In 1956, while at the Basic School at Quantico for newly minted second lieutenants, we were at the rifle range. Obviously we were at the very bottom of the commissioned ladder and treated as such by other personnel. The work days were long and all of us were generally operating on minimal amounts of sleep.
We were tending targets at the rifle range, three men to a target. It didn't take three men to tend a target and it was not infrequent for one of us to be flat on his back catnapping. One day along comes one of the enlisted men assigned to the range (butts) and in a very loud and authoritative voice yells at one of us who was napping "WHAT are you DOING LIEUTENANT?" Back came the reply "I'm shining my bars Corporal."
In This Issue
I got on a helicopter going back to 11th Marines HQ Btty. My head was cradled between my hands, my eyes closed, resting. Sometimes just closing your eyes was as restful as sleep. Anyway Marines are getting off and getting on. I can hear the movement, but my eyes are closed. We take off, I sense something near me, then I feel warm breath on my face. I'm thinking wtf is this. I open my eyes. Off to one side I see a large black nose about two inched from my nose. There sits a huge German Shepherd dog. I had not been around the K-9 dogs but you heard stories... loyal to their handler but they eat, maim, or generally f-ck up anyone or anything else. My eyes get very big, I don't move at all. The compassionate Marine handler noticing my distress says nothing for several moments. Then quietly says "Don't make any sudden movement and he MIGHT not eat you". He's probably still laughing at me 40+ years later.
Here we go: blew an epic chunk, those turkeys won their round, work with this scumbag, Aqua-Velva, three generation to take troops into Cuba, Kennedy gave his speech, OD green field desk, I thought who are those guys, treated to steak and eggs, do them wrong Frankenstein.
More great perspectives on the Cuban Missile Crisis this week - thanks for the response - and some outstanding AmericanCourage stories below.
Ellis Island, WTF
I have read several stories of posers over the course of reading the newsletter but until recently, fortunately, never had one of my own... here goes.
My boss recently hired a man who is one year my senior and I worked with him the first time on his second day at his new job. While working with him on this day he said that some of the guys told him I was a Marine and he asked me about it. I simply stated "I was". He replied "me too" and then said nothing for several minutes, which I thought was strange. He then asked me "what was your job in the Corps?", so I told him (still skeptical as he didn't ask my MOS). I then asked him what he did and his reply was, and I quote, "well I was the best shot ever". All I could say was "WTF does that mean?"...he never answered.
About a week goes by and he says something regarding the Corps again so I couldn't resist..."where did you go to boot camp?" I asked. "Ellis Island" he replied. I then asked when he went in and he said right out of school in '75. Then he asked where I went to boot camp and I replied San Diego. He said, "that's where the Navy base is, right?". All I could say was "yeah". At this point I was HOT. I had never met a Poser and was not surprised at how I reacted... I was frickin' mad.
So now I have to work with this scumbag and keep my professional composure intact... but this I can do because I am a Marine.
Sgt. Bob Griffis
I'll Never Forget
I am a former Marine (1953-57) and currently living in Escondido, CA. (See photo) I have a part time job (am retired) where I sometimes encounter active duty Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA (I was stationed there myself in 1953). I always tell them that I can't remember the names of my high school or college teachers but I'll never forget the names of my two Drill Instructors in boot camp at Parris Island. One was Sgt. Donald Hammer and the other was Sgt Robert "Bobby" Caulfield. I'd sure like to meet them (if they're still around) to thank them for molding a street kid from NYC into an upright and responsible citizen.
I'm sure every former leatherneck remembers their DIs name with fond, or maybe not so fond, memories.
Former Sgt Jack Strumpf, 1366077
Dear Sgt Grit,
We had a staff NCO who drank, or was alluded to drinking Aqua Velva! I was told by a fellow Marine from my time in from 1963 to 1967, that after I left duty station said Staff NCO was found dead from drinking after shave. I asked an old time staff NCO who was in Korea if he could enlighten a young boot like me with his take on this story? I was informed that going to Korea Marines and Navy both drank anti-freeze and Aqua-Velva he also reported that a bunch went to sick bay and were not returned to respective units after they left ship- the word was they died. I realize that this is no endorsement for the Corps- but it is heartbreaking that people do senseless things like this in the Old Corps- and I know that our Marines back then- tried to help troubled Marines with all sorts of problems.
Once I got one troubled Marine to see the Chaplain, and he later thanked me- some Marines went to the Club and drank a lot- but crazy enough they got up next day and did the job they were trained for. Now with combat PTSD- and other ailments we can treat Marines properly, but some have to admit that they have a problem.
Cpl 1963- 1967
Okinawa and Los Pulgas
Pictures from Okinawa and Los Pulgas and of the Breckinridge.. Lots of Flame Tankers
The picture on the ledge; I'm on the left in white... Alan Crane is standing on the right. Only the guys sitting on the ledge are Flame Tankers- ??? walking behind
The large group picture is from Okinawa. I'm in the picture with the chest holster and in the picture of the inside of the turret... Shows how tight of a fit it was... I have names of some of the others. Publish these if you wish.
Gordon (Brook) Annin
AmericanCourage: Youngest Daughter
I honestly dunno how appropriate this is but I have a cute little story to tell. I'd just like to say that we have so many Marines in our family that I lost count. We've had Marines serve from World War II on and lost a very dear Uncle in Vietnam (Gerard Paul Porta) Anyway, My youngest daughter is 17 (Lord have mercy we have 3 daughters) and loves the Marines and loves her Daddy who just happens to be a (former) Marine.
One day at about the tender age of 6 she says to my husband... Daddy did you ever get to kill anyone while you were in the Marines and he replied No honey I didn't and she states to him: well wasn't that a waste of training. It's funny to look back on it now because she is our little patriot and we are quite proud of her. Just thought I'd share that with ya
More AmericanCourage Stories
I am a Desert Storm era Marine - 2nd Recon / 3rd Bn 2nd Marines. Discharged Oct 1990 then recalled to active in Feb 1991 sent to Pendleton. Unfortunately for me and about 2500 of us they took too long "retraining" us and the war was over before we could get there. Anyone else in this group? They call us "non-deployed Gulf War Vets".
I answered a newspaper ad about a pickup truck for sale in 2001. Turns out it was being sold by the President of the Citadel here in Charleston, SC Gen. Grinalds U.S.M.C. I met him at his office to seal the purchase--I found it very cool that he had pushed the imported hand-carved desk of the President used by General Mark Clark and others into the corner and was working out of an OD green field desk--OOOORAHHH. Anyway, I noticed one of the pictures on his wall was of him and Oliver North (can't remember the year) he told me he and Ollie were good friends and would take the truck on fishing trips up the coast.
Hilton JE Cpl U.S.M.C.1986 - 1991
Who Are Those Guys
Sgt. grit I was born Jan 1940, my parents divorced in 1947 I was sent to live with my grandparents. I heard about the war in Korea. In September we were sitting on her porch in Newark, N.J. When they sent the Marines into Korea I remember my grandmother saying " it will be over soon they're sending in the Marines" I thought who are those guys? I found out in Sept 20, 1958 I went to MCRDSD. My mother thought I was strange, but when I left the Corps in Sept. 1961 she said she gave the Marines a boy and the Marines gave her a man back, true story. Also my daughter who was born in 1967 asked me if I ever cried I told her only when I hear the Marines Hymn.
In the discussions of chow in the Corps, I remembered my Senior Drill Instructor telling us some would gain weight and some would lose. He also said some of us were going to receive the smallest wages we had ever earned but some would think they were suddenly rich.
I was 17 years and 20 days old, 5' 8" and weighed 126 pounds. After 13 weeks of boot camp I had grown another inch and gained 19 pounds. At least one recruit had lost 35 pnds eating the same food and doing the same things.
I haven't seen anyone refer to the platoons being lined up with the tallest recruits in front and the shortest in the rear. This led to the D.I.s often shouting, "You feather merchants back there had better keep up!"
Reading the letters, I realized the best "single meal" I ever enjoyed was when those in Platoon 267 (1958) volunteered to give blood and we were bused to the Naval Training Center down the road to have it drawn. We were treated to steak and eggs and all the fresh orange juice we wanted!
