Sgt Grit and Staff would like to wish all Marines and their families a very safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. May we all remember to pray for our brothers and sisters that are forward deployed so that we can enjoy this holiday season in true American fashion. May God bless you all and remember that "Every day is a holiday, Every meal is a feast, and Every paycheck is a fortune!"
Supportâ€‹ vs Combat
I've often wondered what the ratio was for support troops vs combat troops. I've seen figures for Viet Nam ranging as high as 10-1. I think it's safe to say that is probably not far off the mark. (see the included article: Myths & Misconceptions: Vietnam War Folklore).
I've talked to more than a few Marines who served in a support position and occasionally the subject of regret over not having been in combat comes up. I have yet to find a single support Marine - REMF, in the rear with the gear and the beer and all the other derogatory comments about the jobs the non-03xx Marines did - who does not have some measure of regret that he never got the opportunity to take Charlie to the big dance and that includes myself. I can only tell you from my own perspective, about 98% of the time (80% of statistics are made up on the spot, as is that one â€“ LOL) I am thankful my tour of duty did NOT include any combat. Judging only from what I've read and what I've heard, combat is some messed up sh-t. As always, you have my deepest appreciation for all you do for the Marine community.
Thanks & Semper Fi
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Banana Wars and Tell Your Mother
While working as a rifle instructor on the range at Camp Lejeune in 1955-7, I came to know and old Master Sergeant who ran the pistol range. He already had 30+ years in the Corps and was as crusty as they came. His name was Duncavage. Sometimes on the weekends he would come into the slopshoot and regale us with stories about the Banana Wars where he had served with Chesty Puller. He ran the pistol range with an iron hand. On every Monday when a new group of shooters reported in he would give a demonstration as to how to shoot the 45 automatic. On slow and rapid fire he would blast out the ten ring every time. Then he would go to the course where the target would face you for three seconds and then turn away. If you hit anywhere on the target you got points. Sergeant Duncavage would fire ten rounds in this course but it looked like he was missing the target completely. Titters would be heard from those watching the demonstration. "The old bast-rd missed the target completely," someone would say. But then when the targets were pulled in to be examined there they were--ten perfect shots in the head of the target where no one was looking. He pulled that on every group of shooters who came to his range.
One Monday a new group of shooters came in among whom was a bushy tailed 2nd Lieutenant, probably fresh out of Quantico. When Duncavage walked by the Lieutenant without saluting him (we old hands knew that on the ranges you didn't have to salute any officer below field grade, but this young shave-tail apparently didn't know that). The Lieutenant called Sergeant Duncavage back and asked why he hadn't saluted him. Sergeant Duncavage snapped to attention and rendered the appropriate highball. The Lieutenant began to walk away triumphant but Sergeant Duncavage called after him, "Now go home and tell your mother you met a real Marine!" You couldn't make up a story like that.
S/Sgt. Paul E. Gill, 1954-68
In my 27 Years of Service I've seen a lot of USO shows (actually this is the term used for all shows shown to us in a War Zone). Top Actors during the 1920's, 30's, 40's made USO Shows during WWII, most of them went to the European War. I did get to see Bob Hope, Jack Carson and some lesser named Actors, but not often. Now in Vietnam most of the military men were not familiar with this group but the Girls were Pretty with short dresses and did a shimmy or two. This was the Group Al Jolson (WHO?) put together and sent to Vietnam. No l didn't see Al, Jolson was a big hit during the 1920's and 1930's, and he died in the 1950's so he wasn't there, but if you have a Group and a Manager who's still around, they could be sent to perform for us. You can see the guys enjoying seeing the girls.
Earlier that week Recon brought in a Prisoner (note the Ho Chi Minh sandals) and we even polished our boots in Vietnam as you can see.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
Iwo Jima Marines
This year at Cookies Tavern in South Philadelphia, PA, there were two Iwo Jima Marines that joined with other brother and sister Marines to celebrate our 239th Birthday!
