposed to be in the building, so General Order #11 kicked in. I drew my trusty 45, and shouted, "Halt, who goes there." only to be met with a string of words to make any Marine proud, and the silhouette kept coming. I shouted again with a mighty "HALT."
Again, a string of expletives, and he kept on coming. I grabbed the slide and threw it back, letting a live one smack home loud enough in that empty corridor that even the Marines in the filing cabinets below should've heard. I was about to crank one off into the overhead when the silhouette, now about twenty-five feet from me, paid homage to the sound of the round going home, and finally came to an abrupt stop, however, the language didn't. The silhouette seemed to be having trouble maintaining balance, and his speech was slurred, but I had no trouble understanding the words " I'm General So-and-so", or that he thought my name was "Stupid S-O-B.)
By then, I had drawn the flashlight from the back of my belt, and had turned it on, revealing a very unsteady, red-faced man wearing Bermuda shorts, a gaudy Hawaiian shirt, brown knee-high socks, and Marine Corps dress shoes. He was still chewing me up one side and down the other, when I shined the light into his eyes, told him to lay his ID on the deck, and take ten-paces to the rear. I kept the piece pointed in his direction as I picked up his card and saw that I had the hammer back on a very inebriated, very p-ed-off Brigadier General who, in no uncertain terms, demanded my presence in the Guard Office at 0800 that morning, and promised that I would be a private-no-class, by 0900.
I was in the Guard Office when the General arrived, now in uniform, with campaign ribbons down to here, and I snapped to attention, sure that I was a dead Marine, as he very gruffly informed the OD of the events of several hours before. At first, it did sound like my death sentence, especially when he asked the Captain to leave the room, but after the door closed, he turned to me and said MARINE!, and his voice softened a bit; "Stand at ease." and he proceeded to apologize to me for his behavior during the night, and commended me for doing my duty, and gave me a hearty "Well done!"
Ya just gotta love the Marine Corps!
Former Cpl-E4 W.E. Dellinger 1958-1962
Just happened to notice while I was searching for info on an old DI I had in boot camp that you also had him. I was in plt. 379, in 1964. We inherited SSGT. Radmall and Sgt. Cohen. Who I thought was also Mr. Marine two years in a row. I'm 64yrs. old and still remember the last run we made at San Diego.
When we entered thru the Headquarters side of the grinder, Sgt. Cohen kicked us down to quick step and sang cadence to the Marines' Hymn. It was like God was telling us, we made it and he was proud. It was a Sunday and the grinder was quiet and our hymn echoed throughout. I have never forgotten that. I had heard he got wounded in the Nam. Any info you might have I would sure love to see.
Thanks... Semper Fi.
Jim OMarrah USMC 64/68
You guys have some great stuff by the way.
Great memory. I had not thought of that sound in 43 years. But once you described it... whoa. There was a time of day, early evening, quiet, very little other activity. The DI and the platoon doing their thing on the grinder. What a sound, what a great memory!
Boot Camp Stories from 1963, Lessons for Life 10 of 10
William N. Thompson, Honorable Discharge, USMC, Pfc (E-2), Ph.D., Retired
10. We All Know Where We Were. I'll Always Remember the Lessons
They told us very clearly, over and over, "You keep yourselves to the ground, no matter what. You never get up. But keep moving. But never stand up. You keep your body to the ground. If you get snagged up on the wire and can't move, just freeze. Do not try to get up. You never stand up. If you have to freeze, just freeze. When it is over, we will come and free you up." It was plain and easy to understand. Nevertheless, the exercise did cause anxiety for most of the unit.
The exercise was one of the final ones during our infantry training. It constituted a sort of "right of passage," as did many other exercises-like the gas chamber where we had to take off gas masks and hold our breaths, like the "slide for life" where we held on to a wire and glided over a pond of water 20 feet below. But his one was actually "life threatening," so it held special meaning. We had to crawl under an array of barbed wire while actual live machine gun fire was being shot over our heads. As the shots were fired, we could hear them and we could also see the red tracer bullets above us.
Being alphabetically challenged, I was, again, toward the back of the platoon. Anxiety grew as I watched my fellow recruits hitting the ground and crawling under the wire amidst the sounds of bullets and screaming drill instructors-"keep down, keep moving, keep down, keep moving." Then my turn came. Rifle in hand, I hit the dirt, and I began my crawl. The dirt was getting into my utilities, and I was concentrating on my movements and trying not to get rattled by the noise. The screaming. Then-.not halfway through the barbed wire-.
