Bravo Battery, 1st Bn, 13th Mar, 5th MarDiv, Vietnam Reunion in Mancos, Colorado.
MGYSGT Terry Read 0811
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Young Dedicated Patriots
I occasionally have the opportunity to talk to young Marines of the modern era. When they learn that I'm a former Drill Instructor, inevitably, they have many questions. How can I become a Drill Instructor? What's it like being a Drill Instructor? Are the hours long? Is it a difficult job? And, of course, I try to answer their questions as best I can.
The first thing I usually say is - I'm sure being a "hat" today is much different than it was in the early 80s. The SOP for training recruits has changed a great deal. DI school has changed a great deal, and I suspect the changes are for the better. The only thing I can say for sure is - Yes, It's a very tough duty. The hours are long and tedious. I guarantee that your feet will hurt more than you ever thought possible. New "hats", as well as experienced "hats" have foot pain when they pick up a new platoon. You will be on your feet anywhere from 12 to 14 hours in the initial days of forming through about TD-5 or TD-6. You will, at times, experience deep frustration. Just teaching recruits to march, putting the left foot in front of the right all at the same time can be a challenge, let alone teaching the manual of arms, especially inspection arms! The key to teaching anything to new recruits is repetition, and of course, doing it the same way every time... the correct way.
On the bright side, the rewards by far exceed the frustrations. I can't think of any duty I had as a Marine that was more rewarding than leading a well-trained platoon across the parade deck during "pass in review". You have just completed the transformation of young dedicated patriots into basically trained U.S. Marines who will, hopefully, serve their country well. My duty as a Drill Instructor continues to be the highlight of my life. Oh - to be able (physically) to do it all again - wishful thinking.
I have never had the opportunity to meet any of my former recruits. However, I have kept tabs on several of them during their Marine Corps career. I know of three who became Sergeants Major. I know of one who got an appointment to the Naval Academy, retiring from the Marine Corps several years ago as a Colonel. What's equally important are the Marines who went on the be responsible citizens. What an honor for me to be able to make a small contribution.
A Former "Hat"
GySgt, USMC (Ret.)
In World War II, 11.2 percent of the nation served in four years. In Vietnam , 4.3 percent served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45 percent of our population has served in the Global War on Terror.
"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."
Thank you to the 0.45 percent!
Only a fraction of the 0.45 percent are Marines.
Come With Me
In 1969 after ITR, my orders, after my leave, were to report to staging for Vietnam at Camp Pendleton. The Corps paid for me to fly stand-by so I had to wear my uniform. After seating in the coach section of the aircraft (United Airlines), the pilot came walking by, stopped and said, "where are you off to Marine?" I replied, "Camp Pendleton and then Vietnam sir." He said, "come with me." He escorted me to the first class section, and told the stewardess, "I want this man in first class." I couldn't believe it, wide seats, drinks immediately, but the thing that I got the most were the red booties that were provided to rest your tired feet. This act of kindness and respect by the pilot, I can never forget. I just wish I had gotten his name so he could be cited here.
L/Cpl. Ken Kruger
I came across this story while reading the online newspaper of Deseret News, and thought it ought to be shared with Marines.
It was Feb. 24, 1945, at the site of some of the bloodiest battles fought in all of World War II. Iwo Jima, 660 nautical miles from Tokyo, was crucial to the United States war effort, and it had to be taken.
Lt. Cmdr. E. Wayne Stratford of Portland, Ore., was the senior medical officer aboard the USS Lubbock (APA 197 attack troop transport). He worked feverishly to save the lives of half-dead men carried back on board with what he termed "garbage can wounds."
Then, Dr. Stratford received an order so bizarre that he had difficulty in believing it could be true. For the first time in American military history, medical officers were ordered to designate wounded men who could return to the fight.
Scuttlebutt reached the wounded over the Navy's grapevine, and when the unhappy doctor stepped reluctantly into the wardroom he was spared the agony of having to make a choice. Every Marine who could struggle off his bed was lined up, in uniform, waiting for Dr. Stratford, volunteering to go back. One Lieutenant Colonel with five bullet wounds in his back pleaded for permission to return with his men.
Out of 500 patients on the Lubbock, 50 were patched up sufficiently to fight again, plus 32 who weren't up to doing battle but could handle supplies. They joined 3,500 wounded from other Navy APAs. These heroic volunteers were dubbed the Bandaged Brigade.
This is an excerpt from "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor, published by Cedar Fort.
For those interested in the book. "Saints at War: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Valor" (Cedar Fort, 18.99), which hits bookstores this month.
I thought it gave true meaning to the term Semper Fidelis.
Thanks & Semper Fi,
Bill fortune '59-'63
Reading the 30 May 2013 newsletter, as usual, I enjoyed ddicks comments. His comments on the Barber and Dental Clinic also brings back some memories.
On Cherry Point, back in the late 70s early 80s, we had a Female barber who couldn't cut a High and Tight straight. Anyone who has had her cut their hair once, always tried not to sit in her chair again. My Unit affectionately named her "Molly Hatchett".
My Unit, 3D LAAM Bn, had such a bad attendance at dental appointments that Dental and our Battalion CO had a dental clinic opened in a spare office in Battalion HQ. So, we had no choice but to show up.
I enjoy your newsletter and look forward to sitting down on Thursday with my LJ (lifer juice) and read it. Especially love ddicks comments. Sometimes I think he served in my unit.
