What is a "contract Marine?" I thought that each of us signed a contract when we were enlisted. As "Chesty" told me one night - of course he was only a Col. then in Korea - "The contract you signed only guarantees four hours of sleep and two meals a day." - can I sue them for lost nights and/or meals.
I remember one night when the Army set up a Howitzer company about a half mile in back of us - and nobody told us. They started a barrage at 04 dark. It took a while to determine outgoing, but it did interrupt the sleep. And the meals were catch as catch can most of the time.
Edwin Tate E7 ret'd
In This Issue
As usual excellent stories this week, here we go: PFC Smucatelli, cover up tattoo, 13 day PFC, interesting short rounds, more salt-peter, women leave the bus, I've noticed something Daddy, never pass up an opportunity.
Okay! I get it! Some of you think I have sold out to the Navy by using "Fair winds and following seas". I will not change and only use it occasionally. But... I would like to accumulate a long list of Marine salutations to use in the future. So send them to me or forever hold your tongue. Do in NOW! Email your send off to email@example.com or just hit reply. I will start this week with my own new ending.
Semper Fi, MAC!
Ps: Actually this is a pretty good idea, if I do say so myself. It will be fun to see and use many different endings.
Took helo pic while on exercises on Camp Pendleton. The flag pic is myself, LCPL Ohigashi, LCPL Johnson and LCPL Johnson on a float to the Portland, OR, Rose Festival, on the USS Okinawa, in 1987.
LCPL, 3/5 Comm Plt.
I've Notice Something Daddy
Dear Sgt. Grit,
My family and I were in Hilton Head, SC last week on vacation when I decided that I had to visit Parris Island. I had not been there since I stood on the yellow footprints in June of 1982 and I figured I'd go back and see what they'd done with the place since I left. My wife, also known as "the Sergeant Major" and 2 of my daughters decided to tag along as well.
One of the first things I noticed was that this visit wasn't nearly as "intense" as the first one. In 1982 the welcoming committee was a large, This time I was called "Sir".
PI is a very beautiful place... which is something you notice when you can actually move your head around and look as opposed to only being allowed to stare at the back of the shaved skull of the recruit directly in front of you in formation.
It was a beautiful day, so we were driving around the base with the top down on the convertible. We happened to arrive at an intersection just as a platoon of female recruits approached from the east. Knowing what was coming next, I smiled and growled, "Road Guards!" My wife & daughters just looked at me convinced I was finally losing my mind. They figured it out a few seconds later when the Drill Instructor bellowed the same thing and a recruit shot forward and came to the position of parade rest in front of the car, blocking our way. I was stilling grinning when that same recruit was chewed out for being too slow to rejoin the platoon once they were through the intersection. Memories!
At one point, my 12 year old daughter remarked, "I've noticed something Daddy. These guys all walk like you do". I hugged her and thanked her for the compliment of comparing me to these young, hard-charging Marines. It was nice to know that even though I'm not as lean and mean as I once was, I have still retained some of the knowledge my Drill Instructors worked so hard to instill in me. Once a Marine, always a Marine!
1982 - 2004
Dove Into A Bunker
I saw some promotion stories in your last newsletter and thought I'd add one. My recollection is that there was a "ceremony" at each of my promotions. BUT... the best promotion I received was to Gunnery Sergeant. I was with 3/5 at An Hoa. I was CommChief and the 1stSgt came over to the comm office and said I needed to go with him to find an officer to read my warrant to me.
At that time, we started getting hit by 120mm (or 122mm - can't recall now) rockets. All of us dove into the bunker and while there the 1stSgt said to sit at attention and he then read my warrant to me, said I was a gunny and congratulations. I loved it. We didn't get to celebrate much as the attack ended and we needed to put out a fire in the supply office which had been hit and was a disaster.
I had my people immediately type up a bunch of forms indicating equipment we had turned in for replacement. So...my big gift for the day was getting additional equipment sent to us. Never pass up an opportunity!
