Sgt. Grit, My seabag from over 61 years ago with 1st ANGLICO logo with comical Indian character. The painting was by Marvin Kahn, MGM artist, and Debbie Reynolds classmate.
Sgt Max Sarazin, 1st ANGLICO 3/52 to 3/54
Dead On Accurate
In response to Capt. J.M. "Mike" Jefferies article about "Snakes and Nape", I was with Mike Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment, with "Second Squad - Second Platoon" on the red line the night that he was "calling in" the F4's.
I want to thank him, because he may have been scaring the crap out of all of us, however, I believe he also saved Marine lives that night because the NVA had followed us and were still sniping at us all the way back to the road.
He was dropping that sh-t really close to us, but that is exactly where the G--ks were that was shooting at us while we took cover on the road.
The chopper Capt. Jefferies referred to, caught fire in the air and made an emergency landing on Hill 55. If I remember correctly, it had taken a lot of fire not only coming in and leaving but while it was on the ground and we were loading dead and wounded on it.
I also want to add that it appeared to me that Capt. Jefferies was dead on accurate. While calling in the F-4's.
Mike Company 3/7 '68 - '69
Final approach, gear down and locked, full flaps...
I was a crew chief on the R4D-8 (C117) both in Japan and at MCAS Quantico. I was a Sergeant, drew flight pay, and got to wear a leather flight jacket. Life was good.
But... the hours were long. I would sometimes arrive at the flight line at about 0500 to inspect the aircraft, run up both engines, and get everything squared away to have the R4D ready for the pilots at 0600 for the flight. I might be gone for two hours, or a week, depending on the flight schedule. There were often mechanical problems on the flight and I hoped that I knew enough to fix whatever the problem was.
Had a number of engine failures over the years, "lost an engine" is the aviation term. The R4D could fly all day on one engine so it wasn't much of a problem. If two engines were lost then there was a problem. Once lost an engine on takeoff at Quantico with the senior passenger as Chesty Puller. Didn't bother the General at all, but it did the other Grunt passengers. After landing we herded them all onto the second R4D to continue the flight. Grunts always seem to be nervous around flying machines.
Only crashed once, that was at NAS Atsugi, Japan, when the starboard gear was sheared on landing. Ground looped, no one hurt.
Most pilots were great to fly with but there were a few that made the flight unpleasant. Even flew with some NAPS (enlisted pilots) in Japan. The designated pilot for the flight is always in command of the aircraft. Once the designated pilot was a MSgt and the co-pilot a full Colonel. Interesting situation for the normal military chain of command.
One of the great pilots to fly with was Col. R. R. Burns who was CO of MCAS Quantico. On a flight to MCAS El Toro, California, we landed at Luke AFB in Arizona. D-mn was it HOT! The passengers (all officers) beat it into the Air Force terminal to soak up the air conditioning. While refueling I couldn't touch the metal of the aircraft as it burned the skin. After refueling I made a walk around inspection of the aircraft and then went into the terminal to tell the pilots we were ready to go. Passengers went out to board the aircraft. Col. Burns said "Tom, you go in there and get a sandwich and something cold to drink. We'll wait for you." I did, and when I went out to the plane and got on board all the passengers, dripping in sweat from the oven like interior, glared at me as I went up the isle to get ready to start the engines with the pilots. After climbing to about 8,000 feet it cooled down.
My last flight as a crew chief was in January, 1962. We were on a flight from MCAS Beaufort to Quantico. It was about 0100, we were at about 6,000 feet, the night air was still, and we could see the car lights on the country roads below. The co-pilot went back to get some coffee and I slid into his seat and put on the head phones. Easy music was playing... the engines were in sync with their comforting sound, and right there was the feeling of a passing part of the career that I would really miss.
On February 1, 1962, I reported in to OCS to train with the 3rd Warrant Class and it all changed.
Capt. USMC ret.
Interrupted My Meal
Safer Line of Work: While working as a Firefighter/Paramedic in the late eighties we were called to a fast food restaurant one evening on a person injured. Arriving we found a young man lying on the floor in a pool of blood, unconscious with his nose splattered all over his face. One of the cops (Marine) came up to me and said with a wide grin, "John you may want to talk to the older gentleman over there we are interviewing." I asked if he was also injured and the cop told me no. As I approached I noticed he was wearing a red baseball cap with a large, yellow USMC on it.
I asked him if he was OK and he told me he was fine except his hand hurt a little but that he didn't need any treatment. Turns out he had been sitting at a table having his dinner when this young guy walks in waving a pistol and announcing that the place was being robbed! This old man got up walked over to him and took the pistol away from him with his left hand while delivering an overhand right smack into the guys face, knocking him cold and breaking his nose. The cops asked him why he did that and he said, "he interrupted my meal and was scaring the h-ll out of all the customers!"
After delivering the "knockout punch" he told the stunned customers to call the cops and get an ambulance. This old man had fought the Japanese in WWII so this punk waving a pistol was just a minor annoyance! The last thing he asked me was "I didn't kill him did I?" And I assured him that he did not but the guy might be looking for a safer line of work in the future.
MORAL: Don't mess with the Ol' Corps.
Never Took My Boots Off Again
Rats were mentioned in a couple of letters recently so here's another one.
On my third trip to Vietnam I was assigned as Radio Chief for Headquarters 4th Marine Regiment who were at Vandergrift Combat Base. I believe it was in July or August of 1969. There were bunkers for personnel and I even had a cot to sleep on. At night I usually took off my boots and slept with my utes on.
One night I was awaken by a slight pain on my big toe, left foot. I took off my sock, looked at my toe and squeezed it a little and noticed blood on it. Aw sh--t I just got bit by a rat. Thoughts rang through my head of getting a series of shots for rabies. At first light I went to see the Corpsman and told him what had happened. He said he would just give me a tetanus shot as there had been no record of rats having rabies in Vietnam which was ok with me.
On my way back to my bunker I stopped at supply and got a rat trap. I set the trap that night with some food from a C-ration can. Lying on my cot I dozed off but was woken up by sounds coming from my rat trap. I shined my flashlight and saw that the trap had caught the bas---d across the neck with its eyes bulging. Figured I would get rid of the rat in the morning, I laid back down but again there were sounds coming from the trap. I turned my flashlight back on and watched in awe as the rat put his hind legs on the edge of the trap and pulled his head out and ran off. Oh f--k, he's got it in for me now.
Fortunately the rat never returned but I never took my boots off again. Semper Fi!
GySgt G.R. Archuleta USMC
Never Retired, Always A Marine
Get the USMC Patrol Vehicle and/or the USMC Heavy Urban Tank Figure Sets before they deploy. https://www.grunt.com/catalog/product/view/id/45025/s/usmc-patrol-vehicle/ https://www.grunt.com/catalog/product/view/id/45024/s/usmc-heavy-urban-tank/
Hill 250, IOD Site
I noticed that near the center of the photo a fellow with no shirt is standing atop a bunker, with arms raised. Cannot tell if the Marine is "marshaling" [the correct jargon] our CH-47 to its landing approach, or perhaps he had a camera raised, to snap our photo. Perhaps he had binos scanning the area for Bad Guys during our approach.
