This is why I joined the Marine Corps. This picture was taken on Nov 8, 1955 when I was 5 years old in downtown Baltimore, Md. It was published on Nov 10, 1955 in the Baltimore Sun newspaper celebrating the Marine Corps birthday. From that point on I knew that I wanted to be a Marine.
I fulfilled that dream in June 68 and served four glorious years. I was able to find the Marine Staff Sergeant pictured with me in October 2001. He is Retired Sergeant Major Francis C. Rohrs. Hope you enjoy. Semper Fi
Kevin W. Lowe
In This Issue
World view... Marines may be going back to the shores of Tripoli, opps no, Cairo, no Yemen, Somalia, Damascus, Jordan. Hmmmm, the world is getting very dangerous. I guess this is what Marines call job security. God Bless our Marines where ever they are or may end up.
We have old Corps pictures and old, old, old Corps picture from WWI. Also warm Mountain Dew, 300 1b sailor, screw aerodynamics, pay raise 1971 and Peleliu and African American Marines. Another imposter story, Marine Corps Air Station Mojave, Dragon Missile and Nissen huts.
As usual very good reading. I can truthfully say that because I am one of you and enjoy the newsletter as much as you. I just get to see the stories first. Fair winds and following seas.
Save the date
8th Annual GriTogether - 11 JUN 2011
at the Sgt Grit store in Oklahoma City
Details coming soon!
Ironically Camp Lester
Dear Sgt Grit, I am a Marine from the Gulf War era who was raised by a Vietnam Veteran (Sgt. Greg Theis, USMC (ret.) and I just found a picture of my father in Da Nang in 1970. My father is the surly Marine sitting down facing the camera with a cigarette in his mouth. As you may have guessed by the hair pushing regs he was an airwinger; a Sergeant in the Crash Crew stationed at the multi- force air base near Monkey/Marble Mountain (?).
This photo was taken minutes before the rocket attack which severely injured my father and killed the Marine on the far right of the picture whose hand is all that made it into the photo. That Marine who lost his life was standing in front of my father securing the fire-hose as they sprayed down a rocket pod from an F-4 Phantom. The pod continued to fissile and eventually exploded in its stall landing my father in the burn ward of Naval Hospital Camp Lester for a year on Okinawa before being sent home for medical retirement.
Ironically Camp Lester was the Command that processed my medical discharge 25 years later for injuries I incurred during the Gulf War. Feel free to post the picture if you think it would be appreciated.
Cpl. Bryan Theis
The Holycross Award
This award was given to the Marine of the Year in Mike Company 3rd Bn., 25th Marines, 4th MarDiv. located on Yearling Rd., Columbus, Ohio. The award began in 1970 after the passing of Warrant Officer Richard Holycross, who was a Marine's Marine. I was fortunate to be awarded in 1976, as a Platoon Sergeant in Mike Company, which eventually became Lima Company in the 1980's.
A very good friend of mine, Cpl Moe Miller of White Cottage, Ohio was a Fire team leader and the Point man on that day of Sept. 10th, 1967 when Warrant Officer Holycross was killed. Corporal Miller witnessed his death on that day. Warrant Officer Holycross will always be a important part of this reserve company's history and stand as a level of performance to achieve.
MSgt. Dick Bowers, USMC, Ret'd.
L-R LCpl William Williams, LCpl John Harris, LCpl Dave Schad, Cpl Norman Dusseault, Cpl Albert Stemm, 2nd Mar Div about June, 1963.
Sgt. Grit - Talk about the 'Old Corps'! This is a picture of the 1st Aeronautics Company stationed in the Azores Islands in World War I. It was the first US Military Aviation company to serve outside the continental US. They hunted for, but did not find, German submarines.
The Commanding Officer was Major Evans. He flew the sea plane in a loop, a feat thought impossible at the time and he received a Congressional Medal. The Executive Officer was Major Brewster (Brewster Buffalo fame).
My dad was a mechanic who signed up "for the duration of the war" in Philadelphia, PA in 1917. Major Evans' medal and the original photograph reside in the US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA.
Jeff Barker, LCpl USMC 1961-1964
Warm Mountain Dew
I have been reminiscing about my time at P.I. as my 10-year anniversary of becoming a fierce and fearless warrior approaches. Just after "team week" I was selected to be the follow series guide for graduation in August 2001. This was very good for a number of reasons, especially after the Crucible (when there was not much going on anyway). First, while the rest of my platoon was doing busy work like incessantly field- daying and re-field-daying the barracks, my platoon guide, squad leaders and I were off at graduation practice. What's more, we also got to snooker our DI's.
At the end of one practice we were lucky enough to have about a 10 minute gap between the time guide practice ended and the time our platoon was scheduled to arrive for practice, and we were told to stay put by the equipment shack and wait for them. In another amazing stroke of luck, the equipment shack had been left unlocked by the drill master. I'm not sure if it still does, but in 2001, the equipment shack doubled as snack food storage complete with stacks of boxes of single-serve potato chip bags, and a beautiful piece of machinery; a mobile soda fountain.
