Two different hills. Somewhere near DaNang. My god these things could kick up a lot of dust on a hot day. Don't know if this is a sunset or sunrise, but they could be spectacular.
Welcome Home Brothers!
Black Smoke Belching
I'd like to present another perspective on the Captain Holmes discussed in Bill McDermott's letter in last week's edition. Let me quote at length from Gerald P. Averill's book, "Mustang: A Combat Marine" - "Gil Holmes, the sniper section leader, was a lot more than a fine rifle and pistol shot. During the early days of World War II, he had made a name for himself by always being in the point of any attack, made by his company, preferring, if possible, to be the point man of the point - the lad all the way out front. In those days he carried a 1928 Model Thompson submachine gun with a fifty-round drum. His company commander told me that when that Thompson began talking you had better get some people forward in a hurry, for Holmes always let himself get well inside of a group of Japanese before he commenced emptying the first drum load of .45 caliber ammunition into them. He had brought the old Thompson out to Korea with him, forced, by the times to use thirty-round magazines in lieu of the drums. On that sorry afternoon at Hill 800.2, the Colonel was with "E" company, as was Holmes. Holmes watched the fiasco, saw all that he wanted to, and walked over to the Colonel, paid his respects, and requested permission to try to get things moving. The Colonel gave his permission; about that time he would have tried anything! Holmes slung the Thompson over his left shoulder in the assault fire position and walked alone up the east slope of hill 800.2, ignoring the shower of black-smoke belching, Chinese potato-masher grenades that came down the hill towards him, and the small arms fire directed his way in heavy volume. Reaching the military crest of the hill he let the Thompson have its way and blasted the emplaced North Koreans far out into the land of their ancestors. During the climb he was hit in the arms and legs by grenade fragments. At the crest of the hill he was hit at the front scalp line by a rifle round triggered by the reflex action of a North Korean soldier as he died digesting a full magazine of .45 caliber ammunition from the Thompson. Holmes had himself broken the stalemate, had opened the way. The ridge lieutenant and his platoon began to move up when the Thompson stopped firing. Some of the less dedicated young officers thought Holmes too intense, too gung ho, too single minded in his approach in combat. In their vicious, empty small talk, they put him down as being just on the edge of psycho. Where had they been when it was time to stand up and be counted? One of his foremost detractors was the Lieutenant on the ridge line of Hill 800.2 - the gutless, motionless one. Psycho? I would like to have had a Gil Holmes for every company in the battalion! After it was all over, the ridge line to the north secured, while the "heroes" gathered together to commiserate, Holmes, covered with blood and bandages, picked up his gear, slung his weapons - the Thompson and the M1-D, and trudged off south of the road to begin the long journey over the hills to the aid station, some 2000 meters to the rear. We would not see him, or the Thompson, again until late summer."
Many of the stories about Captain Holmes were true - his Marine Corps green Cadillac which he would lend to any one of his men in an emergency, his statement that if the Marine Corps felt that he needed a wife they would have issued him one, and many others. But in a combat situation he was a real hero. If he was forced out of the Corps for whatever reason it was the Corps' loss. It was such a man that Major Walker tried to be, but often fell short.
We Were All Nam Vets
The stories about "swooping" home brought back some fond but almost forgotten memories of my years in the Corps. Every Friday, immediately after Liberty Cards were issued we all headed for Swoop Circle at Camp Lejeune. Those of us who had cars would load up with riders to help drive and share the cost. Butler, PA, was my hometown and I'd bought a '66 Mustang when I got home from Nam. The riders were Marines and Corpsmen who lived in your general vicinity. You'd drop them off late Friday night and pick them up Sunday evening for the return trip. As I recall the trip from Lejeune to Butler was about 9 hrs., nonstop except for p-ss calls. Of course everyone pushed the speed limit. A major part of the swoop was along Highway 17 in VA.
At the time, this was mostly a two lane road that we picked up in Fredericksburg and stayed on to Winchester where we picked up Rt. 522 north to Breezewood and the PA Turnpike. This was a major swoop route and was often the scene of scores of cars traveling like a high speed convoy. 1968 through 1972 were the prime years of the Muscle Cars, so the swoop often looked like a NASCAR race. The cops, both state and local often lay in wait for an easy "kill" of speeding tickets. In many areas this was a large revenue producer for the small towns we would drive by. An especially notorious area was around Warrenton, VA, which I believe is in Fauquier County. One late Sunday night a small convoy of we swoopers were caught speeding by a police road block. The police escorted all of us to the local Magistrate's office to pay our fines. At that time the Magistrate was the famous and notorious "Granny". Granny was a no nonsense local official who had the reputation of sending anyone unable to pay their fine straight to the local slammer. She was a female version of Judge Roy Bean. Her office was in her Civil War era mansion and some of the cops were her relatives. I remember wandering around her living room admiring her Civil War antiques as I waited my turn to face the dragon. Every car that had been stopped by the road block was driven by and occupied by Marines except for one. That car was driven by a long-haired Hippie Jr. college professor. Somehow he'd infiltrated our convoy. At that time the fine was paid in cash or the poor unfortunate went to the local cross bar. Granny set the fines. She charged each of us Marine drivers $35 per car. We all pooled our money and paid our fine and were set free. The Hippie was charged $150, which was a small fortune in those days. He didn't have the money and looked hopefully at us for help. You guessed it; we were all Nam vets. Scr-w Him!
