Here are some pictures from our showroom on November 10th. We look forward to this day every year, just so we can wait eagerly by the the door and wish all of these Marines a Happy Birthday!
Hello Sgt. Grit,
Just wanted to chime in on Marine Corps Birthday Ball pics. In 2007, my wife and I were fortunate to attend the 232nd Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Fredericksburg, VA for the Combat Development Command. Commandant Conway and future Commandant General Amos were in attendance. We were fortunate enough to have a few laughs with the Generals and get our pictures taken.
Lt.Col. John Gambrino, General Amos and I were discussing ice fishing in Minnesota and General Conway escorted my wife, Colleen and I into the Ball. The Commandant made our Christmas card. Good times had by all.
1st Lt. Michael J. Rawlings, USMCR
It's 1959, and I am a recruit at MCRDSD. We have just finished weapons qualifications, get back to San Diego, and I have developed blood poisoning in my left leg. I am put in Balboa Naval Hospital and I have developed a deep self-pity. I'm going to be there for a while, and will be behind in training with a new platoon, and will be delayed going home.
Whether by fate or on purpose, I am placed in a bed next to a retired Sergeant Major with over 20 years in the Corps. This gentleman served with Chesty Puller. For the next 2 weeks I got an education on the Marine Corps, what it meant to be a Marine etc. The two weeks went by quickly, and needless to say, when I left the hospital, I was much better prepared to be a Marine then when I entered the hospital.
Jerry Kight 1959-1963
On November 2nd, we had a special service for all in parish who died during the past year. When their name was called, family or close friends were requested to bring a potted flower to the alter. As I was returning to my place after presenting the flower for a very close friend, the lady in the front row was crying, as she had taken a flower up for her husband, a retired Marine officer.
I stopped and put my arm around her. After a few minutes, she said she was OK. But I stayed a few more minutes. Finally I asked if she was OK, and she said "Yes." I responded "Bullsh-t!" She said, "I am a MARINE!", as she also is retired. I said, "On the outside, only." She just laughed.
Thought you might like this copy of the 191st MC Birthday in Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1966.
One REALLY Became Short
The past few Sgt. Grit newsletters have brought to mind a few memories. One REALLY became short on the day when one got his "final physical" before being discharged. I remember my first introduction to that fact was when someone involved in a football game on the grinder yelled, "Hey, Cpl. Jones, we need you in this game." And the reply was, "H--l no, I can't take a chance getting hurt, I had my final physical today!" (When I first arrived at H&S/3/5 short-timers often carried swagger sticks, but not long after, swagger sticks were outlawed for officers and staff NCOs. Short-timers also quit carrying them.)
As to what we were called in boot camp, in 1958, the term "Lad" was used a lot. One of the reservists told us it was because the D.I.s had been ordered to stop calling recruits "Boy". "Ladies" was used a lot but we ALWAYS referred to ourselves as "private", as in "Sir, the private requests permission to speak to the Drill Instructor, SIR".
I got out 50 years ago and have only run into two "posers". Neither was a problem as I simply told both, "You weren't in the same Marine Corps I was," and walked away. A bigger problem for me is a person who starts telling me what some other Marine told him and it is obviously crapola. I never know whether to assume a non-Marine wouldn't understand what he had been told, or that he had heard from a "poser". Only twice did I tell the non-Marine (once my own son and another time a co-worker) that he may be dealing with a liar and I would like to meet him. Neither ever came around!
USMC 58-62, Cpl. of Marines
MCRD SD, Plt. 267 -1958
ITR, Camp Pendleton (Camp San Onofre) â€“ 1958
Radio Plt., H&S/3/5 Camp Pendleton (Camp Margarita) â€“ 1958-59
Marine Barracks, Treasure Island (U.S. Navy Electronics School)
MCRD SD Radar School & Guided Missile Fire Control School 1960
D Btty, 1st M.A.A.M. Bn, 29 Palms 1960-61
B Btty, 3rd L.A.A.M. Bn, 29 Palms 1961-62
Grateful For The Opportunity
I have to share this with men and women who would understand why some things and jokes are not that funny to a Vet.; especially this close to November 10 and 11.
I received a joke recently where the punch line was that a Chief Petty Officer would get a larger retirement bonus because he had lost his testicles in Viet Nam. That put me in a big funk for most of the day. I decided to tell them a true story instead and would like to share it with others who will understand why I didn't laugh (in fact I cried for the first time, maybe it's old age).
I explained, I knew a corpsman who lost "his" due to a booby-trap. He also had a serious head wound. However, when the squad got there to help them; he had saved every Marine by giving them first aid. The squad found him moving from one Marine to the next and stopping between each one in order to react to his own pain. He didn't think he had enough morphine for them and himself. He kept saying something as he worked on each man that was on the patrol (rover) with him. While they waited for a medivac chopper (dust-off) to take these guys out of the bush, a Marine ask him what he kept saying to each of the men while he worked on them. He told him "a prayer for each of them". My company C.O. (Golf Co. 2/5) put him in for the Medal of Honor but they gave him the Navy Cross instead. We were told later that he made it back home. I added that, I was sincerely grateful for the opportunity to tell them a true story about a great young man I once knew.
I guess this might be over the top. But I felt that these guys should hear a true story about a Corpsman who lost his testicles in Viet Nam. I could have told them about the S/Sgt. who put himself on a V.C. grenade in order to save his men and "lost his" but I wasn't there to see that happen. If I was wrong - say so and I'll stand corrected (it would not be the first time).
Robert Bliss, Sgt.
Golf Co. 2/5
Late in the Spring of 1970 at Liberty Bridge.
Summer of 1957, MCRD SD, Platoon 162. All standing in platoon formation for mail call. A recruit received a small package and was instructed to open it by the DI. The package contained approximately two pounds of fudge. The DI asked the recruit if he wanted it and not having anything sweet for several weeks, the response was an immediate, "Sir, yes, sir." The DI then instructed the recruit to eat the fudge... all of it because it was addressed to him and nobody else. The recruit did and got sick and was sent to sickbay.
