On Monday, December 7th, 2015, we remember the men and women whose lives were lost or affected by the attack on Pearl Harbor. Seventy-four years later, we still honor their memories and sacrifice, and those of the men that went abroad during WWII to such far off lands as Guadalcanal, Midway, Peleliu, Tarawa, Cape Gloucester and Iwo Jima.
Out Of The Depths
Like so many stories surrounding World War II where fact is stranger than fiction, "Out of the Depths" is a terrifying firsthand account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Navy cover-up that led to the bizarre court-martial and eventual exoneration of its Captain. Marine survivor Edgar Harrell vividly describes the horrors of being plagued by sharks, hypothermia, severe dehydration and salt-water hallucinations, and the crew's heart wrenching struggle to survive the greatest catastrophe at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy - a truly riveting story of survival, political intrigue and faith in the providence of God.
Watch USS Indianapolis Survivor
Order the book "Out Of The Depths"
Thanksgiving Day Wishes
Thanksgiving Day wishes for happiness and peace in all your lives, and the lives of those you hold dear!
1968, still a relative NFG with HQ Battery, 11th Marines, was the first of two for me.
Had enlisted with three high school friends in our Senior Year of 1967, and two-out-of-four of us were in Viet Nam for Thanksgiving that year. [Loren, an 0311, was shot through the knee up on The Z at Con Thien in Dec. '68, and was still convalescing prior to medical discharge. John had finished a year of Vietnamese language school at Monterey, CA and was working with 3rd Mar. Div. up on The Z out of The Rock Pile area.] Tim worked at the ammo dump for Marine Air Group 11, 1st MAW down the pike at Da Nang air strip, preparing and loading munitions for F4 Phantoms. Somehow or another, I was able to sweet talk a "day off" from Tech. Shop chief SSgt Zach. Also a mystery, how I got a ride down to the MAG-11 area. Turkey and trimmin's at their mess hall, followed by a Clint Eastwood movie outdoors, projected onto a white bed sheet or similar fabric; crude "seats" of boxes and other handy items. I was passed off as Tim's cousin and won instant acceptance. Several beers in their small, but comfortable E-club and then back to 11th Marines the next day.
Of the things clearly remembered from those early days in Viet Nam was the strong feeling of how alone I was, despite being surrounded by scores of Little Green Mens (as my favorite D.I. referred to us).
To this day I am eternally grateful/thankful for the close friendships which got me through those early times: J.J. Young from the Tech Shop took me under his wing right away in "Week One"; George "G.I." Green arrived in country soon after. Freddy Thorn arrived two weeks after me (also a Tech), although Fred has signed off of my Net for unknown reasons. And later so many of you formed the fabric of my life's tapestry.
So here's a toast to you fine lads, with deep Thankfulness and Appreciation and Respect and Admiration! And here's to our Marine friends who have completed life's journey: may we all meet again at another, better time! And of course, a toast to the women of our lives who have enhanced our journey in immeasurable ways.
Semper Fidelis, Marines!
P.S. But the toast must never be made with Falstaff or Black Label.
The Drill Instructor Felt The Gum
In 1964 I went into boot camp in San Diego in the fall. About two weeks before Thanksgiving my girlfriend sent a letter that had a stick of Juicy Fruit gum enclosed. When the Drill Instructor felt the gum he ordered me to open it and take the gum and start doing squat thrusts in the sand pit until the flavor was gone. After a few minutes of vigorous chewing he had me get my bayonet and give the gum a proper burial. Just before Thanksgiving my sister sent me a birthday card that was embossed. When the Instructor felt the embossing he remembered the gum and had me open the card in front of him. Seeing the happy birthday written on it he inquired as to when was my birthday and how old would I be? When I responded that it would be on Thanksgiving and I would be 18 he dismissed me. On Thanksgiving Day we were lined up before entering the dining hall when I heard my name being requested to report front and center. I responded as fast as I could wondering what fate had befallen me now? The instructor put me at the front of the line and as we entered the chow hall he followed right next to me, making sure I received more potatoes and gravy, the cut of turkey I wanted and so on down the line. I kept waiting for something bad to happen but it never did. At the end of the meal as we were standing in formation to return to our Quonset huts he walked up to me and wished me a happy birthday. It sure beat the following year when I had Turkey Loaf from c-rats in Viet Nam.
