I had the distinct honor of attending the 'commitment' services for MGySgt Hosea on 11 October 2013 at the National Cemetery, Beaufort, SC. Although he passed away in Garden Grove, CA, back in June and had a full honors ceremony there he requested that he be moved to Beaufort where an infant daughter was interred in 1961. Nate, as a MSgt E-7, was my NCOIC in Base Electronics at Quantico in the late 50's when I was a Corporal (E-3). He was my 'boss', a mentor, an excellent example, and my friend. He died at age 85 and was a proud Montford Point Marine. He will surely be missed.
Mustang Major of Marines
A Late Lunch
On October 23, 2013, I'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of my arrival at MCRD San Diego. In October 1963 I walked from my home in Hillsdale, MI, to City Hall with an idea to enlist in either the Air Force or the Navy. Those two recruiters had taken a late lunch, but the Marine recruiter, a Corporal, invited me to wait for them in his office and have a cup of coffee. While waiting I noticed all the brochures, posters, etc., and asked him about the Marines. I remember him telling me, "Oh no. You came here to see the Air Force and Navy. I'm not going to steal you away from them." I responded that I wasn't under any obligation to those guys and just wondered what the Marines had to offer. To make a long story short, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and it was, by far, one of the best decisions I've made during my life.
On October 23, 1963 I left Detroit Metro airport on a 707, my first airplane ride. Arriving at MCRD and standing on the yellow footprints will forever be etched in my memory banks. Along with 70-some other maggots and t-rds, I ended up in Platoon 379. The senior DI was Staff Sergeant Washington. He was ably assisted by Sgt. Flick and Sgt. Johnny Grubbs. Washington and Flick both wore Korean campaign ribbons. For the first few weeks everyone in the platoon lived in mortal fear of newly promoted Sgt. Grubbs, but as it turned out, he taught us a lot of little things that have stuck with me during my lifetime. Grubbs was a master at bed making and fingernail clipping, rifle cleaning, etc., etc. When we graduated and SSgt. Washington gathered us together to let us know what our MOS would be most were 0300 or comm, arty and a few sea school guys. Mine was 4300. I remember Washington asking me if I were some kind of genius because he'd never heard of that MOS. For those of you who have seen the movie Full Metal Jacket, I was Joker; a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, a fighter/writer.
After ITR and boot leave, I reported to the base newspaper and public information office at Camp Pendleton and was assigned to HQCo, HQBn, 1st Mar Div. In August 1965 I boarded ship and went off to the 3rd Mar Div in South Vietnam. Reported in to the Informational Service Office (ISO) - now called Public Information Office (PIO) - in Da Nang. My first night in country was spent on guard duty walking around General Lew Walt's HQ. After a week, or so, I was sent to Chu Lai and began humping the boonies with infantry units to gather and write stories for the Stars & Stripes, Sea Tiger, Leatherneck Magazine, etc. Spent most of my time accompanying the Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment commanded, at that time, by Lt. Col. P. X. Kelly, later General Kelly and Commandant. Just missed Operation Starlight, but humped more boonies during Harvest Moon, Double Eagle and Double Eagle II, Utah, Texas, Hastings, Prairie and several others that had names I've forgotten. When my 13-month tour came to an end, I ended up at the Marine Corps Supply Center Barstow working on the base newspaper "The Prospector". I liked Barstow. While there I bought a brand new 1967 Camaro Super Sport and was promoted to Sergeant. Got accepted to college and was released from active duty on September 1st, 1967, about two months short of my four-year anniversary date. I first attended Cerritos Community College in Norwalk, CA and later California State University, Fullerton. In college I majored in communications and journalism. My career has provided employment as a public relations executive, magazine and newspaper editor, columnist, reporter, investigative journalist, author, lecturer and historian. Not every Marine Corps MOS translates into civilian employment so I consider myself lucky, lucky, lucky.
Semper Fi, Marines, and THANKS to Sgt. Grit!
(PHOTO CAPTION: Gen. Kyle B. Wood presented Lance Corporal Bisher with a Purple Heart)
Make Sgt Grit your one stop shop for all of your Uniform Supplies such as medals, ribbons, and mounts. Mounting orders may take up to 7-10 business days to ship.
Pick It Up Maggot
We had those pain enhancers you listed plus one called "make-a-chair", executed with or without a rifle. This was accomplished by "sitting" as if you were in a chair with arms out-stretched in front at shoulder length. When including the rifle it was placed upon the wrist of the extended arms. Hurt like h-ll in my knees like squat thrusts, etc. and my knees still hurt even with pain killers. We were young and fit so we endured. I decided early on in platoon 2084 MCRDSD (May to July 1969) that I was only going to "do" boot camp only once, "whatever it takes".
I was a draftee and rebellious, but am very grateful to PC GySgt. Savage and DI's SSgts. Howard and Mahaffey for remaking me into a Marine. Thanks to them and Sgt. "Eddie" Glenn (my first Crew Chief in Vietnam with L-4-11 based at Hill 55 and NAC, Red Beach on the M109sp, a 155 howitzer battery) for the training to get me through Vietnam and life.
In boot camp I got into trouble, more than any other reason, for laughing at the stuff they "did" to others (of course they did the same thing to me). One memorable time I didn't laugh was when a recruit spit on the sidewalk in the chow line and the DI said "Pick it up maggot". The recruit took a half step and was reaching down when the DI said "Like a dog, maggot". I wanted to laugh so bad I had to look away and bite my tongue because I wasn't about to pick up anything "like a dog".
Would like to hear from those listed above and any other Marines I served with, (email@example.com).
Cpl. Ward D. Britt
All Marine, All The Time
A recent letter concerning Col. Barber brought back memories of my personal encounters with this living legend. The Colonel was all Marine, all the time. He was scary to be near. I'd once seen him "dress down" a Gunny Sgt., whom he'd stopped at random, for not verbally remembering his 5th General Order.
