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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 20 SEP 2012

In this issue:
• Operation Utah
• I Stood My Post
• Blue Blades

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I know Sgt Grit has a tattoo page and I indeed have my 'Corps' in, but I though y'all would like to see the 'tattoo' I put on my MC tank (BTW, I just rode it cross country). This is not a decal, it was hand painted by a motorcycle guy in Alabama (note the bulldog above the ega, that came from you too. Thanks again for all your help.

Sal Espsoito

Operation Utah

In March, 1966, the Marine Corps lost a good man, a family lost one of their favorite sons and a bunch of fighter-writers lost a best friend. On March 4-5, LtCol. Leon Utter, the Battalion Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, was ordered into in the village of Chau Ngai in the Quang Ngai Province of Vietnam. The mission: to engage the NVA. It was called Operation Utah. With Utter's battalion was Cpl. Lester Wesighan, a Marine Corps combat correspondent and Cpl. Ken Henderson, a Marine Corps combat photographer/a fighter/writer/photographer team.

During the same operation, LtCol. (later General) P.X. Kelley's 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was ordered into the fray to assist Utter. I was assigned to 2/4, also as a 4312, combat correspondent. We began landing shortly after 08:30 and our helicopters were immediately taken under fire. Several helicopters were put out of commission before all the Marines were on the ground and moving towards our objectives. Two Companies of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines engaged the NVA in close quarters but persevered until all the companies reached LtCol. Utter's battalion and established night defensive positions.

North of Utter's and Kelley's Marines, units from the 1st Marine Regiment slugged it out with a persistent enemy who was dug into a network of interconnected tunnels, bunkers and spider holes. At approximately 12:40 on 6 March, the three Battalions advanced but the North Vietnamese were no longer there. Gone. Left the scene. No longer wanted to fight.

During Operation Utah, 44 Marines were killed and 84 wounded on the same day. Les Wesighan was one of the 44. Wesighan was shot in the head by a sniper on March 4, 1966 while attempting to rescue wounded a Marine William Brown. Les was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on March 20, 1966. Those of us who knew this remarkable young man, and talented writer, will remember him until the day we draw our last breath. Attached is a photo of 2/4's landing in Chinooks during Operation Utah.

Semper Fi,
Sgt. Dan Bisher,
1963-1969, RVN 65-66

I Stood My Post

Sgt. Grit,

I went through the Embassy Guard School at Henderson Hall in 1963 after a tour in the grunts, and I am concerned watching our embassy's across the Middle East go up in flames.

When I stood post at my embassy we had six rounds of .38 caliber and orders to lock the main door if the embassy was attacked. We had anti-American demonstrations, that being the popular thing to do in those days, but a heavy local riot police presence kept things peaceful. The local government was not overly pro-American, but did not stand for lawlessness in their streets.

It's been over forty years since I thought about holding an embassy in the face of screaming mob... we had our standing orders in those days, but our situation was highly different than what the troops on post in the Middle East have to endure... without jeopardizing anyone's safety I am wondering how much has changed over the years since I last stood post back in 1966.

I enjoy reading the troops' articles,

Sgt. Don Merkle
USMC 61-66

Blue Blades

Dear Sgt Grit,

As a reader of your outstanding newsletter for the last few years I have read a few articles that reference Gillette blue blade razors, sometimes used dry under a bucket while double timing or other such motivating activity. Being a young devil dog (only seeing those yellow footprints in 1983) I did not have the pleasure of using these razors, just the newfangled disposable ones (shave once down, once up).

While on business in Nanjing, China, recently I ran out of juice on my electric razor and had to go to the local convenience store to buy a razor. Imagine my surprise when I saw a brand new Gillette Blue Blade razor for sale for about $1.50. I bought it, but also bought a Mach 3 and shaving cream as I had no intention of disfiguring myself with the blue blade. It is indeed a small world. (Also went to Shanghai and visited Soochow Creek while there).

Best regards,
Mike Winnie
Corporal of Marines
USMCR B/1/24


Sgt Grit,

When we were short on Okinawa (61 - 63), we all got a short timer stick and carried it in our rear pocket.

Sgt Chuck Wanamaker 60 - 66

Short Rounds

To Gary Harlan, Sergeant of Marines: I showed up at MCRD, San Diego 1978. A full 14 years after you entered our beloved Corps. I do remember the yellow foot prints. And, I remember being scared sh-tless. Your tactic of showing up hammered sounds like a great way to anesthetize the brain against what was to come. I wish I'd thought of it.

John Hardin
Sergeant of Marines

About San Luis in Mexico, I remember going there, meeting Miss Butterfly, but not much. I definitely don't remember going back to Yuma. VMFA-333 had a reputation for having the highest number of cases of VD for a Yuma deployment. For that distinction 333 was called "Triple Drip".

Richard "Charlie" Brown
USMC 68/72 Aviation

Don't know if you have the capability of cross referencing by name, unit, subject or whatever. Seen several post about the yellow foot prints, and several years ago, I posted on the site about checking with the Historical Section of the Corps, when they were in D.C. and the head of it, told me, in writing that they had no record of how or when they came to be in existence.

Norm C

Sgt. Grit,

I have a question about utilities. Mainly the utilities used in the late 60's to early 70's that had the concealed buttons on the pocket flaps and the front of the jacket (blouse?). I call them the 'Gomer Pyles' because they're the ones you see Gomer wearing on the show.

What name did these utilities generally go by? Are these the 'sateens'? Also were the buttons on the trouser pocket flaps concealed too? Would love to have a set of those.

J. Womack

Just read ddick's comment on swagger sticks and attache' cases. I bought a hard plastic Samsonite briefcase, attache' case in Philippines in 1969 to carry my SRB and other documents in to come home, still have the darn thing 43 years later and it works perfectly. It was much better than the manila envelope and it did look sharp. Ha!