Once a Corporal of Marines and always a Marine
He Had Me Bang Out
I wanted to send in a follow-up story to one I submitted a few weeks ago. In that story I mentioned that while in boot camp (Parris Island, platoon 2063, July to Oct 1981) I had been promoted to squad leader on several occasions but fired just as many times by a different DI. It's funny now, but was insane back then because I was not sure if I was being tested in some way or was in the middle of some sort of power struggle.
One day sometime during second phase (some details escape me now at age 50, while others are clear as rain water) Sgt Mazenko, out of the blue, got in my face and screamed, "Kunkel, how much can you bench press?" "Sir, the recruit can bench press 250lbs, sir", came my reply. "Recruit so and so, you are fired, Kunkel, get your azs up there - you are promoted to squad leader." "Sir, yes sir!" And off I went.
The next morning when we fell out for formation for morning chow I took my new post as squad leader. Never thinking that Mazenko did not notify SSgt Krause (SDI) or Sgt. Ishmail of the change. Well, Ismail sees me in formation as squad leader and is on me like flies on sh-t. "Maggot, who the F--K put you in charge?" "You just want to make your own rules and make yourself a squad leader, huh?" (I will remember this until the day I die - it's that clear in my mind) Knowing I was not allowed to speak until spoken to I still tried to explain, "sir, the re..."
"Shut your f--king pie hole maggot, your azs is in big trouble, who the f--k do you think you are?" "Get on your f--king face." He had me bang out pushups and bends and mother-f--kers until we were ready to move out for the chow hall and then had me line back up as a regular turd in platoon formation. The next morning when Mazenko has duty, I (thinking that Ishmail must have told Mazenko he fired me) lined up in my normal place in the squad which was about the middle of the formation.
All of a sudden Mazenko is on me like flies on sh-t screaming, "Are you that f--king stupid Kunkel that you can't remember you are a f--king squad leader, or is it that you just wanna f--k with me." "Sir, no sir, the recruit is not f--king with the drill instructor, sir." "Yes you are maggot, you wanna make the rules - you wanna f--k with me." "Get on your face Maggot and bang em out until I get tired." After what seemed like a lifetime, he screamed at me, "now get up and get on your feet and get your azs back at the front of the column, idiot."
So the old squad leader and I switched again. Later that day we were being marched over to a building near the PX I believe for classroom training with our Red Monsters, but this time Ismail was with us - not sure where Mazenko was. And once again, Ishmail goes bananas when he sees me lined up as squad leader. "What the f--k is wrong with you, scumbag, why are you in my Marine Corps - what the f--k is your major malfunction, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda?" "Get the f--k on your face!" and this time he got down on all fours and screamed in my ear as I banged out pushups in the South Carolina 100 degree heat! After the punishment I was placed back in the formation in my normal place in the squad and the old squad leader took over once more.
The next morning when Mazenko saw me he did not say anything so I often wonder if they were both testing me or if they were dueling each other. Mazenko was a hard azs prick, but fair. Ishmail was too, but I don't think he liked me for whatever reason despite the fact that I was a good recruit who did well in all areas, so I always chalked it up to those two dueling each other.
When graduation came around and we practiced the formations out on the grinder, Mazenko selected me as his guide for his two- column section of the platoon when we marched on and off in review. As I recall, our original platoon guide, a guy named Gilbert from Mississippi, retained the post all throughout boot camp, losing it maybe for a day or two, but the four squad leaders all changed at various times, but my time as squad leader only lasted parts of two days!
Thanks for the great site Sgt Grit. God bless all of our deceased and living veterans on this Memorial Day and thank you all for your service to our great country!
Lima, 3/8 Weapons Plt
Dear Sgt. Grit,
As well all know one cannot flick your eyes around the area, speak unless spoken to by a DI or commit any other forbidden act in the eyes of the DIs. I was in San Diego going through boot with a series of platoons; 357, 358, my platoon 359 and 360.
This was 1966 so there were a lot of us going through training. Two memories from that time that I think of from time to time and laugh, hope you do to.
I arrived at the San Diego airport from Chicago at about 21:00, on a Tuesday. Get off my bus and on the yellow footprints was the first thing that we all heard, which has been heard by many.
After leaving the Receiving barracks we fell out and were marched to our squad bays, by Senior drill instructor Staff Sergeant Miller. He was a very imposing man, scary in fact.
From Wednesday on we ran, exercised, we thrashed in the pit, marched and ran some more. First memory that makes me laugh today. I was lying in my rack on Sunday night thinking thank god I survived my first week of boot camp. We fell out at 05:30 wearing skivvies, flip flops and towels. It is cold in San Diego in February. After we fell in, Staff Sergeant Miller, looked at us pukes and said "Today starts your first official week of boot camp training".
After I could get my heart out of my shoes, life went on and Platoon 359 was the series Honor platoon. Staff Sergeant Miller was ably assisted by Sergeant Brennan and Corporal Hemerling. Brennan had an Irish brogue and he'd stand in front of us and tap his Smokey Bear hat on the bridge of your nose all the time saying I'm going to thrash your aszes with his brogue. I finally laughed the last week of boot camp when he did it to me again. I thought I was dead. He didn't do anything to me and after we graduated he was sitting with his wife and infant and he called me over by saying come here turd. I said yes sir. He told me I was the only turd that had made him laugh and then he said get out and good luck.
Second memory that makes me laugh after all of these years. Platoon 360 had a recruit that was very tall and very uncoordinated. The senior DI called him private Frankenstein. When the senior DI would have the platoon doing PT, especially side straddle hops, he would scream out; "Private Frankenstein do the Monster Mash", this uncoordinated private would be all over the place trying to do them. We obviously couldn't get caught smiling or laughing but it was hilarious.
We were at the rifle range and Platoon 360 did not do so well. Their senior DI stood on the second floor (fire escape?) and had his platoon doing side straddle hops until they dropped, he was so p-ssed. Unbelievably Private Frankenstein started doing them correctly for the first time. The senior drill instructor from platoon 360 started screaming at Private Frankenstein; "do them wrong Frankenstein, do them wrong". He was so p-ssed the senior DI jumped from the second floor to the ground and collapsed. He got right back up but you could see that he was hurt.
When we graduated he had a cast on his foot and leg.
I had open heart surgery almost 5 years ago and I credit boot camp, ITR and the Corps for my survival. I knew what limits that I could push my body to and my heart is normal today. My cardiologist is very impressed.
I am grateful for that very scary senior drill instructor Staff Sergeant Miller, Sergeant Brennan and Corporal Hemerling for molding a 19 year old boot from the suburbs of Chicago into a United States Marine. This was a life changing experience for me and it has helped me in all facets of my life.
Chris Childers 66-72
Attached is a photo showing my F-150 decked out for Memorial Day parked in front of my Reserved Parking sign. Flags are on bamboo stakes in honor of all our men that were held by the Viet Kong in bamboo cages.
My dad was SgtMaj - WW-II, Korea
My mother was Cpl - WW-II WMCR Band
I was a Sgt in Viet Nam
And then there was the Lebanon crisis of 1956. The 5th Marines were embarked on transport ships in San Diego. I can't remember if they sailed. I was in Hq Co, Hq Bn and was wondering if I should apply to OTS at the time, but since I was a short-timer, I decided to get married instead in a 17th century Spanish chapel on base, which has been converted to a museum as I understand.
Let's go to the slop chute for some Poggy Bait,
Sgt.Leonard Wilson 1600465
Did 10 years in the Corps. I then had a brain fart and joined the army national guard. Anyway, my army recruiter was a former Marine. The day I raised my right hand at the armory, I was introduced to the major that was swearing me in. The recruiter told me that the major was a former Marine. Still unsure if I wanted to do this, I asked the major, "Sir, what made you join the guard?" Without missing a beat he replied, "Someone has to try and unf--k the Army." Spoken like a true Marine.
0481 "There's no party like shore party."
A friend of mine, Larry (Gator) Pate died on 22 April 2012. He was interred on 25 April 2012. I do not have information on Gator's service, but I know he was a PROUD Marine. I was US55274484, Sgt E5 - a draftee as indicated by the serial number. I read your letter every week. Gator put me to it.
C. George Brockus
I had graduated from boot camp at MCRD as well as ITR Camp Pendleton, California. It was 1966. I had barely graduated from high school and knowing I would be drafted I decided to join the Marines. I wasn't too impressed with the Army and the Air Force and Navy wanted four years of my life. The Marines wanted only three years and I felt that they would be better trained in combat given their reputation. My older brother, most likely driven by my mother, tried to talk me out of it. Even suggesting I would have to jump out of an airplane. I told him I didn't care about all that. I had to go because of the draft and the Marines was my choice.