Everett L. (Bud) Sharpe
Sergeant Major (Ret'd)
Marine Corps Rig
For the world to see as I travel the great U.S.A SEMPER FI SGT GRIT keep up the good work !
Women Leave The Bus
In June, 1957, together with 10 high school classmates and 35 others from nearby communities, I set foot on PI for the first time. After several weeks, our DI's informed us, with great fanfare, that since we had been good, they were going to take us to a movie. The big evening came, we fell out and marched from the Second Battalion across Iwo Jima Boulevard and were properly seated at what was then an outdoor theater. The DI's told us we could relax and enjoy the show.
We had no idea what the movie was and didn't care anyway, but to our great surprise, we were treated to the film "The DI" starring Jack Webb. Needless to say, after several weeks on the island, we got a great kick out of the movie since we were able to laugh at the action which portrayed life at PI in a much different light than we knew existed. I must say, however, that I believe our DI's had as much deep down compassion as portrayed by Webb and I will never forget what they did for me.
In 1998, nine of us and our wives returned to PI for a reunion. I was amazed at the reception the Corps gave us from a Welcome Platoon 138 sign at the entrance to assigning a male and female DI to take us around the island, picking us up and returning us to our hotel, having lunch in a mess hall, allowing us to fire the M-16 at the Khe San range, observing the beginning and end of the Crucible with the awarding of the EGA, the men staying overnight in a squad bay, attendance at graduation, etc.
While us men were doing man things, the women were treated to life on the female Marine side. We even had the treat of arriving at receiving early on our first morning when one of the DI's entered the bus and asked whether we wanted to start the way we did back in 1957 or do it the civilian way. When we responded 1957, the DI said "All right, you women leave the bus". Once they were gone, he began issuing orders and told us to get outside and on the yellow footprints (don't remember them in 1957) at attention.
He then proceeded to walk between our two ranks doing the DI thing. We, of course, responded with Yes sir, No sir as appropriate. All had some problems with stomach size and other matters, but our wives thought it was a riot.
My daughter is now a Marine Major having chosen the Corps after graduation from the Naval Academy and is on her way to Bahrain shortly. I am proud of her and all other Marines past and present and I fly the US and Corps flags in my front yard daily.
The receiving DI did his best to play the part, but he had a difficult time not laughing at 60+ year old men trying to act 18 again which only proves that these men really are human.
Hard To Forget
Semper Fi Sgt Grit,
Today I had the pleasure of "eyeballing" a Marine walking down a street perpendicular to me as I was walking to chow at the Oasis DFAC, Camp Victory, Iraq.
From about 75 yards, I could see that he was "squared away" and walking correctly.
I knew that if *I* kept up my normal "30 inch step" (ingrained since June 10th, 1981) we would intersect. In that 75 yards and closing, I also noticed something NO OTHER SERVICES can match (among many, OoRah). In his LEFT HAND he was carrying a "writing tablet" and a "writing utensil" and his arm "parallel to the ground at a 90 degree angle".
Within 5 yards I called out "it's good to see that the Marines still know how to carry I items when they are walking". To which he replied "Of course, how else are you going to salute." Did my heart proud.... and he was a lite colonel at that!
The sidewalks in the area are only good for "column of one's" so I found it easy to walk with him and talk. After following him for about 20 yards, I noticed that we were already walking in step, without even trying.
Some things are hard to forget - I almost asked him if his belt buckle was matched up with his trousers and fly... but thought better of it!
JRD -- USMCR 1980-1986
Son of a Retired MSgt 1948-1972
This is a tattoo that is inspired by one of your t shirts. It's a cover up of one that I got when I was in the Corps back in 1994.
It still has about three hours of work to cover the old one but I wanted to send it to you because it is pretty sharp now. I'll send you a finished pic when done.
What a bunch of hog-wash! Having spent from 68 - 73 at Parris Island, rest assured that us Drill Instructors eat the same chow and drank the same cool aid along with the recruits. The majority of the Drill Instructors were married at the time, don't know about now and not having the capability of doing one's homework would in no way be tolerated by the Sgts Majors at home doing her MOS of keeping the family unit together. Oh well, point explained with the "Little Soldier" standing tall... Pun intended.
