I'm a 67 year old Marine Corpsman and I just finished a 50 mile ride for cancer. Did it on a 35 year old bike as well. Thought you guys might be interested in a picture. The motto I taped to my handlebars was "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome"
Tom Wansleben HM-2
3rd Marine Division
3rd Medical Battalion
Charlie Co. 1966-67
In This Issue
Here we go: beat my story, anything to shave, skinny as he was, went to the pot shack, guys got really pretty girls, the heat never turns off, i looked at the cookie, Geez, they're eating our garbage, he wanted my .45, 'Jello Submaline, salty SOB,
Fair winds and following seas.
My uncle, Earl William Miller, U.S. Marine Corps passed away on July 10, 2012. He was a tanker in WWII serving with 2nd MarDiv in places such as Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa, Sasebo, and Nagasaki.
Uncle Earl was raised by my Mother (His sister) from a teenager and was sort of the older brother I never had. He was the influence that led me to enlist in the Corps where I had a successful 35 year career. I also had some influence on his grandson, Randy, joining the Corps. So it's all in the family.
Don't know where or when this picture was taken... quite a salty SOB... note the rolled up sleeves and saddle in the cover!
Slayer of Dragons, Lover of Women, and Lieutenant Colonel of
Just got through reading your newsletter and also had just received the attached photo from my nephew who took the picture. My kids and I participated in a USO type show to raise seed money for a new HONOR FLIGHT group out of Elmira New York. The show was spearheaded by my niece Nancy who is instrumental in establishing this new HONOR FLIGHT group. Anyway the picture shows myself (still lean, not as mean but still a Marine) with my kids(?) taken 66 years (actually 67 years) after I left IWO. My front license plate reads "Iwo Jima Survivor" and I still get appreciation for having been there and for my service.
It is heartening to know that some 17 to 20 year olds still know what IWO JIMA is.
'42 to '46.
Dear Sgt Grit,
The bayonet in the G. I. Can at 5 A. M. with the D. I. screaming, "Get Up - Get Up - Get Up!"
Rifle Inspection, and the instructor at ACT saying while looking down the bore (after you cleaned your weapon), "Private how much rent are you collecting from the visitors living in the bore."
The days at EM club where one wise azs taps the guy urinating in front of him, and the drunken Marine turns around holding his gun, and pees all over wise azs, as he says, "Hey buddy what did you say."
Coming back late to the barracks after being out all night, and your eyes looking like, 'two pizs holes in the snow'.
Saying to your buddies at chow, "I'll never drink another beer as long as I live."
Mimicking the Gunny Sgt at a muster in the morning and not realizing he is right behind you!
Asking the First Sgt., can you ask your C. O. who the hog he was driving with last night? (His wife - OOPS).
Being stopped for a tail light out by police off base, thinking you are in a world of s--t, and finding out the policeman was a Marine, and lets you skate away!
Break His Knees
I met my husband in high school. We were good friends, but never dated in high school. I knew him as the skinny little guy, friendly and sweet, but honestly, I couldn't help but think I could break this kid like a twig. All his friends - me too - were scared for him, going to the Marine Corps, skinny as he was, goofy as he was, we all offered to break his knees or something to get him out of it. He would smile and say, "only if you can catch me." He was wicked fast. Anyway, after graduation, I went off to college, he went off to USMC, and for four years we lost touch. It wasn't until near the end of those four years we reconnected by accident. I was home from college on break, he was home on leave, and we happened to run into each other. Mutual friend, common stompin' grounds, or something.
Anyway, I couldn't believe he was the same guy! It was though he'd swelled! His arm was as big as my thigh! The Skinny Twig was now a MARINE, and you knew it when you looked at him! Shortly after reconnecting, we started dating. I found he was still the same sweet kid, only now all the more a man. We had been friends all those years first, so by the time we got around to dating, we had nearly a decade of knowing each other, with some major catching up to do. He had 3 tours in the Sandbox (Iraq/ Afghanistan), and took the Honorable Discharge before his 4th. He was still a goof ball, but the Corps and the tours had mellowed and matured him.
When I told my dad I was dating a Marine, he was impressed, but it wasn't until I told him that he was a combat engineer that got to blow sh-t up for the Corps that my dad laughed, "Oh cr*p! You are gonna marry that boy!" We did get married, almost 4 years and have 2 beautiful babies. Because it was after he left the Corps, and we had only dated a little while he was still in, I laugh and say I married a Marine, but not the Corps. I never served as a Marine Wife, because those who have husbands and loved ones still in the Corps, still serving, have all my respect and I never had to do that. But for better or worse, I still get all the Marine memorabilia, and stories, and I know I am one of the lucky few to have married my best friend!
Tear To My Eye
I was reading a letter submitted by Gunny Brownmiller, and couldn't agree more with his statement.
"I am guessing that 'our yellow footprints' is something that only we can understand and when used in the outdoor world, they have no clue as to their hallowed meaning for many of us." It brought a nice memory of a post I made on FB.
My 3 year old daughter and I were in the driveway drawing with sidewalk chalk. She asked, "Daddy, can you draw my feet with this yellow chalk?" I did and saw the big smile on her face, stood up, and realized what I did.
The memories of my service flooded my head and brought a tear to my eye.
This is what I posted, along with the picture. YELLOW FOOTPRINTS! These are Lily's footprints in yellow chalk. They reminded me of something. Some of us out there know the meaning of yellow footprints. To some, well, yellow footprints, duh. To others, they were the first place we stood at Marine Corps boot camp.
Many people throughout history have stood on them before earning the title Marine, and moving on to defend our country, many never made it, and many look down upon those footprints from Heavens Scenes, guarding the streets, still as United States Marines. Semper Fi.
Sgt. Danny Ferguson
0331 at heart, 8541 for recreation. SS FOR LIFE
After being wounded at Khe Sanh in Feb. 68 I was eventually medivaced to Philly Naval Hospital. I spent 8 months there then and a full year there after my second tour in 71. In 68 I checked out on liberty and was going down to the Rosemount Diner to get a cheese steak sandwich. I was on crutches and dressed in civies. As I was going out the front door in came Gen. Puller, presumably to visit his son who was also a patient there. He was dressed in a brown civilian suit but there was no mistaking that bulldog face. My jaw dropped as did one of my crutches as I tried to snap to attention and salute. He smiled and said "at ease Marine." and then he picked up my crutch and gave it to me. I couldn't have been more stunned if I'd have run into God Himself. Thank you sir for impressing this Marine and may we meet again. No crutches this time. Goodnight Chesty.
Gary Neely, Sgt. USMC, ret.
66 to 72
I just read the latest newsletter and enjoyed the entry from Don Spires and the photos of his 1998 Corvette roadster. I have a 2005 Corvette coupe, while I didn't go as far as Don with a paint job, I do proudly display my Marine Corps career. I'd like to see more of our vet's with their Vette...Semper Fi.
Stan Deeke (MSGT USMC retired)
This is in reply to SSgt Joseph E. Whimple U.S.M.C. 2/70 - 12/76. I wasn't in 2033 but was in 3033 at the same time. I remember those rainy days and nights in Feb. One other thing that stands out in my memory besides the yellow footprints is when everybody had to shave all at the same time. Most people (me included) had never shaved before. I didn't have anything to shave, I thought. No matter, shave anyway. If you remember, it looked like a slaughter house. I was only 17 and had never seen so much blood all in one place. Oh, those good ol days.