We didn't expect the fountains to work, with needing CO2 canisters, plumbing, etc. to all be hooked up. Just to try it out, one of the guys unscrewed the top of his canteen and pushed in the Mountain Dew lever. After some bubbling and wheezing, out splurged fresh (albeit warm) Mountain Dew! The two of us filled both of our canteens with the contraband soda and hustled back outside the shack to wait for our platoon. As the minutes rolled by, there we were, slyly sipping our soda as DI's, Marines, and recruits passed by.
Our heavy hat was somewhat of a psycho - I heard from some guys that met up with him after P.I. and they told me he was actually pretty cool - so I wonder what kind of torrential maelstrom would have befallen us if he had found out. Thankfully, nobody ever found out...not the other guys in the platoon, the drill master, or anyone else up until now as I write you this story.
After 3 months at P.I., warm Mountain Dew never tasted so good!
A. T. Sexton, LCpl
P.I. Class of 2001
Plt 2069, Co F, 2nd Bn
Closest To The Actual
A little known fact about the now infamous Sgt McKeown, the Drill Instructor responsible for the deaths of Marine recruits on Parris Island in the late 1950s. He had a son named Robert who entered the Marines in September 1973 and he and I were in the same platoon, 188, that year. We were also the first platoon ever issued the M16A1 on Parris Island for recruit training.
Robert was a good recruit but there was something about him that looked much older than he was at that time. We were both 17. It was later almost around the time we graduated, December 17, 1973 that it was mentioned by one of our Drill Instructors to another platoon's Drill Instructor that Robert was the son of the infamous Drill Instructor McKeown.
To this day I don't know why he joined but I can tell you, our new barracks was the closest to the actual incident of the drowning. I don't know how he dealt with that the day our Drill Instructor pointed that out.
Ken Bowden (Sgt 1973-1979)
Was TAD at the air strip for almost 6 months. The alerts were bad running up those Hills to the Fence Line was NO Fun at all. We all were able to Hang but glad to get out of there. Shipped out to Viet Nam as soon as I got back.
CUBA 1965 2Bn, 2Mar, 2Mar Div (FMF)
PVT. David Dangleman
Duncan, Gene, Maj. USMC (Ret)
Attention to Orders
14 Feb 11: Duncan, Gene, Maj. USMC (Ret) is hereby permanently reassigned to Tank Company, USMC Guard, Heaven and will proceed directly there by most expeditious means available. Travel by air authorized.
Maj. Duncan was diagnosed with lung cancer last August and given a month to live. He fought that for six months, in one almost continuous party and with a positive, fearless Marine attitude, with visiting Marines, some wonderful neighbors, lots of Sea Stories and copious Scotch. Dunc described himself as an "old tank driver." He was also an author of many Marine books, with Dunc's Almanac on leadership, and his series of wonderful sea stories, starting with Green Side Out being best known.. He was a frequent lecturer at Marine birthday Balls, and to young recruits and young officers. He held two Bronze Stars with Vs and two purple hearts with the scars to verify the last one. He volunteered to return to active duty for the first Gulf War. Told that his hearing wasn't good enough for active service, he responded, "H-ll, I don't want to listen to the Iraqis-I want to kill them!"
I was fortunate to be close enough to visit him several times during this fight. It was a great privilege to know him and have him call me friend.
Once a SSgt, still a Marine
Sgt Grit, I just wanted to let you know that I ran across a young man not even in is twenties that stated to his buddies that he was in the Marine Corps.
I had walked into the local Casey's Convenience Store to buy the local paper and to a pack of chew when I saw 3 or 4 young guys standing and talking to a young guy. They had been asking where he had been and had not seen him for period of time. This imposter puffed himself up and he could weigh no more than 120 pounds and stood 5 foot 4 inches at the most and stated "I have been in the Marine Corps and just got discharged". The other guys were all saying wow that is cool.
When I paid for my stuff I walked over to him and said "Semper Fi Marine". He just stood there and had this strange look on his face and said "Oh Yeah Semper Fi". That brought up the radar for imposter. He told me that after boot camp that he dislocated his elbow and got a medical discharge. Again the radar. I asked him where he took boot at and was it at San Diego. He told me no and I thought he was going to tell me Parris Island. I got one hell of shock when he told he took his boot camp at Camp Pendleton. I just about fell on the floor.
I asked him if he ever stood on the Yellow Foot Prints at San Diego and he told me "What Yellow Foot Prints?" That was when I came unglued. I got in his face like my beloved DI did to me and read him the riot act. I cannot use the words that I used at that time, but it boiled down to that he was a lying SOB and was not a United States Marine. I told him that he did not earn the title of Marine or would ever make it as a Marine, he would not even make a pimple on a Marine's A-s.