As far as the question of Potassium Nitrate (saltpeter) in the food... I went through PI at the beginning of '66... I know I was under too much stress to have my Lil buddy stand to attention... but after cook school, I became a 3371... didn't like it but it was not my choice... I cooked at 3/2 main side... and we never used that stuff... our Mess Sgt... Top Turpin... told me he had never used it... he had been in nearly 30 years... I mean... what are you gonna do with one of those while you are sleeping and showering with 75 other men... no one in their right mind would even think about that.
When I got to Chu Lai in March of '68, I was glad I was a cook... I never went out in the bush and everyone protected me.
L/Cpl Gallant... 2200015
Sgt. Grit: Re salt peter; Walking fire watch at PI in July/Aug,1956 with a temperature in the 90's it was to warm for blankets. The majority of the guys had their hands covering the family jewels, protecting the jewels from the stress induced by our friendly DI's. Semper Fi Cpl Rowe
Just read mention of Pickle Meadows in the Newsletter, that was one of the best training assignments I almost forgot! I attended the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Feb '97. Up until then I had no idea about the exciting things you could do with chlorine and petroleum products! The kids think I'm the coolest dad ever when we go camping and I pull off my boot lace and start a fire with a rod and bow!
We were out doing our training week in the field. LCpl Lujan, a motivated young Sniper of probably 19, and I found us a nice scenic spot on a snow drift surrounded by trees and proceeded to dig our two man trench 6 feet down. For those of you who are experience in this scenario, you already know what we did wrong.
Anyway, two nights into the training a blizzard hits in the middle of the night. The next morning LCpl Lujan and I wake up to Marines yelling "Come here and dig these Marines out double time, they might be suffocated or some sh-t." We looked at each other and scrambled to go help. Our entry got snowed over so we dug ourselves out to find ourselves surrounded by Marines... We were the dumb-as-es (City boys from Albuquerque and L.A.) that got buried!
So, for those of you who haven't figured it out. Don't build a survival shelter on a snow drift because guess what... The snow collected there for a reason and you may not survive if you do!
The E-Club there was called the Pickle, they had the coolest unit T-shirts, and the rabbit and pine needle stew wasn't bad either! Semper Fi!
I was in 59 - 62. Made Cpl E-4 in 19 months. I was told to be in formation one morning in 62. I was last in line & when Colonel reached me he had no more promotions. He held us in formation while company clerk went in and typed up my promotion to E-4. Never had Corporal stripes pinned on.
Reading the stories and it could be I once met SSgt Cihak on top of Hill 327. I was a radio repairman with 5th Comm Bn. in Da Nang from Jan. '68 - Jan. '69 and had gone to the top of 327 a couple of times to work on their radio gear. Really great times, because we always stopped at the beer gardens at the bottom of 327 on the way home!
Cpl. Keith Newton, USMC 67-71, RVN 68-69 (I just live up I-35 from Sgt. Grit; I really need to get to the city and meet this guy! Semper Fi!)
i don't know if ya'll get my messages?! but Praise God for the Marine that wrote mom about baby-wipes!
"I" 3/9 0311~67-68
A great book to read for all you jarheads out there is" Carlson's Raiders". What a great bunch of Marines these guys were.
Semper Fi, Delta Co. 1st Batt 9th Marines, 67, Con Thien
I know that we in America have "freedom of Speech" But I think that anyone who cut's down John Wayne Is a royal a-s whole. He may not have served but he's one of America's leading hero's. I would never have joined the Corps if it hadn't been for John Wayne.
Jim Lowell 3rd Bn. 8th Marine's 2nd Mar Div.1964 to 1968.
please publish "interested in photos and stories about USMC am- tracs-P5's and H6's",
USMC 2nd Armored Amphibian tractor Battalion 1959-1966
USMC MCL Det. #942 2003-present
Talking about torture we came back to main side from Matthews and we got to see a movie "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" with Elizabeth Taylor now that was torture.