Sgt Frank "Gunner Grabin Jr" Thompson
A Brty 3D LAAM Bn
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I were driving from Austin to Atlanta and stopped in the Mobile / Biloxi area for breakfast on the beach. As I sat down at my table, I noticed a guy two tables away decked out in 'Sgt Grit gear' and realized my cover was in the car. After I ordered, I approached him and offered a Semper-Fi, to which he smiled and replied oohrah. (I wonder how many thousands of times this happens each day?). I gave him the traditional P.I. 1960 and he said "me too". I said "June", he said "me too". I said "Plt. 264" he said "265". We spent 13 weeks with him on the second deck and me on the first.
After a good laugh we introduced our wives and spent a few minutes catching up. Not a big deal, but I have observed over the past 50 years that not many of the other services feel the need or desire to reach out and connect with their fellow brothers in service. I guess that is just one more thing that makes us the unique fighting force we are.
Corporal of Marines
1960 - 1965
The ltr. from Gene Lang re: the HUK (Filipino Rebels) and Op. STRONGBACK, January into March 1958, is something I can recall, though I was not in his unit.
If anyone out there still has a 2012 LEATHERNECK Calendar, you will see OP. SB referenced in it. I was the one that did roughly 16-18 months of research to prove to LEATHERNECK that it was the largest PHIBEX since the close of WW-2: 160 Ships, the entire 3rd Mar Div and 1st Mar Air Wing.
Most landed at Dingalen Bay. Where everyone went after that was pretty much everywhere. I was in comm sec 9th and saw plenty of Crocs and Cobras along a river which we followed for a while north of what was a main road below and south that led to Cabanatuan; one of the infamous POW camps that many of the Bataan Death March men ended up in. Seems to my memory that those I was with spent most our time up in the highlands. I know my 292 antennae worked as if I could call back to Chicago from up there. I also used that 16-18 months mentioned above to prove our 101 mile hike, 2nd Bn. 5th, in June 1956. Also in the 2012 LEATHERNECK Calendar and another record breaker.
The 6th had done 100 miles in 1943. I and my fmr Marine son were warmly greeted by 2/5's XO Major Haseltine last year, when I presented him the research material. It is now proudly displayed at Bn and Regt.
In ref to Gene Lang's "Fired on the Huks".
I was in Weapons 2/9 on the same operation (Strongback). Glad to hear someone got to take some shots at the Huks. As far as I know, we had nothing but blanks. We were "escorted" by two Filipino officers (at battalion level). They only lasted two days with us. They couldn't understand how people could move so far, so fast on so little sleep. Ahhhhh, the days of being a 2/9 grunt. Best days of my life except the day I met my wife.
Stone Mountain, GA
CPL USMC ('56-'62) 164XXXX
Spirit Of The Marine Corps
A few years back I went to the Marine Birthday breakfast here in Dublin, GA. I sat in a room with World War II Veterans. They still had the Marine Corps spirit and sang the Marines' Hymn as though it was yesterday. I have no words to describe what it was to sit in that room with all those Veterans. One Marine stood out from the rest, he was in a wheel chair. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Sergeant Major with 34 years in the Corps. He was a Bataan Death March survivor.
The thing that gets to you the most is that you see movies, you watch documentaries, and you look at pictures. BUT, to be able to sit in a room with the men that were there. They are talking to you as though they had known you all your life, and they respected you as if you were there with them. The spirit of the Marine Corps was still in each and every one of them. That day was the one day that made me feel the most proud and honored to be a MARINE. That day has lived in me and will always be something that I will never forget. To see the smiles on those Marines faces and here them sing the Marines' Hymn was awesome.
Semper Fi carries through the Corps like no one ever dreamed it could.
Cpl. Charles Harden
Took A Swipe
In again. Just read the letters about "Barber Shops and Barbers". I can still remember one in Korea just like it was yesterday. There were four of us patrolling one of the few towns that still had people in it - can't think of the name or location. This was after Chosin and on the way back up. I was carrying a Thompson w/drum - liberated, of course - and a 1911A1. The others were carrying M1s and hand guns, and we were tired and dirty.
We saw a shop that was open, and it turned out to be a 2-man barber shop. We went in, scared the h-ll out of the barbers, and said we wanted shaves and a haircut. They both bowed, pointed to the chairs, and stood waiting. I think I know what they expected. They did a fair job of the haircuts, but in place of shaving cream, all they had was facial soap. Wasn't too bad until the one barber got to Joe. He was a "Black Italian" with a perpetual 5- O'clock shadow, and as hairy as they come. These barbers still had straight razors. They lathered up Joe, took a swipe, honed the razor, took a swipe, honed the razor - all the while visibly shaking until he was finished. I think we each gave them a hundred Won - The Won, at that time, was around 360 to 1.
As we went out the door, they both bowed, grinned and (I think, thanked us).
One other thing. The C.O. of our outfit had one rule foremost. Steal for the Unit - Good! Steal for yourself - You're gone.
Problem On The Rope
A phrase from one of my beloved Drill Instructors, July 1966, PISC. Hot and miserable, to say nothing of the weather. Maybe around the 2nd week in, we were on the obstacle course near 1st RTR barracks. Had a little trouble getting up the rope. Hands were sweaty from the hateful humidity. Finally made it and came back down. Sgt. Babb was waiting for me. "You got a problem on that rope maggot?" "No sir", I replied. Sgt. Babb then uttered a phrase that, to this day, still makes me laugh. "You looked like a monkey f--king a football!"
Unintentionally, I started laughing uncontrollably. Needless to say, my amusement was very short-lived.