Floyd Kent
Sgt USMC 1966-1970

Sgt Grit,

I must agree with you concerning the "Ka-Bar". I still have my original one "issued to me" sometime in early 1943. Could not begin to give you the exact date.

Several years back (seven or eight) while hunting in Alabama, I used it to kill a wild boar. It did a great job! The "Sheath" is quite worn but the blade is still sharp enough to shave.

Every Marine Should Have One For Life!

Semper Fidelis,
Rudy Folds
Vista, CA
USMC Retired

I was at Camp Pendleton in 1958. I took some Marines to T.J., Mexico while driving thru town I turned the wrong way onto a one way street. I was stopped by a cop who told me I would have to pay a fine of $150. I looked in my wallet and I told him I only had $8.65 he said it was $150.00 Mexican money and $8.65 American money. I paid the fine and returned to the good U.S.A. Semper Fi. I enjoy the newsletter.

G.A. Hammer '58-'61

I went through recruit training at PISC in June 1964, a year before the former MarCad Lieutenant Dunev arrived on deck, and we qualified with the M-14 rifle using 7.62mm (NATO) ammo. The M-14 had been issued for recruit training purposes beginning sometime in 1962, so I'm at a loss when I read that recruits were using old WWII ammo (M-1 .30 cal?) for rifle qualification at Parris Island in 1965. We didn't see our first M-1 Garand until we hit ITR at Camp Gieger. Can somebody please help me out here?

Jim Mackin
MGySgt. (Retired)

I was in 3rd Tank Bn. During 1965 to 1966. I was at the H and S area the whole time. I was big on driving 6 bys and pcs. There were 3 tanks at the top of the hill we were at. One was a flame tank, right at the top of the hill. The other 2 were M48A3 90mm gun tanks.

Any way you were referring to M60 tanks. They were not tanks but we did have them there. They were known as tank retrievers. They sure were big. They weighed more than the tanks. Hope that answered your M60 question.

Semper Fi,
Larry Fleagle
3rd Tanks Bn.
3rd Tank Bn Motor Pool
Any Load Any Road


MCRDSD, 3d Bn, 1982 - left over right, and still lace my cadillacs that way. If there were variations, then maybe there really was no standard afterall.


There is a time at boot camp when it hits you that you are a Marine and it never goes away. You are a Marine for life.

Walt Morris
China Marine


Dear Sgt. Grit,

I remember the first day as a boot at my new duty station at Cherry Point with the Staff NCO's looking so serious and calling me aside and asking me to take a walk to one of our support squadrons with a note - see Gunny Verbanic, it is an emergency! The note said give this Marine 100 yards of flight line and get a truck from base motor pool to deliver it back immediately.

I was sent from the squadron in a truck from the motor pool to base supply as the squadron said we had only 25 yards on hand and they could not fill the order. Naturally, I was the laughing stock of Group Supply that day, but all newcomers got tested same way. A few months later I was the evil doer for the FNG, I sent him to all squadrons on the flight line looking for a pallet stretcher, to make pallet bigger to handle a wide piece of equipment. Next we sent the FNG out for a box stretcher to accommodate getting everything into one box?

We all got played with and if one FNG did not play along with the gag, he would be sweeping the warehouse, and putting Brasso on the railroad tracks, and cleaning the head... get the picture people!

I remember a lot of stories from duty stations around the Corps stateside and out of CONUS... maybe I will expound on them later on.

Enjoy the newsletter and get responses from people all over thanks to you Sgt. Grit. Keep up the newsletter and let's hear from some newbies who sit on the sidelines and read only, as all stories bring back memories.

Semper Fi,
Bruce Bender

Note: In the last few days I talked to a recently discharged Marine. He said today this kind of thing is considered hazing and is not allowed. Geeezzz... what's happening to our world?

Sgt Grit

Ran The Length


I was at Parris Island in April of 1956, Plt 126, 4th Training Bn. We did not have combination locks, we had master locks with 2 keys, one was tied around our neck with tie-ties. The other was put in an envelope with our name on it and given to the drill instructor which was Sgt. Sheckler, Cpl Cutler and TSgt. Jorden if by chance you lost your key, you went to the Drill Instructor hut, we were in Quonset huts, and the DI had you bring your locker box to him. You lifted the locker box and ran the length of the compound singing, "I locked my lock, I lost my Key, I'm a horses azs from Yemassee." Then you drew an envelope from him, if it wasn't yours you ran again and again until you drew your envelope. I never had to run but some did.

Cpl James Laei

Be Careful

Peter Dunev,

Yes, when speaking Spanish, it can be a mine field. Latin- American countries are tricky. Be careful when you refer to 'cake' as 'bizcocho'. I shocked a buddy's mother once with that word.

As to shoe laces. A few years ago I was at the hospital for a checkup. While I was lying on the gurney, a nurse came by. She commented, "You're a Marine aren't you?" I replied, "yes, how did you know?" "Shoe laces, left over right and not twisted." Her husband had been a Marine Captain.

Paul Santiago GySgt (Ret)


No, I don't know anyone who actually did skulk off to Canada, but (and I didn't find out about this fpr a long time), while I was off enjoying the friendly competition of the Great Southeast Asia War Games in late '68 or early '69, my younger brother received an invitation to head into lower Manhattan for his draft physical. Sometime between that receipt and the scheduled appointment, he spoke to my father, a WW Deuce vet who had spent some time as a 'guest' of the Bohemian Paper Hanger following the Battle of the Bulge asking what he would say if he packed up and headed north. As the story was told to me, many, many years later, my father replied briefly: "I'd only have one son."

As it turned out, he did report and was classified IV-F, so the question was moot. We still speak, and when I head back east to visit I still stay at his house, but...