While were fighting in the bush this azs face had been partying on his college deferment. I'll never forget the tears running down his cheeks as the cops led him away or the unsympathetic smile on Granny's face. The South Shall Rise Again!
Occasionally, I still drive the old swoop route just for the memories and I swear that on a dark Sunday night, if you listen real close, you can still hear those Mopar engines swooping by. God Bless you Granny. I hope you're still giving out speeding tickets beyond the Pearly Gates.
As for the Hippie, I hope he's still swinging a sledge hammer on some road gang in VA.
Sgt. of Marines (ret.)
1966 to 1972
Let George Do It
Regarding the discussion over "HOW" company, my WWII Marine father always used "How" rather than "Hotel". As for the other designators of the second battalion, one of his favorite sayings was "Don't be "EASY", be "FOXY", let "GEORGE" do it."
Also, it was interesting to hear a (let's say "more senior" vice "older" Marine) take offense to the phrase "Semper Fi" rather than the full "Semper Fidelis". I guess I missed the negative connotations of "Semper Fi" during my service ('72-'93), in fact, both terms seemed to be used interchangeably, depending on the circumstances. I prefer the more informal "Semper Fi" and I would hope that when I address those more senior Marines, there is no offense taken where none is offered.
GEORGE (thanks, Dad) M. Button
Sometime around the middle of 1968, I was driving out the gate at Chu Lai headed for the village of Ky Khuong as part of my duties with the MAG-12 Civic Action Team. When I got to the gate I was informed by the Americal (Army) MP that I couldn't leave the base. I pulled out my pass that said I could go anywhere in Quang Tin Province. He then told me, "No one gets off the base today until the MPC exchange is finished." I vaguely remember the total amount of money lost that day on the black market but I think it was reported in the Stars and Stripes newspaper as around $4 Million. Of course the Vietnamese would gladly take MPC or American dollars on a one-for-one basis as the exchange rate then was 118 Piasters per dollar. They would talk some dummy GI or Marine to exchange it for them in order to make the 18 Piaster gain.
The Vietnamese lined the fence on our base that day, begging anyone to take it and exchange it for them as the Vietnamese workers were not allowed on base. I had less than $25 of MPC so I took it to disbursing and got the new MPC. HOWEVER, no one could exchange more than $200 that day without proof or explanation of where they got it from. Would you believe the Disbursing Chief (NCOIC) had collected over $900 as poker winnings and he was paying volunteers to convert his! Apparently only the CO and our Disbursing Officer were the only ones that knew about it proven by what happened to our Disbursing Chief. Before the 5 p.m. deadline, one of disbursing clerks I knew had $38 of old MPC that he couldn't get converted so he gave it to me. The easiest $38 I ever made!
You can read more in my book Civic Action available on Amazon.com.
Three of the best years of my life were spent in Iwakuni, Japan. I was in VMA-121 in the 50's and we were an AD Skyraider squadron. Prior to my arriving in Iwakuni I had married buddies, stateside, that had been in Iwakuni previously. We used to sit around and look at their picture albums. Some of the guys would tell how they spent much of their time in town at the gym, building up their bodies. To back up their claims, they had pictures of them standing in front of buildings bearing the sign "Iwakuni Health Assn."
I must admit that I smelled a rat, but kept my mouth shut. When I finally arrived in Iwakuni my suspicions were confirmed and, I too, felt the urge to better develope my body. I have many fond memories of the many branches of the Iwakuni Health Association. Does anyone out there remember the name "Peanuts"?
Sgt of Marines 1406---
New term to me... In 1956 I was at Camp Lejeune acting like an MP in the downtown Jacksonville section... (probably the worst duty in the Corps). We got 72-hour liberty quite often, why I don't know except we were all short timers. I had a lady friend in New York City and the deal was, one guy with a car, 5 or 6 riders, you speed till you got a ticket then rotated out. Quite chancy. Have no idea what anyone did with the tickets... but NC dragged you to a JP and that cost $65 up... So once, we made it all the way to the Jersey turnpike and were about to drop the first passenger when we had a flat. Pulled over all the way 6 ft. or more off the TP, cold as h-ll and started changing the tire. A drunk going about 50 mph hit us on the left side totaled the car and spun off right side of road down a steep embankment. When the Highway Patrol got there, although we were in civvies they all knew we were Jarheads and out of the area. Being good former Marines they split us up, one took me to the Holland Tunnel where I met a NY state trooper who took me directly to my destination in Queens. Getting back became a real adventure and I'll tell you about that next time.
Sgt D. Wackerly
Reading about the Brig brings to mind my personal brush I had with that institution and my resolve to avoid it at all costs. I arrived in K-Bay as a Private just out of ITR and immediately spent the first month on Mess duty. Our line not only served 1-4 but then set up for the Brig. There was a short hall (about 15 feet long) off to the side leading into the Mess hall. The prisoners would be brought to the door and halted while two of the four chasers armed with shotguns came inside to set up. Once the two inside gave the word the prisoners were ordered into "lock step", column left into the hall then column right into the mess hall, halted, then formed a line to receive chow.
One morning a scuffle broke out while the prisoners were in the hallway and both chasers inside racked a round into their shotguns and yelled "Prisoners Down". They really didn't have to order them down because when the prisoners heard the rounds being racked they were already hitting the deck! I was standing there like an idiot watching all of this when my best friend Miles who had been standing next to me on the line and rudely yanked me to the deck. He had gone down when the prisoners did. Needless to say it was a very strange and stressful breakfast for everyone involved. I think some of the prisoners had to be taken to sickbay afterward for "wounds" received while hitting the deck in that confined space.