I was getting on the elevator at the Heart Hospital in Tulsa one day and there was this older feller already in the elevator. He looked at my memorial tattoos on my forearms, dedicated to my recently deceased wife Corporal Sandra M. Thompson, and asked if I was a Marine as well. I told him that I was and that we served back in the early eighties. He told me he had served in WW2 and that at one time, he was as tall as I am now. My being 6 foot, and him at around 5 foot 6 inches, I asked him what happened. He told me they made him hump the BAR back in New Guinea and he shrunk! He had quite a sense of humor for a guy who was in some serious stuff!
Sgt. USMC retired
That Can't Be True
A story from the, "...that can't be true!" department. September, 1969, I get to Nam, am told to report the MABS-16/H&MS-16 Ordnance shop waaaaay out on the outskirts of the base, and right near the South China Sea shore.
I enter the office, walk up to the desk with a CWO sitting at it. Standing at attention, I shout, "Sir! PFC Brewer reporting as ordered, Sir!" And then, I stand there. I know he heard me, I'm standing right there at his desk. I wait, and he totally ignores me. He is writing something that must be very important, because he just kept on writing, and I just kept on staring at some small spot on the wall behind him.
So, by now, I am thinking, This Pr-ck! What an effing Pr-ck! Nice going Brewer. Just got yourself assigned, the jerk for an OIC. So, after standing there for what seemed like FOR- FREEKING-EVER! He looks up at me. He looks at my PFC Chevrons on the collar of my utilities, and without another word, he says, "You're a Lance Corporal. I don't have PFC's in my shop!" Man, oh, man! Did that change my opinion of him!
He tells me to go thru the door behind him into our hootch and ask someone to point out an empty bunk. I do that, and it turns out all of the Ordnance crew were coming back into the hootch after assembling, we called it building, more than 2000, 2.75 inch rockets as they do every day.
So, introductions are made, and I begin setting up my own area. As the days go by, and I get more, and more comfortable with the crew, more personal chat begins to be traded back and forth among us. You know, where you from, stuff like that.
Now, I was born in Waukegan, Illinois, and I hear this one guy we will call Michael cuz that really is his name, mention that he, too, was born in Waukegan, Illinois! How bout that?! I told him I, too, was born in Waukegan, and he says then you must have been born in the Saint Therese Hospital! I said, yes, I was. He says, when were you born? I says 23 Feb, 1948! He says he was born in that hospital on 27 Feb, 1948! Now, back then, when a lady had a baby they stayed in the hospital for up to a week. Not like today where they are popped out the very next day.
So, can you believe it, all you Marines out there in Grit land, that we were probably just down the hall from each other in the hospital, and we meet up about 12,000 miles away, in a war zone! It is so hard to believe that things like that happen. We remain friends today, and are in contact with each other pretty regularly. What a great Marine. I can honestly say that he is one of the finest Marines I ever had the privilege to serve with. He is a fine, fine Marine. I was a brand new Lance Corporal, he was a Corporal, so I looked up to him to teach me what I would need to know to make it to Corporal in the future. Guess you could say he was my mentor.
And then, just to top that off, a month or so later, I was in the PX at China Beech, and who is coming down the aisle facing me is my Nephew. He was an Army Puke, but other than that, we had a great time together. I brought him back to our hootch for the rest of the day, and some great Marine Corps chow in that great chow hall we had at Marble Mountain.
So, there you have it. It really is a small world. I met up with a great Marine, and an Okay Army Puke while serving this great country of ours in the Nam.
End of story guys. I would like to see anybody top that story. Okay? I will be watching for your letters to beat my story.
My very best to all of my Marine Corps friends I haven't met yet, and those I have!
Charles (Chuck) Brewer, 1967-1973,
Sergeant of Marines FOR FREEKING EVER!,
MOS 6511 Aviation Ordnance, IYAOYAS!
Yo - there have been a number of questions raised about some of the letters these past few weeks - questioning whether or not these were really written by Marines - I have agreed with all the letters as I had the same questions - this week is no exception as you have included two letters that just don't ring true - one, titled SILENT STARING is really off the wall - a supposed 8 year Marine refers to being "attached to platoon 2076" during "basic training" - I have never heard a Marine use that language - basic training is for some other service but to me, and to everyone I have ever heard around here it has been boot camp, pure and simple - and then to find this young W. Tomerlin unable to remember any one of his mates in his basic training is past believability - you spend 13 weeks with these guys you have a lot of anecdotes saved up - if I am wrong you have my apology W. Tomerlin but you sound like a wanna be to me.
The second letter titled BIG SILENT OOHRAH is just too weird to keep down - I read it, then read it again, then gave up and have no idea what this is supposed to be - it reads as if Carey Clark has been smoking something heavy for too long a time - the questions he supposedly seeks are all public record - he could have asked then, or now, and gotten an answer - or maybe this is all in his terrible dreams - if that is so I do apologize - we all know what flashbacks can do but if that is the problem it is well past time to get some help - thanks Sgt Grit, just had to vent - and, for some old timey thoughts from an old timer do you remember when you were just ready to get out - a short timer's attitude? such as being so short you needed to climb a ladder to get into your boots? or being so short every time you fa*ted you blew sand in your boondockers? - take care you all.
Bill McManigal, Marine, 1851552
Note: I can remember faces, and the names are familiar when I look at my boot camp book. But then I am terrible with names even today. I identify with my Nam buddies. And remember many more of the names even though I have not had contact with some of them. So I guess what I'm saying is I'm guilty of not remembering my boot camp buddies names. After doing this all these years and have pretty wide exposure not one boot camp buddy has contacted me. Just my two cents on the subject.
Don't recall where I heard this but in place of "Clean sweep down fore and aft" I like "Sweep down to and fro, get the corners as you go."
July 11, 2012: (1798) President John Adams signs the act establishing a U.S. Marine Corps. President John Adams approved "An Act for Establishing and Organizing a Marine Corps", and it became law. The following day, the President appointed William Ward Burrows the Major Commandant of the new Corps. In August, Major Burrows opened his headquarters in Philadelphia, at that time still the capital of the new nation.
Thank you Sgt. grit for your awesome shirts and everything else you have. I've got about 25 or 30 T-shirts they are really special to me. I've bought some for the guys in my P.T.S.D. group. I enjoyed the story's. I can relate to a lot of it also. SEMPER FI to you and all the brother Marines with their stories. God bless one and all. Dain D.