In my next letter home, I asked my mother to send a large box of homemade cookies without my name on the box or any return address and address the box to the Recruits of Platoon 162. The box arrived a few days later and with all of the recruits again in platoon formation for mail call, the DI holding the large box informed us recruits how the box was addressed then said, "Ok, who's the maggot that had this box sent." Naturally, nobody responded. The DI proceeded to open the box and found it full of cookies. He said it was addressed to the recruits of Platoon 162, so the recruits could eat the cookies. He placed the box on the ground and had a recruit jump up and down on the box smashing all of the cookies. The DI then opened the box and allowed all of us recruits one piece of cookie which continued until all the cookies were gone. I was happy to get two pieces of my mother's homemade cookies. The best part of the cookies, Mister DI, I got you this time!
USMC = United States Men's College!
Cpl. D. Goodwin
Platoon 374, August 1960, Parris Island. Sgt. Wright, Junior D.I. describing my junk on the bunk inspection. "You are about as squared away as a soup sandwich, boy, and you look like Alley Oop with a head full of hair-er".
I just finished the book "H-ll In The Pacific" by Jim McEnery. First off it was a Great Book and will stay in my library. It was fun to see that a lot of the things that he did in the Marine Corps had not changed much, we would do the same things when I was in. For those of you that have not read it yet I would Highly Recommend it .
'86-'97 Sea Duty,
. Re. Cpl. Joe Thompson's reference to Combat Air Crew Wings.
There have been "Combat Air Crew Wings" since the 60's. All the crew chiefs and gunners and anyone else who flew the requisite number of missions were awarded such. They are considered personal decorations as opposed to badges of qualification.
J. M. "Mike" Jeffries
Capt. USMC Ret
Yea, we were on mess duty at the Last Supper together but I have wrung more salt water out of my socks than you have sailed over.
Reddog '45 - '57
I find the Boot Camp stories to be very interesting. Boot camp for me was a piece of cake! However, I had spent the summer in the San Joaquin valley tossing around 100 pound sacks of potatoes, 12 hours per day. I was happy for the rest!
When I went through in 1948, there were no yellow footprints, nor locks on the foot lockers, or on anything else. Thieves were dealt with harshly, for example, if you were caught in another Marines locker, your fingers were placed inside the locker, lid closed and someone would jump on the locker, Corpsmen would be called and you never saw the creep again. In those days "tripping over his locker box" was a common occurrence for misfits.
Flash ahead to Kimpo Airfield, late September 1950, we Air Wing Marines were busy preparing our Radar equipment for the boat ride to Wonsan. We heard some crazy Marine Officer talking to his mud Marines; I think it was "Chesty" but can't be sure. One statement he made was "I don't care if I kill every one of you sweethearts, but we are going to the Yalu River, and if you want to shoot me, you will have to shoot me in the derriere, because I will be out front!" I cannot attest that he used the words "derriere", or "sweethearts".
Flash ahead to Wonsan, Yes the old steel pot helmet could be used for many things. If you removed the lid on those little diesel stoves, you could set your helmet in, heat water for shaving or bathing. It was also excellent for cooking stuff. One evening at Wonsan, one guy fried up a can of bacon he had scrounged; another heated water and made hot chocolate. After partaking of this sumptuous repartee, we went out to the outer perimeter for an all -night watch for bad guys. It was about 20 degrees, and when daylight came our parkas were covered with frost.
Jim Reed, S/Sgt
1948-52 and 1954-55
To: Cpl. J R Morris Korea 1950
I was on that train with you. We were heading to Camp Otsu where we trained for 30 days waiting for the minefield to be cleared in Wonson. We were short of rank so our Bn. commander was a Staff Sgt. Bonwell and the 3 companies were commanded by buck Sgts., myself included.
We called ourselves "Bonwell's Raiders" .
Sgt. W. P. (Bill) Schmal
I just spent this evening (3 November) with a bunch of high school students. No, it was not a ball game or academic performance. It was the 237th Marine Corps Birthday celebration.
Forsyth, Missouri has one of the best MJROTC units in the state and quite possibly, the entire nation. This group of high school students presented the entire program in the most professional manner you could ever see. I honestly believe that they could out-do some of the units in the Fleet.
The two 1st Sgts who are in charge, tell the Senior Cadets what they want done, and then stand back and watch. The Cadets do the whole thing. Truly an outstanding program. From the youngest Cadet (14 years old/Freshman) to the oldest Cadet (18 years old/Senior/joining the Corps when he graduates in May) to the full honor guard, the National Colors, and everything in between, these Cadets do it all.
If you live in an area where there is a MJROTC unit at a local high school, take a few minutes to get to know the Staff NCO's that are in charge and find out if there is anything that you can do to help them with their program. Get to know these people because many of these Cadets are the future Corps.
Join them in a Birthday Ceremony, have a slice of cake, a bunch of memories brought back, and a chance to talk to the future of our Corps. You will not regret it.
Happy Birthday Marines.
2239 3 Nov 12
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
I'm going to go back to about three days after HMM-161 had the crash that took the lives of two MARINES and explain that at this time the monsoon season had begun in the Northern part of the country and flying conditions were treacherous. Howling winds and driving rain were the order of the day, and the VC took advantage of the bad weather to attack the outposts in the Ba Long valley. It was during this time that 15 UH-34Ds from HMM-161 lifted almost 500 troops and 93,000 pounds of cargo to the Ba Long outpost, which had beaten off a large scale Viet Cong assault during the night. Because of the attack, the outpost was short of ammunition and supplies. When the resupply aircraft arrived at Ba Long there were over 100 enemy bodies strewn about the area from the previous night's battle. Operation "RED SNAPPER" was also conducted in the Phu Bai area using helicopters from HMM-161, HMM-361 and VMO-2. The operation was concluded on the 25th with the lift of approx. 350 MARINES from the operating area of Hai Van Pass to Da Nang and Phu Bai.
Helicopters from HMM-161 were busier than usual during November and one flight of UH-34Ds lifted over 21 tons of cargo and 50 passengers from Quang Tri area to Nong Son and Dai Loc. Another flight of 6 UH-34Ds airlifted 37,000 lbs. of cargo and 77 passengers between La Vang and Ba Long. On the same day, and unfortunate towing accident occurred taking the life of Cpl. Charles Antonelly, a mechanic with HMM-161.
