Our Headquarters Company, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division held our 5th reunion the last weekend of April in Washington DC. We have been "gathering" every other year to renew old friendships, and enjoy a few days of awesome fellowship. We have found that using your reunion posting board has actually been helpful with locating men from our company's "tour of duty" in Vietnam. Each time we have gathered your company has shipped us many items from your shop to present to our men, and we wanted to say a special "thank you" for you and your staff's continued service to Marines. See attached photo taken at Iwo Jima Memorial.
I, like so many others, look forward to receiving your weekly newsletter but would like to remind your readers that your company goes far beyond selling great Marine Corps items. Your website has established links to Marine Veteran groups and other helpful resources to Marine Veterans. You have a business model and a staff that you can take much pride in.
I happened to be researching for a book to read this week when I came across one that has turned out to be one of the best books I have read this year. I also think, it will have the same effect on those Marines who are faithful readers of Sgt. Grit's newsletter. The title is, "Voices of the Pacific". Untold Stories from the Marine Heroes of World War II" By Adam Makos. You can find this book at the Barnes and Noble Book Store or on line.
As I read along I have found myself recalling my own ten year experiences from my enlistment into the Corps, the endless training, combat, and afterwards. The years between myself and these men seems to disappear into common experiences. I think any Marine will be able to relate to these grunts. These are the guys who served with those who have already written down their personal stories, and have been read by most of us. They fill-in the blanks with their memoirs of that moment when Eugene Sledge first went into combat on Peleliu. I find that their honesty in telling their part of what really happened was helpful in understanding the common bond we have. The name of the conflict changes, but the reason we "step-up" to it doesn't. "Good book!"
To all of those who thought one day..."I think I'll go talk to the Marine Recruiter." Semper Fi (until we die).
Robert H. Bliss
Service Number 2488799
Being stationed in San Diego for nearly a year sounds like a fantastic duty, but remember, this was the mid-Sixties. The beautiful Calif. college girls were mostly against the war, and therefore, against us Marines. As for the "nice" non-college girls, Marines had a certain REP, especially after so many of us filled the city buses with vomit coming back from TJ.
Sam Boland, a friend from my Ground Radio Repair class, and I solved the problem. We joined the La Jolla Methodist Church. We participated in the G-Rated young adult functions, and were youth counselors which meant beach parties, camp outs, and surfing. Sam, who looked like a TV cowboy, did much better than I did but we both got dates with the "nice" girls out of it. I did date a pretty blonde from La Jolla and a cute redhead from Ocean Beach.
I thought that if you were honest and tried hard to be a Good Marine, you would be rewarded? Too many sh-t birds at Cherry Point to rain on my parade? I was working 4 to 12 (night shift, got a late sleeper sign, and was excused from Barracks detail in morning clean-up). All the sh-t birds bolted before they did assigned tasks. I was harassed by the Barracks' NCO to get up and clean the squad-bay alone (usually the minimum of 6 or 7 guys pitched in). I went to First Sergeant to complain. Top told the barracks' NCO to get people to do their assigned tasks or the Sgt would be sweeping the runway at Da Nang? The Sgt. was p-ssed and my sh-t bird barracks mates were p-ssed too, but who said that the Marines were fair?
Only Gary stood by me. He called the Southerners a bunch of Syrupy- Drawling-Whiny-Motha F-ckers! Gary and I loved nothing better. With Pat (the Boston Pea Brained, Bluto type from Popeye) and crazy Ski (the Polish Prince of Williamsburgh) challenged the whole squad bay lunch time for a good old fashioned free-or-all. Twenty guys beating the sh-t out of each other to let off steam lunch time. Then we jumped into the back of Pat's 6X6 truck, and were driven back to work.
Mail call and muster were a rip. At muster the Gunny (Gunny Moore from Tenn., over 6-feet tall, and a big bruiser) One day the Captain was addressing us and the Gunny noticed one sh-t bird was missing. He interrupted the Capt., and told the him that one guy was missing. He then asked me to go to the sh-t-house and tell Pvt. Numbnuts to stop reading his letter from home and return to formation?
When I was a rookie MARINE back in 1985, I visited my mom at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Glen Burnie, Maryland where she worked. Everyone was giving me the once over since I was wearing my blues. My mom then introduced me to a few of her friends and then an older gentleman came up and introduced himself to me. He told me he was a MARINE on Iwo Jima, and I was told he just received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recently some 40 years after the battle. As he was looking over my uniform he commented, "great job MARINE you sure got that brass shining". Well of course I told him the truth and explained to him that they were anodized, and all you had to do was give them a quick wipe to make them shine bright. He paused for a second and then said, "wow... we didn't have that when I was in." I just kind of nodded my head as he continued to look me over. After a few awkward seconds he blurted out, "oh well... at least you got those shoes shining!"
Well... another explanation followed that comment.
My Father's favorite saying was "if you're not careful, you'll learn something every day", based on that, the 12-weeks of Boot Camp was the steepest learning curve of a lifetime! Ddick brought up the use of the stacking swivel, and also being grabbed by the stacking swivel. We had learned how to use the stacking swivel on our M1's the first week after they were issued in Boot Camp.