1966 - 1970
RVN '68 - '69
Our Prayers Are With You
I had placed an order on 5/24/13. I had spoken to a lady by the name of Teresa while placing the order and we had gotten in a conversation about the tornado that had hit Moore, Oklahoma, and I told her our prayers are with you all there. Teresa asked if I had served in the Marine Corps and I told her I did not, but my son did. I told her the reason I bought the Marine flag was that I had lost my son in Iraq and that I fly the flag in memory of my son. I was not in the best of moods when I called being that it was the Memorial Day weekend, and the loss of my son.
This lady whom I never met took a few minutes of her time to talk to me, and believe me... her kind words really helped me in ways words cannot describe. I just want you all to know what a very caring and kind lady you have working there, and Teresa if you should see this letter again thank you and God Bless you.
Semper Fi Marine
A few weeks ago I sent you my recollections of when I first saw the Vietnam Memorial Wall and of how the tears came uncontrollably, and then of the second time I saw it and where they were "more controlled". Well, over the Memorial Day weekend "The Wall" was here locally and of course I went to it. In fact I went on 6 different occasions. The first was the day the truck rolled in followed by close to 100 Patriot Riders and American Legion Riders. I knew exactly where it would be coming in by, so I posted myself on the street curb where it would be passing. When I noticed the first rider coming I quickly ran out to the median, d-mned near got run over to. I stood at attention and gave the best d-mned MARINE salute I could muster. As the Riders came by they returned my salute, but the best was yet to come. You see, the driver noticed me and slowed the big semi down and returned my salute! People going by honked and gave me the thumbs up and one gentleman who seemed to be close to maybe 90 rolled his window down and hollered, "Semper Fi MARINE, I survived Chosin, thank you for what you just did." I knew exactly what he was talking about, but he drove off so I did not have a chance to speak with him. And yes the tears were present as the truck rolled by.
However in all the times I visited, in finding the names of my buddies, and speaking with fellow Nam Veterans I never even welled up. I did not know if maybe I was past that or maybe I was now able to understand and cope with the fact that it was history, and I came home and I was ok. On 28 May "The Wall" was deconstructed and packed for travel and I was there to see it off. I walked up to the driver, who I found out was also a MARINE, and as I put my hand out to shake his it quickly turned into a tear filled embrace and Semper Fi. I thanked him for what he was doing, I thanked him for taking care of the precious cargo he was driving around, and I thanked him for his service. We parted ways and as I walked back to my car I turned around and once again snapped a salute to those 58,297 names and said so long. The driver noticed what I was doing and again returned my salute! My day could not have started or ended any better.
To all that served in that nasty azs, snake infested, punji stick filled, rainy jungle and came back, May God Bless you! To those of our brothers that did not, I will not say good bye as that is too definite but rather so long because I know we will see each other again!
P A Reis
Expand On The Truth
I carried a M1 during my career as a peace time Marine. Sometimes when some of my old Marine friends gather together they tell me of their exploits thru the Pacific Islands. One told me he carried two trigger housing groups for his M1 Garand. One had the sear filed down to make it full auto. Maybe one of my brothers can shed some light on this if it was true, or was he just pulling my chain. Marines don't lie, they just expand on the truth. Thanks.
Another day in paradise to serve the Corps.
Nealey, Jerry C.
Ok Sergeant, time for me to speak up on this one. I will take nothing away from my Brother (Cpl Patterson) who served in between Korea and Viet Nam, but I spent my 20 fighting the Cold War after Nam up to and after the fall of the Soviet Union. I am an 0231 (yeah, Spook), and my career was spent knowing everything there was to know about the Soviet war machine. I trained on this every day, and it paid off during the Gulf War. Working the S-2 in an Arty Bn (3/12) was like spewing out grade school knowledge to me. After the fall, when Yugoslavia erupted, it was more of the same.
My point is, the Cold War lasted longer than any other war, and there are many a fine Marine out there who trained for and fought no other wars. Semper Fi!
1978 - 1998
For L/CPL Lapointe regarding questions about the Cold War.
Here's a quote off Wikipedia regarding the Cold War Victory Medal. It defines the period of time known as The Cold War:
"In accordance with section 1084 of the National Defense Authorization Act  for fiscal year 1998, Congress commended the members of the Armed Forces and civilian personnel who contributed to the historic victory in the Cold War, and authorized and instructed the then-Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, to prepare a certificate recognizing the Cold War service of qualifying members of the Armed Forces and civilian personnel of the Department of Defense and other government agencies. The certificate became known as the Cold War Recognition Certificate available by request of the individual by all members of the armed forces and qualified federal government civilian personnel who honorably served the United States anytime during the Cold War, which is defined as September 2, 1945 to December 26, 1991.
In October 2001, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act ("NDAA") for fiscal year 2002, which is signed into law on December 28, 2001 by President George W. Bush. In the NDAA approved by both houses and signed into law by the president, was a Sense of the Congress resolution that the Secretary of Defense should consider authorizing the issuance of a Campaign medal, to be known as the Cold War Service Medal, to each person who while a member of the Armed Forces served satisfactorily on active duty during the Cold War. The then-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, did not create such a medal.
The official US Navy web page states: "The Department of Defense will not be creating a Cold War Service medal" and that any commemorative medals made by private vendors are unauthorized on the military uniform.  At present the Cold War Victory Medal remains strictly commemorative and is unofficial other than for members of the Louisiana National Guard.
The Cold War Victory Medal is also referred to as the Cold War Commemorative Medal, Cold War Service Medal, or simply as the Cold War Medal. There are no devices or attachments authorized for the Cold War Victory Medal."