Duke - USMC 1966 (when boot camp was only 8 weeks) - 70

Stand Down

William E. Gilfillan (Bill), USMC Ret., age 85, passed away on 6/17/12 after a lengthy illness, which he battled as courageously as the wars he fought and is now standing shoulder to shoulder with Chesty Puller. William was a decorated veteran, who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

In Korea, he was trapped at the 38th parallel, and was one of the fortunate from the "Frozen Chosin" to make it back home. He continued his service through Vietnam, before retiring to Haddon Heights, NJ. I did not know him personally, but through a close mutual acquaintance the stories I heard about Mr. Gilfillan would fill volumes.

Stand down Marine...job well done.


Our Brand

Recently I have had the privilege to correspond with one of our more young, intelligent and outstanding future Women Marine Officers... her main goal at this point, after commissioning is to be in the Marine Corps "Lioness" or FET -(Female Engagement Team) program... recently she told me a "sea story" relayed to her by one the enlisted Navy Cadre that supervise the juniors in her present program -(visions came to mind of the typical 'squidly' type taking great pleasure while telling of his high adventures at sea) - one in particular I must share.

Said salty PO actually confessed to "hitting golf balls off the flight deck of a Carrier"... a cliche', yes ,but it cracked me up because, as I told her, I can see said swabby after swatting a perfectly good Titleist into the middle of the ocean... after looking back over his shoulder with a satisfied and sly grin - "nice shot I made there, huh"? As any Marine I would have probably said, "Great shot sailor! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!

Thanks to the Sgt. Grit Newsletter, which she enjoys very much, she is getting a big head start on "The Marine Corps Way", and our own brand of humor... and our history, firsthand.

Thanks for letting me share that with The Brothers, Catherine.

Semper Fidelis
Cpl DT Jones
Alpha 1/6, '81-'85

Upcoming Event at Sgt Grit

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012, The Fallen Hero's Dream Ride will be on display at Sgt Grits from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. This is a free event. If you would like to know more about the story behind Dream Ride vehicle, please view the following website: http://www.fallenherosdreamride.org/

Our physical address is:
7100 SW 44th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73179

If you plan on attending, please use the following link for driving directions:


It Can Be Done

Sgt Grit,

This is in response to Sgt Ken Brown. In July of 1967, I hurt my back building log cabins in Vermont. I had been carrying two bundles of shingles at a time up a ladder and placing them on the roof. I grabbed the last bundle and headed up the ladder. When I bent over to put it on the roof, I couldn't stand back up. It took a couple of hours to get me off the roof.

As a result, I saw a chiropractor for two months and was unable to return to work as a carpenter. I decided to become a Marine, so I worked with the recruiters to make it happen. When I went to Albany, NY for my physical and testing, I aced the AFQT test, then was told I was physically unfit for the Marine Corps.

Since I really wanted to become a Marine, I asked what I needed to do to make it happen. SSgt Huff, the head recruiter at Albany told me to get a letter from my chiropractor and have it endorsed by 2 MD's and they could take me. I did that and went to boot camp in December 1967. It can be done.

Jay R. Anderson
MSGT Retired
USMC 1967-1988
Platoon 1091, VMFAT-201, VMFA-232 (DaNang and MCAS Rose Garden),
VMFA-312, VMFA-451, VMFA-235, H&MS-24, 3MAW Avionics, NAD
Norfolk, VA

Ten Feet

Sgt Grit,

After reading all the stories of the famous foot prints I have to say that I do not remember them when I joined back in Feb 1965 Feb. I'm sure some will say that I was either blind or was in the wrong Corps. Well I'll tell you I was too d-mn scared to look down or sideways at the time I got off the bus, and the D.I. started screaming, yelling, and barking those unforgettable orders to keep the eye balls straight or else what is meant by that I will never know cause I was too scared to look in any other direction than straight ahead.

I think I left my own imprints and they were yellow and wet. I had never heard such screaming in my life and the words that came forth, I never heard my own father say. Oh, by the way, the D.I. was ten feet tall.

Cpl V. DeLeon
MCRD 1965 Feb

Pikes Peak

Hello and Semper Fi,

Here are some photos at the finish of the Pikes Peak Challenge. This was are 27th hike up the Peak that is put on by the Brain Injury awareness of Colorado and my 14th year for vonlunteering. I'm a survivor of a traumatic head injury, in a coma for 30 days and 9 months as they put me back together.

On the Challenge you meet in Memorial Park in Manitou Springs and we have vans that take you to Barr Trail for the 13 mile hike to the top, we have check points along the way so when you go by we look at your bib and mark you off so we know where your at. Up above timberline for the last 3-miles we have a check point every mile with EMT's and oxygen tanks just in case.

Up topside, we have doctors and EMTs all the snacks and drinks. All the hikers get medals and photographers get to get great shots of you and then vans to take you back down to the park. The money they raise is used to help families still in hospitals and allows us to go to schools to inform kids bout wearing a helmet if thier biking, skateboarding or skiing. This is a great publicity for companies when they do the hike we look forward to when we can get a few More Marines doing the hike or volunteering. Semper Fi!

Sgt. Thomas Martin Ret.

It Ranks With It

To: Charles (Chuck) Brewer, 1967-1973, Sergeant of Marines FOR F---K--G EVER!, MOS 6511 Aviation Ordnance, IYAOYAS!

Sgt. Brewer:

In the Sgt. Grit News Letter of 19 July 2012, you wrote of a couple of coincidences which happened to you in country. You challenged others to write of similar things that happened to them.

Not sure if it beats your experience, but I think it ranks with it.

20 Nov 1969, I am standing perimeter guard on top of a revetment around the bomb dump south of the DaNang Airport. At daybreak, plus 30 minutes we return to the MAG-11 compound west of the runway to try to get a little rest before returning to the perimeter for another night of guard duty.

On 19 Nov 1969, an Air Force Captain, (Pat Hanisee), is in the O-Club on the Air Force side of the compound celebrating his last night in country. (Pat is 18 months older than I and is the elder of the eleven children of Major and Irene Hanisee). Pat grew up directly across the street from me at 228 Lillian Street in Bossier City, Louisiana. Major Hanisee is a Navigator on refuelers (KC-135?) out of Barksdale Air Force Base (about 2 miles from Lillian Street). Pat is a navigator on Puff (or spooky as the Air force called it).

