A while back I submitted a picture regarding a mural painted on the side of s building in my home town of Amherst, Ohio. That first picture was of the famous photo of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima. The same young artist has almost completed a second mural on the same building of a painting of the Vietnam Memorial. The young man is amazingly talented and those murals deserve to be viewed and admired by as many people as possible.
This Old Dog
The "Give me a HUSS" refers to the UH-34D Sikorsky helicopter. The helicopter's early designation was HUS so that's what you called when you needed assistance from the helo guys. It became slang for "Give me a hand". This old "Dog" had a reputation for reliability and getting into and out of sh-t sandwiches bringing the crew and grunts home safe. Sort of a religious icon to those who crewed or were saved by them. Al Weiss got a gang of old Marine helo guys together and restored one to airworthy status.
Take a look!
Sikorsky UH-34D Sea Horse
UH-34D Maintainer and Gunner
On November 10, 1965, I was stationed at MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina. Standing in line at the mess hall for evening chow, I heard complaining from Marines in line, in front of me. When I got served, I think the server was the Mess Sergeant. He threw a big spoonful of some thick pasty green stuff with lumps in it onto my tray. Like many before me, I asked, "What is that sh-t?" He said, "That's Beef Fury 'cause this is the Birthday of Marine Corps so I made it green."
In theory, it was a good idea.
Drop Off His Seabag
This story reminded me of a trip across country in 1958. We had graduated from radar school at MCRD San Diego and were headed off to new duty stations, in my case it was back to PI where my journey began. A Sgt, had a nearly new Pontiac, and there were three of us headed East and rotated driving, sleeping and whatever other things needed doing. There was another Marine who didn't want to share expenses so he was dropped off outside the city and began to hitch hike, we had agreed to drop off his sea bag at his home in Indiana which we had to go right by. Needless to say we never let the car cool off any longer then it took to refuel. A couple of miles short of his house, I wish I could remember his name, there he was with his thumb stuck out. He had ridden the whole way with truckers. No interstates, and a uniform worked wonders in those days. I practiced the art myself the next year going from PI to Titusville, FL on the weekends.
I just got back from CA. I asked my older brother who was an ARVN Airborne soldier ('68-'75)... We both agreed that the double accent mark over the letter "E" was a mistake since there is no such symbol. If we tweak it a little, it would look like this: hieu Ä‘Æ°oc, which means understood. Doesn't make much sense, but the people who created the patch probably would know the meaning better. Sorry, but that's all I can come up with.
A while back, another Marine, I believe his name was Simmons, wrote in about Sgt. Jester (Plt. #1149, SD, late 1966) when the topic was cadence calling. True, when Sgt. Jester had us out on the grinder, we could only hear his cadence call (song). But, I'm sure all Marines had one D.I. that inspired them the most and they felt their D.I. was the best. In fact, I'm sure that most Marines spent their entire career in the Corps, whether it be a single enlistment or a lifetime career, trying to emulate that one D.I. that most impressed them in Boot. It would be wrong to say the D.I. they liked the best, only the one that impressed them as being the epitome of an all-around Marine. Even a Dakota Meyer, a John Basilone or a "Chesty" Puller had before them one D.I. from their own Boot experience that inspired them and drove them to live up to that glorious image.
I was also impressed by our Senior D.I., SSgt. Norton, whom we learned had played for the old Brooklyn Dodgers and had been in the running for Rookie of the Year. He gave up a promising career in the BIGS for a career as a Marine.
Platoon 1149 had our own Platoon song. How common is that? I believe our Honor Recruit, Chapman, had a hand in writing it. It was sung to the tune of Johnny Horton's "Sink The Bismarck". Also, another thing I haven't heard mentioned by any other Marine is Grudge Fights in Boot. I believe it was in the 2nd or 3rd week of Boot that the whole platoon was formed into a circle and we could call out any other Boot that was giving us a hard time and bare knuckle it out. I called out a Hispanic kid that probably saw me as a worthless, four-eyed white kid. After blocking his flurry of street fighting roundhouses, I sent a straight jab to his jaw that put him down. I didn't knock him out but he refused to get back up. We actually became sort of friends after that. Anybody else remember Grudge Fights?
Cpl. Bill Reed (E-4)
1966-69 (11-month cut out of Nam.)