Thanks, in advance, Don
"Sorry! But I'm too short to even start a conversation with you!"
'57 / '60
When I was getting short, my fellow in-country short timers used to say, "We're so short, we gotta luck up to see down!"
Cpl Of Marines 1969-1973
Sgt. John Stevenson asked if anyone had ever met anyone that admitted they dodged the draft by going to Canada or some other means. I met a draft dodger in Oregon back in the 80's that told me he went to Canada when I asked him if he was a Vietnam Veteran.
I was so shocked that anyone would admit this to anyone that all I could do was walk away. He told me he came back when Carter gave all the traitors amnesty.
Ira Joseph USMC
Korean War Veteran
Talking about butt chewings: After I retired from the Marine Corps, I started a new career in civilian life. One day there was a screw up which, unfortunately, was my fault and my supervisor rightfully chewed my butt. I guess he must have thought that he had been a little too harsh, because he later came up to me and apologized. I told him not to sweat it, because in my years in the Corps I had been chewed out by experts and had met nothing but amateurs ever since.
To Sgt. Cagle: You wrote a post about remembering your master lock combination from boot camp. I still have one of the two master locks issued to me in boot camp. I use it on my locker at work. I went through boot camp Oct 17, 1983 to Jan. 13, 1984. It is my oldest Marine Corps possession.
Perhaps one of my brothers could tell me why and when the Corps stopped doing squat thrusts.
Sgt. of Marines
Re: Capt. Van Tyle and the three man lift. I was at Marble for that one in '68 and we pulled it at K'Bay in '71 and caught a by GOD LtCol in the lift. Never could figure out how someone could be in the Corps long enough to make LtCol and not know about the lift.
Capt. Mike Jeffries
To all you Marines on this message board: BRAVO ZULU! Oooh-Rah!
Dr. Dave Gowan
MAJ Stephen Pless
GySgt (Later Cpt.) R.J.
Washington, Memphis TN
Jim Grealish, GA
Regarding mess hall complaints. Two thoughts come to mind. The first is that those who complained about the food probably did not grow up in poverty. The second thought is they were not grunts. Being a grunt who came from a poor family, I always appreciated when we were in barracks and I had the opportunity to eat at the mess hall.
Rudy Socha - former 0331
I wrote this in response to an Army personnel whining on the internet about current conditions in Seoul, Korea.
Post in Grit news if you wish... Walt,V E4 USMC '52 to '60.
"Shopping center? Cars? The only traffic incident I witnessed in Korea (50's Old Corps) was two Papa-Sans with "A" frames colliding with each other watching a young Mama-San urinating on the side of the road." True sea story!
I'm so short I can play handball against the edge of a razor blade.
Dan York Sgt '63-'67
December 22nd, 1971, I was leaving for civilian life. Working in the comm. shack with 3/6 at Camp Lejeune. Since I had access to scrap copper wire, I fashioned a hook, and 10 links for the chain. A link was removed as I counted down. On the eve of my last day, after some slight imbibing, it was entered into the duty log, "Cpl. Flynn just ran through the squad bay yelling 'The Hook, The Hook, The Mother F--king HOOK."
Thursdays brings the excellent newsletter, and then I can start my day.
Semper Fi to ALL my brothers and sisters.
Cpl. USMC 1969-1971, RVN '70-'71.
Tuesday morning I get a phone call from my 14 year old daughter saying she forgot to tell us the night before that she needs a combination lock for her gym locker at school. Being the prepared for anything Marine that I am I tell her to go get a lock I have set aside. I tell her the combo (10-12-02) as if I use the lock every day, I have not touched that lock in 3 plus years. I told her not to lose or damage this lock in anyway, it was my lock from boot camp issued to me in July 1997 at MCRD San Diego. Just a neat story about Marine Corps Issued lock's.
Sgt W.S. Fomin
OoRah, 50 Years ago Today, 8/23/1962, I graduated MCRD San Diego Boot Camp! WOW, it seems like yesterday. One of the biggest changes in a Marine's life and a new beginning.
Now, I can say it's a privilege to be a volunteer for the Marine Graduation Foundation, usmcgrad.org. Its mission is to help parents see their Marine graduate at MCRD San Diego or Parris Island. We have helped over 850 parents from 48 states. OoRah and Semper Fi.
MCRD Plt 336
Not A Weapon
Forty seven years ago, this Friday the 31st of August, we ('B' Btry 3rd LAAM Bn - MCAS Cherry Point, NC) landed at Da Nang, South Viet Nam in a C-130 (GV-1). Not a weapon among us and just a mite nervous, we instantly became 'A' Btry 1st LAAM Bn.
The accommodations were luxurious (GP tents), the scenery spectacular (sand with Monkey Mountain in the background) and the chow nourishing (only a short dusty hike away, down at H&S Btry).
God bless my Marine Corps.
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Dear Sgt Grit,
We had a sick group of guys who I will never forget and love 'em all. One found an Albino Roach, ( white), and kept it in a wooden match box. One day he came back from EM Club, drunk of course, and took out can of lighter fluid and poured it over the box and made a trail of fluid about a foot long. He lit the match after lights out and a bunch of clowns were cheering at the funeral pyre.
One mattress almost caught on fire, and a few guys were not happy with this occurrence. The short timers would tell the newbies that needed a flashlight after lights out, because the last FNG was tripped by a roach, and broke his leg. The roaches were so big that Saturday Night they held locker box races down the center of the squad bay. One short timer said he passed out in front of the entrance to our squad bay, and the roach picked him up, undressed him, and put him in his rack. He yelled at them the next morning cause they left his shoes on?
Ah Memories. Really... my Marine Buddies always wore shower shoes around at night.
Regards my friends,
1963- 1967 CPL
The Squids Had Gone
When I read Michelle Weaver's post mentioning the flag being raised upside down, I cringed. In my thirty years in the Corps, I witnessed it happen three times, once every ten years is too much but it happens.
The first time it happened, mid 60's, I was on I&I duty in Sgt Grits back yard, Norman, Oklahoma. The Marine Corps shared a training center with the Navy and since the Navy Reserves only drilled once a week on Thursday evenings, it was their responsibility to lower the colors at sundown. The flag pole had a primary lanyard used every day and a secondary lanyard for emergencies. The lanyard had a snap and a grommet that corresponded to a snap and grommet on the flag, so that when the top grommet on the flag was clipped onto the snap on the lanyard, the flag went up with the blue field up as it's supposed to be.
One Friday, I had the duty so at 0800 I was at the flag pole, snapped the clip into the flag and raised the flag to the top of the pole, saluted and marched off smartly back to the door of the training center. When I got to the door, I looked back and saw the flag flying upside down. Sheer panic! I ran in, got the spare flag and ran to the flag pole, clipped the spare flag to the secondary lanyard raised the colors properly and lowered the upside down flag. That's when I noticed several individuals across the street rolling around laughing. The squids had gone to great lengths the evening before to completely reverse the lanyard so that the flag would go up, upside down. Funny to everyone but me.
The second time I saw it happen was at the Armed Forces Skeet Championship at Ent AFB, Colorado Springs in the mid 70's. The procedure for the opening ceremony was to have a guest of honor in attendance, either a band if available or a recording of the National Anthem if no band was available, raise the colors as the National Anthem was played and then the guest of honor would fire the first shot.
