I planned my first tattoo from as long as I can remember. I was always going to be a Marine and have the Marine Tattoo on my arm as soon as I was old enough. In 1983 while in Schools Battalion at Camp Delmar, Camp Pen, my friend John Moore took me to a shop in Escondido to get it done. Last night, I had the original upgraded to commemorate the fact that it never leaves you.
Once A Marine Always A Marine.
Used The Wrong Kind Of Fuse
Over the last month or so, I've read a number of submissions from readers about a "Capt. Hiram Walker", who was reportedly Force Recon, was "a member of the famous Hiram Walker liquor family", "his personal vehicle was Marine Corps green with camo seat covers", and he had a "reputation of being a bit strange". In 1967/68, I served with a Major E. Hockaday Walker who was then CO of 1st Force Recon based at Phu Bai, RVN. The very same stories about this Walker were circulating then and I wonder if we're not talking about the same person? At one point, Major Walker denied the reported relationship with the Hiram Walker liquor family and I believe he said he was a relative but not an immediate family member. He was in fact from a wealthy family in any event and the stories about the vehicle and his dressing his entire platoon in dress blues is supposed to be true. I also heard that as a platoon commander at Lejeune, he had no civilian clothing at all - and at one point was ordered to buy a suit for a special occasion. Supposedly, immediately after the 'special occasion', he dumped the suit in a trash can and burned it.
Unfortunately, his tenure as CO of 1st Force was not universally appreciated. I don't want to speak ill of the dead - or undead (I don't know which) - but you might say he tried to run a rough-and-ready combat unit in a war zone along the lines of a garrison support unit. I recall one incident when a Force Recon team came back from a vicious fight carrying their dead and wounded comrades. Maj. Walker met them coming off the LZ in Phu Bai and raised holy h-ll because they had not stowed their boots properly in their hooch. The First Sergeant (whose name I can't remember - Sorry, Top) had to talk one of the team members out of a spontaneous change of command ceremony. On another occasion, under direct orders from the CO, Task Force X-Ray, I led a diving team into Hue City during Tet to clear the bridges for the 1st Marines (we were the first across the Perfume River - 1st Force, 1st to Fight!) (of course, we got the cr-p blasted out of us - my ears are still ringing). Later, Maj. Walker tried to relieve me for not checking with him first - he was off in DaNang. I guess he figured he outranked the Brigadier General who was CO of TF X-Ray. The BG reportedly told him to sit down and shut up and Capt. Vogel (that was me) would stay just where he was. Shortly thereafter, for these and other idiosyncrasies, Maj. Walker was invited to assume the responsibilities of another position in the rear which more suited his temperament.
I'm attaching a couple of pictures from our diving mission in Hue. The first is of the so-called 'Silver Bridge' over the Perfume River, leading to the Citadel. You can see where the center span had been blown and the LCU approaching it was under heavy mortar fire. We got all the way across under water before the NVA realized we were out there. Then they clobbered us with mortars - but they apparently used the wrong kind of fuse. Instead of a delayed fuse, the mortars exploded upon impact with the water. The shrapnel didn't get us but the concussions rattled our brains for days. The second picture is of the diving team at a bridge down the road from the Silver Bridge. We couldn't even get to the water there because the NVA held the other side and blasted us every time we stuck our heads up. I think it was Sgt. Hughes (big Afro-Am. in the third picture) who dropped an M-79 round in an upstairs window across the causeway there and took out an automatic weapon that had been raking our position. The third picture was taken of our team at the MACV compound just before we left Hue to return to Phu Bai - Mission Accomplished. Aside from Sgt. Hughes, a great Marine, the only other name I can remember is that of Sgt. Buda, wearing a cammie cover in the back row - another great Marine and fearless Force team leader. Sgt. Hughes once killed an NVA sapper in an underwater fight, by ripping the guy's throat out with his teeth - you don't mess with Sgt. Hughes. Sgt. Buda was a master of the stay-behind ambush. One time, a Force team was being chased by a large NVA 'hunting party' somewhere out in the mountains and Sgt. Buda stayed behind by himself, set up a claymore, and blasted those suckers into the promised land. The team got away safely. Years later, I was honored to attend the commissioning ceremony for Sgt. Buda's son; BG Livingston, also from 1st Force from those days, conducted the ceremony and pinned on the son's 2nd Lt. bars.
Sgt. Buda, Sgt. Hughes, or any others from those long ago days, if you're still out there, Semper Fi!
P.S. I found another picture to attach - #4 is of Sgt. Hughes with friends outside a district office south of Hue, on the way back to Phu Bai. Some people just make friends wherever they go. (Those kids are probably grandmothers by now.)
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.