So after the training and thirty days leave home I find myself in what was referred to as a cattle car as I remember at the airport on my way to the jet and overseas. The group I was with began to sing a song I had never heard before. Everyone seemed to know it however. It went like, "Bim bam, God d-mn, we're the infantry". Yes, we were all 0311. Grunts. It was actually moving to me. We were on our way to a fate we couldn't possibly know but was guaranteed to be dangerous. Viet Nam.
First stop was Okinawa. What a culture shock that was. Out of high school, boot camp, ITR, a short thirty day leave and into the actual Marine Corps in a foreign land. I had just turned twenty years old. Some fun. We all knew the fun would have to end sooner or later. We would continue from here to Viet Nam and for some of us it would be a final destination.
I stepped out of the plane at DaNang airbase. The first thing that struck me was the humidity. It hit like a wet blanket. I decided right there that I was not going to like this place much. We were directed to where we would sleep and that is when I saw a large sign that said something like, "In case of attack go to the nearest bunker". Nice welcome. I found the nearest bunker and then went to my tent where we all selected a cot. I kept all my clothes on including my boots in case of any possible combat. As far as I knew we could be overrun. I don't believe I slept at all that night. With the firewatch patrolling the tents and the memory of that sign's warning who could sleep?
We were split up and taken off the airbase to the field in trucks. Some to recon and some to different companies. I went to Mike. Upon approaching the duty hut I saw three body bags. They were opened about halfway with the boots sticking out. This was my moment of truth. I would have to survive this war. Still it occurred to me that those three on the ground had no doubt felt the same way.
If anyone would have suggested I would spend two tours "boots on the ground" in country I would have denied that possibility ever happening. Still that is what happened. Two tours and then back to Camp Pendleton until my release in 1968. Semper Fi.
John P. Bray
The recent inquiry from Cpl. Steven Andre about Flame Tanks, struck home.
I am one of "the older tankers" he referred to, and proudly served in the original Flame Platoon, Headquarters Company, First Tank Battalion, First Marine Division FMF during the Korean War. I refer him, and anyone else interested in our unique Flame Tank, to www [dot] flamedragons [dot] info, is a website relative to the Flame Platoon in the Korean War.
This little know unit of nine M4A3E8 Sherman flame-throwing tanks got its baptism of fire when three of the specialized double-barreled Sherman's went into Wolmi do Island to help rout North Korean People's Army defenders from their caves and hills prior to the Inchon Landing, 15 September 1950.
Those Marine Corps Flame Tanks were highly upgraded from the M4A3 Sherman's that were converted to flame-throwers and used in the Pacific Islands campaigns in World War II. In fact some of the tanks we had in Korea were on their way to the Pacific to be used for the invasion of Japan. When Japan surrendered and WWII became history, the new flame tanks were sent back to the States.
Five years later, the Korean War broke out and nine of the Flame Tanks quickly were pulled out of the Barstow (Calif. tank farm, crewed and formed into three sections of three tanks each. It was the birth of the Flame Platoon, because WW II flame tanks were scattered and came under command of gun tank companies.
The WWII Sherman flame tanks fighting in the Pacific were stripped of their main armament (75 mm weapons) to insert a flame gun. The Korean War version (two of them pictured right with their crews) maintained its 105 mm howitzer while the POA- CWS-H5 flame gun was mounted to the right of the cannon. This tank could defend itself, and do a lot more, including direct and indirect firing with the 105. It had a 30-caliber machine gun fixed on the co-axel shield to the left of the 105, another "30" handled by the assistant driver in the right bow hatch. A 50-caliber machine gun could be mounted on two positions atop the turret. Believe me, every bit of that firepower came in handy.
We could get about 100+yards, maybe a little more on a good mix of napalm - naphtha, palmetic acids in salt form, and gasoline . Yes, early in the war and during my tour, the concoction was all hand-mixed in 55-gallon drums, then hand-pumped through an intake valve on the port side of the hull, into two stainless steel storage tanks. Late in 1952, a roving tender mixed the napalm and power-pumped the jelly into the Sherman's storage tanks.
The above-mentioned website contains many of the pictures, and briefs about Flame Tank operations in Korea.
Ironically, the Flame Tanks which fought in Korea, never saw action after the Armistice was signed 27 July 1953. By the time Vietnam erupted, the faithful Sherman M4A3E8 had been retired and was replaced by more modern equipment.
S/Sgt. Jack Carty,
Missing a Movement
Someone mentioned the magic words missing a movement in a recent newsletter.
I served from 61-65. The course of events via an MOS change, transferred me from Camp Lejeune to Iwakuni Japan, from Amtracs to the Air Wing. Don't try and connect the dots, as to how those two units connected, but trust me, it was perfectly Marine Corps logical... and welcome as far as I was concerned.
The trigger was pulled on this in May 64. I took a short leave via Florida where my parents were retired, to the First Replacement Company Camp Pendleton. That's a fancy name for an assembly area. This wasn't a unit transfer. Back in that day they sent you over for a year and rotated you back... which they called a draft. The ones going over, replacing the ones coming back.
I don't quite remember how long it took to assemble the draft, probably 2 or 3 weeks. The transportation was done the old fashioned way, by ship and they had to accumulate enough Marines to fill er up.
And its fuzzy on day to day duties. I knew we all had something to do, as the USMC does firmly believe idle hands are the devil's workshop. But I do know we received "training". Not the combat variety, but formal and informal (from the salty guys who'd been there done that) on ship board life, how to behave in foreign lands, the stuff that would help take the rough edge off being a dumb azs.
In a prior adventure I'd been aboard a ship with Amtracs so I had some sense of being on a ship, even acquiring my sea legs. I was pretty sure at least I wouldn't spit up on myself.& others. But I'd not deployed to foreign lands, to a new outfit. So this trip reeked of new and unfamiliar with plenty of opportunity to be a dumb azs.
One formal and informal point came up...seemingly endlessly. "DO NOT MISS a MOVEMENT!" It seemed no opportunity to get that point across was wasted. Formally in classes, informally in particular from 3 Sergeants who deployed before. "Sarge, have you got the time?". It's time for you to remember NOT to MISS A MOVEMENT"
We did the hurry up and wait thing, but just like those old movies the day came when we hefted our sea-bags, got in one Longggggggg line and went up the gangway, found a place to bunk and settled in. To my knowledge no one missed the boat.
I'm going to skip past shipboard life for a Marine being transported, except to summarize it as... what life? One piece of good advice I got from an old hand experienced at being on a troopship is to break the time honored tradition of not volunteering. He said volunteer for something if you want to get into the twilight zone of not being constantly bored and badgered. So I volunteered for the ships newspaper as a typist, which is a few mimeographed sheets put out daily to the Marines. But I digress.
From the West Coast to Japan where we were headed was about 6000 miles or so across the Pacific. So we're talking a voyage of couple of weeks. But before we got down to a serious float, we first headed for Hawaii for a brief stopover, a bit of liberty, before we got on the way. A day or so tops. I went ashore during the day, but elected to skip night liberty and the gazillion beers and such. As I said I'd been to sea before, and I was with a whole lot of people who hadn't, and who would most likely regret any over indulgences.
So here we go again. Another departing. This time we knew we wouldn't see land for quite a while so most of us that could, were at the rail or good vantage point to see Pearl Harbor fade away.
Then something odd happened. The ship slowed down and stopped on the way out. Then there was a fuss at the rail. I maneuvered over and had a look at what was happening. Snuggled up by the ship, at a bay used by the gallery to load/unload stores, a side hatch so to speak was a small tugboat.
And looking up at us with what can be described as forlorn looks were those aforementioned 3 Sergeants. They obviously weren't feeling chipper, so some Marines, tossed some words at them, ball busting so to speak.
Now when I was warned about missing a movement I didn't go into sea lawyer mode and dive down into the details or philosophize about it. I mean I suppose the intent is that you get where you're supposed to go and on the right time and date. So technically even though you didn't take off from the dock like everyone else, but got on the ship, you could argue appointment kept. But I suspect the Marine Corps doesn't philosophize either, and to keep it simple, the movement they were referring to probably was meant from the dock at the appointed time and date.