That morning, Air Force General "Chappy" James was the guest of honor (Google him, you will be impressed) and when the music started, the flag was promptly raised upside down. Since the flag pole had only one lanyard everyone started to panic. General James very calmly said "let's use some common sense here, pull the flag down and raise it correctly". Not another mention of the incident, the General went out on the field, fired on and hit the first target, shook everyone's hand and went about his business. A real class act.
The third and thankfully the last was in the late 80's in New Orleans. It was the Marine Corps Birthday, in front of the building that housed the Headquarters of the 4th Marine Division and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, both CG's were in attendance as well as two Navy and one Coast Guard Admiral for the start of "our" big day. The flag detail headed by a Corporal (he had been a Sergeant earlier that day if you get my drift) raised the colors upside down, while the 4th Wing Band played the Star Spangled Banner.
L. H. Marshall, USMC(Ret)
Mess Hall Memory
Back in the days of the "old Corps" of the 1960's, SOP was the E-1's and E-2's were allowed to report to the Mess hall for a maximum of 30 days mess duty once in a year.
As a Boot buck private, I did not escaped mess duty at Camp Matthews during the first week of rifle training, spending a week scrubbing out pots and pans and garbage cans. I thought my mess duty time was over, wrong.
At ITR, I missed being assigned mess duty only by the chance of names being called. A boot camp fellow Marine answered up first when the name Harris was called since his last name was Harris. They didn't mention the first initial. He went to the mess hall and I ended up on Camp Clean-up detail. Which meant going around to the empty Quonset huts and swabbing out the decks. The only things in these Quonset huts were metal two tier racks and a deck that would turn into mush when swabbed with a wet swab. The decks would then have to be swept clean with a broom. Mindless busy work since nobody had lived in those Quonset huts for over a year.
After boot and ITR, I joined with the infantry regiment 1-9 at Camp San Mateo where, I also missed mess duty, barely. Once we located to Okinawa, my time finally came up. Off to the mess hall and there I learned how to serve the mess, clean the tables, fill the salt and pepper shakers, swab the decks and any other of the multitude of chores needed to fill the stomachs of the Marines assigned to my particular mess hall.
30 days of up at 3:30AM, donning whites, reporting to a couple of mess sergeants that seemed to enjoy their work and feeding my company Marines while being harassed by my platoon mates more than needed to be since they bragged that they were going to be going hiking and camping out in the NTA and eating C-rats and cooking Smores over the campfire, while I slaved away as a mess boy. I think I started drinking then.
Finally after 30 days of wearing whites and trudging off to the mess hall at Oh Dark Thirty, I skipped happily back to the barracks to regain my sateen greens and start doing what I'd signed on to do, be a Grunt. The Gunny welcomes me back and says he has some bad news for me, my replacement, has just returned from Sick Bay and he has a case of the Clap. All other Pvts. and PFC's have had their 30 days of mess duty or are otherwise engaged.
My first reaction was, "Gunny! I can only have 30 days of mess duty in a row, that's the rule." The Gunny says, "Take a day off and report back to the mess hall the day after tomorrow." He wasn't very sympathetic.
I probably said a few things; under my breath that us Marines say when faced with the unbending rules and regulations of the Marine Corps that make no sense but what else is a PFC to do?
I practiced my drinking that night and into the next day, then reported to the mess hall the following morning. At Oh dark thirty. The two mess Sergeants were surprised to see me among the new mess people reporting and asked what I was doing back so soon. I had to confess I was the only one in my platoon that was free of disease and not among the sick lame and lazy at sickbay.
They took pity on me and made me their houseboy. I still had to report at 3:30AM but I didn't have any duties other than sit in their office and let them know, when they came in, that all the new mess personal were aboard and accounted for doing what I told them to do. Then I would take a nap in the cook's office.
At times I was able to play with the large cooking surfaces where twelve eggs or more are fried all at once. Got so I was able to hold two in each hand and crack them one at a time onto the grill. I was beginning to think that being a cook wasn't so bad. Everything in the preparation of food was laid out in clear and easy to read orders. How much coffee went into a 55- gallon cauldron, how much flour, water and eggs went into a mixing bowl the size of a wash tub to make bread, how much this and how much that. Easy... until I walked by the Salad makers area and my life changed.
Two Cook Striker Lance Corporals were tossing up a huge bowl of salad and having a good time joking with one another about this and that. They saw me passing by and without a moments delay; they both spit into the salad bowl and smirked at me.
I didn't eat a salad ever again and it has been hard to do so ever since, even in restaurants. Who knows, those two bozo's may still be making salads and adding their little bit of extra. My favorite job as a two time loser was to take the 6 By down to Naha and pick up food supplies for Camp Schwab from the supply station down there. Once we stopped at Kadena Air Force Base on the way back and picked up some sheet cake from their bakery. It was destined for the officer's mess at Camp Schwab so I sampled it to make sure it was suitable and found it to be the most delicious cake I've ever had up to then and even until now. I'm sure they didn't miss the half sheet of cake that didn't show up. It's a long ride from Kadena to Camp Schwab.
By the way, I didn't miss out on the NTA. When my second 30 days were over, I got back to the barracks just in time to suit up in combat gear and join the battalion for another training exercise up there. That was the one where we got to walk back to Camp Schwab. 50 miles if I remember it right. I also made Lance Corporal promoting me out of the mess hall list of those eligible.
Cpl Harris, M W
Tell The Story
Take a look devildog at my tattoo and see if anyone can tell the story!
OO Eff'n RAH
Dean W. Jahn
USMC Tribute Bike
I just wanted to share some pictures of my motorcycle. I am a fellow Marine that just wants to share my love of the Corps that's all. It is a tribute to USMC and to POW/MIA/KIA
USMC 1983 - 89
Served at KMCAS Kaneohe Bay, SOMS-24
It Was Not To Be
Your site really brings back some memories. Don Harkness story of how he came to join the Marine Corps rather than get drafted into the Army and his travel and arrival at receiving barracks at Parris Island prompted some thoughts about my experience. Don was over 21 years old and was put in charge of, as he states, "23 strangers, many of them teenagers who never had been away from home." for what appeared to be a one day travel via commercial airline.
His story brought to mind my experience when I was given written orders (see attachments) with instructions to "take charge of the below named men" and get them to MCRD-SD over a three day train trip. The differences were that I was a 17 year old high school dropout that never received a draft notice and needed parental permission to enlist. Physically, I was just OK, about 6' and 190, not exactly a solid jock I don't know how I scored on any of the written tests but I had a GCT of 130, but I didn't know that until sometime in boot camp. There were only two other 17 year olds (that I was aware of) in our group of sixteen. At least one guy was married and at least a couple had attended college; I was placed "in charge" of older guys, guys that were full-blown adults, some of whom had actually traveled out-of-state.
We reported to the USMC Recruiting Station in the Federal Building in downtown Detroit, MI, early on the day of departure. The morning was taken up by various and sundry paperwork and swearing-in followed by the issuance of meal tickets for lunch at the restaurant across from the main entrance of the building. At 1630 hours, we were bussed to the Michigan Central Railroad Station and dropped off without any adult male supervision (like maybe a real Marine).