A SgtMaj. sits down in a fancy restaurant one morning and instructs the waiter to bring him a Marine Corps Breakfast. "Exactly what is a Marine Corps Breakfast?" asked the waiter. The SgtMaj. then tells the waiter to bring him a huge steak, a bulldog, and a fifth of whiskey. "Begging your pardon sir, but why would you order a bulldog?" "Why, to eat the steak, of course!" replied the SgtMaj.
This story was adapted from the book "Jokes for All Occasions" by Edward Clode, copyright 1922.
If I understand the question correctly, you're asking what character traits do Marines develop during service in the Marine Corps that they consider most important?
That, my friend, is a tough question, because there are so many. To determine which one or two is most important is difficult, at best, because the character traits are so intertwined, connected. For me, the best way to describe the ones most important to me is to try to give a brief history of my Marine career, as well as my life after the "Corps".
Entered the Marine Corps in June 1964. I went to Santo Domingo in early 1965 to quell the riots (Bravo Co. 1st Bn. 6th Marines). Could that deployment correctly be called "combat"? Not hardly, although I did see my first dead Marine. We dug fighting holes in one of the most beautiful golf courses I have ever seen before or since. I got orders to Vietnam shortly after our return from Domingo. We were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. I was hot sh-t now - I had two ribbons on my chest, the National Defense and the A.F.E.M.
I never volunteered for duty in Vietnam; however, the Marine Corps saw fit to send me there four times. One tour was cut a bit short because I was wounded (Hue City, Golf Co. 2nd Bn. 5th Marines, 1968). I have always had a propensity to learn languages easily, and I learned Vietnamese rather quickly on my first tour. As a result, the powers that be decided I was needed to translate. My total time in that Southeast Asian paradise was forty-four months.
There are nine infantry regiments on active duty in the Marine Corps, and I had the pleasure of serving with six of the nine regiments. Most of my duty was with 5th Marines and of course two tours of duty on the drill field which was, by far, the most rewarding duty I ever had.
In 1985 I got selected for 1st Sergeant. As I'm sure most are aware, I would have to either extend my enlistment or reenlist to have two years remaining when I got promoted to 1st Sergeant. DOD had also announced that if Vietnam Veterans hadn't applied for their school benefits prior to the end of FY-1986 then they wouldn't get those benefits. If they were already enrolled, they could complete their education. I hadn't even started. So, I decided to retire (good decision).
I had a family to support, so I got a job as a police officer. I began attending the University of NC, full time and working a full time job. Six years later, I graduated with a Masters in English (Why English - that's another long story). I have worked in the business world and taught school and finally started my own business. I got tired of the lack of ethics in the business arena.
I sold my business several years ago and retired completely (good decision). Now, that brings me to the three character traits that I consider important (absolutely necessary).
# 1. Discipline - the ability to do what you must do, even though you may not want to.
# 2. Decisiveness - the ability to make a timely decision (after obtaining all the facts) and stick to that decision in the face of adversity if you're sure you are right.
# 3. Courage - In my opinion, there are two types of courage. There is physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is the willingness to hook and jab with someone if there is no other alternative. Moral courage is standing up for what is morally right even in the face of adversity. Courage is not the absence of fear; It's the ability to control that fear.
I certainly would not be where I am today were it not for the Marine Corps. Those three, in my opinion, are just the tip of the spear. They have guided me throughout my life. I learned them in the "Corps".
One final comment. In addition to what I have written above, none of that would have been possible without my dedicated life's partner. The Mrs. and I have been married for forty years come next February. She has been my rock. We have two sons (both are Marines).
Thanks for allowing me to "sound off".
A Former "Hat"
GySgt, USMC (Ret)
Marines Traveling Cross-Country
Displaying their pride from coast to coast.
F4 Phantoms Screaming
Been following stories about the tough duty at K-Bay. I was stationed at K-Bay with Station Operations and Maintenance Squadron (SOMS) from Oct '74 through Oct '77, then got out and stayed in Hawaii until 1984. I arrived as a 19 year old newly minted LCpl who got married en-route. In those days you had to be "Command Sponsored" to be authorized quarters and/or a wife, but we were too young and too dumb to know how poor we were while living in a tiny apartment in town and sharing our one bicycle for transportation. Road that bike about 5 miles to/from work daily, more often than not in the rain. Worked GCA Radar just off the middle of the runway with F4 Phantoms screaming by non-stop. That's our yellow trailer in the middle of the asphalt in the picture. Too far for most folks to walk out to bother us so for the most part it was just me and my Gunny. Yes, it was "swinging with the Wing" at times and couldn't have asked for better duty.
Sgt of Marines
A friend of Chesty Puller during the Banana Wars, was Herman H. Hanneken. Hanneken was a Sergeant when the Marines were sent to Haiti. A Haitian named Charlemagne Peralte was terrorizing the native Haitians and threaten the stability of the island. Sergeant Hanneken was led deep onto Charlemagne's camp and shot Charlemagne, which disorganized his followers. However Charlemagne's trusty Lieutenant, Osiris Joseph, the new leader of the blood thirsty Cacos was ran down and shot by Sgt. Hanneken who earned the Medal of Honor for shooting Charlemagne and a Navy Cross for getting Osiris.
