Sgt Grit Newsletter - 27 OCT 2011

In this issue:
• Rock Hunting
• I'm Not Dead
• Marine Permutations

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Hoogie and I were stationed at 29 Palms '67-68, thereabouts in artillery... at the time, provided that there were two licensed drivers with gov't licenses (SF46... have one here on my desk that expired 821209), and provided that there was no firing on the range(s), it was possible to check out two (had to be two) commercial Jeeps or IH Scouts from Base Motors on the weekend, and go rock-hunting out yonder (forget how many square miles of sand and rock make up 29 Palms, but it's a bunch)... since Hoogie is a geologist by education, who better to go rock- hunting with???...

I drove one vehicle, he drove the other. Some miles out, probably on the east side of Mt. Hildago, we made our first stop... he took his rock hammer, chipped off a piece of a nearby formation... and licked the piece he had knocked off! When I asked him why he did that, he said that was a way to tell if the rock would 'polish up'. It was my duty to point out to him, especially considering the distance above grade where he had smote the formation, that there are coyotes in the desert... including male coyotes...

I had prepped some for this little jaunt by reading a paperback book about semi-precious gem stones, and had memorized a few of the common names... agate, flame agate, chalcedony, jasper, etc... I found a rock that I thought might polish up into something into I could present to the wife, since as it was, I was in trouble enough getting home late that morning (something about her having to drive down to Palm Springs with our two sprouts to pick up her mother at the airport... driving with one arm in a cast is no big deal... right??)... Proud of my find, I asked Hoogie what it was?... He told me "Leverite"... try as I might, couldn't recall "Leverite" being mentioned in the book... so he patiently explained... "Dick... that's the kind you pick up, look at, and Leverite there"... I did.


In This Issue

A few months ago I asked for some new salutations to use. I now have a great list to use. How about you send me some of your DI's best "wisdom". That should make for some great sign-off material.

Here we go, I'm not dead, two towers sandbagged, 106 mounted on an Amtrac, little on the gross side, whether to salute or laugh, drew our rank on, perfect D.I. voice, combo with 5 buttons, snot nosed 17 year old, three of them were busted, old leaky flame throwers, never had to wait, back into a corner, An Hoa Basin.

"Expect the unexpected"
Sgt Grit


Ontos 1966

Greetings Marines,

Here is a picture of an Ontos I took in Sept 66, in the Mo Duc region of Quang Ngai. We used to say they would fuse sand behind them when they fired all six. I rotated a month later to Pendleton.

Sgt. A. Stokes
G 3/11 FDC


More Ontos

Just thought I would add my own pictures of the Ontos,
Bob Haller


I'm Not Dead

Sgt. Grit,

Before I proceed on the subject about which I'm writing to you, I would like to assist fellow Marine Kent Yates. In his story found in the Sgt Grit newsletter dated October 20th, he was trying to remember the ITR camp at Camp Pendleton. That would be San Onofre or 52 area. In the 80s and 90s it still had the old corrugated steel Quonset huts. The only camp farther north of it is Camp Mateo (62 area). The home of 5th Marines and 1st Combat Engineers. I was in 2/5 when we made the move from Camp Margarita (33 area) to Camp San Mateo (62 area) and 7th Marines moved out to 29 Palms.

Now, it is my sad duty to inform you that one of the greats, Sgt Salvatore (Tom) Battaglia passed away this October 9th, 2011 at the age of 92. He was a veteran of Tarawa (where he was awarded a bronze star), Saipan and Tinian. For the past number of years, Tom has been our oldest Marine present at our Marine Corps League Birthday ball. I have enclosed a picture of him during the cake cutting ceremony at last year's birthday ball seated in the wheelchair.

At this time, I would like to relate a neat story about Salvatore as told me by fellow Marine Jim "Bulldog" Treher. Jim was a young kid before WWII and that summer of 41 his parents took the family on vacation to an uncle's country club in Ohio. It was a grand week of fun with the climax being a dance at the club ballroom that Saturday night. The jazz band playing that evening was great and led by a handsome young saxophonist named Tommy Batts. All the girls swooned for him and his performance left quite an impression on Jim and his sisters. For many years the family would reminisce about that wonderful vacation and the climactic dance headlined by Tommy Batts and his band.

Years later, Jim had an occasion to ask his uncle if he knew where Tommy Batts was now and his uncle related to him that he had heard that Tommy had joined the Marines during WWII and been killed in combat. In the 80's Jim was at the local American Legion bar relaying this story to some friends. At the end of the story, a voice down at the end of the bar spoke up and said, that's me. I'm not dead. It was Salvatore (Tom) Battaglia. You see, his last name was too long to put on the bass drum for advertisement, so they shortened it to Tommy Batts. That was his nom de guerre in those days.