I love your newsletter. SEMPER FIDELS Joseph Cimino
I was in platoon 163 in 1968, I remembered when I was on mess duty. I also remembered S/Sgt Brewer and S/Sgt McCallister. While in the reserves in 1981 we had a new CO coming in and his name was Major Rowland. I thought to myself that name rings a bell. Sure enough it was my old DI. Gy/Sgt Rowland who now is a Major. Sgt Richard Lynch 1968-1982
Sgt. Grit: There's a Facebook page Tyrone Power Postage Stamp 2014. For those who don't know who he was, Tyrone Power was a handsome movie star, good actor from 1930's to 1958. Sadly, he passed away from a heart attack, while filming "Solomon & Sheba" with Gina Lolabrigida and George Sanders in 1958. He deserves to be honored on a stamp because he also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, during World War II, flying wounded personnel in the Pacific and was a Major, USMCR. He would have been 100 in 2014. I thank USMC veterans for service to our country! Semper Fi! Kristine
1st LT William M Weckerly (Mustang); is standing Tall at the Gates of Heaven. Bill Weckerly passed on May 27,2012 and was Buried at The National Cemetery In Phoenix, AZ on May 31, 2012 He was a Korea War( Chosin Few) and Vietnam Vet... Promoted in Vietnam from E-8 to 2LT...Retired at 1st LT. A Marines Marine throughout his life. Proud to Be Your Son. Martin W. Weckerly Sgt USMC 72-78
Just read the letter from SSgt Gill who was cheated by the sheriff who took his money all those years ago on a weekend liberty. I hope that when the sheriff makes it to that place in the great beyond where the heat never turns off that our great Creator will bring before his eyes the face of every Marine who has fought and died so that he might have the freedom to be a thief. And I hope he has to beg that same Creator not to unleash upon him the fury of all their mothers! A Very Proud Marine mom
While going through ITR at camp Lejeune, NC, one morning eating those famous pancakes. I bit into part of a steel wool pad used in cleaning pots and pans so gas wasn't the only surprise in the pancakes. Also one morning I snuck a cookie to eat later. When later came around I took a bite and while chewing i realized something wasn't right, I looked at the cookie and there was the other half of a very big cockroach that had been baked inside the cookie. This was early 1967. SEMPER FI Bill Tinor service number 2317002 USMC 1966/1970
In all the times I've read the newsletter, I've never seen any mention of needledick the bug f----r. When I served [57 to 60] he was about the best known Marine in the Corps and there was a rumor that he had retired as a Sgt. Maj. [After supplying the Corps with several million sons. Most of them were at Parris Island] Plt 48, 1957. SSgt Carl Stanford, one of the very best. Claiborne, GW, 1645xxx
These Two Darlins
Dear Sgt Grit,
Had staff mess duty at Cherry Point, N. C. - We reported to base hospital as the mess was attached to one wing of the hospital. Staff Sergeant was in charge of Mess. Big dude over 6' and barrel chested, definitely worked out at gym. Assigned us to duties by a roster of names. Some jobs were more pleasant than others.
Do not remember if we slept at our squad bay or other barracks as we wore whites to serve. Really some characters I worked with. One sh-t bird came in summer service uniform thinking they would send him back to report next day, but he was told to report back immediately properly dressed or he would be sent to the brig. The guy turned all colors and was back real fast dressed properly.
I was assigned the skullery (area where trays dropped off after chow by Staff NCO's or our guys clearing tables. Some of the Staff NCO's took the trays to us and did not want special treatment. We served Naval and Marine Corps staff, men and women, most were cordial and friendly and had conversations with us.
As I said it was summer and we had a thermometer next to us that usually was in to 90 degree range where I worked. Mess Sgt. called me aside and told me I was working with two short timers and they were trouble. First day a navy seaman was wheeling a metal cart that held ice and asked, "where the ice machine was?" A normal question I thought?
The seaman had a limp and a slight lisp as well. The next thing I saw was these two clowns throwing dishes at the seaman as he struggles to wheel the cart and avoid the plates and refuse from getting on his uniform. The G. I. cans were heavy loaded with garbage and it usually took two Marines to carry them out. I hefted one myself and ran out of there. Mess Sgt came in when I was gone and told these clowns he was sending the bill for all broken dishes and damages to the First Sgt. of their unit.
They next went to the pot shack as punishment, I ran a 3 man operation alone as I was told I would get help eventually. These clowns had to soak pots and grimy metal food trays - rinse them off and they had to be inspected as to being fit to be sent back to food preparers. Naturally they screwed this up too! They were sent back to the skullery and I was sent to pot shack by myself, as usual it was not difficult just very hot.
A knob controlled the water temperature, naturally it was turned up for boiling water, and down to remove and wipe off items being washed.
The next day these two darlins came in hung-over from drinking moonshine the night before. They came over to me and one got me in a bear hug while the other turned up the pressure on the gauge, then twisted the handle off and threw it in the boiling water ran out of the mess hall laughing. The gauge was in the red zone, not good!
I yelled for the Mess Sgt., as this could explode, he grabbed a pair of very heavy duty gloves out of a drawer that I was unaware of, put his gloved hand in the scalding water, found the gauge and turned down the pressure.
The next day the M. P.'s escorted the two hillbillies to the cross bar hotel. A few months later I went on Steelpike 1 and some of the Staff I had served remembered me aboard ship. I got food from the Staff Mess on ship because I did my job as a Marine should, expecting no favoritism. No one is happy about everything they had to do, but you took the good with the bad!
One of the female Navy CPOs asked one of the 'backward brothers' "where are you from?" I thought this was a normal question, but this clown tells her that she was pretty for a swabby, and he would lock her up to be his s-x slave, and have many kids with her. She looked him in the eye and said, "I need a real man, not a shi*t bird like you!" She told the Mess Sgt. and naturally that remark was added to his charge sheet the following day.
Bruce Bender 1963-1967 CPL.
P. S. Amazing that some of the guys I was stationed with were good friends, and others you stayed away from. One Sgt. was real good, but wore unstarched utilities and was a real sloppy Marine, when the Top asked for suggestions for the upcoming I. G., he told Top, "Why don't we use Brasso on the railroad tracks?" These railroad tracks were probably used for Korea or WWII, they were old.
P. P. S. We took military hops home if we could. Once I went to Floyd Bennett Field in N. Y. The pilot asked a Lt. Col if he would like to take the controls as a courtesy to a senior officer. The Col. almost overshot the runway, and almost caused us to be guarding the Heavenly Gates. One sharply dressed Marine in civvies asked the Col. if he got his license in a crackerjack box? The Col. looks at him and says, "Who the h-ll do you think you are talking to sweet pea!" The sharply dressed gent was a GENERAL, and no one even said one word on this flight!
Are there any other Old Farts out there? I attended P.I. from mid-March to mid-May 1940. In 1944 extended for 2 years. March 17, 1946 accepted my Honorable Discharge. Immediately went into the Marine Corps Reserve, stayed aboard until I had a total of 20 years National Guard and Marine Reserve time before 1940. Celebrated my 91 birthday in June.
When I completed Boot Camp, went to Sea School, managed to get into aviation, VMS-1, later VMSB-131, then later VMTB -131, Back from the Canal and into VMTB-242, C.O. and I did not agree, I was transferred to Headquarters & Service Squadron Marine Air Group 11, back from Peleliu and into a Marine Night Fighter Operational Training Unit at N.A.S. in Kingsville, Texas, Squadron Leading Chief. After VJ Day Squadron disbanded, went to same type outfit at Vero Beach, Florida. Took my Honorable Discharge March 1946. Never recalled for Korea or Vietnam. By Vietnam, time my Son Michael Fuller who was in Air Sea Rescue & represented the family.
Still kicking. Semper Fi.