Reward Was An Orange
While going through Staging Battalion at Las Pulgas, one of the courses was Escape and Evasion. As I remember it we had to go from one hill down to a valley and up to the summit of another hill without being captured by the aggressors, who happened to be reservists. We were allowed a bayonet and poncho and the reward for completing the course was an orange. It was nearing dark and the instructor pointed out to us the smudge pot on the hill where we would receive our piece of fruit. It didn't look that far away, but was I wrong. We got the word to take off and as we started to descend the hill I could hear others mumbling that there was no way some weekend warrior is going to capture me when I'm off to WESTPAC. I wasn't half way down the hill when I began stumbling over all kinds of vegetation and brush and before I knew it I was at the bottom of the hill. Now the fun begins as I had to circumvent a creek and start up the hill. The aggressors were yelling surrender, give it up, it isn't worth it. Many did surrender, but not me. I'm grabbing onto branches and whatever I could feel in the dark. Suddenly the bushes in front of me started erupting and I didn't know what to make of it, so I got into the prone position, placed the poncho over my head and had the bayonet at the ready. I peeked from under the poncho and two eyes were staring at me as a very large owl came swooping down. Back under the poncho. Well, I eventually made it to the top, bloodied, mud head to toe along with torn utility trousers. I was handed my orange and the individual walked away shaking his head. I looked around and saw many of the Marines I had started off with huddled around the smudge pot shivering in their ponchos, but no oranges. Was I the only idiot who completed this course? The big question in my mind was, was it worth it? With a few choice words and I do mean choice, I took my reward and flung it down the hill as the others watched, probably wondering what's this guy's problem.
Sgt. Joe Alvino, USMC
1954 Ford and 45 Years
I have seen in the past few newsletters, Marines sending pictures of their cars and trucks with items from your store. I have just completed a nut and bolt restoration/customizing of my 1954 Ford F-100. I wanted to have something special made to honor my friends, friends I made 45 years ago in a really ugly hooch. I had the honor and the privilege to be with 11th Marines and living, eating, a tad bit of drinking, and standing watch with Don Whitton, John Gugliotta, and Jim Fuller. We still speak and visit to this day.
I wanted a custom job done. I did not want just a decal. I contacted Sgt Grit's Custom Department and they had four challenge coins made for me exactly as I wanted them. On each wheel dust cap is an 11th Marines Regimental logo and below is engraved each of the names: Grit, Goog, Fuller, and Hunts. Perfect fit. I would urge you all to try the custom department. If you can dream it, they can do it.
And yes, everyone notices the caps.
SSgt Dan Huntsinger
11th Marines, DaNang '69-'70
In July 2009, a Jerry D. was telling all about famous people that contributed to Society but have also earned "The Title", he mentions Bea Arthur (Golden Girls) having categorically denied she was a Marine. Here is an update w/pic:
DECEMBER 9 - While she strangely denied serving in the armed forces, military records show that the actress Bea Arthur spent 30 months in the Marine Corps, where she was one of the first members of the Women's Reserve and spent time as a typist and a truck driver.
The "Maude" and "The Golden Girls" star, who died last year at age 86, enlisted in early-1943 when she was 21 (and known as Bernice Frankel). In a February 1943 letter included in her Marine personnel file, Arthur gave military officials a brief account of her prior employment as a food analyst at a Maryland packing plant, a hospital lab technician, and an office worker at a New York loan company.
Arthur was due to start a new job, but she "heard last week that enlistments for women in the Marines were open, so decided the only thing to do was to join." While she hoped for an assignment in ground aviation, Arthur noted that she was "willing to get in now and do whatever is desired of me until such time as ground schools are organized." She added, "As far as hobbies are concerned, I've dabbled in music and dramatics."
As part of the enlistment process, Arthur underwent interviews that resulted in the production of "personality appraisal" sheets. One such analysis described her conversation as "Argumentative" and her attitude and manner as "Over aggressive." In a handwritten note, the Marine interviewer remarked, "Officious - but probably a good worker - if she has her own way!"
Arthur is pictured here in an official Marine photo taken shortly after her enlistment. A second undated portrait can be seen above.
Echo 2/9 1969
The 12th General Order
By Ken Zebal
In the early 1960s, 2nd Tank Bn had a well-established fire watch program at the tank park. Generally speaking, two lower-ranking Marines from the flames platoon and each gun company were posted at the tank park inside their respective tool sheds from about 1800 to 0600. I was a PFC at the time and was assigned fire watch for Charlie Company along with Pat Rogers. Pat and I went to boot camp at Parris Island together (Aug-Nov '63) and then to ITR at Camp Geiger (Nov-Dec '63) before reporting into Co "C", 2TkBn (Dec '63) and then going on boot leave. This was my first fire watch and may also have been Pat's. We were nominated by our Platoon Sergeant, S/Sgt "Gunny" Jandrozits, and then hand-selected by the Company Gunny, GySgt Sam Fullerton whose sea bag read like a WWII war novel. After everyone else went on liberty call Pat and I were briefed by the Company Gunny, went to Mess Hall 207 across the street and were issued mid-rats. In those days it was a brown paper sack filled with a sandwich, hard-boiled egg, apple, container of milk and a napkin all lovingly prepared by one of the cooks.