Semper Fi Tommy Batts

From Shawn Kane USMC


New Uniform Idea

Sgt Grit,
In reference to Bob Talmadge's letter about Marines and trying out berets as part of the uniform, I also was witness to the same type of experiment during my days on active duty. I was a Sea School Instructor at MCRD, San Diego from 1975-1976. During that time someone in the upper echelon decided that berets might be another new uniform idea (although now I know it wasn't such a NEW idea) for the Marines.

Remember, it was also during this same timeframe that we changed over from the all wool winter green uniform/summer tropical uniform to the year-round light weight green uniform, and we also went from the serge green utility uniform to the jungle utilities. Since we were already going through all of these changes I guess trying to change at least one of our covers just had to come up, especially since the Army was doing a transition to almost everyone wearing some type of beret, if I remember correctly.

However, the decision was made that the beret would be in an experimental mode with just a few numbers of them being used at certain bases. MCRD San Diego was one of the bases chosen to premiere this grand experiment. There were only a couple of them that I saw and only officers were wearing them with the full dress green uniform at the time. We didn't know whether to salute or laugh when we saw them.

Fortunately, the experiment was a full-blown FAILURE and the berets only lasted a couple of days at the base. Very soon after that we got the official word that the berets would NOT be becoming a part of our uniform. Glad someone upstairs was willing to listen to us grunts on this one!

Semper Fi,
Bob Tollison


Highway 17

Sgt Grit,

Wanted to forward this picture along. It was taken back in 1983 somewhere in the bush on Lejeune. I am far left. The others are buddies Thor Dellerson second from left, Efren Mercado in the front and Danny Wilson far right to the rear. The picture was taken by my other buddy Tim Wheeler who incidentally still keeps in touch with me to this day. Buddies Pete Foss and Narvel Hesson were also there but not in the picture. All of us were 0331's with Weapons platoon, Lima, 3/8.

Below the picture is a key-chain that I just located from my collection of Marine belongings. Since my original posting regarding Court Street and all the subsequent replies, I started looking through some of my "stuff" and found this key-chain. It might be hard to read, but it is in surprisingly good condition and reads, "The Beer Barrel, Highway 17 So., Jacksonville N.C. Home Away From Home, USMC"

The Beer Barrel was, as the key-chain indicates, on Highway 17 and if memory serves me correctly located not too far from the Geiger main gate. It was just a wooden shack I believe. There were several bars within walking distance of the main gate to Geiger and I think this was one of those bars whereas the bars on Court Street were a cab ride away. Can't remember the names of the other bars outside the base, but maybe some of our brother Jarheads can!

Semper Fi,

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Weapons Plt, Lima 3/8


Helicopter Pilots

Helicopter Pilots Cartoon


Double Duty

Sgt Grit; In response to Ddick's letter

Papa Company 2nd ITR was activated in Sept. 1957 and Sgt Gaines, Sgt Reposa, and myself were the Troop Handlers, we had another Cpl. but he got a BCD for stealing from the trainees. Sgt Gaines was a very tall drink of water and set a terrible pace marching from class to class. When Gaines was on duty there was no one better, he just could not get back to base after Liberty. He would show up a week or two later. I don't remember him ever being put on report. Sgt Reposa was from Hawaii he was of Portuguese Hawaiian descent. Company size was about 250 Marines with 4 troop handlers, a First Sgt, Company Commander and his Exec. When Gaines forgot to come back off liberty, Reposa and myself were doing double duty. Great learning experience.

Papa Company was deactivated in January 1958 and I was posted to Training as an Instructor, then went to NCO school at Camp Horno than sent to Mike Company 3/5., from there to 3/5 Armorer.

Sgt W McAdams
1955-1961


Cartoons

I have a customer Nat Berman. WWII Marine, 1942-45. He sends me cartoons occasionally. I thought I would share a few with you.
Sgt Grit


BC Scopes

I too, served at Gio Linh in 1967 with the 1st Bn 12th Marines Battalion Fire Direction Center, directing fire for Charlie Battery 1/12. Working for a fine Marine and exceptionally skilled Staff NCO, MSGT. Wilcox, I learned skills that have guided me my entire life.

We would play Volleyball outside the FDC every day when free to do so until the mortar and rocket attacks began. There were two towers sandbagged at the top with views of freedom bridge across the Ben Hai river into North Viet Nam with BC scopes that we would use to triangulate on flashes at night across the DMZ. At 19 years of age, away from home for the first time I can remember being scared a lot of the time, but able to work through the fear and perform my duties as all Marines are trained to do.

The reason for this note is to reach out to any other Marine who was at Gio Linh or Camp Carroll at that time with the 12th Marines, in an attempt to re-connect with a meaning full past. Now 44 years later the memories that lay dormant for so long are beginning to re- surface. I have always been proud of my service to Corps and Country but until now have rarely spoken of my experiences. My apologies for the disjointedness of this note, things long forgotten return in spurts.

Thank you for your service, Semper Fi,
Richard M. Harvey, Sgt. (E-5)


China Marines

Nov. 20, 2011 newsletter ref: L/C Richard Jenkins note ref: 1934 China Marines.

