When I was with 2d Tank Bn at CLNC as a Corpsman, the 2ndLTs had to go to the range to qualify. I was assigned to be the Corpsman. (I was an HM1, E6 at the time). As the Butter Bars were taking their positions, I happened to notice one of the gentlemen using a "revolver" grip on holding the 1911, instead of the standard both hands under hold. I remarked to him that he might find it more comfortable in the long run if he used the under grip. He told me "I am an officer, and I know what I am doing!" (RIGHT!) So, I went back to my position with the RSO. Sure enough, the first round he fired, the slide came back and gouged the h-ll out of the "V" in his left hand. RSO calls... CORPSMAN UP! I cleaned it out thoroughly (ok, maybe a little more thorough that necessary). I told him what my Daddy had told me... "If yer gonna be stupid, ya gotta be tough!" Needless to say, he used the proper hold after that...
HMC(FMF), Unites States Navy/Ret
Greatest Toast Ever
I think on this 10 November, the occasion of the 238th Birthday of our beloved Corps, possibly I am overdoing it a bit... nah, our birthday comes only once a year. So celebrate, yes celebrate, not celibate.
The chap in the first attached photo is me... "richard" taken two days ago.
The second photo is Graduation Day Plt. 344, "Pvt. Richard" on the left, and on the right is John, remember he was from Erie, PA.
Love! No greater love! Today it is worth remembering love... love of our families, our Corps, our country.
On the occasion marking the 203rd Birthday of the US Marine Corps, 1978, onboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. and in the presence of several thousand Marines and their Ladies, General Louis H. Wilson, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, arose to deliver his long awaited address to the troops.
He approached the dais, nodded to the Commanding Generals of the Base, FSSG and the Division. He then proceeded to explain to the captive masses that he would be short on words that night.
Then he turned to his bride, took a glass, and amid absolute DEAD SILENCE, offered this Toast and promptly SAT DOWN!
"The wonderful love of a beautiful maid,
The love of a staunch, true man,
The love of a baby, unafraid,
Have existed since time began.
But the greatest of loves,
The quintessence of loves,
Even greater than that of a mother,
Is the tender, passionate, infinite love,
of one drunken Marine for another."
The WHOOPIN' and HOLLERIN' went on for a good 10 minutes!
This has to be the greatest toast ever offered to our fellow Marines, our Corps, and to love!
Happy Birthday Marines...
Captain Holmes: The Legend
I was in "Running O" at Camp Geiger in 1959. The company was going through Advanced Infantry Training after ITR. We were all reservists completing our six months active duty. Here are some anecdotes of some time there with Captain Holmes.
Every morning we'd get up a little earlier than the other companies and go for a run around the camp with the Captain out front. We'd call out cadence and generally p-ss off the others who were trying to sleep. The NCO's who were assigned to the company never seemed to be happy on these runs. I wonder why. It was said that we ran because Holmes had a company in Korea that couldn't run and he ended up getting his Silver Star when he took out an enemy machine gun with his .45 in Vietnam. Not sure of this, but it certainly sounds like something he would do.
I pulled Duty NCO several times in that company. I'd have to take the company to chow. No "straggle to chow". But the company was salty as h-ll and no mere PFC DNCO could get them to march like PI recruits. So by the time we got to the mess hall, everyone would be out of step and it should have been, "Mob, Stop". One day we got there and a butter bars LT came over and reamed my azs for having such a scraggly outfit. Then he got the company letter and the commanding officer's name. He was going to report me. I was back in the Duty Office when he called and Captain Holmes took the call. You know I was eavesdropping. After listening for a couple minutes, the Captain said something like, now listen Lieutenant, PFC Drugge is one of my best men. You leave him alone. I'm not disciplining him. My company has spirit and so on. The Captain never said a word to me. Needless to say, I loved him! I saw that LT several times after that, PX, whatever. I always saluted smartly. He saluted back with a scowl.
One more quick one. As DNCO, you had to write in the Logbook about chow. Whether or not it was good. One day, a couple of other recruits came over with their food trays and showed me worms in the food. No Sh-t! Well, when we got back, I wrote chow was awful, had worms etc. Little did I know the Captain always read the book. He asked me about it and the next day he came to chow with us, except he had no bars on. Sort of an old busted NCO. He went through the line and that day he also got bad food. He went to a table, put on his bars and then found the Mess Sergeant. Reamed him out, got the LT in charge and reamed him out. Back at the company HQ, he filed a complaint and there were several court martials. Seems they were selling good food for bad to some local "restaurants" in J'ville. Idiots.
RIP Captain G.H. Holmes.
Sgt. Philip Drugge
USMCR 1957 -1968
I was a real "greaser" all through high school. I was always around people that worked on and fixed up cars. After graduation in 1968 I knew I would be drafted, so I went to the Army recruiter and told him of my experiences with mechanics and asked if I joined up with the Army could I get into their mechanical schools. I took some tests that proved I had a very high aptitude for mechanics. He politely informed me that the men returning from Vietnam if they had time left to serve would be given priority as to the training they wanted, and at present the schools I wanted were full and he could not guarantee that I could go straight into one of their programs.