After being wounded at Khe Sanh during TET '68 I'd been medivaced stateside and spent the next 8 months in Philadelphia Naval Hospital. I was then sent to Camp Lejeune and assigned to the 2nd Marine Division. My leg hadn't completely healed so I was put on light-duty and worked at the 2nd Marine Division gym. This was really a cake job and I spent many happy months passing out basketballs. One day I received a phone call from HQ. that I had to attend a ceremony down at Division. The caller didn't have any details other than I needed to put on my khaki uniform. Our uniform of the day was always Utilities, the plain green starched variety. Living off-base I had to hustle home to change into a proper uniform. My sea bag had just caught up with me from its long term storage in Okinawa. I hadn't taken the time to iron and prepare all the uniforms. The only one I had ironed was the long sleeved khaki uniform that was worn with tie and ribbons. I put this on and made a mad dash back to the base. To my horror everyone was on the parade ground in formation and was dressed in the short sleeve khaki version of the uniform. They had already practiced the marching drill for the men who were to be promoted. I figured that maybe I could hide in the center of the formation and no one would notice my uniform discrepancy. No sooner had I done this when the Sgt. Major came to the reviewing stand and called off the names of the men to be promoted. Reading the list he called for Sgt. Neely. Being a Corporal I didn't give it much thought beyond "that's interesting, someone has the same last name as me." Finally after he'd called for Sgt. Neely a couple of times a buddy looked at me and said, "I think he means you!" I fell into the group that was to proceed to the reviewing stand my uniform difference sticking out like a sore thumb. Colonel Barber then stepped up onto the reviewing stand to pass out the promotions.
Our formation marched up to the reviewing stand and after a crisp right face I found myself standing directly in front of the Colonel. I was dead or at least on my way to the brig. I was more afraid of this man than all the NVA in H-ll. He looked me up and down with his stern face and then wonder of all wonders he smiled and said, "I guess you weren't ready for this, were you Sgt.?" Still smiling he handed me my certificate of promotion and shook my hand. I was a brand new 19 yr. old Sgt. of Marines!
That was one of my fondest memories of being in the Corps. God Bless you Colonel Barber; both for your courageous service to our country and you're mercy on this young Marine. I hope that you're the Regimental Commander of the 2nd Marine detachment guarding the Pearly Gates.
Semper Fi and Happy Birthday Marine Corps!
Sgt. of Marines
1966 to 1972
Sir, No Sir
I have recently retired due to my health, though I'm still working from home via e-mail and phone. I've been on oxygen since June of 2010 for pulmonary fibrosis and am now at the top of the lung transplant list at the VA. (No. I have never smoked a cigarette--PF is not related.) So facing either a long recovery, or a permanent change of station to the guard shack you know where, I'd like to take another shot at getting in touch with my drill instructors from Platoon 273, Parris Island, 1964, Sgts. William H. Harris and Michael P. Martin. I touched base with the third, Sgt. Ezekiel Owens Jr. a few years ago, to thank him. (I'd like to hear from any members of the platoon as well--I'm only in touch with one.)
At 67, I've had a great life, and a very successful career, first as a five-term state senator, then since 1982 as an association executive. All this is thanks to the self-discipline my DIs gave me, a gift more precious than gold. I've made a good living for my family and the organizations I've managed have all flourished on my watch. I've published 11 books, including "Old Jarhead Poems" and "Eddie Grabowski's Gift: A Marine Christmas Story", with the royalties going to various charities, including the Injured Marine Fund. I've lived longer and better than 99 percent of the people who ever lived, so I have no complaints. I owe everything to my DIs and the Corps. The three best decisions I ever made were joining the Corps, running for the Massachusetts senate and marrying my wife. (In that order--she doesn't read your newsletter!)
I was at the VA for pre-transplant rehab this morning and, with 100 percent oxygen running, felt like I was back at PI! "Don't you quit on me maggot!" "Sir, no Sir."
Robert A. Hall
Once a SSgt, Always a Marine
No Radio Communication
After Korea broke out, I joined the Marine Corps. Went to San Diego for Boot Camp... then to Camp Pendleton, Ocean Side for advanced training. At that time, I believe our structure was three Rifle Companies and one Weapons Company. I was assigned to Weapons Company training at what I think was called Tent Camp 2. Since I was so big and muscular... 5'8" tall and about 120lbs soaking wet, they thought I would be perfect to strap on a 68lbs Flame Thrower. And, also to cross train on the 3.5 Rocket Launcher, so I wouldn't just be sitting around when I wasn't needed on the Flame Thrower.
After Training was completed, we were loaded up on Trucks. They took us to San Diego and we formed up and marched down to the Docks and we were loaded up on two Navy APA's and shipped out. About 18-20 days later we arrived at Kobe, Japan. We were ordered to unload all our Sea Bags and place them in a large warehouse. Guess they didn't think we would be going on Liberty soon. Our Ships were loaded with supplies and off we went to Pusan, Korea as a replacement draft... can't remember if we were second or third replacement or what (too many years ago).
Got into Pusan at night. They loaded us up on trucks to take us to our assignments. After a long ride, my truck stopped, and some of us were told to get off, this was our area. It turned out we were assigned to the 1st Service Battalion. Our jobs were to load C-Rations on Trucks daily and take them up to the lines. I think we were providing support for the 5th Regiment. After loading the trucks, some of us were assigned to ride Shot Gun with the drivers. It seems our unfriendly people knew our schedules. Snipers would try to knock out the lead driver and tail driver and jam things up. I was fortunate that this never happened. All we had was an M-1 Rifle. No Radio communication to call for help! Guess they thought we could handle anything that came along. Our CO was a Captain who had his own private tent and a Jeep Driver. Hardly ever saw either one of them. It wasn't a bad assignment. We had tents, cots, food and water.
I later learned my MOS was 0337 Anti-Tank Assault Infantryman? Never did understand how that came about? Guess we were supposed to knock out a tank with a 3.5 Rocket then grab our Flame Throwers and finish things off. Didn't use either one of them. Anyhow, they did have Weapons Companies in Korea, but a long story to say I wasn't assigned to one. I do think they had them. Some of my experience in Korea - 1951.