Even though it's been over 50 years, whenever I've heard the sound of a shotgun being racked I remember that morning at K-Bay.
Ralph And Earl
As I promised (threatened) in my last letter, a couple more stories about Sgt. Bulldog (also known as The Screaming Sgt. Leatherdog). Three years ago my wife and I enjoyed a Caribbean cruise with some friends (fantastic voyage)! During the excursion, I commented to our friends that this was much more luxurious than a cruise I went on in the Mediterranean Sea years before. That cruise was apparently Irish-themed, since all of the passengers wore green, and some also had green complexions. The entertainment was also more limited, but also seemed to be Irish-themed, with passengers frequently calling for the O'Rourke Brothers, but leaning on the railing, yelling "Ralph" and "Earl"! When the weather was clear, in the evening, we were able to watch movies on the main deck (first time I'd seen Star Trek episodes - the original series, in color). Bulldog also would sometimes entertain us by performing a jig, which we called "Willy and the Fly". Seems his shirt had a habit of coming untucked (this was Fall of '70, when we still wore the OD utilities), so Bulldog would undo his trousers, tuck his shirt back in, then button and zip-up. Unfortunately for him, he had a combination of boxer shorts and zipper fly, and almost every time, would catch a sensitive part of his anatomy in the zipper. He would then commence doing his jig, accompanied by a series of "enthusiastic" howls. If he wasn't circumcised before the cruise, he had to be by the we returned to Moorehead, City!
When the weather wasn't as pleasant, movies were shown in the "Dining Area". Due to the sometimes crowded conditions, the movie screen was translucent, so it could be viewed from both sides. One evening we were watching "Hang 'Em High" from the back side, so everything was reversed. When the scene came in the judge's office, with the map of the Oklahoma Territory appearing reversed, Bulldog asked, "what is that a map of?" We explained if he looked carefully, he would see it was "Amohalok", another part of the Indian Territory.
When we were approaching Greece, our schedule was interrupted by some inconsiderate people who commandeered (hijacked) several airliners, redirecting them to the Jordanian desert. When this occurred, our ship (USS Suffolk County, LST 1173) made a port call in Athens while decisions were being made on what action to take. We were plenty willing to continue east to help remedy the situation, but weren't keen about spending an additional month or more attached to the 6th Fleet (we were getting a little tired of powdered eggs, powdered milk, bone-dry, tasteless pancakes, and shredded, canned turkey on noodles). However, while the wait-and-see went on, we did manage to get a day of liberty in Athens, and visit the city attractions, including the Acropolis. While there, sitting on the steps of the Parthenon, Bulldog observed a family walking by, and yelled, "Hey! They speak English!", to which the patriarch replied, "No sh-t! We're from Southern California!", muttering to himself, "Here we are, halfway around the world, trying to enjoy our vacation, and still encounter some dumb-azsed Jarheads!"
After 3 days, the situation ended (the passengers were released, although the airliners were destroyed), and we continued on to our land-based excursion in Alexandroupolis, for Operation Deep Express, a NATO exercise. We were set up in a dusty wheat field, but I have to say, it was the most enjoyable field exercise I ever participated in. We were able to completely enclose our (then) new MRC-134's by strapping the antenna cases around the jeeps, using the spare outlet from the generator-supplied power cord to heat water with an immersion heater, sit back sipping coffee, reading a good book from the trouble light, and making hourly comm checks during our radio watches. We also got to enjoy dungaree liberty, with a 6-by transporting us back and forth into the town, where we enjoyed Fix Beer (Blue label was the best, green label "OK", but the Red label tasting somewhat like kerosene), loaves of bread and really good Feta cheese at a small tavern. One evening, Bulldog imbibed a little too much Fix (and/or local wine), and decided to "entertain" some of the local populace. He would hide in a hedge, and as an unsuspecting civilian drove down the street, Bulldog would run out into the middle of the street, flag down the driver, run over to the window, do a "look down, look up" (a la 3 Stooges) on the civilian's chest and chin, then take a diving leap back into the hedge. "Crazy Americans!" Bulldog entertained us a couple of other times during the exercise, but maybe I'll leave that for another time.
Finally, in praise of Navy dentists, I had a dental check-up a month ago, and they verified the filling I received from the cautious doctor was still in very good condition, 43 years later.
First Day On The Job
It was Friday and mid-April of 1961 when this newly minted PFC and recent graduate of Sea School, MCRD San Diego, arrived dockside at North Island in San Diego to report for duty aboard the USS Ticonderoga CVA-14.
I don't recall a lot of specific details about my boarding the ship. Nor do I remember any specific introduction to the way I was to live on the Ticonderoga for the next two and a half years. However, I do remember the scent of the ship's fuel, the salty perfume of the bay waters, and my astonishment at how large the ship was. Remarkably I was quickly integrated into traditional shipboard life for seagoing Marines.
At this time, one long standing tradition was that carrier (ship's crew) Marines were assigned duty as brig guards. And so it was within 24 hours of my arrival I found myself standing guard duty my first Sunday aboard on the 0400-0800 brig watch and some three decks below the hangar bay.
This was my first brig assignment, and having been woken before 0400, I was indeed fully awake and alert, and doing pretty much nothing as we had only a single prisoner, a Sailor, who was sleeping soundly in his cell. The Corporal of the Guard had given me my instructions; "Stay awake, don't screw around, and call me if you have a problem or questions. I'll be back in an hour or so."