Everything went quiet.
Quiet. Stunningly. Totally. Quiet.
My first thought. "Did I do something wrong?" Second thought. "Oh Crap! I'm dead."
I pondered my second thought. My eyes were open. I could see the dirt. I slowly reached out and I grabbed some dirt. Being careful not to raise my hand, I put some dirt into my mouth. It tasted like dirt. I began to confirm that I was still alive. I decided to keep crawling. But to be safe, I didn't get up even when I reached the end of the array of barbed wire. I kept crawling until I was at the legs of my fellow recruits in formation. Then I heard the yelling. "Get information. Stop the grab-a-s (the talking) and get into formation. Get at attention. Get into formation. Get to attention." I followed the orders. I was standing at attention with the rest of the platoon.
"Listen Up. We have an announcement." A drill instructor's voice rang out loudly and very deliberately. "The President has been shot. John F. Kennedy is dead." His voice slowed down to a staccato rhythm, but it remained loud. "Your-new-commander-in- chief-is-President-Lyndon-Baines-Johnson--right-face-double- time-march." Thinking "Oh S---," as a unit, we pivoted on our collective right heels and began running in formation. We ran for about three hundred yards, where we were told to "halt." We began our next exercise. Throwing live hand grenades.
I, like almost all other Americans, vividly remember where I was "when I heard." Unlike many others, I vividly hold on to lessons learned at that precise moment. From the moment our incoming bus arrived "on the Island," I kept telling myself (perhaps as a matter of self-defense) that the drill instructor was God. Now it was confirmed. The lesson was ingrained into me as this indelible impression. Lesson One: The drill instructor IS God.
He was sent to me at that moment to give me very important lessons for life. God's Lesson Two of the moment: Life Goes ON. No Matter what happens, we must go on. Life says that after we crawl under the barbed wire and machine gun fire, we go on to throw hand grenades. And so we do. No Matter what happens. Even if a President is shot, we go on. Human existence is a continuing saga that demands that we get up each day and continue the tasks in front of us. Others tell us that the major part of our battle in Life is "showing up." But that is not the major part of life. Lesson Two tells me that that IS Life.
In 1978 while stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii there was a call out on base that a CH-53 Sea Stallion would be leaving for Kauai for a 3 day weekend. Any Marine who wanted to be dropped off on Friday and returned on Monday could get aboard. Marines only, no dependants. So my NCOIC and I went to visit Kauai.
On Monday prior to pickup we stopped at the local Pizza Hut. Inside were several Marines, not only in utilities, not allowed in public, but with their shirts off so only in white Ts. I approached them thinking they were all junior enlistees as I was then a Sergeant with 5 years under my belt. I told them to get on their feet, get dressed and get out of public view. One Marine stood up, put on his utility shirt and there they were, silver Lt bars on each collar. He then began reaming me and got my name, rank and serial number and said I'd be hearing from his office. I was dismissed and my NCOIC and I muttered this ain't right.
2 days later I am in the Commanding General's Adjutant's office at K-Bay, General Twomey. Little did the General's Adjutant, this same Lt, know but General Twomey and I PT'd every day by running the 3 mile course along the runway at K-Bay and the General one day detected the same Boston, Massachusetts accent that he had when I requested a "By Your leave Sir" whenever I passed him on the PT run. He had stopped me one day to question where I hailed from. We both came from the same town, Lynn, Mass. And he would then always ask me how the folks of the Great City of Lynn were each time I passed him. So when I was standing tall in front of this Lt and the General spied me from the other office he came out and shook my hand and greeted me with a "Good morning Sgt Bowden, how are the folks back home in the Great City of Lynn?"
The look on this Lt's face was priceless. When I was asked what brought me to the General's office I told him I was there at the request of the Lt over a matter of the Lt being out of uniform while on R&R on Kauai the past weekend. The General asked the Lt if this were true and he admitted it was and I was dismissed by the General. I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall. I don't know whatever became of this Lt but thought this was poetic justice at its finest.