3rd 155/175mm Gun Btry
Hello Sgt. Grit,
The 3rd 155/175mm Gun Btry (SP) held its 3rd reunion in Branson, MO this October. Our first time to Branson and we were not disappointed! By far the most military friendly place around. We met up with friends we haven't seen in 45 years. The highlight of the reunion was our unit Banquet and the fun of raffling off the gifts you sent us for our reunion. Thanks for your support and the great products you sell and your great newsletter. I look forward to reading it every week. Keep up the great work!
L/Cpl. Ed Kirby
Nam '68, '69
Why War Books
A friend asked me the other day, "You served in 3 Wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam and you still read about War, Why? Well I do have a lot of War Books, I have a lot of Gun Books, and some books like "Lost in the Horse Latitudes" by H. Allen Smith. I have a medium sized collection of 1930's Big Little Books, I have Rudyard Kipling, and even Dr. Suess, plus many others.
Why War books? The battles Marines fought in World War II and Korea are great reading. But, then the truth was lost when the Great Reporters of the day found problems with the Vietnam War and stopped writing about the enemy's cruelty and total disregard to any rules of War or even humanity. (They tortured and murdered any Prisoners of War they had, there are still 10,000 soldiers missing from the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Lots of our soldiers are still missing from The Korean War and Vietnam, not MIA's.) They would rather write about a Lt. Calley and My Lai.
Since WWII ended we have been hit with "Why the Bomb?", the Japanese were ready to surrender. The Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated there would be One Million Casualties in the first week of the Invasion of Japan, from American, Allies and Japanese. The Japanese had 5000 planes hidden to use as Suicide Planes (at the battle of Okinawa, Kamikaze planes sunk 47 ships and damaged 300 more, killing 4900 Sailors and wounded 4800). It doesn't take a Genius to realize with all the Allied ships surrounding Japan the total would have been so much greater. There was a Pamphlet put out by the 2nd Marine Division about their Occupation of Japan, there is a picture in there of a stack of Japanese planes at least a hundred feet high being burned, and that is only the planes the 2ndMarDiv burned. The Bomb was needed, a lot of WWII Pacific Area Vets feel they are alive because of the Bomb. I get the truth twixt and tween from the chapters of books about this and that. That's why War Books.
I think finally we are getting the straight scoop from some of the writers about the Wars since Vietnam, but we still get the cr-p about Vietnam but not from those Marines that fought at Hue. Why War Books, I keep this 86 year old brain working with all kinds of books and stories, from the Soldiers Three, Rudyard Kipling, "You're only Old Once", Dr Suess, and "Through the Wheat", Thomas Boyd.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau
Longest Ride of My Life
I recall the "swooping" at Camp Lejeune, circa 1962-1964, but not sure if it was called that. Depending on your view... to the Marines it went with the territory of liberty, the price you paid to escape the base, to go home or anywhere that wasn't Lejeune or Jacksonville. To the cops, your officers etc., it was a pain in the azs that spewed Marines all over the eastern seaboard and inland causing the base command and civilian authorities just about everywhere a lot of problems. We heard and were lectured that the base commander got constant complaints from communities far and wide about cars full of tired Marines, and as such a hazard, or Marines along the road etc. That just made the escape all the more of a challenge.
The challenge was just how far you could go on a pass, and do your thing... and get back again, in time for morning formation, nevermind logic or administrative legalities. Technically, I think the logical limit of a weekend pass was about how far away DC was. With I-95 fully functional now the time is supposed to be about 5 and three quarter hours. Back then I don't think I-95 was fully done, so you did a combo of I-95 and Hwy 301, or your secret route known to only thousands.
All that you heard was "liberty" which you stretched as far as you could, whether weekend or a 96. But, if you were on one of those long road trips and hit some bad luck, like your car, or your ride's car broke down, or in the winter, roads closed down... when you called to say you'd be late... of course you were calling from DC or its equivalent in distance in other directions. Whoever you called, of course knew you were full of cr-p, you knew that they knew you were full of cr-p, but for the record you weren't further out than your liberty card was good for. It only was an issue if you didn't make formation.
We actually did go to DC sometimes, for bars and touristy stuff. But, if you thought you could get to your target destination in time for at least one night out with friends, family, love interest and get back in time, you went. And some went every week they could. Some guys just HAD to go home and nothing, certainly distance would get in their way. Some would get to their destinations and practically turn around and head back. Bragging rights were an important part of the tradition. Getting to Maine and back was super star status, but it was incredible how far Marines would go successfully. You didn't just take along passengers to share the expenses, you drove non-stop to and from and you needed to share the driving. So for the long hauls you'd talk a friend into coming home with you.
There were rules of engagement, heavily influenced by the Marine tradition of never leaving your men behind. If riding with someone, your responsibility was to be at the agreed to pick up point by an agreed time. If you weren't there, tough sh-t. Depending on the driver and if it was a friend... they might wait until the last possible moment for you... or not. One reason being, they likely had other pickups further South who were depending on them to show up when they said they would. But in the cases of regular trips, the driver and buddies had calculated the time they needed down to a gnat's asz, and they HAD to keep to the schedule. However, keep in mind that the whole car load may be total strangers who came together at the circle in main side where the driver trolled for paying passengers. So there was a lot of faith in catching a ride. And it worked very well for the most part. A lot of the drop off points were heavily used, so if by some chance your driver finked out on you, another driver's passenger was a no show, or like someone said everyone would get uncomfortable to help another guy out.
Like some others that wrote on the subject, I wasn't stationed Mainside. I was in Courthouse Bay, and we usually made our own local arrangements and didn't go Mainside. In over 2 years I think I only went to Mainside once. It was time consuming. Better you head out the back gate and get on the road.