VMGR-352 & 2/7
I was told that John Wayne was classified as 4-F because of a college football injury to his back. He was 34 years old when Pearl Harbor was hit.
"After the draft was instituted in 1940, not all of the young men who registered were accepted into the service. Thirty percent of registrants across America were rejected for physical defects. The 4-F classification was given primarily for muscular and bone malformations, hearing or circulatory ailments, mental deficiency or disease, hernias, and syphilis."
Just a short note to say how much I enjoy the stories that you in print in your magazine. I made my hitch in the Corps from 1966 to 1969. Served in Nam from June 67' till I was wounded on Mar 30th 1968. Spent my whole tour at a little base known as Khe Sanh. Was Bravo Co. 26th Mar. senior radio-operator under Capt. Ken Pipes who was one of the best officers I have ever known. We were both wounded on the same day, which is coming up shortly. Again just wanted to thank you for all that you do.
Sgt, Tom Quigley
Just A Whiff Of Perfume
My Drill Instructor Sgt. Dickerson was a DI at both San Diego and Parris Island and swears there was no difference in the training. However since I know of no Marine who went through both depots one can only speculate on which was rougher. My own experience in San Diego has convinced me that seeing all those people going up and down the streets and highways was tough. I had no idea when I enlisted that MCRD was actually in San Diego. For some dumb reason I thought they just said San Diego because it was the closest town and that it was actually in the country outside of town. Little did I know.
As for torture imagine you are in about your sixth week of boot camp participating in your first parade and that you have not seen a female of any make or model for that entire period. When you march by the reviewing stand there are several attractive teen age girls and your nose catches just a whiff of perfume. You can see eighty recruits' noses all straining to inhale every bit of that wonderful smell. Now that is torture.
I may have asked this question before but does anyone remember seeing a movie titled the Marine Who Lived 100 Years when in boot camp? I swear I saw it in boot camp. It was and old Hallmark Television Movie starring Ward Bond that was loosely based on Lou Diamond. The catch phrase from the movie was "give me a case of beer and I can go anywhere."
Former Sergeant 1969-72
Allowed One Movie
This memory was so horrible that I had blocked it out. I didn't recall it ever happening until I read the story by Richard Constable (newsletter 10 MAR 2011).
It was exactly the same for us in 1989. We were allowed one movie in the theater at MCRD San Diego. We were excited to actually be doing something that was taken for granted back on the block and were really looking forward to the movie. We sat in our seats and were allowed one king-sized Snickers bar each. The curtain rose, the coming attractions came and went and then... sorry, I need a moment... The Accidental Tourist. Talk about cruel and inhumane.
Paul D. Raines
13 Day PFC
I enlisted in Aug 1946. When I reached Camp Le Jeune, after boot camp, there were hardly any NCO's, as they had all gotten out after the war. Our first shirt was a Buck Sergeant and our machine gun Platoon Sergeant was a Corporal. At that time you had to have six months time in the Corps to make PFC. No such thing as PFC out of boot camp. When my 6 months came up, we were on maneuvers at Puerto Rico, so there was no promotion. On the 1st of April, I got my warrant for PFC (no ceremony).
I guess someone higher up decided it was time they got some stripes for guys serving way above their rank, so I was called into the company on the 13th of April and given my warrant for Corporal (again no ceremony). So I was a PFC for 13 days. I was told that at that time I was the youngest Corporal in the Corps.
Two days later, I was given the job of Platoon Sergeant of our machine gun platoon. Talk about being scared and confused. Here I was ordering around the guys I had went through boot camp with. They took it pretty good and listened to my orders or my requests that I issued. Except for two guys that I had to run up for disobedience of orders.
I got out in 1948 and called back in 1950 and made Buck Sergeant during that tour. No crossed rifles on any of our stripes then.
Sgt. Clyde R. Fortner
Aug 1946-Mar 1948
Oct 1950-Nov 1951
Could Hardly Wait
The story in the 10Mar2011 edition about liver cutlets brought back a memory from my days at MCRD, San Diego, 1964.