All was quiet when around 0600 I heard and then saw some shoes and legs descending the ladder to the brig. I was fully aware that a naval officer was coming down into the brig. A reflexive act on my part, as I came to attention was to call out; "attention on deck". My prisoner certainly did not snap to attention, but I sure did!
The officer, a Commander, asked to see the prisoner. I quickly obliged his request by entering into the cell area and shouting quite loud; "prisoner attention!" My prisoner was out like a light. I shouted again "prisoner attention! On your feet!" Again, nada, no response. Ah ha, a bright idea came to mind, as the officer stood in the entrance watching my performance... the rack in which the Sailor slept ended near the bars of the cell, I would just reach in and give a good yank on his foot to wake him up and get him to stand at attention. And so I did with the same result. No response. He wasn't dead as I had heard him snoring for the past hour or so.
The officer (who turned out to be the ship's executive officer) took over and the prisoner was soon standing at attention. The officer really gave him h-ll.
It was only a few minutes after the officer left that I realized that this prisoner, a very large prisoner... did I say large? I meant this huge prisoner, had he been awake rather than asleep, could have taken my arm and broken it quite nicely, or had he a mind to, perhaps he even could have torn it from my shoulder.
I found out later that the prisoner was something of a living legend aboard ship being known for fighting and rather violent behavior towards those he did not like. Needless to say that it was my first and last time I reached in between the cell bars when trying to get the attention of a prisoner.
I wondered later if this was what my father meant when he suggested I try for Sea Duty as he told me I would see and learn a lot by going to sea?
R. D. Behr LCpl
Plt. 188, MCRD San Diego, 1960
USS Ticonderoga CVA-14 1961-1963
H & S Co. 1st Service Bn., 1st MarDiv 1963-1964
P.S. I am enclosing a photo of the Ticonderoga Marine Detachment taken in Seattle in 1962.
Corpsman Offered Himself
There have been a few comments recently re PFT and last week Capt. Jeffries mentioned that there were three "legs" to this in the 1960s. Well, much as I hate to disagree with the good Captain my recollection is slightly different and even accounting for the tremendous loss of brain cells in the hundred years since I have a very strong memory of one PFT I undertook in either late spring or early summer 1961 with four segments. I was at K Bay then and had just come back from a lengthy detached duty assignment in Iwakuni, Japan and, being a young Marine with a pocket full of money, I spent the evening before in the Mission Reading Room, studying elbow and forearm mechanics. Suffice it to say that the morning of the PFT I was somewhat the worse for wear. I made it through the sit-up and push-up segments without particular problem but before we had the run â€“ I recall it was three and a half miles to be done in 36 minutes â€“ you could do that in a power walk or, as I did, fast walk awhile and trot awhile and made it easy in about half an hour. That was the fourth leg, though. The third one was a fireman's carry where you zig-zagged out 20 or 30 yards or so, picked up a "wounded" Marine, threw him over your shoulder in a fireman's carry, and ran back to the starting line. We always paired off so that you carried one man about your size and then he carried you. That morning, by the time we started that exercise, my stomach was more than a little queasy. I think it must have been eye strain from the night before. At any rate, I was making all the noises of retching without any of the benefits, just those dry shakes that ruin your ribs. Everyone was done but me and then our Corpsman offered himself as the burden and guaranteed me I would finish. If you can't trust the Doc who can you trust?
He went out and laid down and I had no trouble at all zigging and zagging to get to him. Now I was a sizable young man, about 200 pounds, but the Doc had me by at least 25 more. Still, I had no choice so I pulled him to his feet, threaded one arm between his legs and draped him across my shoulders. I took the first step and he broke an ampule of ammonia under my nose. I think I set a new record getting him back to the line with me bounding and him bouncing and groaning with every step. It seems I had the point of my shoulder in a very tender spot for him. I wish I could remember his name now and I would publicly thank him again.
Wonder if he had had any kids.
W.L. "Bill" McManigal, Marine, currently unassigned.
We Never Got A Name
In recent comments on Sgt Grit DDICK mentioned a Sailor that fell overboard and became a prisoner of war or was rescued (depending on viewpoint). That reminded me of an 'incident' that occurred to me.
My wife and I owned, as sole proprietors and sole workers, a small computer store in a small town in Kansas. One day we had a customer come in and buy something. After paying for it and noticing my Marine Corps paraphernalia he asked if I had been in the Marine Corps. Of course I said yes - twenty years. He asked if I had been in Vietnam and I said yes - two tours. He said he was in the Navy then and that he loved the Marine Corps. He proceeded to say that he had been captured and was being transported to North Vietnam. The guards and he were at the edge of the Bein Hei river which was the border between North and South Vietnam, when a Marine patrol discovered them. There was a fire fight and the guards were dispersed and or killed. He fell into the river and because of the way he was bound he was drowning. A Marine jumped into the river and pulled him out and kept him from drowning.
My wife and I were speechless not knowing how to respond. He turned and walked out of the store saying over his shoulder "That's why I love the Marine Corps".
We never got a name. We never saw him before or since.
Hoogie Capt/GySgt (ret) 1960-1980
My grandfather is a Marine Corps Vet of Iwo Jima, Saipan and Tinian. He received 2 purple hearts, and a few years ago a Navy Admiral gave him a ceremonial flag flown over Iwo on the decks of an aircraft carrier, I think called the USS Iwo Jima. He's my grandfather, but adopted me when I was 6 and I went to every Marine Corps reunion since in the 70's and 80's (but I never once heard his peers says hura). In the early 80's he hosted and ran the annual Marine Corps reunion in Ft. Lauderdale and even got a key to the city for it, and his wife my grandmother, recieved an interview from Oprah Winfrey (true story have the VCR tape to show it).