So what we appeared to be seeing was 3 sergeants hung on their own petard, missing a movement in broad daylight, right in front of hundreds of junior Marines, and most likely various officers, who seemed to find their way to the gangway at the right time.
The consequences for missing a movement were never crystal clear, I suspect left sufficiently vague for you to fill in the blanks with the most sh-tty things you could think of... starting with the brig. I'm not saying that the Sergeants did brig time, no one knew what happened to them, which says something in itself. That is I don't recall seeing them again on the trip across.
But, we may not have hung around the same circles.
John Chalk Statue
I remember seeing the statue of John Chalk on the Sergeant Grit web site, and it was in my mind today while I drove through Big Spring, Texas. Imagine my surprise and wonder when I thought I saw a life-sized version, on a pedestal in front of the VA hospital there!
I was totally dumfounded when I learned that the statue in Big Spring is NOT of John Chalk, but IS of another Marine, George O'Brien! The statue has been there a few years, here's a link to the article when it was unveiled.
John Chalk Designed Statues and Rings
Slightly Different Result
I too served for a time in Flames, H&S Plt, "C" Co, 1st Tk Bn. I don't remember the tank number, but the tank Commander was a Cpl. Vargas, who later lost his leg to an RPG. When I was fist assigned to his tank in Jan of 68 we were stationed south of Da Nang. We worked out around Freedom Hill, Marble Mountain etc. burning off the undergrowth in order to make it harder on "Charlie."
The M67A2 had a three man crew-tank commander, gunner & driver. It carried 60-70 seconds of nape in a 375 gallon pressurized cylinder in the turret. It also had on M1919A4 30 cal machine gun co-ax mounted and one M2 50 cal machine gun mounted in the cupola. It shared the hull, suspension, and turret with the M48A3, 90 mm medium gun tank.
We use to mix the nape powder with JP7 jet fuel, diesel and I don't know what all else. Each mixture gave a slightly different result when the nape was fired!
Ralph G. Schwartz
SSgt of Marines
C-1-1, Then & Now
Noticed the photo of Captain William Simpson of C-1-1 on the September cover. And his actions in July 2010.
In September 2010 the past of C-1-1, Korea had a reunion in San Diego. A prelude to the reunion had contact with the present C-1-1 and with the battalion commander and Captain Simpson, it was arranged for the PAST to meet the present. We were bussed to Pendleton and as we arrived, (in what I remember as tent camp 2) we were met by the total of Charlie Company, with all the weapons and motor transport they presently utilize.
Off-boarding the buses, we got to meet all of them, intermingling with, questioning about the weapons, etc.. This started about 10:30 a.m., and lasted till lunch time, which we were ushered to the chow hall and had lunch with the total group. After lunch, back to the grinder & some went to 'Pullers Post' a remaining Quonset hut, that was our barracks in '50. After that we all met at the company formation outside their 3 story barracks. Said goodbye, with thanks all the way around. As we had boarded the buses, Captain Simpson came on board, both, and to all the PAST C-1-1, he gave us the coins they had made, as you can see, passing from his hand to all of us, with his personal THANK YOU, to all.
The pictures of the coin, and the PAST & PRESENT, you have. All made at Camp Horno, on September 9, 2010.
And on our last evening in San Diego, we have a farewell dinner, and the Colonel, and Captain Simpson attending along with his better half, the pretty one, Melissa.
We gave them a copy of the PAST operations in Korea in April, 1951, which was prepared by one of the Charlies, in the action of that month.
Needless to say, the PRESENT Charlies, gave another example of SEMPER FI ! from present to past.
A Gift of Love
Being the daughter of Elvin Krumsee, I grew up learning how important being a Marine was to my father. As a child, I learned the Marine anthem and would march around singing it. I learned how to make the perfect corner on a bed and strived to get a quarter to bounce on it. I learned how to spit shine shoes and even how to peel potatoes. All the Marine way.
I heard story after story of the guys dad served with and, when the reunions began, he was thrilled to be a part of his 423 family. Knowing all of this, I was pleased to have the opportunity to create the special plaques for the 2011 reunion. I wanted to give something to all the members and their families as a way to say "thank you" for being a part of my father's family.
The process of creating the plaques has a variety of stages to it. I start by editing the photographs I received, cleaning up any flaws, minimizing the graininess and cropping the picture to fit the size of the plaque. The second stage is to transfer the image to the plaque by making a decal that is fired onto the piece using a kiln. From there, I begin the process of china painting the image starting with the flesh color and slowly adding color to each area of the picture. The finishing touch is to add the 24k gold details.
To make each of the portraits authentic, I needed to research the colors of the uniforms and even the medals that some wore. It was during this process, I missed having my father around to help me get the colors just right.
There are 6-8 stages to this step where I paint and then fire the piece in the kiln. Each plaque has been fired at least 10 times. While these technical steps to the process are less than exciting to read about, I include them to help convey the time investment that turns it into a very personal project for me every time I do it.
The personal involvement begins with how I study each person's picture down to the tiniest detail. I catch a slight smile, a glint in the eye, the tilt of the head or a hat or a wedding band on the finger. I have my computer next to me while I paint so I can zoom in on any part of the picture I need to see more clearly. By spending at least 15 hours studying each picture, I begin to feel a connection with the person as though I am getting to know them and a bit of their personality. By the time the reunion came around I couldn't wait to meet "the guys" as I started to call them.
The reality is that although I made these special gifts for you, I received a gift in return. I was able to experience a little bit of what my father loved -- being a Marine. My father would have been proud of me and my brothers, Tom and Art, for the contributions we made to the reunion but what I gained was the realization of just how proud I am to be the daughter of a Marine!
Story by Barbara Krumsee Wilczyski
Submitted by Miles Morgan
Editor, VMB-423 Newsletter
The Last Stand of Fox Company
I have recently acquired a copy of The Last Stand of Fox Company. I have a special interest in this book because I have the privilege and honor of counting among my small circle of friends a Marine (Cpl. William E. Mclaughlin) who fought at the Toktong Pass during the Frozen Chosin. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. If this book even comes close to the intensity of another book that I have read about the Chosin Reservoir (Breakout by Norman Russ), I know that this book will be a fantastic read.
Also, due to the friendship that I have had with Cpl Mclaughlin over the past 20 years, I have the honor of being considered an honorary Marine by him, an honor that I value greatly. Anyway, enough digressing from the point... READ THE BOOK.
Semper Fi to all "real" MARINES, and thank you so very much for all of your sacrifices and service.
This evening I received a pleasant surprise:
When I answered my telephone, I found myself in a conversation with one of my Reserve sergeants. No big deal... Except...the last time I had contact with any members of that unit (Charlie 1/23, USMCR--at that time located aboard NAS Corpus Christi, TX) was at the end of my last drill weekend one Sunday in October, 1975!
I had been with the unit since August of 1969, was on an "extended tour," and the unit was finally fully staffed with officers. When I joined, we had four officers: two majors as CO's of C & D 4th Recon Bn, and two captains--Jack Fraim and I-- as XO's. By that last Sunday, I was the only officer left from that group, we had a major as CO (I voluntarily stepped back down to XO to stay with the unit), we even had a Navy Reserve chaplain drilling with us, and there was a lieutenant who was requesting to join, so I was "bumped out" of the unit.
My caller happened to be in my town, visiting friends, had read my contribution to your 9 May Newsletter, and decided to look me up.
I've been receiving your newsletters since you first started sending them, and I've read other readers' mentioning how you helped re-connect them with people. This week was my turn.
Many thanks, and Semper Fi!
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine
1963-76 "for pay purpose":
PLC officer candidate while in college; to active duty artillery officer in 'Nam (I Btry 3/11--5 1/2 months as FO for L 3/7, then FDO; and 4 1/2 months with 3rd 8-Inch Howitzers as one of several FDC watch officers); to Asst.S-4 / EmbarcO at HQ Bn, FMFLant Norfolk Va; to Reserve unit CO in Texas for 38 months; to nine months on the "inactive" list. Vietnam 4Dec66-18Dec67
I've enjoyed the stories about food eaten in various commands but, would like to see some regarding food that was eaten out in town at some of these commands.
