If you are having trouble viewing this issue, see it on our website:

Sgt Grit Newsletter - 28 MAR 2013

In this issue:
• Football In The Mud
• Flashy Elton John
• Proud Grandmother

Online Store TShirts Men's Headgear Patches Women's

Flags   Family Member   Ka-Bars   Auto   Headgear  Jackets  ALL CATEGORIES  

Request a catalog
Facebook Twitter Sgt Grit Blog Sgt Grit's RSS Feeds

Sgt Grit,

This is a photo of Bernice Roberts of Mt. Dora, FL, in her Service "A" Uniform. She was born on Dec. 4th, 1908. She is the oldest living Woman Marine at the age of 104. I will be visiting her on Easter Sunday and I will take some more pictures to send in to you.

Semper Fi
Cpl. '69 -'70 Vietnam

Like Lambs

Hey Sgt:

I got to MCRD June of 1964 and was in Plt. 153 - "The L.A. Dodgers Platoon"! We were delayed-entry guys from the L.A. area. We were sworn-in, get this, at Dodger Stadium. Really! We were herded out from the dugout area and formed into a group along the third base line and sworn in prior to a night game between the Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds. Then we were herded up to seats in the nose-bleed section, where we gorged ourselves on Dodger Dogs and sodas.

After the game, we were herded on to a Greyhound bus for the journey down to San Diego. Like lambs to the slaughter. I think we all know what happened after the bus door was opened... don't we?

L/Cpl JEFF Barnes, '64-'68.

Sgt Grit's 10th Annual Gritogether

Come join us for a day full of fun, free food, laughter, and memories on 1 June 2013, from 1000-1400. The After Party will kickoff at 2000 at the Best Western Plus Saddleback Inn & Conference Center in Oklahoma City.

Reserve a room at a discounted rate of $89.95! Call (405) 947-7000 by April 15th, 2013, and mention that you are with Sgt Grit.

For more info, visit our Gritogether page.

Football In The Mud

As always, I was happy to see the newsletter in my in-box. My wife fully understands why nothing gets done around here from the time it takes me to read it through. Reading a story with mention of Okinawa reminded me (once again) of my tour there in '70-'71. I was assigned to Division Ranges as a shooting instructor out of Camp Hansen. I got all the guys who went unqual at the range in boot camp, and got 'em qualified before they went on to a permanent station in 3rd Mar. Div. I worked with another guy, Randy James, from Texas (for some reason I think it was 'Somerset', Texas), whom we called 'Boot', if my memory serves me right. I've tried for years to find him.

Anyway, he would organize football games on the flat ground between the barracks and the chow hall, which was 'terraced' to that level. One of my fondest memories is of those games on weekend days when it had been raining, as it does a lot there, and we played football in the mud hole that the field quickly became. Our C.O. was Col. Stanley S. Warzyniak (sp?), and he would stop by occasionally, watch the games and root for whoever was behind. Everyone who reads these memories from old Marines knows how much we all remember and miss those days, and the Marines we served with. Thank You, Sgt. Grit for this place.

In closing, I shall remain...
"Semper Fidelis"
Dale "MAD DOG" Messmer

Marine Corps Newspaper At Camp Lejeune

Sgt Grit,

I use to draw for the Marine Corps Newspaper at Camp Lejeune, NC.

Cpl. Munoz, D.

Flashy Elton John

Dear Sgt Grit,

Marines are Marines... no matter where they trained. Back in the pre-WWI "Old Corps", Marines had been trained at various Naval bases like Puget Sound. In WWII a unit of Samoans sworn in (USMCR) and trained in American Samoa.

As a "Hollywood Marine", I thought that I would settle this issue once and for all. This petty bickering must come to an end. The accident of geography and weather should mean nothing. The fact that San Diego has a Mediterranean climate and lacks surrounding swamps and swarms of sand fleas is a mere detail. It is the training that makes boys into Marines that counts.

First of all, when we arrived at MCRD in June of 1968, we were not "issued dress blues and sent on liberty into San Diego..." This would have been irresponsible and injurious to the reputation of the Marine Corps. First we had to go to the recruit barbershop to get a light trim so that we would present a military appearance when we went on liberty that night.

We were not issued "flashy Elton John" type sunglasses. That is a cheap rumor. We were issued basic aviator type sunglasses in high polished gold. We were required to wear these day or night when on liberty.

We were not "bussed to Hollywood for dates with Hollywood starlets..." They were flown into Lindbergh Field in a charter jet.

Above all, we were not given 30 days leave immediately upon arrival. No matter what day of the week we arrived, we had to return from our first liberty in time for hard core Marine training... 1400, Monday.

I know that my brothers who graduated from P.I. are also faced with rumors by loose-mouthed people. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that "Hollywood Marines" are better looking than P.I. Marines. There is absolutely no truth to the rumors about the quality of Marine produced in either Recruit Depot. There is probably no truth to the rumor that "Hollywood Marines" are smarter than Marine from P.I.

I hope that I have laid this matter to rest.

J.F. Owings
0311 1968-70

Get Rid Of It

I wanted to relate a story to you about my King Rat. I was one of the Drill Instructors for Plt 3058, graduated 28 August 1975. It was the one night just before graduation and I had the duty. Another Drill Instructor, Sgt Richard Lindquist, from one of the other platoons stopped by the duty hut after lights out. He had brought with him a few cans of cold Coors beer. While talking about the upcoming graduation and enjoying the beer, I said I was going to have some fun with the King Rat. I cannot remember his name, but he had a cousin in the platoon, Pvt P M Rifenbury, a house mouse. Anyway I took a canteen cup and poured a good portion of a can of beer in the cup. I had the firewatch get the King Rat. When he reports, just barely awake, I chewed him out about leaving the duty hut a mess and I did not know what was in the canteen cup, but he had better make it disappear. Well it was like watching a cat creep up on a mouse, he eyed it then smelled it, looked at me then said, "Sir". I said to get rid of it and I did not care how he did it. Well he tipped that cup up an downed it in about one gulp. Licked his lips, washed the cup out and then left. It was an amusing site. One of the many I enjoyed on the Drill Field.

Paul DeLaricheliere

Proud Grandmother

Hello, I just wanted to say I have followed your newsletter ever since my oldest grandson joined the Marines 5 years ago. So, thought I would tell you this. You can just delete this, but I have to tell you so I can keep my composure. My youngest grandson has now joined the Marines. He goes to Boot Camp in 2 weeks. April 2nd. I'm a tad nervous as I was with my first grandson joining. But, I know he will make it cause I've always seen how strong he is. So now the two grandsons, brothers, will be proudly serving our USA. I'm so proud of them.

Thanks for listening and even if you just deleted this, that's ok, I just have to tell someone!

A grandmother in Colorado

Who I Would Shoot First

In the last two newsletters I have been reading about how great the Korean troops that served in Viet Nam were. I hate to start an argument, but the ones I served with, to put it mildly, were WORTHLESS!

The first time was during Tet '68. An ARVN unit had tried to retake a village without any support and were stopped cold. They called for help and we were sent along with some Korean troops to assist. As soon as the first incoming was received, the Koreans split leaving the ARVN and my three tanks high and dry. This cost us one tank commander (Plt Leader), one gunner, one loader-all of which were seriously wounded and one M48A3 90mm tank looking like a Swiss cheese.

The second time was in April '68. We were on an operation in support of a Korean unit and stumbled into an NVA base camp. Again, as soon as the first incoming was received, the Koreans split-leaving my light section (2 tanks) high and dry! We had no choice but to stand and fight it out until we could coordinate a withdrawal between ourselves. We started the operation one man short on our crew and ended three man short! Our driver was hit and hit hard! The gunner, me, received shrapnel in the left knee, but was able to continue until we were back on safe ground. Both the gunner and myself were medivaced.

If I were in combat with Koreans versus anybody, I don't know who I would shoot first! As far as I am concerned they would both be the enemy!

Ralph Schwartz
SSgt of Marines, '67-'77
"C" Co. 1st Tk Bn, 1st Mar Div, FMF

Dressed Up To Travel

I was a Junior PLC candidate during the summer of 1957. I rode the train from Grand Central Station in New York City down to Union Station in Washington, DC. There I boarded an RF&P train to Quantico. I was a bit naive as an 18 year old college freshman, wearing my best light grey wool suit, on my way to being a Marine. (Yes, one dressed up to travel those days.)

Since my orders required that I report in by 2400 hours, I assumed that when I got to Quantico, I would have time to check out the area, maybe grab a few beers and have some lunch. Just as the conductor announced that the next stop was Quantico, the train slowed to a crawl and a bunch of Marine NCOs climbed aboard the train. Needless to say, my plans were trashed as the DIs screamed and shouted us to attention in the parking lot next to the train stop. That's where I had my, "What the f-ck have I done?" moment. We stood on the parade deck for a couple of hours before the cattle cars came to take us to Camp Barrett and the Quonset huts I would call home for the next six weeks. It was there that I met our senior DI, SSgt Brock, a WWII Vet, Sgt. Sheets our junior DI and our platoon commander Lt. Shillinglaw. Oh! They didn't issue us clothing and 782 gear for several days, so I had to wear my grey suit for a few days. When I finally sent it home, my mom threw it away. I was to meet now GySgt Brock several years later; me as a student in The Basic School (TBS 2/62) he as an instructor.