You could almost always pick out a Marine looking for a ride. They didn't have to stick out their thumbs. Not because of the haircut, but because of the white laundry bag. Remember those? Everyone had them back in the 60's. In Amtracs, our CO's SOP was that it be at the end of your rack, neatly tied on, in the same place on every rack. Military precision. I don't know about other units but our CO was anal about it. When going on weekend liberty in the summer most of the Marines just used a spare laundry bag to carry their "luggage". Your shaving gear and a change of clothes. Mostly they only needed one change as the champion commuters weren't staying more than a day, or if they were going home they had stuff there. You'd see a guy with a white laundry bag, and you knew you were looking at a Marine.
When I first got to Lejeune, I didn't own a car. I got one later. Once or twice I rode up with someone but I didn't have strong reasons to go home, not to the degree that I wanted to wait by the Jersey Turnpike for a pickup.
When I got my own car, I moved around more and at times was the swooper, not the swoopee. I now did the drop off and pick up part. Being from South Jersey, Exit 4 of the Jersey Turnpike was the end of my line so I'd have Jersey and PA guys along for the ride. I remember one trip, where as someone said, on the way back we squeezed in a near panicked Marine who missed his ride.
Unfortunately my car was not big, nor top of the line at the time, a used Ford Falcon. My memorable trip had us driving back to the base from Jersey, with a friend, and 4 other guys stuffed in, including that aforementioned last minute addition. To make it extra fun, my transmission seemed to be giving out. Every time I shifted gears it sounded like it was about ready to drop on the road. Only my buddy noticed so we sweat bullets all the way down. I think the only reason we made it is because once we got on the open road, I didn't need to do any shifting. It was the longest ride of my life though. My passengers all went to sleep so they didn't know how their trip nearly wasn't a trip.
Cpl Don Harkness
1961 - 1965
For the Marine Corps Birthday of 1968, I was at Parris Island in boot camp. The Corps allowed us to watch the Marine football game. We had to sit straight and not eyeball the area. A platoon of women Marines in boot camp also came and sat one bleacher over, leaving an open bleacher between us. You should of heard the woman D.I. when she arrived and berated her charges. I have never heard a woman talk like that. Our platoon was smiling and tried to look at the females but our D.I. wouldn't allow that. He just said "easy t-rds, no eyeballing my area and get them smiles off of them faces." I'll never forget that.
L/Cpl. Ken Kruger
Vietnam 1969-1970, Zulu Co. Marble Mountain
I was on Embassy duty, stationed in Brussels, Belgium from Sept 1956 - Dec 1958. At the Marine Corps Birthday in 1957, our birthday cake was outlined with candles. Top Duxbury was reading the Commandants Birthday message, we were standing at "Parade Rest" when we heard one of our guests calling out, "Sergeant, your cakes on fire", Yes, the servers had lit all the candles, and Tun Tavern was burning down. Nobody moved, we were still at Parade Rest, an Army Colonel, removed the burning cake table and had the servers help put out the fire.
I'm going to start this out like most Marine stories begin, "you ain't going to believe this". It was November, 1992 and we were at Camp Johnson completing our MOS school to become 3531 Motor T. It was the first Marine Corps Birthday for all of us. (I still have the ticket stub) It cost a whole whopping $10.00 bucks to get in. That year we were informed that even those Marines who were under 21 would be allowed to indulge in alcoholic beverages this one evening only. Of course we took that as permission to imbibe in our barracks rooms and continue the revelry there. At this time the barracks at Camp Johnson were three man rooms, but could hold about ten to fifteen Marines, depending on the closeness and comfort level. So the day of the party, we had decided we needed to purchase some 12 ounce alcoholic beverages of our own and prepare them for consumption after the party. Being the wealthy Marines we were, we gathered all those that were willing to participate and informed everyone to cough up funds if you wanted to join in. All in all we collected about $22.00 total, but the best part was, more than half of it was in pennies. (Yes, pennies and we even rolled them).
Just outside the gate and down the block stood a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and wouldn't you know it, they had Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull beer on sale $2.50 a twelve pack, (remember the kind with the bull on the can) Well, being young Marines we bought four cases of this fine (cough) product and used a foot locker to ice them down. Seeing as I was the senior Marine at the time and platoon leader, I volunteered my room for the night's event. Later on that evening after the birthday party had ended, we headed back to the barracks and proceeded to imbibe our glorious purchase. No sooner had we started when a fellow Marine made the comment that he wasn't going to participate because just like the bull on the can he knew that the duty NCO would come crashing in the room and he didn't want to be involved. Not five minutes later, there comes a knock on the door and guess who it was, the duty NCO. Being the fine outstanding young men we were, we all hid our cans of enjoyment and let him in. He proceeded to ask us what we were doing and of course the requisite answer was, nothing just enjoying the evening in our fellow Marines company. That answer didn't appear to be to his satisfaction and he proceeded to the head where the footlocker lay in wait with our bounty. Now this NCO was a Sergeant we had never seen before and to give him credit, his response when he saw what we were drinking, was something to the effect of "if this is what you chose to drink, I'm not even going to turn you in, just stay in your room". We offered him a can or two in reward and he gracefully turned it down and left saying Happy Birthday Marines. There were a lot of worried, underage Marines in that room who would probably thank him today for not ruining their career. In closing, Happy Birthday Marines and stay away from the BULL!
Sgt Littleton 3531, Motor T, If you can't truck it, f-ck it!