My contribution happens to be a restaurant in Iwakuni, Japan called Sako's. I was stationed in Iwakuni from 1971-1972 and never had a better sandwich than the BLTs the papa-san served. Thick bread and thick bacon, just the right amount of mustard/mayonnaise, it was fit for a king. On pay day, you had better get to Sako's as early as possible or you would might have to wait for several minutes for a sandwich and it WAS worth it. If I recall correctly, the sandwiches were 100 yen apiece, as was a small bottle of Coke. So, for 300 yen (just under a dollar) you could get two sandwiches and a Coke.
I recently corresponded with a lady in Iwakuni who says Pop is still there serving his BLTs. He was old when I was there in 71-72 so he's ancient now.
H&MS-17, MWSG-17, MCAS, Iwakuni
WHAT WAS IT?
MCAS Yuma, 1968, 30 miles out from the base, in the desert, and just north of the border with Mexico. The 5 of us (E2s and E3s) were checking on to the practice bombing range (call sign Panel Stager) in the morning, taking over for the mid-crew who had just come off an 8-hour shift. Usually a gregarious group, the entire mid-crew was strangely silent. When probed for an explanation, we were given a recap of an event that happened that night.
First, the set-up. Two towers, about 35 feet high as I remember, about 1/2 mile apart. 4 guys man the main tower, one in the second tower. We plotted impacts of practice bombs on a target (out about 1/4 mile from the towers), dropped from F-4s, A-4s, and F-8s which came in flights (hops) of four throughout the shift. We communicated via radio from tower to tower. Sometimes we hosted Air Force F-4s which had come over from Luke AFB (but that's not important to the story). The wait time between hops could be 20 minutes to two hours or so.
The mid-crew chief relates to us: About 2:00 AM, while waiting for a hop of F-4s to check in, the mid-crew guy in the south tower started screaming over the radio: "Look down here, what is that?! What is it, what is it?!" The main tower guys ran out of the control room, looked toward the south. All they could see was a bright light, hovering at tower height, out about 50 feet or so from the window of the south tower. The mid-crew chief in the main tower asked him to describe what he was looking at. He started talking in rapid-speak over the radio: "it's round, no it's oval, no its round, it's changing shape, it's blue, no it's red, no green, no blue...".
Just then, a hop of F-4's check in to the main tower. Before the crew chief could respond to the flight leader, the object below moved out and away, slowly at first, from the tower, and then gained altitude and speed at a rapid rate. The flight leader broke his F-4 out of formation and went in pursuit. He went to afterburner to try and catch it but to no avail. The object was long gone, outrunning the F-4 with ease.
When the flight leader returned to the formation, the mid-crew chief asked him: "What was it?". The pilot's response was: "Just another UFO" (as in: "we see them all the time").
Well... that story stopped all of us in our tracks. The mid-crew departed, we took over. The day went by with all of us, although not even directly involved in the incident, performing our duties quietly, professionally. No good natured banter. No grab- azs. Just work. Even though it was daylight, we all kept looking over our shoulders at the surrounding desert for something, anything...
Nothing more was ever said about that incident by anyone after that day.
The "Myth & Legend"
SGT Grit; You continue to deliver great products; just got my 100th Anniversary of Marine Aviation tee, good stories, bring a tear or two, and many good laughs; thank you.
It has been interesting to see the MCAS Yuma stories as I was convinced that few Marines were aware of the station especially the older Marines. These stories bring back some good feelings.
I started my tour after boot camp/ITR as a 2531 at Camp Pendleton/main-side area 16 with H/3/11 in Feb 1962. I was with H/3/11 until Feb of 1963; I thought I knew where all of the Marines bases were at (little did I know), and I was a very naive "salt" (if there is such a thing!). I went to MCRDSD for Basics Electronics/Aviation Radar school until Jan of '64. So, by now I considered myself a very Marine Corps knowledgeable "salt"! Disproved many times over the ensuing years since then!
After graduation from electronics school all my class mates got orders and split. The First Sgt. had none for me and wasn't sure why. He told me to stay out of sight, but to check-in after AM chow every day until he got some word. I laid low for several days and finally Top called me into his office and gave me my orders. MCAS Yuma!
I had never heard of it, and worse yet no one in the office had either. I knew where AZ was and where Yuma was, and I was not excited about that. But still no info on what went on there or any real pertinent info. I only knew to report to MACS 1 (Marine Air Control Squadron) in a couple of days.
So in Jan 1964 I drove to Yuma and reported in the night before my report date. I was given an orientation booklet by the Sgt of the Guard, and he had a driver take me to a barracks to get bedding and a temporary rack for the night with orders to have chow and report to MACS 1 at 0800 the next AM. The duty NCO gave me all the info and directions I needed for the task at hand. He gave me some bedding and showed me to a receiving room. It was a ROOM! I reminded him I was not an NCO. I was informed that this was standard billeting. Major shock. I was convinced something was amiss!
Next day I did as told and reported into MACS 1; meet the radar maintenance officer (CWO 4), his staff and was taken out to meet the rest of the troops. This was not the 1st Division! But it was cool! A Cpl(E4) was assigned to take me around the area and get me all checked in, and introduce me to all squadron Marines, gear, tools, etc. At breakfast I couldn't believe the mess hall, 4 men to table and great chow. I really was starting to think I was at the wrong place, or I was experiencing a mistaken identity; they thought I was someone I was not. The last stop was at the barracks where I was assigned a room and introduced to my roommate. This place was like a hotel.
I never complained about the barracks at either the 11th Marines or MCRDSD (all WW ll) barracks); they were comfy etc.., but this was over the top. And I would have to confirm what the other Marines said; 2 men to a room, shared shower/commode connecting the rooms, wash basins/medicine cabinet in each room, single racks, AND doors on the room! And if you asked first moderate decorations were allowed!
I have attached some scans from the orientation booklet I spoke of to prove our stories, and to provide a "way-back" machine for the folks that were there to reminisce over (hope you can use them Sgt Grit).
Yuma had a small permanent-duty assignment of Marines and sailors, and made for a very relaxed/friendly atmosphere. Not that you could get away with murder, but drill, inspections, etc.. were virtually non-existent. We were a weapons training base almost exclusively so I don't think there were more than 400 personnel there, and we were all mostly support units. We could go to the E-club at night and it was rarely more than 20-25 Marines there at any one time. BUT; almost every week 1 or more squadrons checked in for training etc. Could get a little zoo like, but still mucho fun. It was always fun when a 1st time squadron was checking in; you would meet a couple of Marines wandering the barracks hallways looking for their rooms, and you always got the same question; "where are the squad- bays?". After a short explanation they were usually astounded and usually remarked, "wait until so & so sees this; he will s__t his skivvies!".
The "myth & legend" about the barracks was rampant. The popular story at that time was that when the Marine Corps took over Vincent Air Force Base in 1959 they first considered taking out all rooms and converting to squad-bays. Engineers said the buildings would collapse. Well then take all the doors off the rooms and install 4 men in each room; double bunks, foot lockers etc. Too costly, crowded, and oh by the way the air- conditioning won't work. How about 2 men and no doors; air is still a problem. What if we shut down the air and install a different ventilation system and different windows; you know how far that flew in Yuma! There is probably a thread of truth /reality in all the myth surrounding those days.
All in all Yuma turned out to my best duty station for many reasons. I thought it would be a remote/isolated h-ll hole, but in fact it was a great place. It had a million things going for it. I really enjoyed my time there. If I hadn't just got married in '65 I was set to re-up, but Nam had hit the fan and my new wife informed me she was pregnant, BTW; still together after 47 years.
Thanks for listening; sorry for the length. I would love to hear from any Marines that were permanent duty Marines at MCAS Yuma especially you guys from the early 60s when we were the "secret" base!
Wayne Mailhiot 1980XXX (nowhere near the "salt" I thought I was!)
Cuban Missile Crisis
We were living on 29 Palms Marine Corps base when the Cuban Crisis happened. My husband a L/Cpl was a radar technician and had been in the field for two weeks. He came home, we had a small daughter, and we had one night together when the MP's knocked on the door. I was told to pack his sea bag and they would be back in two hours to pick it up. That was the last I saw John A. Rinehart until just before Christmas.
When they returned, they left a will and power of attorney. We didn't know where or for how long he would be gone. John managed to send me a note on a small note book paper with a stamp on it. He used the old WWII code. The note said, Can You Be Alright, on the money we have. Of course that said Cuba.
