I wanted to share these photos. Our baseball team wore digi desert jerseys with a name of a fallen Marine across the back of each jersey to commemorate these heroes. The top photo is of former Marine CPLs Klent Luschen (02-10) and Josh Wells (03-11) with their sons. The second photo is during a moment of silence that the team dedicated to these Marines for their sacrifice.
These are the Marines that were honored:
You Don't Say Those Words
I was temporarily assigned to the company (Communications Battalion - MCRD) Gunny's office awaiting receipt of orders. One afternoon a private was brought into the office to face the Gunny for some infraction. He told his story and the Gunny gave an appropriate punishment to which the private said, "You can't do that to me!" There were three of us in the office and we all winced. Ooh, man, you can't say that to the Gunny! He learned that you don't say those words to "the Gunny."
The real point of my story here is that the Gunny was quiet and didn't waste words. While sitting at my own desk I was reading bound combat diaries of various WWII Pacific campaigns - Tarawa, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, etc. - and they were intensely graphic and brutal. While reading the one of Iwo Jima I looked over at the Gunny and asked if he'd been at Iwo and he replied only, "14th wave." There was no need to amplify: he'd been to h-ll. He never talked about the war. But in dress uniform the number of ribbons almost caused him to walk with a port list. Semper Fidelis, indeed.
No Civvies Allowed On Base
Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Memphis where Sailors and Marines learned how to be aviation technicians was actually in Millington, Tennessee about twelve miles North of Memphis.
Attached is my graduating class picture posed in front of the school's jet trainer. All the Marines in the picture got orders to Kaneohe Bay MCAS, early in 1961. Anyway, Gunny Bednarz brought back some memories in the last newsletter regarding Cinderella liberty during the week and weekend liberty when you didn't have the duty. No civvies allowed on base but you could rent a locker in downtown Memphis conveniently located at the bus stop from Millington to keep your civvies off base. Rumor has it that the commanding Admiral owned the lockers and that was the reason for the no civvies order on base. The best place to go in Memphis on liberty was the USO club.
Boon Dockers Rough Side Out
Re Old Corps. For Gy. Mac. I have seen this picture and I do appreciate it and will see about stealing it and printing it and putting it up on my Wall. That for sure is OLD CORPS.
When I went in during 1956, we were issued a collection of what was in the warehouse. I was issued the old style Utility Shirt with 2 pockets on the bottom. Never used 'em. I was issued one pair boots, (Field) I think they were called and one pair of Boon Dockers rough side out. Rest of the platoon received 2 pairs of boots. A very few received the old style Emblem but they never wore 'em and never left boot camp with 'em. I never wore the Boon Dockers. Extremely uncomfortable with nails coming thru the soles in places and I was not allowed to remove 'em during Boot Camp.
But like I have said before. My contribution to the Corps was I kept a Billet open for the Real Marine who came after me.
Class of 1956
Shiny New PFC
It's a worn out discussion I know, but I just heard a new take on the Old Corps/New Corps debate that may need consideration. I have a custom shirt with an EGA on the left chest, above it is "OLD CORPS" and below is "OLD FART" (appropriate at the age of 67). I was wearing the shirt when I met my neighbors nephew, a shiny new PFC on boot leave. He looked at the design and said "Sir, I am also Old Corps"... I questioned his basis and he said, "the only Marine that isn't Old Corps is the one that hasn't signed up yet." Given how well we value and follow tradition he may have a point.
Dominican Republic Thing
A cyber friend (Phil) and I both post on a pocket knife forum, All About Pocket Knives. A couple of days ago, Phil (a Marine Reservist) mentioned that he was on Vieques Island, P.R. on standby for the Dominican Republic Crisis in the spring of 1965. What a surprise. I was with 'B' Battery 3rd LAAM Bn out of MCAS Cherry Point at that time and we were on Vieques Island for a two week firing exercise when the Dominican Republic thing broke out. It turns out we both had our pants (trousers?) scared off landing in a GV-1 (C-130) on that Marsden Matting strip on Vieques and were on the island at the same time. It sure is a small, small world.
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Combat Promotion To Sergeant
The Army Search Light Battery at HQ Btry, 11th Marines was actually a Battery/Squadron of Light Observation Helicopters (LOH6) flown mostly by Army Warrant Officers with a Marine AO. The "search light" designation was apparently a holdover from the unit's pre-aviation origin.