In 1929 the bandit Chief Sandino was using lawless raids to finance his fighting. Marine 1st Lieutenant Herman Hanneken was sent there and he captured General Jiron, Sandino's Chief of Staff, without firing a shot. Peace returned to Nicaragua and Herman Hanneken was awarded his second Navy Cross.
At the Battle for Guadalcanal, Herman Hanneken was now a Colonel and commanded the 7th Marines (Chesty Puller commanded First Battalion, 7th Marines) and was again awarded a medal, the Silver Star, and later at Cape Gloucester he was awarded a Bronze Star. Again at Peleliu he was awarded the Legion of Merit. During the Peleliu Campaign, Colonel Puller commanded the 1st Marines while Col. Hanneken still commanded the 7th Marines.
At wars end, Colonel Hanneken retired as a Brigadier General. Chesty Puller served in Shanghai with the 4th Marines as Company Commander, if he had stayed a bit longer in Shanghai (transferred August 28, 1941) he would have been transferred with the 4th Marines to Corregidor and fought there and either been killed, as aggressive as he was, or spent the rest of the war in a Japanese Prison Camp. Not much has been said about that.
GySgt. F.L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
On the way into battle... Marines analyze intel to determine the best course of action to take in order to ensure mission accomplishment!
All-Out Amphibious Assault
Sgt. John Lefker's Cinderella Liberty letter in your August 22nd edition mentions that he was with How Company, 3rd. Bn., 9th Marines stationed on Okinawa in the mid 50's. I was also with the 3rd. Bn., 9th. Marines, H & S Company, S2 at that time as a Cpl. with an 0231 MOS. He must remember that prior to Okinawa our Battalion, the 3rd. was stationed at Camp Okabu outside of the City of Kyoto, Japan. Our Weapons Company CO was Capt. Archie Van Winkle, Medal Of Honor recipient, and George Company CO was Capt. Joe "Bull" Fisher who later as Lt.Col. Fisher played a major part in Operation Starlight against the 1st. Viet Cong Regiment on August 18, 1965.
When we moved to Okinawa, we anchored in Buckner Bay for a day or two and then we made an all-out amphibious assault on the island, spent a week in the field and then went to our new camp called Camp Napunja which was not ready as they were still putting up our Quonset huts in a field of mud! Later, when the rest of the 3rd. Division moved to Okinawa, they made an all-out amphibious assault on the island and we were the aggressors who met them on the beach and gave them a run for their money for a few days.
All of the above, to my memory, transpired in the time period of 1954-1956. I hope that this fits in with his memories of that time and place. Ah... to be young again.
Honesty of Marines
Guess this would make all Marines the most honest humans on Earth...
Personnel Manager: "What is your greatest weakness?"
Old Marine: "Honesty."
Personnel Manager: "I don't think honesty is a weakness."
Old Marine: "I don't really give a sh-t what you think."
I worked sec. #1 and Seg. "Fireman Freddie", and "Magilla Gorila" and who cannot forget "Big Wig". Also Cpl B.D. Johnston from Tomball, TX. The 1st Sgt had a memory like an elephant. I was TAD from Hq Btry 11th Marines. Worked "B" Dorm, the night they caught the two cons in the shower.
You know we read this "newsletter" long enough and a note brings back something you've not thought about in years. I got "P-R"ed in April of '65 to leave with 3/11 and the 7th Mar, to go to Viet Nam. Now thinking back I must've got there right after you left, AH... but the memories.
Semper Fi brother and "Thank you For your Service". If we don't do it to each other, nobody but family and friends will.
'60-'80 SSgt Ret.
King, Easy, How, Echo
An outstanding newsletter as always in reference to the comment from Shawn Kane to SGT John Lefker about there not being a How Co. in 3/9, the MARINE CORPS changed in late '56 or early '57 in 1953 I was in King Co. 4/8, in 1953 the MARINE CORPS was thinking about going back to the old square formation, I believe it was the 6th MARINES using 4 Cos. in the Bn. The 8th MARINES was trying 4 Bns. in the regiment. I was in EASY 2/9 once and ECHO 2/9 twice. I think the change was to be politically correct with NATO. I like the old alphabet better.
R B Scott
Homes For Our Troops
On June 23, 2013, Marine Corps League Detachment 1198 from Jarrettsville, Maryland provided the Color Guard for a ground breaking ceremony. A home is now under construction for Corporal Jeffery Kessler, his wife Morgan and their two sons. Homes For Our Troops is building his house in Rising Sun, Maryland. Jeffery lost both legs and partial amputation of fingers on his right hand when he was on his third deployment in Helmand Province, Afghanistan where he was wounded by an IED. It is with great pride that MCL Detachment 1198 supports the Troops.