9th Motors Okinawa '92-'94
Base Motors Okinawa '92-'94
MAC-6 Cherry Point '94-'98
Wing Drivers School Cherry Point 96-97
My most memorable Marine Corps Birthday occurred in 1967. I had joined the Marines the previous year at the age of 17. In Nov. 1967, I found myself squatting in a flooded rice paddy in Nam. It was the monsoon and any grunt who served in the bush during one can attest to the misery of the constant rain. Our drudgery was interrupted by a helo coming in to drop off supplies and hopefully mail. The Platoon Sgt. started calling my name and told me to get on the bird. Not knowing what was going on I started to worry that something had happened back home. The chopper landed at Camp Evans, our rear at the time, and I was met by a jeep and taken to the company CP tent. I went in and found myself in the middle of a Marine Corps Birthday celebration. A Captain told me that I was the youngest man in the Battalion and it was my honor to help cut the cake with the oldest Marine, a Sgt. Major. After cutting the cake and drinking a couple of beers I was taken back to the chopper and flown back to my unit. Being gone only a few hours everyone looked at me and one guy asked me, "well what happened?" I wasn't sure what to say so I just said, "don't ask, you wouldn't believe it." Back to the bush and back to the misery of the monsoon, but a new sense of pride in my Marine Corps.
Happy Birthday to all my fellow Marines; past, present, and future. Semper Fi!
Sgt. of Marines, '66 to '72
L Co. 3/26, 67 to 68, 0331 Gunner
1971, HMH 462, CH 53D crew chief/door gunner, Marble Mt.
MCAS El Toro
They took part of one of our hangers and they decorated it with large backdrops from one of the movie studios that had an Egyptian theme. This was for the Staff NCO's.
Nov. 1959 Plt 280, San Diego, some company in San Diego donated some sea food for our chow that day.
Remembered Marine Corps Birthday
1969 MCRDSD, PLT 2198, 7 days into boot camp... AHH the memories! Un-forget-able.
Condardo MW Cpl.
6227 FLR Radar Tech
VMCJ-2 "Playboys", 2nd MAW, MCAS Cherry Point, NC
My first Marine Corps Ball was one I will never forget. I was a lowly PFC in the 5th Engineer Battalion USMCR and my wife and I happen to be seated by my platoon Sgt., Sgt Carl Sealey (Later CWO5 - finest Marine I ever met). My wife was seated next to Sgt. Sealey and when they finished playing the Marines' Hymn she asked him what that song was? Did I hear about that for a while.
Life is tough enough in the Marines without this kind of help.
As the CT Area Coordinator for the U.S. Naval Academy I scheduled Annual Candidate Dinners under the Sponsorship of the CT Naval Academy Alumni Assn. Promising candidates seeking an Appointment were invited along with their parents. A member of the Admissions Office at the Academy is invited to address the candidates. The dinner is held every November on the 2nd or 3rd Thursday. The 2nd Thursday happened to be November 10, the 230th Birthday of the Corps. The dinner was held at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Gen. Lejeune's Birthday Message was read, and the Coast Guard baked the Birthday cake.
Among the candidates was a young man who had applied to the Naval Academy previously, but didn't receive an Offer of Appointment, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps and applied for a Fleet Appointment. He called me the night before the Dinner and asked if it would be appropriate to wear his Dress Blues, to which I replied 'by all means'. He so impressed the speaker, the Director of Admissions, that his name was forwarded to the Superintendent for one of his Appointments. He received and accepted an Offer of Appointment and took the Oath on Induction Day.
After the speaker's remarks, the young man received the 2nd piece of cake as the youngest Marine present. A very remarkable and unforgettable 230th Birthday!
Tom Maxwell, Plt 297, '54.
USNA Area Coordinator/Blue & Gold Officer, 1997-Present
When I was a young officer assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, VA, I was selected to be a cake escort at the HQMC Ball to be held at a major hotel in Washington, D.C. This was quite a big deal because the Commandant would be there and so would almost all of the General Officers and senior staff assigned to HQMC, the Pentagon and the DC area. Needless to say, we all wanted things to go smoothly. The day of the event, we went down to the hotel to practice the ceremony. As it turned out, the "cake" was quite large, but most of it was frosted plywood. Only the bottom section at the front was actually cake so that the Commandant could perform the traditional ceremony of giving cake to the oldest and youngest Marines present. When we started the rehearsal, the Marine Corps seal that would sit on top of the cake was not there, so everything went smoothly except that there was a big seam in the stage where the front portion of the stage could be lowered. When we rolled the cake over that seam, it took quite a jolt, but nothing fell off the cart.
Advance to the actual ceremony. We are standing at the back of the stage and the baker comes out and places the plaster Marine Corps Seal on the top of the cake with two thin legs off the back to keep it upright. The frosting on top of the cake was very thin and did not provide much support for that seal. I rocked the cart a little and the seal moved quite a lot, so I asked the baker if he could reinforce the seal with frosting and he said "it will be fine" and he exited the stage. Well, the music sounds, the curtains open and we step off trying to be very careful with the cake. Wouldn't you know, we got to the seam in the floor and the Marine Corps seal crashes into a million pieces at the feet of the Commandant! Have you ever heard 2,000 people say AAAAWWWWWWW? Well, we did and it isn't something you care to hear a second time. Happy Birthday to all my Marine sisters and brothers.
What I remember is that the messhall always had the best chow of the year, even better than Christmas but that's not my story. In August 1961, I was sent to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and was there until August 1963. On the Marine Corps Birthday 1962 the Commanding General decided to make a speech, have a flyover and then a parade of all units.
The 4th Marine Regiment, I was in Charles 1-4, an artillery unit and a unit from the Airwing. The mistake someone made was letting an old hot shot pilot make the flyover. We were all standing at attention listening to the General. We heard a jet plane coming but we couldn't see where from. He came in from the ocean and flew between us and the General in the reviewing stand. He was so low it cut the reviewing stand off from our view for a short time. He turned skyward and disappeared. We then heard him coming again. He came in low again but this time after passing us he went over the mess hall, broke the sound barrier and broke some windows in the mess hall. I didn't see this but I also heard he flew through one of the hangers at the airstrip. I don't know who the pilot was but the word was that he was only allowed to fly on special occasions. I don't remember him flying again while I was there. My other three Marine Corps Birthdays were boring.
A. H. Johnston 1938702
former Cpl. USMC
Excerpts taken from my new book "IN GARRISON" due to be released February 2014.
The Birthday Ball
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.