One morning at MCRD San Diego, we were cleaning the hut prior to going to chow. I approached the open hatch just as the Drill Instructor strode up and I turned to call the hut to attention. I had failed to hear him say "as you were" and even if I had I didn't know what it meant at the time. We were required to button the top button of our utility jackets, and like lightning he grabbed my collar and rotated the knuckle of his right index finger into my windpipe. He began bouncing my head off of the open hatch cover and screaming, "You piece of sh-t maggot, don't you know what "as you were means"? I couldn't answer, h-ll, I couldn't even breathe, and he only stopped when his hand got tired. Then he walked away as fast as he had arrived. Everyone in the hut was staring at me open mouthed, they had all learned a valuable lesson that I had paid for. Later when I heard the term "grabbed by the stacking swivel" I knew exactly what it meant!
Bit Dit It
In response to the 'old' DI (Do'ers-By'ers), apparently the Corps and Submarine School gave the same 'exam'.
I took the psych evaluation in 1962 for submarine school, and I do remember the first page had a question, draw a person, and the second page, now draw a person of the opposite s-x. That was one to make a 'young Sailor' panic especially when it comes to Submarines... do they think you are obsessed with men or do you not like women... guess it was one of those questions designed to make you think... the 'exam' also asked the same question two different ways about 50 questions apart, and one of the scoring techniques was to see if you answered the same.
I used to 'brag' that I knew I was sane because I had 'passed' that exam. BUT, the older I got, the more I realized that those tests weren't designed to test your sanity, they were to see if you were crazy enough to 'lock yourself in a tube and allow them to sink it', jump from a perfectly sound airplane, swim miles in full gear etc.... because, surely no SANE person would willingly do either... also to add to my 'insanity' I copied Morse Code at very high speeds. I copied code for many-a-year, and it didn't bother me a bit dit it? dit it? dit it?
George O'Connell RM2
That poster Marine is Rick Kowalker, Sgt, and Melody, 1st Sgt. Part of MCL Hardware City Detachment #781. Rick is a Vietnam Veteran, having never taken care of a horse before, who dedicated himself to perform 500 Military Funeral Honor ceremonies [mostly Marine Veterans], and to work through those issues that many combat Vietnam Veterans have. He now stands at about 525 ceremonies, is still going, is partially subsidized by MCL HCD #781 Wakes & Funeral Detail, and the Connecticut National Guard [horses eat a lot of hay!]. Rick resides in Cromwell, CT.
After each MFH firing, we give Rick one spent casing [M1 Garands], his way of keeping count. I and about 30 other detail members are proud to serve with him. As to Melody, talk about training, she has never added to any ceremony by producing SNCO apples! She is 28.
Ray Burrington CPL '68-'70
Pogue [Computers] 250----
MCL HCD #781, and member Wakes & Funeral Detail
To Be 17 Again
As for a response to the currently popular "Thank you for your service," I usually respond, "It was my pleasure. I'd do it again, but I get to be 17 again."
Re: Volley Ball
When I was stationed at Ft. Bliss going through HAWK C.W. Radar school, we played a lot of volleyball and the rules were, there were no rules. I think, for want of a better name, we called it "street rules". At my next duty station, MCAS Cherry Point, I signed up to play on a volleyball team and found out there are rules to the game. Bummer. What a letdown. That takes all the fun out of it.
"I remember in Boot Camp, Plt 369 in March '66; a couple recruits with size 13 feet, were issued pairs of roughed out boots from a former era of the Marine Corps. Cpl LeRoy Townsend".
Not so far in the past, Cpl Townsend. Those were standard issue in 1962. Wore like iron. Hoping to get some "jungle boots". I surveyed both pair of boots before I left VN in Aug. '66. I got one pair of the "roughed out" boots like I had been issued in boot camp, and the other pair was those smooth "Army" boots. Yuck.
I keep all the Sgt. Grits catalogs I get, and when some time has passed and I remember it, I drop them at the local VA Clinic.
Thank you for everything you do to support the Marine Corps community.
89 Years Young
There are some of us left that were part of WWII, I spent two and a half years in the Pacific starting on Guadalcanal, I am 89 years young.
Stanley C. "Jack" Johnston
Vietnam Combat Vet
Re: GSH's post on his having a problem with people who served during Vietnam calling themselves "Vietnam Veterans" vice "Vietnam Era Veterans." I understand where he's coming from. I missed 'Nam by 3 years, and due to being medically retired, missed the first Gulf War by a matter of months. I don't call myself much of anything, but I am proud to have served in our beloved Corps.
Now my dad, that's a bit different. He flew combat missions through WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. In 'Nam, he flew a B-52 and was stationed at Anderson AFB, Guam. I know, because I was there as a kid. So, technically speaking, he's a WWII Vet, Korean "Police Action" Vet, and a Vietnam Vet. My brother, who is 10 years older than me, was sent to Thailand when he enlisted. Like most military servicemen, he didn't get a choice of where to be stationed. I've never heard him say he was a Vietnam Vet, though I have to admit that's always been the way I thought about it, just because of the reason stated previously. Maybe "Vietnam Combat Vet" vice "Vietnam Vet" or, like GSH stated, "Vietnam Era Vet." I guess it depends on what the other Vietnam Vets feel is what counts. But, let me point out that like in all wars there were men (and women) stationed in Vietnam who never saw combat. But, they are still called "Vietnam Vets" due to their location. Myself, I consider anyone who served during a war e.g., WWII, Korea, Vietnam or Iraq/Afghanistan a like... a Veteran. Like I said, and which W.E.B. Griffin continuously states in his book series "The Corps", Marines are given an order, say "Aye, aye, Sir," and carry it out. That includes where they are ordered to, obviously.