Now, if we could get our elected officials (and appointed officials) to get off their collective azses and pick up the ball and run with it, we Cold War Vets might get some recognition.
J. H. Hardin
I would like to comment on an article in the last newsletter that had some talk about the M-1 Garand at Guadalcanal.
They were not at Guadalcanal and they were not a Tarawa. The Marine Corps did not receive them in large numbers until late 1943, far after both these campaigns. I believe we had about ten at Camp Pendleton for evaluation by the Marine Rifle Team in 1942 of which later Lt Col (Red Mike) Merritt Edson was a member at the time.
The Springfield M1903A-1 and the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle were the rifles used. The Raiders and Para Marines also used the M1938 Thompson sub machine gun, and the M1A1 Carbine with a folding wire stock, and the 1911 .45 Cal. Automatic Pistol.
Hope this sheds some light on the subject. Happy to hear you made it through the Tornado ok.
God bless the Marine Corps.
MGYSGT W Schroeder
Don't Bunch Up
I don't usually write book reports, but I recently read and can recommend "Don't Bunch Up" by William Van Zanten, a Captain with the "Magnificent Bastards" of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines... 1966.
Van Zanten writes about his determination to become a Marine Officer, and colorfully describes the prodigious efforts he put forth to achieve that goal, and shares about his time in VietNam... where he so aptly applied what he had learned.
Van Zanten's writing is exclusively in the first person, easy to read, like listening your best friend... and enhanced by his down-to-earth descriptions and wry humor, like this: "Camp Usher... the low-rent district of Marine Corps schools... miles from the nearest civilized area... Quonset huts... in neatly arranged rows, a regular array of concrete and tin that could just as easily serve as a prison or a POW camp. It had all the hominess of Sing Sing and Drill Instructors to boot."
He writes: "A Marine infantry platoon contained 40 Marines. Were they going to let me stand in front of 40 Marines, and if necessary let me lead them into combat? One thing was certain: The Marines were going to take one very hard look before they decided. What I was completely surprised about was the extent they would go to get you to decide to drop out of the program if they didn't think you had the right stuff. I had survived Marine Corps Boot Camp two years earlier, and since that was widely considered to be demanding training, I was sure this six weeks was going to be tough but tolerable. I was FAR too confident..."
He writes so simply that you will be enveloped by the narrative, entertained by his occasional screw-ups, laugh out loud about beer-bartering in 'Nam... perhaps occasionally grimace through the combat narratives, but made proud by his efforts to become a Marine Officer. These are his words at the beginning of that quest. "The drab green uniforms which we all wore were a great leveler. No matter the background or amount of money one had, in the drill field or bayonet course it didn't make much difference. Everyone had an equal chance to screw up."
The real depth of this book is displayed in the simplicity Van Zanten describes the planning, effort, and teamwork it took to care for, lead, and look out for the Marines he was responsible for. It is fun to read, hard to put down, but has a depth and voice which sets Van Santen's book in an entirely different league than your basic paperback. It'll make you proud, make you remember, make you laugh... and it won't break your heart.
Kirk Hogan, Manchester
Proud Supporter of Marines.
Something Of An Anomaly
Gunny McCallum's letter allowed me to look back to when I had a Spec Number of 521, Basic Marine, later it became a 745 Rifleman Spec Number when I earned it. Then in 1946 we went from Spec Numbers to MOS and I became an 0311. Through my years of Service I have been A Rifleman, a Photographer, A Sentry, Prison Chaser at a Naval Prison, Chief Night Cook on a Troop Ship returning home, Recruiter, Weapons Tester, Recon, Small Arms Repair, Rifle Team Armorer, even a Nuclear Weapons Specialist, and even doing duty as Rifleman at Burials (when they returned the bodies at the end of WWII). I've always looked at my Career as something special because I was able to do what I was called on to do (not always to my liking).
When I retired I was looked at as something of an Anomaly. I served in the "Good" War, the "Forgotten" War, and the "Bad" War, and Survived. Many Civilians are seemingly not aware that not everyone is wounded or killed in Battles.
My best friend after Retirement was an Army Air Corp Tail Gunner on a B26J. If you are not familiar with a B25J, they had 12 (I believe) .50 caliber MG's on them (some even carried a 75 MM Canon). They flew low over the Pacific Islands, each plane laying down five pounds of .50 caliber bullets a second over a wide area, with a Squadron of them side by side, they could create havoc on the island (don't believe the weight as I give it? Figure the rpm of the Aviation M2, divide by 60). When they reached the main encampment or the Air Field, they dropped Frag Bombs with delay fuses and got the h-ll out of there. As the Tail Gunner, he was spraying the field with .50's and had turned on the camera to get movies of what they did. Look them up, interesting and daring as H-ll. This was 1943-44-45. Like tales of Daring? Read about these guys!
We've had our Samar's, Belleau Woods, Iwo Jima's, Inchon's, Hue Cities and Fallujah's in the last One Hundred years that reflect our Service and Courage. We know who we are... but... It seems that new weapons, new strategies, new Dictators, always something new that Challenges our Nation so off we go again. Like the old song, "Sally and Sue, Don't be Blue, we'll be gone for years and years... and then... we'll be shoving right off for home again!"
It's a barren place in this world if there isn't a Marine standing Duty somewhere.
Giant Amphibious Lizard
The stories on pinning stripes brought back memories. Not so much of being so honored myself or doing the honors. I think I made Corporal in 1963 and per tradition, I took some shots in the Chevrons from the resident "Old Corps" NCOs, but in H&S Company it wasn't strongly rooted. It brought to mind a somewhat related story about unit mascots. At the time I was in 2nd Amtracs in Camp Lejeune. And, at times we did do organized grab azs training maneuvers in the boonies of Lejeune.