General Louis H. Wilson
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Toast given at 203rd Marine Corps Birthday Ball
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina 1978
My first Marine Corps Birthday celebration was on the same day General Wilson spoke these immortal words. However, I didn't get to hear them straight from the horse's mouth. I was on the opposite coast aboard Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California. But his words, a short, simple poem, would eventually come true for me.
My first exposure to the traditions and ceremonies surrounding our birthday celebration was rather blase. We were called out for battalion formation in our uniform of the day which was our utility uniform. Nothing seemed very formal. I'd stood in the same spot on numerous occasions, so none of what was about to happen seemed special. As a young, short PFC standing in a formation of hundreds of Marines, I didn't have a very good view, and couldn't hear everything being said. I felt like a three-year-old kid that needed to be picked up and put on his daddy's shoulders to watch the parade. I missed out as the floats passed by, though I did get a great view of all the b-tts in front of me. However, our traditions must be upheld, so I stood at attention as ordered. The Battalion Commander ordered the reading of the Commandants' message. This is the message that was sent out by General John A. Lejeune in 1921, and is still read today.
After the reading, the oldest Marine present was handed the first piece of cake. He took a bite then handed it off to the youngest Marine present. This small ceremony depicts the passing of our knowledge, ethos, traditions, and history from one generation of Marines to the next. I was glad I wasn't the youngest. I didn't want to choke on a mouthful of cake in front of the entire battalion. There were some other ceremonies and words said, and then we were dismissed. I had the opportunity to wait in line for a piece of cake, but with so many Marines present I decided to skip a morning snack and headed to work. Normally we'd been given the day off as the Marine Corps considers our birthday to be holiday, but since the next day was Veterans Day we had to keep the Cash Sales Store open. But don't fear as there was more cake at the chow hall. I managed to partake in my fair share at evening mess.
For more information go to www.jhhardin.com, or to keep up with the latest news visit www.facebook.com/InGarrison. Like it... I do.
J. H. Hardin
'78 â€“ '84
Photo of Plt. 191, 1st RTBn., MCRDSD, 1961.
Pop Off To Visit St. Pete
Watching "Pawn Stars" the other night when a man brought in his Grandfathers Army Air Corps Jacket with a P-38 Drawn on the back with his missions and his enemy shoot downs that confirmed he was an "Ace". It often happens on that show where someone brings in his fathers, grandfathers stuff that he used in his war.
I got to thinking about what I have and what I had. I wrote about the Battle jacket that was issued to me (the Marine Corps stopped issuing the Battle jacket because it didn't have the "Marine" look) and I wondered what I did with my Battle jackets, I had both but? I wondered about many of the uniforms I had, but when they had survey, the old went back and the new was used. In Bermuda, while stationed there, we were issued Blues and with white trousers (White trousers for the blues were Mess trousers issued to Cooks and bakers) and while we wore them once or twice we never wore them again. I have no idea where the blues went I was issued.
In my twenty-six years I was issued lots of what is revered today. WWII Camo's, Leather belt, and things like that. At the end of WWII when I went home, I brought back some stuff I had picked up along the way, Hirohito and the Queens picture I picked up on Okinawa, some large drawings of Japanese characters, boon docks I had in my pack, packed it all in my sea bag and put it in the rafters of the garage. What happened to that I never could find out.
So the only thing I have from all those years is a Retirement document (machine) signed by the Commandant and I believe I have all my orders from back to the forties. I have Diploma's from all the schools I attended, even the NCO Leadership schools, a few things I cut from Leatherneck magazines, (Years ago) and a few Newspaper items about me sent out by PO Officers (GySgt. Rousseau at the Marine Corps Matches...) and, of course, dozens of photos. The Uniform I wore when I retired with ribbons and badges. Signed pictures of the Flag Raising, etc.
So I was wondering what is going to happen to all this when I pop off to visit St. Pete, and my Wife is gone. But then Momma said; "It won't be up to you"! C'est la Vie!
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
The First Casualty of Dillingham
Dillingham Air Force base in 1962 was an abandoned, single paved runway in Northern Oahu. There was no infrastructure to speak of besides the runway. It was basically out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills and jungle on one side and ocean on the other. It was a perfect spot to simulate a forward combat airbase.
In October of 1962, MAG 13, consisting of two A4D squadrons, VMA 212 and VMA 214, one F8U squadron, VMF 232 and HMM 161 flying H-34s, were part of the First Marine Brigade at Kaneohe Bay. That month was chosen for us to move to Dillingham for maneuvers. I was a plane captain in VMA 212.
To make a realistic scenario, we lived in eight man tents and the "grunts" from the other side of the base at Kaneohe took on the roles of guerillas down to wearing bandoliers and carrying full automatic weapons. Although they fired blanks, they had suppressors on the muzzle to blow back the gasses making for full auto fire. We plane captains were issued three blanks apiece for our M1s to use for defense and they didn't have the suppressors so each round had to be hand jacked. And we needed them. Things got real, real fast. The "guerillas" hit our tent the first night. A couple of them ran into our tent after we were asleep and opened up on us. Although they used blanks, it got the message across that we were not playing. We were told that if we captured a "guerilla" we would get an automatic stripe, the guerillas had the same orders. It meant for some busted teeth and bloody heads.
Besides our regular duties as Plane Captains, we were expected to walk security patrols around the perimeter. One night four of us Plane Captains were assigned this detail. We were assigned positions as a fire team. All of us armed with 3 rounds of blanks and M1s. I was the rifleman and acting point. The night was so dark the only way you knew where you were was the feel of the gravel path on your boots. The tropical forest of Hawaii made for perfect ambush on both sides. We maintained silence, using hand signals or taps on the shoulder. We held up at a clearing off to our left. In the middle of a field of waist high grass was a grove of trees and we each heard a metallic sound from that area as if a round was being chambered. We were determined to capture a guerilla. I signaled single file though the grass toward the sound in the trees until we got close. Then, I ran, charging through the grass with the team behind me. I learned a great lesson that night. Never run through the jungle with your rifle in trail, always at port arms. Half way between the clump of trees and me was an invisible barbed wire fence that caught me in the face and both knees. A rifle at high port is a much better way to detect an obstacle then using ones face.