The monsoon weather continued through the month of November, and the rain frequently forced the cancellation of fixed wing aircraft flying helicopter escort missions in the Ba Long Valley. On the 23rd of Nov., 6 UH-34Ds from HMM-161 attempted to re-supply the Ca Lu outpost. With fixed wing escorts grounded because of the weather, the flight of helicopters could make only one lift due to the intense enemy ground fire. The flight received both small arms automatic weapons fire and 60 MM mortar fire which was fused for air bursts. The helicopters were fired on from three different locations and the aircrews considered themselves lucky just to be able to depart the area. It was hard to believe that only two aircraft were hit in the landing zone and one crew member Cpl. Charlie Wright was wounded and later evacuated to the medical facility at Phu Bai.
The monsoon weather continued during December of 1965 and hampered flight operations everywhere, especially in the Bai Long Valley where the ARVN outposts at Ba Long and Ca Lu depended entirely on the helicopters of HMM-161 for supplies. On the 4th of Dec, HMM-161 responded to another call for emergency re-supply at the ARVN outpost at Ba Long. Eight helicopters and six fixed wing escorts repeatedly entered the valley under adverse weather conditions. Six trips were made into the valley; each time a different entry was used as the weather was constantly changing. At times the flights of four had to fly column formation to enter and leave the valley through a small break in the weather, while the second flight of four helicopters orbited outside the valley until the first was clear of the ridge lines. Information on the Viet Cong positions located along the ridge lines was passed along to the fixed wing aircraft which had voluntarily entered the valley providing suppressive fire for the Helicopters. This type of flying was extremely dangerous for the the jets because at times they would have to maneuver in altitudes of 300 feet or less.
Rufus joined the Marines January 1948. After Parris Island, April 1948, he was sent to Camp Lejeune. He was assigned to our machine gun platoon, as an ammunition carrier. (John Nelson always called it "humping the ammunition") for our machine gun. Close to that time frame, John Nelson joined us, also as a ammo carrier and there was three other guys in our machine gun section as ammo carriers. That was a total of 5 ammo carriers, the gunner and the assistant gunner. In addition to keeping Mac and I supplied with ammo, the other duties of the 5 ammo carrier was to be sure that we were protected by supporting fire. I do not remember the other three guys right off but Rufus, John, Mac and I were as close as brothers, always looking out for one another. We assisted one another by carrying the machine guns up lots of hills on Viegue Island and coming off the troops ships and landing crafts. We were always there for each other.
During 1948 to 1950 Rufus was my best buddy and I know Rufus felt the same about me. Then there was Bill Furey from Massachusetts. Bill was at Parris Island with me and we both joined A Company at the same time. Bill was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Platoon and my machine gun section was always attached to the 3rd Platoon for support. I just want to say I was blessed to have Rufus as a friend. I know now I will have an easier time getting into heaven because when I report for roll call I will find Rufus pulling guard duty at the gate, checking ID's and he'll wave me on through.
U. S, Marine Corps 1947 - 1950
U.S. Army 1950 - 1980 Colonel, Retired
I reported to Okinawa in Jan. 1971. We went on a deployment to the Nam in May 1971. In November another deployment was set to start however being short on the Rock, I did not have to go and was left behind. It was a small plt of Marines getting ready to rotate back to the world in Jan. 1972. We had little to do and we just kind of hung around all day and partied all night while we were waiting to go home.
As I recall, we had a Marine Birthday celebration with cake and all the goodies. We could drink as much as we could handle to be able to walk back to the sq bay. I was promoted to a Lance Cooly just after landing on the Rock and was a sq leader with G 2/9. When I rotated back to the world I was sent to Lejeune with the 8th Marines. I shipped over for change of MOS and duty station and promotion to E-4. I went to aviation supply from the grunts and after training was sent to MCAS Yuma Az. We had the best Marine Corps Birthday Ball I was ever involved with while in the Corps.
I guess that is the point of this post in that we all have that one Marine Corps Ball we remember as the best one. This one was my second year at Yuma and I had been promoted to E-5 Sgt. and was all dressed up in my Dress Blues with a hash mark and no goody button (Good Conduct for those that do not know). I went with my wife and the Ball was just great. I could hardly move in the Dress Blues which I still have today but cannot wear due to fit. I will always remember this Marine Corps Birthday Ball 1974.
To the Marine that feels he has done nothing and is useless. Listen up Marine and listen up good. You have done something that not everyone can do and you became a United States Marine. Brother that is something to be proud of. You became a father it sounds like and that is one of the toughest jobs you can volunteer for. It is a life time commitment just like the Corps is a life time commitment. There are two things that make you a man. A person who will never be forgotten. A person of values and commitment to Country, Family and your God. That is the third thing that holds you above many is that you believe in God and are not afraid to say so. You are a man of worth. You are a man of belief. You are a United States Marine. Good luck to you and have a great Marine Corps Birthday.
Semper Fi SSgt. Joseph E. Whimple U.S.M.C. 2/1970 - 12/1976
Because You Say You're A Marine
Cpl. Burrington wrote about wearing a poppy in Northern Ireland on or about Remembrance Day (11NOV) in 2004 and having a brief non-violent encounter with two large intoxicated Irishmen.
Cpl. Burrington was extremely lucky. That situation could have turned very ugly very quickly. I suspect that the Irishmen were not so much amazed at Burrington's having been a Marine as they were mollified by his being an American who didn't know any better.
Wearing a poppy - always the synthetic version - on Remembrance Day is a custom in the United Kingdom, i.e., England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Proceeds from donations go to support the UK's armed forces, retirees, etc.
It is important to remember that, just as not everyone in the American South is pro-Klan, not everyone in Northern Ireland is pro-British - and even less so in the Republic of Ireland. The poppy is a British, not an Irish, symbol.
Indeed, there are stories - which I'm sure no one will ever confirm or deny officially - of Irishmen ferrying supplies out to German U-boats in the waters off the west coast of Ireland. On the other hand, Irish regiments fought for Britain in both World Wars. There are two lines of thought - and never the twain shall meet.
My uncle, Hugh Greene, was an Irishman. On a visit to Dublin some years ago, someone approached asking him to buy a poppy. He said that he would as long as the seller promised to buy and wear a lily on Easter Sunday. The lily is the symbol of the Dublin Easter Uprising in 1916 - against British occupation and rule. Feelings about this go very deep - even now.