That's when my troubles began. Several of the "men" were over 21 years old and therefore could legally obtain adult beverages. They had plenty of time before the train departed thus they did so. We were transported in a Pullman car (seats made into beds at night) at the end of the train. Well, right off the bat, out came the beer and booze, cards, dice, girly books, you name it.
To top it off, several fellow travelers from the cars ahead of us, walked through the train to look out the rear platform; this occurred many times on each leg of the trip. It was especially dicey when the fellow travelers were wearing skirts. Oh yeah, the catcalls, the smoke from cigarettes and cigars, the gambling (for money, no less) and many of the herd lounging in their skivvies. In Chicago, more future Marines boarded the train and several Detroit-Chicago rivalries boiled to the surface and some brief altercations ensued. The train trip was actually enjoyed by all (except me), they partied and slept. I worried all the way to San Diego. I knew that I would be the feature player in a court-martial and serve my enlistment in some naval penal colony.
It was not to be. Everything worked out in the end and the misconduct was not punished by disciplinary action. According to the orders, I was to report to the Commanding General of MCRD-SD with the detail in my charge. I must admit that I did not do so as I never got a chance as my arrival was quite chaotic. Also, I do not even remember being given ten cents for a phone call to request transportation nor any yellow footprints either.
BTW: Arrived at MCRD weighing 190 and departed ITR weighing 155; ate like a horse and the chow was pretty good. Drill Instructors were S/Sgt M. Sorensen, Sgt E.G. Green, Cpl Charles T. Overstreet joined by S/Sgt J.H. Kearney in about our 8-9th week. It would be great to hear from any of my fellow enlistees or the Drill Instructors.
I did have the immense pleasure of locating and speaking to Gunny Overstreet about 10-12 years ago and I kept referring to him as "Sir"; I couldn't help myself. He told me that I was the only former recruit of his to ever contact him and that it meant a great deal to him. It was a great deal for me too.
Also, If anyone (must be a lot of former recruiters out there) would like to weigh-in on this, I've often wondered how the decision is made and who makes it, as to who is put in charge of a detail of recruits traveling to boot camp.
Plt 119, I-3-11, I-3-1, and HQ1stMarDiv
"How long have I been in the Corps?
Just over 55 years, Sonny"
My brother was visiting me in Des Plaines, IL, from Massachusetts and we went up to the Bristol Renaissance Faire on the first Saturday in August. I pulled up to where you pay the $5 to park. The teenage boy collecting the fees looked at my Marine Vietnam vet cap, refused the $5 I held out, said "My grandpa was a Marine in WWII--go on in, Sir," and waved us through. My brother gave me a funny look. "Family discount," I said.
As to being short, guys in my outfit said, "I'm so short, I have to stand tip toe to kiss a snake on the belly." Starting to feel that way about life...
Robert A. Hall Once a SSgt, always a Marine
Was So Good
G 2/7 had our reunion in Palm Springs CA August 15-19, 2012 Sgt. Grit provided us with large selection of merchandise. The biggest prize was a Vietnam Veteran Ka-Bar. It was so good that we had a raffle for it. The lucky winner was August Miele, a '65 Vietnam Vet.
The Logic of a 15 Year Old Boy
Why I Joined the Marine Corps
I'm an Air Force brat. My Dad retired when I was 8 years old. I grew up on Air Force bases. It was the only life I knew. I remember always feeling safe on base because my Mom had explained that the gate guards were there to protect me. So, when we drove off base for the last time I was scared. I wanted to take my guards with me. However, with my parents help I was able to adjust to the civilian world.
My future brother-in-law joined the Corps in about 1974. He and my sister were already dating. I was 14 years old at the time. He was a big guy, at least from my perspective. He'd played football when he was in high school. He seemed the type that was able to become a Marine. I was a little runt and didn't think I could ever survive boot camp. But, I loved the military. So, in my freshman year of high school I joined the Army ROTC Department. I thought it was the life for me. That was my chance to try it out. And, my older brother was in ROTC. So, it seemed like a good idea.
It those days the Army ROTC Cadet uniform insignias were made of brass. They had to be polished. We had to shine our shoes, polish our belt buckles and collar insignias. While I loved the class, I hated all the fuss about fingerprints on our brass. But, I figured it was all part of the game. So, I played along. Late in my freshman, in early 1975 I tagged along with an older friend one day. He wanted to enlist in the Air Force and was going to go talk to the recruiter. I remember telling the recruiter that I was interested also. The recruiter told me to come back when I was older. That didn't surprise me. I was only 15.
However, that visit got thinking about my choices. These were my conclusions. The Marine Corps was way too tough. I'd never make it. I didn't like the Navy because I can't swim and don't want to learn how. The real Army was out. I was already tired of shining brass. So, it seemed logical to this 15 year old that the Air Force was right for me. While I didn't care for the color of the uniform, the fact that their "brass" doesn't have to be polished appealed to me. Another part of my logic was the fact that growing up we always had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs. So obviously, the Air Force wasn't all that bad.
I remember telling my parents about my decision that night at dinner. My Dad blurted out, "If you want to join the Air Force, I'm not gonna sign the papers! You'll have to wait until you're eighteen!" Whoa! Not the response I expected! But, when I got to thinking about it, it did make sense. He'd been passed over for Master Sergeant. He was still p-ssed. So, I'd continue to consider my options.
In 1976 my older brother joined the Corps. When he got back from boot camp you could tell a difference. But, having grown up with him I knew he wasn't a superman. So, that caused me to rethink my options. I came to the conclusion that if he could do it, then maybe I could do it. So, in 1977 I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in the Delayed Entry Program. I went on active duty 7 days after my high school graduation. June 6th, 1978. Thank goodness for options. John Hardin Sgt, USMC
John H. Hardin
I can't believe it. I lied. I posted last week saying I never owned a pair of slant pocket sateen cammies and then just last evening I came across this picture. I am on the right standing next to Max Lesko as we are getting ready for one of our helo repelling practices. And I am clearly wearing the lighter green, slant pocket sateen cammies. Max is wearing the more standard straight pocket sateen cammies. The photo is not dated, but must have been at least 1983 as I believe that is when the woodland pattern came in and there are clearly guys in the background wearing the woodland pattern as well.
Lima 3/8 Weapons Platoon
I've read where others were debating when the Quonset Huts were torn down at MCRD San Diego. I have enclosed a photo of MCRD from 1974. For orientation purposes at the near end of the grinder is the Command Building and on the far end is the theater. The blank areas in the upper right portion next to the airport runway (PI had sand fleas, we had to watch the planes take off and land every day to remind us we weren't going anywhere) is where some Quonset Huts used to be before they were torn down and the CCP (Corrective Custody Platoon) made dust of theirs with sledgehammers.
I spent most of Phases 1, 2 and 3 in the huts on the grinder before moving into the hotels for the last part of Phase 3 with its inspections, etc. Quonset Huts were so much easier to field day and the garden party kept the grass (sand to you first timers reading this) clear of any foreign debris such as rocks, plant growth and any trash which may have appeared. Ah, such fond memories from 38 years ago. Have a great day, Semper Fi.