As I was grinding him down I told him that he was never to use the title of Marine to his buddies, girlfriend, family or I would find him and drag his sorry a-s down to the local Marine Recruit Office and turn him in. His friends at that time just turned around and walked out. He walked out the door with his head hanging and I followed him out to make sure there weren't stickers on his vehicle because sure as h-ll I would have ripped them off. Please have our Brother Marines watch out for people like this.
Air Winger - VN 70
Service Number 254 56 77
Enjoyed "Christmas 1954 Korea" as I was stationed at K-3, in VMC-1. MAG-33 did our engine buildups for our AD-4's. Left in July for CONUS and discharge after 13 month tour. Former S/SGT. USMC 1214*** Bob Jordan
There is one issue I have yet to see addressed in the newsletter and perhaps someone has the answer to a question that has bugged me since Dec. 1952 when I left the University of Parris Island. I would like to have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: did they or did they not put salt peter in the Kool- Aid?
USMC 1952 - 1958
We also lived in Quonset huts in August of 1953 at MCRD San Diego, We had to keep the "grass" raked and stay off of it. I was assigned to 29 Palms in January of 1954 before there was a "topside" We lived in old wooden barracks near what was then the main gate. Semper Fi
Sgt George Carmody 1397147
You Marines in Quonset huts had it easy. My platoon, 3076 9/68 to 11/68, was in tents right on the fence of the airport.
H. Holden, Cpl '68 - '72,
Vietnam '69 - '70
Does anyone know about the term "Baby Blue Marine" and where it came from?
Thank You. Does anyone know the history of why Marines never carry umbrellas?
As a former 0351 anti-tank assault man, noted with interest your bumper sticker slogan "death on a wire" for the 0351 sticker... I've never heard this expression before! Went on line to all the former Marine slogans and sayings, could not find it anywhere! What is the meaning?
I was a (civilian) beat cop for many years and it never ceased to amaze me what people would steal. As for this low-life, Sgt. Federman, should you ever determine who stole your ring, I would be greatly honored to hold him/her down while you administered justice. Not that you would need any assistance of course, I'd just like to help. Thank you, Marines.
we are all brothers and sisters united states Marines we will never forget our fallen and those that were there for us. semper fidelis pvt. usmc e.h. gay no wise ideas about the name semper fi. god bless
Try your local veterans assistance office. I went there and they not only found out which ribbons I rated but also gave them to me former Cpl C.E.Walters 59/63
I was happy to hear what our new Commandant said about being a Marine. He stated that there is no such thing as a former Marine. I read a comment in the newsletter that some people might think we are on active duty if we say we are Marines. Well, anyone who looks at this 74 year old, bald Marine must be blind if they think I am on active duty (actually wouldn't mind it)
Semper Fi Jim McCuen Dublin, CA 58-61 Cpl.
MSgt Ted Polacec, USMC (Ret), is now on 'guard duty' in Heaven as of 18 Dec. 2010. He joins his wife, Donna, on this set of PCS orders.
Those of us 'on duty' below have lost a good Marine and good friend.
R.M. "Zeb" Zobenica
Capt. USMC (Ret)
Looking for all Marines and Navy Corpsman that served with the 2nd Platoon of Hotel Co. 2nd Bat 3rd Marines 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam between 1967 & 1969. There will be a reunion in Savannah, GA this year from June 6, 2011 through June 12, 2011 which will include a trip back to our roots at Parris Island on June 10, 2011. Interested parties may contact Frank Costanzo at: frank_costanzo @ roadrunner .com
See more upcoming reunions
Did You Train at Marine Corps Air Station Mojave, CA?
I am doing historical research on Mojave Gunnery Range C, California which was associated with Marine Corps Air Station Mojave. Please call me (Carl):
**If you were stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Mojave (now Mojave Airport), or Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California and you did gunnery practice at Mojave Gunnery Range C, located five miles east of Mojave
**If you live or work in the area and are knowledgeable about Mojave Gunnery Range C operations
**If you know anyone who is familiar with Mojave Gunnery Range C
I can be reached at this toll-free number: 1-877-450-6540 or by email: LEVICL @ aol .com
You asked for a Gulf War veteran to tell a tale about his experiences. Well, here goes. I went to the first Gulf War with 2/5. We were part of 5th MEB. We were originally supposed to participate in an amphibious landing but that got cancelled. We were offloaded onshore to become part of the ground forces that went into Kuwait. I was on the U.S.S Tripoli the morning it hit a mine. I was dead asleep in my rack around 0400 when we hit it. I awoke as it seemed that the whole front of the ship was lifted out of the water. Half asleep we were herded up to one of the upper decks with life vests on. We didn't know what the heck had happened until someone eventually told us that we hit a mine. There was lots of confusion that morning.
Later on I ran into one of our corpsman and asked him if anyone got injured. He said only one sailor. A guy who he said must have been 300 + pounds was going up one of the ladders when we hit the mine. He fell down and broke his collar bone I believe. The corpsman said it took a lot of sailors to get him out of that ladder and to sick bay. I always thought that was kind of humorous thinking about a 300 + pound sailor trapped on a narrow, vertical ladder and all of these other sailors trying to get him extricated from it.