Down To The Dentist We Went
Alright, all you boots flop your ears forward and pay attention. Sometime during the first month of boot at MCRD, San Diego the DI said I had an appointment with the dentist, not wanting to upset him I agreed to go. Upon arrival at the office, I have no idea where it was, myself and the others with me were ushered into a waiting room. After a short time I was led into a dental office where a Navy Captain was waiting. He said I had some wisdom teeth that had to come out. I had been to a dentist before I enlisted just to avoid something like this, didn't work. I had no idea what a wisdom tooth was only it had nothing to do with intelligence or I would not be here. After some Novocain and waiting a while I went back in. The Doctor? used a hammer and chisel to break up the teeth, then pulled out what was left, sewed me up and told me to wait he wanted to x-ray to see if he got everything, well he didn't on one tooth, so he went back in cut the stitches and took out what was left. I went back to light duty which didn't appear much different than regular.
Now fast forward a couple of years. Each year we were supposed to have our teeth checked, but after that experience I managed to weasel out each year until my fourth year. I went in for 3 and shipped for four, got in the MPs. I thought I would be safe there. After I had dodged it a couple of years I got a call from the company First Sergeant, you know the guy with four stripes down, three up and that diamond in the middle. He said, Corporal you had an appointment with the dentist today and didn't make it. I told the First Sgt. I was very busy and couldn't make it, he asked where I was and I told him I was in the Provost Marshal's Office, then he hung up. Dodged the bullet again. About twenty minutes later I heard someone talking the PM, and then footsteps down the hall and guess who? The first shirt, he walked over to my desk grabbed me by the right ear, said Corporal I have had my azs chewed enough about you, we are going to the dentist out the building and down the street, me in my MP gear, (He wasn't impressed) and down to the dentist we went.
By the by, the First Sgt. waited there until I was finished. As luck would have it a couple of months later I got my orders to the 3rd Marine Division...
Darwinn B. Rutz
'Nam Is Not True
Ahoy! Attention on deck! Now hear this: The "true scoop" about V N Cross of Gallantry, and Civil Action MEDALS being authorized for U.S. troops serving in the 'Nam is NOT true. I called HQMC, talked with William R. HUNTER, (U.S. Marine Corps), and he informed me that there is NO SecNavInst. with THAT kind of authorization, so, read it and weep! If it sounds too good to be true, YUP! Sorry 'bout that. Want more "gongs", put in for a tour to Afghanistan, I hear the opportunity to enhance your "been-there-bars" is often available. NO free ride for Marines, y'know; you WANT 'em, y'have to EARN 'em! Semper Fi to all those serving our country in that far, and distant land.
Kipling wrote about military duty there, back in the 1800s. Never a dull moment back then, either. God be with you all. We who have gone before you SALUTE you. You are carrying along our Marine traditions in an admirable manner. You can be proud of your service there, we certainly are. Again, Semper Fidelis, you make our Corps PROUD. And that, of course, includes our fellow Marines, our U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen, who are shoulder to shoulder, taking care of us, as we take care of them. Thanks, Doc, you are one of us! God Bless America.
Larry Blair, 1956-1987.
I Was A Disbursing Man
Here's another story from the old, real old, real, real old (84) Master Gunny:
I had been on a 3 year tour of duty at the MCRS, Seattle, Wash. when the Commandant decreed that all men who had not yet been to Korea (Or were not wearing a Korean Service ribbon) should prepare to go. This was in January 1953. In March 1953 I was transferred to MCAS, El Toro, Calif. for further transfer to Korea. I departed from San Diego, Calif. on the USNS John Pope on June 17, 1953 and arrived at Yokosuka, Japan on June 30, 1953. Since the powers above had assigned me to the First Marine Air Wing the next morning I flew to MWSG-17 at Itami, then to 1st MAW Hdqtrs at K-3, and finally up to MAG-12 at K-6.
I shall digress at this point to tell you that when I left Seattle I had told those I left behind "This d-mned war has gone on long enough; it's time they sent someone over there to bring it to a close!"
I was a disbursing man - and I was 'moonlighting' in Korea as Chief Steward in the Officers Club. It was somewhat difficult to keep track of dates when you were working seven days a week and doing two jobs. But, it was on the 20th, 21st or 22nd of July - when I was at the "O" Club (and all of the pilots were on a 'Maximum Alert'; and there was nobody in the Club except the three Korean bartenders and myself.) There was a blurp on the loudspeaker to the effect "All able bodied men not on other jobs report to the flightline immediately. I told the bartenders they could have the night off (with pay) and I locked the doors and went to the flightline as ordered.