Two points - first, don't get the cockamamey idea that folks are going to recoil in fear because you say you're a Marine. It's important to be able to differentiate between John Wayne movie shite and how things work in the real world - especially when family members are present. Second, not everyone is going to accept ignorance as an excuse.
"Trigger points" like this poppy business exist in different forms all over the world. The wise make themselves aware of them and do everything they can to avoid them.
LCpl, USMC (1975-77)
Sure Old Man
Hey Sgt Grit,
Your last newsletter got me thinking of boot camp and Col. Puller.
My cousin, who had joined the Marines about three years prior to me, was a Cpl. when I was in boot camp at MCRD San Diego in March of 1950. Imagine my surprise, and the DI's too, I imagine, when Col. Puller's car came driving out to the grinder where we were marching and this Cpl. gets out and asks to see Pvt Mitchell. The junior DI, a Cpl., didn't have the cojones to say no to Chesty's driver so I got to chat with my cousin and eat some pogy bait while sitting in Chesty's car.
My memory is sort of fuzzy here, but I think Col Puller had TTU at that time and my cousin was not his regular driver, but when he dropped Chesty off at a meeting he asked him if it was OK to visit his boot cousin, Chesty said, "Sure old man, just pick me up on time."
Later while firing at Camp Mathews, I was firing at the 500 yd. targets and I heard one of the coaches behind me say "watch this kid Colonel, he shoots nothing but bulls", I turned as I was reaching for another round and there was Puller watching me. I fired again, another bull... on the wrong target.
W F Mitchell
Flying Plane Captain
Re: To Cpl. Thompson's post contained in your 11/8 newsletter.
If I gave the impression that I received my Air Crew Wings, while I was in the service, and on active duty please excuse that impression. There was no such wings available at that time, and for many years after. It was when they were established, that I learned about them and as I had put in many hours as a Flying Plane Captain and Crew Chief of an R4D that I learned I was qualified to purchase and wear the wings when in uniform. I bought the wings and while I never was in the uniform after that, I never actually wore them.
M/Sgt. Howard J. Fuller, USMCR Ret
14 years, some before active and some after.
Placed on the Retired list Oct. 1957
No benefits, majority of Reserve Time, not active.
Carried This Monster
With regard to "Who carried the most gear" by C.R.S.:
"One of these radios, the behemoth AN/PRC-47 single sideband set, came in at more than 90 pounds with assorted cables, antennas and spare batteries. The load was split between two Marines."
With all due respect to the 81 Mortar guys, I carried this monster along with my M-14 and all my own 782 gear and I never had another Marine "split the load" of the PRC-47. I didn't hump it in combat but I did in training in Panama and Vieques along with my two full canteens.
MOS 2533, PI Marine from Platoon 2085 in 1966.
Semper Fi Brothers! And Happy 237th!
I Dare Say
I was observing my Thursday night ritual and reading the weekly newsletter when I came across Timothy Courtney's entry. I just want to write a response of encouragement to you Tim.
You joined the best and served with pride. You earned the title Marine, just like Chesty Puller, Dan Daley and all the other Marine luminaries of our past. It was not under your control whether you went to combat or not. I served about the same amount of time as you on active duty and while I am a combat Marine myself I can tell you that the vast majority of my time in the Corps was just like you. In peacetime. If you will take note, most of the stories in this newsletter are stories and anecdotes of Marines in peacetime. Those are some of the best times of our lives and I dare say most of our Marine Corps memories are memories of the peacetime Corps.
I have a friend who wrote a book a few years ago. It was a personal memoir of his time in the Corps. It's called "I Never Had to Duck" by Chuck Peters. As the name implies, Captain Peters never served in combat and the book is made up of many and often humorous vignettes of his peacetime service on active duty and the reserves. I recommend you pick it up and read it. I think you would get a lot out of it and realize the value to the country of our peacetime service.
In closing, I just want to encourage you and let you know that you were a valuable and valued member of our Corps of Marines.
I Asked Him
Hey Sgt. Grit,
Came across this photo of MCRD San Diego taken from what appears to be a twin-engine aircraft (maybe landing at the San Diego Airport). The photo was loose in an album my Father-in-Law gave me. He was a Korean-era Marine, Cpl A.L. Techlin, DUKW Driver.
When I asked him about it, he said he didn't know anything about it. He said he came back from Japan on a ship and passed under the San Francisco Bridge. He was "PI" born and never saw San Diego.
6227 FLR (Forward Looking Radar) Tech
VMCJ-2 "Playboys" (RF-4Bs)(no guns-just cameras and ECM) 2nd MAW
MCAS Cherry Point, NC
Before the Days
I served on active duty before the days of "Cammies"... we were issued and wore "Utilities".
The utilities were an olive drab green with a herringbone design running through the very strong material. We never wore anything else until we finally graduated from basic training. Then, once a Marine, we wore
Marine Greens, Tropicals or
Dress Blues... depending on
the "Uniform Of The Day".
Corporal Of Marines
Platoon 63 "C" Company
Third Marine Recruit Training Battalion
Parris Island SC 1956
Haven't Found It Yet
I was assigned to the 7th 105 Howitzer Battalion (Reserve Unit) in Dayton, Ohio. A pretty good group of Officers and Enlisted people. We had a group of some with combat experience and some no experience and some with no boot camp. In September of 1950, we were to report for duty with three weeks - as I remember - to prepare for active duty. The Korean War had started the 25 of August 1950. The C.O. was Major Jack Padley, pride of the University of Dayton Football Team and a decorated Marine.
The letter from headquarters USMC said "All military personnel attached to this unit", so that meant the Marines and the Corpsmen, and anyone else that got in the way. We boarded the train, finally, and headed for Camp Pendleton by the way of Chicago, St. Louis, Albuquerque and points west. I also remember, when we arrived at Pendleton, A receiving Captain looked over the papers and the personnel. His comment was "This didn't include the Corpsmen, but since you are here, Welcome aboard." The Navy was there for two years. The Marines for one (?). I was there 13 months.