If I may indulge you with a boot camp story. I signed up at 17 and was pretty naive going to boot camp. In fact, when I wrote my first letter home to my Dad to let him know I made it to Parris Island okay, that was the first letter I ever wrote. A funny story happened on the night of one of our first mail calls. The highlight of a recruits day. One of our junior drill instructors was standing on the quarter deck, calling people's names to come up to get their mail. As they reported in, the drill instructor of course was "air mailing" their letter to them. For those who don't know, that is when the drill instructor flicks the letter at the recruit's chest as he's standing at attention with his hands out chest level to catch the "air mail". Well, the guy who is standing next to me happens to have my father's same first name and my last name. He gets called, runs up, reports in and receives his letter. He runs back next to me and is looking at his letter. He then runs back up and reports into the drill instructor. He informs the drill instructor that the letter is not his and the drill instructor grabs it back. He then looks and says, oh I understand and calls my name. I run up, report in and receive my "air mail". As I run back, I look at the letter. It's the letter that I had written to my Dad. You see, I had put the stamp and the return address on the wrong side and it got "returned to sender"!
Sgt. Shawn E. Kane
Does anyone remember?
Hey Grit. I am trying to create a list of all the units that I was ever in so that I can order all the patches from them. But you know that time sometimes causes a bit of cloudiness in our retained information. Now I am almost done but there is a unit that I can't seem to get anything on that was during the time I was in it. In 1973 I was transferred to Okinawa Japan and was assigned to a shore party unit. I wore the red patch and worked in the fenced area at the bottom of the hill. The Army had a base connected to that base at the time I think that was called zukeran or Sukeran. The problem I have is I think we were part of FSSG but not sure. Maybe it was MCB I just can't remember. So if there are any folks out there that can refresh my memory I sure would appreciate it. Also does anyone remember Camp Hague, or the Camp Tin Can which was a set of Quonset huts at the bottom of the hill below Courtney Thanks for the help in advance and thanks for all you do for us.
Hang Around Because
We talk of traditions and then argue about abuse in boot camp. Drill Instructors were never "abusive" did they apply instruction in a direct hands on approach. You betcha. Not excessive and not out of line. Even if I did look like a raccoon, believe me I deserved it. I may not have admitted that fact then but 35 years later I can.
As far as ceremony for promotions or whatever. I was sent from embassy duty to the Marine detachment at Charleston Navy Yard for processing out. At that time it was kind of open ended. When all the paper work came together you were done. After 3-4 days at Charleston I was told I was done. That fast. I went to the 1st Sergeant's office where he told me the CO was out. Normally the CO likes to shake the hand and wish you well. He asked me if I wanted to wait for the CO. Very respectfully I told the 1st Sergeant, I had a Sergeant to greet me at San Diego I was perfectly willing to go out the same way. He shook my hand and sent me on my way.
Interesting enough I caught a ride to the airport with the Sergeant who was assigned to gather the boots at the airport for transport to Parris Island. He mentioned if I was interested to hang around because he had a group coming in.
Gentlemen. I loved it! Talk about going out the way you came in. I stood in the back, in uniform and watched. A grandmotherly lady in the back mentioned to me that the Sergeant seemed very mean. I told her "Ma'am, in three months their own mothers will not recognize them. And the mothers will thank the Corps." If you felt the Corps treated you badly you either had the truly exceptionally bad DI or you completely missed the boat.
Semper Fi till I die.
Ed Lavelle Sergeant 1972-1976
I enjoy your newsletter. I just wanted to share that when I was in VMF-122, we actually made history. We were the first squadron in history to go aboard a carrier (CVA-43) with swept back wings. (FJ-2 Fury). Our birds were the salt water version of the famed F-86 Sabre's. Now that was big deal back then. Swept back wings! The 'hottest' a/c in Naval Air.
Actually, we were being watched so closely that the SecNav came aboard see how we operated during carrier quals. That was quite an outfit. To get ready for a cruise to the Med. we had to meet rigid flight qualifications, which meant we had long flight schedules. I recall that during the month of Jan-Feb '55 we went over thirty days w/o liberty, sometimes working nearly to midnight on maintenance, etc.
Pilots in those days learned to fly the birds by reading the manual and strapping in for a 'fam' flight with another a/c with a more seasoned pilot assigned as a chase plane. I can proudly say we had some of the cream of the crop for pilots. In fact we had some former Flying Tigers assigned.
I fondly remember a couple of them. They were indeed a special breed. Marion Carl, then a Colonel, came down to fly with us for awhile. We also went to Gitmo in those days, and flew out of Leeward Pt. That's where the prison is today I think. In those days all that was there was a new long runway, a hanger, and Quonset huts. No paved roads. Mainside Gitmo's airfield didn't have a long enough runway to handle jets. Going to mainside, was like going on liberty. We had to go in a launch, in class "A's". Over there they had a PX, grass, white buildings, paved streets, a theater, beautiful clubs, etc. We were the only Marines at Leeward there at that time.