Lt. John J. Mitchell

P.S. I had the honor to attend my son's graduation from Boot Camp in PI and also his commissioning and graduation from TBS.

My Moment Of Glory

Waaay back in the early 1960's, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (K-3-1) from Camp San Mateo in Camp Pendleton "volunteered" for weekend duty. Early Saturday morning, the whole company boarded buses and headed up to CBS studios in Hollywood... our dress at the time was the "Tropical" uniform (with ties and barracks cover). Once admitted to the studio, we stood around in the parking lot for a bit... then, we got called to company formation. With TV cameras all around, we exercised (side straddle hops, pushups, etc.) to "Chicken Fat". (Visit the page below to hear the song).

"Chicken Fat"

The song was written by Meredith Wilson. We were part of President John Kennedy's push for more fitness by the youth of America. The show was a Meredith Wilson special. Anyone reading this remember being part of this?

Because of my prior duty (Sea Duty) I had 2 sets of Dress Blues... after the parking lot exercises, the Marines with Dress Blue Uniforms were told to change and assemble on the roof of a large building... for more TV shooting. I don't remember what the rest of the Marines did while we were on the roof, but, there were special guests on the roof and I got to escort Vicki Carr (remember her?) down some red carpeting lined with flags on stands... she sang, "You're a Grand Old Flag" as we walked down the red carpet... my moment of glory as a Hollywood Marine!

If you remember this, please contact me!

Howard Hada

None The Wiser

Ddick, you mentioned standing by in '59 with 2/1/9 waiting to go for a ride on C119 Flying Boxcars to destinations unknown. I was a CW operator with CommCo at Camp Hague when we packed a ff pack and were trucked to Camp Sukiran and were deposited at your fine living facilities to stand by with you. I remembered that it would be C141 Starlifters to take us, but I may be wrong. I do remember sitting in a room being taught French by a Captain. We were never told where we were going. At the time it made no difference to me as long as we were going. Ah youth! Later, I figured Laos or Vietnam which I didn't hear of until 1965. We were kept at 1/9 for 23 or 24 days then trucked back to Hague none the wiser.

Semper Fi
Chick Weemes
Feb '58-Feb '62

Men At Prayer

This had hung in my room for years as a kid, I recently got it back after it had been misplaced after my father passed away. I have never seen it anywhere else. "A painting by Capt. A.G. Raymond, USMCR, depicts in its impressive sincerity, the worship and reverence that our fighting men carry to the very battle lines... The strength of manly character typified by the American Marine is vividly portrayed in this factual interpretation of men at prayer."

Thought that I could share it with others.

Semper Fi
Bob Belles '76-'78

Getting The "Rush"

Also a "winger" was giving me flashbacks with his helo stories from 1965 around "Elephant Valley" with 2/3. I still carry scars from the elephant grass that its name derived from. Thanks for the memories.

I was with 3rd Engrs humping an extra 40 lbs. (satchel charge) of C-4 attached to 2/3 at the time. It was during the monsoon season and we forded a river and I almost drowned when I slipped in the river. All that weight wouldn't let me get back up, and I couldn't get up. My rifle slipped off my shoulder and it is still somewhere down river over there. I struggled to get up but all the weight just held me down. All I could see was blue/gray sky as I looked upwards. I thought I was going to drown. Then suddenly out of nowhere something/someone, pushed me from my backside and "flung" me out of the water and I grabbed onto a slab of grass that was growing from the bank of the river. I looked back and no one was within helping distance from me. I still don't know to this day who/what saved me from drowning. I remember that very well as it was a S&D and it was during my 19th birthday.

When we got back to the 2/3 compound I was first to get out of the "grasshopper chopper" UH34D, and the rice paddy I had jumped into from the chopper was so drenched with water from the rain, I sank down to my waist and I couldn't squirm out of the chopper's way as it was fixing to land on my head. The door gunner saw my situation and radioed the pilot to pull up and held the other guy from jumping off the chopper. I had never been so shook up. The chopper moved to another location and I got out but it took me awhile to get out of the paddy. I was really stuck in the mud. I had lost my rifle in the river and my trousers had only one pant leg, I had cuts all over. The elephant grass had done a number on me. I was a new Marine with 1-1/2 years in and I had experienced a life changing experience.

I went back for two more tours from '66 to '69 for a total of 37 months and had similar experiences. Someone was definitely watching over me as I was about 5ft from a grenade and only got shrapnel in both of my arms, but my flak jacket was blown off of me in the front and the M-14 magazines that I carried around my waist to protect my front had been imbedded with shrapnel. And to top it all off, my M-14 was broken in two from the stock.

When I read "elephant valley" all that came back into my mind. There was also "Happy Valley" and some experiences there. Then on my last tour in '68-'69, I went back to 3rd Engrs and worked with 3rd, 4th, and 26th Marines and that was all up in the north from Alpha 1 (Cua Viet) to the Laos border on Ops, but worked out of Con Thien, Camp Carroll, and Vandegrift. We built many a LZ and firebase. I loved working with the grunts and with the explosives, but mostly going on Ops and getting the "rush" from the contacts. I would do it all over in a heartbeat.

Manuel Gonzales SGT
USMC '64-'71
Thanks for letting me share some of my experiences.

That Was More Like It

Cpl. Andre asked for a heads-up in regard to what he and Cpl. Sentell can expect when they visit Camp Lejeune this summer. I can help.

I made my first visit to Camp Lejeune last year, for a Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation ceremony that honored scholarship winners, one of whom was my son. I was absolutely giddy with anticipation at the prospect of being back on a base and had told my wife and son, over and over, that they would finally see real Marines and could possibly begin to understand my pride in being one (Sgt. W.W. Federman, USMC, 1968-71; RVN 1970-71). I had spent my stateside time in the Corps at MCRD San Diego, Quantico and Camp Pendleton, but I figured that Camp Lejeune could measure up to my memories and expectations.

I was prepared to answer all sorts of questions and volunteer any information required to get on base. I expected to be able to visit a few select areas but that most areas would be off limits.

That was not the case, though. As we approached the main gate, some sh-tbird who was wearing some kind of blue utility outfit (I have no idea who or what he was) stopped yawning and slouching long enough to wave us through without a second look. I was surprised and a little discomfited. This was not what I wanted my wife and son to see. This pathetic display was repeated when we returned the next day.

We drove all over the base without interruption. When we got a bit lost we stopped at a 7/11 store (this was surprising; no such thing was allowed at Camp Pendleton when I was there) and asked a warrant officer for directions to the Paradise Point Officers' Club, where the MCSF ceremony was to take place. This squared-away Marine gave us exact and polite directions, calling me "sir" and my wife "ma'am." This was more like it.

The ceremony was outstanding. We met Maj. Gen. Raymond Fox and many other officers and senior NCOs who were there to greet the scholarship winners and their parents. They represented the Corps in the way I expected and my wife and son got, I believe, a glimpse into what it means to be a Marine.

The barracks I saw were fairly modern buildings that resembled college dorms. I doubt that Cpl. Andre will be able to find his old barracks because it was probably torn down long ago. And if he gets into the NCO club, I'll bet it's a far cry from what he knew in the '60s.

My advice is to keep an open mind. Cpl. Andre and Cpl. Sentell will find that much has changed since their time, as is to be expected. Some of the changes are good and some are not so good. That's the nature of change. One constant, though, is that Camp Lejeune is still populated by the few, the proud. And that will never change.

Have fun.

Sgt. W.W. Federman

Tomorrow's Entertainment

In 1968 at the military processing center in the "City of Brotherly Love" I raised my right hand and swore that I, would support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The following day I was welcomed to Parris Island by one of the roughest, ugliest, foul-mouthed individuals I have ever met. His name is one I'll never forget - Staff Sergeant J.E. Strausbaugh; his occupation, Senior Drill Instructor for First Battalion's recruit training platoon 1028. Forty-eight hours prior to meeting SSgt. Strausbaugh my biggest problem was worrying if I would have enough money to pay for a Friday night date. Standing at the position of attention on Parris Island, my biggest worry had become whether or not I would survive the next eight weeks with SSgt. Strausbaugh trying to find a way to make me quit.

I can vividly recall the day I was brushing my teeth following the command of, "Smokers draw one. Non-smokers prepare to make a head-call." Followed by, "Aye, aye, sir." As I brushed, I listened to the majority of the platoon who were formed in a circle between the rear of the barracks and the swamp repeating in unison, "Caution cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health and so might Vietnam. But we don't give a dam."

I was returning my shaving kit to my footlocker when my attention was drawn to the sound of recruit's shouting from the edge of the swamp. As I left the rear door of the barracks I saw a member of my platoon standing in quicksand up to his thighs, his arms at his side, while his heart pumped blood out onto the sand through the openings he had created in his wrist. Five members of the platoon bravely figured out a way to extract the bleeding recruit and he was taken away in a straight jacket.