I was to spend the rest of the night loading bombs aboard the aircraft. They were mostly Corsair F4Us as the MAG-12 pilots had operated from an aircraft carrier until mid-June. (Moving them 100 miles closer to the enemy was a really super fantastic strategic move that permitted them to triple the number of sortees they could do every night. They had just been furnished with night flying capabilities and could fly from dusk to dawn.) It was later reported that the North Koreans thought we had tripled the number of planes we were using when a truce was being negotiated. This was unfair - so they said. It took these pilots between 22 and 26 minutes to make one round trip and when they returned to K-6 they would rarely get out of the plane. We would reload, refuel if necessary, and off they would go again.
Another fellow and myself were lifting a bomb into the locking mechanism when the previous bomb dropped to the ground. A rod about 9 to 10 inches long shot out and punctured the inside of my left leg. Blood was spurting out. A Corpsman on site saw this. He sprinkled some powder on the wound, wrapped it with gauze and tape, and put me in a jeep for a quick trip to the MAG-12 dispensary. He had glanced at my dog tags but I did not see him write anything down.
When I reached the dispensary a doctor removed the tape and gauze, gave me several tetanus shots and removed the rod. He wrapped my leg with gauze and tape and told me to come back nightly for a few days to have the bandages changed. He picked up a clipboard and asked for my name, rank, serial number and MOS. He wrote down the first three of these and asked "What the h-ll is a 3433?" I told him I was a disbursing man. He asked "What the h-ll were you doing on the flightline?" I told him. He said "Someone's going to get his asz in a sling over this." In fact, I am not even going to complete this report. You won't get a Purple Heart this time!" I replied "I don't give a d-mn about the Purple Heart. Just patch me up so I can get back to work."
The next morning, when I limped into the disbursing office, the CWO4, who had also been on the flightline the night before, said he had already told Capt. James about the incident; that everyone had a good laugh about it and said that this was probably the first time ever that a disbursing man was in line for a Purple Heart. I told them what was said in the dispensary the previous night. Capt. James asked the Group Commander about this. Colonel Sampas replied "He d-mned sure will get a Purple Heart!" Well, I never did get one. I never even applied for one until a couple of years ago; and it has been like pulling teeth every step of the road. The last I was told was that I would need notarized statements from two eyewitnesses of the incident- some 60 years ago.
MGySgt Harold T. Freas, Sr.
(26Jan48 to 4Aug60)
Joined The Russian Army
My Bad Day - Al Sorokin, as told to Chas Thomas.
June 1968, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. Second Battalion, Platoon 2019. In June of 1968 the Marine Corps was growing. For the first week, while processing-in, Platoon 2019 stayed in tents that were built to the back side of the Quonset Huts bordering the West side of the Parade Deck. Panoramas of the day show a large vacant area where this tent camp was built. Remember after that first haircut, everyone and everything becomes a blur. All the tents, huts, and buildings seemed to look the same to a new recruit. This story also mentions the "bicycle" type combination locks we secured our rifles to our bunks with.
We had only been there, at the Depot, a few days and had just gotten our rifles. We were cleaning our tent area when word came to fall out with our rifles. Well, I either lost my combination or someone threw it away. I fell out and it didn't take long for SSgt. Benavides to notice I didn't have a rifle. That earned me a slap on the head and I was sent to SSgt. Ponder the Platoon Commander, whom we had just recently met.
SSgt. Ponder was a little p-ssed off to say the least. SSgt. Ponder had to walk me to the Recruit PX to buy a new set of padlocks, and sign for them. At the time the Recruit PX was behind the theater, and that's a long walk with your Senior Drill Instructor. We then went to the Battalion Police to borrow some bolt cutters to remove my other locks.
By the time we returned to the platoon area, the Platoon had returned, secured their rifles and gone off somewhere else. So, I ran to the tents, cut off my old locks, replaced them, and made sure to put my combination into my wallet. As I stepped out of the tent I froze in place. I just then realized there were only three tents between my tent and the duty hut. Not four! I didn't know what to do now. So I decided to sneak a smoke before going to tell SSgt. Ponder what I had just done.