Some of our 'new' pilots, not far removed from Pensacola were with us. Some of them were actually 'nervous' to fly the Fury. It had a reputation for not forgiving like a straight wing slower jet would.
Anyway, we made the Med aboard the Coral Sea. After working two years to qualify to go, it was more like a vacation. We had more 'down time', though at times we were working and flying 24/7. I stayed 10 1/2 in the Corps.
Made two trips to the far east, but one two, two was the greatest.
I was also in when Ribbon Creek occurred. Believe me, the Corps changed after that. I know. I went to the field at San Diego in '58. That is another story. As I look back, I still remember with sadness what happened.
Bill Morenz 1392831 USMC
Screw The Aerodynamics
I was a radar tech in VMFAT-101 training RIO's (Radar Intercept Officer) during 1969-71. These were the guys in the back seat of the F4 Phantom II. I remember using ordinance tape for "everything", in fact I still call it that. The ordinance shop used to tape practice bombs together to make the sorties out in Yuma. You know the USMC has always had to improvise so yeah, two 250 pounders taped together do make one 500 pounder, two 500 pounders make one 1000 pounder, etc..
Screw the aerodynamics, let the pilot adjust the angle of release! That was some good tape back then!
By the way anyone remember two Ordinance "accidents waiting to happen", Cpl Whisnutt from El Paso and Cpl MaGoo from New Orleans?
Cpl. D.S. Martinez
In 1986 I was a PFC at Camp Lejeune North Carolina as a 0351 Anti-Tank Assaultman. Having done the Best in training I was bestowed the Honor of firing the Real deal, a Dragon Missile. While impatiently awaiting what we were told was some unexploded ordinance (I never heard anything being blown) with EOD out on the Range, I lost an ear plug. In my attempt to improvise, adapt and overcome, I bit my remaining ear plug in two and as I was set to fire had the d-mn thing fall out of the ear next to the Rocket.
I Almost "ditched" it. It was like having your head in a Cannon. My Staff Sgt. told me to put it through a Bus Window, which I did. I wish to this day I had refused that order and blown the Bus in two. I couldn't hear right for a week. I was sent to Subic Bay, RP and got to fire another, that time I made sure the ear plugs stayed in.
L/Cpl Don Reitmeyer, III (0351 USMC)
Hello Sgt. Grit,
Sgt. Perry and Cpl. McFarland have the right to express their opinion, and that is what they are, opinions. I was with 2nd. Bn.. All of the Drill Instructors I had and observed were all combat veterans, in fact, some were old China hands. They were Marines of another age or era, but they are the ones that made the Corps traditions.
I disagree with Perry (3 years and a Sgt, really?) the Corps I was in you were doing good to make PFC or Cpl in three years. "Ribbon Creek" happened in 1956, that is 55 years ago. What is done is done. I do not have the privilege, nor the right to question what a Marine Drill Instructor conducted 55 years ago. It cast a great deal of shame and questions upon our Corps. Real Marines have lived with it since, I see no reason to bring it up, it is part of the legend of the Corps now. Leave it alone, be a Marine.
Yes, it is unfortunate that six recruits were lost, but if Perry and McFarland believe in God, Sgt. McKeon has to answer to God Almighty, not us, nor to them. If they wish to cast dispersions upon an incident that occurred 55 years ago and call a Marine Drill Instructor a drunk, then so be it. Wrong or right it happened in 1956 and all the talking and name calling is not going to bring back those six recruits. Real Marines consider it part of their folklore, legends, and even maybe part of their traditions. How many recruits went through the "Creek" to learn the title "Creek Marine?"
It seems Semper Fidelis has lost it meaning to some. I know this as a fact, what happened to me back then during my recruit training days made me a better man and I accomplished much since then.
Lou Famiano, 1st Guard Company, Marine Bks. Morocco.
I always enjoy reading your news letter and would like to comment on several of the letters you have recently printed. I had the honor of receiving my boot camp training at P.I. beginning 10 July 1956. My memory isn't nearly as accurate as many of the others but I am certain that we were housed in "Nissen" huts and not "Quonset" Huts. Not sure if the difference makes a rats behind but I believe it was the size.
I do well remember "Ribbon Creek" when we relocated to the wooden barracks on the rifle range and the flags marking where the tragedy occurred. I believe that Sgt. McKeon was assigned as a Chaplin's assistant during the trial and I also remember being told of the testimony of Chesty Puller and the then Commandant Pate while I was there.