Initially, we were assigned to the 1st Replacement Bn., but there was trouble in Korea so some personnel were pulled out and flown to Korea a week later, and the rest of us became the 2nd Repl. Bn. The Unit was broken up. Those of us that had MOS numbers went to those assignments, those with no experience went to San Diego. I found out that my first MOS was as a machinist. I went into the 1st Motor Bn. as such. I also found out that the first MOS you get follows you the rest of your career.
In the ft tent I was assigned to a Reserve Sgt (E-5 now) that had never been to Boot Camp. Needless to say it took a while to straighten him out. He was not a happy camper for a time. But reserve or not, we had a job to do and we did it. It was during this time that I met Chesty. About 0300 one morning I was in the shop (a number one shop trailer) when a voice said "How you doing Marine?" I looked over my shoulder and saw Chesty standing there. "Not worth a d-mn. No sleep and C-rations lately. Col." "You picked a h-ll of a war," he replied, "The only one available," and disappeared into the night. My first and only meeting with him.
WWII was hot. This one was cold. There must be a decent climate to have a war in - they haven't found it yet.
Tate E.H. GySgt Ret'd.
My Two Young Daughters
This Top Ten was written entirely by my two young daughters about 0-dark-30, about half way from Rockford, IL to Lincoln, NE in '03 or '04. My daughters were probably 9 and 16 at the time of writing this. ENJOY!
Bob C. Hookham
Cpl USMC '81-'85
Top 10 reasons you know you're the daughter of a Marine when...
1. You're the only civilian on your block who can sing the "Marines Hymn" by heart.
2. Your dad reminds your date that he has multiple medals for sharp-shooting.
3. You lived in over 3 countries during the first six years of your life.
4. You're the only four-year-old in your daycare who can read a real clock. (A military clock)
5. You're the only ten-year-old in your grade who can give the correct Zulu time for all of the 24 time zones.
6. You know what Semper Fi really means.
7. It means 'Always Faithful'.
8. "Navy" and "Army" are both four letter words around your dad.
9. You were never allowed to watch Popeye or Donald Duck as a child.
10. You have learned over the years that it is not the Marines who are dispatched last, but the Navy.
11. When your four-year-old sister is not allowed to sing "In the Navy" or "In the Army now."
12. You can spell "OOrahh!"
13. You know what the phonetic alphabet is.
14. You can recite the phonetic alphabet forwards and backwards.
15. Your dad's Chevy truck lacks a Chevy insignia because it was replaced by an Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
16. Although not required, you still know all seven steps of the firing cycle of the M16A2.
17. You have nightmares about, "Yellow footprints"?
18. All the males in your family from birth and up wear high and tights.
19. You've memorized the entire history of the USMC from 1775 to the present day.
20. 'Maggot' is a term of endearment.
21. When the other children on the block say that their dads don't have 2 birthdays you look at them as if they were from Mars.
22. Table Manners?
23. The M16 is not a gun. It is a shoulder-fired, magazine-fed, fully-automatic, air-cooled weapon.
24. Whenever you watch a war movie, you spend half the time correcting the mistakes.
25. Yes, I do know what time zero-dark-30 is!
26. Instead of summer camp, you get boot-camp!
27. Instead of playing with baby-dolls, you played with GI-Joe. (Who incidentally is a Marine)
28. You can tell what country the kid in the barracks next door is from by the way his dad salutes.
29. You know every minute detail about each of your dad's service ribbons.
30. You learned that Marines don't wear hats.
31. The mantle above your fireplace is cluttered with ceremonial burial flags and the service graduation pictures that go with them.
32. You know the words to "Taps".
33. Even your dog is a Marine. (His name is Chesty.)
34. You're reminded on a regular basis, who your dad's senior drill instructor was. (My dad's was Sr. Drill Instructor SSGT Barron.)
35. Your bird can whistle the "Marines Hymn" as well as "The Star Spangled Banner".
36. "The Jingle Bell Dogs" don't hold a candle to the neighborhood hounds that can bark out 'The Marines Hymn'.
37. Your dad's alarm clock plays Reveille.
38. You, your brothers, your sisters and mother all address your father as "Sir."
39. You have a full set of clothing in either forest green or desert camouflage. (Bonus if you have both!)
40. You will be cast out and shunned by the family if you date a member of a SEAL or a DELTA FORCE team.
41. Your first step every morning is with your left foot.
42. In the cheesy war movie, you cried for hours when the obscure Marine in the background was shot and killed.
43. You address all your best friends by their last names.
44. In school, you always finished your answer to your teacher with "Sir, Yes Sir!"
45. The Men's room says 'Marines' and the women's room says 'WMs.'
46. You know the name and rank of everyone in your local Marine Corps League Detachment.
47. You were nine years old before you realized that your dad did not in fact have 196,000 brothers.
48. Your faith in the president was re-affirmed when he sent in the Marines to "Fix everything" on the movie Armageddon.
49. "In God we Trust" must answer with appropriate password when challenged.
50. Your family reunion is more like a unit reunion.
51. Your dad's "Marines parking only" sign means Marines only.
52. KIA is not a car!
53. Your computer's sound effects mimic your dad's drill instructor.
54. Instead of "Hush Little Baby", you were sung "I don't know, but I've been told..."
55. While your friends dreamed about getting married in a frilly white gown to that wimpy little prince charming, you fantasized about getting wed in your dress blues gown to a battle-scarred Marine.
56. "A hummer" Is not someone who doesn't know the words to a song.
57. Your prom date checked out a Humvee from his dad's motor pool instead of renting a limousine.
58. "The Rock" is not Alcatraz.
59. You know how to subdue a fresh date, 28 different ways.
60. You know how to convert miles to clicks.
61. "Sight alignment" and "Sight pictured" is not just for cameras.
62. Your favorite cookbook is "256 ways to cook M.R.E.'s"
63. Thanksgiving dinner is made entirely out of M.R.E.'s.
64. A K-bar is not the local pub.
65. On Nov 10th you bake birthday cookies for the local Marine Corps League.
66. When you turned 16, you learned to drive a tank.
67. Every night, you fall asleep at attention.
68. When your little sister sees a guy with an Eagle, Globe and Anchor tattooed on his shoulder and she shouts "Look Chelsey! He's a Marine!"
69. When you go to make a "Top 10 Reasons you know you're the daughter of a Marine when..." and you end up with 69 reasons!