After a while I went to the Duty Hut and reported to SSgt. Ponder what I had done. There were other Drill Instructors in the hut. They all started laughing and gave SSgt. Ponder a hard time. This probably saved my life at the time.
Well, that second walk to the PX with my Senior Drill Instructor was a lot worse than the first. SSgt. Ponder said he should let someone steal my rifle so I could spend the rest of my life in Portsmouth. That is also when he said he wished I had joined the Russian Army so he could kill me. I was probably the first guy in the platoon he knew by name. Two sets of padlocks took a big chunk out of that first twenty dollar bill. That was my bad day.
Platoon 2019, commenced training June 17, 1968 and graduated August 15, 1968, Second Battalion, Company (G), graduating seventy-two Marines. Semper Fidelis.
Mark Of The Beast
I was in a bar recently when in walked a young man (to me, anyway; he was in his mid to late 30s, I'd say) who had a Marine Corps tattoo on his left bicep. I was across the bar from him but it jumped right out at me. I told the bartender that I would buy him a beer and when she relayed my offer to him he looked up in surprise, smiled and said he didn't drink. I was a bit annoyed because, after all, that wasn't the point; and never mind that he was bellied up to a bar. WTF? So I told him, patiently, that I'd buy him one of whatever he was drinking and "Semper Fi". He said thanks and "Ooh rah," which I guess is what Marines say today, God only knows why. And he kept calling me "sir," which was disconcerting to a former Sergeant. Do I - perish the thought - look like an officer? Or was it merely the deference that youth owes to experience? I don't know.
I couldn't stop staring at his tattoo. It was nothing much at all but it made a deep impression on me. It was a simple block-letter U.S.M.C., punctuation included. No one else seemed to notice, but it spoke volumes to me. It said, in my mind, to the civilian riffraff that crowded the place: I've been to places that you'll never go, done things you'll never do and I've been better than you'll ever be - I'm a Marine, then and forever, and that isn't something just anyone can be; I earned it and I'm part of a hallowed brotherhood.
He left, I left and life barreled ahead, but I couldn't stop thinking about that simple tattoo. I knew then that I had to have one, which seemed more than a bit ridiculous at my age - 62 - but a Marine Corps tattoo was something that I surprisingly, desperately wanted.
My wife didn't understand. She has been to Camp Lejeune to attend a Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation ceremony for my son, where she met Maj. Gen Raymond Fox; she has heard me endlessly extoll the virtues of the Marine Corps and has listened to me express my love and admiration for Marines and the Marine Corps, and she knows where I will be when the choice is between my monthly Marine Corps League meeting and any other commitment. But, she doesn't really get it. So she was horrified when I told her where I was going as I set off to a nearby tattoo shop. To her a tattoo is the mark of the beast, a pre-requisite for life as a carnival worker. For me, too. I'm no fan of "body art", except when it comes to something meaningful that highlights a connection to honor and excellence. So off I went, even as I risked the displeasure of the woman I love.
I was back home an hour later, freshly inked. My tattoo is on my left arm, above the bicep. It is a simple USMC (sans punctuation) in black with red highlights. It's small, discreet, and I think, elegant.
I live in New England, where sleeveless T-shirt weather lasts for about three weeks every year, more's the pity. But even in the depths of winter I know I'll be able to feel it, lending to not only my arm but to my very being the memory of my days on active duty when I was woken up each day with the greeting "Good morning, Marine! It's another day to serve the Corps!" Or, on bad days, "Incoming!" Now, God help me, I miss them both.
When, someday, I sleep the sleep of the dead, I'll be marked as a Marine, partly because of my tattoo. And, like my time in the Corps - good and bad - I wouldn't have it any other way.
Lt. Col. Goodson's Story
Wow, how powerful is Lt. Col. Goodson's story. I can only imagine how draining the notification process would be on a person. We have all seen pictures and movies about it, but when you read about it from the point person, it has a much greater impact. I cannot understand how any person could read this article and not get emotional and misty eyed.
Our church recently had a service for a fallen Marine and the Marines who accompanied the body and family were simply outstanding. I know it is not easy duty, but I say to all who are doing it and to those who have done so, "Well done Marine".
And to Col. Goodson, I know that there are mothers and fathers and family and friends who went to their grave or who are still alive and who are privately thanking you for your service and how you helped them through a time of grief. May God bless you Sir. Semper Fidelis.