Now the next morning I'm settling into the rack to get some rest, and Pat is going to the Air Force Mess to get his last meal in country. There he runs into 1st. Lieutenant Butch Baldridge. Pat knew Butch from Air Force ROTC summer camp (Pat from Louisiana Tech and Butch from Texas A&M). Butch and I were in the same graduating class at Bossier High School in 1964. Butch is the pilot of a Cessna O2A Skymaster Push Pull Forward Air Observer Aircraft and is scheduled for a flight which is to be among his first flights in country and only his first or second trip to Laos.

Pat is enjoying his last meal in country and later will catch his freedom bird. Butch is preparing for his first (or second?) true combat mission (accompanied by his CO, Lt. Col. Walter A Renelt) and I am about two months shy of my rotation date. We are all were within a click of each other, but I'm not aware. In my entire tour, I never actually came face to face with anyone I knew from anywhere other than people I had met or served with in the Marine Corps.

Pat and Butch have their breakfast and I get some rest. Pat catches his freedom flight, I get my rest and Butch and his CO become MIA in Laos. The location of their aircraft is known and well documented. Observers report the crash appears to be such that the crew could have walked away, but both are still MIA to this day. Butch becomes a father five months later.

Because of classification circumstances I don't know any of this until about 2005.

God Bless Capt. John Robert Baldridge Jr., Lt. Col. Walter A. Renelt and all MIA's, KIA's, wounded in action and their families.

S/Sgt Hayes, Charles N. (Nick)
8 May 1967 - 9 July 1971
Vietnam ('69 - '70)

With General Lejeune's Signature

Upon the death of a relative, I was given his Marine Corps personal items. There was a photo album from China (which is in the Archives and Special Collections Branch of the Library of the Marine Corps). The album belonged to George Harper Simmons (Platoon Sergeant, 188020). I also had a discharge document of his that bore the original signature of John Archer Lejeune.

On Feb 9, 2009 I took the document to Drill Instructor School at Parris Island, SC. With my wife by my side, we met with the (then) director of the school Maj W.H. Nash. I asked the Major if he would be so kind as to display my uncle's discharge document on the wall next to two other framed discharges from the WWII era? He said he would be delighted to display the document and asked for my contact info.

Parris Island had always had a special meaning to me, since I went there as a recruit and came back to complete a tour as a Drill Instructor/Senior Drill Instructor. As we left the Island, I told my wife that I was relieved to know that a part of my family's history was now going to be displayed for future Marines to view at D.I. School.

On the 10th of August 2012, I found myself with one of my recruits from 38 years ago back on Parris Island. I took him on a tour of the Island since he wasn't afforded the pleasure of a leisurely tour back in 1974. I went to D.I School to show him the discharge document of my uncle with General Lejeune's signature only to find that it was not there. I spoke with the current 1stSgt of the school who had no knowledge of ever seeing the document. The 1stSgt did some phone calling and said he spoke to the 1stSgt who was at the school while Maj. Nash was the director and remembers the discharge document in question, but did not have any further information.

1stSgt Skanes (current 1stSgt of D.I. School) has searched the archive files at the school and has had no luck in locating the document. I have had no luck in trying to locate Maj. W.H. Nash now Lt.Col. I was hoping your readers might be able to provide some knowledge as to where I might get a hold of the Lt.Col, and I mean that in a nice way.

Paul S. Laskodi


In response to John Halpin's question about a book of Drill Instructor wisdoms.

To my knowledge there has never been a book, or even a published list of Drill Instructor sayings. If there was or is, I never saw it (certainly didn't hear about it in Drill Instructor School).

Because all Drill Instructors also went through Recruit Training, we brought with us the sayings we grew up with and along the way picked up an occasional new one (though not too often) and on occasion added our own creativity.

They stick with you for life. Two that I routinely use to this day are: 1) your favorite "What is your major malfunction" and 2) (cleaned up for civilian use) "Out-Cotton-Pickin-Standing".

S/Sgt Hayes, Charles N. (Nick)
8 May 1967 - 9 July 1971
Vietnam ('69 - '70)

My Life

I spent 33 Years as a United States Marine and retired in August at the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant.

As a force recon Marine at French creek, NC, I spent most of my life in the service of the United States of America. I cannot think of a better way to spend my life. Yes, combat was a part of it but I now belong to the world's greatest brotherhood with a lifelong membership.

God bless all the Marines past and present and to the ones still in harm's way remember this Semper Fi!

Brothers forever
Master Gunnery Sergeant
Richard A. Howell III
May 17th, 1979 to August 20th, 2012

Chesty's Home

Dear Sgt. Grit,

I used a previous email that you and I communicated through and am hoping you remember me. Back in Dec. 2011 in your newsletter, (I saved it) it was brought up that the Puller Family sold "Chesty's House". I sent an email stating that the house was bought and though empty, it was being maintained.

I am a Life Member of Detachment 1317, MCL in Gloucester, Virginia, and during one of our fundraising events last weekend for Young Marines and their families at Yorktown, 2nd F.A.S.T., MGySgt. Frank Garvey, USMC (ret) is our Commandant met the gentleman that bought "Chesty's" House in Saluda. They spoke quite a while. The gentleman wants to preserve "Chesty's House for history and he is maintaining/keeping up the house but allows no one to live in it. At this point, this is what we are doing with this gentleman and once I get additional things I would like to forward the information for your newsletter:

- On 10 Nov 2012, the Marines of 2nd F.A.S.T. of Puller Hall in Yorktown will do a run to "Chesty's" Grave in Saluda, VA at Christ's Church. The Marines used to do this for years but stopped a few years ago. We will hold a ceremony at Chesty's Grave and I will speak briefly.

- Then the Owner of "Chesty's House" will open up the home for visitors/guest. I have been asked to speak of Chesty and his family to those who visit his house. Everyone will get to walk through his home.