Beat Feet For Home
The phonetic alphabet in use by the military from 1941-1956, when Sgt of Marines John Lefker was serving his tour of duty, was: Able - Baker - Charlie - Dog - Easy - Fox - George - How - Item - Jig - King - Love - Mike - Nan - Oboe - Peter - Queen - Roger - Sugar - Tare - Uncle - Victor - William - X-ray - Yoke - Zebra. So you see Shawn Kane, there really was a How Company. The "new phonetic alphabet" that you're accustomed to and I used during my enlistment ('62-'66) was adopted by the military in about 1957.
Not intended as one-upmanship, but in 1964, before interstate highways were common, I made my one and only weekend trip home. We had just returned to MCAS Cherry Point from Operation Steel Pike and the entire battery was given a 96 over Thanksgiving weekend. Since Jerry Stonecipher was headed back to Indiana, just south of Gary, six of us piled in that old Mercury and beat feet for home, at least 1100 miles one way. One for Parkersburg West Virginia, two for Dayton Ohio, one for Rockford Illinois (me) and one for Madison Wisconsin. The car had a bent driveshaft and wouldn't do over 65 Mph without shaking all the bolts out. So, Stony replaced it while at home. The new one was worse than the one he took out and the best it would do was 55 Mph on the way back. Made it back sometime during the night on Sunday/Monday, wore out but happy. I don't recall hearing the term "swoop" back then, but that doesn't mean it wasn't in use.
As always Sgt Grit, thank you for what you do.
Cpl. Jerry D.
Arrived on Okinawa in 1961 from Courthouse Bay at Camp Lejeune. Assigned to 1st Amtracs at Camp White Beach. There were 3 small vils between White Beach and Terigowa (Sp). We had to be back before midnight (1AM for NCOs). If you came back late, you had to sneak onto the base through the "Habu" trials which were inhabited by the deadly Habu Snake (Not sure if this was a myth or not).
After a float to Subic Bay, Hong Kong, Mindoro, etc., I was transferred to Camp Smedley D. Butler to work at the 3rd Marine Division Brig. This was the best duty ever (Port and Starboard sections, day on, day off). We solved the Cinderella Liberty problem with the brig "Paddy Wagon" that was used to transport prisoners. We would call the brig from town, and the supernumerary would come into town with the paddy wagon, pick us up and drive through the front gate without anyone looking in the back. On our day off, we would go to Camp McTureous to swim in the 3rd Division pool. The on duty brig uniform included a Pith helmet as our cover. It made a sharp uniform and set us out on the base as brig personnel. In the vil, the ladies would ask if we worked at the "Monkey house". It was SOP for new prisoners to spend the first night in solitary so they knew what was in store if the screwed up while our guests. They had to double-time everywhere they went. Prior to chow, we would march them around the compound at a half-step. As they approached the door to the mess hall, if anyone was out of step, it would be "Column Left" and they would march around the compound one more time. It was a "yellow line" brig where they had to ask permission to cross any line. One rule that was strictly enforced was, a prisoner could not be within 6 feet of any brig personnel without their specific permission. It was known as a tough brig and we had very little recidivism. The count was around 150 prisoners and we would keep them busy weaving burlap through camo nets all day. So they would not enjoy it, we would hang the net about a foot over their heads (they got even once, when a chopper pilot flying over, called our attention to an obscenity they had craftily woven into the net). It was a rough night for the prisoners.
My Lifer's Hook
Another grunt name was mud rats.
In addition I would like to add to what Capt. Zobenica said about respecting officers in his comments "Butter Bars".
As I said in my note to the newsletter concerning a new butter bar assigned as my Plt LT, I did not salute him because he made many mistakes that cost us, his men to pay the price. Well as a L/Cpl and a Sq leader/fire team leader in the grunts I should have shown more respect to this new LT. As I also stated in my comments I had a lot of growing up to do and did. At the time I was not a good Marine. I did become a good Marine and worked hard at it because I loved the Corps and was developing my lifer's hook. So as a young L/Cpl I scr-wed up. However as a Cpl, Sgt and later on a SSgt I learned what it meant to be a good Marine. I was a boot just like this LT was and I had to learn just like he did. A boot LT is like a Pvt/PFC just out of boot camp and assigned to your first unit. We all had to learn, we all had to grow up, and we all had to come to understand what it meant to be a good Marine. It took some of us longer than others, but sooner or later we all reached that point of being good Marines.