This is a wood carving of a 1930 era China Marine. I do wood carving as a hobby and I have Marines in Tropical uni's, Blues and WW11 herringbone.

Gene Lang


Ontos On Amtrac

Check out two historic pics.

Cpl. Lou Albert w/Ontos taken South of Marble Mountain - DaNang while coming off an Operation with Kilo Co 3rd Bn 1st Marines during 1966.

Pic with 106 mounted on an Amtrac while Kilo Company 3rd Bn 1st Marines conducted an Operation on Snaggletooth Is during 1966. Legendary Captain 'Speedy G' Lee Gonzales was CO of Kilo Company. Never before had a 106 been chained and sandbagged on the top of an Amtrac. This pic was taken by Cpl. Lou Albert and has been given to the Marine Corps Museum at MCRD San Diego, CA.

Semper Fi!
Lou Albert


Jokes From Facebook

Two Sergeant Majors were walking across campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?" The second Sergeant Major replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want." The second Sergeant Major nodded approvingly, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit."
Nathan S. S.


Preacher man has a son who's a senior in high school and is worried about what his son will make of himself after graduation. He has the perfect idea. He'll sneak into his son's room and set a 50 cent piece on his desk, because if his son comes in and picks that up first then he'll be business-like and will make good money and that will be fine with me.

Second, he puts the Bible on the desk and thinks if he picks that up first he'll be a preacher like me and that too would be fine.

Third, he puts a bottle of whiskey on the desk thinking if the son picks that up first he will only grow up to be a drunk and that's NOT ok with me.

Lastly, he puts a copy of Playboy on the desk. Now, if he picks that up first he'll be chasing tail all his life and that's not cool either!

So the Preacher man gets in the closet and waits. When his son comes home he sees the items on his desk and first off he picks that 50 cent piece up and puts it in his pocket, grabs the Bible and puts it under his arm. Then, takes a big swig of the whiskey and flips to the centerfold of Playboy. The Preacher man says, "Well I'll be D-mned my son's gonna be a MARINE!" OOHRAH!

Debra M.


How can you tell who are the bravest of the brave in the Marine Corps?
The ones who will sleep on their stomachs aboard ship.
Ken F.

Join us on Facebook


The "Circle"

Just read Sgt Leonard's letter with respect to the two bars that were on opposite corners across from the bus station. I agree with him that one was Jazzland but I think the other was Birdland not Bandbox. Either way I remember spending a lot of time in them. A lot of guys would have their picture made with one of the girls that worked there. Seems like it was a Dollar which was a lot money for guys making less than a $100 a month.

I was there from the fall of 61till the fall of 62 and remember that the Jacksonville police would patrol them with a German Shepherd dog. Two of them along with Rin Tin Tin would come in the bar. One of them and the dog would stand with their back to the wall just inside the door while the other one would walk thru the bar checking things out. Needless to say I don't recall anyone ever challenging the guy walking the bar with the other cop and Rin Tin Tin keeping an eye him. I also agree with Sgt Leonard that it was real hassle walking down the street with all the "pushy" salesmen trying to sell you something on credit. All you needed was a military ID card.

All of us can remember riding the "Vomit Express" from Jacksonville back to Lejeune. It was generally smart to cut your night a little short and ride one of the earlier buses as the later ones could be a little on the gross side.

On Fridays as soon as liberty call was sounded would head up to the "Circle" looking for a ride to almost anywhere on the east coast. It would always frustrate me that the New York guys would hold out for a ride back to their specific neighborhood while I would be happy to see a car with Knoxville Tn plates come around since it was only 180 miles from where I was going and I could either catch a bus or hitchhike the rest of the way.

I forget what the out of bounds limit was for a weekend pass but it was heck of a lot less then what most of us traveled. Remember one Friday morning at morning formation that the Gunny reminded us of the limit and that we shouldn't exceed it but if some reason we did to try and make it back within the limit BEFORE we called in and not do what 2 idiots had done the week before and call in from Canada.

Thanks for a great Newsletter'
John Vaughn L/Cpl
1942842 (61 to 65)

Note:
I "swooped" with a Nam buddy from Cherry Point to Pittsburg, Pa almost every weekend for 5 months in the Spring of '71. It was exactly 600 miles from Cherry Point to his house. As I remember it was approximately twice the allowed limit. We usually did the drive in 9 hours. Had our gas stops down to a science. While one guy peed, another started the gas, another got snacks, rotate etc... looked like an Indy pit stop. I got $15 a head. A full car would make me $75. I could pay for round trip gas, party Saturday night and have some cash left over. I bought a '69 Roadrunner when I got back from Nam. It would fly!
Great times.
Semper Fi
Sgt Grit


Possible Permutations

So after the long grueling trip back from Kuwait, my platoon arrived back onboard KMCAS Hawaii and we were shown to our respective barracks. It was zero dark thirty and nobody was around as we observed that our rooms had combo locks on the doors. Every single one of us Marines had a room awaiting us with an unknown combo lock keeping us from the comfort of a bed. Something long dreamed of. We had just spent several months in the desert mostly sleeping in the pits of sand we dug for foxholes. Dreaming of bowls of milk and cereal, the comfort of a bed and a cold beer among other things.