Since I'm a "Cold War Vet" (God, I hate that moniker, and I NEVER use it), I don't feel I have the right to decide this type of issue. Really, it's up to the 'Nam Vets like you, Sgt Grit. On a side note, just got a new Jeep and ordered a cr-p-load of stickers and a license plate frame from Sgt Grit for it. Thanks for the newsletter, Bro. Like all Marines, I love it!
J. A. Howerton II
SSgt USMC (Ret)
Check out our Auto Accessories at:
Pointing His Swagger Stick
Re: Norm Spilleth comments last week (5-9-13) concerning the stacking swivels on the M1 rifle brought back a couple of memories for me.
While in boot camp at MCRDSD in 1958, we had our M1 field stripped on our footlockers cleaning them. The DI was walking around and pointed his swagger stick at a part of your M1, and we boots had better know the name of that part. When the DI got to the recruit next to me he pointed to the stacking swivel and the recruit was trying to remember its name as the DI was yelling at him. I was holding my operating rod and began pointing to my name on my utility shirt with it to help the recruit remember the name "STACKING" swivel. The DI saw me doing this and really began screaming at me. Well that was 55 years ago, and all I remember now was the DI relating, "STACK" what the h-ll do you think you are doing, and I had to do push-ups.
When I reported in to my first duty station, D-1-9, Camp Pendleton and began storing away my gear, I was told to get my azs over to supply and bring back a "stacking swivel" for the 106 recoilless rifle. When I returned from supply empty handed everyone had a good laugh at that one, including me. Remembering the good times.
USMC... Once and Always
An Official Log
During the Cuban Blockade, HMM-261 and Embark Infantry Marines were aboard the USS Thetis Bay LPH-6 along with Army Civil Affairs and a Psychological Warfare Company from somewhere in Ohio. Our pilots quickly managed to get those Army Officers to volunteer to take over the "Mail Buoy Watch" on the exposed forecastle so that we would not accidentally pass by a "Mail Buoy" and miss getting our US Mail, and posting our outgoing mail. Binoculars and a ship's voice powered talk system was provided to them for this 24 hour a day watch, along with an official log they were to maintain. They actually stood this watch religiously for well over a week before one of the senior Navy Officers on the ship let the cat out of the bag. We really had enjoyed sneaking up to the forward edge of the flight deck and looking down when they formally changed their watch!
There was a Specialist 4 who was a really good guy, but so smart that he had no common sense. So one day some of our enlisted guys produced a box with a hole bored in one end which we put down on the flight deck and took turns gazing through the hole and "oohing and awing" at the marvelous site of what was inside the box. Sure enough over wandered our Specialist 4 who asked what we were looking at, and we told him it was a sea bat with a great supporting story about how rare they were and how lucky we were to have captured it. Sure enough he got down and looked and promptly got paddled with a paddle. He jumped up and expressed his dislike of that. Then he got down again and of course got paddled again. This continued until his 4th time getting down to look at it. The Squadron Metal Shop Chief SSgt Charlie Brown (a really big and strong Marine) got highly irritated at the stupidity of this poor Specialist, and he drop kicked the poor Doldier end over end down the flight deck all the while using some of the finest staff NCO colorful language one ever heard! After that we all decided that the poor Soldiers had, had enough of our Marine humor and we took pretty good care of them for the rest of the time we were together.
Incidentally, unlike when Gen Franks took Baghdad and declared victory, and didn't do another d-mn thing... which lost that entire country when we had it in the palm of our hand, those Army guys with us down on the Cuban Crisis had huge lists of names of Cuban Government Officials, Military officers and enlisted, Police Officers and Public Works people who they daily sat in the mess hall vetting. They crossed out the ones to be purged and those not lined out were to be kept on in the new government which this unit was prepared to institute once we had taken the Island. Just as we did in Japan and Germany after WWII. Seems the State Department and the Army have very short memories about how to do things. I seem to recall in the old Landing Party Manual (LPM) that is said, once we seized a government, city, or port... it was the responsibility of the senior Marine or Navy Officer present to establish a functioning government and police force.
He Turned And Walked Away
Hi Sgt Grit,
I was not sent to Vietnam, but I did everything possible to go. As my story goes, 'you're not going to believe this sh-t'. I volunteered for Vietnamese Language School at DLIWC, graduated 6th in my class, punched my PLT Commander, 2nd Lt Bill Saunders, received a Letter of Appreciation from him and was promoted to L/Cpl, stopped in Okinawa where I was given the job of checking out a jeep every morning and returning it every night. Three weeks later I was greeted by MPs while checking my jeep back into the motor pool at Camp Hansen. I was told I would do 20 years at Portsmouth Naval Prison if I get caught driving drunk and reckless. I told them that I only checked out the jeep and check it back in, that the Battalion CO and XO drive the jeep. I was told I was responsible for that jeep and no one else was allowed to drive my jeep. I came back to the battalion area and chewed out both the CO & XO. I was furious. 1st SGT told me I just earned a bust to Private and a one way ticket to NAM because I will go to a GRUNT company. I told him "Fine, I won't have to put in any more Affirmative Action Requests for combat duty to NAM." What happened? I get transferred to Camp Mctereous and immediately get promoted to Cpl. I started back in with my AA requests for NAM. I was placed with Motor T and became Col Wilson L. Cook's driver and Gen Robert E. Barrows part time driver, and his wife's chief cook and bottle washer. If the General's wife had a problem, I was called.