SSgt 1974 - 1985
As you can see the Sgt Grit decals on both sides.
The FLIGHT LINE
Written By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
HMM-161 (remember this Squadron?) started it's Vietnam tour with another first when on 7 May, 1965 the Squadron conducted the first amphibious assault of the Vietnamese War under combat conditions on the beach of Chu Lai. By noon, the squadron had lifted the assault elements of BLT 1/4 from the USS Princeton, ( LPH-5) to the beach and the surrounding area. The command group of the Regimental Landing team followed. Operating from the USS Princeton, HMM-151 supported the units ashore and conducted general unloading of the RLT.
While in route the squadron received a message from the commanding officer of MAG-13 officially detaching it from MAG-13,1st MARINE Brigade, FMF and assigning it to the 1st MARINE Aircraft Wing. This message also included permanent change of station orders for the squadron personnel, meaning that the squadron would be in the Far East for an extended period of time. The 1st MAW in turn assigned HMM-161 to Mag-16. Four days after the amphibious helicopter assault, HMM-161 moved by helicopter and small boats from the USS Princeton to the USS Iwo Jima. It continued to carry out its mission of supporting the units ashore from that location.
On the morning of 6 June, 1965 a tragic event took place taking the lives of 8 of the squadrons aircrew members and two of its aircraft. The accident occurred on a pre-dawn mission shortly after take-off from the USS Iwo Jima. Because of the darkness, the two Helicopters apparently collided in midair and both were seen crashing into the sea in a brilliant ball of fire, followed by a load explosion.
This Squadron (HMM-161) operated for about a month from the deck of the USS Iwo Jima in support of Regimental Landing Team-4 at Chu Lai. In early June the squadron began unloading its own equipment and supplies from LPH-2, (USS Iwo Jima), moving to its new home at the airfield at Phu Bai just south of the city of Hue. The squadron began daily operations from the new base around the middle of June, 1965. The normal daily commitments included resupply and medical evacuations for BLT 3/4, (Third Batt., Forth MARINES) MARINE logistics flights (MarLog) from Phu Bai to Da Nang and Chu Lai and return in support of the 1st Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) located in the northern provinces of South Vietnam.
HMM-161 and BLT 3/4 (Third Batt., Forth MARINES) were the most northern MARINE Units in South Vietnam at this time. In the extreme north of the country was Quang Tri Province, the responsibility of the First ARVN division. In the months to come HMM-161 would fly many missions in support of the ARVN troops in this sector.
I cannot continue without saying that if a person had to hang only one characteristic on the Vietnamese war to describe it in the MARINE CORPS experience, it would have to be named a "helicopter war". MARINE Aviation deployed seven medium transport squadrons and three heavy squadrons out of a total 12 mediums and 6 heavies before the war was over.
If That Ain't Love Brother
In the 09 August Newsletter, Cpl. J Kelley Jr. ain't gettin' no love, so maybe we can give him some... Kelley, I'm thinking the main reason for lack of comm. between 'Wingers' or Airedales vs. FMF, FSSG, MCB and anyone else is surely because we were garrisoned far apart, for many reasons we didn't need to know. Even if we do 30 yrs. later.
Then on op's everyone has their game face on so no time for fun... consider this, and remember all Marines are basic grunts... imagine for a minute you are an '03 type... or an RTO with one of those gigantic encrypted radio's on his back during our time... humpin' a Dragon or Javelin, Redeye, Mortar, M2 HB .50 cal., non-vehicle mounted 106 RR, Stingers... Supply Marines loading and unloading beans bullets n' band aids... cargo nets or pallets with gas, water, Howitzers and Armor parts, Arty/Mortar rounds or a little 'mule' zooming around with those human targets for drivers on the Airstrip or OP 35 where you were in '82-'83... just about anyone who has their 'azz in the grass' anytime... on a firebase, combat base, outpost, manned LZ, patrol/unit re-supply gruntin' and humpin', filling sand bags, constructing bunkers... doesn't matter where, RVN 'swamp lagoon' Pendleton '29 stumps' Bridgeport Korea, the list is endless... in some third world country or on an island with 20 yr. old map sheets if you have one at all, like 2/8 on the Grenada assault with tourist maps... tired, muddy, hungry, thirsty, miserable and just plain ol' p-ssed off... can't be 'doggin' Motor-T, LAV's, Tankers or Amtracs, because they are a sight for sore eyes, literally, on ANY extraction/movement to or from the field or LOD vs. humping it ALL the way in, wherever...
Gunship/Cobra or Close Air Support, Marine Officer Pilots best in the world consistently landing/lifting off of CV's, LHA's, LPH's etc. with very, very few accidents... and last but definitely nowhere near least MEDEVACS... all this just a portion of what the Wings do... just one grunt's opinion but there are 4 words I know we all loved to hear, "we got birds inbound! "...and that's not the best part... when all that rotor-wash hits your sweating body it's like the best air conditioning you have ever felt, considering minutes before you just knew you were gonna' die from heat prostration, cold, or hostile fire... after the last little sprint up and into a '46, Huey, big '53, '34's, whatever, you make your head count, 'muzzle-down' and weapons clear checks, loose gear and pyro/frag's, FOD checks, etc... at that moment you look up to the Crew Chief and give him the thumbs up and he returns the sign but he has this big grin on his face... and it stays on his face for the entire relaxing, breezy, happy flight to somewhere for at least a few days rest or liberty... he just knows and the crew of HIS ship saved your sorry azz one way or another... If that ain't love Brother, I don't know what is...
Semper Fi 'Rotor-Head'
Wpns. Plt., Alpha 1/6, '81-'85
Sgt. Grit, about the middle of June on my road trip back to the Midwest, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to you and your staff. I want to say that I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to let me present you with a photo of our memorial honor detail.
We are an all-volunteer honor detail who renders honors to all veterans, at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, CA. We currently have about 70 active members. If anyone would like to visit our website, againtheyserve.org, you will see what this unit is all about. It's an honor to serve with these Marines again. Our main focus is providing a dignified military service for veterans and their families.
Riverside National Cemetery is the busiest of all National Cemetery's in the country with about 20-30 burials per day. From seeing our website, 2 other units have been formed to achieve the same goal, Semper Fi #2 in Central, CA, and Semper Fi #3 in Houston, TX. Again, thanks to you and your staff for making our visit time well spent.
Former Sgt. of Marines
1st Recon Battalion, Nam '68 - '69
Three Hash Marks Later
In June of 1972 I turned 18, and graduated from high school, the Vietnam War was still going on. As you know back then you had to sign up for the draft by your eighteenth birthday. You also had your birth date picked out of a fish bowl on TV so you would know the draft order for your year, I remember mine was 256.
On my birthday I went into town with my girlfriend/fiance to sign up. It was in a musty old building, second floor nothing in the place accept a couple of guys and some tables. After filling out what I had to fill out and given whatever instructions I was given I turned around to leave. My girl was crying and as we walked down the steps I asked what was up and why she had been so quite. She burst out into a hard to follow diatribe on the war, how it wasn't right, we shouldn't be there, she didn't want me to go, I would never come back etc., etc.