- The owner is interested is our Detachment using the House as our HQ's.

- We are looking at starting a fund to raise money to help maintain "Chesty's House". (We have 60 members and raise a lot of money to support our local Marines and other branches of the service.

- If the owner ever decides to sell the House... well the money we raise will go to the Marine Corps National Museum (I am a member there too.) Or we get the option to buy it.

Once I have more details and hard facts, I will forward a letter with names, email addresses, etc. I feel this is exciting and I will have everything by the end of the week.

Again, Sgt. Grit; thank you for your love, patriotism and devotion to your blessed Marine Corps and Marines and for your love of "Chesty". Lewis Jr. is long gone, Virginia lost her husband, Col Dabney and her health isn't good either but I do not know the status of Martha, but know she too is getting up in age. I do not want to see the "loss" of the "General" in all arena's. H-ll, even at Parris Island, hardly a thing on him anymore, even at the museum.

Sgt. Grit, you are keeping "Chesty" alive amongst so many!

"Chesty's" Friend
Steve Robertson

Thoughts About Chow

Before the Corps, I'd heard about the food. While in I had 1st hand experience, and afterward you'd get questions about it. Civilians, particularly mother civilians thought it was not very good. The cooks would get a bum rap.

Reading the stories in Sgt Grit's newsletter brought a couple of conversations to mind that took place after I got out. They were food for thought, pun intended.

Not long after I got out, someone at work asked me about the food. How was it? Etc... This pretty much sums up my opinion... I told them that overall I thought that the food was pretty good. I don't know what people expected... gourmet food? Fine dining? But I'm a peasant, I'm easily pleased and partial to junk food, simple dishes, etc. But my main point to my colleague was "It all comes down to who's in charge in the galley"

Our accountant walked by when I said that and let it be known that he was a Navy Cook and went into a pretty good rant on the difference between a good cook who gave a sh-t (not his words, I dirtied it up) and an unprofessional lazy aszed cook. He said if you're lazy you make gravy by burning sugar and mixing in flour and water or spend hours doing it right, and make real gravy by slow cooking the meat and collecting the juice etc.

Later in life while having dinner with friends, my friend explained in great detail the difference between "dining" and just "eating". Basically eating is just meeting a necessary need, getting food in the body for fuel. You just get 'er done. But dining, particularly fine dining, ambiance is very important, nice venue outside, inside and right down to the table setting. A work of culinary art. You partake of the food, slowly, savoring every bite, washing it down with fine wine. And you converse and enjoy your company, top it off with a dessert and coffee which also is top of the line. Then if applicable, you ease back for a nice smoke(s) and more conversation. Overall this can take a couple of hours and you pay accordingly on the bill and the tip.

With this in mind following are some thoughts about chow:

Fine dining and ambiance the Marine Corps way. Anyone recall any? When my friend waxed poetics on the elements of fine dining, what came to mind is our version. He wouldn't understand so I didn't run it by him. How about your 1st week of boot camp when the junior DI jumped up on the table running back and forth screaming in your face, about posture, eating habits, throwing nothing away. That about topped my introduction to USMC fine dining.

I pulled mess duty in boot camp as about everyone did or some other place. That wasn't too bad actually. The Mess Sgt really had an incredible schedule to meet and didn't have time to hard asz you, unless you screwed up. But if you did your job dependably, you pretty much got left alone.

Then there was the rifle range. From an operations standpoint the mess halls did an incredible job of moving people through the mess halls. To help things along, my platoon had two "fast eaters" I was one. And I think the other platoons operated the same way. You had all your gear with you and it needed guarding.

So we fast eaters were sent in first and had the ability and "encouragement" to get a full meal down in 5 minutes or less, and get back out to the platoon so they could have chow. They of course had more than 5 minutes, while the fast eaters guarded the gear. It wasn't bad duty for boot camp. No one screwed with you in the mess hall, and you were undisturbed while watching the gear. About 45 minutes of peace to be treasured.

I was honored with mess duty again on a trip to Vieques. Among other duties I worked the line doling out the food. The Navy Chief in charge wasn't into fine dining and was much more into shoveling out food, down to the right portions per tray. (His version of a table setting I supposed). We got about 2 seconds of training on portions about 2 inches from our faces delivered in a very loud voice, with his grand finale "One Roll"! "They only get One Roll".

My fellow Marines, (my unit of Tractor Rats,) eventually showed up, and urged me to use my influence with my serving pinchers to up the ante. I had to live with these guys. No sooner than I awarded the 1st Marine with 3 rolls did the Chief come storming over, grabbed 2 rolls from his tray and flung them back into the pan, giving me his best glower and growl and One Roll mantra. He had a great memory too and I paid for it in many other ways, before I got off the ship.

For ambiance, try eating in a typhoon on a ship when the table takes on an angle that's far from flat, and people all around you find out that it doesn't agree with them... right away. You can't get away fast enough. Barf and chips anyone?

Now as to food quality once you understand it's all about who's running the galley and their standards in so doing, the differences to the good or bad side make sense.

Like I said, I think the recruit depots do a good job considering their workload and schedules. But who really remembers the food? We'd have eaten deep fried dog sh-t if that's what was put in front of us. There's no comments e.g. "Sir my mashed potatoes have lumps in them". The only thing I remember (though this was 50 years ago), is the fast eater duty at the rifle range. I took to eating dessert first and I remember eating lemon pie. That's the only food that comes to mind. And I was a milk drinker back then and I think we got all the milk you wanted.

For 2 and a half years I was at the same duty station, Courthouse Bay in Camp Lejeune. No complaints, if anything the food was consistently good. And peasant as I am, I happened to like SOS a lot.

I noted something above about the ambiance of shipboard "dining". The quality varied and definitely drove home the point about who's in the galley, and supply. Back in the day we didn't fly, we went overseas on ships. It took weeks to get across the Pacific. Just after you left port, the food was OK, but as time went on, you'd see a difference. Milk was a case in point. I don't know what they do now, but then they had something called "reconstituted milk".