Four months after being promoted to CPL, I was promoted to Sgt. The promotion board sent a letter to my section that I should of been put up for a meritorious promotion. I guess I was the only candidate who knew what a 'listerbag' was, and I could give them a CMH awardee. Am I combat Marine? You can bet the sh-t in your mess kit, I am. I would joke with Marines at the American Legion, "Yes you went to NAM, but I have more hand to hand combat experience than all of you put together." My enemy wasn't the NVA. My enemies were in every duty station and every city I was in. I did not grow a beard and grow my hair long after I received my discharge like most of the guys I knew that served in the military. I took offense when I was called a 'baby killer'. When I got back from Oki and attempted to check in at Lejeune, I was put in charge of 260 some odd Marines, and loaded them into Cattlecars. We made it up to Washington, DC for the May 1971 anti-war rally. No, I did not see Forest Gump make his speech, but I had bricks, rocks, broken glass, cigarette butts thrown into my face. We did not have shields, but we had empty M-16s'. I never asked to be thanked for my service, but I refused to be disrespected for my service. Am I that tough that I took on up to 10 people in a fight? I didn't do anything that any other Marine couldn't have done. One fallacy civilians had was long hair. I learned quickly that when you control the head, you control the fight. All Marines are combat Marines.
Sgt AJ Manos, inactive reserve.
PS: When I tried to volunteer for IRAQ, the Army Recruiter said, "You Marines are something else. There have been over 1,000 of you who tried volunteering for combat." I asked how many Army Vets wanted back in? He turned and walked away.
They Couldn't Find Me
To J. Williams,
Former Cadet, ROTC USAFR Univ of CT... I had it tough in my Air Force basic training! I was in a "special ROTC program", Jr/Sr years only, at UCONN. Supposedly, for high potential university students [little did they know].
Basic training was at Gunter AFB [base only active for AF Dental Hygienist School] across town from Maxwell AFB [Montgomery, AL, and the War College... only possible dating was at their O-club pool [dependents were in the right age group]. We didn't get weekends off until the 2nd week! I did have breakfast one morning with a Asst. Sec of Defense, a 2-star and a 3-star... all cordially asking how our basic training was going. There were 21 vehicles with flags from the Pentagon that day reviewing our elite program. One life experience was while on OD duty, and discovering what a bouncing car in the enlisted parking lot was all about. I was armed with a billy club and survived the disturbed parties commentary. And, sadly, during those weekends off, we had to use our dates' vehicles to go to Selma AFB O-club 40 miles away for the bands, Maxwell O-club had violins and Generals up the kazoo.
Following our weekly muster and Air Science classes at UCONN, also earning funds as an Honor Physics Homework Corrector, I would deliver my results to the Physics Professor â€“ in uniform. This particular professor was one of 400 original "Ban the Bomb" signers in the New York Times. We had many philosophical discussions â€“ luckily, I was paid by the university.
However, come April of my 8th semester, a professor cancelled a Elec Engr lab course; suddenly, I wasn't going to graduate on time. But my commissioning was not going to be held up. So rather than becoming an engineer posted to NASA, I was likely to be in charge of an air conditioner... so I resigned. After the appropriate 30-sec wait time, I was drafted into the Army, but was sworn into the Marines twice [Recruiters has trouble with paperwork]. I then went to a lovely Paradise Island in SC, where a 4 ft. tall LT scared the living cr-p out of me! Upon reading the admin files, I was thoroughly honored and became the platoon scribe, a human volleyball used for office door bouncing, and enjoyed "1-day motivation platoon" as a reward, and earned my stripe.
During the next 3 mos, while vacationing in said SC hot spot, the same FBI agent visited my father 4 times â€“ background checks for AF Officer, Marine recruit, Marine Officer [I passed the reading test, but declined due to the additional service time add-ons], and Army draft dodger â€“ they couldn't find me!
Ray Burrington Cpl USMC '68-'70 250----
Also E-1 USAFR '66-'68, Cadet Major UCONN
I remember Art Thurston from Charleston, West Virginia (Charlie West by God in his words) who was an excellent pool shooter and BS artist. He was about 5'-6" and weighed about 140 lbs. We were stationed on Okinawa residing at the Sukiran Army barracks in 1961. One day we, H&S company, challenged a grunt company to a football game. Things were going well until Art went out for a pass and was clobbered by a very large Sergeant. He suffered some broken shoulder bones. He ended up in the Army hospital with a cast from neck to waist, and completely surrounding his upper body. Myself and another Marine visited him on the third floor of the hospital a few days later. Art was chomping at the bit to get out on the town and to be with a local bar girl he had been seeing. Problem was, he was not allowed out of the hospital, and he could only visit the gedunk and had no civilian clothes. He persuaded us to come back after 10:00PM with some civilian clothes, sneak up the fire escape, and he would open the door. We honored his request, after all what are Marine buddies for if not to look out after one another.