Shortly after the suicidal recruit's departure, SSgt. Strausbaugh called for a school circle in the middle of the barracks. While the five recruits who had rescued the bleeding recruit were doing non-stop push-ups, because no one told them to save the poor excuse of a human being, the Drill Instructor had randomly picked a recruit and had him standing on a footlocker striped to the waist. With a magic marker he drew on the recruit's wrist the proper direction a person should cut himself to bleed out the quickest. He told us he didn't want anyone in his Marine Corps who didn't want to be a Marine and strongly suggested if we didn't want to be Marines simply follow the directions he had provided.

Having said that he released his live model whom by now had magic marker lines drawn on all his major artery locations. The five recruits who were doing push-ups continued until they had nothing left and then were assigned to the motivation platoon for the following day. That night as I "hit the rack" I wondered who would provide tomorrow's entertainment and hoped it wouldn't be my turn.

Jeff Hiers
B Co. 1/26 Marines
1969 - 1970

Misconceptions About Boot Camp

In an attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions about boot camp assignments and the Mississippi River, I'm providing a map.

The country is split into two Recruiting Regions, East and West. Each Recruiting Region is split into three Recruiting Districts.

Maggots from the East Recruiting Region go to MCRDPI:
1st Recruiting District
4th Recruiting District
6th Recruiting District (notice the 6th District crosses the Mississippi river to include Louisiana)

Maggots from the West Recruiting Region go to MCRDSD:
8th Recruiting District
9th Recruiting District (notice the 9th District crosses the Mississippi River to include Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and part of Michigan)
12th Recruiting District

While that is the general rule, I've heard rumors of "legacy" recruits. That's a recruit who, because of location, would normally be assigned boot camp at one Recruit Depot, but because of a family member (father, mother, brother, uncle, etc.) will be allowed to go the other Recruit Depot for boot camp. I don't know if that's true or not. Maybe someone who has been or is on recruiting duty can clear that one up for us.

Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Jerry D.
"Oderint dum metuant."
"Let them hate, so long as they fear."

Senior Marines

Two young businessmen in Florida were sitting down for a break in their soon-to-be new store in the shopping mall. As yet, the store wasn't ready, with only a few shelves and display racks set up. One said to the other, "I'll bet that any minute now some senior is going to walk by, put his face to the window, and ask what we're selling."

Sure enough, just a moment later, a curious senior gentleman walked up to the window, looked around intensely and rapped on the glass, then in a loud voice asked, "What are you sellin' here?" One of the men replied sarcastically, "We're selling azs-holes." Without skipping a beat, the old Marine said, "You must be doing well. Only two left."

Senior Marines - don't mess with them. They didn't get old by being stupid!

Cpl Bob

First H-Bomb

Besides raising h-ll in southern California, our squadron was assigned to support the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1956 related to the A-bomb/H-bomb blasts within the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Our responsibilities were to transport the AEC personnel to and from the blast areas using our helicopters. Life aboard the Navy CVE "Badoing Straight" was OK, not crapping. We were rotated from aboard the CVE to the island where all others were billeted. We were only witness to one of the blasts which was the first H-bomb dropped from the air. The CVE moved out of position to a location about 30 miles or so away from the blast area. (My guess about the miles from blast area). We were not given any special eye protection, as were the top rated personnel. Very early in the AM, darkness was all about us, and we were allowed to go to the flight deck. With our backs to the blast area we were ordered to use our fatigue jackets and covers to cover our eyes until signaled all clear to view the blast.

WOW! I saw the very white explosion light right thru my fatigues and arm. What an awesome sight to behold. Bright yellow, to deep orange, to mushroom stack and the mushroom head all colors purple, blue, and colors to be spelled in an artist's palette. I have never witnessed anything so awesome, yet beautiful as color goes and the possible destruction done on a land target could not be imagined. After completing our assignment we were ordered to secure all helos on board the CVE and all associated equipment and return to the states.

At this point all of the Marines were ordered to scrub their rack and make presentable for Navy Inspectors prior to returning to home port. I needed my rack to be scrubbed with sand soap and sea water as it was a mess when it was assigned to me. I found a line on the fantail and tying it to the rack and rail lowering it to the sea. I assumed the movement of the ship would clean the rack. BUT the rack never hit the water and was flapping in the breeze and banging on the hull. Then the line parted the rack and that was the last of my rack. Next move was to the Navy compartment. No clean racks to be had. A rack in worst condition was the one and only available to acquire. I acquired it and spent a few days and nights scrubbing and rubbing. P-ssed off that the Navy Line was short and rotten. (Should have scrubbed my issued rack).

Later in life, I joined the Marine Corps League (MCL) and am a Life Member. Was active in my Detachment and achieved the Marine of the Year Medal in 2009. League did many things for our warriors and their families. The MCL is a big plus available for all our Marines and Corpsmen with certified credentials.

Semper Fidelis,
Bill P. - OOH RAH!
William F. Penn-USMC- SGT - MOS 6431(Aviation Electrician)
MCRD, PI, SC - 1954 thru 1957 Active
Reserve 1957 thru 1962
Honorable Discharged 1962
Final Duty Station; LTA, Santa Anna,CA.
Assigned to: 3rd MAW, MAG 36 - Helicopter Marine Rescue (HMR 363)

Still A Turd

In July 1974, I attended recruit training at PI and graduated with Plt. 272. One of my drill instructors was Sgt. Laskodi. He was the 3rd Hat, so he had to prove himself, and of course we paid the price every time he was the duty drill instructor. Years later, in 1982, I was attending The Basic School and was the duty officer. As I was standing in line for evening chow, I turned around to ask the Marine behind me what time it was and lo and behold it was Sgt. Laskodi, except now he was CWO Laskodi. When I saw his name tag and connected his face with the name, I gave him a good punch on the arm and said, "I outrank you now," to which he responded, "You're still a turd." It turned out to be old home week, as we sat together and chowed down with another drill instructor from the series I was in. It's a small world and a small Marine Corps, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Semper Fi.
Terry F.

I Am No Longer Impressed

Can't remember his Drill Instructor's names? I know, I can walk into the bathroom and forget why I went in there. (old age creeping up) My DI's names were SSgt Lester, SSgt Walsh and the Platoon Commander's name was GySgt Ayala. My M-1 rifle number was 220369 and that same rifle was sent to my first duty station (3/7) after boot camp and ITR. I went through MCRD San Diego and learned later that the word Hollywood Marines depended upon your DI. They had easy ones and hard ones at both Depots. I served six years as a DI (2 tours).

My very early memory of boot camp after just 3 days? If I had known what a qu--r really was back then, I would have said I was one, just to get out. The grinder at San Diego was off limits to all except DI's and recruits. Personnel from the communications school, sea school, etc. and all autos were included. Now, it's a huge parking lot. Graduations used to be held in the Depot Theater and was a semi-formal gathering of parents and relatives who dressed accordingly. Now they're held on the PARADE DECK? Filled with cars, echoing microphones and people dressed in shorts and T-Shirts yelling and squealing like a bunch of pigs in a barn. I am no longer impressed.

I understand that they now have a Drill Master in each battalion. (What's that?) DI's don't know how to teach drill anymore? Some idiot does a right face instead of a left face. First offense: What are you going to do for an encore numb nuts? Something spastic? Second offense: A punch in the gut or a hand around his Adam's apple. He just got squared away and never makes that mistake again.

I remember a colonel having his troops marched through a city during the 1st Gulf War and a reporter asked him why his troops were at sling arms with no ammunition? Well, he proudly said, I wouldn't want the troops to get over excited and shoot at some bus or car that just back fired. Hmm? Lack of training?

Kids are raised different now. Sixty or 70 years ago the parents left them alone at ages 7 through 9. The kids knew how to keep the wood or coal burning stove fired up without burning the house down, they knew how to change their baby brother's diaper and fix his meals. They could shoot, clean and cook almost any small animal. Now, they want to go to war with an armored vehicle. Why didn't they join a tank outfit? Why did they do away with the Draft? Many draftees went on to become a SgtMaj and some officers. We have no Generals that even know about draftees, but they say they are satisfied with the all-volunteer force even though they have to send them into a combat zone up to 7 times during their career.

1stSgt, Retired, 1960-1980
J L Stelling

What Saved Us

While with FMF-PAC, USS Tripoli/LPH-10, myself and a fellow Crew Chief had just got back in from Night Ops In the Indian Ocean. We'd left our birds and were walking across the hanger deck just as the nightly movie was done that the grunts had watched. They all were leaving and the "BUTTER BAR" came up to Quinn and myself and told us to dump his trash over the fantail. We Informed the Lt that we were aircrew and had just got back from Ops... "No Matter Cpls, Dump My Trash Over The Fantail!" Well the only thing that saved my azs was that my buddy was a dark green Marine, henceforth, me being light green. So after the butter bar left, we proceeded to dump his trash over the fantail, 55 gal barrel and all - when we heard a voice "What the h-ll are you doing? This is how Quinn and I first learned that the Navy has a 24 hr watch on the fantail... even at night. So, we played dumb. Well the Lt told us to Dump All Of His Trash... the Sailor told us he really doubted if he meant the whole d-mn barrel! And what saved us was that the ship's watch was one of the blackest Sailors I'd ever seen. Lots and lots of memories.