OooohRah Sgt Grit, another fine day to be a Marine. I have to say, as always, an outstanding newsletter. Every story told is motivating, but burial at sea by LtCol Goodson has to be one of the best I've read. A very unforgiving job to have for sure, all I can say is Semper Fidelis Sir. Keep it tight.
Cpl Radtke TA, '85-'89
Good evening. I read Colonel Goodson's letter tonight. It was hard to finish with the tears getting in the way. I believe that it was the most moving letter I have ever read. It should be required reading for every person in the United States. Thank you for printing this letter.
A Marine forever.
I have just finished reading your latest newsletter. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, that newsletter, I believe, will garner more comments than any you have ever published. I'm referring to the letter written by LtCol Goodson.
All Marines, regardless of where or when we served, can and will easily relate to his memories. As we mature into our golden years, we all have vignettes that decorate the borders of our memories. Some are as sharp as ever, but some are dull, hard to recognize. Thankfully, our creator has put a safety mechanism in our brain housing group that prevents us from dwelling on the unpleasant. Even though we have that safety device, sometimes those memories come flooding back. Colonel Goodson's letter did that to me.
After returning from Vietnam as a young Corporal, I was assigned to Marine Barracks, Philadelphia. I was promoted to Sergeant soon after reporting for duty. Initially, I was a member of Guard Company and stood Sergeant of the Guard. Colonel V. D. Kleber was our Commanding Officer. Later, I was transferred to Escort Platoon. At that time, there were only two Escort Platoons in the Marine Corps. One in Philly to provide all escorts east of the Mississippi, and the other in San Francisco (Treasure Island) to provide escorts west of the Mississippi. If I remember correctly, there were about twenty five Marines in the Escort Platoon in Philadelphia.
Our duty was to "escort" the remains of deceased enlisted Marines (Sgt and below) returning from Vietnam. The caskets were flown into Dover, Delaware. We would receive our orders from S-1, go to Dover to "accept delivery", then on to the deceased Marine's hometown, usually by air out of Philly International Airport, sometimes out of Dover. Needless to say, the duty wasn't by any stretch a pleasant experience. My duty as an escort was a duty that I would have just as soon not had; however, I can't imagine the emotional pain that LtCol Goodson must have endured. He had the extremely unpleasant task of being the officer assigned to tell the next of kin that their Marine was dead. I think that, that duty would be, to say the least, very volatile, emotional, and stressful. We always worked with the Casualty Assistance Officer to provide anything the family needed. Although I never had the opportunity to meet or work with LtCol Goodson, I'm sure he was and continues to be a Marine we all are proud to have in our Marine Corps.
Colonel Goodson, the way you performed that unpleasant duty was truly heroic.
Thanks for allowing me to "Sound Off".
A Former "Hat"
GySgt, USMC (Ret)
I read the letter from LtCol. Goodson, USMC aloud to my wife, we both wept unashamedly as I know he wept many times. The Announcement of Casualties has been a problem for the United States Government and the Military for some time. Parents in World War I & II received Western Union Telegrams. I forget but there was a Red Star next to the address that showed it was a Casualty Telegram or something such. Korea was handled the same way I believe.
My Marine Corps Service included burying the War Dead that were brought back at the end of WWII. We nearly filled Golden Gate National Cemetery at San Bruno, California. From 1947 to 1949, we Marines at Hunters Point Naval Station had the duty of Burying the Military (not just Marines) that were returned from all overseas locations, the Pacific Islands and Europe. Sometimes a Marine, Sailor or Soldier would be killed on active duty and we buried them also. Our situation was not as Personal or as mentally heavy and at times exasperating as Colonel Goodson's, but after two years it became troublesome, especially those of us that had served in the Pacific remembering the Burial Details of both American and Japanese Dead.
In Korea the Marines killed through the Pusan Perimeter Battle, had been buried on a Hill in Masan, Korea. When the North Korea Battles were over and the war settled down to a push and shove, the Marine casualties were removed from Masan and reburied in a Military Cemetery at Pusan, I believe. At 1st Combat Service Group, Masan, the Marines repairing the equipment damaged in the Battles, need only look on the side of the mountain to their left and see the many dug up graves to remind them of the battles fought near there and further north.
Like Colonel Goodson, all three wars I served in are Memories of sights, scenes, noises and remembering many of those I served with. It troubles me that I can't remember all their names and faces.