After what we'd been through, I thought the moment so odd and stupid that I actually yelled out, "This is bullsh-t!" into the darkness. There had to be something I could do. So I calmed myself down and took a good look at the combo lock on the door of my room. It was a pushbutton combo with 5 buttons. I grabbed a pen and my notebook out of my pack and started working on the math for number of potential permutations . Then I realized that once a button was pushed, it couldn't be used again within the same combo therefore knocking the potential for finding the correct combo in my favor.

As I figured out the possible permutations of the combo, I drew up a chart with the first several hundred permutations using the sequence I figured out. I quickly went to work on my door combo using my chart. Meanwhile, there were others in the platoon having their own personal fit, shouting into the darkness. I could totally understand, we were too tired and worn down to be dealing with the situation. Within minutes of working on my combo, I was in my door. A huge grin came across my face as I greeted my new room and bed. Meanwhile some of the other Marines saw I had somehow got into my room. All I wanted to do was fall in that bed and sleep, but I had to help my brothers out.

I took my chart to the next door combo to crack. I explained the process to several Marines standing around watching as I worked on the lock. There were a couple of nay-sayers standing about kinda jaw jacking my efforts. Within minutes once again, I got the door open and nobody else said sh-t. Everyone else in my platoon made it in their respective rooms that night and my chart made it into the hands of several other platoons who were successful as well. Many in the company though slept just outside their doors waiting for the morning to arrive for whoever was in charge of divvying up the combo codes.

It was a good night.

Sgt Mark Southerland
Semper Fi!


Drew On Rank

I recall back in the days early 50's when we drew our rank on our utilities with whatever we had. Some of the efforts were ugly! When Ken Nolan of San Clemente came up with the idea for a stencil kit for chevrons, I think I was one of his first customers. I made several visits to his store there in San Clemente to purchase things "can't do without" and was a customer for many years. When he was bought out and the operation moved to Irvine, CA, I visited there several times to make purchases but the people were not as knowledgeable or as interested. It was still of interest to me that I had seen it change just like the Corps.

I have some pics someplace of me as a PFC with the line drawn chevrons on my herringbone sleeves. As a funny note, I inherited some well worn herringbones from my father who was a Msgt. I wore them with the PFC chevron drawn on. Overheard someone asking how in h-ll someone so young looking could have Msgt stripes and get away with it? I didn't realize the stripes showed up blazing when the sun hit them just right.

At least one of the jackets still had the inside pocket, and of course the outside pockets, one breast and two lower. When we were required to wear our jackets tucked in, I had to eventually cut off the pockets so it wasn't so bulky.

I had the distinct privilege of being part of a bridge from the old to the new between WW2, Korea, Viet Nam. I was a snotty nosed kid of 5 when WW2 broke out and my father was already at sea as a sea going Marine on the USS Louisville. By the time I went to boot camp in '53, the LPM was my daily reading. I can say without hesitation, the USMC has been my life. No matter where I went to work, (40+ countries) I tried to leave a trail and there are many USMC stickers in all of them.

Semper Fi
Rocky Kemp


Stared Him Down

About a month ago, my NJROTC Unit went to a nearby veterans home to do some community service. We got there early to let members of the American Legion set up a "carnival" for the vets to take part in. While we were waiting around, a first year cadet apparently didn't know that you aren't supposed to put your hands in your pockets while in uniform. Just at this moment, a veteran was walking down the hallway, saw him, and said in a perfect D.I. voice "You better get your hands out of your d-mn pockets!" This startled the kid, and the vet stared him down with a straight face for at least 20 seconds. Then he gave a wink and went on with his day.
Josh


Remain With My Unit

Sgt. Grit

I am responding to a story I sent in about duck walking at Camp Matthews ... In this week's newsletter I was criticized by someone without a name for my actions during that time...

First of all I was a 17 year old kid who found himself in a survival situation... At the time I was faced with a decision to either give in and give up and go whining to someone about my foot and hope they would understand the pain I was going through, Or I could man up, accept my situation, and push on... I chose to remain with my unit and survive... So now you point fingers at me for the measures I took to make it through...

2nd that was a huge turning point in my life from a snot nosed 17 year old kid, to someone learning his way in the Marine Corps... You criticize my actions for what I had to do, while I look at it as... Evaluate the situation, Adapt and overcome...

That all happened about 55 years ago, and to this day I still live my life by those standards, without whining about problems or waiting for someone else to do it for me... And last but not least if you're going to criticize someone and call names you should at least have the balls to leave a name so I could take it up with you...