Along with the other fire watches we reported to the Battalion CP and the Officer of the Day. The OD that day was a WWII and Korea vintage Master Sergeant in Winter Service Alphas. The fire watches were in utilities, green wool shirts, field jackets, gloves and had mid-rats. We received our instructions from the OD and took that short 15 minute walk to the tank park. After getting settled in and looking around we lit the kerosene stove and hung out with nothing else to do for the next 11 hours and 30 minutes. Oh there was the occasional snapping of an M-103 torsion bar but other than that it was quiet. Pat may have had a portable radio so we could listen to WCBS and KDKA, but I don't recall us being quite that salty yet. Every now and again we would take turns walking around the tank ramp just to get some fresh air but it was really boring. About 2200 or so the OD (MSgt what's-his-name) came to check post. Pat and I popped to attention and reported "Charlie Company all secure with nothing unusual to report." The MSgt comes up to me and asks if I knew my 10th General Order, I responded (to salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased). So then he asked why I didn't salute him since he was the OD. Well that was easy, I said because you're enlisted. I thought it was a trick question. He seemed a bit put off by my response so we went through a brief question and answer session with him asking the questions and me providing seemingly unsatisfactory answers. In the meantime, Pat was edging towards the hatch, tank ramp and safety. It didn't take long for the OD to leave and for me and Pat to review the situation. Pat kept saying "if you would have just saluted him, he would have gone away happy." After morning formation the next day, I got to meet the 1st Sgt and for some unknown reason he seemed a bit grumpy. I attributed it to him being old but really did admire his herringbone utilities â€“ what we used to call dungarees. Being a PFC with about 6 months in the Corps I admired everything salty. He jumped right to business without even asking how I was doing and whether or not I liked the Martine Corps, or what he could do to make my enlistment a more pleasant experience. He also really didn't seem all that interested in my perspective of things â€“ maybe he had other things on his mind. However, he did seem fixated on the rank structure and my position at the bottom which he kept mentioning over and over. All in all I guess that didn't go as well as it could have. About a week later I was once again nominated and hand-selected, but this time it was for 30 days of mess duty, clearly a sign that my fledgling career was progressing.
Note: From time to time I will reprint a story from the USMC Tanker Association newsletter.
The Assoc. National Recruiter is:
Ranks Can Be Deceiving
I've been following with interest the comments posted here, re Marines graduating boot camp with rank. When I graduated more than six decades ago, one of the Marines I enlisted with received his corporal chevrons because he was prior service in WWII. In fact, the guide for another platoon in our series came out with three stripes.
Coming back from Korea, I was sent TAD to the base PIO at Pendleton to write features stories on reserve units receiving their summer drills for their hometown media. One of the other Marines in our office was a SSgt. He had gone the "O" route, but prior to commissioning it was discovered that the university he attended in one of the Central American countries was not accredited.
In short, ranks for newbee Marines can be deceiving. BTW. My youngest son was guaranteed PFC because of college credit when he enlisted some 25 years ago.
Bob Rader #140xxxx
God Bless America and the U.S. Marine Corps
Lost And Found
I went through boot camp at Parris Island in the summer and fall of 1960. Then on to combat training at Camp Geiger. I was sent from there to 2nd Bat, 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC and served as a rifleman until I transferred to Quantico as an instructor in 1963. I was discharged in July of 1963. I would like to contact some of the guys I served with but only remember a few of their names. We were in Fox and Golf co. Ralph Demaio, and Charlie Drummy were my close buddies and would appreciate hearing from anybody who remembers them as well as me.
Roland G. Pelletier, LCpl
also known as Pellie or Professor
Honoring My Dad
I am a proud son of a fallen Marine. My Dad served in Korea and was killed in Vietnam. He spent 16 years in the Corps. My Mom did not want me to join but I do volunteer with some Veterans groups to Honor my Dad. I also go down to Washington on the 10th and 11th of November to pay my respects. This year wearing some Grit gear I was told since I did not serve I should not wear it. I always wear my Gold Star pin and tell anyone who asks I did not serve but that I am Honoring my Dad. I would like to hear from you and your readers on this.
Son of S/Sgt Donald J Cruden, USMC KIA 12/27/67
Visited Your Warehouse
Dear Sgt. Grit,
My fiance and I visited the warehouse on November 6th. For many years Robert has wanted to visit and to meet Sgt. Grit in person. We loved the shop, his collection, Sgt Grit himself, and the staff made us feel right at home. Thanks for doing all that you do and for being there for your fellow Marines.
I have attached a picture of my fiance and Sgt. Grit.