Semper Fi
Crew Chief/Gunner HMH462 '69-'75

Running On Water

Hey Sgt. Grit,

Again, thank you for all the work you and your team put into these newsletters. It's been a great way to recall those stories that were never told to someone who wasn't there, or part of this great brotherhood of ours.

I swear to God this is true! A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Heir told a story from his experience with a blue-line (river) in V.N. Well, here's mine. I served with Golf Co., 2 Bn., 5th. Marine Reg. out of An Hoa in 1970. We had been in the bush for about three weeks and starting to avoid each other because of the smell of our gear. If you know what I mean? We set up a position near the river (blue line) and the C.O. gave us permission to play in the water. That never happened before (or again), but we didn't question his decision. We just disrobed and ran into that cool (not necessarily clean) water.

Picture in your mind, about two dozen b-tt naked Marines acting like the kids we were. Suddenly, one of the guards told us to "get out now!" The C.P. received a call from Recon Mountain. We were told that VC/NVA were in our area and were "moving" in on us. I ran on water that day! I just didn't want to have to fight someone that way. Oh sure, I would like to think of myself as being very manly in my youth, but I preferred using my .45 in hand-to-hand fighting. That's just the way I am. But I digress, as we moved in to our positions, we were told that the VC/NVA were doing the same. A Fire Mission was called by those Marines on Recon Mountain. They requested two-round air burst to mark the position of the VC/NVA. Yes your right! The air burst was "right on" us! Someone back at An Hoa forgot to inform those Marines of our current position. No one was hurt and most of us were clean for a day, and it sure was fun being a kid for a little while. Not to mention the running on water. I've never been able to do that again, or maybe I haven't been that motivated again.

Just as a footnote to this story: we had a second Fire Mission (20 rounds and fire for affect) called on us, and it was seconds from being cleared. Thank God someone thought to look at a map at Bn. C.P and stopped it from being fired. We already knew how good they were. We didn't need to see it twice.

Robert H. Bliss, Sgt.
0341/0311/2535 (someone has to carry the radio).

Nothing Had Changed

I was flunking out of college toward the end of the first semester of my sophomore year. Knowing I needed to make some changes, I went to the post office in downtown Richmond on a Friday afternoon where the various armed forces branches had their recruiting offices. My major goal was to go as soon as possible. After visiting the Navy recruiter and Army recruiter, that didn't meet my goal of a quick entrance, I found the Marine Corps office where this big red-headed Sgt. recruiter told me if I passed the tests, I could leave Monday morning. I took the tests, hitch-hiked home to tell my parents, and then hitch-hiked back Sunday. Got on the train and my life changed forever more.

Started at P.I. and made the adjustment from civilian life to the Corps. I came to know duck walks and elbows and toes. Toward the last weeks of our time in the main base quonset huts, we moved to other huts at the rifle range. It was there that our platoon (#40) was next door to the platoon that a young D.I. got everyone up in middle of the night, had all the recruits put on backpacks and marched them into Ribbon Creek. It was there that a large number of the recruits drowned. This, we all thought, was sad but would have a major effect on how the D.I.'s would treat us. Our D.I's let us know soon enough that nothing had changed with regard to making us the Marines we should become.

The point of all this for me now is that the influence of the Marine Corps changed my life forever. I became more motivated, went back to college and finished my degree, taught in junior high, and went on to a PhD and a satisfying career as a college prof. Throughout the years I've come realize the very positive effect spending a few years in the Corps has had on my life. I will remain proud and indebted to the Corps throughout the rest of my life.

Semper Fi
Brice Corder

East/West Of Mississippi

I just read a story in the latest newsletter about recruits west of the Mississippi going to Parris Island MCRD for boot camp. I was one of those fortunate or unfortunate enough to fall in that category.

Myself and two buddies joined the Marine Corps Reserves in June of 1961 in Houston, Texas. After taking a 120-day extension so we could enjoy the summer, we left out of Houston Hobby airport along with twelve other guys bound for PI, not San Diego. You see, we didn't know where we were going until the man in charge of us opened the orders and passed them out.

We left Houston about 0730 and flew to Atlanta, Georgia. From there we went by bus to several other stops to pick up more recruits. We transferred from a commercial bus to a gray Marine Corps bus in Beaufort for the final leg of our trip to PI and arrived at about 2230. From this point on, things got real interesting. My platoon was 372 along with 373,374,375, which made up our series. We were at the new 3rd Battalion Barracks and we were among the last recruits to be issued the M1 Garand rifle for training. Our Final Field and Outposting was on December 7th, 1961. Our DI's were (senior) SSgt Jackson from Crockett, Texas, (juniors) SSgt Allabaugh from Oklahoma, and SSgt Livingston from Massachusetts.

Semper Fidelis
SGT Terry Arnold
USMCR 1961-1967

My brother went through Boot Camp in San Diego in '61 and I went through PI in '62. We have enjoyed kidding each other over the years. We were talking the other day and we agreed it did not matter where you went to Marine Boot Camp it is Marine Boot Camp.

Please keep Bob in your prayers, he is and has been dealing with MS. Mike '62/'66; Bob '61/'66

When my buddy, Skip Hebert and I joined in 1974, we lived in Brusly and Port Allen, LA. Respectively - both of which were on the west side of the river from Baton Rouge. The recruiting station was in Baton Rouge (on the east side of the river!). The recruiter (GySgt Sadewicz) offered that we could go to PI or DIEGO, our choice using either our home of record (west - DIEGO) or the recruiting station address (east - PI). We both wanted issued sunglasses.

David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.;
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq;
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time;
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control;
Chef de Hot Dog Excellence; Avoider of Yard Work

Hi Sgt,

Once again this newsletter just makes my week. Thanks for coming up with such a great idea. The many fine products I have purchased from your organization just helps to keep the pride and the great memories of the Corps right up front.

Several stories regarding enlistments across the Mississippi have appeared. I have one also. I was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Station to be sworn into the Marine Corps. There were 19 of us that were being sworn in at the same time. As it turned out, most of them were from Chicago. I was from South Bend, Indiana. After the swearing in process, the Marine in charge walked over to me and handed me a large Manila envelope. He informed me that from this point forward, that I was in charge of the other 18 men, these were their orders, and if anyone went AWOL or created any kind of problem, it was I who would suffer the consequences. Eighteen total strangers on the journey of a lifetime and I'm in charge... WOW!

In our case, we were boarded onto a train in Chicago and sent on our way. I was informed that the railroad would take us where we needed to go and arrange any transferees along the way to San Diego, California. The first major stop was in Salt Lake City, Utah. There, our railroad car was detached from the train and put on a siding. There we remained for four days living out of the railroad car and being fed by the railroad. No sleeping quarters, just our seats. My memory comes up short regarding toilet and shower facilities. What was going on you ask? So did we. Seems that there had been a serious train derailment out in the middle of the desert south of Salt Lake City and no trains could get through. I gave orders about things as much as I could and pleaded with the guys with me to please stay out of trouble because the Marine Corps would make you pay with some jail time. We had liberty every day.

None of us had any money to speak of, so mostly we just walked around town which was right near the train station. One place most of us liked best was a local ice skating rink where we could go and get out of the heat, but best of all was watching the young ladies in there tu-tus skating around the ice. After four days we were informed that we would be reattached to the train and be on our way. Needless to say, we were ready to go.

Late that afternoon we arrived at the area in the desert where the accident had happened. It was a very flat area of the desert so instead of removing the wreckage, they simply built a substitute rail around the accident. Unfortunately for us, the accident involved a cattle train derailment. There were hundreds of dead cattle spread all over the desert floor. They had been laying out in the hot sun rotting for at least four days. I think there is no stench in the world as bad as what we were going through. The train was traveling at about 2 miles an hour and the stench completely permeated the railroad cars.

We were wetting rags and holding them over our face in an attempt to escape the smell. It was so bad that you could not catch a breath. If you breathed it in you would just have a painful choke. Because the train was moving so slow, it took us nearly an hour to pass the whole accident. We weren't sure we were going to survive. Worst thing of that nature that I have ever experienced.

Finally we were in San Diego, California. Stepped off of the train and had sense enough to get the guys into a formation. A Marine Sergeant arrived, snapped the envelope out of my hand, and informed me to get into the formation. Not too bad. Got on the bus to MCRD SD. Not too bad. When the time came to get off the bus, well, you all know that story pretty well. And, yes, there were yellow footprints there on/or about June 5, 1959. All of those 18 guys ended up in the same platoon with me. Platoon 233, of which, I had the distinction of being the only Right Guide during the whole of Boot Camp, and ended up as Honor Man. Fifty-four years ago. Proud? Yep!

If there are any men out there that were on that train with me, or in Platoon 233, 1959, I would surely love to hear from you.


Semper Fi
Former Cpl, always a Marine
Kenneth L. "Rip" Stephens

My brother and I both joined out of our hometown, Des Moines, IA, in '62. He went to boot at P.I. I joined in '64 and was sent to California. There were yellow footprints at MCRD.