Soooo... I went across the hall to the Marine recruiter and explained my background in auto repair and even showed him my aptitude scores. He was very impressed. Just sign up here... and he would make sure that I would be "green lighted"... Stop laughing... Into a mechanical school of some sort.
Graduation day at MCRD... 0311.
Mr. Robert Dowdy
This summer I was selling some raffle tickets for my local American Legion Post when I met this gentleman that had joined our beloved Marine Corps on 9 December 1941. I remembered seeing him in a Veterans Day parade in 2012, but did not get the chance to chat with him at that time.
His name is Robert Dowdy. He said he had joined the Corps on 9 December 1941. He served with Col. Puller and Sgt. Basilone on Guadalcanal in 1942. At the time I met him I was reading the book, 'Guadalcanal Diary' by Robert Tregaskis. I asked Mr. Dowdy if he would autograph my book for me. He said that he didn't write it. I said I know that Sir, but you were there and I'd be honored if you'd sign my book for me. He did this and I have attached a photo of that here. It is a first edition copy of the book I had just recently purchased from my local library.
On 9 November 2013 he came to be in our Veterans Day Parade. He planned to ride his scooter in it. However, he couldn't get it to work right at first. Finally, he got it going and he became, "his own one man parade" and completed the route. He is 90 years young and he met some more Marines at the end of the parade who had served in the Corps during Vietnam War. He said he felt so much like he was at home with his buddies then. Day before yesterday evening the 12th of November I took him to the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 in Palestine, Texas. He was warmly welcomed by everyone there. I'm attaching some pictures of him with myself, the Marines and the president of the VVA. He told me on the way home that he would like to go again. He really enjoyed himself very much.
First picture - Autograph.
Second picture - Myself and Mr. Robert Dowdy.
Third picture - Myself, Mr. Dowdy, Steve Severn, Dan Alley.
Fourth picture - Allen Ayo Chapter President VVA991, Mr. Dowdy, Dan Alley, Bear Bryant.
Sgt Of Marines
1968 - 1975
More Of A Salt
As always, enjoyed the latest issue of your Newsletter, and I would like to address "I have some questions" presented by James V. Merl:
Yes, James, there have certainly been a lot of changes, and I thought maybe I could "update" you a bit. Although you are more of a "salt" than I am (I served 1962-65, MOS 3371-Cook.)
Re: San Diego - I was privileged to attend my nephew's graduation two years ago (almost 48 years to the day from when I had graduated) and I was able to recognize just about everything there at MCRD, except as you noted, the Quonset huts being gone. The recruits now reside in regular barracks. Other than that it looked very much exactly as I remembered.
Re: Camp Pendleton - Last year at Christmas, my wife and I spent a few days in San Diego. I had said for years that I thought it would be interesting to re-visit Camp Pendleton, and in particular Camp Margarita where I had spent my last year in the Corps. We decided to make the visit, so we drove up to Oceanside (which by the way has changed immensely from my recollections in 1965) and arrived at the main gate, where I explained to the young E-4 at the Guard Shack, that I would like to re-visit the base, and he gladly allowed us entrance (after showing my driver's license and "permanent liberty card" DD-217 which he said he had never seen before). Well, let me tell you, after 47 years, the Base had totally changed... as you mentioned, fast food restaurants all over the place, "shopping centers", base housing areas all over the place (no more living in single wide trailers for the enlisted married couples) just to mention a couple of things. It took me over an hour to find the entrance to Margarita Area, as so much has changed. Margarita is now totally different, as is the rest of the base. Guess it just emphasizes the old saying... "you can never go home".
Re: Messhalls - I had heard that all the messhalls are now run by civilian contractors, so no traditional Marine Cooks, like in our day. While I was visiting Camp Pendleton, I went into the only "messhall" in Margarita Area (there were 3 of them when I was stationed there) and walking in, it was more like a restaurant, than the typical messhalls we are familiar with. (Still don't understand the rationale of the military, in contracting out the messhalls to civilians).
So, your desire to "check into a messhall to see what they were serving" would likely be a big surprise to you! By the way, I wanted to thank you, as a proud Marine Cook, for your kind words about a great meal you remember at San Onofre... We always tried to serve great meals in all the messhalls that I worked in.
So, James, I hope that I answered some of your questions. I don't know where you live now, but if you have the opportunity, you really ought to re-visit MCRD San Diego, and Camp Pendleton... I am sure you would enjoy it.
Patrick C. Verd
Proud to be "One of the Few"
Las Vegas, NV
My Uncle Jens
In the newsletter, I have been reading these comments about if you served in combat or non-combat / peace time Marine.
For peace time; you are born when you are born, and if your country is not at war / in a combat zone... that is a good thing.
My Uncle Jens, put it best.
At 18 he was drafted into the Coast Guard, it was 1942. Uncle Jens knew very little to zip about the military, his Uncle Hans did serve in France in the First World War, but I don't know if Uncle Hans told war stories as he died before I was born.