I guarantee you if you ask any 4th Division Vet about Jinx they'll know him by first name, unless if they're mind lost it already. Jinx to this day is one tough bast-rd (I wouldn't want him any other way), sharp as a razor upstairs.
In any event, few outside his family even knows he exists and I think he's a little down and out. I kind of miss his old buddies, but almost all of them are gone. How many Iwo Jima Vet members do you still have? Do any live in South Florida? Is there any way he can get recognition for his valor or service? Anything you can say will help.
son/grandson of Bernard "Jinx" Shaffman
In reference to Sgt Dan Bisher's article on Capt. Walker, 29 Aug newsletter. My first & only duty station after Viet Nam (1/5, '66) was Jan. 2nd, '67, for the next two years. It was the 4thMarDiv Hq Co Cadre over by 16 area Camp Pendleton. It was a small nucleus of personnel of which the lowest rank was Cpl. (trained reservists on weekends & summer camps).
Our XO was a 2nd Lt (Mustang). I believe his name was King (Marine's Marine). His early 60s caddy was Marine Corps green w/camo interior & USMC plates. Made his 100th jump in his dress blues. Surely he was Capt Hiram Walker's running mate.
Cpl W D Allen
March Ourselves With Purpose
I read with interest Dennis Krause's tour of Camp Hauge and attachment to the 9th MEB. We were breathing a lot of the same air, trudging around Hauge's streets of gold, and bouncing around the South China Sea.
Like Dennis, Camp Hauge and the 9th MEB are bolted together in my mind. For me it all began on August 4, 1964, when I was minding my and the Marine Corps business in Iwakuni. I was an E4 in 1st MAW's G2/Intelligence, nominally per my MOS, an Aerial Photo Interpreter. On August 4, I caught G2 Duty NCO and was bunked down in the office as per SOP. At 0330 the Duty Officer woke me. We were on Def Con 3, due to The North Vietnamese attack on the USS Maddox in the Bay of Tonkin a couple of days ago.
By the 6th, I volunteered to be a part of a 4-man team to be deployed... for what? And when? But, after a good dose of "hurry up and wait" with a 2330 departure, unbeknownst to us we're flying down to Camp Hauge. And the next day we were nestled into beautiful downtown Camp Hauge via Kadena, attached to the 9th MEB, which seemed to be forming up.
My impression of Camp Hauge or someone told us, was that it had recently come out of mothballs. I didn't doubt it as my impression was that it was decrepit, and an old pile of junk baled together. Modest ambiance even by USMC standards. When we hit Camp Hauge in August all I really understood was I was now part of the 9th MEB, & given the MOS's of the team that we formed, I assumed we were assigned to 9th MEB's G2/Intelligence Team, or H&S Company. I assumed because I don't recall anyone laying it out for us. If the Captain knew he didn't tell us.
The next 2 weeks were basically filled by doing nothing, killing time, finding ways to get to Kadena, Buckner, Fatima, Naha, mostly on the bases and once I even had Liberty. However I pretty much hit Camp Hauge broke and pretty much stayed broke while there. And scuttlebutt was constantly rife, we're deploying to join the fleet, we're going to Subic, we're going back to Iwakuni... No we're not, yes we are. Etc.
Sometimes we (myself and the E3 with me, Earl Blackwell) were told by our leaders to just "get lost" and other times were officially supposed to be doing "something", but really there wasn't cr-p to do. Other outfits and whoever was running Hauge saw us as grist for labor details, (moving furniture being a favorite), so we did creatively find ways to stay below radar screens of suspicious Gunnies or looking like we were usefully occupied. For instance, I confiscated a clip board and we'd march ourselves with purpose wherever we went (snack bar being a favorite during the day). But God, doing nothing just made time crawl.
Finally on Aug. 16, the Eagle did sh-t and we had some money and got some liberty. I went with the Captain & SSgt Day to Naha, got to visit the Teahouse of The August Moon & a random sampling of various bars. Somewhere in the evening some MPs dropped by a bar and told us there was a typhoon warning, level 1 which meant we were supposed to go back to Camp Hauge. Which we ignored. Although the Capt. and SSgt Day wanted to close the town, my money was running low so I caught a cab back to Hauge. Only to find that the typhoon warning was being taken seriously here and the cab wasn't allowed on the base. The Marine manning the gate instructed me to walk to my billet (in a downpour) and get into utilities, & come back. Did so, and was trucked to Courtney with other Marines to wait out Typhoon Kathy. Ended the night sleeping on the concrete floor of the Mess Hall.
The next day, Kathy had cooled down and we were trucked back to Hauge... for a day. On the 18th, Typhoon Marie followed on the heels of Typhoon Kathy and we repeated the process, back to Courtney and a concrete floor. Apparently this is when Dennis joined in the fun.
Next day one rumor proved out and our team of 4 headed back to Iwakuni, arrived "home" and seemingly back into our normal routines. But not so fast! On the 23rd our team went back on 4-hour standby, and on the 26th, we're flying down to Hauge again. This time no messing around. We were just passing through Hauge, down to White Beach and on to good old USS George Clymer, (fondly aka Greasy George).