As a D.I. we used to tell the recruits just before graduation, as our D.I.'s had told us, that you are graduating as a fully trained basic Marine and now the learning will really start. You are going out into the fleet and to schools and you will be assigned to many different MOS's and be stationed in many different places. You all will be attending some form of additional training. Remember this, you are in no way a fully trained Marine. You have a lot to learn and you have a lot of growing to do. Remember after you have been in a while, what you had to go through when that brand new Marine comes to your unit. Help the new Marine to learn all he needs to know to be a good Marine. Look for the Marine that will help you learn all you need to know and do. Look for a good Marine to follow until you have your feet on solid ground. I forgot that when I was a L/Cpl. I could have been helpful to the Plt Sgt and the new LT instead of crying about what the LT did wrong. I saw my story as kind of funny when I wrote it out and submitted it. It did however show the lack of understanding of what a Marine is, then when I disrespected this officer and was somewhat backed up by the skipper.
SSgt Joseph Whimple
U.S.M.C. 2-70 / 12-76
In August, 1970, the unit (Golf 2/5) was moving out for their 30 days in the bush. For reasons only known to the skipper, we had a Bn. F.O., his radio operator, and about four other rear echelon Marines with us on this trip. We didn't get to know them or found out why they were with us because one of them tripped a 250 bomb booby trap and all six were just gone! Due to the fire power of a booby trap this size, the second platoon that these Marines were moving with was also wiped out except for one Marine, who was untouched. As you might guess, the wounds suffered by second platoon were extremely severe. The Corpsman assigned to them had lost both his legs and arms; however, he would lay there calmly explaining to us grunts (1st. and 3rd. Plt.) how to treat these wounds and provide the kind of CPR you don't normally hear about at the Red Cross classes. This man must have been in enormous amount of pain, but he knew that we needed his leadership in order to save as many Marines as we could. Most were saved!
The only Marine from second platoon to have escaped injury was a radio operator. And he carried out his mission like he was trained to do. He called in Medivac Coppers and provided information needed on each of his friends in second platoon. He was in a different kind of pain, but he was a Marine first and tradition says that you needed to save your buddies and get them away from there and to safety. I'm sorry to report that he was never quite the same after this. Who can be?
The unit (Golf 2/5) was assigned to Liberty Bridge security; which meant that we did patrols (rovers) and ambushes (stingers) around the bridge every day. A squad was sent out on the north side of the river for a short rover around the river banks. We, the rest of the platoon, were standing around in the compound telling lies about/to each other when there was a "big" explosion on the north side of our position. Just about where the squad should be. We tried to get someone on the radio but there was no response. The CO (skipper) sent out two squads to investigate what might have happened. Here is their story: They came up-on the area and found that the squad had tripped a large artillery round (a 105 or 155) that had been set under an ammo can. It needs to be noted that it took the squads some time to find where the men were. When they came upon the area, they saw the corpsman, who had been "severely" wounded in the groin and head, moving from Marine to Marine applying first aid. They reported that this Corpsman would stop between men and react to his own pain but, apparently, would not take a shot of morphine for himself because he was worried that he might pass out and wouldn't be able to save his squad. The Marines who were able to talk to the other squad leader explained what had happened with the booby trap, and that the Corpsman was saying a prayer for each of them as he worked to save their lives.
The choppers came in and got everyone out. The Corpsman was put in for the Medal Of Honor and received the Navy Cross instead. Also, we were told that everyone made it home alive. I believe they made it home because of this Corpsman's devotion to duty and us - I'm sure it was...
Semper Fi (until we die)
Robert H. Bliss
Quang Nam Province
Golf 2nd Bn., 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, III MAF
In response to the Corpsman from 3/12; Served at K-Bay from '56-'58 in the 4th Marines and never saw a cockroach. What was interesting was the mongoose which was introduced to curb and the rat population. And, as the mongoose couldn't climb trees, the rats proliferated by living in the trees. During night ops, one could hear the rats scurrying about in the trees to their hearts content. When dawn broke, the, "mosquito hawk" could be observed feasting on the mosquitos. Remember the Honolulu PD, in their sh-t brown uniforms. However, the Hawaiian Armed Service Police (HASP) were the law enforcement authority to be reckoned with. At the time, the drinking age in Hawaii was 20 and was strictly enforced by the HASPs, and many a young Marine who violated the age requirement and got caught, stood at office hours for such an infraction. Liberty in Honolulu was a turned off because of these chicken sh-t mall cops.