I don't know if Mathew McKeon was an "inexperienced drunk" or an experienced drunk, but he did serve honorably in WW2 and Korea and, as I recall, he made a serious error of consuming alcohol before leading the platoon on a night march. He did make a horrible mistake, as do most of us in our lifetime, but if we are lucky no one is killed when we do make a such mistake. My respect to those who serve and my condolences to those who lose loved ones. The Corps radically changed as a result of Ribbon Creek and perhaps not for the better; but, today's Marine stands a bit taller than mine and greatly adds to the honor of the Corps.
John Hegeman 1625749
Lance Cpl. 1956 - 1959
Missed The Opportunity
Sgt Grit, I would like to throw in my two cents concerning SSgt Bennett's son's lack of recognition for promotion to PFC while he was graduating from boot camp. That whole situation is extremely unfortunate. By attending college and working hard, his son earned the right to his PFC stripes. For this to not be acknowledged in front of his fellow troopers is a disgrace. Not only did they rob the young Marine of the experience of being rewarded for his hard work while his platoon watched, but they also missed the opportunity to further teach the other young Marines that through diligence and perseverance promotion is not only possible but likely.
I was awarded the rank of Corporal meritoriously by MajGen L. J. LeBlanc, Jr. as a young Marine. I had no idea the promotion was coming, so I was shocked when the CO called out my name while we were in formation on the flight-line. I was extremely shocked when a Major General appeared with my warrant in hand and "pinned on" my stripes for me. Of course I was bursting with pride and I believe my fellow Devil Dogs were impressed as well.
What a shame that there was no one with the wherewithal to provide SSgt Bennett and his young Marine with a similar experience. It is really too bad that there are always cases like this where "regulations" and/or "procedures" that make no sense aren't over-ruled by whoever is in charge. What a shame.
James A. Howerton II
SSgt USMC (Ret)
In the Blue Ridge Mountains, there was a retired Marine who was reputed to have the best hunting dog ever, by the name of "Gunny."
Three Marine Generals went up into the mountains and wanted to rent him. The old Marine said, "He's a real good huntin' dog. Gonna cost ya $50 a day."
They agreed and three days later came back with the limit. The next year they came back. "'Gunny got better," the old fellow said, "this year I'm gonna charge you $75 a day." Again they agreed, and 2 days later they came back with the limit.
The third year they came back and told the old Marine they had to have "Gunny" even if it cost $100 a day.
The old Marine spat and angrily replied, "You can have the worthless mutt for $5 a day, and even at that rate I'm overcharging you $4 !"
The bewildered Generals asked, "But we don't understand, what happened to him?" "Well, a bunch of new Lieutenants from Quantico came up and rented him. One of the idiots called him 'Sergeant Major' by mistake, and now all the SOB does is sit on his a-s all day and bark!"
I had Sgt Grit make a ball cap for my barber, a ROK Marine. When I gave it to him, he had a smile from ear to ear. He has many ROK Marine memorabilia in his shop, including U.S. Marines things. This tells me "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" also refers to our ROK brothers.
I have attached a picture of the cap. Thanks, Sgt Grit, for doing a great job in creating this cap. By the way, no, I did not accept a free haircut.
CWO-4 USMCR (ret)
Follow Up MCAS Kaneohe Bay 1959
It's always great to see a fellow Marine, (SSgt. Tom Pierce,) respond to old times. Unfortunately in the picture I submitted, the buildings were the same for all squad bays whether they were "grunts" or "airdales". You probably didn't notice the sign in front of that picture but it happens to be MACS-2, Marine Air Control Squadron-2. We, and 5 other squadrons in MAG-13, made up the air support of the 1st Marine Brigade. Other squadrons were VMA-212 and VMA-214 that flew FJ4's (Fury); VMF-232 that flew F8U Crusaders; HMR-131, I believe flew HRS-1 choppers; and H&HS Squadron that flew F9F's, R3D's & R4D's. Remember the R3's and R4's had the big fans on the front instead of jet engines. Now if these planes don't bring sentimental dew drops in the eyes, nothing will.
Now we all know that Hawaii is the paradise of the Pacific, but in those days, no air conditioning and remember the mosquito nets with the T-bars for your racks? And the cockroaches; you didn't step on them, you got out of their way so you didn't trip over them.
1959 was a big year for Hawaii as on July 4th, they officially became the 50th state.
A big Semper-Fi from almost the "OLD CORPS"
REUNION, Bravo Battery 1st Bn., 12th Marines
Bravo Battery 1st Bn., 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division (RVN, 1965-69)
September 15 - 19, 2011, Beaufort, SC (Parris Island)
Hilton Garden Inn Beaufort, 1500 Queen Street
Paul Marquis (850) 995-5175
or USMCNam6768 @ GMail .com
or visit, www.BravoArtillery.org
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Big Pay Raise 1971
So glad to receive one more great issue of American Courage. SSGT Wimple managed to shake up some real old memories about the big pay raise back in 1971. I had all but forgotten that one.
For me, as I figure with most Marines there were lots of changes going on during those days. Social security numbers instead of service numbers. No more tropical, khaki, or sateen uniforms. Thin ties v. wide. Now we are camouflaged and green in summer as well as winter.