As a unit of tractor rats, we hung around water and wet places. One day it turns out that someone found a baby gator (or perhaps crocodile, I never got into the fine points of their differences, very glad to avoid either), and was given three choices of killing it, ignoring it, or capturing it - he went the last route. Of course, he brought it back to the Battalion, and someone, in either one of our Companies or perhaps in the lofty air of Battalion Headquarters had an epiphany. Connecting the dots of a giant amphibious lizard that mucks around in water and land, to our Amtracs that muck around in water and land... A PR light bulb came over that someone's head and it said "MASCOT!" The Battalion really got enthusiastic about it, or rather the CO and team did. The rest of us were still coming to terms finding out that in addition to the rattlesnakes, and water moccasins that we loved so well when camping out, that there were gators too! I thought they were in Florida with a decent amount of distance between us & them. We had winters in Lejeune. It was not a tropical paradise. Wiser hands told us that though rare, you do run across one once in a while and this one probably was dumped off by some disenchanted lizard lover dumbazs who got transferred. But our leadership was off and running. We have a mascot! We have a Mascot! Next step. Mascots need names. With the full authority vested in him, our CO could have made up a name he liked, but to build up enthusiastic team spirit, it was decided a contest would be held with names offered up by excited Marines. Unfortunately, I don't remember the prize (other than the great honor of creative kudos) or the name finally chosen. I think it was kind of corny, and begging for ridicule and sarcasm. I do remember what one Corporal verbally suggested... P-ssOnIt, because that's what everyone would do with it. But, his gut told him not to formally put it in the pot for consideration... he might be viewed as not getting with the program.
Once P-ssOnIt was officially a mascot, it got a lot of PR action. Special Services newsletters for instance. Someone came up with a really good illustrated logo (which later down the road I had made into an unofficial patch).
When you think of a mascot you usually think of dogs. Such as the newly ordained Marine Corps Mascot, Chesty XIV. The AirWing in Iwakuni was infested with mascots, running around the base doing in public what the Marines and Sailors were doing in town, mostly in private. The TLC of a mascot dog isn't a stretch... But a gator? Well-fed gators grow, are not cuddly, and stink to high heaven. We couldn't offer it some muddy bog or creek to hunker down in when things got cold. So the plan became cage outside in the summer, a room in the motor pool in the winter, and a Sergeant who volunteered to be its keeper. Problem is, as I said, gators stink and so do Sergeants who take care of gators. Now to the point. It seems if they are good mascots, mascots get promoted. Our gator did his (or her) job as expected. So he earned a promotion for an excellent job of laying around, eating chicken heads and guts, crapping and generally stinking up its place. (which pretty lined up with me & my promotion). Our PR team sprang into action. This was going to be an event in front of the HQ, photographed accordingly and get front page coverage on our 2-page Battalion glossy. The Colonel would make a speech, officially promote it to E4 and then... Problem.
Doggie uniforms can be designed and made. And, put on a well behaved doggie mascot. But... what about a 5-foot gator, meaner than a... well gator? No cute uniform. Just where would the stripe go? And, how was it to be attached? The greatest minds we had in the Battalion wrestled with this problem. Momentarily, the idea of stapling the chevrons on got some play... but generally there was a consensus that it wouldn't like that... and if tried, might knock the Colonel azs over tin cups for his good intentions. And nailing some live beast with a staple gun may not go over well with readers, especially if it leaked outside of the base.
The end result was symbolic. It was dragged to the front of the HQ and it was promoted with the CO reading the words and holding the stripes, which we all knew in our heart, was rightfully the gator's.
I don't recall what eventually happened to it. I transferred out in 1964 & I think it was still around and big. But, I may be wrong. Maybe they found a proper home for it.
Attached are a couple of photos of it by itself, one with it admiring me, a special services newsletter with an inspired drawing of it, and the patch I had made of an informal 2nd Amtrac insignia someone created.
Cpl Don Harkness
2nd Amtracs, H&S Company, 1962 - 1964
G2, 1st MAW, 1964-1965
Haven't Used It Since Vietnam
There have been many articles through the years on the "Zippo" lighters that Vietnam Vets used for various things besides lighting cigarettes. I bought my Zippo in September 1965 about 10 miles south of DaNang from Vietnamese women villagers that sold us "Vietnam" berets, elephant soap, and other memorabilia. My Zippo was one of the very few things I came back with. I still have it in my drawer, but haven't used it since Vietnam.
One day our Company Commander asked me & Lance Cpl Jim Tate to place communication wire in the valley just north of Hill 327. Tate drove the jeep & I rode shotgun and off we went. I was a PFC at the time.
Tate said he would lay the wire and wanted me to be shotgun. Most of the area was rice paddies. At one point, he went under a bridge with the wire that the Seabees had built. When he came out the other side he was screaming real loud for help and was covered by bloodsucking leeches. I quickly lit a cigarette and handed it to him so he could apply it to the leeches. I took my Zippo and began burning the leeches off his body. It seemed to take forever at the time, but it worked.
The next day Tate & I were back on Hill 327 when we heard all kinds of firepower and air strikes from the valley below where we had laid the comm wire. A Company of Marines were attacked, and the results were numerous causalities. Tate and I had no idea we were that close to death the day before.
I lost track of my buddy Tate, hope he made it back to Mississippi, would love to hear from him.
Cpl. Joe Matyasik
Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division
Hero On A Park Bench
I first saw him on a park bench
I've seen him every day,
Sitting in a shady grove
Where my children come to play.