I recall that Art had to rip the civilian shirt in order to get it over the huge cast. Into town we went and downed a good amount of cheap alcohol. Anyone who has spent time in the far east can appreciate the lack of sound proofing in the back rooms where one can nestle with a female. Art was in the next room and I could hear everything going on including the fact that Art's cast was proving to be a major obstacle in his romantic endeavors. Finally, it was getting towards midnight curfew and we implored Art to return to base with us. He refused and we left him behind to fend for himself. There is a point at which a Marine buddy just can't reason with another Marine.
A few days later, Art was given Captain's Mast or Office hours (not sure which) arranged for by the First Sergeant who seemed to have it in for Art. The charge was being AWOL. The story goes that as the Captain was about to mete out punishment, Art asked to make a statement. He told the Captain that if punishment were meted out by the Captain, it would result in "double jeopardy". The Captain asked what the h-ll was he talking about? Art explained that the hospital had punished him by restricting him to the third floor of the hospital, and his gedunk privileges revoked until released from the hospital. The Captain looked at the First Sergeant and asked if this were true. He responded with a "yes sir". The Captain dismissed Art and nothing further happened. The First Sergeant wasn't too happy, but that was Art.
Dan Suter, L/CPL
How To Load A Machine Gun
I really enjoyed reading Scott McClellan's description of Qui Nhon. I was there when his group arrived, working as a civilian technical representative on the Army's tropospheric-scatter radio system. I can't tell you how happy the other Veteran Marine tech rep and I were to see the Marines arrive. Up until then, we were "guarded" by an Army contingent who kept getting pulled off for other duties, leaving the only security to the Army technicians and a handful of civilians. When my fellow Marine and I had to show these guys how to load a machine gun (we both had only familiarization training with them, but the Army troops had never even seen one!), we began looking forward to the arrival of the Marines who were rumored to be on their way.
While I was at Qui Nhon, my old Marine unit was at Da Nang, and my nephew was there a few months later, with another unit. Years later we spent many-a-hour harassing Army Veterans who knew of those units.
So, to Scott, "Thanks, Marine, we were really glad to see you show up."
Mike Shaw, Corporal of Marines
USMC 1958 â€“ 1962
1683XXX and still feeling like a boot from time to time.
Dear Sgt. Grit,
Your comments about "PC" and filters much appreciated. Filters are often silliness on stilts. Some military websites have monitors who do what they are supposed to... but there are a few who leave it all to the filters. The results? Writing about an Australian with whom I served with... his first name, "Mick"... the filter censored it to "XXXX"... writing about Vietnam, the name "Ho Chi Minh" was censored to "XX Chi Minh..."
When they sent us home on leave from BITS Battalion in early 1969 they reminded us that when we were at the family table, we could ask someone to pass the butter without describing it. But we must never censor our Marine culture and history. "Retreat XXXX, we just got here..." doesn't cut it...
James F. Owings
I saw your note on editing. Having edited newsletters in my job for 30 years, including a PhD who insisted on using the non-word "irregardless," you will never please those with fragile egos. Everyone needs an editor. Since I put out short books, I wish I had better editing. Despite proofing the last one six times, there was still a bad typo, where I used the wrong character's name. Sigh. So you could just refund their subscription fee.
Robert A. Hall
I have a book that contains the biographies of many Marines - some well-known, others not so well-known. Can't think of the title or the "author". The book is in storage in California, we're living in England.
While the content is fairly interesting, although I can't vouch for its accuracy, the book contains some kind of error on - literally - every page. Errors like "Paris" Island, errors of spelling, errors of syntax, etc. Bottom line: it's a book that should have been a lot better, and it wasn't.
It's so appalling that I sent an email to the publisher (this is several years ago) asking why no one had proof-read this thing. In my opinion, the book is a stain on the Corps' reputation. If you can't even spell, why the f-ck should I take your content seriously?
Got a response from the "author", who tried to tell me he was a retired Marine MSgt and that "Paris" Island was the original spelling of the place, etc. Obviously one of these dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks-and-proud-of-it types who thinks that being a dumbsh-t turns him into a colorful frontier character.
If there's anything I despise more than a moron, it's a moron who thinks he can BS me. In my opinion, this "author" is the mentality you're dealing with. Thought you'd like to know.
Reading your weekly column has become a Thursday-morning "habit" for me.
At about "0-dark-30", I grab a cup of coffee, boot up the PC, and spend some time reminding myself about the special brotherhood that is the Corps.
Putting together all of the information that you receive and editing it into a readable format every week takes a lot of effort, plus some serious time and dedication.
Anyone who cannot see that and appreciate it for what it is, and who has nothing better to do than to "nit-pick" the editing of the text, obviously needs to tighten-up his jock strap and get a life! (Does the term "candy azs" mean anything to you?)
Thanks for the work that "SGT GRIT" does - not only on the column every week, but also (and more importantly) for our wounded Marines.