M/Sgt. Howard J. Fuller, USMCR Ret
Sgt. Grit, I arrived on the beautiful beaches of Chu Lai in May of 1968. I was assigned to MAG 13 supply although my mos was ordnance. One of the guys told me about a picture of a really ugly girl a friend of his got from a pin pal. This gave me the idea for the Sea Tiger hog contest. I cut out the pen pals from a couple of issues and everyone paid $10 for one. Who ever got the worst picture within a couple of months won the money.
A couple of guys got really pretty girls and even made plans to see them when they got home. The guy who won was really deserving. Although I wrote many letters and sent several pictures, my pal never sent me one of her saying she was too ugly and I wouldn't want to write to her if I saw her. I was DQed. While we had a little fun with the contest I really would like to thank all the warm hearted girls who were kind enough to write to all of us lonely Marines. They helped us get through a tough situation.
Sgt of Marines 1966-1970
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
It is my very sad duty to report the death of Gunnery Sergeant James A. Peterson, a WWII Marine who served as the orderly to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in USS Augusta during the historic meeting with Winston Churchill in the North Atlantic in early 1941 then transferred to Quantico in August 1942 where, as a SSgt he was the NCOIC of a detachment inside Prince William Park securing the training ground for the OSS school there.
Jim went on to the South Pacific and, among others, was a survivor of the Iwo Jima campaign, all of this accomplished in one long enlistment. Jim died at home on July 12th with a memorial service scheduled for August 15th which would have been his 91st birthday. He was a Life Member of the Marine Corps League and a Charter Member of the James L. Hammons Detachment in Aiken, SC. A true gentleman and a consummate professional. He will be missed.
Sick Mother Scam
In P.I., 1954, I was about two months into my training the whistle blew. Cpl Harry SoandSo, ordered the whole company into a quanset hut. He said, Sergeant Jaime SoandSo, has bad news to tell you. His mother is very ill and he needs emergency money to get home, any money that you have would be greatful.
The Cpl took off his helmet and went to every grunt in the hut, being dumb at the time I gave to his cause. He said, "nobody is to tell anything about what happened here, OK?" "Sir, yes sir." That was the command. After my graduation, I was transfered up to Camp Lejeune, about 3 months later I was ordered by my Company Commander to report to the Provost Marshall's Office.
There was a Major, two Captains, and a court stenographer. I was sworn in and was told that this is a formal Board of Inquiry concerning the actions of Cpl SoandSo and Sgt SoandSo, we have 9 affidavits from other recruits and I was #10. We would like for you to tell us in detail as to what went down when both persons were stealing money for their own benefit. Both were court marshalled, both got busted down to Private, both got one year and a day in the stockade and BC discharges for their participation in the scam.
Shameless Capitalist Plug
Thought you might like to know your influence has spread to Israel.
Went on a trip there recently for the wedding of my attorney's son, and spotted someone with a USMC shirt and cover on. Naturally, since I never go anywhere without a cover, I asked him if he was a Marine.
We swapped some war stories of our different eras of active duty, and he had asked if I had heard of you. Told him, yup. Get all my goodies from you.
There Were "Live Lines"
Geez, they're eating our garbage!... and the USS A.E. Anderson. (Troop Ship)
Air Wing overseas drafts to Japan used to go by troop ship during the 50's and early 60's. My first voyage by this method of transport was in 1956 from San Diego to Yokohama by way of Pearl Harbor and Keelung, Formosa (as it was known then). Took about 18 or 19 days if I remember. Sergeants and below were not allowed off the ship in Pearl or Keelung. SNCO's and officers were.
There were about 2,000 or so Wingers and some Grunts. Sleeping spaces were crowded, canvas bunks 4 and 5 high. One blanket, no sheets or pillows. The bunks were stacked so close together that you could hardly roll over as the person above bowed the canvas enough to prevent much movement. The guy on the top bunk had it made except for the ventilation tubes and various plumbing lines that crowded the overhead just above his nose. My bunk was right at the waterline so for the whole voyage it sounded a little like a splashing river 6 inches away. Sea bags and M-1 rifles were in the narrow isles further crowding our living arrangements, and of course there are those that whenever near large bodies of water have the tendency to become sea-sick which when they upchucked combined with the other smells to make our sleeping compartments even more unpleasant.
I held the exalted rank of Corporal so I was immune from some work details but not all. Boredom was ever present for most of the voyage. 2 or 3 "volunteers" were designated as "barbers" as the Draft CO did not want to see any shaggy Marines. So there were lines for that enterprise too.
The heads and showers were in the same space up in the bow. A long line of open showers on one side and toilets on the other almost meeting at the front. The deck sloped upwards. We did Navy shower... that is... get wet, shut it off and soap down, and then a quick rinse. No letting it run. The steel toilets faced the showers. They were in an open stall and that was for something to hang on to because during the voyage the bow made a lot up and down movements. The water running through the toilet plumbing would often back up when the bow went down causing the water to splash up wetting your rear.
Troops were not allowed to hang on the rail up on deck. There were "life lines" strung about 3 feet from the railing. And that was as close to the rail as we could get. The Navy was probably worried that a Marine might fall over the side and they would get behind schedule by having to stop and pick up the unfortunate swimmer. Spaced GI cans were tied to the life line and the miserable Marines that were sea sick (some for the entire voyage) would go from can to can trying to upchuck. We thought it was funny and laughed when they made that unusual echo sound with their head inside. The sea for the whole voyage was a continuous series of smooth but long and large swells that caused the slow and ponderous up and down, and rolling, movements of the ship. Most of us got our "sea legs" pretty quick. It was fascinating to watch the flying fish break out of the water when we neared the tropics. They could glide some very long distances.
Chow was served almost continuously as it took so long for the lines to make it through for each meal. By the time breakfast was done some troops were already lining up for the noon meal. On our stop at the Keelung harbor doors in the side of the ship were opened and a Chinese garbage scow pulled alongside. As the GI garbage cans were dumped over the side into the scow 5 or 6 Chinese scrambled around grabbing half eaten chicken and anything else and greedily stuffing themselves. We watched in shocked fascination as we saw for the first time in our young lives people that were so hungry they would eat our garbage. After a while they began to pick through the piles putting pieces into a box which I suppose was for their families. They completely ignored our stares.
We docked in Yokohama late at night and cattle trucks took us to the Navy base at Yokosuka. That was our first look at Japan as we rolled through the darkness. Even at that late hour many Japanese were still on the streets and some shops were open. We were so glad to get off that ship but found out on arrival that the "barracks" was an LST with the well deck full of double bunks. After dumping our sea bag and rifle by a bunk we were marched to the chow hall where a Japanese night crew fed us some d-mn good food. And it was on plates, not steel trays, and we were served at the table! A good start to the 13 month tour in Japan.
We were there several days while it was decided who went to NAS Atsugi or MCAS Iwakuni. Each morning at 0530 we marched to the chow hall. The route was through the Navy family housing area and of course we counted cadence at the top of our lungs just to make sure the Navy knew Marines were passing through their area so early. "Delayed cadence count" was nice, took longer to get to the end.
My tour with MARS-17 started with loads of us boarding R4Q-1's at NAS Atsugi for the flight south to MCAS Iwakuni.