This letter is a Thanks to Lt. Col. George Goodson for his letter of Duty Beyond and Care of His Fellow Marines.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau,
Tough Old Birds
I was in VMGR-252 in Cherry Point from '63-'64 and the term for going north on weekend liberty was swooping. I heard of guys going as far as Chicago on a week-end swoop. Typically we had a carload, 3 in the front, 3 in the rear splitting cost and driving. Ate no-doz all week-end. South Jersey boys got off at exit three on the Jersey Turnpike and picked up at the same place on Sunday. It was pedal to the metal from North Carolina all the way, except at the Virginia border where they had a speed trap. We got caught once and split the fine. Justice of the peace had court in a gas station bay out in the boonies. It was all worth it back then. Cherryless Point was out in the boonies and North Carolina was a "dry" state. The only bar was a 3.2 beer joint across from the main gate called the "Rendezvous" in a strip mall with a pawn shop and not much else. New Bern, the nearest town, didn't have much more to offer, except a motel where one might find a lady of the night. With ten thousand Marines just down the road you can see how this was a cash cow for the region, but it was mostly too crowded on payday.
Anyway, there was a place where one might partake of a real adult beverage, albeit served in plastic cups, and that was the VFW out the gate and down the road, out in the woods. You had to be a member or invited by a member to get in. Luckily, Jack Guilesspie one of our squadron mates, was a member and had a bunch of us out there from time to time. Jack was an E-4 with 19 and a half years in the Corps. Saw action in WWII and Korea. Had six purple hearts, and various other medals including a Navy Cross. Had a battlefield commission in Korea and got all the way to Captain, but returned to enlisted in the stand down after Korea. Went downhill from there until he was E-4 when I knew him. So, if you weren't going on a swoop this week-end you were either going to the "Vous" (Rendezvous) or the "V" (the VFW) with Jack.
There was another old character at the 'V' they called "Gravel Voice" who was a retired Gunny and had a gravelly voice (hence the nickname). These Old Corps guys were tough. Anyway, the night of the incident at the "V", I was on a swoop to Jersey and heard about it when I got back. Way I heard it from Jack, is that he and Gravel Voice were having a drink at the bar in the "V" when a Staff Sergeant in uniform, walked in the door, walked over to the bar, pulled out a .357 and shot Gravel Voice. First shot hit him in the shoulder, second shot passed through his wrist and into his thigh as he was falling. His wife got down and held his head up while stuffing paper towels in the shoulder wound. The shooter walked over, pointed the pistol at Gravel Voice and said "Is the F-cker dead yet". Mrs. GV said yeah, look at him. Then the shooter walked out into the parking lot, cranked off a couple rounds in the air and blew out his brains with the last one. Apparently he was under the impression that Gravel Voice was doing the wild thing with his wife while he was on cruise which was probably true. Anyway, a couple weeks later at the "Vous", here comes old Gravel Voice through the door with his arm in a sling and the Mrs. right behind. Course we bought him a pitcher and listened to him rail about the SOB who shot him. They were tough old birds in the Old Corps.
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.
My email for them is marinecorps1955[at]yahoo.com. 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 2229 Nov.14, 1977 to Jan. 30, 1978.
Platoon 2237 Dec. 21, 1977 to March 6, 1978.
Platoon 3024 April 17, 1978 to June 30, 1978.
Platoon 2087 Oct. 11, 1978 to Dec. 19, 1978.
Platoon 1101 Dec. 14 , 1979 to Feb. 28 , 1979.
The San Diego, C.A. books I have on hand are:
Platoons 3065, 3066, 3067 July 18, 1984 to Sept. 28, 1984.
Platoons 1109, 1110, 1111, Oct. 17, 1984 to Dec. 28, 1984.
Platoons 1081, 1082, 1083 August 7, 1985 to Oct. 18 , 1985.
Platoons 2017, 2018, 2019 March 5, 1986 to May 16, 1986.
Platoons 3033, 3034, 3035, April 15, 1987 to June 26, 1987.
Mr. Pilgrim has many more Platoon Books. We will list them in groups of (5) in each future newsletter until all have been listed.