Sgt Ken Bowden
Sgt Grit, My MOS was 2851 Air Radio Repair. I was on active duty from Sept 1966 to Apr 1970. I was stationed @ MCAS Quantico VA. & With Marine Air Support Squadron 3 While in Viet Nam from Feb 1968 to Mar 1969. It was our job to provide Ground to air communications. We had the GRC-48 radio. MASS-3 had locations in Chu Lai, Da Nang & Vandergrift CB up near the D-Zone in support of Khe San & I Corps. We were on top of hills @ each location. MASS-2 was also in country. So there were quite a few of us Air Wingers but it would seem not well known.
MASS was started in the Korea era . WE repaired & maintained the radios - didn't talk on them with the aircraft. I never see any MASS reunions like other units. But surprising to me you have a MASS-3 patch the only place I've seen it.(I intend to get one someday, just haven't gotten round to it). Any way let's hear from some of you MASS-3 people...
Sgt Glenn A. Shaw 2310168.
P.S. I Work in Tampa Bay Fl. & when one of own (all branches) is returned from Iraq or Afghanistan the police provide an escort along with motorcyclist from the area - it's a big deal. I'm proud that people stand out front of their work places to show their respect for them. The police provide US flags to wave.
I am sure someone will come in with an older one but here is my candidate.
Vince Rigoni S/Sgt 2533
Real Old Salt
Sgt. Robert Treitler's response [American Courage #238] to Sgt. Robert D. Gordon's pictures of the San Diego Quonset Huts stirred up old memories of my days in Boot Camp at MCRD San Diego. I was the Guide for Platoon 3013 (and still have the arm band) that began training just a few days after the Marine Corps birthday in November 1958 and graduated in February 1959.
At that time there were black metal stoves in the huts, but they were NEVER permitted to be used for heating. In fact, they were polished inside and out, but we did not know that at first. Early on in our training, one unfortunate and misguide recruit decided to sneak a smoke while on fire watch. The next morning, one of our junior drill instructors Acting Sgt. Dan Hudson (for some reason not pictured in our 'graduation' book) immediately detected the odor of cigarette smoke and shortly thereafter discovered a cigarette butt that the unwitting recruit had stubbed out in the stove during the night. That's when we learned that the insides of the stoves were spotless. Within a matter of minutes, the recruit was identified and he confessed to his misdeed. He left our platoon that morning and we never saw him again. The scuttlebutt was that he received a general discharge as unfit for military duty. For those who might not know, smoking was permitted in the recruit training area only when the smoking lamp was (rarely) lit, so it was very easy to detect the odor of a cigarette during most hours of the day or night.
We also polished the concrete floors of our huts. Although I was not aware of any recruit that had a cigarette lighter in his possession, each recruit was expected (required) to purchase a can of lighter fluid. We used lighter fluid and tee shirts to polish the floors until they shined. In the case of our platoon, I think there was virtually no possibility to sleep with any clothes on other than tee shirts and skivvies because we stood before our racks in tee shirts and skivvies before being given the order to hit the sack. It was indeed cold. The morning air was often filled with the sounds of recruits coughing up the phlegm that accumulated during the night. The salt air did not seem to help a bit. It was even worse at Camp Matthews where we had a light snowfall on New Year's Day 1959 and it was cold enough that Field Jackets with Liners were barely adequate for many of us.
Our Senior Drill Instructor was Acting S/Sgt. Bennie L. Knott. I don't recall ever seeing another Marine that I thought was more 'squared away' than him. Fairly early during training we went on an extended Sunday-morning run (we were told it was approximately five-miles, but I don't know if that was accurate) shortly after breakfast as punishment for some transgression real or imagined. S/Sgt. Knott ran backwards much of the time while watching over his flock and exhorting those who were lagging to keep up the pace. Several members of the platoon had to be assisted by other recruits, but we all finished the run although many of us had to throw up along the way. During our run, we passed by a Navy recruit training area and S/Sgt. Knott gave us the 'eyes right' command so that we could look through the chain link fence and watch the swabbies as they lolled about enjoying the Sunday morning as though they were on a picnic. He had a few choice words for the benefit of anyone within hearing distance; I think a couple of the words might have rhymed with 'runts' or 'wussies'.