As we all know, going through the 'boot' chow line was sometimes an extraordinary experience. This particular day was somewhat like the cutlet story, but I was saved by the recruit sitting next to me. That private was a bit over weight for his height so was put on the interesting diet of a hardboiled egg, un- buttered toast and skim milk.
But, back to my dilemma. As I silently moved through the chow line, I realized that the meat of the day was country fried steak. Wow, I thought! I love chicken fried steak! The recruit messman could see by my expression that I wanted more than one steak. He motioned! I blinked my eyes. And, whala, there on my tray were two of the best looking country fried steaks I had ever seen.
I could hardly wait for the order of, "Ready! SEATS!" from SSgt Bridges. When it came I quickly cut into the first steak. Oh, my gosh, I thought. This isn't steak! This is EGGPLANT! I hate eggplant! As I prepared to try to sneak those two evil othings into the map packet of my utilities, I noticed that the recruit next to me was ogling my tray.
Through some mind meld between us I realized that that guy would eat anything! I managed to slide the offending items onto his tray without either DI seeing the move. (They probably did see it and were very impressed my our stealthy move! Yeah, right!) I am proud that I could assist a starving recruit in having his taste buds actually sated that day!
That day I learned a valuable lesson! Don't believe it until it is proven to be true!
MCRD March-May 1964
I was just reading one of your OLDER newsletters (Oct 9, 2008... yea big fan here) and there was some talking of the terms "Old Corps...New Corps". Having gone thru P.I. in 2001 myself, you know what I think of when a Marine says he is "Old Corps"? It reminds me of being on the High School football team and someone who graduated a couple years back says "Oh well...WHEN I was on the football team WE USED TO have to...".
You know a lot of times I will read a newsletter and a Marine will be describing something he/she had done at P.I. and I think "oh I remember my D.I.'s having us do that" Then at the end of the newsletter it says
P.I. Platoon 211/ Summer of 1965
Although I am sure the layout and living quarters at P.I./S.D have probably changed a few times over the years, I don't think the Recruits now have it all that different than the ones who were there 20-30 yrs. ago. (Including "Hands on Training")
Noticed some talk about Camp Hauge. I served in H&S Co. 3rd Shore Party BN at Camp Hauge in March 1956 until April 1957. Prior to this Shore Party Company had been stationed at Camp McGill, in Yokuska, Japan. H&S Co and Charlie Co. were transferred to Hauge in March 1956. Able Co. stayed in Japan. I believe Baker Co was with the 1st Marine Brigade in Hawaii.
At the same time a company from the Communication Bn and 12th Marines were also on the base at Hauge. There was also a Brig on the base. Shore party was housed in Quonset huts on the left side of the road entering the base. Bn headquarters was across the street on the right side of the road. Col Smith was our Bn Commander, and since he was the Senior Officer on the base, he also served as the base commander.
At that time all the Marines on the island had what was called "Cinderella liberty". Rules were you had to be out of the bars at 2300 hours, and had to be on the base by 2400. Also remember the typhoon Emma which hit Oki in October 1956. All of the old Quonset huts withstood the winds, but many of the new concrete block buildings at Kadena Air Force base had major damage. Most damage we had was loss of one jumbo Quonset hut "Supply storage" and loss of electric for 30 days.
Cpl Don, 1511###
Fair winds and following seas
HqCo 9th Marines Reunion
Thank you and your staff for all they do for our veterans. I look forward to reading all the submissions to your newsletter, this is a great service that you provide. I like especially that your website offers links to help veterans and also helps us locate old friends. There is a special bond that exist between veterans that only grows greater as we age.
Our Headquarters Company 9th Marine Regiment 3rd Marine Division RVN 65-69 will be holding its 4th reunion in San Diego, CA. April 12-14, 2011. Our fellowship this year includes a trip to MCRD San Diego; when we visited Parris Island in 2009 our tour bus stopped behind the "yellow foot prints" where our "not so lean" took position on those famous prints. There was a platoon of newly formed recruits standing across the way and I wonder what was going through their mind as they witnessed us forming up, I know their Drill Instructor got a chuckle out of it.