Capt. USMC Retired
October 20th, 1962, was my 21st birthday and was doing a little celebrating with my girlfriend, my best bud and a Sgt. in my platoon at his house. We were on 'standby' but could not leave the J'ville area if you were off base. The next day we went to full standby status and by Sunday we were on our way to Cherry Point in trucks and cattle cars. We boarded a C-130 (with more seats than a football stadium) and off we go. We weren't told where we were headed until we were over Florida, like someone would jump off and tell the rest of the world.
We landed on Leeward Point around 0-dark-30 and immediately picked up Flak-jackets and live ammo. I was a squad leader in 3.5 rockets and also the company right guide and company armorer. My men and I grabbed as many ammo boxes (3.5 rockets) that we could carry and we headed down to the edge of the bay. We waited there for hours until the ship in the harbor left with the civilians (wives and kids). Once the ship left we were ferried across the Bay to Windward Point and boarded trucks and were driven somewhere not far away and was told to 'dig in'. The ground was as hard as a rock but I managed to dig a 'shallow' like everyone else and I rested a little laying on my back and fell asleep only to wake up with a pain in my left wrist. I moved my hand and there was a tarantula that I must have pizzed off so he got revenge. I went to the Corpsman and he said not to worry it wasn't deadly, but I felt sick to my stomach for several hours.
That night I slept in my shallow on my back and woke up when a relative of the Biter was crawling across my face. I didn't move a muscle until he vacated my face and moved on. Later that morning is was sitting there (on the side of a slight hill) watching the planes land across the bay on Windward Point. A fairly large cargo plane came in for a landing by banking to the right and didn't level out like he was supposed to. The next thing I saw was a large amount of black smoke coming up from where he went down. I can only assume that the cargo shifted and the pilot wasn't able to right the plane from weight shift. I found out later that several men died in the crash.
Later that day we boarded trucks and went to what would be our 'positions' for the next month and a half which was about 200 yards from the fence-line near Kittery Beach and the Rifle Range. I deployed my squad to their respective rifle platoons and assumed the duties of Company Armorer. Everyone was given burlap bags and told to build bunkers. I lucked out because I stayed in an Ammo Bunker along with the First Sgt., Gunny and Company CO. My 'rubber lady' didn't hold air anymore and the cement floor was a little on the hard side but ... Could have been worse!
Some of my duties were to issue side arms (.45's) to all Officers and NCO's that needed them and one day in late November two 'butter-bars' reported for issue. I escorted them to where the pistol box was and one of the 2nd Luies started to reprimand me for not saluting him. I informed that this is being considered a 'combat zone' for all 'intents and purposes and that saluting is not necessary. He said he wanted a salute anyway and I was glad to do so if he didn't mind if I backed up a couple of feet just in case someone to my left about 200 yards wanted to take a pot-shot at an Officer and I didn't want to get hit if he missed. I saluted him and asked the other Luie if he wanted one too and he nervously said yes.
He then proceeded to complain about the .45 that I pulled from the box that it had rust on it... they all did and beside there were only three or four left. I explained to him that we didn't have cleaning gear and he said he wanted my .45... NO WAY! I told him that it was issued to ME and it was MY responsibility to care for it and I would not issue it to him. Besides it wasn't much better anyway.
Late one night after posting the guards in the tower in front of our position along the fence line I was outside the bunker when I heard BOOM and saw a flash in the sky and a flare, then Boom another, and another and so on. After the second one the Gunny came running out of the bunker yelling INCOMING... INCOMING... I quickly told him what was going on and slowly calmed down. I guess he was reliving Korea... When posting the guard I had to drive around to Kittery Beach to get to the fence line and with 'blackout lights' on you could barely see where I was going.
There were sounds of crunching and I could feel the Mighty Mite going over little bumps so I stopped and turned on the lights and BEHOLD... I never say so many crabs in my life! They were all crossing the road from the beach and going inland... must have been one h-ll of a party going on somewhere and I wasn't invited... darn! After going through the 'crab obstacle' I was nearing the fence line where the road goes slightly uphill and turns left around a small hill and continues along the fence. About 30 or so yards from the turn starts the mine field and that night something set one off about fifty or so feet from me... BABOOM! I was blinded by the flash and couldn't see sh!t. I turned on the headlights again and sped down the road to the guard tower and as soon as the Sgt. posted the guard I hauled azz back down the road. Never did find out what set it off. Crab? Goat? Critter? or a rock thrown from the other side of the fence?
I forgot to mention there was a minefield between our positions and the road along the fence. Also that we were fed twice a day with hot meals and not C-rats. Someone strung comm-wire to our CP and had it up in the air a few feet across the road by the bunker and didn't tell me and I d-mn near hung myself and the duty Sgt. who was in the front seat. We got in the Mite and started forward when the wire caught me along my chin and pulled me almost into the back seat where the two Marines who we were going to post on guard. It left a scar for weeks along the left side of my chin where it 'burned' the skin off... Oh Well!
Somewhere around the first week or so in December we were moved to a rear area and the Sea-Bees came in with dozers knocked down the bunkers and build cinder block bunkers. They put us on the Golf Course and told us to use shelter halfs. One morning I heard FORE and THUMP! and the next thing I knew we were being bombarded by golf balls... not really but it seemed like it. We moved our shelter halfs to a safer area. A day or so later I went to a USO show at Mainside and saw Perry Como and his crew. He said he was out playing golf and he hit four birdies and three Marines and I thought I was going to die laughing.
My buddy and I got 'snookered' in the EM club and on the way back on the bus he lit a cigarette and not thinking he threw his lighter out the window... Then Went After It... He was half way out the window when I grabbed his feet and pulled him back in... That was funny as get-out.. but he lost a good Zippo. The next morning I went to the pistol range and watched some shooters. There was a Navy Lt. who just purchased a S&W .357 Magnum and was cursing it because he couldn't hit the target with it. I asked him if I could try it and he said SURE... I shot 6 rounds at the target and he said I only hit it once.. When the target was pulled back on the carriage there was one bullet in the 8 ring and the rest were in the black... He almost crapped himself...I think he mentioned something about MARINES under his breath ... I thanked him and went on my way. I didn't have the heart to tell him I fired Expert with the .45 (rifle too).
Somewhere in the middle of December we boarded an AKA (goat boat) and came back to Fort Lauderdale Florida for a couple days R&R. One very funny thing about force of habit was that there were constant gnats flying around your face while trying to eat so everyone waved their hand back and forth in front their face to chase them. When we got aboard ship and went to chow all you saw was HAND-WAVING ... I still laugh at that when I think of it!
Sorry if I bored anyone
Jim Slack ('59-'63)
1st. Bat. 8th Mar. 2nd Mar Div.
Bigger Than Life
Ol' China Hand: I went to work for the Los Angeles County Fire Department in the late '60s and was assigned to Station 11 in Altadena. There was an engineer (drives the engine) on another shift named Ray Stowell. He was about 5 foot 7, 125 pounds, ram rod straight and very quiet. One morning at shift change he said that he had heard I just got out of the Marine Corps and that he was also in the Marines. He asked me what unit I was with and when I told him that I had been attached to the 4th Marines in Hawaii he said that he was in the 4th Marines in the late '30s in China. That blew me away, here was an Ol' China Hand, something that I had heard about all my life! He said he would bring in his pictures and the next time I worked over on his shift we could go through them.