D.L. Garton
'64-'68 Cpl

Hello Sgt Grit,

In response to Gunny Keith Brownmiller's point, it is true that while east of the Miss' go to Parris Island, and west of the Miss' go to San Diego. But, that has ALWAYS been just a 'general rule' for issuing orders for new recruits to report to boot camp. There are indeed several instances where the opposite is the case, as in mine (along with a high school buddy of mine).

I hail from San Antonio, TX. And in 1981, my friend and I enlisted in The Corps on the 'buddy-program' in the 'delayed-entry-program'. When we graduated from high school in 1982, we were both sent to boot camp at PI. While there, we seemed to be the only ones that were from west of the Miss' (that we could find). Throughout our enlistments, both he and I learned, that while rare, it was an occasional occurrence for 'Boot Camp On The Opposite Coast' to happen.

Semper Fidelis,
Patrick Garcia
Range Controller, 'Bearmat' - 29 Palms
MSG BN - Brussels, Belgium & San Salvador, El Salvador

Gunny Brownmiller started the discussion about going to Boot on the "opposite" coast... well, since Arkansas is west of the Mississippi my orders were for San Diego. On the day after Christmas 1968 as we were gathering at the recruiting station to go catch our flight, we were informed of a meningitis outbreak at MCRD/SD and we're told that we had an hour to call our families and tell them we were headed for PI!

WOW! We had seen the Jack Webb movie and heard all the horror stories about alligators and swamps... we choked a bit. Today I wouldn't trade my time there for all the sunglasses and tanning oil in southern California. Oh, forgot to mention that ALL female Marines go to PI...

Pete Dahlstrom '68-'74

In reference to, are there any Marines from east of the Mississippi that went to MCRD San Diego. I am from Tennessee and went to San Diego. I was in platoon 110, 1/10/66 - 3/15/66. The platoon was made up of two recruits from Tennessee, less than 10 from Utah, and the rest from the Chicago area. I was drafted into the Marines. So you know that I was a favorite of the DI's. They did not want a blankety-blank draftee in Their Marine Corps! Besides that, I was blankety-blank hillbilly in California. I was lower than whale doo doo in their opinion. About once a week I was called into the duty hut and gently urged to tear up my papers and enlist for 4 years and request Force Recon. My DI's were Sgt. R.D. Marsh, Sgt. Frank Van Lenten, and Sgt. C.F. Crocker. Sgt. Van Lenten was world renowned in the martial arts. He was later inducted into the Karate Hall of Fame. He died 7/1/2010.

While in ITR at Camp Horno, I became friends with a Marine named Hensley from Sylva, NC, that went through at San Diego. As far as which boot camp is tougher, P.I. may be more environmentally challenging, but physically and mentally... there are no differences. When I returned from Vietnam, I was an instructor at ITR at Camp Geiger and I believe ITR was more physically challenging at Camp Pendleton because of all the hills that you had to hump to get to your classrooms.

While I was in boot camp, there was a recruit going through training that was less than 5 feet tall. He had to get help from his congressman to get a waiver to get in the Corps. Look or Life magazine did a several page article on him. Did anyone serve with or know anything about his time in the Corps?

My orders to Vietnam assigned me to the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade. When I arrived in DaNang it took them a few days to locate the 9th MAB. They were on ship in the Philippines and were the 3rd Bn, 5th Marines. I caught up with them at Subic Bay at about 1600 hours. We pulled out that night for Operation Deckhouse II and Hastings. I was assigned to K Co 60 mm mortars. Since 3/5 had only been afloat and in Vietnam for about a month, I may have been 3/5s first replacement. They had insufficient gear to issue me. I made the amphibious landing for Deckhouse II just south of the DMZ without a helmet liner. I wore just the steel pot with a utility cover under it. A few days later on Hastings, I got a helmet liner. It was from a KIA. I received my jungle boots the same way. Also on Hastings I ripped my trousers from the belt in the rear to the fly. Since we did not wear skivvies in Vietnam, I presented a pretty view for the Marine that was following me on the trail. Later on Hastings we rounded a bend in a stream and discovered a hastily abandoned base camp. The fire coals were still warm. Left behind in their rapid withdrawal was a horde of blue sweatshirts and olive trousers. Since I was only 5 feet 5 inches, I finished Hastings wearing NVA trousers.

On Operation Colorado I was wounded by a booby-trap that was tripped by another Marine shortly after we got off the chopper. I was medevaced to Chu Lai where a few days later I had the honor of having my purple heart pinned on by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Wallace M. Greene. When I retired to my unit, I was assigned to H&S Co. 81mm mortars, Attached to M Co.

Weird, funny, or insignificant things stick in my mind from Vietnam. One that is as clear today as it was that April afternoon in 1967, occurred as we were going to the LZ to load choppers to go the aid of a unit that was in danger of being overrun. As we were marching, the company was singing the chorus to the Rolling Stones' hit 'This May Be the Last Time I Don't Know'. This kicked off Operation Union I for 3/5. The irony of this singing was in the next 41 days during Operation Union I and II, 3/5 had 82 KIA's. It was the last time for those brave men.

I rotated back to the states in Aug. '67. Assigned to 1st ITR at Camp Lejeune as an Instructor. Later, I was assigned to BIT, as a mortar instructor. Made Sgt in less than 2 years. Was squad leader of an 81 mortar squad for 5 months in Vietnam. Not too bad for a blankety-blank hillbilly draftee. Went to college on the G. I. Bill. Got my B.S. and M.S. The government paid me much more to go to school than it did to fight a war. Spent 32 years as an elementary teacher and principal. All of this made possible by two years in the Corps. I would not take anything for the experiences that I had and the memories and friends that I made. My chest swells with pride and I get goosebumps every time I hear The Marines' Hymn.

For any of the readers that spent time as permanent personnel at 1st or 2nd ITR between 1 Jan 65 - 1 May 71, you may not know that you were awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Citation.

For 3/5 Vietnam Veterans. We have a reunion each year. Go to www.usmcvietvet.org for information.

Semper Fi
Sgt. Carl Gregory
Platoon 110 MCRD San Diego 1966
Kilo and Mike Co. 3/5 7/66-8/67
1st ITR instructor Camp Geiger 9/67-1/68

I Was A Door Gunner

I retired a Marine in July of 2000 and have spent most of the time since working around VA folks and on military bases. Over the last 7 years I've spent 5 of them working in Afghanistan. The first three were with the Army and the last two with Marines.

One day at Camp Leatherneck while working, a fellow in civilian clothes came in and was talking to the Captain I was working for at the time. He mentioned that he had been a Marine, too. He seemed a friendly sort and had drawn a small crowd of people chatting. Eventually the question was asked "What was your MOS?" "Huh?" "What was your job in the Marines?" "I was a door gunner!" "That's an awesome job, what kind of aircraft?" "You know, all of them. Huey's, Cobra's, whatever..."

Something must have stunk up the place cause everybody but him turned around and walked off. He stood there another minute or so and wandered out of the office. Having an MOS as door gunner for a Cobra must be hard to get, never met another.

Jeff Vandervort

Up And On Shoulders

I have read the newsletter for some time, always enjoying it, but have never contributed. The Marine Corps is a transformational experience. Robert Debs Heinl wrote of his Marine Corps training, "We entered as many, we departed as one." I think that is pretty much typical of all Marines (except maybe for 2 percent!). I was in Platoon 2079 at MCRDSD in 1966. Our Platoon Commander was SSgt R.A. Phelps and Drill Instructors were Sgt H. Domingues and Sgt R.E. Parker. Domingues was the "good cop" and Parker the "bad cop." Parker liked to intentionally "mumble" his drill commands so the platoon would fall apart and he then used that as an excuse for PT. If he hadn't used that as an excuse it would have been something else so that really doesn't matter.

The Platoon Commander and Drill Instructors had an unenviable task, taking 76 individuals and teaching them basic military skills and to be responsive to orders and discipline. That is no small task to be completed in only a few weeks. Every platoon knows when it has reached the point where these skills have become ingrained, when they know they can do what is required, when they know they have the self-discipline, and when they know they have met the standard to be called MARINE. Our platoon's moment came one evening after showers and only a week or so prior to graduation.

It was about 7:30 pm and we were under the watchful eye of one of the Drill Instructors in formation on the platoon street between the quonset huts, and anticipating mail call. From behind us and between the quonset huts there was a voice that suddenly sounded and which all of us immediately recognized as our Platoon Commander. He stumbled amongst the recruits making his way to the front of the formation, and it was quickly apparent that he appeared to be drunk. We'd never seen this before! With slurred speech he told the Drill Instructor to get out of the way and yelled at us that he was tired of babysitting a bunch of dumb kids who weren't good enough to be in his Corps and told us to get inside the huts and get back out with our rifles. What could we possibly do with rifles while wearing shower shoes?? We scattered like rabbits and quickly returned with our M14s, and in a still slurred speech our Platoon Commander said we were going to do 500 "Up and On Shoulders"! WHAT? 500! We were all dumbfounded! Each of us knew that no one can do 500 "Up and On Shoulders", but only a moment later we heard "READY", "EXERCISE", and we began an impossible task, ordered by a drunken madman! At about 35 or so your shoulders begin to feel it and by 50 you really want to stop. By 80 or so we were all in agony, but right around 100 something strange happened... it was as if I, and everyone else, had passed through some invisible barrier. I felt as if I could go on doing "Up and On Shoulders" forever! We actually did 500! We were then ordered to lay our rifles on the ground and kneel down. We were told to put our hands on the ground behind us, and while keeping our knees on the ground, "walk" our hands back behind us as far as we could. This position very quickly becomes painful. As we all attempted to move our hands further behind us, someone started to laugh, and then another, and another, until the entire platoon was laughing. Laughing? At The Platoon Commander? Oh, what fate awaited us? Surely we were doomed! The voice of the Drill Instructor was quickly heard, telling us to get up and as we did so we looked around, but the Platoon Commander had disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. We were all standing there wondering where he had gone and what had just happened. The Drill Instructor told us to secure our rifles and go to bed. When I "clicked" my combination lock shut on my rifle it suddenly dawned on me what had just happened.