Henry A. Nocella
(A proud graduate of MCRD Parris Island, SC, in July of 1968 - not quite as lean, not quite as mean, but ALWAYS a Marine!)
The days seemed to get longer as my year's tour of duty was coming to an end. With only three weeks to go, a day seemed to last forever. I had just taken off my radio pack and it felt good to sit down and rest, because there had been no sleep the night before and no opportunity to eat since then either. For the first time in a long while I was looking forward to a C-ration meal. Just as I began to devour my canned meal, I heard: "Bravo 1, Bravo 1, this is Bravo, Over."
"What now I thought... can't they leave me alone for a minute?" As the Bravo 1 Radio Operator I had answered that call a few thousand times during my tour of duty. This time I had, had enough "Call back later!" I yelled at the radio.
"Bravo 1, Bravo 1, this is Bravo Over."
"Better answer that" the Lieutenant said to me.
"Yes, Sir!" I said with a mouth full of beans and franks.
"Bravo, Bravo, this is Bravo 1 Over" I said.
"Roger, Bravo 1. I have a spot report for Romeo Oscar Character Hotel, Can you copy? Over."
"Wait one, Bravo," I said into the receiver. What have I done now I thought. I was the Romeo Oscar Character Hotel. The Romeo Oscar stood for radio operator and the Hotel for Hiers. It's rare that a spot report was for an individual. They were usually used to sending information about supplies or troop movements. The last time I received my own spot report had been a couple of months ago. That one was from the Chaplain reading me the riot act for having my Lieutenant tell him I needed to go to Hawaii to visit my wife on R&R. When he found out that I wasn't married, I found out that he couldn't take a joke. But we had been out in the bush now for such a long time that I hadn't had an opportunity to cause any additional misunderstandings.
"Bravo, Bravo, Bravo 1, send it" I said.
"Roger Bravo 1, It's from the Red Cross. Your brother has been injured in a sledding accident. Do you request emergency leave? Over."
"Wait one, Bravo" I had to think what he had just said, my brother injured in a sledding accident. It had been a long day, but I knew I must of heard him correctly. But I better make sure.
"Bravo, Bravo, Bravo 1, send message again. Over."
"Roger, Bravo 1, I say again. It's from the Red Cross. Your brother has been injured in a sledding accident. Do you request emergency leave? Over."
Twenty years ago (as a guest of Warner Brothers Studios) I traveled to Hollywood, California. Thirty other Vietnam Veterans and myself, representing a wide variety of war experiences, were invited to record our personal Vietnam experiences on camera. The filmed interviews were used in an episode of the television series China Beach.
Reporting about that episode USA Today wrote: "Meshing the Witness", technique of Reds with the true life Vietnam testimonials of HBO's award-winning Letters Home From Vietnam, ABC's China Beach taped interviews the last two weekends with about 35 Vietnam Veterans, women and men, to be used in the March 1 episode. Their true, harrowing-to-amusing anecdotes will be intercut with scenes of previous Beach episodes mirroring the memories."
On hand for the filming were Veterans from all over the United States who had varying wartime occupations such as nurses, Red Cross, volunteers, journalists, Corpsmen, medics, and even a singing group who were on a commercial bar tour during the Vietnam War.
I was there representing the United States Marine Corps to provide a "grunt's" prospective of the war and the recreational facility at China Beach. The producers of the show wanted to know how people serving in the field felt when brought back into a rear area.
Prior to going in front of the cameras I spent some time with the make-up man having my face done. When he was finished they were ready for me to take my seat in front of the cameras. As I sat there, the production crew adjusted the lighting and sound equipment, being very careful that everything was just right. Sitting to my front and out of the camera angle was my interviewer, the show's Executive producer and Co-creator, John Sacret Young. He is the award-winning screenwriter of "Testament" and "A Rumor of War". When the crew was satisfied that everything was ready to shoot, the lights in the room darkened and just two bright lights were left on, shining on my face. The twenty or so people in the room fell silent as Mr. Young said, "Roll cameras." Having said that, his questioning of me began.
As the interview continued along he began asking questions that I wasn't prepared to answer.
Young: "What was it like when you left Vietnam?" The cameras were rolling, lights were shining in my eyes, and somewhere from the back of my brain a voice yelled, "Don't answer!"
Me: "A little different than most I guess, because I came home on emergency leave."
Young: "What was your reception like?" While I took a deep breath, the voice in the back of my head was screaming, "Move on, avoid the question, you can't answer". My body temperature was rising, the cameras were still rolling, and I had no place to hide. I was approaching memory overload as I fought hard to keep my tears from falling on prime time television. Slowly I found the strength to answer.
Me: "I'm not quite sure how to answer that question. If you're asking me if I was spat upon when I arrived home, the answer is no."
Young: "What I'm trying to discover is what you felt when you went home." For twenty years I had avoided talking about how I felt when I arrived home. Now in front of a room of people I didn't know I was about to answer, despite the voice in my head warning against it.
Me: "My feelings were a mix of joy, guilt and sorrow. I was coming home on emergency leave because the Red Cross had notified the Marine Corps that my older brother Joe had been seriously injured in a sledding accident. I knew I shouldn't feel happy to be leaving Vietnam early because of my brother's injuries, but I couldn't help myself. I not only felt guilty for those feelings, but also for leaving my friend and platoon commander to run the platoon by himself - not knowing if he was ready."