Couple of week later I worked over and after evening chow he brought out his album. There on the first page was a platoon of horses with one of the riders circled. "That's me," he said pointing to the circle, "we were standing a parade at the Legation in Peking." OH MY GOD, not only was he an Ol" China Hand he was a Horse Marine besides! The next pages were filled with more pictures of the parade, him standing with his saber, the horses, the stables and, of course the platoon clowning for the camera. He not only provided the names of his platoon but the names of their horses. These horses were also Marines, with their manes clipped short, tails bobbed, standing tall and as proud as they could be. Growing up in Southern California I had become a little jaded about meeting 'names' but this was totally different, here was someone that was real and bigger than life to me plus a real gentleman.
Cpl. E4 Selders
Just A Little Grit
I vividly remember my first meal in the Corps. My brother and others warned me about the "Take All You Want But Eat All You Take Sign" posted in the mess hall and the consequences of not eating everything.
My first meal consisted of cold runny dripping scrambled eggs, cold burnt fried potatoes, and some kind of greasy sausage. The food in boot camp did not get much better but after a few days, I like most boots would eat anything I could get my hands on. We had no desserts but learned to take cottage cheese and sprinkle sugar on it or to stuff as much bread as we could into a coffee cup, sprinkle it with sugar, and fill the cup with milk.
I remember my first egg other than scrambled was at the rifle range where I joyously ate two fried eggs sunny side up.
ITR at San Onefre was a little better but not by much.
As my time in the Corps progressed the food got better but I never quite got used to baked bacon or hot dogs that had the consistency of Vienna sausages (mushy).
I remember 29 Palms sand storms and the sand in the food. Just a little grit to remind you of where you were.
By the time I made Sergeant the food had gotten markedly better. We had two meals on Sunday and the afternoon meal at Kaneohe was
either steak or squab. The also instituted a snack bar line with hamburgers and fries. But they never got rid of the d-mned Mushy hot dogs!
Gunny Screams "Saddle Up"
Nice touch on the Pvt. Megelich Letter Sgt. Grit. This new angle should stir something up.
Ddick: if SOPA be an antiquated acronym, then like ye I be antique sir.
Private Megelich, now that you have 'revealed your pos' in ol'... let's say 'older' Marine Cyber world, do us a favor and continue your sitreps. MOS, Duty Stations, etc. Now keep in mind the pre-ponderance of keyboard comm. in Scuttlebutt... newsletter in particular... are in-out NCO's. But as any Marine knows we are The Backbone of The Corps. For O-Grade advice you'll want to 'make liaison' with Ddick, if he is inclined to respond. (Methinks he will) His brain-housing-group is top tier and he has a double-edged keyboard.
Note: Make it a priority research project on how Marine Officers are developed. Then when you hear some s--tbird whining about the new "Boot Looie" you will have overcome the dilemma of not being able to see the forest for the tree's virus that SNM s-- tbird has. As an NCO you will be working closely with them. They did not become Officers by being stupid, far from it. Don't be an azs-smack but don't be intimidated... they will smell it on you... not good.
For Career Senior and Staff NCO advice there are many available... would go so far as to say... There will be many times in the next few years you will probably wish you had not joined The Corps... Having said that, here is my 2 cents which on the totem pole of life and The Naval Service is somewhere below whales--t. Hang on, here goes--
Never b--ch as an individual... only as a group... nobody like a b--cher... example; Gunny screams "saddle-up!" -as follows-, f-- k me man... this s--ks... aw maaannn... my feet hurt... grunt... sigh... p--s- moan. Generations before... drop ten and beat it... there ain't no 'Atheists' in a fighting hole, no foxes either... no such thing as a pogue when you're hurtin' for Beans-Bullets- Bandaids--Gunship Support--Fast Movers---plain ol' HE VT mix adjust fi... h-ll with that fire for effect shift from... WP bag in hand hey you amtrackers got any smokes man... 'gear adrift is a gift'... thou shalt steal from the ARMY... borrow from other Marine Units... no less than fire-team on liberty outside CONUS... never argue with a MAMA-SAN, you will lose... hydraulic fluid dripping on you in a '46 don't mean nothin', kinda like you sweating... one foot in front of the other-strecth it out... MRE's-meals rejected by Ethiopians-C's were better... haven't seen helmet graffilthy lately-but don't write f..u on the front, Skipper no likey... sceamin' "Gunny-birds inbound!" all your trash flies to parts unknown... Gunny again,"gimme my thieves up here"... "PVT, Numb--t's! If you don't close it up there ain't enough morphine in the platoon to stop the hurtin' I am gonna put on your azs when we top this hill!" Skipper's on my back!... Filipino Bands singing 'Jello Submaline" or "Rot-tie Top"-just wanna scream...10 seconds to LZ! Lock N' Load...
Could write this stuff to the thickness of 'War and Peace', but if you are as intelligent as you seem to be, we think ye may be a Marine my son. Enjoy the Ride. Good Luck. Keep us posted.
All Arizona Marine Corps Reunion 2012
Would like to thank you for all the raffle/door prizes you donated as well as gear we bought, or you provided for our Reunion, July 6/7/8th 2012, in Prescott, AZ. I was one of the lucky winners of the drawing and received your D2 Extreme Utility Ka-Bar! With stand! Thanks for all you do for fellow Marines. I have personally been a loyal Sgt. Grit customer for a dozen years or so now.
(FMF) for the K-4-13 (RVN) Reunion Association
From May 2-6, the Battery K, 4th Battalion 13th Marines Reunion association held our third reunion at Wilmington/Camp Lejeune, NC. On 3 May we visited Camp Lejeune and the 10th Marines where we were hosted by the Regimental Commander, Col Hall, the Regimental Sergeant Major, Sergeant Major Zhorne, the Regimental Artillery Chief, Master Gunnery Sergeant Martin, and a number of Marines from the Regiment. The 10th Marines put on a static display of current Marine Artillery at the Legacy Artillery Park, including the M777 155MM howitzer, and the 120MM Expeditionary Fire Support System.
After lunch at Ball Hall, we visited the Camp Lejeune War Memorial. On 4 May, we visited MCAS New River, where we were hosted by VMMT-204, the V-22 Osprey training squadron. We were given a thorough tour and briefing of the capabilities of the Osprey. In the afternoon, we visited the battleship USS North Carolina in Wilmington.
After our banquet and raffle on 5 May, we all headed home. Planning is already in the works for a reunion at Ft. Sill, OK in 2014. Battery K, 4th Battalion 13th Marines was a 155MM Sell- propelled Howitzer Battery, and was activated in 1966 as part of the 5th Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton, CA. The battery went to Okinawa, and then into the Republic of Viet Nam and provided artillery fire support for both the 1st, and 3rd Marine Divisions from the DMZ to Southern I Corps. In addition, the battery served with 1st Field Artillery Group, where it provided fire support for units of the U. S. Army, in particular the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. The battery was de-activated in 1970 as part of the Viet Nam drawdown. The reunion association is made up of those Marines who served with the battery during its time in before and while in Viet Nam and their families.
MSgt. Thomas A. Gafford USMC (Ret.)
I am writing to let you know of another fallen warrior. My brother, Stephen D. Buchanan Sr., was promoted early this morning, July 14, 2012. He suffered a massive heart attack.