I doubt, that Uncle Jens even knew what the Marine Corps was, his first language was Danish, he grew up in Tyler, MN, a town founded by Danes, Dane, was the spoken word on main street. He knew that Uncle Hans had been gassed in France, and had trouble with his lungs. After my Grandfather Peter died from cancer (Jens was 14) Uncle Hans took care of the families and that left a huge impression on my Uncle Jens.
So Uncle Jens, age 18 got drafted and was sent to the Coast Guard; he went overseas (the term of my childhood) aboard & served on the USS Bisbee in the South Pacific. Gun 1, #2 loader. If given a job, he did his best; mess duty (Chief's mess), helmsman, loader, and he still talks of the Chiefs and what they taught him. A good NCO or SNCO, is a keeper.
The ship, never lost anybody, some wounded, but Jens gives credit to the officers and Chiefs who, many, were all prior WW2 Coast Guard and the Old Man, he was up from the ranks, who would take us in close to the beach, and we would hammer it out with Japanese pillboxes. Those prior WW2 guys kept us alive, they knew their stuff.
A while back, I got him a picture of his ship, a USCG cover, and... he just starred at that picture; his ship.
Per Uncle Jens:
1. You served, does not matter when or where, you served, and we are better off not having people in a war zone.
2. You got orders, you went where your orders sent you, you did your best regardless of where you got sent. Orders, are orders, you go.
3. American Legion or VFW; should have stayed with just one organization and it does not matter if you served in a combat zone or non-combat zone, you served, why the separation. In rural Minnesota, the different military clubs have taken a beating due to no membershi... on Memorial Day, Uncle Jens is still putting flags out on the graves of old friends, still living in Tyler, where he was born, and still talks Danish.
Uncle Jens is still kicking. This year for Veterans Day, my two Uncles went to the free breakfast for vets. It is just a big social day for my Uncles. They use to march with the American Legion, but age is now the wolf at the door.
We all served, we serve at different times in history, but you served, and you are a small percentage of this country's population. I joined the Corps in '73, at that time in my family there was five of us cousins serving: 2 Army, 2 Navy, and me. I did 4-1/2 years; my wife's daughters put it best when they said, "the Berg family, they serve". Currently, only 2, Navy and Army. If I run into somebody who did not serve, I ask if they had bad knees, cancer, leukemia... aka why did you not serve, you had a chance?
When I got out in '78, the American Legion did not recognize my service dates; they do now. At the local level, this PO'd the local Legion members.
Take Care and Semper Fi,
3rd Tank Bn And The 3rd AT Bn
In 1960-1961, I served in the 3rd Tank Bn and the 3rd AT Bn. Our Tank Bn was the only unit at Camp Hanson, Okinawa and the camp was just being constructed. Fast forward to today, I attended our Birthday Ball and while there I met a young Captain. During our conversations he informed me that as far as he knows both of these units have been disbanded. Is this true? When did this happen? Why did this occur?
I have researched it on the web and can only find out there is no mention of either of these units. I also wonder how we can have a 3rd Marine Division with no armor in support. Thank you.
Edward L Dodd, 1st Lt, USMC
(An 1802 MOS forever)
When I enlisted in 1959, and eventually made my way to "The University of Parris Island", one of the part of our indoctrination, (no matter what we were promised by our Recruiters), was an interview by B.A.M.s, (Beautiful American Marine). If you told them what you had done before the Corps, and there was a M.O.S. opening, That's Where You Went. Since I had musical history, when our orders were issued after Thirteen Glorious Weeks at "The University", and Four more at Camp Geiger, I reported back to Parris Island. I was to become part of The United States Marine Corps Band, (not field music), P.I.S.C.
Our duties where Flag Raisings every morning, (Monday - Friday), and concerts all thru The South. But our best day came in 1960. We were The Half Time Show at The Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas! That means that all across The United States, anybody & everybody that watched that Bowl, watched us!
What better showing than to be on National T.V.? By the way, the teams were, Syracuse University vs. Texas U. I' ll let you find out the final score.
Oh, also, the year before I joined The U.S.M.C. Band, The Band represented The United States at the Edinburgh in Scotland, U.K. My way of thinking is, "Not Only do the United States Marines carry the History of Our Corps, but We also pass on to Future Generations, What We Are All About!
If You Have Any Doubts, Go Watch "The U.S.M.C. Silent Drill Team".
L/Cpl of Marines
Happy Veterans Day
My son's Dress Blues and my Grandson wishing the Marines Happy Birthday and Happy Veteran's Day!
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I missed my weekly reading of your fine newsletter while hunting elk in Colorado, and then, catching up, read all the replies. I told my wife that I wouldn't respond because it would be too much like piling on after all the hits from other Marines. Sorry, hon, but I just gotta' write.
It was my privilege to serve 21 years ('72-'93) with the finest fighting force the world has ever known, however, I never heard a shot fired in anger (other than a few stray rounds in Beirut '83). I can understand that Sgt Spoon might wonder how he would have handled combat, I think everyone with any intelligence or imagination wonders until it happens.
Having said that, if one did not knowingly avoid combat, or deployments that might involve combat, or some other hardship (unfortunately, we all know Marines like that), I can't imagine there is any shame in performing your duties as prescribed by the officers and NCO's appointed over you.