Push Button War
Don't know what Marine Corps some of my brothers were in during the late 1960s, but there was no 'PFT' during my tour, 1966-1970 - we ran the 'PRT' - Physical Readiness Test consisting of a 30 foot rope climb, a 50 or 100 yard sprint punctuated by 3 'dives into firing position' and ending with a leap over an 8-foot 'ditch', a series of 18" 'step ups' and a run with a buddy on your shoulders in 'fireman's carry', topped off by a 3 mile run - all in full combat gear (but you got to stack your M-14 during the 'carry'). Don't recall most of the time limits or minimum passing scores, but I think the required 'step-ups' was 90 in 2 minutes and the run time maximum was 30 or 36 minutes, which may have been 'absolute' in '66 and (I think) adjusted for age/rank by 1970, and it was run quarterly. Anyone failing when the unit ran it (and I do recall a few short-timers at HQMC/FS catching a ride on the 'far side' of the run, and getting caught) lost weekend liberty and had the privilege of running it every Saturday morning until they either passed with 'better than minimum' score or they passed the next 'official' one (memory again a little foggy after almost a half-century).
Much as we b-tched and moaned about it, I don't recall a single Marine who didn't understand and 'appreciate' the fact that the 'events' had 'real world' (and 'real war') applicability, as opposed to the 'PFT' which supplanted it in the 1970's(?) - there are d-mned few occasions throughout history, from pelting each other with rocks to modern 'smart guns' - where battles were decided by which side could do more pushups or sit-ups.
I also remember the oft-repeated mantra during the run: "Sure - once they get to the point of 'push-button war', Marines will still have to hump 20 miles to push the d-mned button!"
(Who arced from E-1 to E-5 to E-3; Nam '68-'69)
One Of A Thousand Reasons
Being Old Corps,('58-'64), I had never heard the term "swooping" that has been used much in the newsletter, but it brings back memories of the thousands of miles I covered hitch-hiking between Parris Island and western Pennsylvania while stationed on The Island. One of those trips turned out to be quite memorable.
Those days, before all the nut-jobs were running loose, riding the thumb was actually a fairly safe way to get from Point "A" to Point "B" on a PFC's pay, although there were still a few hazards. I can't remember if thumbing in uniform was forbidden by The Corps, but, at any rate, any self-respecting Marine would've considered it unbecoming. The best way I found of assuring rides was to dress as, what was then known as "Joe College"; black and white saddle shoes; khaki trousers; a crew-neck sweater over a shirt and tie; holding a handmade cardboard sign lettered with the name of a well-known college in the direction you wanted to go.
I was one of the dummies who had gotten married right after boot-camp, and my wife was still a student at a western PA college. It's amazing what a 19-year-old Marine's hormones will make him do. I'm not sure what the regs. are in today's Corps, but back then there was, if I remember correctly, a 50-mile radius limit on a weekend pass. My hormone magnet was a bit over 700-miles away, but I was a Marine, and Marines can do anything. Right? Many, many Friday afternoons, at 1630 hours, I was on the highway with my signs, and many a Sunday afternoons I was in some strangers car, or truck, sweating being back in the company office before turning into a brig-rat. It was on one of those Sundays that I was standing at the Bedford, PA entrance to the PA Turnpike, with my green clothing bag, inside of which was my uniform, when a guy pulled over and said: Jump in buddy, just throw your bag on the back seat. When I opened the door and leaned in to lay the bag down, there, hanging on a hook at the driver's side window was another green bag exactly the same as mine, but with a big Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and, under it, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. chevrons and three hash marks. Ohmigawd! I knew I was dead! Seven-hundred-miles from base, on a weekend pass, and trapped in a car with a Gunny.
My sign said "Florida State University" so he didn't ask me where I was headed, saying only that he was going as far as Beaufort Air Station, but that I shouldn't have any trouble catching a ride from there. He did seem satisfied when he asked where I had gotten the PX clothing bag, when I said it belonged to my brother who had just gotten out of the Corps. He never questioned my high-and-tight, and I sweated bullets the whole seven-hundred-miles, doing my d-mnedest to sound like anything but a Marine.
I'm not sure what gave me away: the high-and-tight; the fact that every other word out of my mouth was "Sir"; the green bag; or just the general bearing of a Marine just a month or two out of boot-camp, but when we stopped at the turn-off to the air station, I got my bag off the rear seat, and was leaning in the window to thank him for the ride, winking, he said: "Why don'tcha change your sign to say "Parris Island", and sombody'll be along soon enough to get you back in time to sign in before midnight. Semper Fi, Marine." I shouted a "Thanks, and Semper Fi, Gunny."
I have no idea who that Gunny was, but, Gunny, if you're not already running the company guarding the Pearly Gates, and you happen to be reading the newsletter, again, Thanks, and Semper Fi. You're one of the thousands of reasons I love the Corps, and am happy to be a Marine.
Dellinger, Cpl E-4,
a Marine until I die.
Bone Deep Cold
Portion of obituary of my Ophthalmologist, William Stanley Muenzler, 1932-2013.
In a moment of youthful patriotism, after graduation from high school, Stanley misled the US Marine Corps recruiter as to his age, and was sent off to serve in the Korean War shortly before he turned 18. While he celebrated the Marine Corps birthday every year, he was never a chest pounder regarding his service on behalf of our country. Regardless, it is a fact, that he was one of the youngest Marines who participated in the famous battle and celebrated retreat from the Chosin Reservoir as the communist Chinese Army overran everyone but the Marines, as China entered the war. Stanley survived to return home, but he always remembered the bone deep cold of the winter fighting in that long ago and forgotten war.