In a carefully crafted and masterfully performed scenario, the Platoon Commander had tested us. The test was to determine if we could approach a task that appeared to be impossible, whether we could endure whatever pain and difficulty was required to accomplish the task, and whether we could function as a unit to complete the task. It was an Oscar-worthy performance by our apparently "drunken" Platoon Commander that we recruits never knew what it was until well after it was over. The task of the Platoon Commander and Drill Instructors had been completed. This group of many had, in fact, become one! At that moment we all knew we had what it took to become MARINES!

PS – Sometime later I concluded that we were likely supposed to begin laughing at some point during the "Up and On Shoulders" exercise (likely well prior to 500) and that the stretching exercise was an additional segment that was needed to get us to that point. I guess we were just too tough and disciplined (or too dumb and scared) to start laughing at the anticipated moment! The next morning the Platoon Commander had the duty and nothing was ever spoken about the previous night's activities. I saw SSgt Phelps several times around MCRD while I was a student in C&E Battalion and he was always friendly and courteous. I wonder where he is today, and if he continued with his "acting" career? He was a real convincing "drunk!"

Bert Mullins
Sergeant of Marines
Platoon 2079 MCRDSD, 1966
C&E Battalion MCRDSD, 1966-1967
2/27 Camp Pendleton, 1967
1/9 Vietnam, 1967-1968
2/27 Camp Pendleton, 1969


I read, with great interest, Don Harkness' story about being "dropped" from his platoon. A fine story, but only the tip of the iceberg. Because after you are "dropped" you become... Gasp!... a "pick-up"! I know because I was a "pick-up" a grand total of THREE... count 'em... Three times! I was also a Non-Qual, and spent two tours in PTU (the Fat Farm).

Sample day in PTU: Early Chow (we were not to look at "real" recruits), then run all three obstacle courses followed by a run around the perimeter fence-line of MCRD/SD. Did one of the "fat-boys" fall out? Then we double-timed around him in a circle until he could get back up. That could take a while. Back to the PTU / Correctional Custody / Motivational area (or H-ll's Half-Acre, as I called it). Early Noon Chow and an hour of "rest". Afternoons consisted of say, "grass drill". That was PT on the Base Driving Range at MCRD for a couple of hours. I get warm and fuzzy just talking about it. Then back to the Madhouse for verbal abuse and blanket parties. Repeat as needed.

After passing the appropriate Physical Readiness Test (T-8; T-12, etc.) for whatever week of training you were in, you were assigned to a new Platoon. I came to treasure this event. Perhaps one of the many retired Drill Instructors on this site can tell me the reason why I had to stand in the middle of the Company street while the D.I. "informed" the platoon that I had come to drag the platoon to H-ll, steal their belongings, sh-t in their footlockers etc. And have my parent's names and lineage dragged through the mud. To this day, I have never understood the reasoning for that abuse and methodology.

While I did get dropped from my first platoon for a blister on my foot, similar to Mr. Harkness', the real high point was coming down with Spinal Meningitis after returning from the Range as a Non-Qual. Oh, happy days. Nine months later, I returned from the Balboa Naval Hospital. When I checked in back at 2nd Recruit Trng Bn., I was taken down a hallway and met with a Captain who said, in so many words, that I had been through quite a lot of hard times, and, if I wanted to, I could sign the paper he had on his desk and I would be given a Medical Discharge and sent home, no hard feelings.

Well, as the expression goes, "I thought about... laughed about it... and forgot about it"... "With all due respect, Sir, I've come much too far to give up now. Thank you, but no thank you." "Very well, Private. Stand-by and we will find a platoon to put you in. Dismissed!"

I marched, alone, with all my gear, down another Company street, to another Duty Hut. And another Drill Instructor that welcomed me warmly to his platoon. I heard, a little farther into my enlistment, that something had been arranged so that I was "Not to be dropped. Under any circumstances." I don't know if that was the case or not. Did they coddle me along and kiss me behind the ear? Not a chance. I graduated with an Honor Platoon and went out into the Marine Corps. Much wiser... and NTBFW (Not To Be F-cked With).

Semper Fi!
Jeff Barnes/ 2108389 / L/Cpl.
USMC 1964-1968/ RVN '65-'66

Just A Marine Who Sometimes Gets Remorse

Sgt. Grit,

I will be 69 in November and I remember on television when I was a kid growing up all westerns had people carrying guns, but they used them intelligently and all shows had parables and moral type ethical principles. Cartoons had "Aesop and his fables - again right from wrong. Even the War pictures and Science Fiction had right from wrong, and good versus evil as an undercurrent.

Now we have crazy fanatic Arabs who take the Koran, and Islam out of context - where it is wrong to kill or take a life and it is wrong to r-pe innocent women as well. They have no country - so who do you bomb?

During the Korean War we had to make up a Code of Conduct for those who lost the way, and now after all these years we find out that a lot of sorry things happened in yesterdays that was sad as well. WWII Russian officers sold warm clothing and blankets as well as ammunition for profit, and the soldiers suffered for it? Japanese were sadistic and enslaved Pacific Islanders, r-ped women and did terrible things to our troops as well as Asians in general. Germans machine gunned troops who surrendered in some European Battles. Russian and Chinese allies released prisoners of war after the end of WWII. I guess I could go on and on, but I live in America and I am proud of our heritage, and sad to see Marines now committing suicide, and having PTSD, and losing the way. In the 1960's, we had Marines who got Dear John's, had terrible news from home, and had all sorts of Depression, but me and my fellow Marines cared. We would ask a loner, "Hey join us foe Chow on a lonely Sunday", or Hey, "We are going to the club, join us." Or maybe just going to a little corner of the squad bay and say,"Do you want go to the gym." I am not a Saint, just a Marine who sometimes gets remorse over "Man's Inhumanity to Man". I cannot save the world, but I guess I can reflect on the past, and hope for a better future!

Bruce Bender

Upholding The Legacy

Sgt Grit,

When I was in the 6th grade I read a book about MOH recipients in Vietnam, called "Valor". All accounts in the book were awe inspiring to a 12-year-old, but two stories caused me to join the Marines. The stories of PFC Ronald Coker, and Cpl Larry Maxam. March 24th marks the 44th anniversary of Coker's MOH action in 1969, Quang Tri Province, near Firebase Alpine, Mike/3/3.

Coker left a fairly safe position to retrieve a wounded Marine caught in the open with heavy fire on him. Coker was wounded numerous times by grenades and bullets, resulting in the loss of both hands, his chest torn open, and jaw blown off. Yet, Coker used the stumps of his arms to hook into the other Marines H-harness and drag him back from the exposed position. The squad was able to gain fire superiority on the enemy and kill them. Coker and the other wounded Marine died shortly thereafter.

When I read this, I knew I wanted to be associated with men like this. And when I went to MCRD San Diego in 1995, and Iraq in 2004, it was upholding the legacy of Marines like this that helped get me through the tough times.

Semper Fi brothers, I'm proud of the heritage the Marines before me left.


By the way, Coker and Maxam are fellow Hollywood Marines. Sempr Fi MAC!

Stay Loose

Before leaving for Vietnam, all military personnel were given extensive instructions on the different land mines they might encounter during their tour of duty. By the time we arrived in Vietnam, our training had made us suspicious of everything. The Bounding Fragmentation Antipersonnel Mine {Bouncing Betty} was feared more than any other land mine that was planted in the roads. The Bouncing Betty was designed to injure individuals. When triggered, it would jump out of the ground about waist high and explode ending the need for a future vasectomy. The Bouncing Betty has a two stage pressure switch that gives off a distinctive clicking sound when it is stepped on. It only goes off when you remove the pressure, for example, by taking your next step.

About the end of my first month in country, I watched the Third Squad Leader Tommy Yant sit down on a Bouncing Betty. When he heard the click he knew enough not to move. As he sat there sweating the rest of us said good-bye and cleared out, leaving two extremely brave Marines to dig down and disarm the mine. After half an hour of careful digging they discovered the mine was too rusty to explode. That news was received very well by Yant. The story of Yant sitting on the mine was one that was told to every new Marine arriving in our platoon.