Young: "Please explain emergency leave?"
Me: "When you come home on emergency leave, you are given a top priority status which allows you to bump even a General from a flight if you need his seat."
Young: "Then what happened?" When he asked that question he unwittingly stepped on an emotional land mine which I had tried to keep buried for the last twenty years.
Me: "Flying out of DaNang to Okinawa was the first stop on my journey home. From Okinawa I called my parents to find out how my brother was doing. My father had a hard time talking to me, so he said, "Your brother Joe wants to talk to you." All right, I thought, he can't be hurt too badly if he can come to the phone. I wonder if I can make it all the way home before the military realizes its mistake and turns me around and sends me back to the Nam.
When my brother came on the phone I was really excited. "Joe, guess what? I'm about to pull off my biggest scam ever. I'm coming home to see you and you sound O.K. to me. This is the greatest mix-up ever. When my brother could get a word in he said, "Jeff, Jeff, slow down, it was our brother Jerry who was injured. He was sledding down a hill and slid in front of an on-coming truck. He died in the hospital a couple of hours later."
That's how the war in Vietnam ended for me not with a parade or a happy homecoming, but with a visit to a younger brother's grave. The Marine Corps had prepared me to face the prospect of death in Vietnam. No one can be prepared to face the death of a close relative or friend. I had to face both with the death of my brother.
Young: Whispered, "Cut".
Caught in the emotional shrapnel of my interview were not only John Sacret Young and myself, but I could see the rest of the people in the room needed time to recover from a Veteran bringing out one of his war stories.
B Co. 1/26 Marines
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #5, #1, (JAN., 2015)
Well, today is Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24th, 2011) and not the date for the planned release of this issue of the FLIGHT LINE. (see after the Vol #) So while the wife's in the kitchen cooking, I was just sitting here at the computer working on some drawings of the old H-37 (the deuce). I'm getting ready to take and get some art work done to put on a "T" shirt. So, I was going thru some of the pictures and drawings that I have, looking for a good frontal view, picture or a drawing. But, I'm only finding out that almost every thing I have shows the aircraft always sitting so that it's off center. Now, I've got to tell you that makes it hard to find something that will symmetrically fit on either the front or the back of a shirt. So what I did to help solve the problem was to cut a real good drawing in-half and then mated the two half's with my copy machine.
While all this was going on "The Other Half" of my mind was thinking about how THANKFUL and fortunate I was to be able to be doing this, and to be here on this great earth. My thoughts were directed towards the unfortunate and elderly. Now, I'm no spring chicken either, but my major heart attack - 2 years ago - has really inspired me to rethink some of the things that are more important then they were before that, unplanned event. But, THANK God for the wife that I have because she has been by my side thru this life altering unexpected episode.
I'm going to skip around here and return to the last paragraph on Vol. #4, #12, where we were talking about the advantages of sitting in the left seat, and working over the collective. I want to add that the use of helicopters when logging in many parts of the country and South America has prompted many pilots in the logging industry to be more comfortable on that side of the cockpit then on the the other. I might add here also that when logging they normally fly using a 300 foot cable and sling. That's a long way down there when your lifting logs out of a bunch of trees that are almost that tall also. Now, that plus being faced with a short turn around time is something to watch, and appreciate. Especially, the skill and endurance required to perform that task trip after trip, all day long, or at least till the cocktail hour. No wonder, they make in excess of $50.00 an hour. Plus, the mechanics can almost name there price for keeping the Helos in perfect flying condition. I won't say what I made when I was maintaining logging helicopters. But, I did very well. But, that was also a long time ago. I'm sure that things have changed somewhat over the years as has the approach to the task at hand, plus the equipment. But, we were free to adopt new ways and adapt to different situations by being creative. I loved it!
Never heard of stripes being 'stamped', much less 'blood stripes', which I gather involves the legs? Do remember chevrons (not 'stripes') being pinned on, but that involved punches to the shoulders, usually by owners of more chevrons, one on each side, followed by a turn and repeat... followed by a handshake... idea was to bring luck and perhaps some sense of permanence for the rank just granted... another term used was 'nailing', and the best part was, the more rank you gained, the fewer there were of those who were entitled to welcome you to higher echelons. The metal chevrons with the pins on the back came along some time after Korea... recall having NCO's in the unit in 1957 who still wore utilities with chevrons stenciled with black ink on the sleeves of their (Herringbone) utilities, and who were not required to acquire the metal/pin type so long as the stenciled utility blouse (ahem... not 'shirt') was serviceable... never did get my GySgt chevrons, although there is a piece of paper dated 6 June 1969... that gave me a date of rank of 1 October 1967... weird times, the VietNam era temporary officer evolution... also recall being quite disappointed, when, having new, two stripe, no rifles chevrons, to be advised by a SNCO that I was still quite a bit shy of being qualified to have a (S)NCO saber. (1958).