Con Thien "Hill of the Angels"
Cpl. Charlie Glaser
Photo By Lt. John Burgoyne USMC
Con Thien was a hill, 158 meters high! It was actually a cluster of three small hills. It was an ugly bare patch of mud! Local missionaries called it "The Hill of the Angels" due to the massive amount of casualties attributed to the hill. The hill was only large enough to accommodate a reinforced battalion. It was the northwest anchor of what we Marines called the "McNamara Line." The "McNamara Line" was actually a 600-meter clearing constructed by the 11th Engineers as a buffer zone from the Laotian border to the South China Sea. The "Strip" was originally constructed for the placement of sensors to detect enemy troop movements, but the project was called off in favor of fortifying Khe Sanh.
Con Thien was clearly visible from 9th Marine Headquarters at Dong Ha to the south. We could also see Gio Linh a "Firebase" northeast of Con Thien. We knew that if the NVA overran Con Thien and Gio Linh they would have a clear path to the south. It was our job not to let this happen. We would run patrols and ambushes every day to keep the NVA on the move. We wanted to make certain they couldn't build fixed positions in and around the area. It was a very hard job. We would destroy a bunker complex one-day and a couple days later it would be rebuilt. We actually found bunkers as close as 1500 meters to Con Thien. There was not much we could do about the NVA in the area though. We were very short-handed and had such a large area to patrol that the NVA could move around freely without much chance of detection. We would patrol an area and they would return as soon as we were gone. We had a couple of nicknames for Con Thien. We called it "Our Turn in the Barrel" or "The Meatgrinder.
Almost daily we would receive at least 200 rounds of NVA incoming. I don't remember a day in which we didn't get hit with incoming rounds of some sort. We also suffered something that was almost unheard of elsewhere in South Vietnam. It was called "shell shock" and it was not unusual. The constant pounding every day could make you go nuts. You would sit there on edge, wondering if the next round that came in would have your name on it. In official Marine Corps history they make mention of the "Die Marker" bunkers. They were supposed to be well reinforced with timbers and steel. My unit never got to try any of those. We were in Holes in the Mud! Echo Company 2/9 was on one of the small hills on the southern edge of Con Thien right next to the LZ and the main gate. We had hardly any protection at all. We caught more than our share of incoming because every time a chopper or a truck arrived they would shell the sh!t out of us. In the month of September 1967, from the 19th to the 27th, we received over 3000 rounds of incoming.
I will never forget September 25th 1967. I thought the NVA were going to blow Con Thien off the map with artillery, rockets and mortars. We took over 1200 rounds that day. I don't think there was hardly a spot on that hill not hit by an incoming round of some sort. To that point and time in the war, this was the most incoming rounds ever taken by a unit in Vietnam in one day. That's a lot of incoming rounds for such a small place! There was almost no place to hide! Every time a Helicopter would arrive incoming rounds would follow. That made it very hard for us to be resupplied. During that week in September a helicopter didn't touch down at Con Thien except for a Medevac; they just dropped the boxes of chow and mail out the doors without landing. The Marine Corps thought the Choppers were too valuable to lose. Every night Charlie would probe our lines to try and find a weakness they could penetrate and there was Always the ever-present threat of NVA snipers. That was also the time my high school buddy Louie Torrellas had a Russian rocket hit right next to his hole. I remember him staggering out of his hole with blood running out of both ears and his mouth. I never saw him again after that day. We medevac'd him out of there! In a week or so I received a letter from him on a hospital ship; he said he was going home. I was glad he was going home, but I wished it were Me! I remember rounds hitting all around us that day. I believe God was watching over us, otherwise we'd all be dead.
It was really hard on the "Brain Bucket" (your head) just sitting there waiting for the next barrage, the one that could take your life. The stress of the constant incoming artillery barrages could drive a man insane. It would have been different if we could have shot back at them. Then we would have been able to get a little relief. As If the situation wasn't bad enough already, we also had to put up with the Monsoon rains. Our holes would fill with water; we'd have to bail them out four or five times a day. We also had "Emersion foot" and your feet would bleed and hurt like h-ll. Then there was the d-mn mud! You walked in it, you sat in it, you slept in it and you even ate it. There was just no escaping it!
I can remember helicopters not being able to land because of incoming rounds. Not only did we run out of Chow but that also meant no C-Rats toilet paper. So we started to tear strips of cloth from the bottoms of our trousers to wipe our Asses with. At one period we were not resupplied for over three days. During that time we actually scrounged around in our trash pits trying to find something to eat. At least the choppers came to pick up our wounded! The choppers kept flying over us and resupplying other units. I know the door gunner to the chopper that finally brought us chow saw the look in our eyes and decided he'd better drop chow out that door. We knew the pilots were only following orders but that didn't change the fact that we were hungry and we were mean! There is nothing in the world meaner than a 20-year-old Marine hungry, angry with a loaded machinegun in his hands!
That was also the day I realized the Russians were supplying the NVA. It was one of many rocket barrages that day. We stayed glued to our holes most of the day. The rockets came screaming in and about 40 yd. behind my hole a Rocket round dud stuck in the mud and it hit a Marine and didn't go off. I was told the Marine's Flak Jacket was stripped from him by the incoming Rocket that landed in his hole. The Marine lived to tell about it! I bet he counts his blessing every single day of his life! How lucky can you get? Why it didn't go off is anyone's guess. It was really eerie and everyone was afraid to go near it. We didn't know if it was time-delayed, or what! We finally got up enough nerve to get out of our holes and went up to investigate. It was OD green and was about 12 ft. long. It had funny looking Russian writing on it. It really p!ssed us off. Not only did we have the NVA and the Chinese fighting against us, now the Russians were fighting us too!
I had "The Sh-ts" (dysentery) and decided to take a chance and go out in front of my hole and dig a "Cat hole" and take a crap. Just as I was finishing up I heard the sound of rockets taking off in the distance. I also heard someone yelling "Incoming." I was already half way up the hill by then! I hadn't had time to fasten my trousers yet. I was holding them up with my hand and attempting to run the rest of the way up the hill to my hole but it was muddy and I slipped and fell. I scrambled the rest of the way to my hole on my hands and knees with my pants down to my ankles. I fell into my hole in a heap. The second my body hit the mud in the bottom of my hole a rocket round hit right next to it. The impact of the Rocket round threw mud all over us. The concussion made my ears ring and for a while I couldn't hear anything, or for that matter even think straight.