One afternoon our newly arrived Platoon Sergeant sat down to eat lunch next to me. Just as he made contact with the ground I bent the lid of a C-Ration can and yelled that he had just sat down on a Bouncing Betty. Sergeant Mackie froze in place and asked me what he should do. For the next thirty minutes, I pretended to use the radio to get instructions from the detonation team. The longer I took the more Sgt. Mackie perspired. When he got around to praying and promising God he would stop cussing and drinking and be a better person if he were allowed to live, I couldn't control my laughter any longer. When he realized he had been the victim of a practical joke he went berserk and starting yelling, "Hiers I'm going to kill you. I'm going to have you Court Martialed for insubordination!" "But Sgt," I asked. "What about your promise to God to be a better person?" "The h-ll with that, I'm going to the Lieutenant right now to get you busted," he screamed.

Everybody in the platoon could hear him telling the Lieutenant what I did to him and the course of action a Platoon Commander should follow in making an example of me. He then wanted to know what the Lieutenant was going to do. When the Lieutenant finally got a word in, he said with a smile, "Nothing, he did the same thing to me when I first got in country. He must like you or he wouldn't have done it to you. He just taught you an important lesson." "What could that be? I sat there with sweat running out of me in buckets promising God everything while that son-of-a-gun pretended he was calling for help on that blasted radio of his. When I figured out what the heck was going on that poor excuse of a Marine was rolling around in convulsions." The Lieutenant still smiling responded, "He taught you to lighten up, don't take the Nam too seriously. You'll live longer if you stay loose."

Jeff Hiers
B Co. 1/26 Marines
1969 -1970

Sweepers, Etc.

The clean sweep down letters brought back a flood of memories of when Marines went to Okinawa etc. on old MSTS troop ships, some dating back to WWII. I sailed to Okinawa in 1963 on the old Breckinridge. The accommodations weren't exactly deluxe! My favorite message on the loudspeakers was "will the Duty Chicken lay down to the galley and walk through the soup."

Cpl. Dave Pease 1961-1964

No one has submitted this one yet. I made several cruises on the Fort Snelling, LSD-30. "Sweepers, man your brooms, Sweep down all ladders and passageways. Empty all trash cans over the port, wing-wall aft".

J. J. Marsh, Cpl. E-4, 1959-1963.

Aboard the USS Shreveport I remember hearing "Sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms. Get a good sweep down to and fro, catch the corners as you go".

Corporal of Marines
'76-'79, 1/2, CLNC

To answer Sgt C's question does anyone remember the rest of sweepers. Before going to Hospital Corps School I was assigned to the USS Thomaston LSD-28 standing Quarter Deck Watch I had to announce all those over the 1MC. "Sweepers, Sweepers man your brooms. Give the ship a good clean sweep down both fore and aft. Sweep down all lower decks, ladder backs, and passage ways. Now Sweepers".

I once got called to Command Duty Officers quarters for my rendition "The roach coach has made its approach and is stationed at the foot of the brow." I had to make a correction. "The Navy Mobile Canteen is now at the foot of the brow."

When standing the morning Quarter Deck Watch you had to make the morning report to the Old Man face to face. "Good morning Sir, the Officer of the Deck sends his respects and reports the hour of 12 O'clock. All chronometers have been wound and compared. Respectfully request to strike 8-bells on time Sir."

Thirty-two years and I still remember. Then I went to Corps School and the rest is history.

Semper Fi,
Alan Smyth HM-1

To answer Sgt C in Short Rounds... Remembering back to a boat ride on the 'Tilting T' to Korea in 1950... Following an ear torturing whistle: "Now sweepers, sweepers man your brooms. Now clean sweepdown fore and aft. Empty all trash barrels and garbage at the fantail" No bets, but I think that was all.


Sgt. Grit,

In this week's newsletter (14 March), "Sgt. C" asked about a message heard aboard ship. I have to admit that I have a total of about five days aboard our "sister service's" crafts. However, I remember hearing the following each morning, during my Basic School (4-66) Class' brief (Wednesday-Saturday) stayed aboard the Francis Marion, 27-30 July 1966: "Reveille, Reveille! All hands on deck! Sweepers man your brooms! Clean sweep, fore and aft."

I sometimes use it to gain the attention of certain members of my high school English class. (I know: I'm a little bit crazy. Don't you have to be, a little, to be a member of this fraternity? The Army and the Navy seem to think so. I don't know what the Air Force thinks.)

Semper Fi!

Tom Downey
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine
1963-'76 "for pay purposes"

PS: I remember the dates because I was married on Saturday, 23 July 1966.

Aboard USS Vermilion AKA-107 it was "Sweepers man your brooms... Clean sweep down fore & aft, empty all trash cans over the fantail."

JM Jaworek 2290XXX
MACS-8 Motor T

The full quote, I believe, for Sgt. 'C' is "sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms. Clean sweep down, fore and aft. Secure all gear in the gear locker when secured from the detail." Like Sgt. C, I just kinda let all that MC-1 blabber go over my head, unless prefaced by "Marines".

Sgt. John Stevenson
USMC 1963-1967


Sgt 'C' wanted to know if anyone could remember a particular announcement that was made aboard ship. The announcement was, "Now hear this, now here this, sweepers man your brooms, there will be a clean sweep down fore and aft, take all garbage to the fantail."

Michael Galle

VMA 223

Was No Evidence

Sgt. Grit:

From Gary Steuer from the 60's P.. Boot Camp!

Smoking lamp was lit after evening mess at P.I. when we were on the rifle range... I tried to sneak an extra smoke while our DI, Sgt Harris, a big black man from New York was still chowing down... Whispers started when they saw him coming through the mess, to come out, so I deftly smothered the cigarette between my fingers and sneakily stuck it in my pocket so there was no evidence... We did some close order drilling after chow, before going to our hut, and we all started to smell smoke... My right leg started feeling hot and it was then that I noticed my Utility trousers were on fire. Sgt Harris brought us to a halt and ordered those near me to lay me down and roll me around until the fire was out! He came up to me nose to nose and then burst out laughing! Then he said to me, "Don't you know the smoking lamp is out? So why are you still smoking?" I said, "Sir, this Private loves close order drill, makes my legs hot!" Sgt. Harris just shook his head and kept laughing, then turned away and marched us back to our hut, and that was the end of it!

Bruce Bender
Cpl. 1963 - 1967

P.S. Gary is retired in Pattaya Beach, Thailand. (We Marines are a World Wide Brotherhood all over this planet.)

Marine Corps Golf Cart

Attached are two pictures of my golf cart done in Marine Corps motif. There is a Marine hood ornament and front and rear Marine Corps license plates as well.

"Once a Marine, Always a Marine!"
Harry Belford
Former Corporal USMC


Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #4, #6, (JUNE, 2014)

It's hard to try and piece this all together and maybe I shouldn't even try, but just trying to find some of this stuff is difficult enough. There have been many sources that I have extracted info from and I have tried to give them the credit along the way, but if I missed somebody then I have to apologize, and please understand that it was not on purpose. Having said that, if I ever get to the end of this project then I'll list them and hopefully I'll include everybody. Pop-A-Smoke has been a very good source of info, and most former Ground Troops don't even know that it's there. Then there's "Talking Proud" which has provided most of the info I used about the Koreans, and then there's also, U.S. Marines in Vietnam an expanding War (1966) by Jack Shulimison.

The list of sources for info is endless containing info about the actual ground war, but finding anything that really explains the role that was played by the helicopters is limited, or at least I think so. But then, I'm partial. For instance, a story may contain the statement that the troops were landed in the zone by helicopters from HMM-??? and that some ground fire was received on the way in. Well, that may be one way of saying that we were there, but it doesn't really tell how we got there. Like working all night to get a helicopter ready only to find out the next day that it wouldn't make it for one reason or the other. Also, rigging the inside of the A/C for a special assignment, mission, or just the daily chore of greasing and lubing the A/C. Plus, you had to maintain your weapons. Remember, an infantryman only carries one weapon, normally. We carry two Machine guns for the A/C and then our side arms, and often another two weapons like an M-14. Plus, we have to carry enough ammo for all these weapons and let's not forget an assortment of different colored smoke grenades. Hell, just keeping the rice crop mowed down was a full time job. Remember that from Vol. #3, #12.

I have to relate to a little episode that I have to confess to, and that is that on some of our missions we carried a 5-gallon Igloo Cooler with ice cold Kool-Aid. Well, when we'd pick up some of the grunts that had been out in the brush for awhile they sometimes had that look of needing a nice cold drink. We, of course, during the flight back to home base, would nod (actually encourage) them to help themselves to our cooler. Their look after just taking a ice cold drink was priceless. We later decided to even give them a better treat. So, the second day we splashed a little (Ya, a little) Vodka in with the Kool-Aid. Now, if you thought the look on the previous days grunts was great, you should have been on our flights the next couple of days. I told several of the other Crew Chiefs about what Bert and I had done, so several others did it also. I didn't mind doing this because these guy's were really catching hell out in the brush. And,if it had been me, I know that I would have appreciated it.