Like SSGT Wimple mentioned, we went from 188 dollars to almost 400 dollars overnight. I was on Embassy duty at the time and I went from Lance Cpl to Sgt in head spinning time. We received Propay and COL and lots of other bennies at almost the same time. I remember going to change my check with a brief case because the currency in Chile jumped from 7 or 8 Escudos to every dollar to around 300 to one. A dollar in those days did go further.
Why not ask some other Marines, where were you at the time of change, and what were you doing? Did you take out a J allotment or saving bonds or did you just blow it in the club or out in town?
Our memories are what make us ALWAYS U.S. MARINES
Peleliu and African American Marines
I just sent several emails which flew back to me. I may have mentioned I am a bit sleep deprived almost every day these last few years. No excuses- just an explanation for a lack of detail...
I wish to mention this being Black History Month My father and Father Denis always made a point to mention a large group of all African American Marines with whom each said they were honored to serve. I feel sure many other Marines who were there also spoke of these Marines. Since overall it was an island campaign and not Europe, the overall numbers are less. So, just in case it is not mentioned as often these days. The HBO series, The Pacific left out and blatantly just did not get close to being correct- so many relevant and true stories. This was one of the many stories that got left unsaid.
This was not in his article however it is a way of saying there was a huge fire toward the end of the first day of Peleliu. 15 September 1944.
My father received a commendation for this 'Warrant Officer Heim, under heavy enemy mortar and artillery fire, efficiently and tirelessly assured that ordnance equipment was quickly put into operation and repairs made in an expeditious manner. Later in the operation, his speed and ability to repair salvaged weapons was instrumental in providing the Fifth Marines[ he was in the First and attached to the Fifth for this campaign], with sufficient weapons to keep carrying the fight to the enemy. His skill, energy and courage in the face of great danger... so on and so forth I helped assist my father with an article he wrote about Peleliu.
I just checked the article to make sure I remember correctly. His day began not so great by being blown into the air and knocked unconscious for an unknown period of time. When he came to consciousness, he couldn't open his eyes for a minute until he realized his eye sockets were filled with his blood. He most remembered the 2 men lying on either side of him, who lay without a mark on them and were dead as he wiped off his face and head.
Later in the day, the ammunition dump took a direct hit by Japanese mortar. My father ran in and put out the fire [along with other Marines I am sure] quickly pulled apart sand bags and threw the empty sand bags onto a raging and exploding fire.
A large group of very brave fierce-less Marines, of the Sixteenth Field Depot, all African Americans had built the ammo dump and were there when it caught fire. My father and Father O'Brien always made a point to mention this group of men. At the time in 1944, someone else of course had segregated the men. As happens, fierce battles with an enemy across the ocean are not segregated by the actual men doing the fighting.
One of the things I have always known, is the Marines who lived to come back from savage battlefields afar make a point of honor to remember those who did not get to come back.
I heard my father and heard Father O' Brien always mention this group of Marines while they themselves were alive. I hope this information is still often told. To err on the side of caution since I am here looking at the article on Peleliu I helped my father edit. I read that the Sixteenth Field Depot, all brave African Americans had set up this, critical to the battle, ammo dump. I believe it was medal of honor recipient who said, 'One can go without food and even without water for a while. When fighting an enemy as fierce as this one was, one could not go without ammunition first and foremost.'
It was now twilight and all hands were standing up and shouting instructions to shut down the 'd-mn' fire in a hurry. Which they did.
My father most remembered the fire, as it meant this overall group who shared this fire, stayed where they were. By the time the fire and fumes and debris were cleared, it was dark. The order came to not move out until the next day. That night, the Fifth C.P. who had been able to move on across the island, received direct mortar which caused devastation loss of men and of the area itself.
This particular group of US Marines I grew up knowing, made an honor of remembering always the ones who did not get to come back to live and who were sacrificed.
My Marine Corps Pinup Tattoo
I'm almost finished with this one. just a few more things to add. Semper Fi to all my brothers and sisters.
In answer to the question from Ed Hoffman in the recent newsletter, James Roosevelt was given a commission as a LtCol in the Marine Corps and appointed as a military assistant to the President. This was not as a honorary Colonel but as a paid Marine. In 1939 he resigned his commission as a LtCol and was commissioned as a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve. There is no reference to him having go to OCS in his bio, but it is clear from descriptions of his actions in combat that he was a Marine at heart. Several sources have written about his valor on Makin Island in 1942 and again on Makin Atoll in 1943.
There's more here in James Roosevelt's official bio page
Kevin J. Sullivan
Rest assured that the letter you got from General Gray was the real deal. I was stationed at HQMC from 1985-88 as an 03 monitor. For a short period of time I lived in the barracks at Henderson hall as a geo-bachelor and roomed with General Gray's personal secretary. I asked for an autographed photo of General Gray. It took several weeks for the photo to arrive and it was personally addressed to me. The General looked up my history and made personal comments about my service with Recon during Viet Nam. Was I a special case... Yes... because I was a Marine, one of his Marines, just like Sgt Grit from Oklahoma.