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #5, #12 (DEC., 2015)
While I was writing the previous issue which was Vol. #5, #11. I remembered an unusual accident that happened while we ("A" Company, 3rd Pioneers ) were in Cubi Point, in the Philippine Islands that I at least wanted to write about although, it didn't happen while I was in Aviation, but just prior to me going in that direction. My purpose here in documenting this accident is because I've never seen anything in writing about it. But, I'm sure there is, somewhere. An accident doesn't go UN-documented especially, involving the death of a MARINE! Everybody knows that! Now, I usually like to look at life on the lighter side, but again this stuck in my mind for one reason or the other, so I thought I'd include it in my writings. I think that this happened sometime in 1959. Maybe someone can help me with the MARINES name that was the operator?
As a reinforced Pioneer Platoon, part of our T.E. (Table of Equipment) included a bulldozer, and an operator. This added piece of equipment added some flexibility to whatever task we had to perform as a support unit. But, there's no need to tell you guy's this, as it's easily surmised.
Anyway, while we were on the beach it was determined by someone way up high that a portion of the beach needed to be re-worked. This would allow some of the landing craft that were being off loaded from some of the various ships the luxury of making their approach to a more cock-sen friendly beach area. This fell under the heading of "Thing's to Do" for the Pioneers and some one even said "Hey" they even have a bulldozer that can be used to level off some of the approaches to the beach. Well, all was moving forward when it started to rain heavily, like it normally does in the P.I. So everybody donned their Ponchos, and continued to work. The surf started to get a little rougher and the dozer was working out about 80-100 feet from the water line when someone yelled that the dozer had just rolled over and went out of site in the surf. This naturally got everybody's attention and all hands ran to the water line and some even dove in and swam out to where the dozer was last seen. Everyone expected the operator to just pop up and be OK but, that didn't happen. The Platoon Leader, a Lt. James E. Givens, was there and continued to dive and attempt to recover the operator, but his efforts, although heroic, were futile. We lost the operator (name unknown) but, many gained added respect for the Platoon Leader.
The apparent cause was, the weight of the dozer on a coral outcropping, or growth, was too heavy to support the weight, and it broke causing the dozer to roll over and sink to a greater depth, and the operators poncho got tangled in the roll cage and controls. He couldn't get loose, and drowned.
Despair Over The Choices
CO. Marine Barracks, Naha, circa 1960, was a genuinely good guy, with an impressive resume (spoke three languages fluently, Russian being one of the three, and had had some really, really, interesting duty assignments... more or less had been a spy (remember this was at the height of the cold war...). Although he had no children, he enjoyed the fatherly role, and I think, viewed his collection of Marines as his sons. He perpetually was in despair over the choices his troops made with their free (liberty) time, and their pursuits off the base. (we were but a short free Air Force bus ride from the front gate, and a very inexpensive (.06 cents US to drop the flag in a 'skosh' cab for a short ride to the flesh pots of Namanoue... where all sorts of diversions, but mainly beer and feminine companionship, were also quite reasonable... if memory serves, a liter of Ashai beer was a whopping ne-ju-go-cento, or "hifty cents", US) (apologies to those who actually know the Okinawan dialect of Japanese...)
Accordingly, the good Major was forever coming up with ideas for ways for his Marines to spend their time in more productive and cultural pursuits... he would encourage tours of WWII battle sites (only 15 years post WWII), trips to Okinawan museums, even a trip once to a glass foundry, where glass Coke bottles were melted and re-born as green glass fishing net floats... interesting stuff, maybe... but lacking much of the attraction of the 'Ko sisters' in the 'Ville...
For some reason, one of the Sgts of the Guard/Section Leaders (me) had been sent to the Navy motor pool, trained, and licensed to drive a school-type bus... '50-ish Ford, V-8 with a stick shift, Navy gray, maybe 20 something or so seats... and on the day of what turned out to be our big adventure, the Major had decided that the Guard Officer (1st Lt. Brad Foster... a HAWK missile type by MOS) and the Port Section Leader (me... a CPL) would load up our off-duty and newest joins, and give them a tour of the bases on the island. You may be sure that this bunch of PFCs and a few Lance Corporals (a new rank at the time) were just all agog at the prospect of riding this bus through the various Marine, Army, and Air Force bases on the island... and agog or not, that's what we did... although from time to time the Lt would have to wake one or two to have them properly agog when we passed through such fascinating places as "Camp Hansen"... "and now, coming up on your right... the tank park of Third Tank Battalion"...