If you remember, when the 11th Marine compound was attacked by the VC in fall 1969, the breach in the wire was in the Army's sector. I received a combat promotion to Sergeant for actions that night for leading a group of just-arrived replacements from the transient hooch to close the gap in the Army's perimeter. Colonel Don D. Ezell, CO, 11th Marines (from FT Worth, TX) pinned my chevrons on.
Sergeant of Marines
HQ Btry, 11th Marines
NCOIC, IOD Team, Recon Outpost, Hill 250
Looking for Vietnam Era Home Movies
I am a producer with Lou Reda Productions, the documentary film production company behind National Geographic's Vietnam special "Brothers In War" and the History Channel mini-series "Vietnam In HD". (www.redafilms.com).
We are currently beginning work on another Vietnam program and I am looking for home movie film collections to use in it.
If you have color films that you shot at home or in Vietnam and you are interested in sharing them for a very worthwhile project, please write me back at this email address: (vietnam[at]louredaproductions.com).
In exchange for granting Lou Reda Productions permission to use your home movies, we will transfer your films (8mm, super8 or 16mm) for free. We will clean your original film, put it through a high- resolution film scanner, and then return your original films and a DVD copy to you to keep.
If you do not have any films, but know someone who does, please pass along my contact information to anyone within your group.
Thank you for your help.
Just A Tad Unusual
Noted a story from the mid-50's about 'fund-raising' drives in a recruit platoon. As I had related in a much-earlier submission to Grit (odd choice of words, that... "submission"... hardly accurate, coming from 220# of grouchy (varicose veins in my earlobes, and my hair hurts) old (not quite 75) Marine... but, anyway... yeah, it used to happen occasionally... in fact, earned our Junior DI about two years in what used to be known as "Retraining Command". At the time, the joint was in the old Camp Elliot, across the highway from what is now MCAS Miramar. Dunno what the program was, might have been along the lines of a minimum security prison, but not as nice as what the Feds provide for the few politicians who are actually convicted and sentenced to time. In the case instant, it was a variety of things, and all voluntary... none of this happened until late in training, by which time we all thought the guy (junior DI) had hung the moon. About to head out for ITR in just a day or so, we thought the chance to buy a raffle ticket on some items that every new Pvt would need... an iron, and a really cool wristwatch with a flexible Speidel band that had two pieces of scarlet plastic with (gasp!... an inlaid gold emblem!) inset, right where the band joined the watch case... well, that was just the ticket! Along with that was the news that the DI was soon to be married... well! We had just been paid in cash for the first time, too... oddly enough...
In that other letter to the editor (howzzat? sound better than 'submission'?), I had also mentioned that besides LPM Drill, PT, and a trip to the range, DI school could pretty well be distilled to "Don't hit'em, Don't haze'm, and Don't Take Their Money"... and, over the four years as a DI, heard some inventive ways that (former) DI's had tried to augment their incomes... one was 'sheet rent', or 'sheet laundry fee'... 75 recruits, on average... X 2 sheets, at $0.10 each, X 12 weeks = $180... at a time when a Sgt. over four made about $325... beer money, anyway.
Somewhere along in the '62-'64 frame, some genius figured out a way to halve the sheet laundry bill... instead of 'surveying' two sheets (and a pillowcase?) each week, it was decreed that the bottom sheet only would be surveyed, the top sheet, still having an unused side, would move straight down on the bunk, to become the bottom sheet. Folding sheets so that Supply would accept them was a precise movement, and very time-consuming on the morning of linen survey. (any old DI can tell you at least four ways to fold a sheet so that it appears to be two when counted at supply...) DI's are, and have to be, masters at time management... and sleeping one night a week with only one sheet is not going to leave any marks on a recruit, or his psyche... so one just might have the platoon fold that old bottom sheet during 'free time' the night before... ya know? (this time saver was frowned upon with the nastiest of scowls from higher headquarters).
There was one much-hated series officer, who, when he had Regimental OD duty, was known to slip into a Quonset after taps, and wake a recruit to ask how many sheets he was sleeping on?... I heard later he was observed taking pictures of his own wounded during Operation Starlight... certified exit terminal of an alimentary canal...
Another was the tale about the CID investigators enquiring of a DI's wife: "Does your husband ever bring home any extra money?"... "No", said she... "just that $300 graduation bonus for each platoon" ('graduation fee'... $5 each, X 75 recruits... the sucker was holding out on her... by my math, that's $375). Had also heard of a PFC in Disbursing at ITR who managed somehow to filch one measly dollar from the pay record of every Marine going through ITR... face it... none of us had any friggin' idea of exactly how much we were supposed to get... and neither did the Lt. Pay Officer (in the days of cash...), and his main concern was to come out balanced... could have been easily $12-$15 though in a year's time... (they used to tell pay officers... 'all shortages belong to the pay officer... all overages belong to the government')...