Finally, I have never been disrespected for not having seen combat by those warriors that have endured its horrors. There are reasons that many veterans of combat have difficulty speaking of their experiences, I have yet to hear one say "Gee, you should have been there!"
George M. Button
MSgt USMC (Ret)
They Called Me Squid
As a former squid, I got a chuckle from reading "Not Everybody Can Be A Marine".
I was an associate member of the MCL in Worcester, MA years ago, and of course they called me squid. My oldest grandson and I went to Washington, DC with the Worcester MCL a few years ago, to visit the Museum of the Marines, and to see the Evening Parade at 8th and I. My grandson was thrilled to be able to talk with an Iwo Survivor at the museum. We had lunch at Tun Tavern and saw the evening parade the next night. I have now seen the parade 3 times.
My son and I traveled to Parris Island in June this year to attend the graduation of my oldest grandson. We were both impressed with the base, and the ceremony, and of course I wore a cap with large letters that said Navy on it, along with Viet Nam service ribbons, purchased at Sgt. Grit, with the dates of '65 and '66 on it. My cap got some smiles, a couple of "Thanks for your service", and a big grin from a veteran Marine who went out of his way to shake my hand. "Top" and I chatted a bit over the next few days, and we ended up swapping challenge coins.
I was stationed on the USS Boxer, LPH 4 from 1964-1966. We carried Marines and their helicopters, and the troops went ashore in The Dominican Republic to bring the US civilians off the island in 1965. Later that year we brought Army helicopters to Viet Nam. In 1966 we brought Marine helicopters to Viet Nam. It was a couple of busy years. The liberty on the way home was great!
My grandson is stationed at 29 Palms now, and we are hoping he can get home for Christmas.
Re: Creation story with insulting remarks about sailors...
Next time you need a Corpsman, as Bill Cosby says, "Take two aspirin and send in the $5.00. I don't make house calls".
Christopher S. Barker III
Hospital corpsman 2nd Class
On the 9th day God Looked down and saw the Marines were hurting from their promenading with their ladies and realized that some may even be injured while using his sword to combat Satan and evil. So God looked at the second best creatures he had created and had cast off to live a life at sea. God realized that a select few of these creatures did not have shabby beards or long sideburns but rather kept their fur high and tight. God realized that some of these creatures would be suitable to live among and care for His Marines who became ill or injured and he called these creatures Corpsman and drew them from the sea to live amongst and care for His Marines.
On the 10th day God continued to review his creations and he saw that his beloved Marines and their Corpsmen had no place to live. They had no place to clean the magnificent temples he had created. Worse, God realized that his beloved Marines had no place to cool their beer. Pondering solutions for this condition God realized that there were more of these slimy creatures and although they were slimy with long beards and sideburns they possessed skills not known to many. God realized he gave these creatures special powers. These creatures could create something out of nothing. These slimy creatures were happy to be slimy because they worked before sunlight and long after sunset. They were able to complete difficult tasks immediately while the impossible tasks took just a little longer.
God withdrew them from the sea because his beloved Marines needed them. God called these creatures SEABEES because they could work on the land and on or under the sea. God came to love these SEABEES very much. He loved them so much so that he provided them with Marines to protect them as a big brother would protect his little brother.
God realized that he had made the perfect union and thought to himself, No not everyone can be a Marine but a select few are worthy to serve and be brothers with His Marines.
That's A Fact
About every four or five years your newsletter receives a letter from an individual who does not consider themself to be a "real" Marine because they do not have combat experience. I have been bothered by that and I, of course, have to add my two cents.
We are a special breed. That's a fact. Every Marine is trained as a rifleman. The Corps just gives us an MOS for something to also be proficient at. No one, and I mean no one, has an easy time in recruit training. Once you have earned the title and the emblem you are in exclusive territory. Keep in mind that you join the Army or you join the Navy (and I do not mean to be disrespectful of those services) but you BECOME a Marine.
We are known as the "Green Machine" and we are. Cooks keep the force fed, supply keeps the force dressed, the air wing makes sure that we can be in anyone's face in a matter of hours. Artillery brings support when you really, really need it. Radio operators make sure we all know what is going on. Office personnel keep track of equipment and the whereabouts of all Marines. But, every one of the MOS's have one thing in common, they are Riflemen. A Marine, Male or female, has the same skills and display honor, courage, and commitment. That's a fact. Each one can be put in a position where their life is in danger at any given time.
I spent seven years in The Corps on active duty. I have a total of about four hours of combat experience where I was shot at and actually fired back and ended up in a mortar pit. Am I a "combat" Marine? Don't know, but I do know that I did my best and gave a hundred percent.
I know that I am a member of a force that does not need to prove anything to anybody. I stand tall at the playing of the National Anthem, I bow my head deeply at the Navy Hymn that honors those who came before me. At the playing of our Marines' Hymn, I am one of the few, the Proud, I am a Marine.
That's a Fact!
Two C-Rats A Day
November 10th, 1969. Lima Co., 3/26. That was my first Marine Corps Birthday. Don't know if it was yours. You were a 2nd Lieutenant Platoon Commander and I was a 81 mortar crew PFC. Hill 124 in Viet Nam and we'd just come off Hai Van Pass.