God Bless you Doctor
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #6, #4, (APR., 2016)
This is one of those issues that I talked about earlier about being released at the first part of Feb., or the last part of Jan. of any year because these are annual events that just need a quick reminder to turn the thinking light on. That way if someone decided that they wanted to attend they could make arrangements before hand. I know that some organizations plan for their reunion to coincide with the intent of attending this remembrance celebration. One that I know of is VMO-2.
I'm going to print one phrase and then you can follow up with your own thoughts. "The Flag Raising On IWO JIMA". Immediately the image of those five brave MARINES raising our Flag pops into view and your chest begins to swell and you feel proud to have served your Country. Some of the names of those MARINES escapes you, but one lingers in your mind and that is of Ira Hayes. If you are in Sacaton, Arizona and on the Gila River Indian Reservation then you may even be standing where he once stood, or played, as a young man. MARINES from all over the Country gather here each year on the anniversary of this historic event. They exchange stories, greetings and just gather, some just to say they were there! I personally have attended for some five years and have met many that return year after year. VMO-2 is normally well represented, and as I said they plan their annual Reunion to include the festivities in Sacaton, AZ.
I'm not going to try and include all that goes on, but there are speeches, a meal, and various dedications by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a MIA/POW Ceremony performed by the Local Post of the Scottish American Military Society and later in the day there is a social Pow Wow which is normally held at the Gila River Rodeo Grounds just outside of town. The entire day is taken up with various activities that you really don't want to miss. So bring a folding chair, find a place to park it and enjoy the day. The parade is definitely unique in that, in the past, there have been "No Marching Bands". The stage provides seating and shade for the few original living Iwo Jima survivors and the atmosphere is somewhat somber. There is also a large number of Motorcycle riders from the local Veterans Motorcycle Clubs in attendance. All in All, it's a SPECIAL DAY to REMEMBER!
Never Touched Before
We had two Docs assigned to 1st Plt in early '66, who I will refer to as "Round Brown" and "Duffy" (because that's what we called them)... both were graduates of Corps School and Field Med... and what we did, they did... humped, sweated, dug, humped some more, slept some when it was possible, stood radio watches at the platoon CP... carried .45's and "Unit Ones" (certain medical kit... I guess there are also "Unit Two"s, etc.). The Docs, the Lt. (2nd Lt. Robert Rosenau) and I (Plt Sgt) all carried morphine syrettes... the Docs probably had theirs in their Unit Ones, but Rosie and I carried ours in our left chest pockets... in the cardboard boxes they came in... which boxes had a half-life of about two hours, due to sweat... I think we got to survey the boxes for new ones periodically... and to this day, remain thankful that I never had to use one or more of those syrettes on one of our platoon.
For our first operation (we were designated the Special Landing Force...BLT 3/5, deployed from Princeton, Pickaway, and Alamo), and our first time ashore, the word came down that if we encountered locals, that any searching of females for grenades, booby traps, contraband, hidden weapons, and so on, would be done by the Corpsmen... the rationale being, that being "medical professionals", they would possess what is known as "clinical detachment", and would not be given to unbridled lust, fondling, groping, etc. while frisking for grenades smuggled in armpits, bladed weapons strapped between the clavicles, etc. Now, the locals we encountered were peasants... subsistence farmers... not the delicate ultra-feminine females from the French-influenced cities, in their Ao-Dai's and parasols, but barefoot wearers of baggy black two-piece pajama outfits, topped with the ubiquitous conical rice-straw hats... and many of them were addicted to betel nut leaves... a leaf, when chewed, that releases a mild narcotic, dampening hunger pangs, and as a side effect, stains the teeth black, and produces saliva that resembles blood... but when we might encounter a couple of these beauties moving along a paddy trail, with their 'chogie-poles' on their shoulders, and a basket suspended from each end... well, they could be dangerous... and had to be searched! So the Docs would be called up to pat them down, check for weapons and other contraband... I noted one of them with a big grin, doing his check... and had to tell him... "Doc... just because you're touching things you've never touched before... get that sh-t-eatin' grin off your face"... by the second or third encounter on the first op, the thrill was gone...
BTW... I think 'chogie-pole' was something we learned from Korea Vets, where the same method of moving stuff was common... to achieve the easy motion, with the springiness of the pole easing the labor, is not easy... find some old VN Vet who has tried it, and he will tell you, it's harder than it looks...
Lost And Found
Would love to hear from anyone who was in Disbursing at bldg. 1 Camp Lejeune from 1966-1968.