The wire caught me across the chin, hooking into my lower lip, and across the knees. The "guerrilla" probably ran off when he heard my "panyos" laughing as they unhooked me from the fence and carried me back to the aid station for some big, black stitches. The next few days I looked like Frankenstein with my head sewed back on. I was the first casualty of Dillingham.
Truth Be Told
A few thoughts after reading so many others... 1965 vintage, I'm an 0311, Med Cruise, two Viet Nam tours, Vieques (Caribbean) Cruise. My memories were frozen many decades ago. I found It seems the world has changed not so much as the Marine Corps. I visited Parris Island, Camp Geiger and Camp Lejeune last year. Wow, no words to describe, perhaps, to say "when did I become Old Corps?" Cars everywhere at main side and snail traffic too. Utilities seem to be the uniform of the day everywhere off base. I was disappointedly surprised by Parris Island. Camouflaged fluff dry utilities and unshined boots, patent leather shoes. Yet the Drill Instructors are doing a great job. Truth be told, todays Marines are smarter and better disciplined than ever before. By the way, They were Drill Instructors, woe unto him who used the term D.I. I hated spit and polish and resisted being squared away as much as possible. Why do I miss seeing what I rebelled so much against? Maybe when I look over my shoulder back through that haze of time the shiniest memories show through the most. I have also visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico, There is only one way to put it; If you are a Marine, you must go there.
Congratulations On 25 Years
Congratulations on 25 years Sgt. Grit. I had no idea you had been in business that long. I remember your first "catalog" as a single sheet of paper folded with the merchandise in the middle. Bumper stickers are what I remember most, and I bought a few and gave most away. But back then I had a favorite and came close to not trading the truck it was on. "The Sun Never Sets on The Marine Corps". I used to travel a lot back then and that sticker got more reaction and more conversations started than any I have put on since.
Class of 1956
Sgt Grit Facebook
This week we posted this image with the additional text:
Now we all probably know a Marine who got busted down while we were in. For some that Marine is the one reading this post. We also know that some Marines got busted down for something that was just completely ridiculous, so if you don't mind sharing, tell your Brothers and Sisters about the time when PFC Schmuckatelli lost a stripe! Oohrah!
Here are a few of the responses that received:
Jessica - Disobeying a direct order went from lance to pvt, funniest part was the only rank I revisited was lance which I got back 6 months later meritoriously. The direct order was to not have contact with my then husband and some of my friends, damn Pensacola school command. By time everything was said and done I got a nice brig vacation out of it... lol.
Michelle - I was never busted down, but it looked like it... spent eight years as an Army medic. Joined the Corps, lost my rank but not my time in service. So... first MC ball, I wore my blues... mosquito wings with two hash marks... looked really bad. lol
Cary - We had a guy steal a Hummer from another unit after a hard night of drinking on the Rock. Didn't feel like driving back to the barracks, so he "borrowed" a hummer, drove it right to the barracks, went up stairs and went to bed. Instant legend for Comm Squadron 18.
Steven - Used to be... You weren't a good Marine without a few Page 11 entries... I got my 1st upon graduating A-School in Millington, TN for "disobeying a lawful odrder" from a Major who ordered me to put on a Charlie Shirt for the new ID Card I was getting for meritorious LCpl, graduating at the top of my class. The photo lab was closing and the SSgt there said he'd do a close head shot without a uniform change from my cammies... Well, the major wanted to inspect my ID before handing me my travel orders... The collar of my cammies was visible enough for him to feel like writing me up. Off to a good start! There were many other calls upon the carpet in my 20 yr career... But I was trained by Nam Vets and never took anyones cr-p... Even let Officers know that this Gunny had no use for their BS... We all knew that the Enlisted Ranks Run the Corps! Semper Fi!
Haunted Ghostinyour Heart - we all know that we are not supposed to salute officers in a combat zone, however I had this one officer who insisted that he be saluted... so I became aggravated and gave him a snappy salute and then I said "sniper check sir"... well that is all it took... back to PFC again... lol
See more of the responses that we received at:
Sgt Grit Facebook Page
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #6, #11 (NOV., 2016)
In this issue I'm going to attempt to get two subjects recorded without too much of a headache. First off, can anyone tell me the difference between regular Steer manure and Red steer manure? The reason I ask is because back in 1967 or 68 my good friend MGySgt Williams (you remember Willy, don't you?) asked me to stop by his house and help him put some fertilizer on his lawn, which I did. So, after work at the base one evening. I stopped by his place on my way home. He had just picked up a couple of bags of manure; they were boldly labeled as RED Steer Manuer. They were just sitting on the garage floor and within three or four feet away were two grown men standing there trying to figure out what the H-LL is the difference between Regular Steer Manure and RED Steer Manure. It certainly didn't have anything to do with the smell. It was finally determined by the both of us that Steer Manure was just that and whether the Steer was Red, Black or brown didn't make any difference. It stank! I have never been able to find anyone that could explain the difference. STRANGE!
The second portion of this issue has to do with another good friend and fellow Crew Chief by the name of Paul. I won't use his last name because I don't have his permission and I just don't want to do that without their knowledge. This happened on a Saturday somewhere closer to 1300 or 1400 and we had both been flying that morning, and after returning to the base we went to the Staff Club for a sandwich and a cold beer. Well, one led to another and then it was time to get on the road and I needed to get home. My wife had taken me into the base that day and Paul told her that he would get me home when we were done flying. Like I said everything was planned except my clumsy and UN-graceful dismount from Paul's truck when we got to the apartment complex where the wife and I lived. I have to go back and tell you that we spotted the wife coming out of the complex laundry when we pulled in the parking lot and Paul stopped close by where we saw her, and I yelled out that I was home and with that I opened the truck door and Paul pushed me out on the grass and he took off rather rapidly laughing, leaving me to explain why I had Beer on my breath. Now, I picked myself up and started to present my story when I was directed by my wife to Pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. Does that sound familiar?