Ain't Eggzatly A Youngster Anymore

Ryan was wondering in the Feb 27 newsletter if my keyboard moniker reflected my real name, and if I caught extra crap from my DI because of it... well, no... SSGT J.A. Hollinshead, who, a few months later became the Company Gunny of my first FMF unit, hung the nickname "Jugb-tt" on me... a real puzzler, since at the time I had the silhouette of a wood-splitting wedge (and, according to some accounts, an IQ to match...) Later, in civilian life, the gal (Army brat, Marine son-in-law) who ran the chassis assembly line at our company, tagged me as "The Man With No Azz". So far, the wedge hasn't inverted, but where I used to be happy to bench press my body weight, now I do a one-rep max with my age on the bar...

Probably after forty-seven years and a change of rifles, it will now be safe to reveal the secret... the M-14, of course had the folding b-tt plate, hinged at the top, and there mostly for over the shoulder use when the bearer thereof had a selector switch and a bipod... the AR man... who replaced the BAR man in the 1960's fire team. Recruit rifles, of course, had neither the selector (for full auto fire), nor the bipod (it sorta clipped onto the barrel and gas chamber... legs were adjustable for length, etc... probably a collectors' item today, and possibly not legal?)... Anyway, one of the ways to focus the maggots' attention, and illustrate to them that they were not by any means worthy to have been issued such a fine instrument of death and destruction, was to have the platoon unfold the butt plate, and while grasping that, hold the rifle vertically at arm's length, overhead... for however long I thought was necessary.

One fortunate recruit, maybe the Guide, or a house mouse, would escape this, because the DI, (the one who sleeps with my wife) would 'borrow' a rifle, and walking back and forth, would hold the borrowed rifle in the same fashion... while continuing to issue warm words of encouragement (e.g. 'drop it... and you die by squat thrusts') to the platoon. It seemed to be no problem at all for the DI, wandering around in front of the platoon, and hearing all the moans and groans as arms began to sag, rifles tipped precariously towards other ranks... this could go on for what had to be an interminable length of time... and the DI continued to hold the rifle aloft with one hand, and no sweat...

The difference ladies, was that I was moving... walking... which made life much easier for the erector spineae (muscles in the lower back that keep the trunk erect... and you were standing still... and cramping up...

This one you can try at home... get ahold of something that weighs around 8-9 pounds (you wish!) and hold it overhead with one hand as long as you can while standing at attention... then try it again, but while moving around. Be sure someone near you has at least two bars on their phone... the number is nine-one-one... if you had an M-14 in boot camp, you ain't eggzatly a youngster anymore...

And Sgt Wong... I'm sure you've heard them all... so I will cut you some slack on word play with your name... and no, the first 'd' in my keyboard name is not for 'dirty'...


Short Rounds

In response to GySgt Brownmiller's post in the March 14th newsletter, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is east of the Mississippi and was sent to MCRD San Diego in 1966. There were seven of us. Two were draftees that were volunteers (LOL) for the Corps just before we were taken to the airport. We all became Marines. We all went to Nam, with various MOS's. And we all came home alive.

Semper Fi
Ed Gruener, SSgt
Platoon 2039 MCRDSD
Vietnam 1967-69
Marine - Once and Always

My oldest brother joined the Marine Corps in 1966, living west of the Mississippi he figured that he would go to "Hollywood", but it was full, so he did his boot camp in Parris Island. The next year my other brother joined and went to San Diego (Not Full). The following year I joined the Marine Corps and also went to San Diego. Two Hollywood Marines and a "Parris Island" Marine (not the term my oldest brother uses). It's now been over 40+ years and it's still the same argument. Real vs. Hollywood, but it always ends with a "Semper Fi" brother.

Cpl. Flattem
Hollywood 1968 -71

Sgt. Grit,

I still use this to get the kids up. Used it in the Corps for a while. "Zero-dark-thirty, rise and shine, hit the deck leather neck, grab your boots 'n socks, get in your trousers, bail out of that rack, make your mark for the day!"

Semper Fi
SSgt Joseph Whimple
U.S.M.C. 2-70 / 12-76

I was watching an old movie Saturday night "Son of Frankenstein." Basil Rathbone, Bela Legosi, Boris Karloff and a young boy named Donnie Dunagan. I Googled him and found out that he made seven movies. He was the voice of young Bambi, the original Disney movie. He went on to a career in the Marine Corps retiring as a Major. He never told anyone about Bambi for obvious reasons. I believe he is still alive. Thank you SIR for the great movies and your service to our country.

Michael D. Van Sickle

I don't know anything about Camp Ellison, but it sounds to me like some are confusing two separate locations. In December of '58 we qualified with the M-1 Garand at Camp Mathews which was located about 20 miles north of San Diego on the old 101 highway near Torrey Pines. I was through there about 20 yrs. ago and it was wall to wall condos. The story was that the land was so valuable that it was sold and the Marines moved their boot range to Pendleton. We also did the .45 and BAR at Camp Mathews.

Semper Fi
Red Patcher '58-'62

For Sgt G.W. Mathes - You forgot to mention that Joe Marine was from Libertyville. Always thought that was amusing.

Semper Fi
SSgt L.L. Dunn

Read of Sgt. Mathes knowing Joe Marine. I served from '59 to '63 on active duty. I met a Joe Marine in Marine barracks Bermuda. He served as a cook in the Navy mess hall. '61 / '63.

Bob Friberg 184XXXX

Memories, in my Corps it was called a "John Wayne", the army called them P-38.

Chuck Norris, 1965-1999, CWO-4 USMC-RET.

When reading stories of boot camp we had an experience that few have. We were in Plt. 108, 6th Batt. Parris Island, Feb. 3 to May 11,1954. We had been in boot camp and the Senior DI., a SSgt., was with us for about 2 weeks and was relieved from duty. The two Jr. DI's, a Cpl. Tucker and a PFC Vanskiver were the only DI's that were with us all the way to graduation. Not many platoons have went through boot camp with a CPL and PFC as the ranking DIs.

Dale Ferrell
Cpl. '54 to '57

Just read S/Sgt S. Stewarts' letter about going to church at P.I. I was the D.I. who marched the boys to services. I still belt out a few bars in the shower every now and again. I had a few cadence's for certain situations. I would do the Marines' Hymn when the boys were feeling tired or after a series march. It was like a shot of adrenaline to them (I credit my cadence to my D.I. Sgt. Ben, 3rd Bat, H Co 1972). I'm glad to hear that someone would mention this after all these years.

Paul S. Laskodi
U.S.M.C. Retired
Semper Fi

When I went to range from MCRD it was called Stuart Mesa Rifle Range in Nov '64. It had only been open for a couple months replacing Camp Matthews. Would this be one in the same as Edson Range as it's called now?

Cpl Allen 64-68
Rvn 3/66 -11/66 Blt 1/5

Last summer I tried to visit Camp Lejeune where I was with 2nd Amtracs at Courthouse Bay and where my son was born at the Base Hospital in '68. I was very excited about visiting and also seeing my 1st home in Midway Park. Sadly, I was turned away at the gate. The MPs on duty told me there was no way to be allowed on base without a sponsor. This is a big frustration and disappointment for me.

So, be sure to find a sponsor before you head to Lejeune or you will be turned away, regardless of your service. How to be sponsored? I don't know.

Dick Sicard
Amtracs 65/69, Nam. '66/'67
Every day's a holiday, every meal a banquet!

Lost And Found

I mustered out in July 1955. I served with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Anybody else out there?

1st Lt Martin Volin

Sgt. Grit,

Really enjoy reading stories about cadence, recruit depot incidents, etc. Have not read any stories about Quantico, but have many good memories of "Daily Hall & Diamond Lou's". The time period of Nov. '55 - Aug. '57, before moving on to Kaneohe Bay.

Would like to hear from PFC Marty Pollock, PFC Homer Waterson, or anyone in SDT LT Machine Guns.

Dick Farrell 1528XXX

Arrived at MCRDSD by bus on Aug-31-1966 and we all know what happened then, six days later I ended up with Platoon 2207 (pic attached) 2nd Battalion and graduated Oct-31-1966. Our Sr. DI was S/Sgt W. Salmond our other two DI's were Sgt. C.F. Hillinski and Sgt. R.B. Wallis.

I ended up being one of the House Mouses (this alone is another story) and would like to know if there's anyone out there who was also in the same Platoon.

Semper Fi to all my brothers and sisters.

Nam '67-'68
Torres R F


"I don't worry about stress, I create it."
--Gen. James Mattis

"A man has freedom as far as he shapes his life according to his own plans. A man whose fate is determined by the plans of a superior authority, in which the exclusive power to plan is vested, is not free in the sense in which the term "free" was used and understood by all people until the semantic revolution of our time brought about a confusion of tongues."
--Ludwig Von Mises, [1952]

"A people that values it PRIVILEGES above its PRINCIPLES soon loses both."
--Dwight Eisenhower

"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons."
--General Douglas MacArthur

"I'll be out of the area all day"



"Expect the unexpected."

Sgt Grit

©2012 Sgt Grit Inc
7100 SW 44th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73179
You are receiving Sgt Grit's weekly newsletter.
Unsubscribe from just the newsletter ...OR...
Unsubscribe from all Sgt Grit Emails
To Submit a story - Email info@grunt.com.
Subscribe to this newsletter.