Once saw a Chief promotion on a gator freighter... quite a deal, the way the Navy did it... the new Chief was expected to spend his first day in khakis looking like a fool... clothes inside out, cover (cap... they probably called it a cap...) on backwards, two Coke (tm) bottles tied to look like binoculars hanging around his neck, etc... same pay grade as a Gunnery Sergeant... but, can you imagine... just imagine? a new Gunny participating in a drill like that?... NAAAAAH! Neva Hoppen, GI...
'Good morning, men... I am Gunnery Sergeant Frank Clature, your primary instructor for this next period of instruction. Some of you may know my brother, Norman... thas a joke, son. You there in the rear... if you can't stay awake, standup!"
Lost and Found
Sgt Grit, for those who served in Nam Phong Thailand between June 1972 to September 1973 as members of Task Force Delta, you are invited to our Facebook page Veterans of Nam Phong. We currently have 104 members. It is a great opportunity to reconnect with fellow veterans with lots of pictures from the Rose Garden.
MSgt, USMC Retired
Join or view Facebook page at:
Veteran's of Nam Phong
In reply to Ron Sharetts question about Sea Bats. Not only do I remember them, but my children also know of them. I was on the USS Francis Marion in 1965 (H/2/8) Med Cruise when I had Mail Buoy watch, USS Guadalcanal (training exercise). I was asked to get 40 feet of flight line. I have forgotten many of these, but my memory can be refreshed.
HL Young '64/'69, VN '65/'66 '69
In response to SSgt L.K. Reed's question about when service numbers were issued. I enlisted on the delayed entry program in September 1967 and did not report to MCRD PISC until after Christmas. I was given my service number immediately after being sworn in and was told to have it memorized before my report date.
Jay R. Anderson
MSGT Retired 1967-1988 SN: 2391534 MOS: 6391
Platoon 1091, A Company, 1st Battalion
"Marine is ALWAYS capitalized. I don't care what Mr. Webster says or your high school English teacher. The Corps can't be responsible if the rest of the world is wrong on capitalization."
Ha! Even as a poolee back in high school I knew the term "Marine" was capitalized, and corrected the teacher in charge of our yearbook.
Michael A. Thornton
JerryD is quite correct, the first KC-130F's, as we call them today, were initially called GV-1's, and replaced the C-119's. IIRC, they had a service life or around 30 years. Good airplanes.
BTW, Hi Otis!
"The boot camp rejects may go to Paris to sip tea with the elite artistic types. But Marines go to PaRRis Island."
Some also come from Paris, France, to serve in the Corps. And being called a French communist throughout OCS (SSgt Kelly and Gunnery Cutler were our DI.s)!
Proper response when "needled" by other service member. Simply and very solemnly say, "I've always been grateful that I became a Marine". If I had went into any other branch I would have always wondered if I could have made it.
Our God Reigns / Semper Fi
In reference to "hoogie Captain/Gunny," inquiry in the May 3rd newsletter about how to respond when someone says, "thank you for your service." I find it comfortable to reply with "My privilege." That implies many things to those who hear it, and leaves many things understood without being said.
Bob Mulroy MSgt
The best response I've ever gotten when thanking someone for their service was, "Thank you for your patriotism".
Oooohrah Sgt Grit,
Glad to be in formation, standing tall. Kinda on the fence about Joe civilian wear in our gear. I take pride in dollin' up my ol' lady in my t-shirts, or even a cammie blouse, but she spent the last ten months of my enlistment with me, and she knows plenty about the Corps. Ooohrah... my kids also. So I'd have to say if JC wants to sport our gear, please learn a bit about the Marine Corps, and our earned pride. Don't be a sh-tbird.
Also thanks Sgt Grit and Staff... got my package in a timely manner as always. Semper Fi and keep it tight.
Cpl Radtke '85-'89
I totally get what you're saying. I think some folks truly do appreciate what you did, and you should accept their thanks with grace. As many have said before, we Marines, especially when wearing gear we purchased from Sgt. Grit, represent our Marines Corps. So, when someone thanks me for my service, I simply (and honestly) tell them it was an honor and privilege to serve. Maybe they'll think about what you were telling them. Who knows? Keep the faith. Semper Fi, and thank you for your service!
Just read Robert Barnes tribute to the barbers of the Corps and I agree. But, I have one complaint about the barber shops aboard Camp Pendleton back in the 50's & 60's. Each one had a compressed air hose at his station and when he finished with the haircut he would take the hose and blow the cut hair down the back of your shirt which made for an itchy rest of the day. What a relief when they got the clippers with the vacuum attached to it which would s-ck instead of bl-w!
L. H. Marshall, USMC Ret.
"I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you f-ck with me, I'll kill you all."
--Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders
"Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence."
--Joseph Story, 1833
"Anyone who has ever tried to share pizza with roommates knows that Communism cannot ever work."
"Liberty is meaningless if it is only the liberty to agree with those in power."
--Ludwig Von Mises
"H-ll, these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Bagdad ain't
--Marine Major General John F. Kelly
"Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe."
--James Madison, Federalist No. 14, 1787
"Least amphibious of all the Corps' major installations, Two-Niner Trees."
"Every day is a Holiday, Every meal is a Banquet."
"Road Guards Out!"
"Once again, they're from "The D.I.", circa 1957."
"Do you hear me? Yes, sir! I can't hear you! Yes, sir! The Man in the moon can't hear you! Yes, sir!"
God Bless the American Dream!