After I left Boot camp I never again allowed anyone to call me a disgusting little maggot and I sure not going to start now with you... My name is Howard W. Kennedy and I'm on Facebook if you should grow a set and want to respond...

Howard W. Kennedy... USMC 1956-1962


Hearing Heals Hit

Joined the Corps August 1960, went to MCRDSD and assigned to Plt 276. We were taught the finer points of duck walking both at MCRD and the rifle range, Camp Matthews if I remember correctly.

We had Gunny N F Williams, SSgt F L Reaper and SSgt F A Tavarossi for DI's. Great DI's. Because we of Mexican ancestry preferred to speak Spanish among us, had to teach the platoon Spanish. When the Smoking Lamp was Lit, the platoon responded in Spanish. SSgt Tavarossi, not to be outdone, had us learn to say good morning in Japanese and say it every morning. Worst part of boot camp, was hearing the airplanes taking off going someplace, wanting to be on those planes.

ITR was at Camp San Onofre and for us from PLt 276 was worse than boot camp. We had two big white guys, SSgt's, I think and one smaller thin black guy as our instructors. Don't remember if we called them DI's or not. Not what I remember them as. For Thanksgiving, they had us out for rifle inspections, M1 Garands. They would break the rifle apart, inspect the parts and throw them on the deck, dirt street. Battalion commanders wife happened to drive by and reported what was happening to Battalion commander. All three of them were busted in rank and we paid for it.

We were never referred to as "trooper". It was more normally Pvt or recruit or other endearing terms. "Marine" came after the graduation ceremony. The unit was never referred to as "troop", always platoon or mob and such like endearing terms.

There was one DI from another Battalion, little short Mexican, last name of Valenzuela, who had the best cadence on the Grinder. He would call cadence to the Marines' Hymn. Talk about hearing heels hit the grinder.

Frank Briceno
USMC 1960-1964 - L/3/5, L/3/9, 3rd MEB, C/1/5
USMCR 1970-1976


Two Years Later

Sgt. Grit, the camp where Yates had ITR was San Onofre; I was there in spring 1963. We too had M-1's during ITR, received training in the 3.2 rocket launcher (way cool), the BAR, and old leaky flame throwers, among other weapons. Playing with weapons for a month was much better than being yelled at in Boot Camp.

For many years after ITR I still had the M-1's bolt nick on my left hand middle finger from the M-1 "slipping" during rifle inspection. I suspect the M-1 was surplus from WW II and brought back to the States because the allies didn't want used up rifles. During ITR that spring (April 1963) was the first time I heard the word Vietnam used in a sentence with "-if we have to go". Two years later there I was, landing at DaNang trying to catch up with the 1st Marine Brigade (4th Regiment) that was at Chu Lai.

Mike Beehler, Sgt 1963-67


The Great Race

In 1976 my wife's oldest son had upon graduation from High School enlist in the Navy. He had been raised by his father in a farming community of eastern Indiana. After twenty months in the Navy he was released for medical reasons. He had a middle ear problem that produced sea sickness.

So after his discharge he came to live with us in Cypress CA, All he was aware of was that I was a Marine and I got up at 3:30 AM, and drove to Camp Pendleton returning home after 7:30 PM five days a week.

One day at the dinner table he was talking about running cross country track, I said that I did a little daily running. So he challenged me to a race. I asked just how far was he wanting to run. He said one mile. I told him one mile I would not even break a sweat. I suggested that I would make it easy for him and only go five miles.

My wife (his Mother) warned him that I ran everyday at the base. But he was sure He could beat me because I was twenty years his senior.

We went to the Cypress City Collage where they had a one-half mile oval track to have our great race. Ten times around the oval was settled on for the distance of the run.

Mother said she would be the official starter and counter of the laps. At her signal off we went. He started out running a much faster pace while I of course I settled into a steady shuffle that simply eats the miles.

He was way ahead of me at the one mile mark but by the two mile mark I was closer to him. At three miles I was now in the lead at four miles he was setting with the rest of the family watching as I continued on to the five mile finish. He could not believe that I was breathing almost normal.

This is when I told him I ran three miles every morning with the platoon, five miles during the noon lunch period with the Battalion Commander and several other Marines and another three miles at every evening prior to leaving the Base with several other Marines from my Battalion that needed additional physical training. I had doing this for over six years.

He had always ran races of one mile or less and had never done any distance running so he did not know how to pace himself.

We still talk about that race and the good natured kidding continues to this day.

JC Strauss
GySgt USMC Ret
1959 - 1978
Semper Fi


Never Had To Wait

Sgt Grit,

My trip to Okinawa in 1959 aboard the USS J.C. Breckinridge was almost identical as described by GySgt Strauss. The way I got around the long chow line was this; The second day after leaving port I found out that some Marines were assigned jobs helping the navy crew in certain areas and got to go to the front of the chow line. Being a radio operator (2533) I assigned myself to work in the communications section of the ship.