More information about our reunion can be found on our website (www.hqco9thmarines.com) or if any served with HqCo 9th Marines (0/9) they can contact me at jackloveday @ scrtc .com (no spaces), we have located just over 100 of our men thus far.
I've attached some logos connected with our company.
See more upcoming reuions
Just got finished reading the December 2010 issue of Leatherneck (a buddy sends them to me when he is finished reading them) and read an article about the proper way to blouse the trousers of the utility uniform. The article mentioned that the trousers are bloused differently based on whether or not the Marine is in an infantry unit and went on to say that infantry units blouse the trousers over the boot tops, while non-infantry units blouse the trousers above the boot.
I served back in the early 80's (1981 to 1985) and was a grunt (0331) but do not recall a distinction between units where the blousing of trousers was concerned. I do distinctly recall that we were allowed to blouse the trousers over the boot (high or low), but that the trousers were to be bloused neatly and so that the socks did not show and I seem to recall the socks not showing as being more critical than how high on the boot the trousers rested. Has the uniform code changed?
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt.
That Was That
Hi Sgt Grit;
I enjoy your newsletter immensely & look forward to every Thursday's edition. I served with Dog Co. 2/7 /1st Mar. Div. in Korea as a 0331. First of all, there was no yellow footprints in the early 50's. I served as a squad leader in Boot, came out a PFC.
I went before the Battalion CO, the Exc., the 5 Company CO's for meritorious promotions for both Cpl & Sgt . There was one representative from each Company. We were called in one at a time & each officer grilled us with military questions. Both times I was awarded the promotions. I was notified by my Plt Sgt & that was that, no chevrons, no company formation or congratulations by the Co.
After the drowning of the six at P.I., I was called into the Skipper's office, told to report MCRD San Diego as a temp. D.I. I reported to a plt of about 80 recruits who were doing squads right formations, I didn't have a clue.
P.S. when I went through Boot, Pfc's served as D.I.s
God Bless all our Brothers & Sisters.
More Time In The
Aloha, Sgt Grit:
One thing I recall about my time in the "Crotch", was the constant bul-sh-t chatter about who had the most "time-in". Of course, "service numbers" (Can we give that topic a rest? Who cares?) were always dragged into the fray, but weren't always a valid way to settle the unending debate.
I remember the hilarious back-and forth put-downs between my enlisted comrades that left no doubt as to who was "saltier".
Examples: "I've got more time in the air, jumping out of my rack, than you have in the whole Marine Corps!"
"You f--king shower-shoe! I've spent more time in the chow line than you have in your whole career!"
"I've got more time on the sh-t-ter"... ETC. ETC.
I'd love to hear some of my fellow Marines' contributions to the unending battle of who's "saltier"!
Jeff Barnes/ LCpl (Ret'd)/2108389
1833/ Amtracs (Waterborne!)
Time In Paradise
Have been reading your letter for awhile now. Always interesting.
Hopefully you will find my contributions worthy of adding to one of your future letters. I joined in August of 1963, age 17. arrived at Parris Island early September. On that fateful day that we were formed up I met SSgt. J.G. Ferrari. Sgt. John J. McGinty and Sgt. Jack Huffman. Three men who would influence my life forever. SSgt. Ferrari informed us that he didn't care what our color or ethnic background was he "hated everybody". A glorious start to our time in paradise! We started with 100 recruits. Finished with 60. My skinny 130 lb. body was one of the graduates.
The funniest thing that occurred was during our first foot locker inspection. Sgt. McGinty was checking us to make sure we had followed the image in our Guide Book for Marines. Of course none of us had done anything correct by the time he came to the hapless Private next to me. Amazingly, he had words of praise for the Private about how squared away his folded skivvies and socks were.
He asked him if his father or brother had been in the Corps. The Private answered "Sir, No Sir". Sgt. McGinty asked him where he had learned to fold his skivvies according to the Guide Book. The poor Private answered "Sir, The Private's maid showed him how before he left home, Sir!" Well, the explosion that followed matched anything heard on the demolition range! I will leave the exchange of words up to your imagination. The private was on our Junior Hat's s--t list until we graduated.