He spent the entire time until he came home sitting on a hill at Guantanamo, with his radar. He often mentioned the iguana that slept under the radar with him. The CO's wife came to each one of us wives to see if we needed Navy Relief. I shall never forget the sound of the trucks on the road all night long loading the airplanes. The wives who stayed on the base got to see their husbands in time for Christmas because we didn't go home.
Linda L. Rinehart
Widow of MSgt. John A. Rinehart
I had just joined the FMF at Pendleton in the summer of 1962. A 2nd Lt, 0302 I was assigned to 2nd battalion 1st Marines as CO of 2nd platoon Echo co., while waiting to join a rotation battalion to "see the world" in the far east. In October 2/1 was the duty "mount out battalion for the month, if the President wanted to send us anywhere. Nobody had deployed anywhere since Korea.
In early October all leaves and liberties were cancelled and the battalion area was surrounded with concertina wire. That night we were on convoy to El Toro Marine air station, still not knowing what was going on. We loaded up on MATS 707's and were in the air headed east. We were told on board that we were going to Gitmo but not told why. California was hot but deplaning in Gitmo was boiling. We were told that we were reinforcing a company from 2nd division that was training there. That didn't make any sense.
After moving several times my company found ourselves up on the only ridge, called Suicide Ridge, that lead into Cuba. Most of the base was water and 1000 yards of mine fields in the swamps on most of the border. My platoon dug in on a ridge so close to the fence that we occasionally saw well-armed Cuban sentries across the fence.
Word got around that the Russians had missiles in Cuba pointed at the USA. I think one of my troopers had a short wave radio the picked up a signal from Miami. Well this was serious. We sat in place waiting for 2 months and took navy shipping back to Pendleton via the Panama Canal.
It's good to hear the experiences of other Marines because we were all so busy doing our jobs that we never appreciated how terrified the rest of our fellow Americans were during that period.
Terry Lee Capt. USMC
When I was in high school in Miami Beach during the Cuban Missile Crises we had a football game at Key West High School. The Florida Keys were patrolled by the Marines, and it was considered an exclusion zone. Miami area was considering all hotels to turn off lights at night as well as other measures including a possible curfew in certain parts of South Florida.
Fast forward to my duty stations in the Marines, as now in 1965 I am at Headquarters Marine Corps- and I am shown the full scale invasion plans for the landing in Cuba by the Marines, a map made to scale, as well as written materials to who does what to who after the landing.
Now I see both sides as a civilian kid who like most of the Floridians were scared and the Marine who is prepared to rise to contingencies as he is prepared for in the time of need.
I am retired and work security to keep my sanity, but Lo and Behold I work with a bunch of Marines and it is proud to say that they have my back in certain situations, not a candy assed wannabe!
A.H. my name is Sam Goody. I was in Charlie Company, 1st PLT at the same time. Remember the green side out drills? That was a hectic three days.
Sam Goody 1808XXX
USMCR 59-60, USMC60-63
PI, K-Bay, Quantico.
. Robert Fry
I was at MCRD Platoon 285, Grusdated on Dec 7,1960. Service # starts 1935. I was at all the places you said but, the dates are a little different.
I was at Subic Bay for Xmas 61-62, I was aboard the USS Noble, a brig guard. Went back to Pendleton, from there, we were flown out of El Tore to Git-Mo. 5hrs and 35 minutes.
We were on the front lines for three days before JFK told the world that he was sending troops into Cuba. My Capt. O'Toole was the three generation to take troops into Cuba. We came back through the Panama Canal, and was home for Xmas.
Transferred from Pendleton to the World's Largest Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada. Guard duty. April 1963 to June 1965. Discharged June 1965.
The movie Thirteen Days with Kevin Costner is very close to what happen when I was there. Very close. I was on nite patrol and 40 ft. away from the fence when they took the pictures finding the missiles. One thing you are right about, No one talks about the Missile crisis, because no one got hurt..
William G. Davis, Sr.
Dear Sergeant Grit,
You are providing a great communication platform for new and old timers in the Corps. Good job. Keep it up.
Enjoyed the 17 May article on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Here is another view of that subject. Russian missiles capable of striking deep into the US were being installed in Cuba in October 1962. I was working at the Pentagon in a computer unit which supported the National Military Command Center(NMCC).
I received a telephone call at home one night to report to the alternate NMCC at "The Rock" , as it was commonly called. This was an underground facility buried under a granite mountain near the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line and not too far from Camp David. Fort Ritchie, used for German POW interrogation training during WW 2, was close by and was the external support base for the Rock.
Four of us traveled to the Rock that night in a French Citroen 2CV. It was sort of a French jeep. I think the 2 must have indicated the horsepower because the driver spent a lot of time shifting into lower gear. Just getting four people into the thing was ridiculous. The last guy we picked up had to put his baggage on the roof and hold on to it with his arm out the window.
Upon arrival at the Rock we were told to dump our gear at the Ft. Ritchie barracks and come to work. We were bussed in through a long, curving tunnel which had several massive blast doors. Security checks were enforced. Deep in the bowels of the mountain we filled in the skeleton crew which was always on duty. I have been to other secure facilities and they all smelled the same; SAC at Omaha, NORAD at Colorado Springs and Kunia in Hawaii. It was a faint moldy, musty odor with a little stale mixed in for flavor.
There was very limited berthing space in the tunnel so when we went off duty only the more senior officers bunked down inside the Rock. The hod carriers, spear bearers and horse holders got to go outside to the Ft. Ritchie barracks and absorb radiation if an attack came. The barracks contained all the amenities one would expect in a POW prison camp setting. You could actually see through the walls. The barracks had been thrown together in WW2 using green lumber. Now aged, the lumber had shrunk enough to enable you to see through the cracks. No insulation in the buildings. We got a couple of thin blankets. There was no detectable heat in the building. This was October and we were in the mountains of Maryland at an elevation of several thousand feet. Trust me, it got cold.
About a day later I was on duty midnight to 0800. Some critical intelligence information had arrived at the Pentagon and was needed at the Rock. I drew the short straw and got the job to go get it. A driver and staff car were provided and I was issued a weapon. It was dark and too foggy to send the data by chopper. Why they didn't choose to send it by car from the Pentagon I do not know. We had to navigate narrow two lane roads a good part of the way. The I-270 Interstate had not been fully completed at that time. It took several hours to get to the D.C. area in time for the morning traffic rush. When we finally arrived at the Pentagon I had to collect material from several sources. By this time it was light and a helicopter arrived to take me back to the Rock.
I knew where the helipad was and immediately headed that way. The chopper was waiting, wing turning and I jumped in and got my first surprise. I had been in other choppers, but none like this one. This one was obviously for VIPs. It had a sofa-like rear seat which could accommodate several people. I buckled up. The pilot revved up the engine and we popped into the air. This chopper was quiet. The noise level in every other helicopter that I had flown in had been deafening. The soundproofing was outstanding. You could actually converse in a near normal voice.
We headed out over the Potomac River, the District of Columbia and on to the beautiful Maryland countryside. It was like sitting in a comfortable easy chair and looking out a large picture window. I could get used to this I thought, as my mind strayed from the task at hand. Suddenly, there was a sharp left turn. My first reaction was to prepare for an emergency. I asked the pilot what the problem was. His reply was: Turkey farm. I wanted to know what that had to do with our flight plan.
He said the turkey farm is a no-fly zone. I pointed out that we were in a national crisis and we needed to get to the Rock immediately.
He said that the owner of the turkey farm claimed that helicopters spooked the turkeys and he got his congressman to get a no-fly zone established. My "suggestion", to h-ll with the turkeys and let the owner put in a claim, got nowhere. The pilot said he could get zapped for entering a no-fly zone.
We may have out bluffed the Russians, but those turkeys won their round.
Parris Island to the Pentagon
. Grit; After being transferred from Santa Rosa, CA (I-I Staff, 35th Rifle Co.) to MCAF, Santa Ana, and assigned to MACS-4, things got a little hectic when the Cuban missile thing blew up. The base tightened security, more so than normal.
My wife was working at the Exchange at MCAS, El Toro, so it was just a short drive along the back roads from one base to the other. She would usually drop me off, and then go on to El Toro, and come by in the afternoon.
One day, during the crises, as she pulled up to the gate, the guard motioned for her to pull over to the side, she shook her head, and proceeded to drive on down to the squadron area to pick me up.