I told her I didn't get the war either but that wasn't the point, I was an 18 yr. old American male and like it or not it was my duty to sign up for the draft, and enter the military if they called and fulfill my obligations as a citizen. I told her that was exactly what I was going to do. That led into a walking argument about war, politics, and death to sum up the discussion.
All the while we are walking we are having this "discussion" I am not budging from my position she is not moving from hers. I am really not paying attention to where we are going until we turn a corner. At about that time she tells me that she wants us to go to Canada, she says she has been saving up some cash, she has enough for bus fare and we need to just go and go now. That serves to amp up my comments about the whole thing and the discussion gets more intense.
About two blocks away is the bus station I can see the big Greyhound sign on the outside, and we are moving toward it. I get the picture as I am sure you do, we are still moving in that direction, but I am stopping more often to explain my point that I am not going. As the discussion heats up further, I am sure we are screaming on the street at each other I stop again and defiantly tell her that I simply am not going to Canada. At about that time I see the Marine recruiting poster on one of those tent like street ad kind of things in front of a recruiting station. At that point I told her that I was going to end this discussion, instead of waiting to see what branch of the service I ended up in I was going to enlist in the Marines. She said I had to be kidding or was nuts, at which point I did a turn to port and walked into the recruiting station.
Seven pay grades and three hash marks later I guess she figured that out... that I might be nuts, but wasn't kidding. I never saw her again, but that decision on June 25th, 1972 was one of the best ones I ever made. Still have never seen Canada, I here it's cold up there. Parris Island is hotter than h-ll, and I do remember the yellow footprints, but not many names except maggot, and some others that you can't print.
I encountered a guy recently wearing a USMC cover. I asked, "Tell me about your cover?" His response (edited), "I got it at the VA hospital; he was in the 3rd Division, a sniper, and at the urging of a Gunny, ran out to the flight line in Viet Nam and took a joy ride in an F-4U Corsair."
Hard to argue with an imagination that overpowering...
R.M. "Zeb" Zobenica
Capt. USMC (Ret)
When I went through Boot Camp in 1979, we were issued Woodland Cammies... Some Platoons were issued Woodland's with the slanted pockets... I always preferred the Sateen's, they just looked sharper.. But alas, was not meant to be...
I'm starting to see a few stories about us "Airwing Jarheads, which is a good thing... But I guess we were boring: I'm still trying to come up with some stories, but truthfully, the only real good one that I can remember happened Christmas Day in Beirut, 1982... And it's not one that I would really like to tell, although if anyone who was there with us, and took part that drunken evening reads this, they'll know what I'm talking about. This happened on the flight deck of the USS Guadalcanal (LPH 7), with HMM 263... I still think about that evening to this day....
I have read many of the short-timer stick. When you got down to two weeks you found a stick and scored it around like a Tootsie Roll, dividing it into 14 segments. You carried the stick around with you and as each day ended you would cut off one of the segments. As it got progressively shorter you could carry it in your pocket. On the last day, the remaining segment was trashed and celebrated with your friends and liquid refreshments.
Paul S Murtha, Sgt of Marines 0311
Jump To Conclusions
Mike Scott's post in response to Sgt Stevenson's question is a good reminder not to jump to conclusions. After leaving the Marine Corps in 1958, in the early 1970s I worked in England with someone who had gone there to escape the draft for no reason but his own personal safety. He had trouble looking me in the eye. Obviously there were some who left the country for honorable personal reasons... however, I doubt there were many.
Martin Richard Asher, 1st Lt, USMCR
Smooth Black Glass
I just got done reading your Newsletter dated 8/23/2012 and the story "Waving to the Fishermen" by LCPL Louis brought back some memories.
After Boot Camp and ITS in 1986/87 I ended up going back to MCRD San Diego for Sea School (Sea Going Bellhop). After Sea School I was stationed on the USS Midway CV-41 (USS Never Dock) in Yokosuka, Japan. Met a lot of Good Marines and got to see a lot of the Philippines over the next 2 years. Lots of stories as well. One of our favorite things to do if we were not on Duty was to go up to the Vultures Row at night and just relax and look over the sea. Some nights the Moon reflecting off the water were some of the most Breath taking sights I ever saw.
There would be some nights when the sea was like a big piece of Smooth Black Glass. We would always have those "Fishing Boats" following us whenever we left port, we would also get a visit from the local Bear's doing a fly over to see what we were doing. If you were up on the Flight Deck or Vultures Row you were sure to show them that they were number 1.
We would also have FAM Fires were we would fire all the weapon's in the armory M16-A1's, M870 Shotgun, 1200 series Shotgun, our 45's as well as the M60 & M249 SAW's on the Fan Tail. We would shoot at anything that was thrown over the side garbage, barrels, pallets and such. One of the favorite things to do was see if you could get the M60 & M249 SAW Tracers to skip on the surface and see how far they would go.
The Midway is a Museum in San Diego now and I am planning on making a trip out that way some day and seeing her again. When we were on her we all thought it was the Biggest POS we had ever seen, but now when I talk to some of my old buddies from the Midway Marine Detachment we always remember the fun we had in all the different ports we visited. Places like Hong Kong, the Philippines, Sydney, Australia, Pusan, Korea, Mombasa, Kenya, Pattaya Beach, Thailand. Great Times were had by all.
LCPL G Lindahl, 0311, 6463.
86-97 (don't remember the MOS for Marine Detachment)
This NW boy was in boot camp, San Diego, July, 1957. Last Quonset hut at the far end of the grinder, Plt. 273. One of the 1st things they drill into you is your name is PRIVATE!. I made the mistake of referring to myself as "I" to a junior D.I. Now right there in our corner of the grinder was a Helo landing circle, a big H in the middle, circle about 100ft(?) in diameter.
The D.I. had me on my hands and knees, nose on the paint of the circle, nose not to lose contact with the ground until I had completed crawling the whole circle chanting "Private Eye in looking for a clue, Sir!" Lesson learned!
Absolutely do not recall there being any 'yellow foot-prints' at MCRD San Diego in '57. Ser. No. 1694380 until the switch to SSN.
Challenged The Term
Read the article with the comment "Oh One of Those". I was in the "Air Wing" in an Air Sea Rescue Helicopter Unit (actually designated "transport") and never heard that saying from another Marine. I did hear "Thanks" many times. Maybe it's a "new" thing, I left active in '56.
Also, why do some people continue to use "Congressional" Medal of Honor? I actually ran into the term on an alleged Corps site. I challenged the term and got a flimsy excuse that it was used as an adjective.
The "Medal of Honor" does not need any adjective, a Prayer, a Thank You, or a Salute would be all that is needed.
MAG 16, 3rd MAW
I just read the letter from a Marine that was at Camp Hansen in 1956. I too was at Hansen but it was in June 1958 and 1959. Before that I was stationed at Camp McGill about 10 clicks north of Yokosuka, Japan for 12 months followed by 2 months at North Camp Fuji from June of 1956.
During my time at Hansen we lived in 5-man tents, had 12 men outhouses, the company shower was a very large tent with a 2" hose thrown over the rafters which pumped water [cold] from a above the ground pool like structure. Our slop shoot was a small tent with an old coca cola ice box. The first wave of guys got cold beer, the rest drank it warm. Our movie [house] was two polls with a sheet stretched across it. We had to wait for the first reel to be rewound to get to see the rest of the movie.