The most shocking thing that happened was when we were practicing for our graduation on the Parade Deck on the morning of Friday, November 22. We had run through the routine once and had reformed in front of the reviewing stand when a full bird Colonel stepped up to the microphone. None of us had seen a full Colonel. Just Lt. Col.'s, Majors, Captains, and Lt.'s. As he spoke it got quieter than I had ever heard during my time on the Island.
"Drill Instructors, take your platoons back to your barracks. We just received word that our Commander in Chief has been killed in Dallas, Texas. You will be informed as to what will be happening at a later time." The ONLY time I saw anything resembling emotion on the faces of our three D.I.'s.
Graduation was delayed, we did not have to stand our Final Field Inspection and we left the Island November 30, 1963 with Sgt. Huffman's farewell ringing in our ears---"Just because you graduated doesn't mean you are a pimple on a man's a-s, let alone a Marine's!"
Sgt. McGinty went on to win the Medal of Honor in Viet Nam. He truly was a Marine's Marine. After ITR at Camp Geiger I spent 2 years in the 6th Marines, Weapons Plt. E-2-6 as a M-60 man 0331. Finished my time out back at the Island, where I got mustered out as a Sgt. Would not trade anything for the experiences and friendships made.
Old Dog --Sgt. 1963-1969. Plt. 269 Parris Island Sept. '63 -- Nov. '63.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw "IKE JACKET" in an article about Promotion Ceremonies in my Sgt Grit newsletter. The USMC was phasing the "short jacket" out of inventory, so only a few of the Marines in my 1962 San Diego Boot Camp Platoon received one BATTLE JACKET, WINTER SERVICE "A" and one Full Length Blouse Winter Service "A".
Our Drill Instructor Sgt Romero told us that he would personally "Unscrew our head from our shoulders, and kick it all over the Large Grinder" if he ever heard the GLORIOUS Marine BATTLE JACKET called an "IKE JACKET" ! Only in the Army issued an "IKE JACKET".
CPL USMC 1962 - 1966
Vietnam June 64 - Oct 66
PS: Jun 1964 Operation Shu-Fly at Da Nang before "The War"
Boot Camp Stories from 1963, Lessons for Life
William N. Thompson, Honorable Discharge, USMC, Pfc (E-2), Ph.D., Retired
4. The Mosquitoes of Elliott Beach and Bends and Thrusts - 5000 of Them!
Elliott Beach is a bivouac area of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot of Parris Island. It is in low land bordering swamping grasslands. During the fourth week of boot camp, recruits are marched to Elliott Beach with all their camping gear for the joys of pitching tents, having a picnic, and sleeping out. Our fourth week was in early September. It was probably the hottest week of the year. This also meant that it was the most humid week of the year.
After using our tin mess kits for dinner, we lined up in formation for some unannounced fun and games to be conducted by a junior drill instructor. I should not call the exercise "fun" and games. It was really a session of "games" one would not normally call "fun." But then, on the other hand, it must have been fun for the mosquitoes, as they had decided to join us (voluntarily) en masse.
As we were standing at attention, we carefully watched for the eyes of the drill instructor to turn away in order to have a chance to slap a mosquito or two, or more quietly, to brush them away from our faces. It was a tricky exercise, and in my haste to act quickly, I also brushed my fatigue hat off my head, and it fell to the ground.
All the time, I remained in a rigid "attention" position. I had no chance to reach to the ground to pick up my hat. I was stuck, I was screwed. I knew my situation was bad, I just didn't know how bad. The drill instructor caught my dilemma. He decided to "strike." He yelled, "Prive. You seem to look different. Why do you look different?"
I had learned by then that one responds when spoken to by the drill instructor. One responds loudly and with vigor. I yelled out. "Sir." "I have lost my hat, Sir!" I quickly recognized the ill chosen words I had uttered, but before I could correct them, the drill instructor asked me to do so. He screamed, "You lost your what, Prive?" All Marine Corps terminology relates to ships. I screamed back, "My cover, Sir."