As we were leaving, a little later, the sentry told us that the Officer of the Day wanted to see me. He told me to tell my wife, that when a sentry motions her over to the side, she had better obey the next time.
We have laughed about that little incident for years since, when she almost got me locked up.
James R. McMahon
Gunnery Sergeant of Marines ('49-'70)
Having read the interesting stories about the Cuban Missile crisis, I was wondering how many units were there first. I was in B-1-8 2nd Mar Div. On Oct 19, 1962 we had just started our Stand-By at 1600. On Saturday, Oct 20, 1962 were called by Battalion to mount out. We boarded the 6X's and headed to Cherry Point, we spent the night there then boarded C-130's. We arrived in Cuba on Sunday, were given our orders and set up a perimeter around Gitmo. On 10/22 we were already in place when President Kennedy gave his speech. We sailed out on Dec. 17, 1962 to Morehead City. We were one of the few units that stayed on Gitmo for the duration.
Cpl. W. B. Carpenter '60-'63
Interesting reading the stories about the Cuban Crisis. I was stationed at Lejeune, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. We were scheduled to go to Vieques for training and were aboard ship. I was on the USS Wood County, LST 1178. After a few days at sea, we were told about the Cuban incident. We never did get to Vieques. I know this was around the end of October, 1962. At some point I remember them playing Kennedy's speech over the ship's loudspeakers. We floated around the Caribbean for a few weeks. We stopped in Mayport, FL for a couple days and we made a practice landing in Amtracks at Onslow Beach at Lejeune, but spent most of the time at sea. Saw lots of ships. Very impressive.
We were told we were going to land on Cuba and they told us where and when. Our officers were telling us we were closer to getting some medals than anyone had been in years. We knew it was serious and were cleaning our weapons and getting ourselves psyched up. We were kind of anxious to do what we were trained to do the way 20 year olds are.
That was as close as I came to combat. I got out in 1964 and Viet Nam was just getting started. Always had mixed feelings about that. Felt I should have been there but thankful I'm in one piece.
Hope to hear some more stories from guys in at that time. I have lots of fond and funny memories of my fellow Marines. They were a great bunch.
John Hannum, Cpl. 1960-1964
While the president was looking at photos of the Russian missiles, my unit C/1/10 was on its way back from a 6 month tour on Gitmo. Laying off Onslow Beach, the cruise prepared for a wet net landing on the beach. We could see the bathers and vehicles lined up to take the infantry to their barracks.
As we stood on the deck, the 1mc began barking out that missiles had been discovered in Cuba and that our ship was being ordered to return. We stood on that deck and watched the beach recede. The next morning, the sea was filled to the horizon with ships.
Lucky for us and since we had been on Gitmo, we were put in reserved. We spent time in Charleston, South Carolina where we were grant dungaree liberty. Next we laid off Jacksonville Florida. Rumor had it that our ships were not allowed into the harbor or have any liberty because of the Marines before us had done some damage.
Finally we sailed into Gitmo and set up on Marine site. We got chances of riding along the fence line and man some of the firing positions. There were so many Marines ashore that you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a Marines.
One funny incident was the time a Russian sub surfaced off Gitmo. It was amazing to watch destroyers ponce on the boat. After it was escorted away, we got word the captain apologize and thought he was in Havana Harbor and that his navigator had erred. Good times were held by all.
GySgt, USMC, ret.
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #1, #6, (JUN. 2011)
HMR-161 and the helicopters from VMO-6 continued to provide support to the 1st Marine Division in 1953 and until the armistice was signed on 17 July 1953. Helicopter Pilots and Air- crewmen suffered a total of nine (9) mishaps in Korea proving that their machines were not overly vulnerable. The statistics involving these two Squadrons (HMR-161 & VMO-6) are staggering especially during the infancy of Marine Helicopter Operations.
As a newcomer, the helicopter proved to be a valuable tactical weapon in Korea. lt met and exceeded all the expectations the pioneers of vertical envelopment had for it. The work that had been done by HMR-161 in Korea was impressive. As the first Helicopter Transport Squadron in combat it had flown over 30,000 hours and completed more than 32,000 flights under combat and adverse weather conditions.
The concept developed at Quantico, VA, in the late 40's by HMX-1 met and stood the test of war and had proven itself in Korea. The technique of hit and run had proven most effective when used in major troop movements and not when used in small lifts. Amphibious operations of the future would owe much of their success to the Pilots and men of VMC-6 and HMR-161.
Early in March 1955, the 1st Marine Division returned to Camp Pendleton as did most of its supporting units. HMR-161 was deployed to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii with its new Aircraft the HRS-3. (now, here the R stands for Transport). lt was basically the same aircraft except it had a more powerful Engine. An increase of about 100 HP allowed the HRS-3 to lift approx. 250 Lbs. More than its predecessors or, the equivalent of one more combat Marine on each flight.
Some of the squadron personnel arrived less Helicopters at Kaneohe Bay near the end of March and the balance of the unit arrived about 10 days later with the remainder of the gear and the Aircraft. They arrived in Pearl Harbor aboard the USS WASP and were flown to Kaneohe on the other side of the island. HMR-161 now became part of MAG-13 and the 1st MARINE Brigade. VMO-6 went to Camp Pendleton and operated from there in support of the 1st MARINE Division
While all this was going on, around the country other HRS-3 squadrons had already been commissioned and were in an operational training mode. Prior to this the MARINE Corps lacked enough money and expertise which consequently resulted in repeated delays in the creation of these squadrons. But, it was very evident that the lessons learned in Korea would be a large portion of the Marine Corps future. The Check's in the mail!
I can one up you on this story. I was at PISC in the summer of 1988. We had a similar episode that was caused by food poisoning from our bug juice. My story is almost identical to yours up till near the end. Three quarters of the platoon has puked and the other quarter is bent over moaning. The DI yells, "Shut the he! Up. If you haven't puked yet, you're not going to." As he finishes that sentence I blew an epic chunk right out of The Exorcist. I remember that we had carrots and peas for dinner so it was quite colorful.
Cpl. M. S. Lewis 1988-1994
I was in H(otel) Co., 2nd Battalion, 2nd Mar. Div., Camp Lejeune, No. Carolina and sat the fence line at Guantanamo Bay until the "Crisis" was over.
Graduated from Platoon 347, Parris Island after enlisting in July, 62.
Went to Viet Nam in Mar., 65 with Alpha Co., 1st Bat., 4th Marines, 1st Marine Brigade out of Kanehoe Bay and left in April 66 with Echo Co., 2nd Bat., 7th Marines..
We of Alpha 1/4 and Echo 2/7 who served in Chu Lai, Viet Nam from 65-66 will reunion in New Orleans this Sept, 2012. Russell Rebeiro
See More Reunions!
Navy Slang Terms
Here are a few I have heard.
2) Anchor Clankers
3) Lily Pad
4) What the Gay's call them in Hawaii Sea Food
5) What does a Submarine have inside it? A bunch of Seamen
6) Swabies (spelling)
7) Deck-Apes (circa WWII)
8) "Devil Squid"
While we were at Camp Evans, north of Hue, with 2nd. Prov. 3/12. We would always sing when "Doc " Tully came to get in the chow line.
Anchor clanker, Seaweed Sucker, come and get it Mother F---er.
Doc was a great guy but everything finally caught up with him after he was home a few years and he died from an overdose. Everyone who knew him liked him. Rest in peace Brother.
George Sheesley 66' to 70'
NO Boot Camp Marine
Just got a call from an Old Corps Marine. He joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1954. At the time was told if he kept his requirements up he would not have to go to boot camp. He got our 11 years later.
This is an interesting bit of Marine history. Any others out there have this experience?
Armed Forces Day, Oceanside California
What a great honor to attend this day as a member of the Sgt Grit team. I remember going to this when my husband and I were stationed at Camp Pendleton and we were the recipients of all the great things that Oceanside has to offer during Operation Appreciation. Now it was my turn to help give back.
We really enjoyed giving away some fun trinkets and such to the Marine families there and all the amazing thanks we got from patrons and Marines that stopped by our tent just to say thanks for all we do. This day was filled with laughter, music, Marine exhibits and of course beautiful weather to boot. I cannot wait for next year! Oorah and Semper Fi!