Now during that time Marines had stamp pads to stamp their names on their utility jackets. So, I got my trusty stamp pad and stamped "Main Comm" on the back of my chow pass and signed a made up name on it. When it was time for chow I went to the front of the line and presented my chow pass to the person who was checking chow passes and said I worked in main comm. Got through every time and never had to wait in line all the way to Okinawa. Semper Fi.

GySgt G.R. Archuleta
USMC Never Retired
Always a Marine

Note:
Comm guys are always the smartest in the unit.
Sgt Grit


After An Extract

Hi Dave, thought you might like to see the attached pictures of Bob, taken in or near DaNang sometime in 1971.

The first one was taken after an extract from a SOG mission and the second (in uniform) in front of our billet at Camp Fay, DaNang. These forty-year-old pictures are a little worse for wear - but then so am I. Notice the old summer service 'charley' uniforms - they don't even use them anymore. I have to thank you - and Sgt. Grit - for letting me reminisce once again over old friends and adventures, guts and glory, from long ago.
Fred Vogel


Back So Soon

Hey Sarge,

Been reading about these little errands for the past three weeks now. Still haven't heard anyone mention a box of grid squares. Never found any. However I was also sent to look for a 106 sling. When I got to the armory at Camp Geiger, I met this grizzly old MSgt. that asked me who had sent me on this mission. He then took me back into a corner of the armory where, after a short search he handed me a beat up old box full of what looked like a jumble of green cargo straps. The Top gave me the box and told me to take it back to the gentleman who had sent me. When I returned with the box I was asked what the H%ll was I doing back so soon. I handed L/Cpl. Maystead (the acting platoon sergeant) the box. He looked in and mumbled quietly "well I'll be d-mned". I wasn't sent on any "errands" after that.

Ric Backus
MSgt. 74 - 95


Twin 40's

I was stationed with 2nd AAA Aw Bn Delta Btty 29 palms in 59 when we were the last unit before we were disbanded. There were two Bns, 1st and 2nd at 29 palms and the vehicles had 500 horsepower air cooled Allison engines with automatic trans and steer with a T-bar. It had been known to hit 60mph on a dry lakebed and was a blast riding in the open turret with the twin 40`s which could fire 120 rds a minute per tube. One man from Charlie battery was burned badly ( I heard he later died ) the day the vehicles were taken to the airfield to be shipped out. They had loaded all the OVM gear over the engine cooling fans on the rear and it overheated the engine catching fire and blowing back through the open ammo compartments inside. They were gasoline engines.

There is one displayed at the Battleship Alabama memorial in Mobile Al on I-10 and there was another on display at the Army Museum in Oklahoma City, Ok just north of the downtown area.

I hope this helps. By the way we had to clean all that equipment after the reserve units used it in the field while they went on Liberty to LA since they only had two weeks in the area.

Jeff Mott Sgt 1958-1966 Usmc


Changes

Sgt Grit, regarding the recent decision to do away with rolled sleeves on cammies, there have been some comments made concerning overturning long time policies/traditions. If memory serves me correctly, during my time ('65-'86) we were only allowed to roll up the sleeves on our jungle utilities when we were in 'Nam. On the same day that CMC did away with rolled sleeves, he reversed himself on another policy that now allows Marines to wear KIA bracelets. Another comment was made that this was a longstanding regulation that only watches could be worn on wrists. Not so longstanding: I wore a POW/MIA bracelet from the time I returned from 'Nam until I retired. There have obviously been some changes since I retired.

Gene Hays
MSgt, USMC Retired


An Hoa Basin

It was a usual June night in the An Hoa Basin. As in decades past, an army of men encamped on its floor. First the French set up home here because of the rice, bananas and other foodstuffs that were prevalent and abundant in this region. When the French surrendered in 1955, the region was left to its own. Concrete bunkers remained never imagined to be used again for military purposes. An Hoa languished with the Vietnamese populace once again regaining the once military base for its own.

Ten Junes past, and then the Marines arrived in Viet Nam. They came in force. An Hoa found itself once again discovered. This time the Americans decided that the former French base was positioned in such a way as to thwart a new enemy of the new republic.

The new republic had recognized that An Hoa Basin with its two main rivers, the Thu Bon and Vu Gia could be the cornerstone of a proposed hydroelectric dam that would bring Central Viet Nam into the modern age.

Viet Minh soldiers, those Vietnamese loyal to Ho Chi Minh, harassed the German construction companies that were set up along the An Hoa Valley laying out the grids and site work necessary for the proposed electrification of Quang Nam province. The heavy equipment and stores of supplies needed for this endeavor found it warehoused at the area once the site of the French garrison.

With the Americans now building a major military base, airfield, docks and warehouses to support their war effort from DaNang, An Hoa found itself at the doorway to this new facility at DaNang located on the coast thirty miles away. Thus the An Hoa Combat Base came into being.

The Viet Minh blew up most of the supplies and killed numerous skilled German technicians. Most of the Germans soon pulled up stakes and went home leaving a hospital and medical staff that ministered to the local populace at An Hoa.