I was 5 days shy of a whole 8 months in our beloved Corps and a whopping 2 months in Country. As I recall, the day was overcast and cool. The red clay mud was somewhat dried out. We were just beginning our regimen of living off 2 C-Rats a day and I don't remember ever getting a hot meal out there both times we were on the hill. But I do remember the 10th.
Sometime after noon this lone CH-46 comes chugging in from the SE and lands, not on the shelf LZ where the water buffalo was, but up on top closer to the CP with its nose facing back to the SE for a quick get-away. A working party formed and unloaded a small bunch of cases and this cook/messman in white trousers and green T-shirt comes down the ramp wheeling this rickety old mess hall cart with a cake on it and into the almost dried red clay mud. The working party was useful in manhandling the cart to a more secure place out from under the tail rotor.
Word was passed for everybody to line up, the cook/messman carefully cutting pieces of the cake ensuring each Marine got a piece somewhat slimmer than a slice of bread from a store bought loaf and each Marine getting two beers and a soda. The cook/messman trundled his rickety cart with the remainder of the cake back up into the 46 to go to the next company down the line somewhere out in the boonies and we all moved back to re-man our respective gun pits and line positions. No Field Music, no oldest/youngest, no reading of messages, just a lone CH-46 chugging away to the SE.
(And Yes, That Is A CH-46 Taking Off From Hill 124 RVN 1969 From My Photo Album)
As dismal as this remembrance sounds, I think of it fondly every November 10th realizing that it is exactly the essence of who Marines are, and why we celebrate our birthday. I believe we are the only fighting force known that stops a war to have a beer together and wish each other a Happy Birthday! I've always wondered if the Continental Marines on H-ll's Half Acre in the Delaware on November 10th, 1776 outside Philadelphia took a moment over a flagon of rum that day?
So Mike, tomorrow evening I'll hold my flagon up to you, D-ck and a long green line of Marines stretching back over 44 years in my life and drink a deep toast to:
"That mud encrusted, sweat soaked, blood shot eyed, steely, non-rate, enlisted little son of a b-tch who has kept the wolf from this Country's door for 238 years and without whom, we as leaders would have no reason to exist. Gentleman, the Marine Rifleman!"
And to all my Marines out there who may receive this, Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis!
The One He's Pointing At
Here is this weeks most popular post on the Sgt Grit Facebook page and some of the commentary by our fans.
Angel Ortiz - Oh h-ll yeah! For some reason if you were in 3rd battalion at Parris Island you not only met the pit and quarterdeck but you got your azz kicked for breathing the drill instructors air! Ahh... The memories.
Joesph Littlebear - Im sure Parris Island MCRD has its humility, so did San Diego. The heat and sand... freaking walks and snakes... I won't ever put down a fellow brother for his recruit station. We didn't bask in the sun or lay on the beach... I ended up at Camp Lejuene... did my jungle in the Philippines and desert in the Mojave. The cold Oslo... in all the same sh-t... Marine...
Sam A Vecchio Jr - "Where are my ten privates?" 1,2,3,4 on the quarter deck...
Joesph Littlebear - I remember putting on the dress greens for the next graduating class a week prior to ours. My D.I. looked at me for inspection and said. Sh-t! I don't ever remember making you bend and thrust. I yelled out, "Sir! The recruit felt it best to do what he's told to do and keep a low profile, Sir! Lol Oh, I see... good job he says... Now freaking bend and thrust tonto! LOL!
See more of the 173 comments made about this post on the Sgt Grit Facebook Page.
That Shooter Lieutenant
Hello Sgt. Grit,
Since I've thoroughly enjoyed the items that I've bought from your company, and have been entertained by the letters and pictures at your website, I thought I'd head into this 238th birthday of our Corps by sharing one of my stories.
After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1987, I was commissioned as a Lieutenant of Marines in Quantico. Near the end of The Basic School, I had requested on my "dream sheet" a couple of airwing MOS's, based on the advice of my best friend, who had survived Parris Island during my VMI cadetship, and was serving as a helicopter mechanic at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe.
At first, I received orders to be an Air Traffic Controller stationed in Japan. At the last minute, someone realized that I had not had the correct eye test included with my physical exam. Who knew that ATC guys had to have keen eyesight to stare at radar screens all day? Anyway, although my eyes were correctable to 20/20, my uncorrected vision made me "Not Physically Qualified." Just before my time in Quantico ended, I was cut new orders as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer (6002), with the first PCS to be MCAS Kaneohe. I couldn't believe my luck in being stationed where my best friend was finishing the end of his enlistment.
Since I was scheduled to go through AMO school a few months after Quantico, I reported aboard MAG-24 and was assigned to Headquarters & Maintenance Squadron 24, shortly before the H&MS's were renamed Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons (MALS). As an untrained AMO, I tried to learn all that I could in the Fleet, while staying out of the way.