Steve joined the Corps on July 28, 1966 and received basic training at MCRD San Diego. He served in Vietnam from Dec. 1966 until July 1967. He had just been promoted to L/CPL when he was wounded in a rocket and mortar attack while serving with MAG-16 at the base near Marble Mountain. He was released on a hardship discharge in Dec. 1967 as our father passed away right after he was wounded.
Steve was a much loved brother, husband, father, grandfather and friend.
Anywhere I Wanted
I have been reading about the many 'Posers' spotted lately and thought I would tell you about my experience. I was in a Truck Stop in Mississippi one night and had just finished my meal and was walking up to pay for it when I spotted a guy wearing a hat which identified him as a Former Marine and a Viet Nam Vet. I thought he looked kind of young, so I simply said, "Semper Fi" and he looked at me like I was speaking Chinese. I asked him who he was with and he said, "The 5th, wasn't everyone?"
I then asked him in increasing volume "Where did you go to boot camp?" He told me that his Dad and Mom were both in the Marine Corps so him and his twin brother could go anywhere they wanted. He told me that he went to Camp Pendleton because that's where his Mom attended boot camp and his brother went to Camp Lejeune since their Dad had gone there. I then told him he was full of S**t and told him to just go back out to his truck and fanaticize about being in the Army.
I made him give me his hat and I would make sure someone who deserved it would get it. A lot of folks started clapping and the waitress paid for my meal and told me her Dad had been a Marine in Viet Nam. I gave her the hat but told her if she was going to give it to her Dad, to make sure she washed it real good to get all the scum off it. Keep up the good work.
SGT USMC 1967-1971
New M60 Mounts
Heard it many times until one day I could myself grind a little salt in the wound; "6 and a wake-up fella's, I'm so 'SHORT' I can repel off my foot locker!"
Needless to say 23 Oct. '83 was a dismal day for all. Many had good friends in 1/8 whether from mutual attendance at NCO School or 2nd Div. Squad Leader School. The latter being most memorable as at the time it was conducted by then SSgt. 'The Devil' Singer who took great delight in popping pin on several CS or CN grenades tied to a long piece of comm. wire, then causing great grief and discontent by storming whatever position we be in at the time. Naturally screaming various and sundry threats and curses...usually while we were attempting to prepare terrain models or fire-plan overlays.(As ye all know..this was particularly frustrating). Don't remember losing sleep over it as I don't remember getting any during that 6 wks, or so.
Morale was already low, as we had lost our beloved CO Lt. Col. Wes Fox (MOH Rec.) to the Staff and War College in July. While there he frequently visited us and according to his memoirs had told General Gray he now wished he had not relinquished command of his "Magnificent Warhorse". (Obviously one of many reasons why we felt low without him), but we still had our best Mustang Six, Capt. Chuck Diesher, so when the FRAG came down for Big Pines II in Honduras, a continuation of the "Contradora Plan" in Central America all was well. We secured the peninsula area there at Puerto Castillo. LVT 7's ferried us back and forth across the bay to the C130 strip being constructed by the 193rd Inf. out of Panama while the CB's laid in "dug-out" bunkers for the very large amount of ordinance that would be staged just outside our wire.(old 37 mike-mike AAA bofors, WWII era frag's, 81 and 4 in. mortars, etc.)
If any competent Sandinista/FARC type had gotten a lucky tube- shot in there we would have never known it, which is why between line checks the "Walking NCO's" all rooted under a large steam shovel inside the perimeter, but that's another story.
As 2nd Gun Squad Leader, my two outstanding gunners were L/Cpl Tommy Gilbride and L/Cpl Jack Hiesterman. (Last I saw Master GySgt.
Hiesterman he was SNCOIC of Sct.-Sniper Inst. School up at MCDEC in an Interview with the Military Channel. How they hangin' Jack?) All had been pretty mundane, until about D+10...one steamy night...went like this;
Lying behind gun 1, (Tommy, we were on top of a large berm the "bees" had pushed up, overlooking that ordinance). No RTO for my pay grade so I had the pric 77 on my back and was doing a fair job of "blowing Z's". We just had gotten the new M60 mount's for the old AN-PVS4 NVD's. Unbeknownst to me Tom was eyeballing somebody moving around the razor wire... had no frag and I guess he figured no time to tell me, the contact might lose something into all that stuff. (Tom was one h-lluva gunner incidentally)... 6 round burst might as well been an atom bomb going off... lines freakin' out... pssssst, "Whiskey Golf 2, this is six-actual-WHAT the H-LL was that, over!" ... pssssst... kinda' squeaked out a report... "Six-Actual, this is my one positively ID'd unfriendly in wire, over." ... pssssst... "This is six--we'll see about that in about 30 mikes, until then you better jump up and down on those nervous babies-COPY! SIX OUT!" Never will forget that little radio conversation.
Result? A squad patrol outside the wire at dawn produced one 4 1/2 foot tall Howler Monkey. KIA. 2 rounds center mast. Oh well... happened before... will happen again. Probably why I didn't make Sgt. in my first tour.
Attention to Detail Ladies!
I have been wanting to write about this for a long time, here goes. I was coming back from my daughter's with the grandkids, anyway I was driving past the airport Det Metro, the road was near one of the runways and all a person could see was this large tail fin moving along. I closed my eyes for a second and I could see the B52 tail at Da Nang it almost freaked me out you and everybody else who reads this knows what I'm talking about. This fin was white in color, the ones at Da Nang were a dark green. Never forget. At the time me and my buddy were driving around in a wrecker taking in the sights around Da Nang Air Base '68.
Cpl Vic DeLeon
Not On My Watch
Sgt. Grit readers,
In the 28 June newsletter "Cpl. D.T. Jones" encouraged Marines to continue to serve their country by being in law enforcement after their tour of duty with the Corps. I couldn't agree more! I started in law enforcement a year before my enlistment was up in the Reserve and spent the next 41 years in the best career anyone could have. I went from a patrol officer to Chief of Police for two agencies, I served on a large municipal police agency in many assignments, including in the 'hood" as an officer and a Sergeant, as a competition pistol shooter and a lifetime Honor Guard member. None of my police experience would have been possible without the foundation laid by Sgt. R.F. Sandmeyer, Sgt. John Whitley, Jr., and Cpl M. J. Morgan, my Drill Instructors for Plt 287, Parris Island, Sept-Nov. 1965.
Now more than ever we need police officers that have a work ethic, are tested in emergencies, and have the honor, courage, and commitment to face an adversary with confidence. That describes a Marine perfectly and when I was in command, that is what I wanted in an officer or supervisor. So if you know a Marine heading back to civilian life, encourage him/her to join their local police agency. Your community needs that type of person on that wall saying, "nothing will harm you, not on my watch."
Police Officer, Sergeant, and Chief of Police(Ret.),
and willing to do it all over again!
You Can't Fool Me
In the days of yore, somewhere around 1974 or 1975, the Corps was in a re-building mode... The Reserve (ground) forces were being molded into something of a mirror image of the Regular Divisions... have no idea what was going on in the Wing side, and logistic functions were somewhere between a FSR (Force Service Regiment) and a FSSG (Force Service & Support Group)... either way, there was an Ordnance Maintenance Platoon (-) in Moline, IL. (long since re-designated to a General Support Maintenance unit, and moved onto Rock Island Arsenal in a joint Navy-Marine Corps Reserve Training Center)... as a more or less standalone technical unit, with several MOS's to train, and being a long way from the flag pole (9thMCD, Kansas City... actually in Overland Park).