We then validated another old rumor, by going to Subic, and from Subic to meet up with the Fleet where we moved over to the El Dorado. We floated off DaNang for a while, then the El Dorado was sent down to Saigon due to a coup, and eventually back to Subic on the 22nd of Sept, and a few weeks later our team stood down, and Oct 9th we headed back to Iwakuni. And, I'm guessing so did a lot of other Marines who staged initially with the MEB. My MEB tour, including some time in about 3 weeks or so in Camp Hauge was 65 days.
The overall 9th MEB tour is a somewhat different story too long for this short note. I've researched the history of the 9th MEB, but everything I've read dealt with early 1965 and the ultimate landing. I couldn't find anything on how a MEB is called up, who decides, and when the decision was made to activate the 9th which I assume happened in 1964. My impression then and now is the button that was pushed to activate the MEB was triggered by the Bay of Tonkin incident, and to act quickly the Marine Corps threw out its net and scraped up whoever was handy and not expendable in their home unit and start staging it. We'd heard it would totally activate in 3 stages and if so, I think I (and Dennis) were in Stage I. Those of us who made up the 1st stage were sent back when more solidly committed replacements started arriving.
Attached are some photos, the Camp Hauge sign. (sorry hard to see), 9th MEB sign, beautiful downtown Camp Hague, and a breathtaking hilltop view, and myself (four-eyes) and Blackwell probably waiting to mount out.
Cpl Don Harkness
Seems Camp Hauge has been in the stories of late, so thought I would add mine. Camp Hauge was used by many different organizations before I got there in 1966. I was in Nuclear Ordnance which was a not so hidden secret. Because of being in this outfit I had lots of spare time and I looked around for other things to do. A friend had the Camp Hauge Pistol Range (that was in terrible condition) and was paid by Special Services to run the range on Wednesday afternoons. He was leaving so I went with him to Special Services and took over for him. The buildings at the range were in horrible shape, the target stands were in worse shape and the firing line barely existed. I fixed up one target and from time to time a shooter would come, (I don't even remember what I was paid by SS).
Another friend named Rusty, had been a friend from WWII. At the end of WWII he was sent to the Naval Air Station in Washington. A Curtiss R5C-1 Commando military transport plane of VMR-152 crashed into Mount Rainier's South Tahoma Glacier, killing 32 U.S. Marines, and they were assigning men to planes to look for the crash site. Rusty was assigned to a 2-passenger plane and the pilot took off. After flying for a short while the Pilot asked Rusty if he had ever bailed out. Rusty said no and the pilot told him it was time to go, Rusty jumped and said he didn't count to 10, he just pulled the rip cord. He landed in the bay and was picked up and taken to the Air Field. Wrapped in a blanket he started across the field and saw the Gedunk and headed for it. A plane crashed on the airfield wind milling down the path he had been headed before.
Rusty was working for the Morning Star, the English language newspaper in Oki. Rusty's time was up so he introduced me to the Editor who handed me a "Style Guide" and I became a Proof Reader at the Morning Star one or two evenings a week at $5.00 an hour for the 2 or 3 hours worked. At the Morning Star I met Butch Mendosa. Butch was Chinese/Filipino, his father was a Steward on one of the ships from the Asiatic Fleet. When WWII broke out the Fleet sailed away, the Japanese troops occupied Shanghai and his family barely survived WWII.
When the Communists came they were able to escape to Hong Kong and finally to Japan. During this time Butch learned, besides English, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog and later Korean. After the Korean War when Butch was old enough he applied for a Job at the Army PX and was sent to Seoul, Korea PX. There he married a Korean Girl and sometime later was transferred to the Okinawa Army PX.
Another guy I knew in Okinawa I met at the airport as I was leaving, he had married an Okinawan girl and after he retired they built first a bar then a hotel and were doing great. So I asked him if he was taking a trip home. He said his wife was doing a $25.000 renovation. Wow, I said, that's a bunch for Okinawa. He said, "Yeah, she gave me $25,000 and told me to Haiacho."
Okinawa was a home for some, a pain in the b-tt for some, a ladder for adulthood for some, and a blast for me.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
Broke It Over His Knee
After reading your last newsletter, I felt compelled to share this... since leaving the service in '57, I've run into only one other Marine who was there in 1954... here is the narrative from my memoir, "The Secret Casino at Red Men's Hall".
The following Saturday was just after pay day, and most of the troops had taken off for a weekend liberty. Tuck was getting dressed to hit the base library and see what kind of review books were available, when the somber beat of kettle drums caught his attention. He had a good view of the parade grounds from the second floor. Walking to the front of the barracks, he was surprised to see the adjacent Battalion in full formation in front of their barracks. Most of the Companies were in dress blues. The Battalion was formed in an unusual formation, like a big "U," and the Commander was at the top of the "U," facing towards its bottom, with his staff behind him. Standing at attention at the bottom of the "U" was an officer in dress blues, flanked by armed guards! On command, the drums began a slow cadence, and the guards marched the prisoner up the middle of the formation, where he came to a halt in front of the Battalion Commander. The Commander then produced a set of legal sized papers and began to read from them in a loud voice. Tuck couldn't hear the words, being several hundred yards away. He read for some time, then stopped, handed the papers to his Adjutant, and stepped smartly up to the prisoner. The Commander drew the prisoner's sword and broke it over his knee. Throwing the sword to the ground, he then reached over and tore first one set of Captain's bars, and then the other, from the prisoner's shoulders. He then ripped the brass buckle and belt from the jacket, and the red stripes from his trousers. Finally, he pulled the ribbons from the prisoner's chest, and then plucked each brass button and the Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor collar emblems from his tunic. Removing the prisoner's hat, he ripped the quatrefoil from its cover.