The drill instructor continued. "Well Prive, where is your cover?" "Sir," I responded, "It is on the ground. Sir." Again he screamed, as I had managed to screw up again. I corrected myself, yelling out "Sir, it is on the deck. Sir." "Well, Prive, now you know what you have lost, and just where it is." I braced myself for his next command.
In such conditions, I would secretly hope that the drill instructor would simply hit me in the gut, or on the shoulder (that would be the best). Bada Bada Bing. Then it would be over. Wince. All over in a second or two. Once I had been shining my shoes in a way that the drill instructor did not like-perhaps against his instructions. He grabbed one of my shoes and hit me with it on the top of my head. Sting. But in a second or two, it was all done. I corrected my manner of shining the shoes. But that was inside the barracks, and that action by the drill instructor was not observable to anyone else, except perhaps one or two recruits beside me. They did not bat an eye during the episode.
But here I was outside and at Elliott Beach. Another one of our drill instructors was with us, and the entire platoon of 73 recruits was cognizant of my screw-ups. My tormentor-the junior drill instructor-was not going to give me another swift and quickly-over punishment that would represent a violation of boot camp (and likely Geneva Convention) rules against physical abuse.
Actually, all the other recruits were amused, as they knew that drill instructors could only punish one or two of us at the same time, and this was my turn. They had had their turns, and likely they would have their turns again tomorrow or some other future day, but now that I had screwed up, they would be off the hook-for tonight. Of course they had to contain their amusement, because just one laugh would put them into harm's way big time.
So I did not "luck out" with a quick and done punishment. The drill instructor came in front of me and yelled out, "Bends and Thrusts-5000 of them." A bend and thrust is a jumping-jack type exercise. The individual reaches toward his toes, and places his hands on "the deck." He then kicks his legs backwards, and comes down into a push-up type posture. Pushing up, he then kicks his legs forward and stands up once more. That would be "one." He then repeats the exercise for "two." I started my 5000. "My God," I thought, "5000 of them." As I was doing the bends and thrusts behind the formation, I could see the thinly veiled smiles of several of my fellow recruits, all of them thinking-"it could have been me." I also knew (hoped) that this would be an episode we could laugh about together over the next few days.
I could hear the drill instructor shouting out various routines the recruits would be doing the rest of the night and the next day. I counted out---"twelve, thirteen...eighteen, nineteen," as sweat poured from my face down my neck. I was basically out of the drill instructor's sight line as I counted out, "thirty, thirty-one." I thought, "Ok, give it a try."
I stood up, and at attention, I marched to the drill instructor. "Sir. The private requests permission to speak to the drill instructor, Sir." "Speak, Prive," he responded. "Sir, the private has completed his bends and thrusts, Sir."
The drill instructor scowled as he asked, "How many bends and thrusts did the private complete." I responded loudly, "Sir, 5000 bends and thrusts, Sir." I could hear some barely concealed laughter from the other recruits. The drill instructor yelled back. "You are f---ing kidding me prive. Are you really saying you just did 5000 bends and thrusts?" "Yes Sir." I shouted back.
The drill instructor then asked me how many bends and thrusts I had done during the recorded physical training exercise two days before. We had been given one minute time intervals to do various exercises. We were "on record." I replied, honestly. "Thirty-two, Sir." "Prive, are you saying you did 32 bends and thrusts in one minute two days ago when they recorded your activity, and just now you did 5000 of them?" I responded. "Yes Sir."
"D-mn, Prive, you were screwing with us. When it counted, you did only 32. Tonight proves it. If you would have given your best you could have done better. Get out of my here." "Yes sir." I had been pardoned from my punishment. Drenched in sweat, I still sort of wished that he had only hit me in the gut. As I put my head on the "deck" inside my tent that evening, I thought. "One more day survived at Parris Island. 25 down, 52 to go."
"Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat."
--RAdm. "Jay" R. Stark, US Navy; 10 Nov. 1995
Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!