Sometimes he feeds the birds and squirrels
Or whittles little toys,
Sometimes he just sits and smiles
At the laughing girls and boys.
And I never paid him any mind
'Til one day just this year,
I noticed that he wore a frown
And on his cheek, a tear.
Well I asked him why he seemed so down
He looked up, began to say,
I lost half my friends sixty years ago today.
He told me of the terror
As he fought to reach dry land,
By the time the beachhead was secure
Half his friends lay in the sand.
That was just in one long day
He fought on for four years more,
And the sixty years from then to now
Have not dimmed his sights of war.
He said they have reunions
Just to keep in touch and share,
And for each comrade who has gone on
They leave an empty chair.
Well, his park bench has been empty now
About six months or so,
And if I'd never taken the time
Then I never would've known.
That sitting on that simple bench
With bread crumbs and little toys,
Was a man who gave his all
To guarantee my daily joys.
So give thanks to all the men and women
Who are still here or have gone before,
And made the highest sacrifice
In both Peace time and in War.
Because they bought our freedom
Paid their own blood, sweat, and tears,
Then endured the heartache of those empty chairs
For all these years.
So please do not ignore them
Or speed by without a care,
'Cause you never know
When you might pass by
A hero, unaware.
By Mark A. Wright, HMC (SS)
Operation Battle Griffin, 1991
I suppose that would include us, the Marines that served north of the arctic circle in Norway too, huh? I was on Operation Battle Griffin, 1991. We were training, but I think the real purpose for us to be there was to ensure the Soviets, at the time, wouldn't get involved in our Operations Desert Shield / Desert Storm. We have a b-tt load of equipment in the mountains there, and we were supposed to sink the Soviet Navy in the straits in order to prevent their involvement. Of course, the Soviets would have flooded both sides of the straits and ensured we were cannon fodder, but the point was sink a ship or two and make their setting sail a bit problematic.
The one advantage to it was that it was so freaking cold in February, -40* average, that our brain housing groups were frozen solid. It was too cold to do much but your job.
Cpl. Michael Lewis, 1988-1994
I recall observing one such ceremony. I remember it was impressive. When we fell in I had no idea what the formation was about. They had one or two drummers there. The accused was brought forward, the charges read, the 'verdict announced, and then the Sgt.Maj ripped off the chevron's of the sh-tbird. We then did an about face, the drums rolled, and that was it.
I often wondered how this even came about at the time. We did have a LtCol who we thought was living in the TV days of The Rifleman, which was very popular at the time. As I said, it was impressive, I imagine the dude who was 'ripped' never forgot it. I look forward to Sgt Grit News. Many stories bring back great memories.
Sgt USMC 1392831
I have Platoon books that I have found and have bought. I collect them and give them back to who ever has lost theirs by flood, ex-wife, or fire. So far I have return 6 Platoon books to Marine and still have 138 Books left.
Please let tell your readers that read your Sgt.Grit newsletter online.
My email for them is firstname.lastname@example.org. I have information on our site about how to find there books. I would like to find them a home.
William E. Pilgrim Jr.
U.S.M.C. '72 TO '81
The Parris Island, S.C. Books I have on hand are:
Platoon 270, Aug. 24, 1956 to Nov. 19, 1956.
Platoon 266, Sept. 5, 1957 to Dec. 13, 1957.
Platoon 280, Sept. 18, 1957 to Dec. 18,1957 ( 2 Copies ).
Platoon 117 Between 1959 to 1960.
Platoon 114 Between 1960 to 1962.
The San Diego, C.A. books I have on hand are:
Platoon 293 Sometime in 1954.
Platoon 2046 Between 1956 to 1958.
Platoon 254 Between 1958 to 1959.
Platoon 120 Between 1958 to 1959.
Platoon 1020 Between 1958 to 1959.
Mr. Pilgrim has many more Platoon Books. We will list them in groups of (5) in each future newsletter until all have been listed.
Drummed Out Of The Corps
It is no longer authorized to drum someone out of the Marine Corps, and has not been for over 75 years. So how does the Corps emphasize the dishonor of being kicked out? The following is a true story, which can be attested to by my former Fire Team Leader.
Camp San Mateo on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base in southern California is pretty much like the rest of the camps on the sprawling reservation between Los Angeles and San Diego, low one story barracks, a mess hall or two, motor-pool and a parade field.
A parade field is where troops assemble for such things as roll call, various inspections that happen with regularity, mounting up for trips into the field to practice warfare and P.T. (Physical Training).
On a particular sunny morning (it's always sunny in So Cal), the word was passed down to fall-out in our Class "A" uniforms without weapons. With much b-tching and complaining about what we thought was a surprise inspection, we dressed and preceded to go through the pre-inspection routine of Fire Team leaders, then Squad leaders, and Platoon Sergeants to make sure we were properly attired and "squared away" for the coming inspection. Shoes and brass shined, sharp creases in our shirts and trousers and looking like recruiting posters.
As the norm, we waited for the word to fall out onto the parade field and tried to keep Myers squared away. He could look like he slept in his clothes if we didn't keep an eye on him so we would usually make sure he was ready, then stand him in a corner with threats of a severe beating if he moved. Eventually the 1st Sgt came through the barracks telling everyone to fall out into formation.
The entire company was soon in formation, 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon, 3rd Platoon and the Weapons Platoon. Weapons platoon consists of machine guns, rocket launchers known as Bazookas in the Army) and mortars. All the other platoons are rifle platoons.