I don't think it was powdered milk, but some sort of condensed milk. Add water and you have... milk? It looked like milk but it had this unique and not so wonderful taste. I can't describe it, but if you've had it you'll know what I'm talking about. If you put it in coffee to kill the taste, sorry it made it through the coffee. Reconstituted milk was with you 'til you got back to the States, as that's what was in the PX, enlisted clubs etc. So milkshakes were sort-of milkshakes.

If you had or have ideas, that Officers get the best food, think again. On one of the ships, my Captain practically begged me to sneak him some sandwiches. The Ship's Captain must have put the best cook in the enlisted galley. According to the Captain of my team, the food was God-Awful.

And speaking of awful. Like I said, I'm not a picky eater. For me to b-tch about food, it's got to be really bad. And on one of the ships, either going over or coming back, it looked and tasted like slop. On base you had alternatives, the e-club, town, but on a ship loaded down with crew and Marines... there was a gee-dunk place, but the supply would run out. So even your candy bars went away. On troop ships chow call isn't a call. It's a non-stop line. By the time they get everyone through for breakfast they start lining them up for lunch and ditto for evening chow call. It has to be H-ll back in the galley for the cooks. And we all were mostly passing through. It's not like they'd see us again, e.g. on a base. I don't know, but they surely had a different source of food for the crew and a place to eat it.

So to sum it all up, I think the cooks did a good job and probably not much direct compliments for doing it. If you moved around you got exposed to different mess halls and odds are some really good and some the opposite. But the cooks deserve a pat on the back.

Don Harkness

Viet Nam Leaflets - 1966

Here is a scan of a leaflet (front and back) that I picked up while out on an operation south of Chu Lai in summer of 1966.

Semper Fi,
Jim Evenson
3/11, 1st Mar Div.

Walk The Alligator

I graduated from platoon 162 on 30 October 1962, P.I. Our Senior DI was SSGT Haskell and the juniors were SGT Hartman and SSGT Gerry.

I remember many things from boot camp but one thing sticks out in my mind that I have to share. The platoon next to ours was made up of boots from Florida. They had a baby alligator as a mascot and every morning a member of that platoon would have to walk the alligator around the parade deck. The alligator was about a foot long and was tethered to a six foot length of rope.

Now the DI'S in the Florida platoon found out that we had a boot from Florida. His name was Sam Harris and he happened to be my bunkmate. The Florida DI's got with our DI's about Sam being from Florida. Sam was told one night that he would have to walk the alligator the next morning. Sam was built like a brick, and could take on six guys, but he did not like bugs, animals and certainly not alligators. That night before the scheduled walk, Sam kept waking me up and telling me that he would not walk the alligator.

Morning arrived and Sam walked the alligator. All the DI's were roaring with laughter as Sam very slowly walked that animal. I often wondered what happened to Sam. I would love to hear from anyone from platoon 162 or the Florida platoon that remembers the mascot or this incidence. Sam is African American.

Cpl Thomas Connolly
U.S.M.C.R. 1962-1962

So, Saying There

Sgt. Grit,

This is to address Sgt. John Wears comment about M60 A1 and A2 tanks in R.V.N.

I was in our Corps 1965 to 1968. R.V.N. from June 1965 'til July 1966. I separated the Corps in '68. I enlisted in the Army in 1969. (somebody had to un-f--k the army).

Anyway they sent me to Cu Chi, Viet Nam, 25th Infantry Division. There, I had many encounters with armored vehicles, many of which were M60 A1 and A2s. 2nd Armor Battalion was phasing out the 48s for the newer 60s.

So, saying there were no M60s in R.V.N. is incorrect. The III corps and IV corps areas there were full of M60s.

John W.
SGT of Marines
Captain U.S. Army


Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny) Vol. #2, #5, (May, 2012)

I'm going to take a few moments here and explain how the Strike /Flight system works and what those numbers and devices you see on the Air Medals really mean. To do that without having a mental breakdown. I'm going to copy the info directly from "The Complete Guide to UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS Medals, Badges and Insignia, WW II to Present." Hopefully, the next time that you see a fellow MARINE wearing the Air Medal with a small Bronze number or other small device affixed to the medal you will know what it means and what had to be done to achieve this award.

Regulations and requirements state that the Air Medal may be awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Services, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service while participating in aerial flight, but to a lesser degree than which justified the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Air Medal is worn after the Bronze Star and before the Joint Service Commendation Medal. The Air Medal is considered by many to be the air version of the Bronze Star. ( I personally have 17 documented Air Medals.)

The Air Medal was established by Executive Order and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in May 1942. The medal was intended to protect the prestige of the Distinguished Flying Cross and as a morale booster to recognize the same kind of acts that were recognized by the DFC, but to a lesser degree. The NAVY and the MARINE CORPS also use a system for awarding the Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in sustained aerial flight operations based on the number of Strikes or Flights. Strikes are defined as sorties which encounter enemy opposition and flights are without enemy opposition. The requirement calls for 10 Strikes, or 20 Flights, or 50 missions, or 250 hours in direct combat support or any combination.

The combination requires the accumulation of 20 points on the formula of a Strike being valued at 2 points, a flight at 1 point and a mission at .4 points. The NAVY and MARINE CORPS distinguish between the award of the medal on a Strike Flight basis and those awarded for single mission/Individual basis. This is done by placing a bronze Arabic numeral ( indicating the number of awards) on the ribbon bar on the wearers left indicating the award is for Strike/Flight. If the award is for individual heroism or achievement a three-sixteenth inch bronze star is placed in the center of the ribbon for the first award, while five-sixteenth gold stars are used to denote additional individual awards (a silver star is used in lieu of five gold stars).