Sgt Jeff Ward,
Recently I have received several observations/complaints of no story about this event or that unit. Marines... if you don't see any stories about your period or unit it is because YOU have not sent in YOUR story. So send me YOUR story about the 8th Amphib Reinforced Mess Spoon Recon Anti-Lance Criminal MP Battalion from Feb 30, 1933. I do very little editing and with a few exceptions everything sent me gets in the newsletter. Like your DI taught you, there are no excuses, you write a story. Do it now! Send me your story of how you single handedly and without concern for you own safety defended against numerically superior enemy forces attacking the skivvy house in outer Camp KorColdVietSomalLeatherIraqAfstan.
Your humble servant
In response to how we referred to ourselves about 1960, some said we were gravel crunchies or crunchers. Dead tired, no one talked and all you could hear was boots on gravel and the slap of rifle slings and canteens. God it was so good to remember that after 50 some years. It makes me want to go back and do it all over again.
Dave Baker, Cpl. E-4
To L/Cpl Brown,
What was meant by the Air Wing was a real good duty was when I was with MAG-13, Iwakuni, Japan in '65, and like you said it was dirty, noisy, and sometimes very interesting. Looks like you were at Da Nang about the same time, I was there in '68 with 1st FSR Trk Co (April to Nov) and like you, we had the hooch cold water. All this came with the rockets and mortars.
In the newsletter today, you forgot to put in Amgrunts on the list of names...
Sgt. Larry walker
Amgrunt for life
In response to other names for grunts. I always referred to myself as an 03 bang bang or 03 shoots a lot.
Enjoy your newsletter very much, brings back many memories. One item by Shawn Kane (rank and time unknown) made a point of there never was a 'How' company in line battalion. That is strange. In my day (Korea) we had three rifle companies in each infantry battalion Able... Baker... Charlie... in the first Dog... Easy... Fox in the second and George... How... Item in the third. Perhaps Shawn should contact some of the How company guys from the reservoir.
Keep up the good work... Outstanding.
Sgt. J.B. Davis
1949 - 1955
Talk about swooping... After completing ITR at Geiger five of us went to catch the bus to Baltimore, but had a two hour wait. Then someone said lets catch a cab. After calling his dispatcher the cabbie charged us $25 each. We stopped at a ABC store and had a lively ride home. Our next duty station was Camp Pendleton, on the way to Vietnam.
Cpl. Dave Franz
'66 / '72
Reference: To L/Cpl Brown and Wayne Stafford
When I was in the Marine Corps in 1945 with the First Marine Airwing, airdales were assigned to line company for a period of 3-months. It was called Temporary Assigned Duty (TAD). I was assigned to the Sixth Marine Division for 3-months in China. During this period of time, the training consisted of advance weaponry training and regular line company duties. However, I never heard or knew any Marine from line company being assigned to the Airwing. Maybe this is where the saying "Once a Marine always a Marine" came from?
Great memories of the Corps... thank you!
Legendary at Quantico
I hit ITR in January 1959. The next company over was "The Runnin' O" commanded by Captain Holmes, got to be the same guy. He had a Caddie convertible, with a cammie top, supposedly had divorced his wife, as she was talking up too much of "his time from the Marine Corps", had refused promotion to Major, and was sent to ITR as punishment.
For me, ITR was a day at the beach after Parris Island, but for those poor souls in "The Runnin' O, physically it was P.I. all over again... They ran and ran and ran. He'd get them up at 03:30, and run around Geiger, with cadence, waking up the base. He was a wild man... has to be the same man.
Deeds not words
Ever heard of the "Frozen Chosin"? I never knew he was one until he died a couple of weeks ago... I grew up with a neighbor who was a Korean Vet Marine, he never went into details of his service, but had told my brother and I that he had served in the Korean War. He was proud of his service and the M-1 that he was able to bring home. I knew he had a Purple Heart, but never knew until his death that he was a Sergeant...
SGT R.W. Laird
rest in peace my friend... And SEMPER FI!
The first words I heard from a Corpsman: "Reveille! Get'em out, Skin'em back and milk it down."
SSgt ('60 - '80)
Skipper, I participated in my last PFT in March of 1970. The one event that I remember were the "step-ups". As I recall, there was a long oblong box that would accommodate 8 Marines on each side. We were required to step-up with the left leg and then the right leg. We were timed, and I can't recall how many we had to do, but both of my thighs cramped just recalling it.
J. T. Allen
SGT of Marines,
Viet Nam '68 â€“ '69
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
-â€“Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, 1766
"I never gave anybody h-ll! I just told the truth and they thought it was h-ll."
--Harry S. Truman
"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."
"The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears."
"You are part of the world's most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon."
--General James Mattis
"Welcome to the Suck."
"Eat the Apple, F-ck the Corps."
"Big green Weenie."
"A warrior of the Jarhead tribe."