After we had wended our way up the island to the last bastion of Marine civilization (oxymoron?... you betcha, GI) and perambulated through the home of the Huns of the North (Camp Schwab... nearly brand new at the time home of the Third Marines, from memory) the driver (me) being an old salt, already on his second tour on The Rock, and having been all over the NTA (Northern Training Area) on foot as a grunt with H&S 2/1 the year before or so, suggested to the Lt. that rather than back track down to Naha the way we had come, that we take a dirt road I knew of, north of Schwab, cut across the NTA to the city of Nago on the west coast of Okinawa, and return to Naha that way... seeing some more interesting sights along the way. Listening to Cpls requires a bit of circumspection on the part of Lts sometimes, but that was not the case on this day... Lt Foster thought that was a capital idea! (well, not really... he wasn't a Brit, but probably just said "OK")...
As it turned out, much, much later... that road across the island to Nago was SOUTH of Camp Schwab... not North...
After several hours of slipping/sliding in Okinawan mud, crossing the same clearing from several different directions, pushing the stuck bus several times, crossing a 'bridge' on the side of a cliff that was just a single concrete slab, with the outside tires on the duals hanging in space, watching the sun sinking slowly in what we guessed must be the West, we somehow found a more traveled road that seemed to more or less heading west... in the direction of Nago.
By now, we are nearly out of gas... we have no comm with anyone, have no government credit card (h-ll, they didn't exist yet in 1960)... so we passed the hat on the bus, came up with somewhere around four dollars, and found a gas station... and the Lt somehow managed to find a telephone, and to get a call through to the Barracks (no mean feat in those days) advising that we had escaped our kidnappers and not to pay the ransom... which was good, because the 3rd Mar Div, and the Air Wing, and, etc. were about to send out aerial search parties to find us...
We made it back to Naha... have no idea of any conversations between the Major and the Lt, but am sure there must have been some... of the kind where the Major speaks and the Lt listens (had a few of those meself, in the day)... took me most of the next day to get all the mud off the Ford to the satisfaction of the SeaBee Chief who 'owned' the bus... but, on balance... d-mn! That was fun! Civilians just don't get it, but that episode was a morale booster that lasted quite a while... important, when you are doing a terminally boooooooring job on duty (guarding nuke weapons) 4 on, 8 off, day on, day off... Still smile, fifty-some years later when thinking about that trip... and think I can still 'double-clutch' when shifting a manual tranny like that...
Send me your different names for infantry. Off the top I get 03, Grunt, Ground Pounder, Mud Marine. I know there are more. Send them to me at: Don@grunt.com.
Just a short note, this expression came from the Lakota (Western Sioux) that was shouted when they rode into battle. The actual words were "Hoka Hay."
Just a little information for all your readers. My father was Oglala, Lakota.
Ed Dodd, Lt, USMC
2nd & 3rd Tank Bn, 3rd AT Bn.
To John Belaire, Cpl,
Let me just say that I feel the same way about those who served during the Viet Nam era. You are the next "greatest generation". I think I may have even more respect for those who went to war during a time when many opposed what you did.
It is truly a blessing to be in a brotherhood that transcends any aspect of life. Race, age, sex, etc.
Semper Fi to all my brothers I have and haven't met yet.
L/CPL Lapointe, Louis F.
"Road to H-ll is paved with the bleached bones of leaders who forgot to put out their local security!"
"Leadership - I use with great vigor, but I follow when the situation demands it."
--Chesty Puller, From our book: Chesty Puller's Rules of Success!
Get this book at:
"A constitution defines and limits the powers of the government it creates. It therefore follows, as a natural and also a logical result, that the governmental exercise of any power not authorized by the constitution is an assumed power, and therefore illegal."
--Thomas Paine, 1805
"It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled."
"You don't hurt'em if you don't hit'em."
"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."
--Harry S. Truman, August 8, 1950
"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold."
--1st. Lt. Clifton B. Cates, Navy Cross, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, (later Commandant), USMC, July 19, 1918 commanding 96 Company, 6th Marines, near the French town of Soissons.
"Casualties: many, Percentage of dead: not known, Combat efficiency: we are winning."
--Colonel David M. Shoup, USMC, MOH, (later Commandant) Tarawa, 21 November 1943.
"As You Were."
"I'll be out of the area all day."
"Expect the unexpected."