The first Marines sent to protect the remnants of the builders and medical personal left at An Hoa were the men of the 9th Marines of the Third Division. Over the ensuing years the 26th Marines and later 5th and 7th Marines, would all have their guideons planted at An Hoa.

In the summer of 1969 the 5th Marines were calling An Hoa home once again. After Tet of 1968, the Marines shuffled their forces sending the 5th from Phu Bai over the Hai Van Pass and back to An Hoa, relieving the 7th Marines. The 5th Marines had participated in dozens of operations kicking off from An Hoa, and on June 7th of 1969, they were still at it.

2nd Bn of the 5th on June 7th was at An Hoa. They ran patrols, set out ambushes, cleaned up the company areas and filled sandbags and provided road security from An Hoa to Liberty Bridge. No long ops were in store for them at this time. 3rd Bn of the 5th was running through the Arizona Territory on Operation Durham Peak. 1st Bn of the 5th was at Liberty Bridge and Phu Loc 6.

The evening of June the 7th found some unlucky members of Fox Company sent to Delta sector for a reactionary force duty. After having just been ordered back to the rear for some re-fitting and decent food, sh-t duty like a reactionary force was a real pisser. H & S Company had many skaters that could have been sent out that night or any other night. The grunts always got the double mammy f-ck whether in the bush or in the rear.

Earlier on the day of the 6th, a young guy from Fox had turned his rifle and was going to be sent to DaNang because it was found that he had lied about his enlistment. All that was known was that he had to leave because he was too young for combat. When the call came down for Fox to supply men for the reactionary squad that night, someone who had rank and felt that short timers should not screw over the long timers, had this rifle less Marine go and get another weapon and join the reactionary force.

Crapped out Marines, guys in the sh-tter, groups doing all night card games, men mast-rbating to girlfriends pictures and letters, or just enjoying the peace of not being in the mountains or humping the Arizona made up the 2/5 area this evening.

The sounds of the generators humming behind the mess hall, the lights and sounds coming from the icehouse that bordered the generators, all made up the calipee that permeated the Bn. area.

When the first mortars impacted at Delta Sector, the sappers were in the wire and a few were already inside of Delta. Marines on bunker duty found themselves confused at first. Reactionary forces scrambled from their positions and took up firing. It was a sh-t storm. Red flares signaling the camp being overrun were sent off like roman candles on the fourth of July. Whiskey 4/11 was popping their monster alum from their finger jutting out that end of An Hoa. Over Delta sector it looked like 12 noon instead on early AM.

A Lance/Corporal named Adair Krack had a reel-to-reel tape deck, the kind popular with guys in the Nam. It was about the size of a box of cigars and ran on d-cell batteries. He took it with him when he was volunteered for reactionary duty from Fox. After the first mortars impacted, he pressed the record button and as they say, the rest was history. What was recorded were men fighting for their lives, cursing at the guys loading magazines, yelling at jammed M-16's, and whopping it up when a sapper was cut in half by a 50 Cal firing from a bunker adjacent to the reactionary force position. In the middle of a lull, a jeep pulled up with sandwiches! No kidding sandwiches. He left with a promise to bring back ammo on his next trip!

Sporadic firing at nothing continued until the lull became the end of the action. Silence. NCO's checking on the men. Roll calls. Unanswered replies to names. Marines not sure who or what still was in front, behind, or along side of them held still.

First light proved that it was a costly encounter for both the Marines and the sappers.

Slowly moving about the area the dead Marines were located and placed in body bags. One poor Marine heeding the stand pat warning when being overrun was killed while laying in his bunk only meters from the sand bagged emplacements at Delta. I remember that Marine to this day because he died with white high top sneakers on instead of boots. I looked down and thought what the h-ll---Converse sneakers in this place???

A very over weight, Lieutenant from Regimental Headquarters showed up with a varnished stock Thompson 45 "Tommy Gun". His shiny boots and pressed green jungle utilities made him stand out from the Marines surveying carnage of the past hours. Being a "mustang" his soon to be seen behavior was unforgettable. With a division photographer in tow, he sought out the dead sappers and placing his foot on the mangled bodies, one by one, posed like he had been in on the kill. Real Marines, those who were mourning their dead buddies, did all in their power not to shoot the portly usurper. After a roll of film was shot, he went back with his trophy pictures conjuring up stories to tell the people at home when he finished his tour at the air conditioned bunker at regiment.

One of the Marines who did not answer up was the Marine who gave up his weapon only hours earlier only to have it given back as so to fill the squad to reinforce Delta. No name necessary. Those of us encamped at An Hoa like all of the men who preceded us, took up our gear and thanked god that we made it another night at this place in a valley that haunts us to this day.

Fox Company 2/5 has the distinction of having the youngest Marine killed in action during the Viet Nam War listed amongst its ranks. He was just another grunt. He did not die in the Arizona or in the Que Son hills. No this Marine died guarding An Hoa as did generations of soldiers and Marines that came before and after him. No name necessary... The date was June 7, 1969. I should have never given him his gun back!