The other connivers who kept CID busy were mess sergeants, and those who ran PX's... recall a SSGT from Camp Horno (Pendleton) PX who was doing fine... until he went into Oceanside, and bought a new Buick convertible... paying cash... which the dealer thought just a tad unusual...
Into DaNang Without A Pass
One pic of DaNang Airbase. The other two are from inside DaNang city limits. E5 and below were not allowed into DaNang without a pass. But formalities are not a problem for my buddy LCpl DJ Huntsinger, later SSgt. He invited me to go to DaNang with him. Sounds great let's go. We get a few hundred yards from the gate to DaNang and he says we need to wait here. I say wait for what. A ride he says. He finally tells me what he is about to get me into. Being a dumbazs LCpl also, I agree.
We wait around. An AP journalist stops and offers us a ride. He knows we need a pass but no problem. He has a three wheeled covered vehicle. He tells us to "get down". I said covered vehicle, not enclosed. The back end is open, no door or tail gate. The guards at the gate know him and wave him through without stopping. We sail through the gate. The MP's are turned away from us, we're home free... no wait, one of them turns sees Hunts and me hunkered down. He gets a bit animated with the other gate guards. A couple of them jump in a jeep and the race is on. We get a joy ride through back alleys of DaNang. He losses them. He takes us to his apartment. Offers us a beer. Tells us to stay in his apartment for an hour before we venture out on the streets. He leaves two young Marines alone in his apartment and leaves. Great memory.
From The DISBURSING CHIEF
(Vol. #5, #4)
At 5 minutes before the departure of each train I would approach the Troop Train Commander, who would be standing next to the railroad conductor near the rear end of the locomotives and tenders. I would salute him and he would return my salute. Then I would say to him, "Well, Colonel, the time has come for me to give you this package and to remind you that it is not to be opened until this train has passed thru the gates of Camp Lejeune. And further, as you have been told before, that you are not to tell anyone - at any time - the destination of this train or the route it is to take. Are there any questions?" Usually, there were none. I would then say "The train will start to move in two minutes. You had better get aboard. Good luck and Semper Fi."
Most people think the engineer(s) are in charge of the train. NOT SO! The conductor is in total control of a train. When the Troop Train Commander climbed aboard, the conductor would look back along his train to other railroad personnel. When all were giving him a 'Clear' signal he would signal them to get aboard the train. He would then turn around to face the engineers - and at precisely the time of the scheduled departure, when the second hand on his watch crossed the '12', he would signal them to 'Move on out' and he would get on. In those days - and I am sure even today - the R/R moved on time.
But after 16 such departures, I ran into something I had not expected when Troop Train #17 was about to leave. I could not help but notice that this Troop Train Commander did not have anyone to see him off and I started my little speech with a friendly "You don't have anyone to see you off?" He retorted "That's none of your damned business Sergeant. Oh, I'm sorry. I am supposed to consider your three stripes as three stars until I leave this post. Please accept my apology!" I was stunned. I said "Your apology is accepted." I handed him the package and had to hurry with the rest of the talk. I told him "This train will be leaving in less than a minute. You better get aboard." I didn't have time to wish him 'Good luck and Semper Fi'.
I had not watched any of these trains depart. There was always the urgency to get back to base, make my report to HQMC and get another route and destination for another train. But when Troop Train #21 was ready to depart I decided to watch it leave the base. I watched as the Conductor gave the Engineers the order to 'Move on out' and watched until this train was out of sight. It was about 0810 on July 31, 1950. The Second Marine Division was on its way to Riverside, Calif.
I have more to tell you about this period and it is VERY interesting but it will have to wait until next time.
See you next week. The old, real old, real, real old (85) Master Gunny.
Harold T. Freas, Sr.
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #9, #3 (MAR., 2019)
While I was down in the Philippines at NAS Cubi Point as part of "Operation ENDSWEEP" in 1973, I really had a very good Detachment of troops. In fact, if I had hand picked all that I had, I wouldn't even have had changed the roster one iota. All hard workers and great "crew chiefs" plus. My assistant NCOIC was a young S/Sgt that I had known from before and his name was STARK. He had recently served and completed a tour on the Drill Field and, was also a crew chief that no longer had the desire to continue flying. He later went on to receive a commission and eventually became a Major in Aircraft Maintenance. He was a very good MARINE. I don't know what ever happened to him, as I haven't been able to chase him down. I also had a young MARINE named Hatcher who I hear from almost daily, (via E-mail), and I see him every once in awhile at one of the Helicopter reunions that I attend. He later was promoted to and retired as a MGY/Sgt. A hell of a MARINE! Now, to fill you in on some of the background on this event.