For all of those that have sons or daughters at boot camp let me pass on what I found. Let me give you a little background first. When my son left home he had no motivation, he was lazy, slobby, no pride, no self-worth. This is the boy that got off the bus March 18th at Parris Island. The man that I met on Thursday for parent's day is AWESOME. There is no way I can describe to you all the difference. He looks different, he walks different, he talks different, he has such a sense of bearing and pride all I could do was look at him in awe. Oh yes, the training is hard, what he went through is unimaginable to any one that has not been there. They are definitely taught to be Warriors. Let me tell you the surprise of what else they are taught. My Marine son has better values, better morals, better manners than anyone I know. It is so much more than Yes Sir, Yes Mam... so much more. He cares about how he looks, he cares about what he does, and it's not a boastful, bad azs thing. He is a true gentleman. I saw patience, and a calmness in him that I have never seen. I could never express my gratitude enough to the Marine Corps for what they have given my son. I know this, I have an 11 year old Devil pup still at home. When the time comes for his turn if I had to I would take him kicking and screaming all the way. Although I'm sure that will not happen. The hero worship I see in my younger son's eyes for his Marine brother tells me I will have two Marines in the family, and I will be one very proud mother.
"Cybil", Mother of a Marine writing to the myMarine Group
Submitted many years ago, thought I would reprint.
My dad served with General Lejeune In France during WW1 at the Meuse-Argonne, he was with the 2nd Indian Head Division, U.S. Army, Signal Corp, Master Sergeant. The General Requested him to operate the station and handle all telegraph and coded messages. Later on at Blanc Monte on Oct. 3, 1918 in operations of the A.E.F. (I shortened it) in testimony thereof as an appreciation of his VALOR. I take great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross... Awarded on June 25th 1919... John A Lejeune, Major General U.S.M.C., Commanding.
I thought maybe the Lejeune family would be interested in this, if any of them are still alive, anyway maybe someone would recall that day...
Gy/Sgt. J.J. Johnston U.S.M.C. RET.
World War II ended and we entered Japan as Conquerors with Occupying Forces. The Japanese were obligated to follow the Rules of Occupation and the Occupying Soldiers had to obey the Regulations of the Occupying Forces. There was to be no Fraternization with the Enemy population and MP's made sure this was adhered to. All kinds of Secret Night Clubs sprang up. (I even went to one down through a Man Hole Cover) the Japanese formed Music (Jazz and Popular Music) groups and played in discreet and Unlawful Night Clubs.
One of the Japanese Bands was "Harry Kari" and his Six Saki Sippers (I have one of their records) and they played American hits sometimes changing the names of the songs and while you knew the Music, the singers sang in Japanese, sometimes the music was a bit off key and the singers mispronouncing words but to a homesick GI full of (GREAT) Japanese Beer loved it and fell in Love with some of the Beauties of Japan and tried to get Permission to Marry but that didn't happen for some years.
A Lieutenant friend fell in Love with a Japanese Singer that was Popular and applied for Permission to Marry Her. He was given the Option of Transfer or Forced out of the Marine Corps and the possibility of Marrying her. He took the option of Marrying her and left the Marine Corps, then he received Permission to Marry her and then had to Wait for her being allowed into the USA. That came about six months after he resigned as I remember.
Now I have to say something about "Yellow Footprints" or whatever they are. I never had Yellow Foot Prints to line up my feet on, I lined up or was put into position Quickly. My thoughts are; "Benny Sug's", a "Beneficial Suggestion" that someone was paid some Bucks for! Am I Right?
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
Camera In Hand
On Thanksgiving Day 1967, I had been assigned to Chu Lai just 2 weeks earlier. I wasn't given a work assignment until the next day so I managed to be 3rd in line at the chow hall. A few of us looking inside saw a beautiful turkey on a tray with all the trimmings. Two of the Marines in front of me were selected to come in first and the turkey was set in front of them with the Mess Hall Sergeant holding the carving knife and fork. About that time the ISO officer, camera in hand, took a couple of pictures and left. The turkey was then removed and the doors were opened. When we came through the line we were given some canned turkey slices and everything else including some warm Kool aid. They did manage to set out some paper cups with nuts and candy for everyone so I wasn't too disappointed. Happy Thanksgiving to all my Marine brothers and sisters!