We were brought to attention and Roll call commenced. The Platoon Commanders reported to the Company Commander, "All Present and Accounted For." The order of Parade Rest was given which is sort of like being at attention but with feet below our shoulders and hands clasped behind our back. There is no talking at Parade Rest and one's head is kept to the front.
Shortly, a jeep appeared and pulled up in front of our formation. In it, besides the driver, was a "chaser" (Armed Guard) and a guy dress in civilian clothes. He looked familiar but I couldn't place him. The "chaser" got out of the jeep and marched the guy in front of the Captain. Our Company commander brought us to attention again. The guy in civvies had a smirk on his face and did some jive moves in front of the Captain while laughing. The Captain then proceeded to read from the judicial punishment orders for this young man's expulsion from the Marine Corps.
Whatever he had done to warrant a Court Martial must have been more than being AWOL (Absent With Out Leave) or sassy. He had received a Special Court-Martial or a General Court-Martial because he was being discharged with a Bad Conduct or Dishonorable discharge. The UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) is considerably more strict than civilian laws and the punishment can range from 6 months to a year confinement to the brig and if the offense is bad enough, life imprisonment at Portsmouth or death.
The law or rules broken must have been read, but I cannot recall what they were since we were all astounded and amazed that this was happening. As the Captain began to finish reading the charges and punishment decreed, we could hear drums being beaten with a slow and measured tempo on the other side of the barracks. We were given the order to come to attention and the order to "About Face!"
The moment it took to do the action required, I saw the look on the guy's face that was of complete disgrace and shame. The time that he had spent in the brig with miscreants like himself, had probably tried to maintain some sort of false bravado with each other, but being presented in front of the men that he worked with and was relied upon to full-fill his sworn duties was ego deflating and beyond shame.
The drums picked up the tempo somewhat as the newly minted civilian was escorted to the jeep by the chaser and driven away behind our backs. When the jeep departed the parade field, we were give the command to about face to the front and dismissed. The drums had ceased and the clear sunny California day had a tinge of darkness about it as we made our way back to the barracks to change out of our uniforms and back into our normal work-a-day utilities.
We heard later that the chaser dropped the guy off at the entrance gate and gave him a parting kick in the azs.
Michael Harris Cpl 1899577
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #5, #4, (APR, 2015)
I'd like to re-emphasize the purpose in the project that I've taken on. I started to realize that everybody seems to know about some of the basic History about the Corps, but it always includes only the ground element for which we are so famous for, but I feel the need to also include the Air Wing. Now, if you look up in the left hand corner where it now say's "Submitted by"... well, you might not have noticed, but I changed it from "Written by" to what you see on this issue. The reason to me is obvious, because I didn't write all this. Sure, I wrote a lot of it, but only the non-technical stuff. So, indicating that, I'm just submitting it to you, for your use, sounds a lot better to me, but it took me five and almost a half years to realize that. I guess that's the old age catching up with me.
Now, Let me fill you in as to what I recently witnessed, and that was yesterday, which in fact was the 18th of December 2011. Not the release date, as noted in the upper right hand corner. It just so happens that a fellow MARINE invited me to attend the private screening of a documentary, entitled "Bravo". This was the first Arizona showing of this film, which encompassed the plight, experiences, and thoughts of the MARINES of Bravo Co., 1st Battalion, 26th MARINES during and after the battle of Khe Sanh in Vietnam circa 1968. The venue was a beautiful small old theater in downtown Casa Grande, AZ. There were about 60-80 former servicemen and their spouses in attendance. Now, I thought that I would see some of the MARINES that I normally see from the local community, but I was surprised that I didn't see anyone that I knew. The people responsible for this showing, and also the making of it, were Ken and Betty Rodgers. The showing was 118 minutes with no intermission. During the entire showing you could have heard a "pin drop". It was evident that the content had captured the attention and thoughts of all in attendance. I have had my own experiences in combat on several occasion, but I have to tell you that I was totally moved at what I saw and heard from these young warriors. Their average age being about 18, but the age didn't make up for the heart and soul that these young men possessed. Throughout the film there were inserts of testimonials by the MARINES that were there, and those that experienced the pain and horror first hand. At the end of the screening I got up and the film maker Ken Rodgers was just coming up the aisle after THANKING those in attendance for coming, and I just shook his hand and "THANKED" him for his service and sacrifice.
Now, I know this issue is somewhat different from all the others, but I just wanted to let everyone know that this is a part of MARINE CORPS History and should be seen by everyone. It's name is "Bravo". Check: www.bravotheproject.com
Banjo Eyes was a Gunny... had a drinking problem, back in the days when alcoholism was an occupational hazard. He got the nickname because of his appearance, which was somewhat owl-like, or as somebody pointed out, his eyes kinda looked like two sunny-side up eggs, with large whites... or, like two banjos... he was a redneck through and through, and not in the best sense of the word. Other than both running out of money and PFCs to borrow from before payday, there was only one thing he was afraid of, and that (those?) was/were small creatures known as "Phthirus Pubis"... or, more commonly, "chesai tomadachi" (Okinawan for 'small friend'), or in barracks parlance, 'crabs'. Today, those are probably listed as an STD, due to the way they may be spread. Reputed to be tenacious little devils, some are rumored to wear ice skates, others to ride motorcycles and spin tires on take-off, and home-grown remedies to deal with the severe itching included such well thought out techniques as the one involving a razor, lighter fluid, and an ice pick. This involved shaving half of the pubic area, lighting the other half of the pubic hair on fire, and stabbing the little b-stards when they ran into the clear. It was also conventional wisdom that these pests could be acquired on a toilet seat, although some would opine that would have been an uncomfortable place to do so.