Our other Junior Drill Instructor was Acting Sgt. Lopez. He was by far the shortest of the three Drill Instructors and some of us reckoned that he suffered from a 'Napoleon' complex as he sure liked to concentrate his attention on some of the larger recruits. One of the tallest recruits in our platoon was a seemingly tough kid from St. Louis. He was even tougher when he graduated. He certainly proved that he could take a punch in the solar plexus and keep on going.
I don't think it would serve any useful purpose to go into too much detail, but I can definitely affirm that the drownings and subsequent changes that took place at Parris Island notwithstanding, physical contact was used for disciplinary purposes at MCRD San Diego on an as-needed basis. There were a few recruits who certainly 'needed' it from time to time. S/Sgt. Knott informed us that he himself was a Parris Island graduate and assured us that he would see to it personally that the quality of our training would not be adversely affected by what was going on in South Carolina (which happened to be his home state). He said that there were no groups of mothers that would be monitoring our training.
On one occasion, a setback recruit joined our platoon. Judging from his actions, he must have thought that he was a real old salt. On the very evening that he joined us, our Drill Instructor ordered all members of the platoon (roughly 80 of us housed in three huts) to do pushups. We were already stripped to our tee shirts and skivvies preparatory to hitting the rack, so we were ordered to do the pushups in our huts. Our newly joined 'salt' decided that he need not join in the exercise. Unbeknownst to him, there were several tiny pinholes located in various areas of the huts so that the Drill Instructors could peep in and see what was going on. Upon discovery that our new arrival had elected to ignore the order to do pushups, the Drill Instructor on duty burst through the hatch, grabbed hold of the 'salt' and taught him a lesson that I doubt he ever forgot. In the process, some of the hardboard sheathing that lined the hut was cracked. To the best of my knowledge, every other recruit in the hut, including me, thought that the drubbing was well- justified.
Our Third Battalion series began training during a time of major transition. When we first began training, the old 13-man squad LPM was in effect. Very early in our training we had to switch to a new LPM and 8-man squads. If there was any confusion on the part of the Drill Instructors, I was not aware of it. At the same time, a new rank structure was being implemented. Instead of progressing from Pfc. to Cpl. the rank Lance Corporal was reintroduced and assigned pay grade E-3. NCOs retained their rank but had to add 'Acting' to the rank (e.g., S/Sgt. became Acting S/Sgt.). There was a time requirement such that any NCO who did not get promoted by a deadline date had to drop the Acting moniker and take on the rank of the pay grade. Thus, for example, an Acting Cpl. E-3 who did not get promoted to Cpl. E-4 by the deadline became a Lance Corporal E-3.
For me, Boot Camp was overall a very positive experience. As I mentioned earlier, Act. S/Sgt. Knott, a black man, was from South Carolina. I was a white boy from Georgia who happened to be living in Montana at the time I joined up which is how I ended up in San Diego rather than Parris Island. There was one other southern white boy in our platoon who also happened to be from Georgia but living west of the Mississippi at the time of his enlistment. I confess that I had some concerns as to whether that might be problematic for us. My concerns were unjustified, so much so that, in my opinion, the three-month period spent in Boot Camp was perhaps the most 'colorblind' period I experienced during my four-year tour of duty.
It was thanks to Act. S/Sgt. Knott that I had the good fortune to graduate as Platoon Honorman, Series Honorman and Blues Award. This was all the more surprising to me because I f****d up seriously on the first inspection after I was appointed Guide. The inspecting officer asked me what were the duties of the Guide and I mentioned some of the things I was actually doing. Afterward, Acting S/Sgt Knott saw to it that I knew the 'official' duties of the Guide. He pointed out that, whenever queried, the proper response was: 'Sir! The duties of the Guide are to maintain the direction and cadence of march.' That was so burned into my consciousness that I have never forgotten it.
Use as little or as much of this email as you find appropriate. It was sort of fun sitting down and recalling these memories from more than a half-century ago. Although I have tried to report accurately on my Boot Camp experience, I cannot deny that the passage of 50+ years might have contributed to a slight lack of clarity on some points and stand ready to be corrected if any of your readers are so inclined.
I have included a copy of one page from the book (now falling apart) we received upon graduation from Boot Camp chronicling our experiences as recruits.
Cpl. Michael R. Slater 1958-1962
To All My Fellow Belleau Woodsmen