In January 1973, the U.S. 7th Fleet's Mine Countermeasures Force began operation "ENDSWEEP" to clear American Mines from North Vietnam's coastal waters and remove the Mark 36 destructors from inland waterways. During the first 2 weeks of this effort, a pair of destroyers escorted four (4) seagoing minesweepers which cleared anchorages around Haiphong. The U.S. originally laid mines to hamper Hanoi's ability to import war supplies and all of it's fuel supply.
Other than that, there are very few guy's that even know about "Operation ENDSWEEP", (6 February 1973 - 27 July 1973) primarily because there were no ground forces, tanks, or artillery involved. Just the Air Wing, and particularly a very few helicopters.
Included in the mix (Task Force) were some 10 NAVY Mine Sweepers and several different types of support ships. This Operation was set up by the NAVY and would start Mine Sweeping operations in North Vietnamese Waters as soon as the negotiations at the Paris Peace Talks were concluded. This unit was designated as Task Force-78 and was comprised not only of the 10 previously mentioned NAVY Surface Mine Sweepers, but also by specially configured (NAVY and MARINE) RH, and CH -53 Helicopters, 9 amphibious ships, 6 fleet tugs, 3 salvage ships and 19 destroyer types served in the mix to accomplish the mission.
I'm going to fast forward here to the results of this effort and that was that officially there was only one mine detonated and that was on 9 March 1973, and then there were three mine explosions that resulted from sweeping that fell into the UN-official category for one reason, or the other. The reason for such a small number of detonations was because most mines were designed to either self-destruct or self-sterilize. The last sweeping was by a MARINE Helicopter on 5 July 1973.
Happened to see, in a catalog (other than Grit's... sorry, Don, but man cannot live by emblems alone... sometimes one needs live ammo, and this outfit carries a lot of it...) the place where I buy my son's presents... (.50 cal BMG... that's what is always on his list... weird... and I have no idea where he got that gene, although his Mom is a pretty good shot...) any way... they had genuine US Gubbmint surplus body bags for sale... and I intend to order a couple, but not for the original use. Anybody who responds to medical calls as a first responder will tell you that they spend a fair amount of time getting people off the deck ('floor' for you civilians...). People are awkward... there ain't no handles on them, and they sometimes weigh more than they did the last time (if ever) they took a PFT. A real common way to get an old lady (for example) off the floor and back to someplace comfortable, is to try to get a blanket or sheet under them, roll the edges, and lift with multiple pairs of hands. A body bag, being neoprene-coated nylon, with six really sturdy handles sewn on it, has got to work better than Aunt Tillies' quilt... and that's the use I have in mind. (Always knew I'd still be picking up the ladies when I was in my mid-seventies... just didn't realize they'd be in their eighties and wearing diapers...)... anyway, the question is this, and concerns something that only a warped numbnuts would ask... "is it true that the zipper has no handle on the inside?"
Any time you hear some limpd-ck make some comment about 'coming home in body bags'... you can be sure that their colon is at capacity... doesn't happen that way... not at all. No disrespect intended... and I have used those bags... for some d-mn fine people, and for the original intended use. I have the utmost respect for the poor bast-rds who work in what used to be known as 'graves registration'...
BTW, saw one of your newest gym bags at the 'Y' yesterday... with the multi-colored emblem. Nodding acquaintance, saw his bag, said "Grit, right?"... he had contemplated the Tankers tool bag, decided he needed something a little bigger. Got to spread the gospel, eh, brother?
Larry Hudgens, Class of '56, asked recently what distinguishes Old Corps from New Corps. Quick answer, Larry, if the emblem is without a fouled anchor... it's Old Corps.
Since I am not quite young anymore, I don't sleep well. I remember past things like boot camp and one thing I would like to know, do they still issue those green skivvies with the snaps?
"The more MARINES I have around the better I like it!"
--Gen. Mark Clark, U.S. Army
"Sometimes it is entirely appropriate to kill a fly with a sledge-hammer!"
"A ship without MARINES is like a garment without buttons."
--Adm. David Porter, USN
"Big Green Weenie!"
"A warrior of the Jarhead tribe."
"Keep Your Interval!"