The only building I can remember were the armory and supply shack which were half wood structures with the top half a tent and a mess hall. Our tanks were parked on an old Japanese coral air strip. Our nearest liberty town was Ishakawa. All that changed in about April or May of 1958 when Marine engineers built Quonset huts to live in and heads with flush toilets and showers with warn water. Other metal buildings for offices, movie theater, slop shoot etc. I noticed in the pix the Marines were wearing the old tank helmets.
At McGill we still had M47 tanks and by the time I got to Hansen we had M48 tanks. Our Tanks were deployed to Lebanon in 1958 but before reaching it we were diverted with half of our outfit sent to Hong Cong and we were sent to Singapore for about a month. Somewhere during that time we were sent to the Taiwan Straits where there was some BS going on. I also have good memories of my overseas service.
Semper Fi, Ray
3rd. Tank Batt.
All Dead Lined
In 1961 I was Maintenance Officer for 3rd AT Bn at Camp Schwab. It was then I was delivered the first 15 Mite Mites. We had no tools that fit anything on them, no spare tires, no tops and no trailers. Later I learned that the Corps had not yet bought the trailer and that contained all the above. We were pulling the old Jeep M100 trailers and they rode with the aft end sticking up above the Mite Mite. It was quite a scene.
By the time I was sent back State Side, they were all dead lined. I did manage to go to Naha and buy a few metric tools out of my own pocket, but not enough to keep them all going. Prior to my transfer to 3rd ATs I was at Hansen with 3rd Tank Bn and was XO of Alpha Co. We had some Quonset huts, but that is all, the rest was tents, I was there in 1960.
Ed Dodd, USMC forever.
Thanks for the outstanding service you provide to Marines (past and present).
I noticed the story on Camp Hansen in 1956 from Sgt. C J Oudendyk, and thought I would continue it.
In 1957 I was assigned to 2/3 as a grunt when a call went out for anyone with any experience operating heavy equipment or compressor-driven equipment. I was sent TDY to the 3rd Engineer Bn. at Camp Hansen to assist in putting in pads and reconstructing Quonset huts that had been taken down in Japan and shipped to Camp Hansen. They were attempting to get the huts up before the next monsoon season hit the Third Tank and Third Anti-Tank (Ontos) Bns then at Hansen; I believe it was the old Japanese air strip once called Yonaburu.
The coral rock was as hard as cement and after a few hours on a drill, our hands would swell up to twice their normal size so we had to spell each other on a regular basis.
We slept in tents and were also called on to repair the slop chute on a regular basis after the tankers and Ontos crews would get into it on a Friday or Saturday night. We watched movies shown on a sheet spread across the back of a 6 by. Fond memories but happy to get back to my unit.
When I was stationed at MCRD for Ground Radio Repair school, There was scuttlebutt about Gen. Chesty Puller concerning Tijuana. The rumor was that Chesty was the Commandant of Camp Pendleton a few years before and at a time when there were a lot of Marines, sailors and college kids locked up in the TJ jail with little or no charges and awaiting what was essentially ransom money from parents to get them out. The scuttlebutt was that Chesty called fatigue liberty and led 14 bus loads of Marines armed with nightsticks and bayonets, crashed through the border, tore the TJ jail apart along with several city blocks, let everybody out and took the military prisoners back k across the border in the buses.
Mexico didn't care but the mayor of Tijuana complained to the State Department and the border to TJ was closed to all military. After two or three months, the people of TJ were starving without the Am. money coming in and the mayor pleaded to have the military permitted again. From that point on, any military arrested of anything short of murder were given their IDs back along with enough money to make it back to base.
Does anyone out there know if this story is true or has any basis in truth? The reason I ask is that my experience with the TJ jail seems to bear it out. Most of us were still under 21 so, once a month or so, we all went to TJ as a class or more (safety in numbers) and never had any problems. But one time I got so wasted I got separated from the group. I only remember bits or flashes of that night but I remember being with a hot blonde who had to be pretty drunk too cause she was way out of my league so that was probably how I got separated.
The next flash I remember, there was a TJ bar girls or hooker sitting on my lap and I barfed all over her. That earned me a ride in a paddy wagon. At the jail, they took my wallet and saw I was military and gave it back minus the $50 I had left and they kept my watch too. But they gave me back enough money to catch a bus back to base, put me in a squad car, drove me to the border and made sure I got a ride back to MCRD.
I'd be interested to know if the scuttlebutt was right or I was just lucky.
Cpl E-4 MOS 2841
1966 - 69
Sgt Grit, in response to Jim Potter's letter, I was "One of Those." I started out as an 0331 with 2/1, reenlisted and went to the Airwing as a 7051 Crash, Fire and Rescue Specialist. When it was determined by the Navy doctors that my hearing, back, knees were too bad to stay in the Corps I was transferred to 1st FSSG and finished out my time as a Career Planner (I had been a Recruiter in Chicago). So I was with the 1st MarDiv, the Airwing and 1st FSSG. So, I guess that qualifies me as "Really One of Those." Oh, in closing I too have PTSD and found no offense in the Hang 'em article. Keep up the good work that you do and screw 'em if they can't take a joke.
Don't let them bust your chops too much. "Hang them high" didn't include a name, but it's immaterial because he chooses not to be on your mailing list any longer. Good deal, it's called freedom of choice and I and "just" a few million others (himself included, I trust) have put it on the line a couple of times so that we can all make free choices.
It's a shame that people take their own life because of PTSD, but people also take their own life because of drugs, mental disorders, personal convictions, beliefs and a hundred other reasons. My religion says it's a sin to take my own life so I had to live with my monsters and gut it out. I never heard of PTSD until well after I retired. We shared our fears, worries, memories, nightmares and emotions with our brothers (not our wives, because we were the bastions of strength and couldn't show any weakness) and did things to lessen the feelings or make it easier for the next guy. We did what we did and it is what it is. Unlike LtCol. Foster I didn't give a "rat's tushie" about public opinion because they weren't there and they sure weren't part of my brotherhood.
Public opinion may not think to highly of having your jumpmaster pin your wings on a bare chest, running a gauntlet of NCO's to have your rank and blood stripe pinned on (then ice bag for a few hours) or a branded "SS" under your shooting arm or your fellow Staff NCO's pin your WO bars on your shoulder (and I do mean pin) and then treat you to a wetting down that took three days to recuperate from. These and many more FNG rituals and initiation to units made us all a welcomed part of an elite group within an elite society. We survived these things and we knew that we could survive anything. Public opinion can voice all the opinion they want, but until all of that public has been part of the dogs of war it will be a meaningless opinion.
I might be wrong, but I think there just may be a few more folks out there who feel the same way.
In response to the Lt.Col. Foster, Jr (PhD) remarks about unacceptable behavior to the public concerning hang 'em high... screw the public. They weren't in your corner when you came home from the bush and the Lt.Col. wasn't in your boots when you were busting caps with the enemy. If the few that you think are offended... so be it. Get thicker skin... your Marines for God's sake.