When the incoming had stopped I tried to get out of my hole but I couldn't. I was stuck in the foot and a half of mud in the bottom of my hole. I had to get my a-gunner to pull me out. When I finally got me out of my hole, I had my pants down to my ankles and I looked half-brown and half-white from lying in the mud. We all laughed our Aszes off at how stupid I looked. It felt good to laugh again; there wasn't much laughing going on at Con Thien during the month of September 1967. We had a poncho covering the top of our hole we were using for shelter from the rain. It was shredded from the Rocket blast. I believe that if I hadn't hit my hole the split second that I did, I would have looked just like our poncho did! Swiss Cheese!
Just because we were receiving incoming rounds didn't mean that patrols stopped going out. I remember a patrol trying to go out of our perimeter right in front of my hole. We started to take incoming rounds again and the Marines in the patrol were jumping into the closest holes to them. My A-gunner and I hit our hole, and five Marines piled in on top of us. It was great; it was the most protection we'd had in a long time. I remember thinking; I didn't think my hole was capable of holding that many Marines.
Photos By Lt. John L Burgoyne - Doc Dave & Fred Gilham (Angel)
In came another Rocket barrage. A CP bunker 25 yd. off to my right took a direct hit by a rocket round. There had been two Marines in that bunker, a Lieutenant and his radioman. There was the familiar scream for help, "Corpsman Up!" Following that plea there were at least 4 or 5 more pleas for help with no response. Doc Dave our Corpsman said to his hole partner Sutton "I'm probably going to regret what I'm about to do, but I just can't sit here when a Marine needs my help." He was up and out of his hole and sprinting across the top of the hill and down to the CP bunker, during which time he was totally exposed to enemy fire. The rounds were hitting all around him and it's a miracle that he wasn't hit himself. He covered the 100-yd plus in record time and jumped into that bunker. The Lieutenant and radioman were still barely clinging to life. A Marine in our unit from "Guns" by the name of Fred Gilham (Angel) arrived at the bunker first and said when he arrived the LT looked up at him and said "Thank You" and then drifted off into a coma. He quickly tucked the LT's guts back into his stomach and was holding them in when Doc arrived. Doc immediately covered the gaping wound in the LT's stomach with a battle dressing and he worked on them furiously to try and stop the bleeding and tend to their burns. He and Angel and some other grunts quickly pulled them from the bunker to the safety of another hole.
The entire time that Doc was there everyone was screaming at him and Angel and the grunts to get the h-ll out of that bunker. Doc jumped into the closest hole to him and almost immediately another Rocket round came screaming in. That bunker had taken another direct hit. Doc just lay there shaking and thinking about how close he had come to death. Then he decided to look around and see what hole he was in, realizing he had jumped into an Ammo Bunker! He noticed "Willie Peter" rounds lying right next to him and smoke canisters going off all around him. He said, "Holly Sh-t I'm in an Ammo Bunker," and jumped up and ran back across the top of the hill and back down to his hole. He said he realized later that those Marines on the other side of the hill weren't even "His" Marines! They were in the 4th Marine Regiment. He said, "All I knew was a Marine yelled "Corpsman Up" and I was up and running.
Doc Dave and Angel probably deserved a Medal that day for their Heroic actions, but they got nothing. H-ll, if our Corpsmen received all of the Medals they deserved they probably wouldn't be able to walk from the weight! The day after the barrage that bunker was torn down never to be used again, although it was stupid to tear the bunker down. The NVA undoubtedly had every bunker and hole on the hill charted. I think the NVA had a spotter in a tree line about 500 yd. away.
I remember lying there at night trying to sleep, but sleep was impossible. I was too nervous. All I could manage to do was close my eyes and hope to get some rest. I would lie there with my eyes closed and my feet dangling in my hole and I could hear every single sound in the area. I remember I could hear the Rocket rounds when they were taking off in the distance and I would be the first one in the hole. We could actually hear them taking off just cross the Ben Hai River in North Vietnam. We were just that close! I can honestly say that I never got any real sleep the entire time we were at Con Thien. If you ever really went to sleep, You Might Not Wake Up!
I remember our Artillery and Mortar crews doing a bang-up job of trying to keep the NVA gunners off our backs. We hit them with everything we had. I heard some mighty big guns firing that day. I do believe I was told that naval ships were firing support for us. They had huge guns. It must have been h-ll on the receiving end of those babies! I also remember being bounced around in my hole by the shock waves from B-52 Bombers dumping their loads of 1,000 lb. bombs. It was truly a sight to behold watching the B-52s at work. During one bombing run, I remember large pieces of shrapnel flying around. One piece in particular was the size of a VW bug. When we first spotted it coming towards us it seemed like it took forever to reach us. It was a giant twisted piece of hot metal. It was like watching a movie in slow motion. It kept coming and coming and coming! Making a whistling, whirring sound, sort of like an Australia Aborigine noisemaker. As it approached we all ducked lower and lower into our holes. The last time I remember seeing it, it passed over our heads and continued on in a northerly direction.
I also got to witness something not many people have had the opportunity to observe. A Huey helicopter was being chased by an NVA SAM missile (Surface to Air Missile). About 100 yds. off to our left we spotted a chopper that looked like it was crashing because it was coming down so fast. That helicopter landed very fast in a zigzag downward motion. Then this big slow SAM missile appeared with a flame coming out of the tail fin section. All of a sudden out of nowhere appeared a Phantom Jet doing a Victory roll right over top of our heads and the SAM Missile slowly turned in pursuit. In very slow pursuit! The jet was literally flying circles around it. The jet lead the missile out and away from our perimeter and the missile exploded. I believe without a doubt that had we not had supporting arms at Con Thien we would have been overrun many times over!
The thing about September 25th that really sticks in my mind is a picture of a Marine sitting in a puddle of blood and battle dressings on a poncho with his legs blown off from the waist down! He was numb from morphine and in shock from a loss of blood. He was smoking a cigarette very calmly as if nothing had even happened! He was waiting for a Medevac! He probably died on the chopper ride back! I hope to God he did! Our platoon arrived at Con Thien with 45 men, when we left we only had 12! Now you know why we call it, "The Meatgrinder!"