Later on during my time at K-Bay, even before the not-so-big step from Butter Bar to First Lewie, I had a good day on the range for rifle qual's. The Kaneohe rifle range may have been the only Marine facility where nobody had fired a perfect 250 on the Known Distance course, because of the Pacific winds blowing sporadically around that volcanic crater. On that day, though, I came close. By scoring a 248, I shot the range record and earned a reputation as a shooter. (Yes, the guy whose eyes weren't good enough to direct air traffic, was good enough to score the range record!)
Soon after, the aircraft group's Armory Officer was reassigned to an Ordnance Officer job with a squadron and there was no other Gunner available for the slot, so the MAG Skipper decided that he'd bridge the gap by assigning 6-month temporary duty rotations to other officers.
Naturally, that "Shooter Lieutenant" was the first, so I was pulled away from my MOS.
Just when my temporary duty at the armory was about to end, we were told that this guy named Saddam Hussein was doing some mess over in the Middle East, so we were all to get prepared for life in the desert and none of us would be changing jobs for now. As a result, I spent about 18 months out of aircraft maintenance, but as a bonus, I got to compete in the Pacific Division Matches with a brand-new M-16 and M-9 from the armory's inventory. Since I was assigned to the Aircraft Group's staff, I never was sent to Kuwait, but almost all of my armorers were sent, attached to the squadrons that deployed.
At the Pacific Division Matches, I medaled in the individual rifle competition, but more importantly, my rifle team of Airwingers won the Smith Trophy. (Boy, did our ground-pounding brethren hate that!) Because of the individual rifle medal, I got to compete in the Marine Corps Matches that year and met Carlos Hathcock there.
The great irony, ultimately, was that my marksmanship meant less to the Corps during the downsizings, then if I had spent more time in my MOS. When I was "in the zone" for promotion to Captain, I was passed over twice and found myself in the civilian world.
Regardless, I'm a proud Marine and active member of my local Marine Corps League Detachment. VMI and the Corps taught me a lot during that decade of my life and I'm grateful. And my bride is thankful that the USMC rotated me to NC, where we met, then the Corps let me go, so she wouldn't have to worry about me shipping off to some foreign shores.
Semper Fidelis and Happy Birthday, all you Leathernecks!
I Am One Out Of Many
I was born in 1944 and grew up with the WWII and some WWI movies. Always the Marines were portrayed in this era of conflict. On television we had a number of WWII T.V. series as well. I was a kid and watched them all, and went to the library and read a lot of WWII books as well. In school we had an Educational Television History Class given by a short teacher who had other teachers talk of the experiences they lived in the Pacific as Marines. One teacher was average height and sometimes looked like he was in another world? Found out he was one of the first Marines to hit the beach at Guadalcanal, and another was on Tarawa. A third was also shot down over enemy territory in the Pacific and had a long grueling ordeal getting back to our lines? We appreciated our "fighters for our freedom then! They were heroes to us growing up.
Let us fast forward to Korea and Vietnam? I was in from 1963 to 1967, and Lo and Behold I returned to civilian life - I was spit on - ridiculed - harassed at work- called a baby killer - denied promotion - and faced a nightmare readjusting to a F-cked up society - who I was willing to give my life for?
I was not recognized until around 2008 - 40 years later I was doing contract security work at a news station and I had the Secretary of the Navy visit to do an interview on the Somali Pirates (think it was Mobius), he shook my hand and thanked me for my service as I wore a Marine Corps Lapel Pin on my suit. I cannot express how proud I felt after all those years. The next week Glenn Beck had a daily show and as he entered the Studio I was working, he came over and asked me my name and hugged me and said Thank You for serving. After over 40 years our society woke up and thanked our veterans for the service they gave.
I am one out of many Marines - I am whole and some of our Marines are carrying bad memories and dealing with demons every day. I later found out about a lot of people who served in other climes and places. A neighbor of mine was in Korea. His wife and children never knew what happened to him over there. We would sit outside our condo and talk for hours about our respective experiences. He referred to his ordeal as (the dark side).
It feels good to be remembered and thanked for something we were part of over 50 years ago! Some will say how they are mad as h-ll at the stupid people out there, and others like (mellow old me) will say I appreciate it now, but sadly how many of our Brothers are not here to hear public opinion now.
I do not agree with every military action we are involved in, and I have opinions as well, but "Once a Marine, Always a Marine"!
Yesterday at work I was annoyed and remarked after this obnoxious individual left my area, and said to a fellow worker, "That Dude needs a "Blanket Party"! My fellow cohort starting laughing so hard I thought he would hurt himself! The gent turned to me and said I was in Vietnam in with the Air Cavalry, and we had Blanket Parties too!"
Small world after all?
(The forgotten Era)
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #7, # 3, (MAR., 2017)
I don't know if this is a forgotten term or not, but how many of you remember the "Junk on the Bunk" inspection? If not, it involved placing all your issued military clothes on your rack or bunk in a per-determined orderly manner that was written in the "Guidebook for MARINES". Now, that I've reminded you, I'm sure that many of you will remember those "Fun Filled" days when the Company Gunny would announce that there would be a "Junk of the Bunk" inspection this week on Friday before Liberty Call. All hands would jump up and down with just the thought of the impeding gala affair, not to mention that it was normally tied to whether you got to go on Liberty, or not.