Each item was removed with a drum roll from the trap drums, and cast on the ground. Having finished, the Commander stepped back, did an about face, and maneuvered his staff to one side. He gave a command, and four additional guards fell into line behind the prisoner, behind them, the four kettle drums. The final insult; the entire command did an about face, showing their backs to the drummed officer!
On command, the unit stepped out to the kettle drums, which were sounded for every other step, like a death march. The unit marched to the middle of the street, did a column left, and headed for the main gate, four miles distant. The prisoner, his uniform now stripped of all distinguishing features, marched with his head down at the front of the formation. Billy Vogt happened to be at the main gate when the prisoner reached it. Tuck saw Billy later that evening. "Did you see what happened?" Tuck asked. "They drummed some Officer out of the Corps today. They marched him to the main gate with a guard and drummers!" "F-ckin' A, I saw it," Billy said, "I was just coming back to base. Don't you know who it was, the Officer?" "No," Tuck said, "I saw the whole thing, from the barracks window." He told Billy about the ceremony. "Who was it? Did they really throw him in the street?" he asked. "Yeah," Billy said, "one of those big MP's actually kicked him in the azs so hard that he landed face down on the street, outside the main gate! And you say they marched him four miles that way?" "Yeah," Tuck said, "it was First Battalion, right next to our barracks, where they started. It was some ceremony, each time they ripped something off of his uniform, they had a drum roll. It was eerie, it took about five minutes to strip him, and all you heard was these drums, every time the Commander ripped something else off." "Jesus, I talked to one of the Sergeants, the guards," Billy said, "and he said it's the first time he ever saw that ceremony, and he's been in the Corps for fourteen years! It was that god-mn Second mess Officer, Brophy, his name was." "The Captain that gave us all the sh-t?" Tuck asked. "None other... he was selling our food... had a black market going... that's why we always got rabbit!" "None other. The MP's said he had some kind of scam goin', selling the food instead of serving it and he got his azs caught." Billy was delighted at the turn of events. "When you get drummed out of the Corps," Tuck said, "it's an automatic dishonorable discharge, that's what I heard."
USMC, USNA '59
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #6, #5 (MAY, 2016)
One of the responsibilities of being a Crew chief on a helicopter, or any type of Aircraft, is insuring that whatever type of load is carried is secured in the Aircraft so that it doesn't become a hazard in flight. Especially if you encounter some unexpected turbulence or experience any other in flight or landing problems. Now this is all good information to have and use if your not in any particular hurry or you're not getting shot at. The latter situation has a tendency to cause one to expedite their movements and that sometimes causes the basic requirements to get somewhat watered down, or even forgotten ,but that was not the case in this situation.
The location is Ky Ha MARINE CORPS Airstrip in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam and the date is February 4th, 1966. There are many HMM-363 Helicopters parked on the steel matting and many have been loaded with the supplies and equipment that they're going to deliver to the various units that requested it. Several of the Helo's were loaded with rolls of concertina (barbed) wire. It was further secured inside the cabin area so as not to roll around and cause a weight shift for the Pilot to try and control. Now let's pause here and just think about the area that we're talking about. The cabin area of a H-34 (remember those) was not very large, so there wasn't much room to start with, but you had to work with what you had. Whatever the case, the cabin area was not totally full and the Crew climbed aboard fired up and taxied out to the Landing/Takeoff mat and proceeded to increase RPM and lifted off with several other A/C. The Landing/Take off mat was only about 1000 feet back from the sandy shoreline, on a raised area above the waterline. As the helicopters were taking off one could be heard loosing power and was seen by several observers as starting to settle because of lack of transitional lift due to power loss. That A/C (YZ-86) finally lost its fight to remain airborne and crashed rolling on its side in the shallower portion of the beach. The lower part of the landing gear could be seen sticking out of the surf. Inside the cabin the load had shifted and trapped the Crew Chief Cpl Ron Beuster under it, and he couldn't free himself from the "Barbed Wire" coils and he consequently drowned. Several attempts to free him were made by Gy/Sgt Igata and Doc Stills, but all were in vain. Cpl. Beuster was the only Crew Member to forfeit his life in this tragic accident.
Alphabetically, By Rank
"So... there I was, at ten thousand feet, hanging by just my jock strap... and then the Gunny passes the word to turn in all athletic gear, ASAP..." Company supply NCO: " I ain't got it, you don't rate it, and besides that, I got'em counted..."
'Difference between this lash-up and the Boy Scouts?... the Boy Scouts got adult leadership'...
'send an idiot to school, all you get is a school-trained idiot' (from the day when a few went to 'schools', but most of us got OJT... 'school trained' supposedly lent credibility to any quota-filler)...
'report to Supply and draw asbestos suits... yer pullin' b-tts on the flame-thrower range today'...
'do NOT rotate this tank turret around more than 7 times to the left... if you do, it will be unscrewed, and will fall off'
'fall in... alphabetically, by rank'
Firing line coach to a recruit, after he fires his first ever live round and sits back down on his box: "Call your shot!"... Pvt looks puzzled, then looks down-range and calls out "Heah, bullet!, Heah, bullet"... (probably from OK?)