MSgt Gene Hays
From the DISBURSING CHIEF
(Vol #11, #4)
Mom fixed 'Butter Beefsteak Sandwiches' a very quick and delicious way to fill your stomach. These had been a favorite in our family as far back as I could remember - and my memory is as sharp as a tack - I can remember details back to the age of three. (I shall digress to tell you that these were the predecessors to 'Philly Cheese Steaks' - but BETTER - made with butter instead of shortening. They are simple and quick. The beef is top sirloin sliced no thicker than 1/8 inch- thinner is better. You do not chop the meat. You cut it down to fit whatever you are putting it on. Our favorite has always been Kaiser rolls with poppy seeds- but any Kaiser rolls will do. Over the years sub rolls became popular - when Kaiser rolls were not on hand. You can use most anything - down to plain bread - but when you use plain bread you need a bale of paper napkins - the butter will ooze thru and you will have a very, very good 'oozy mess'. The recipe: Put a stick of butter in a skillet - over just enough heat to melt it. Put slices of beef in the butter until they are cooked through - not overcooked. When you have enough for a sandwich - 3 to 5 slices - you put them together and add a slice of provolone cheese - white American cheese - usually used on Philly Cheese Steaks - is acceptable - but not as good - and yellow American cheese is a 'no-no'. Cover for just long enough to start the cheese melting. Then put all this in between the Kaiser roll halves and enjoy. Believe me, you've never tasted anything better.
After dinner we sat in the living room. Mom told me where I would be sleeping. She said "You will not be sleeping in your own bed because my dear mother had disposed of it, but you already knew that. We purchased a new bedroom set for you with a new mattress set. I am sure you will like it. Dad and I sleep in the first bedroom at the top of the stairs. Your room is across from ours. Do you want to go up to see it?" I said "No, I can wait until we go to bed." Mom asked "You haven't forgotten the letter I gave you have you?" I told her "No I did not forget it. I think you are more anxious to know what is in it than I am. I will open it now." I got a knife and opened it. It was very short and I will never forget what it said. It was dated "Sept 4th" and said "Harold, Just a note to thank you for driving Stevie and I from Camp Lejeune to Washington. It proved to be a far more enjoyable trip than I had ever anticipated. Stevie is waiting for you to take him to the zoo. I have spoken so much about you that my sisters cannot wait to meet you. Please give us a call the next time you are in town. Affectionately, Kitty." I let my mother read it. She thought it was quite nice. I tossed it into the jewelry box on my dresser and it remained there for at least 25 years.
The odor of Shalimar perfume permeated the jewelry box and left no doubt in the years after this letter disappeared that it had been there. This had created a deep, dark mystery. How did Kitty get the address of The Hemlocks between 'Sept 4th' and the time she had to have mailed the letter which arrived on the 8th or 9th? I did not know that my parents were back from vacation and had purchased The Hemlocks until I returned from Indiana on the 11th and learned about all this from Mr.'B'. It's puzzling.
Semper Fi. The old, real old, real, real old (85) Master Gunny.
Harold T. Freas, Sr.
Anyone else get hungry after reading Master Gunny Freas's story's?
Semper Fi Master Gun's!
Neat how you got the name SGT Grit? Some of the black Marines called me SGT Faubus. He was the governor of Arkansas during the Central High School melee, back in the late 50's. I was in the Corps from 1960 to 1966.
SGT USMC 1920xxx
Here's a follow-up to Jim Logan's post of your 12 Nov. newsletter: After Percy Price's victory in the ring over Cassius Clay, Clay suffered only five more defeats in the ring as Mohammed Ali - and two of those losses were to Ken Norton in '73 and Leon Spinks in'78. That's right - Three of his six losses were to Marines!
0302 in the '60s
There is another Code Talker that is in the Phoenix, Arizona parade on Veterans Day, his name is Joe Kellwood.
Sarge thank you for continuing to send your weekly newsletter out. I enjoy reading it all and looking at your items on sale. Keep up the great work you started. Semper Fi Devil Dog, Job Well Done.
A wonderful multi-dimensional tribute to those who served in VietNam.
Vietnam: Service, Sacrifice, and Courage.
This video is 28 minutes long.
Sgt. John Wear
Tommy "The Mad Marine". Read this article by Corey Kilgannon. "Long Ago, a Pilot Landed on an Uptown Street. That's Where the Bar Was".
"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness."
--James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, 1790
"It's not the stars or bars you have, not what you wear on your sleeve or shoulder that determines what you are. It's what you wear on you collar-The Eagle, Globe, and Anchorâ€”that puts you in the brotherhood of the Marines."
--Brigadier General Carl Mundy, USMC
"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years."
--James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; 23 February 1945 (the flag-raising on Iwo Jima had been immortalized in a photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal)
"I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!"
--General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur; Korea, 21 September 1950
"Do I look like a female sheep?"
And what's your excuse numb nuts!
Semper Fi, Mac!