Now, it should also be known that once you became a Staff NCO this event did not include you, except maybe as a part of the inspection team for your Platoon or Company, but that was all. As a Staff NCO you normally occupied a room somewhere in the Barracks, or on the base whereas you had closets and possibly a dresser to store you clothes in. Plus, this was just not the type of inspection that a Staff NCO would be involved in. All this info that I'm providing you here is to set the stage for the title of this event and that is "Junk on the Lawn". This is going to be hard for you to visualize, but I'm going to try and explain it like it happened.
My good buddy S/Sgt Ron Whitcomb and I were room mates in the Staff NCO barracks at MCAF Santa Ana, Calif after we came back from Vietnam. I often wondered why he had a room there because he was still in an "on again, off again" marriage and spent most of his time at her apartment, at least that's what he wanted everybody to believe. Their marriage was somewhat in a turmoil and I never knew what to expect from him as to whether he was going to be in the room, or not. The bottom line is that Ron didn't have very many clothes, or in fact anything. That being the case he would go through my closet and pick out a shirt that was clean and often with out my knowledge or permission wear it to go out, or to go home. There was always clean clothes because the lady that I was dating at the time insisted that she do my laundry. That wasn't a problem.
Time passed and Ron and his wife had another one of their weekly spats and she threw all the clothes that he had at the apartment out on the lawn, and turned the sprinkler system on. I guess this was done to keep them from burning up in the warm Calif. afternoon sun. Once they were fully soaked she placed them in a couple of suitcases that Ron had at the apartment and called him to come and get his clothes. I remember Ron borrowing my car and going over to pick up his stuff and when he returned to the base he pulled up across the road from the Flight Line and in front of the Line Shack where he started to unpack his shirts, etc. He was laying them out on the grass to dry, and everybody was laughing at the fact that all his stuff was soaking wet. I was also getting a kick out of the sight also until I noticed that most of the clothes that were laying there were not Ron's, but mine. Now, I was p-ssed!
As anyone who has ever pulled b-tts (and I suppose there may be some odd-ball out there who managed somehow to totally avoid b-tt details) knows, rounds passing overhead have a distinctive sound, which I have always described as a sharp 'whap!', followed by a muzzle report of 'boom' from off in the distance (the further off, the better, as a rule)... leading to a rhythm of sorts... Whap!- Boom... Whap!-Boom... We (1st Platoon, K/3/5) were diligently single file diddy-bopping in the paddies and tree lines somewhere out around Tam Ky, so long ago that we had M-14's (among other things... at the time I had a M-1 carbine (with bayonet stud) belonging to the ship's armory of APA 222, Pickaway... (legitimately acquired with a signature.) In front of me in column was 'Lurch"... good LCPL guy, pretty tall, easy-going, smiled a lot, b-tched rarely, just did his thing. Off to our left, way over there across a rice paddy, was another unit... could have been one of our other platoons, but obviously men in green clothes carrying weapons and moving along a tree line much like 'ours', and more or less parallel to our route. Today, it would have been known as 'blue on blue', but in the day, we called these engagements 'intra-mural firefights'... they spotted us, and thinking maybe we had said something untoward about their mothers, decided to fire on us... with their M-14's... and with the M-14's characteristic 'whap!-boom'. Having rapidly found the deck at the first 'whap!', I looked up to see Lurch still standing, looking thataway at the source of the whap!-boom noises... so I ever so politely indicated that he should get his dumb azz on the ground with the rest of us. He protested... saying... 'but... those are ours!', being familiar with the sound, and knowing it was different from the AK, SK, and (US) carbine fire we had previously experienced from Charlie. By way of explanation for my uncharacteristic rudeness and insistence on alacrity, I had to tell him "You know that... and I know that... but the freakin' bullets don't know that!"
"OH!, said he... and promptly joined us in the prone. A little radio traffic and a few 'ten thousand gomenasai' from the other unit generated a cease-fire. Nobody hit... and while that could be cause for thankfulness, it could also be a bit worrisome... having people on your flank who couldn't hit a barn wall from inside the barn...
Re the other service recruiters... yup, me too... short version is that having gone off to the AFFEES (Armed Forces Entrance & Examination Station) in Chicago with a couple buds, and having failed the physical due to a hernia I didn't know I had, then coming home for surgery, etc., I was back in the basement of the Post Office, looking for the Chief. My buds were well along in boot camp at Great Lakes, so the buddy program bit was long gone, along with the 'kiddy cruise' the Navy used to have... in before 18, out the day before your 21st birthday, as I was now 18. The Chief wasn't in... but the Marine was there to tell me that... and to casually ask if I had ever given any thought to joining the Marine Corps? These were the days of the draft... Army was two years (and that just wasn't going to happen), but the Navy and the Corps had 3 year enlistments available... AF wanted four... anyway, I told the Marine no, I hadn't, but couldn't join the Corps anyway, because, 1. I wasn't six feet tall, and 2. I wore glasses. He seemed to think that wouldn't be a problem... and two days later, I found myself on a DC-3 all night flight to San Diego...