With a very heavy heart I'm sad to say we lost another fine Marine and a lifelong friend.
Sgt. Larry G. Nabb 2373839, of Fort Morgan, CO passed away on June 3, 2013. Larry served three tours of duty in Vietnam. I had the pleasure to serve with Larry from 1968 â€“ 1969. 3rd Marine Div. Hq. Bn. Serv. Co. MT. Quang Tri. Larry is the Marine depicted in the attached Christmas picture that appeared in your Newsletter some time back.
The picture was taken in our "Hooch" in Quang Tri in 1968 and appeared in the Stars and Stripes and the 3rd Marine Div. Magazine. Larry was my buddy.
Cpl. Roger "Mike" Hess, 2389xxx
Dear Sgt Grit,
We lost another Marine to cancer. Dave "Beak" Brooks passed away Oct. 5th. He served with D/1/3 as a rifleman in Vietnam in 1966-1967.
Semper Fidelis my friend... Rest In Peace.
On October 10, 2013, Sergeant Major Ret. Edgar Wade Johnson, age 76, of Meridian, Mississippi reported in to his final duty station. Sergeant Major Johnson became a Marine in 1956 and went on active duty in 1959. He served in Vietnam and he did three tours as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island. Ed served for 30 years in his beloved Marine Corps, and upon retirement, went to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas where he served for four years as a drill instructor. In 1992, he returned home to Meridian and spent four years serving as an ROTC Instructor at Northeast High School.
Sergeant Major Johnson was a Marine's Marine, who during his 30 years of service, made a significant, positive impact on his fellow Marines. No doubt St. Peter is proud to have Ed Johnson helping to guard the streets of Heaven.
S.R. Van Tyle
John P. passed away at 3:12 A.M. on July 21st, 2013. He fought like the Marine that he had been for all these years, but his heart was just too tired and weak to pump the blood necessary to keep the rest of his organs functioning. He really enjoyed your publication though, and he bought several items as gifts for our grandson. But, I think the time has come to remove his name from your mailing list. He is with our Lord now, and I'm sure he is being reunited with many other Marines who never made it back to their loved ones.
Thank you for sending him your publication though, he really looked forward to getting it.
Mrs. John P.
Lost And Found
Great newsletter. Thank you.
While reading this week's edition I was reminded that the summer of 2014 will mark fifty years ago that I and my fellow recruits went through boot camp aboard Parris Island, Platoon 157, Company D. My Senior Drill Instructor was Sgt M. Chepenick and my two Junior Drill Instructors were Cpl W. Benner and Cpl G. Williams. We graduated boot camp on 18 September 1964.
Around 1966, I saw Cpl. Williams, then a Sergeant, on a chow line in Sukiran, Okinawa, but have yet been able to locate Sgt Chepenick or Cpl Benner.
I am in contact with only two of my platoon mates from that long time ago. I am wondering if any of your readers are my old DIs or platoon mates? I hope to make it up to PI sometime around September of 2014 to visit the place where it all started fifty years ago!
Semper Fi, Marines!
GySgt. Rousseau has it right about Battle Jackets not Ike Jackets, however he is about ten years late as to when they were in service. I had both in Green and Khaki in 1949. On another subject we wore pith helmets in boot camp at PI in 1942.
MGySgt Schroeder XX1937
I joined the Corps March 1952. I was issued a blouse, as we called it then. I had an odd size 43 long. They only had one blouse that size so they gave me a "Battle Jacket". My regret is that I sold it for $50.00 when I got discharged from Cherry Point. Big mistake. The "Battle Jacket" did not come out in 1958.
M1 Rifle Range. Elbow under the piece. Six O'clock on the bull. Take up the slack. Breathe, squeeze, do not anticipate the hammer fall.
I have a question for all the "older" young Marines, who like me, never qualified with any rifle but the good ole M-1. Picture the scene - qualifying day at the range, rapid-fire, prone position. The range master calls out: "Ready on the left? Ready on the right? Already on the firing line? With a clip and two rounds - lock and load!" Now my tired old mind knows what to do with the clip, but for the life of me, my hands and fingers don't remember what I did with the "two rounds". What step is my memory missing?
Be well and Semper Fi.
Bob West, Cpl.
Maybe someone can help me get a picture that appeared in the Navy Times about Dec '65 or Jan '66. I was a Sgt with Golf 2/9 and was taking a bubble bath at a river in Vietnam when they took it. Would really like to pass it on to the kids.
The letter you printed from MSgt Gene Hays was chickensh-t in the extreme. What a thing to do to a proud Marine who was only asking to go to combat duty. He should have been given a promotion and his CO should have been given a demotion. On the letter from Spike Berner, I served on the same sea duty in the mid-fifties and can assure you no Marine would be caught dead having his picture taken with his hands in his pockets which is strictly against Corps regulations.
Sgt. Ray Reynolds
Regarding modified Blues... Your right about the modified blues in the 50's as we at 8th and I, in '52/'53, wore this uniform at the Gate and on liberty till I believe the middle 50's. I also notice that at your time, your Covers seem to have a slight saddle in them which was also, I believe dropped in later in '53/'54.
I enlisted in mid-fifties and in boot camp we were issued a pair of Cordovan low quarter dress shoes. The first thing we did was dye the shoes black and when we had the first opportunity after boot camp, we went to the cobbler and had double soles and heels with a horse shoe tap installed on the heels. As I recall, this was a standard practice throughout the FMF, and I am wondering when this practice was discontinued.
"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."
"Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."
--James Madison, 1792
"Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?"
"Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear."
"Tyranny, like h-ll, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
"Flip-Flop, Hippity-Hop, Mob Stop!"
"Private, you are about as squared away as a soup sandwich!"
"Dress right dress! Cover down!"