The use of stars to denote the number of Air Medals for Single Mission /individual Awards was discontinued during the period from 1 Jan. 1980 to 22 Nov. 1989 and the practice of using gold Arabic numerals (indicating the number of awards ) on the ribbon bar on the wearers RIGHT was substituted. The current practice (since Nov.22, 1989 ) of denoting the number of Air Medals for Single Mission/individual awards is with the use of five- sixteenth inch gold stars (a silver star is used in lieu of five gold stars.). A combat Distinguishing Device "V" was authorized for use with the Air Medal effective April 1974.

The Anchor

Sgt Grit:

In your newsletter of 5 July, Mike Kunkel asked about what Highway 17, around the gate to Geiger, looks like today and specifically about the old bars along Highway 17. I think someone has responded and said that the old bars were mostly a thing of the past.

The only time I ever got a chance to visit Geiger was in 1968 when we were transported down from Cherry Point to fam fire the M-16 before being deployed to Vietnam (straight down and straight back - no sightseeing). Being a graduate and a professor at MCRD SD, I have never had the opportunity to visit MCRD PISC, so I know little about the area. However, Mike's question reminded me of San Diego and an experience I had.

My last trips to San Diego were in the 70's until I had some opportunities to go back in 2002 through 2006. On these business visits, I would always try to get to the MCRD area and see how things had changed and relive old memories of the Drill Field and that general area of San Diego.

MCRD, being so near the downtown area of San Diego, there was not a strip of bars or other attractions at the gate. The attractions tended to be scattered around downtown with a few businesses and restaurants near the gate and in the Old Town region that catered to MCRD needs. Most of the bars we went to tended to be neighborhood or downtown type bars which were not as focused on the Marines as they were on everyone who walked through the doors.

However, there was one bar within about a half mile of the main gate which was almost exclusively Marine. It always seemed to be crowded with Marines and they ran tabs. They kept a big wooden box behind the bar and it was like a file box with numerous restaurant receipt books filed in it, in alphabetical order with the tabs of an individual Marine in each book.

Marines would run a tab, and then on payday or the next night the Marine / Drill Instructor had a night off, they would go by and cash their check and pay the tab all at the same time and then have a drink and start the process over again. The name of the bar was "The Anchor". I would guess that 95 percent or more of all Marines (other than Recruits) stationed at MCRD from WWII until sometime in the 80's or 90's had been to The Anchor. On one of my first trips back to San Diego (2002 or 2003) I thought I would go find The Anchor and tilt a few with some of the Nation's Best.

To my sorrow as I drove around the curve and the bar came into view, it was an Irish Pub ("Kelly's Irish Pub" as I remember). I was disappointed, but being mostly Irish, I decided that if I couldn't have a Marine Bar, I could make do with an Irish Pub, so I pulled up and went in. I don't think there was a Marine in the place.

One thing led to another, and after a beer or 12 and a couple of dart games, I ended up at the bar chatting with the lady who ran the place. I told her I was a former customer of the old Anchor, and she said that the straw that broke the camel's back was when the government jacked the drinking age back up to 21, the younger Marines couldn't get served in town, so MCRD started serving 3.2 beer on base and all of the Marine business dried up, so the bars that did depend on their business, either had to fold or focus on a new set of customers.

I can imagine the same thing could have happened to military bars all over the country in areas where the drinking age was actually enforced.

The Pub wasn't bad, but I sure miss the old Anchor.

Semper Fidelis!

S/Sgt Hayes, Charles N. (Nick)
8 May 1967 - 9 July 1971
MCRD SD - May 67 - July 67
Pendleton - July 67 - Aug. 67
NAS Jacksonville - Aug. 67 - Feb. 68
MCAS Cherry Point - Feb. 68 - Jan. 69
NAS Whidbey Island - May 68 - June68
Vietnam - Jan. 69 - Feb. 70
MCRD SD - March 70 - July 71


I know a lot of us like to make fun of the "doggies" and denigrate the Army's contributions but this is one Marine that can't join in. When I was finishing up my tour in Nam, one of my younger brothers (by 51 weeks) got drafted into the Army. He tested well and was offered to attend W/O school. He became W/O Steven J. Reed and a helicopter pilot.

I saw combat on Hill 826 North of Da Nang but Steve saw a lot more as a Cobra pilot. He earned 3 Purple Hearts and was awarded 27 Airman's Medals, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and for one particular incident, was nominated for the Medal of Honor. Because he was only wounded and not killed, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross (The same medal awarded our uncle, Col. Wayne Granger, as a bomber pilot in WWII.)

That particular incident was when his flight had deployed an ARVN unit with a few American advisors. Soon after the choppers took off, the patrol started to receive heavy fire from NVA regulars. The LZ had been an ambush. The patrol called for pick-up but the flight commander said the ground fire was too heavy. My brother set down anyway and got the patrol out. He took over 50 hits to his "bird" and was wounded but he got them all out.

I learned about all this not from him, but from his friends at his funeral. He died years ago at the age of 51 from multiple cancers. This was before the VA finally admitted that Agent Orange caused cancer. He had a full military burial with a 21 gun salute. It tore at my heart but even more painful was the sight of his beautiful daughter, my niece, standing there at attention and holding a salute in her smart USAF uniform with her Captain's Bars and tears rolling down her cheeks.

I know the Army isn't of the same caliber as Marines, but I like to think that my brother had it in him the courage and fortitude that would have made him a great Marine if he had, had the opportunity.

This newsletter is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Thank you Sgt. Grit for making my week every Thursday. And, the patches I got look great on my winter jacket; I can hardly wait for the cold weather to come!

Cpl. William Reed
1966-69 Semper Fi

Without Their Ka-Bar

No Marine should be without their Ka-Bar... even on their wedding day! Unbeknownst to the groom, Dad (USMC '77-'80) polished up the groom's Ka-bar that had been a gift from the groom's best friend while both were still poolees. Worked wonderfully to cut the cake!