His secretary told me the General did this kind of thing all the time. He truly loved the Corps and all those that served. No doubt general Gray did not type the letter but I would be willing to bet he did draft it for you and signed it himself. I doubt he used a facsimile name stamp
Michael L. Miller
1stSgt USMC ret.
Boot Camp Stories from 1963, Lessons for Life
1 of 10 Arriving at the Island
1979851 1979851 1979851
I had been given my flight orders and also those of six other recruits. We had all signed up to join the U. S. Marines through the Reserves Unit in Lansing, Michigan. I had been in the unit for two months, attending meetings, and learning some of the "inside dope" about boot camp from those who had already survived the h-ll called "Parris Island." Words of wisdom. The first words: Memorize your number before you get there. Those who don't, get grief. Wear your worst old clothes, as they will probably throw what you have on away when you get your new issue of military clothes. And don't stand out. It is best if they don't know your name. Stay anonymous and whenever possible fall-in in the middle of the formation where it is less likely that a drill instructor will see you. And this was especially for me (I was just finishing my Master's Degree at Michigan State University)-Don't let them know you have been to college.
Our first flight took us to Detroit. There we changed airplanes for a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. From the Charleston airport, a bus took us to the center of town, where we were left off at the depot. We had three hours to wait for a bus to take us to the Island.
The depot was across from a row of bars. My group of Lansing recruits was single-minded in wanting to go into a bar. I followed along, knowing I was sort of responsible as I was carrying all their paperwork. In one bar we met up with other recruits who had the same destination. The level of conversation in the bar was loud and boisterous. I found that I must have been was among a very select group of studs. They were acting out (verbally) their machismo personalities, reciting athletic triumphs and their latest multiple s-xual conquests - all of which were heteros-xual conquests, of course. This band of bold brothers was slightly too heavily intoxicated as the hour came for us to walk across the street to meet our bus. It was my duty to make sure the Lansing group was there, and we really only had to carry one of our recruits to the bus.
We boarded a blue school bus type vehicle and it pulled off. For the first 20 minutes of a half an hour ride, the macho talk continued, but as we saw signs of an approaching military installation the chattered slowed down a bit. When a sign announced that Parris Island was only two miles away, a silence descended over all the riders. Whispered remarks to the effect of "Oh, sh-t what did I get myself into," and "Gods, how can I get out of this now," replaced talk about multiple positions of intercourse. The bus stopped outside of the gate before the short bridge to the Island. We froze in silence as a lean and very stern tough looking man in starched green fatigues boarded the bus. He stood and stared down the bus aisle as he directed the bus driver to proceed. A few hundred yards later the bus stopped again. The man in the green fatigues yelled. "Listen Up. When I leave the bus, you leave the bus and stand in order outside." We followed his orders.
He screamed us into a formation, and directed us to march together to a barracks area. There he screamed out our names and got us into an alphabetical line. We were platoon 263. Company B. He then yelled loudly for us to "double time," that is "run" up a set of stairs into the upper floor of the wooden barracks building. I was either lucky or unlucky to be toward the back of the alphabetical line, for, at the time, I sensed that I was given a few extra moments to avoid some horrendous physical punishment. Then, on the other hand, I had a longer time to dread what awaited me. I soon discovered the first Lesson at Parris Island. "Don't think about anything, just do it."
I like the other recruits wanted to run away, to go in another direction. But there was only one way to go - forward. I just kept running toward the barracks, and then up the stairs. My feet hit the steps, and they carried me up. Upward I went. I heard loud screams from inside. "No don't hit me, No, No, please stop." And I heard loud crashing noises. My feet kept taking me up to some place that had to be a h-ll on earth. When my body, and more importantly my eyes entered the barracks, I was both stunned and to be honest, relieved. I saw two more Marines-our new drill instructors-literally heaving large metal trash cans down the center area of the barracks. As they did so, they were tipping over the bunk beds and throwing mattresses to the floor, as they screamed for us to clean up the mess and to stand at attention-at the same time. They also were yelling things like "Don't hit me again." After we were all in and standing in front to the dis-shelved bunk area, they marched in front of us and ordered us to straighten up our areas. They yelled at a few of us to get the trash cans out of there and to return to attention.
We had arrived at Parris Island. Thoughts of being a "macho man" were the furthest things from our minds. The next day we were issued our fatigues, as we wrapped our clothes and wrote a home address outside the wrapping. The hair on our heads was completely shaved off. Each thing we did was at the direction of a screaming drill instructor, who snarled words "Prive," and "maggots" as he addressed us. Thank God I knew my number. 1979851. A good life lesson-be prepared for what you get yourself into.
William N. Thompson, Honorable Discharge, USMC,
Pfc (E-2), Ph.D., Retired
Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!