Written By L/Cpl Jack T. Hartzel 0331 Echo 2/9 '67-'68
I Was Always Just Another Marine
In regard to Cpl Pawlik's question about WWII vets being called up during Korea; I served in 1951 at Electronics School on Treasure Island with a Marine who was called up. He didn't have 2 years of active duty during WWII, and he said that was why he was called up.
Also I was a Marine volunteer at a reception center in Chicago. They did tack SS on the end of my serial number. Later on that seemed to disappear until I mustered out, then it showed up again on my discharge papers. The DIs treated me the same as all the other boots in my Platoon. In all subsequent assignments I was always just another Marine. Perhaps others were singled out by DIs and other Marines they served with. Thank goodness it didn't happen to me.
Sgt 1225080 (SS ?)
The "Afro" Movie
We all know what it's like, that whirlwind of a late-night bus ride, standing on the "Yellow Footprints", over-grown Devil-Dogs barking orders to go here, go there, do this, do that. And "POOF"... you are a lowly maggot in a world of sh!t.
Somewhere in the nightmare, I remember standing at attention in the Barbershop, facing the chairs, watching the civilian barbers give their famous "buzz-cuts". I see, 2 chairs to my right, a dazed "brotha" with a decent "fro" getting special treatment from our Herders. The brotha's barber has neatly buzzed his scalp, leaving the fro intact. And it's... "Fro on! Fro off"! Laugh, laugh. "Fro on! Fro off"!
Now it's my time in the chair. I wonder if I should ask for the half-price special (since I lost all my top hair when I was 16 and look like a monk from a monastery), but I decided that it's probably NOT a good idea. Besides, the Herders are still having too much fun...
"Fro on... Fro off"... Laugh, Laugh.
My group moves on... deeper into the twilight zone... but the brotha remained behind... for entertainment purposes. I didn't know his name. I don't remember ever seeing him again. But every time I hear the word afro, the movie runs in my head, a smirk crinkles the corners of my mouth, (but I know better than to laugh), and I wonder if the brotha is still entertaining the Maggot Marchers of San Diego.
Condardo M W
2616205 1969-72 Corporal of Marines
6227 FLR (Forward Looking Radar) Tech
VMCJ-2 "Playboys" (RF-4Bs)(No guns... just cameras & ECM) 2nd
MAW, MCAS Cherry Point, NC
Fall, 1957... Camp Pendleton, somewhere out around Las Flores ... nothing 'permanent' in the area except for 1st Tanks' ramp area and the mess hall... which served only noon meals... the tankers lived at Las Pulgas, were bussed (cattle cars) out in the morning, back to their Quonset hut area at the end of the day. One day of the ITR syllabus was "Tank-Infantry Coordination", and Papa Company (Sgt Gaines, the main troop-handler, at times referred to us with another term not in the official phonetic alphabet, but it did begin with the letter "p", and was not likely to be confused with hyper-masculinity), had been hauled out to the area to be inoculated with the rudiments of working together. (ITR today is known as SOI)
This meant that one or two tanks and crews would draw the duty for the day as training aids, and part of the training involved every squad in the company, one at a time, 'discovering' an enemy bunker that had to be taken out, via a combined assault. The tanks were M-48's, still with gasoline engines... on the right rear, behind the sponson box, was a compartment that contained a telephone (no camera, no games, no apps... just a black handset). The squad would be deployed behind the tank, and the squad leader was to contact the TC (Tank Commander... probably a Corporal) via the TI (Tank-Infantry) phone with a standardized message that went something like this "Tank... this is Infantry!... bunker, right front, 800 yards, we have a fire team on each flank, on my command, go!"
Bear in mind that this was not exactly stimulating duty for the tank crew... not only were they going to have to repeat this drill many times during the day, but they would have to once again clean the tank (they're white inside... lots of nooks and crannies), but would have to re-fuel, etc. at the end of the day... and they didn't get to shoot, except maybe .30 cal blanks from the co-ax machine gun... which meant that much more cleaning before liberty. The terrain between the starting point and the poor 'ol bunker was not only uneven, but had been beaten into foot-deep dirt floor during the day.
Then came our turn, and oh, we were ready! And one man per fire team was carrying a BAR ('bout 20 pounds worth)... I grabbed the phone... and got as far as "Tank!... this is Infantry!... when the supremely bored voice on the other end said "no sheeit, Sherlock... who do you think THIS is??" We got to 'Go'... and they did... huge cloud of dust, gas exhaust fumes, and the first bit of uneven terrain was a hill of sorts... which we couldn't see, but... you know how your legs keep moving, only there's nothing under you, and you must've looked like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon character running off the hill? That was those of us directly behind the tank... I think we were declared victorious over the bunker... but never was clear on why the tank didn't just blow the bunker away with the 90MM main gun?
One of the other aspects of the day was for some 'volunteers' to take position in a reinforced pit, and a tank would then straddle the pit, while on the move. (how tough could it be? Hollywood cameramen do it all the time for war movies...) The instructors did caution us about writing home about the experience... seems there had been a Pvt who had pneumonia, and was admitted to the hospital a couple days after Tank-Infantry Coordination day... it also seems he neglected to mention the pneumonia in his letter, which read something like "Dear Mom... finally have time to write, now that I'm in the hospital for a few days. Yesterday, I got run over by a tank, and boy was that exciting!" There are these messages that Commanders really hate to receive... called "CongrInts"... short for "Congressional Interest"... usually have a four or eight hour detailed reply requirement when they come down... having Mom's pride and joy 'run over by a tank' will get you one or more of those.
"To be disaccustomed to evil is a great step toward becoming good."
--FrÃ©dÃ©ric Bastiat, 
"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass."
"If you want total security, go to prison. There you are fed, clothed, and given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking is freedom."
--Dwight D. Eisenhower, General and President
"All government is a conspiracy against the superior man: Its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him... The ideal government of all reflective men... is one which barely escapes being no government at all."
"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."
--Patrick Henry, 1775
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."
"We are all born ignorant but on must work hard to remain stupid."
Attack! Attack! Attack!
The best part about being a Marine is that all the sissies were weeded out.