Director of Operations/Customer Service
Sundays were supposed to be a day off for the recruits, for the most part. It was a day to square their gear away. shine boots, iron cammies, etc., etc. But when my platoons were screwing up, I would give them a little treat on Sundays.
We had big 50-gallon metal trash cans in the squad bays. I would assign 2 recruits to take the trash can into the shower and fill it up with water. Then I would have them carry it out into the middle of the squad bay and set it down. I would then tell the platoon to get out 1 wash cloth each and stand on the yellow line in front of their racks.
I would then kick over the trash can full of water and tell them to get on their knees and start soaking the water up with the wash cloths. This would take a very long time and when it was all soaked up, I would kick over the trash can again.
They would repeat the process all over again. I would do this all day. At the end of the day, you could eat off the deck of the squad bay, it was so clean.
Sometimes when a recruit was screwing up, I would make him kneel down in the middle of the squad bay and place the big 50 gallon metal trash can over himself. I would then take a billy club that I kept with me in my DI house and beat the side of the trash can as hard as I could.
I would also make each and every one of my recruits take turns doing the same thing. I would tell them if they didn't hit it as hard as they could, they would be next. This would really mess up the recruit under the trash can.
I had all kinds of little crazy things I would do to my recruits to mess with them. I sure did like my job. I have one story about BenGay I will tell ya about next time. You'll love that one, I'm sure.
Least Amphibious Of The Corps
As sometimes happens, usually as a result of some statistically significant percentage of malfunction reports, a 'lot' of ammunition will be destroyed. There exists a number of ways to accomplish this, and the method chosen will depend on type, quantity, location(s), etc... For the story at hand, the ammunition involved was 3.5 rocket rounds... and the weapon was pretty well obsolete by the time of our tale...
Anyway, having been replaced by the fire and forget LAAW. We had some quantity (several pallets) in the Base Magazine at that least amphibious of all the Corps' major installations, Two- Niner Trees. When the TWX (naval message kind, not a pogey bait bar) came in, it contained reporting instructions, a date to have the job done, and directed that the local loose-screw club, also known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment, would do the blowing up of things.
From memory, of which there ain't a lot left of, 3.5 rounds came packed three to a wooden case. ensconced therein in the black fiber tubes with metal ends, or in other words, there was a lot of not so thrilling common labor involved before anything got to go boom. There were three types of ammo for the 3.5 M20... a HEAT, a smoke (WP) and a practice round... all having the same rocket motor, but different warheads. This was all one lot, and most likely the HEAT version.
EOD detachments were not particularly heavy on manpower, so the Ammo Techs from the magazine got to help. The methodology was to remove the rounds from all packing, and lay them in tight rows, alternating ends... one pointing north, next one south, then north again, etc... readers should understand that each round had two components that were capable of generating a 27- page health record entry (final line = 'closed'), those being the warhead AND the motor. The explosive to be used to detonate all this stuff in one fell swoop was something called 'FLEX- X'... handy stuff, had a peel-off strip covering a sticky side that would stick to about anything. I have described this stuff as being 'about the size/shape of yer standard Kotex sanitary napkin' for years, and having just looked it up, only to find each piece is 3"X12"X1/4" thick... have to wonder about what sort of females I knew back in the day?
EOD directed that the rows be laid on the ground tightly, and began placing FLEX-X in lines on top of the rounds, with care taken so that there was firm contact between adjoining pieces. Since I didn't mention it before, might point out that the 3.5 HEAT round has a PIBD fuse....Point Initiating, Base Detonating... and that the rocket motor is electrically fired.
One of the more wonderful things about the desert is how far you can see... and as the afternoon wore on, we could see storm clouds gathering to our west... with lightning... so things got kinda speeded up... and apparently, less attention was paid to the contact between FLEX-X pads... net result was, with the last round in place, we got behind the berm, somebody hollered "Fire in the hole... cubed!" and touched 'er off.
Some of the rounds did as expected... 'Bipp'd'... or, 'blew in place'.
Unfortunately, many didn't... however, of those, lots of the rocket motors ignited... and sans guidance of even a rudimentary aluminum tube, went tumbling airborne all over the place, just before the rain squalls got there. EOD now had a sizeable area littered with explosive warheads of dubious condition... I think it took the better part of the next two weeks for them to find all the warheads, put a small charge on each, and blow it in place... one at a time.
Checked my platoon books for a Grimes, didn't find one... suspect it was the other Sgt Dickerson (I know there was one at PI)... term 'school circle' not one I recall in use, and if it was me, it would've been squat thrusts... AKA 'Burpees' (who knows where that came from), or my fave, "squat whoopies"...
If the DI took off his cover for a moment, and glanced inside it, what he was looking at was a piece of cardboard about the size of a business card... called a "SI card", for "Supplementary Instruction"... laid out how many reps of any 'instructive' PT exercise could be assigned, and depended on phase of training... had to be produced if one of the S-2 Lts asked for it, and not having it could result in loss of proficiency pay ($30/mo... big deal when a Sgt made 325/mo)... of course, it was observed more in absence than 'by the book'... if the card read '10 squat thrusts', I would maybe assign a 'running 10"... which meant you were going to do one here, run to the end of the platoon street, do one there, run back and do, one, two, then run to the other end and do one, two, back here for one, two, three... etc. Count'em up... it was more than 10 total... and good for you!
Think as a communicator ('you can talk about us, but you can't talk without us') you might appreciate this... recall that there was something informally known as 'The Charlie Brown Net'... on which proper procedure was rarely used. Let's face it... that old thing about combat (or flying) being 'endless hours of boredom of the worst kind, broken up occasionally by a few moments of sheer terror, is, in my experience at least, true.
OPs and LPs, etc. might be set up for a comm check every half hour, or hour... 7/24. Unless 'they're in the wire!' is needed, comm checks might provide some brief respite from the aching boredom, hence the Charley Brown net... transmissions from an OP or LP might include some ingenuity, maybe some rhythm... whatever a LCPL might come up with.
Once happened to overhear one of these checks, that went something like this; (Callsign, this be the Green Dragon... we be five by five out here".)... Someone else, who happened to be the CommO for 'Callsign', who was also loitering about the antenna forest, and also heard this egregious (and common) violation of Newton Minnow's airspace, grabbed the mike from the radio watch stander, and announced: "Unknown station this net, this is Callsign three-five (or whatever number meant that it was CommO himself)... you will immediately identify yourself properly"...
What he heard in reply was: "Threefive, this be the Green Dragon... we be green... but we don't be THAT green!... bye- bye!" Don't know if the Green Dragon's cover was ever blown, but procedure was part of the next day's brief/groupasschewing... which bring us to "Zilching"... and Zilching is one of those 'do not try this at home' things...
The subject was brought up by a Colonel, who was Chief of Staff, at a commanders' and staff meeting, (29 Palms) probably around the end of the psychedelic era. The Colonel said "pass the word to the troops that there will be no Zilchng in the barracks"... this to a room full of salty, seasoned, grizzled warriors, who collectively pretty well had 'been there, done that' on five or more of the seven continents... and had absolutely no idea what the Chief was talking about!
Up came a hand... "ah, sir? uh, what, exactly is 'zilching'?... the Colonel said, 'well, as I understand it, it's something the potheads do... they take one of those clear plastic bags from their dry cleaning, make a sort of rope with it, tie knots in that, hold it over the commode, and light the bottom with a cigarette lighter... seems that as the plastic melts and stretches, it makes a sound like "ZIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLCH! as it drops into the water"... 'On second thought... don't bring it up"... all present agreed that was, without doubt, the best plan...
Staff briefs were usually good for at least one piece of absolutely useless information... collected quite a few over the years... and both Grit and DDick herewith disclaim any liability for any action taken by any curious reader that results in injury, property damage, or smoked-up heads, civilian or military...
"We're not retreating, H-ll! We're just attacking in different direction!"
--GEN. Oliver Smith, USMC
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin
"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States."
"The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality."
--economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)
"Democracy is two Wolves and a Lamb voting on what's for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed Lamb disputing the vote"
"Come on, you sons of b-tches! Do you want to live forever?"
--GySgt. DANIEL DALY, USMC
"I pulled mess duty at the last supper"
"I was assigned to the Marine Detachment on Noah's Ark"
"I have more flight time jumping out of the back of six-bys, than you have in the Marine Corps."