See where the Corps has OK'd Israel to get ahead in line for Osprey production... brought to mind a Captain I met during a big Reserve exercise at 29 Palms, around 1976 or so. Being the Inspector-Instructor, I had come along with our unit to advise/assist the Reserve CO, and as there were no BOQ rooms available, I had the choice of either living under canvas... or taking a room in the brand new three story 'barracks', among the (gasp!) enlisted men... worked for me... room/innerspring mattress/head/shower... all to myself? What's not to like? One of the Reserve Officers I met out at Camp Wilson was from New York (communicator... probably from Sixth Comm Bn)... he had a slight accent I just could not place, so finally asked him... turned out he was an Israeli... had been a tank platoon commander on the Golan Heights... and when he emigrated, the Corps thought enough of him to give him a direct commission as a Captain! (that just don't happen every day, boys and girls)... Wilson (ESB) was primitive in those days, so I offered him a shot at a shower and doing some laundry back at my barracks... nice guy, turned out his job in 'the real world' as opposed to his comm unit was electronic counter-surveillance... made his living 'sweeping' corporate offices and boardrooms for 'bugs'...
Have mentioned before the short-lived swimming truck known as a "Gamma Goat"... we were having Officer and SNCO familiarization with ours at the Reserve unit in Moline, IL. The area is situated between the Mississippi and Rock Rivers... current way too fast in the Mississippi for a vehicle that might get four knots out of six churning wheels, but the Rock moved at two or three knots, so we went to the Rock. (bigarse dams downstream in either case). The thing was noisy to the point that all hands in the cab had to wear ear protection. It was Captain Don Workman's turn at the wheel, and they launched and swam around for a bit... but then the wheels quit churning, although the engine was obviously at full throttle... pretty obvious to me what had happened... the transfer case had slipped or been knocked out of gear, so I'm trotting along the bank, attempting to communicate with Don by hand and arm signals... making a 'T" with one hand atop the other... for "TRANSFER CASE, (Dummy)"... as they drifted sideways in the direction of the dam, he looked at me quizzically, with a Polish salute, and mouthed "Time Out?"... After some pantomime with clutch leg and gear-shifting motions, he figured it out...
I haven't seen it mentioned so far, but John Martinez, a.k.a. "J-Mart", passed away this last September 3rd. He is most widely known for his recent television appearances on Gator Boys.
According to an obituary I found, he was a grunt while in the Corps. I wish I could have met him.
Lost And Found
I am looking for anyone who served with my Father during WWII. His name is Harry Edward Cooper and he was a Staff Sergeant in the Marines. I believe he served in the Pacific, but would like information as to where he served and what he did. He passed away in 1976. He never talked about his service, and unfortunately I never asked. He was born in 1920 and was from Gorman, Texas.
Barbara Cooper Wyrick
Hello Sgt Grit,
Great newsletter as usual. In reference to Ron Hoffman's request for unit rosters, you can send in and receive rosters of your unit in Vietnam. Please read the attachment and paragraphs marked "X" and send your request to:
Commandant of the Marine Corps
2008 Elliot Rd.
Quantico, VA. 22134-5030
Be patient, it will take up to 6 months to get a reply.
Are there any Marines that read this newsletter that was with FLSG Bravo, Shops Stores in Dong Ha, 1968-69? If so, please contact me. Five of us have been in touch this past year and four of us attended the FLC, FLSGAB reunion in September. It was great meeting up with these guys after all these years. We would like to get more of us together this year.
By the way, Sgt. Grit, we would all like to thank you for all the items that you donated for our door prizes at the reunion. You're the best.
Semper Fi, Marines!
I am looking for any Marines that served on the USS Taconic as a Marine radioman. We are planning a 2nd reunion at Parris Island the 1st weekend in May of 2014. We are looking for all Marines that served in this detachment at anytime to attend. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The more Marines the merrier.
John E Lyford
Sgt USMC '65-'69
Not Everybody Can Be A Marine:
I just wanted to say THANK YOU! to whomever wrote this. It made me laugh until a little coffee came out of my nose and tears rolled down my cheek! And one of my co-workers came to check on me because he thought I was having s-x with a dolphin in my office. Thanks for making my day before its even really started!
Allen D. Herring
I was looking at a series of photos on the Parris Island Facebook page showing a bunch of recruits being PT'd in the 3rd Battalion pit. They obviously had made serious errors in judgment causing them to end up in the pit and I remembered our senior DI calling this putting us in a "World of Sh-t". In the comments section, however, the P.R. people now refer to this as an "Incentive Training Exercise." Sheesh! PT, meet PC.
Once a Corporal, Always a Marine
"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!"
--Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945
"Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweiler's or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on the defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat."
--RAdm. Jay R. Stark, U.S. Navy
"If I were King, I'd close Army infantry training and send all future Infantry grunts to the Marines. The Corps still produces trained and disciplined soldiers who still know how to fight and make it on a killing field."
--Col David Hackworth, USA Army (Ret), one of America's most highly decorated Soldiers
"You're more f-cked up than a soup sandwich!"
"What is you're major malfunction turd!"
"The smoking lamp is lit, for one cigarette, and one cigarette only... and I'll smoke it."
"Today, you people are no longer maggots! You are Marines!"
Fair winds and following seas,