14,000 Marines died in Viet Nam.
10,000 of them died in Quang Nam Province.

The Mustang Lt. was featured in Leatherneck magazine in one of the 1970's editions. He received the bronze star for rallying men at the communications center during the action on the morning of July 7, 1969. No pictures of the dead sappers were included in the Leatherneck article!

Two days after the sappers attacked, one was found alive, quivering weaponless, hiding, in one of the sh-tters among the barrels of Marine excrement.

The base at An Hoa is a memory today. A banana plantation stands on its once majestic footprint. The German hospital and all of the brick out buildings still stand among trees uprooting their foundations.

For the last 35 years, peace has reigned over the An Hoa Basin.

Sgt. Greg Smith H & S 2/5 1969


Short Rounds

Gunny Rousseau writing about life aboard an APA. Write Sgt. Grit if you were aboard an APA older than the USS Chilton, APA 38. We called it either the Hilton Chilton (not likely) or the Tiltin' Chilton (more likely). Bunking next to the boiler room, you didn't even want to touch the bulkhead. Man, that was hot! And to Sgt. (once) and Cpl. (twice) Yates, CamPen ITR was at either Las Pulgas (the fleas) or Horno (oven).

Gary Nash
Former 0302


Kent M. Yates couldn't remember the name of the camp where 2nd ITR was located, it was San Onofre and it was pronounced "san- on-a-fray", not "san-a-no-fray".

Some more on the Ontos: I watched a range demo at Camp Pendleton where an Ontos fired a six gun salvo at an old tank about 500 hundred yards down range. Took about a week for the dust to settle.

L. H. Marshall


Sgt Grit, My name is 1St 'Sgt C. Seabright retired. My question is can you request all 1ST platoon Scout Dog handlers who went to Viet Nam In 1966 write A story about their job. Thanks and Semper Fi.

Note: How about any dog handler from any era write a story. Sgt Grit


I read the letter from Larry Grimm, in the last newsletter. He was our Recon team's (call sign "Thinman") Corpsman. He saying we were crazy. Well I still remember when several Corpsman got together in our hooch. Seems like Doc Grimm was sent a Squidly Didly game from stateside, and it was very popular among our Corpsman. You could always depend on a corpsman to help you out, either in the bush, or the rear.

Jim Howard


From the Motor Pool:
A can of emery spark,
The motor pool drain plug wrench and last but not least The key to the hydrostatic lock from the key locker in the Lieutenants office.
Semper Fi all.
H. Holden, Cpl, '68 - '72


Old days P.I. 1953 Quanset Huts 6th Recruit Batt. going up to the D.I.'s hut when called on, banging on side of door with your fist. Too many times till the D.I. answered. Started to hit bottom of panel next to the door with our boondockers was very noisy. After awhile the D.I. yelled get in here t-rd. I know that they saw the large dent in the side of the hut. They never said a word about it. I guess they thought these recruits already knew about adapt and overcome.
ROBBY ROBINSON SGT 1953-61


Sgt. Grit - I am SSgt Leonard Levenson - I am one of the Marines that was in the original 1st Marine div. a parris island Marine before they had Quonset huts - and before soc. sec. no. - I was under Gen. Vandergrift - any one left out there - I will be 96 come March.


53 to 57 getting old.
I never thought that I would ever call the Commandant of the Marine Corps... Boot
Peter J. Lazzaro


Oldest Women Marine
She is still alive and turned 103 this year, a customer wanted to let you know.

Semper Fi,
Libbie Parker
Customer Service Representative
Sgt Grit Marine Corps Specialties


In today's newsletter a gentleman asked about getting a Navy friend, of his, to DC to see the new WWII memorial. I'm not sure where Lutts TN is but if he searches for "Honor Flight TN" he will find all of the Honor Fights in his state. In New England, there is not a single charge for the WWII veteran, I assume it's the same in TN.
Semper Fi,
Paul Baptiste


Regarding L/Cpl Richard Jenkins inquiry about his Father in Law T/Sgt Adam Fleck being a China Marine, my father also sailed on the USS Chaumont, but in 1929 to join the 62nd Company, Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peiping, China. Were he alive today, I'm sure he would agree Sgt. Fleck is and will always be a China Marine.

Semper Fi,
L/Cpl Phil Urquhart, 1619050
1956 - 1959


Quotes

"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."
--Thomas Jefferson


"Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over."
--Col. Archibald Henderson, USMC (CMC); in a note pinned to his office door, 1836


"Experience hath shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
--Thomas Jefferson


"Don't you forget that you're Marines! Not all the communists in H-ll can overrun you!"
--Col. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC; rallying his First Marine Regiment near Chosin Reservoir, Korea, December 1950

"Semper Fi"
Reply
"Forever and one day"

Sgt Grit

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