Anyone who, in one way or another, acquired these critters, would eventually show up at sick bay, seeking relief. The Docs had stuff to take care of the problem... and the presence of these parasites in a platoon would make the binnacle list... or maybe that was called the morbidity report, but anyway, it would be known to higher-ups in the platoon that they (crabs) were among us. This would put Banjo Eyes into a full-blown, turbo-charged, fuel-injected, nitrous tizzy... a formation would be held, and Banjo would go into one of his locally famous rants, which always began: "For the man who would give his buddy the crabs would... (and here he would insert some pretty gross insults, involving the crab-carrier's maternal parent, some activities that were at the time illegal in Georgia, etc... enough to give the Chaplain's assistant the vapors)... and he would decree: "Field Day!" Whenever you heard "For the man who"... you knew what was coming next...
Now, to ol' BE, field day, for crabs, whispers and rumors of crabs, crabs in other wings of the building, whatever, meant that the squad bay would be emptied... racks, wall lockers, footlockers, mattresses, bedding... all of it to be moved outside. At that point, scrub down with Wescodyne would begin... and this included lifting the springs that crossed over the corner braces (there are 8 on a double bunk) and scrubbing under the springs. It was thorough... and seemed to work for a while, as no more cases were reported until after the next payday. Of course, that may have had some correlation to the effect that ready cash had on the likelihood of exposure elsewhere... in the ville, for example. I recall one of these evolutions, when during the move-out phase, someone found a stray crusty-looking jock strap, which they held up and hollered did anyone know whose this was? One of the troops had it thrown to him... whereupon he held it up, sniffed it, and aid, "nope... not mine" and threw it back on the deck.
Banjo Eyes eventually got relieved for cause, and moved to some horse-holder job... maybe because one of his Corporals requested mast with the Company Commander when BE tried to enlist him in a scheme to 'get' one of our dark green Marines... personally, I thought Cates was a d-mn good Marine... other than that, I know nudding...
I am glad to see your wall of honor. I had a wall of honor also until my oldest brother saw it and said, "oh look at the hero", to my brother-in-law who became a seventh day advent to avoid combat. I took it down and threw everything away. Just wanted to share that with you.
K 3/1 66 0311.
Every day is a holiday. Every meal is a banquet. Every night is a Saturday night. And every formation is a family reunion. Why would anyone NOT want to be a Marine.
A Former "Hat"
GySgt, USMC (Ret.)
Be Advised: "Shoot - Move - Communicate!" "Screw with the Best, you go down with the Rest!"
End of text.
Hernandez USMC sends.
After boot (1963) we went to ITR at camp Pendleton. I will always remember the sign at the gate "The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war." I sort of used that saying in my everyday job.
Guess you can pretty much tell old Corps from younger Marines by what they used to spice up C-rats. Us seasoned Marines used catsup/ketchup... younger guys from 'Nam tabasco sauce. Catsup was esp. used on the reconstituted (dehydrated) eggs (think green) that we occasionally were served. My wives (3, but one at a time), never could figure out why I and other Marines from my era used catsup on our eggs.
Bob Rader #140XXXX
This old fart Marine just loves to read all the stories of our brother Marines. Loved the C-rat stories. My favorite was John Wayne crackers with the peanut butter tin.
Sgt of Marines
Semper Fi Sgt Grit, glad to hear you and your staff made it thru the tornado. I was pondering the subject of the barbers, and recalled one who stood out in my time on the rock in '86 at Northern Training Area. Once a month or every 2 weeks (been a while) a Okinawan we called Jimmy wood come to the barracks and cut our hair. I never cared for the straight razor much, but always came away unscathed, jugular intact. He always brushed your neck off with baby powder and I'd smell that the rest of the day while sweating my nads off in the jungle... great times.
Cpl Radtke '85-'89
Hey Sgt. Grit,
Just got my first newsletter, can't tell you how much I enjoyed it.
In response to Tony Berer's comment: I was in the Corps from '61-'66 and the response to Semper Fi then was 'Till I die or Do or die', so you are remembering right. Things change but you never forget...
Sea going Air Wing.
Battle Cry, movie. All true, but what about Aldo Ray as a radio man with that horrible voice and too much boo-hoo crying, and calling Philly a lousy town? The birth place of the Marine Corps. Too much bunching up in combat, but I guess they had to do that for the cameras. Don't get me wrong, I did like the movie. The marching song was great. The book by Leon Uris got me to enlist though.
Gary Holiday 1960-1964
"Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."
"The staff officers are like rats; they stream out of hiding and take over. It's true. Just watch what happens to paperwork. God, in peacetime they put out enough to sink a small-sixe nation into the sea and when war breaks, most of it is just naturally stops. That's the way they do everything. There must always be staff people, of course, or we'd never get anything done but if we don't stop this empire-building of the staff, somebody's going to come along and lick us one of these days. We'll be so knotted in red tape that we can't move."
"The first day I was at Camp, I was afraid I was going to Die! The next two weeks, my sole fear was that I wasn't going to Die! After that I knew I'd never die because I became so hard that nothing could Kill Me!"
--(World War I Recruits Boot camp Comment)
"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."
--President Reagan, 1985.
"Close it up, Move it. Azzholes to elbows. Close it up."
"I have told you people time and time again. Your rifle is your best friend. You let it down and it'll sure let you down."
"There is the right way, the wrong way, and the Marine Corps way."
"You can always tell a Marine, but you can't tell them much."
God Bless the American Dream!