Rick (Dad) had kept the newly polished Ka-Bar in the sheath tucked in the back of his trousers underneath his suit coat at the reception until the announcement was made that they were going to cut the cake. He very ceremoniously pulled it out and handed to Aaron, much like a wine sommelier, Aaron inspected it, then he and his bride, Erika, cut the cake with it. Total surprise to Aaron (and the guests) and much more appropriate for this wedding than buying one of those Bridal sets.

FYI... They will celebrate 4 years in February and welcome their first baby in March. His contract is up in November and he wants to re-up, but the governments futzing with the military has placed all re-enlistments in question. He wants to make a lateral move which, if I understand correctly would take place in December.

So, his C.O. has extended his contract until May in hopes of them getting to keep him. He recently qualified with pistol and is now trained to fill his 2nd MOS as a pistol coach. They even had him trying out for the shooting team, which I understand to be not all that common for just a Corporal and neither is a 2nd MOS (or... I could just be a proud mom who miss-heard. He just missed being accepted, but that was okay with him as he didn't want to be on the road all the time away from his wife.

Sincerely, Harriet Cook
Proud Wife and Mother of United States Marines

Short Route

Well, h-ll... it was fun at the time. Somewhere along in there between August of 1976 and August of 1977, while serving as the BnMaintO for 1st Tracked Vehicle Bn, 3rd MarDiv at Camp Schwabu, Home of the Huns of the North on Okinawa (last camp on the right, as you go up the highway to the Northern Training Area... us and the 9th Marines at the time...) we got tasked to help load some (deadlined) Army vehicles into an LSD (Landing Ship Dock) for what was known as 'Opportune Lift' back to the land of the Big PX... more or less a freebie... the ship was going anyway, and they had room, so why not?

Said vehicles were known as 'LARC's... Lighter, Amphibious Re- supply Cargo, or some such... interesting vehicle, pretty cool, actually... aluminum, boat hull, huge balloon tires, rear engine, flat cargo deck, diesel engine in the back... had props, swam well with a few tons of cargo, could get on down the road pretty well on the tires... think the low pressure tires were the entire suspension system, as these things sorta 'galloped' on rough roads. They saw a lot of use in Viet Nam, e.g., swimming cargo from ships to shore and inland... am sure you can find a pic on Wiki.

These had Cummins 903 engines in them... and none had more than 5 hours on the hour meter... they had been shipped to Okinawa during the war, kept in inventory at Machimanato (sp?), and never used. How they got to the pier at White Beach, I dunno, but there they were... not running, many with flat tires, no or dead batteries, etc. The deal was that a SeaBee crane would drop them into the water alongside the pier, one of our LVT P7's would come along side, tie up to the LARC (which had no functioning bilge pumps), and swim it around the end of the pier and into the open stern gate of the LSD... once inside, the crew of the ship (and I have the utmost respect for the squids who handle lines in the well deck of anything with a well deck... excellent opportunity to get hurt real bad, real quick... big heavy stuff being moved by the sea can do that) would winch them into position.

We had trucked two tractors down to White Beach, brought their crews, a couple cases of "C"s, not much else. The Navy had opened a Quonset hut with racks and mattresses (no linen or blankets... and we hadn't brought sleeping bags... but the Oki's warm, mostly...) The operation went pretty well the first day... nothing sank, nobody hurt... our S-3A, one (then Capt) Tibor Sadler, had come along, and mostly, we ossifers just watched, serving our major function as somebody to hang if things got FUBAR. We did disapprove one "everybody knows" item, though... everybody knows you can't tie an amtrack (AAV to you youngsters) up to a pier... sure can... just keep the bilge pumps active.

The mission took two days, but we 'got'er done'... and when it was time to return the tractors to shore... well, RHIP! Tibor drove one, I drove the other... and being Marines (Tibor used to build Ford racing engines) we had to compete... now, there are, or were, buoys to mark the approach lane to the ramp in that little bay... for good reason... however, it was obvious that 'cutting across' from the pier, as opposed to going north from the pier and ship and then turning into the marked lane, would be a much shorter route... so there we were... oblate spheroid reproductive organs to the bulkhead, headlights of the track buried in the bow wave (they didn't have the bow plates yet in those days... nor all the zits on the sides)... racing across the anchorage... it wasn't until we were ashore, that we realized that the buoys marked a lane that had been cleared of coral heads... we didn't find any coral heads on our shortcut, but if we had... probably would have ripped off a final drive (sprockety thing in the front of the tracks), we would have set a new record for "sunk, with all hands"... I forget which tractor won.

Tibor, I think, retired as a Colonel... good guy, Hungarian, could tell some really interesting stuff about growing up in Budapest. (Do a little research on 1956)... scuttlebutt was that as the I-I of an Reserve Amtrack unit in VA, that all ten or so tractors he had there had, had their 8V53T Detroit Diesel engines 'blueprinted'... gearheads reading this will relate... and I hope it's been enough years to activate the statute of limitations.



"You'll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"
--Capt. Henry P. Crowe, USMC; Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943

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

"If our country, when pressed with wrongs at the point of the bayonet, had been governed by its heads instead of its hearts, where should we have been now? Hanging on a gallows as high as Haman's."
--Thomas Jefferson

"Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others."
--Alexander Hamilton

"My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfil our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so."
--George Washington

"If you are unwilling to defend your right to your own lives, then you are merely like mice trying to argue with owls. You think their ways are wrong. They think you are dinner."
--Terry Goodkind

"The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject."
--Marcus Aurelius

"Marines die, that's what we're here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever. And that means YOU live forever."
--The mythical GySgt. Hartman, USMC; portrayed by GySgt. R. Lee Ermey, a Marine Corps Drill Instructor using his own choice of words in Full Metal Jacket, 1987

Pvt sh-t stain if u don't get squared away, I'm gonna recycle your asz back to the block, and you'll be suckin fartz outta hospital sheets for a livin.

Bends and mothers until you change the rotation of the earth!

Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

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