There were challenges aplenty in finding resources and ideas for training this agglomeration of weekend warriors. We were able to pull off a couple of coups in acquiring specialized equipment... we managed to acquire our own brand new/rebuilt M109 SP 155MM Howitzer, and one of the biggest trucks in the inventory at the time, a M123 tractor (commonly called 'a ten-ton'... dunno why, because it could move a whole bunch more than ten tons) and a M793 trailer... pretty rare bird, built by Fruehauf for the Corps, and probably fewer than 100 ever delivered... rated at 60 or 65 tons, sixteen 16" tubeless tires, no floor, just two flat rails on either side, and it articulated up and down in the middle, between the front frame holding eight tires, and the back frame holding the other eight... took a 30-ton jack under each tailboard when loading, etc.
The I-I staff rated one Motor Transport NCO... this was Sgt Grimsley, and by default, he became the licensing NCO. Now this tractor, while not as big as the HMETT versions that came along later, was still one big mutha... had a flip-down step in the front bumper for doing pre-op checks of coolant , oil, PS fluid, etc. For you gearheads reading this, the thing had a Cummins 903 V8 diesel, five speed non-synchromesh Mack transmission, Mack boogies, all-wheel drive (if engaged) a davit and hoist to lower/raise the spare tire, steering brakes, etc... and a flank speed of 53 MPH... uphill, downhill, empty/loaded... it was gonna do 53MPH. Period. When we got it, (came in on a rail flat car), we went over to get it.
"Grimsley... issue two driver's licenses for this thing" "Aye, aye, Skipper." So Grimsley and I became the Will and Sonny of Moline (think TV series... 'Big Wheels'... Claude Aikens and whats-his-face)... this thing, being non-synchromesh, required 'double-clutching'... briefly, a technique of depressing the clutch, moving the gearshift to neutral, letting the clutch out, depressing the clutch, shifting to the next 'hole', (up or down) and easing the clutch out again... nearly a lost art, these days and requires a practiced touch on the accelerator... as we were headed out of the rail yard, Grimsley was grinding the gears, trying to shift... so I hollered "Dammit, Grimsley, double- clutch!"... to which he responded, "You can't fool me, Skipper...I know the other one's the brake." So we learned... practicing on the streets and byways of Moline and Rock Island... including the day we got the airbrakes (wedge types) on the trailer locked down at a stop sign in Rock Island and had no friggin' idea how to get them released (we did... somehow... forty years later, still don't understand the old DD-3 air brakes).
Money for some things was pretty tight (we're headed that way again... but I digress)... My peer I-I over at Joliet (IL), Capt Alex Powell and I were commiserating over the phone one day, and he was not happy that District had told him that there just were no funds for contract (civilian) trucking to get his battery of SP 155MM guns from Joliet up to (then Camp... now Fort) McCoy in Wisconsin for their fall FIREX... big deal, really, since Reserve Cannon-Cockers only got to shoot twice a year, in a good year.
The light bulb went on... and I called Lt.Col Jim Tickle (really his name... good guy, absolutely bald) at District, and told him we, up at Moline, had the solution to Alex's problem... we had this truck, y'see, and two licensed drivers (didn't go into a lot of detail on the driver part... didn't lie... figured Lt.Col's had more stuff to worry about than petty details), and we could get Alex's battery to McCoy and back for only the cost of fuel and the driver's per diem... $17/day each at the time... after the expected, "I dunno, we've never done it that way before" argument, we got the go-ahead. So off to Joliet we go... even had a spare battery and a rotating yellow beacon to strap on top of the howitzer turret... loaded up, and headed up I-55 to the Tri-State Tollway on the west side of Chicago.
When we got to the toll way, we pulled over to the shoulder, and I went inside to buy the wide-load permit... the silly servant at the desk inquired "how wide is your load?"... "oh, 12-6 or so"... well, you ain't coming on here, cause 12 feet is all you get... Oh, cr-p! Here we are, a hundred plus miles from home, with 107,000 pounds of mobile metal, a mission to accomplish, no supporting or adjacent unit leaders, certainly no sympathy from any civilians in the area... yer basic deep kim-chee (more on kim-chee later). Back out to the truck... "Grimsley...grab that tape measure outta the tool box, get on the other side, and let's look like we're measuring this POS." Back into the office "Nah...I was just guessing...it's 144 inches, twelve feet, exactly." The guy gave me the permit, and the receipt for $10... back to the truck, told Grimsley, "let's get the FOD, move this thing!" (for you wing-wipers who think 'FOD' had only to do with Foreign Object Damage, the ground version involves leaving Dodge City... figure it out... Grit's effete censors won't). Ornery one riddle problem... we forgot we had three orange flags on wooden sticks sticking out on each side of the trailer... we left all six broken off on the toll booths... and kept going.
We spent the better part of three weeks moving the guns (howitzers, OK?) up to McCoy, and back... 310 miles one way... up loaded, back empty... then the weekend shoot by the Reservists who came up on chartered buses, and then back... back loaded, up, empty... slept under the truck, ate C's... showered at the Naval Reserve Center in Joliet, (where, I can assure you, the Officer's shower did NOT have a soap dish on the wall). We were on the last trip, and pulled over at a rest area near Belvedere, IL (big MOPAR plant there at the time)... used a pay phone to call the office. GySgt Sam Sasso, our admin chief, advised, "the Col wants you to call him at District, ASAP!" In the words of Belvedere, the talking dog... "rut roh!" ... Col Tickle?... "Captain Dickerson calling, Sir." His response was "aren't you kind of an expensive truck driver?"... "All I can say sir, is: "Mission Accomplished!"
Ain't too many people can honestly say they have chased a cheese-head deer through the woods of Wisconsin in a 25-ton armored vehicle (moving the guns out to the range to make ready for the arrival of the troops)... but I have... and people sometimes wonder why I miss the Corps?
Last I heard of Grimsley, he was raising pigs and preaching at a Baptist church down on a western IL river town... and they gave me a short haircut and sent me to the desert.
Oh, yeah... 'kim chee'... Asian dish, Korean in origin, I think... pickled cabbage with garlic, onions, fermented, etc... kinda like the Vietnamese who explained Nuoc Mam (SP?) to me... "smell bad, taste good"...
"Our people are fast approaching the point where it can be said that seven-eights of them are trying to find out how to live at the expense of the other eighth."
"I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world! General of the Armies"
--Douglas MacArthur; Korea, 21 September 1950
"There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come."
--Peter Muhlenberg (1776)
"Tyranny, like h-ll, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. 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."
--Thomas Paine, 1776
"You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years."
--James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; 23 February 1945 (the flag-raising on Iwo Jima had been immortalized in a photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal)
"We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the h-ll is going on?"
--Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the assault on Grenada, 1983
I'm here to finish a job no one ever started...
"I came here to chew gum, take names, and kick azs...I'm outta gum, and my pencil's broke..."
God Bless the American Dream!