Actually, good to go... at MCRD, SD, however, the "M-14" was an all metal shape, resembling the outline of an M-14 with a magazine inserted... weight was accurate, dummy rifles kept in a Quonset next to the one where pugil sticks were stored... one canteen (full), Light Marching Pack... from memory, the haversack only, with folded poncho inside... cartridge belt with suspenders, helmet. The rope was knotted, the actual run/firing position/ditch jump was more like 150 yards. The casualty evac theorized that your partner (casualty) was about your weight... forty yards each direction, had to be picked up from supine, rolled onto 'fireman's carry' position (firemen quit using that one a long time ago... we carry a length of strap, have various ways to rig/drag a victim)... run was 36 minutes, and with the dummy rifle... rules may have been altered a bit outside of boot camp, e.g. to minimize damage to wooden stocks. I recall doing something like this as early as 1962, and suspect it probably coincided with. Gen Shoup becoming Commandant... along with the return of LPM drill, and the departure of swagger sticks. Ran one of these for a CG FMF Pac inspection once at the Stumps, circa '67-'68... run route was around Lake Bandini (waste water perc ponds)... unfortunately, it had rained the day before, and caliche soil mud clings... boots would have an additional two inches of sole... awkward, and heavy... the failure rate was so high that the test was repeated later in the week... including for those of us who had passed with the mud handicap (I was p-ssed!) Never did climb a rope, knotted or not, in two years in county... but paddy dikes were a lot like the step-up bench! (most DI huts had a bench outside the door... it was an acceptable "Supplementary Instruction"... (but not in the amounts usually awarded!... BT,DT)
1stBn at MCRD around '64-'65 had a fitness fanatic for a CO (Lt.Col Gerald Averill)... would credit-card jimmy the door to the swimming pool, get in a mile or more before work, expected off-duty DI's to come in for morning runs, etc. He had his own ideas about a fitness test... and to test his test, he picked a 'representative sample' (sarcasm "on")... used the DI's from Special Training Branch... all of us in at least our third year on the drill field. Test involved pull-ups, sit-ups, squat thrusts, a 50 yard low crawl with the same gear as the PRT... followed by a four-mile run (not three), with gear, including the rifle, in 32 minutes... (I made it in 30:30, limped for a week after) and one other guy, a swimming instructor from the pool, passed the run... (I failed on the sit-ups... couldn't do a 'flat knee' sit-up... result of short tendons from polio). He was not popular with the DI's... and his poor kid joined, came to SD instead of PI... as a six-month Reserve... and made the crud list at hygiene... and was in platoon 310 (bldg. 310 was the nut unit)... His DI's got tired of other DI's asking them to point out 'Averill's kid'. The Hawaiian/Samoan crew that ran the pool kinda forgot to turn down the chlorinator one night... word was the Col was near-blind by noon... ah, yes... those were the days!
Lost and Found
I am Master Gunnery Sergeant Harold T. Freas, Sr. and I would very much like to hear from those with whom I served at the following stations:
Supply School, MCB Camp Lejeune, April 1948 to end of the year.
H.Q.M.C. from January 1949 to March 1949.
MCB Camp Lejeune from March 1949 to September 1951.
Quantico, VA from September 1951 to November 1951.
H.Q.M.C. from November 1951 to December 1951.
M.C.R.S. Seattle, Wash. from February 1952 to March 1953.
MCAS, El Toro, Calif. from March 1953 to June 1953.
MAG-12, 1stMAW at K-6 from 1Jul53 to 12Aug54.
Eastern Pay Area at Henderson Hall, VA, from 26Aug54 to 4Aug57.
Marine Air Reserve, NAS, Anacostia, D.C. from 5Aug57 to 4Aug60.
I have never been so fortunate as to locate anyone with whom I served at any of these locations and would like very much to do so.
The old, real old, real, real old (84) Master Gunny.
MGySgt Harold T. Freas, Sr.
The one thing the Marine Corps taught me was to never ever volunteer for anything.
Dave Baker, Cpl. E-4, 1830xxx
Hey Sgt. Grit,
Speaking of Quantico, boy did our "short timers calendar" take a hit with the 7-day war in 6/67. So glad it was over so quick. Speaking of the calendar, it was a naked woman, prone position leaning on her elbows. It began at 30 days and ended with day 2 & 1 her n-pples. Any clue to where I might find one? Memories have become quite valuable as the years pass. Thanks for any help available. Semper Fi.
D.O.S 6-63/ 6-67 Nam, 65/66
I note that soldiers wear shirts that proclaim "Army Strong". Obviously, no such adjectives are required on a shirt that simply says, "Marine".
The Marine Detachments of the Navy fighting ships were usually assigned to one of the ships guns during General Quarters. For the two years in which I was a part of the Marine Communication Detachment on the USS Pocono AGC-16, our GQ was in the radio room, 5 decks up from the main deck. The only deck higher than ours was the radar shack. We only had one GQ that was not a drill about 0200 in the Atlantic ocean when somehow one of the ship's life rafts caught fire.
Sgt J.T. McAniff, 1964 - 1972
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."
--Thomas Paine, 1776
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a MARINE CORPS for the next 500 years."
--James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy
"Come on, you sons of b-tches! Do you want to live forever?"
--GySgt. Daniel Daly, USMC
"We're not retreating, H-ll! We're just attacking in different direction!"
--Gen. Oliver Smith, USMC
"The American Marine will march down the barrell of an enemy rifle for you. It continually has amazed me over the years just how good the individual Marine can be."
--Captain Paul Goodwin, USMC, No Shining Armor, 1992
"Keep Your Interval!"
"Standing by to stand by."
"Let no boys ghost say if they had only done their job."