Bravo Co. 3rd plt.
1st Bn. 26th Marines '68 / '69.
During my second tour in RVN with the NGF section of 3/11 when a newbie checked in we told him that when he draws his 782 gear to make sure they issue him his body bag as the other Marines in the section are tired of giving up their ponchos or their own body bag for a FNG. The worried grimace on the newbies face would crack us all up. Such is the typical fatalistic humor that went around in the Nam. We then welcomed the new guy aboard.
MGYSGT (Ret.) G.W. Iliffe Jr.
RVN '65, '66, '67, '70, '71 and Frequent Wind
To all who shall see these presents, greetings.
I make no bones about this note and I offer this disclaimer. Sgt Grit is my best friend. I have known him for forty three years. I know him like a brother and very proudly served with him at 11th Marines in Viet Nam. Now, with that being said I want to comment about his picture called "hang 'em high" that a few people were offended by.
I look at the picture and smile. We were in our teens. We were in a foreign country. We were fighting a war that was so despised that Hanoi Jane got more support than we did. Our lives depended on the guy next to us, and yes we were scared. The initiation was a method used by the "old timers" to welcome in the FNG's. The FNG's knew that after that, you were part of the group. A calm came over you as you knew that they had your back.
Whitton, Gugliotta, Fuller, Knavel and other members of 11th Marines that I still speak with every week are true Marines. Their courage, composure, and love for the Corps is beyond reproach. What we did four decades ago as young, scared, lost Marines was a coping skill that we used. Cut him some slack.
Bored Sentry Throwing Rocks
A few months back, there was a brief bit in a newsletter about some odd concrete blocks that in all probability are still somewhere on MCAGCC, better known as the Stumps. These were described as being 3' X 3' X 3' (and 3,850 lbs., more or less) with forklift truck channels through the middle... my guess is they may still be in use to block a road, or something like that, and my hope was that maybe some active duty Devil Dog out in the blazing sands would report having seen them... alas, so far, no takers...
Climbing into the way back machine, we can journey to the early 70's... a time of some civil unrest, some weapon/explosives security issues... and a new BG as the CG of what was then known as Marine Corps Base, Twentynine Palms. The new CG was a stickler for detail... he was touring the Base Magazine for the first time, and as we arrived at magazine four, he was looking up at the 'windows' in the front wall of the magazine. These were glass brick, and other than having the big doors open, the only source of light inside the magazine... there are no electrical anything in a magazine... ever... maybe excepting the very special 'explosion-proof' battery-powered forklift trucks. The General noted that a couple of the glass bricks in one corner of one window were of a different pattern than all the rest, so he asked why that was?
He was not pleased with my answer that those were probably just what Facility Maintenance had in stock at the time... and less pleased to hear that the replacement had probably been necessary because the originals might have been broken by a bored sentry throwing rocks... in fact, he went ballistic (ammo magazine not a good place for that, you'd think...) He invoked the Deity, and others, exclaiming that 'you mean to tell me, that by breaking out the window, some SOB could get in there and throw ammo out', etc., etc.? At the time, there were no re-bar cages over the windows (there are now... been there forty years), and discretion overtook the urge to advise that if the said SOB was that big and mean, if he'd just call up, we'd be glad to deliver, since everything in that particular magazine looked a lot like 8" HE rounds, at 204lbs each, six to the pallet, and by the way, the bottom of the window is a good ten feet above the loading dock.
I was tasked to check out a sedan and tour every military facility in Southern California that had ammo storage, look at their security, draft a letter with four proposals to increase security, etc. (I skipped the SAC guys down by Riverside... them nuke guys can be really, really touchy about that kind of question). What I found out was that with the exception of NAD Seal Beach, if you had a decent pair of bolt cutters that would handle a brass padlock, you could conceivably steal all you wanted most any dark night.
Now, having had some exposure to 'staff work', I determined that the first three recommendations would be for things like fences, lights, sensors, infra-red beams (one vendor had these with transmitters and receivers camouflaged as tree stumps... might be a little obvious in the Mojave desert?))... knowing full well that there would be no way these would be affordable... for the final recommendation, I would submit something dumb enough that the whole thing would probably be wadded up, circular-filed, and forgotten... and we could go back to making sure every last .22 LR round was accounted for, stored safely, etc... and thus, I came up with... making these blocks, using scrap dunnage lumber for forms, and our in-house all-purpose, jim-dandy, double-handy ammo tech Marines... these blocks would then be chained in front of the magazine doors... and, of course, Fac Maint would be asked to fabricate and install grilles over the glass block windows.
Had it typed, triple-checked for spelling, signed it, and sent it off up to the wind tunnel, and figured that was the end of that, and got back to work.
The next day, the letter came back... with recommendation four circled, and a cryptic 'get it done' note. So we did... Once these things were cured, stripped of forms, and FacMaint had put the eye-bolts in the front wall, and got us a whole bunch of half-inch (meaning each side of a link was half an inch in diameter) chain, we were secure... really, really secure... in fact, so secure, that in order to issue one EDBD box of .22, we had to: get the one truck from Base Motors (ton and a half flat- bed... Ford) that had the right hitch, hook that up to the one trailer on the base made to haul electric forklifts, go to the magazine, open the office, open the big safe, get out the fuses and seat for a forklift, go up the hill to the maintenance shed, undo a lock and chain, re-assemble the forklift so it would run, drive it onto the trailer, haul it up to a magazine, unload the forklift, undo a big-azs padlock, pull the chain out of the forklift channels, move the block with the forklift, open another padlock, swing the door open, log in... then issue the ammo... before reversing the routine at the end of the day...
As we were building the forms, I jokingly suggested that we put a brass plate in the bottom, so that a thousand years later, some archeologist might tip one over, brush off the verdigris (old term... used to be found on web belt eyelets at inspection... look it up...), and there he would read "Dickerson's Folly'.
Dunno if it was GySgt Ray Marcillio, or GySgt 'Hammerin' Hank' Deffee or maybe SSGT 'Swoop' Berryhill... (later made WO)... who came up with the plaque when I got orders... but have cherished the thing these 40 years... somebody went to a lot of trouble to make it (picture)...
And... Marines being Marines... figured out within a week, that with a Johnson or 'tank' bar... (metal lever about 6' long & ours were beryllium... non-sparking... and about $700 each)... they could scoot the blocks out of the way pretty easily... and back... officially, I didn't know that...
"The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become."
"No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair."
--Gen. George Patton
"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."
"Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust. Whether our Constitution has hit on the exact degree of control necessary, is yet under experiment."
"Never trouble another for what you can do yourself."
"On board the GANGES, about 12 mos. ago, Lt. Gale, was struck by an Officer of the Navy, the Capt. took no notice of the business and Gale got no satisfaction on the Cruise; the moment he arrived he called the Lt. out and shot him; afterwards Politeness was restored"
--Signed "Yr obdt. Svt, W. W. Burrows, LtCol Comdt, MC" (2d CMC)
"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself."
"maggot... if you don't get outta my sight NOW!... we will need a 5-man funeral detail... two handles on the sh-tcan, two for road guards, one to count cadence..."
"make a hole and make it wide, part like the red f------n sea"