And to those who didn't like c-rations, all I can say is they didn't eat in our mess hall in Nam. When our base was being built they had to post a guard over the c-rations to keep them from disappearing.
Phil B., Sgt. '64-'68
Walter R. Walsh
Walter R. Walsh was a former FBI agent, Olympian and Marine Corps Sniper. During his 10 years with the Bureau, Mr. Walsh shot and killed 11 known criminals. He was a natural left-hander, but he blazed away at moving targets with a pistol in each hand in 1937 to apprehend three criminals. At one point during WWII, with his unit pinned down, he killed an enemy sniper at 80 yards with one pistol shot.
Bring It On
Attached is a picture of me and my hometown buddy Bill on leave from boot camp. We are wearing the winter uniform in 1960, dress greens, with the old style overcoat we called the horse blanket, the green silk scarves and our barracks covers. We were proud and un-afraid to show that we were Marines. But in today's world, Marines are ordered not to wear their uniforms in public for fear they may be targeted. Isn't being targeted by our enemies the whole point of joining the Marines? By not wearing the uniform we concede defeat to the cowards and scumbags of the world who only attack those who can't defend themselves. I think I can safely speak for my fellow Marines when I say "bring it on" to these scumbags. Let Marines wear their uniform in public as a sign that we are still proud and un-afraid, but also give them the ability to defend themselves with the right and duty to carry a weapon just as they do when in a war zone. The war zone is here now.
1960 - 1964
One Million Steps
If you are wondering, as I was, what's it like fighting in Afghanistan then I recommend reading "One Million Steps" by Bing West. I was brought to tears at the senseless loss of life and then so angry I wanted to re-enlist, grab my 9 and waste every Rag Head Taliban I could locate. I was equally angered at the total lack of leadership and direction by the entire chain of command. I'm not voting for anyone running for President who hasn't read this book for perspective on the Middle East.
I'm also on the lookout for anyone who was a member if 3/5 and buy them a beer!
Get this book in four formats at:
One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War
Most Of It Was Ice
In Nov. 1950, Wpns. 1/5 near a place called Hagaru-ri at the South end of the Chosin Reservoir, NK, we were served Thanksgiving dinner with the temp. approx. 20-25 degrees below "O". Needless to say by the time our Mess Kit was filled most of it was ice, especially the gravy & mashed potatoes. The 1965 meal at Chu Lai with 1/7, I just do not remember but the 1968 with 1st. Mar. Div. at Da Nang would have probably been the same as mentioned in your first story.
C.R. Scroggins, GySgt. (Ret.)
Pith Helmets Continued
I was reading an entry from Sgt. (E4) T. W. Stewart, USMC 1952 - 1955 on the past wearing of Pith Helmets.
I was stationed at "C" Co. NAS Agana, Guam for 18 months between 1966 and 1968. Our regulation uniform was khakis, blouse and trousers, and regulation cover was a Pith Helmet. I still have mine with the large, black EGA still screwed on to the front of it.
Cpl. USMC 1966-1969
When I went through Parris Island in the summer of 1960, all the Rifle Range Line Instructors wore Pith Helmets while the Range Officers and MGySgt who ran the line wore Campaign Covers as did our DI's of course! Only time I saw the Pith Helmets worn but I saw many photos of them being worn by Marines during WWII and earlier in warm areas of the US and over seas! Of course the black large Eagle, Globe and Anchor was worn on the front screwed through the hole of the helmet for that purpose!
1stSgt MDARNG USA Ret.
Pith helmets were also worn by spotters (instructors) at the rifle range. They were at the one at the LeJeune range for sure. I was T.A.D. there 8 months ('69-'70).
The only time I ever saw Marines wearing pith helmets was while I was stationed at San Miguel, P.I. I was there from May of 1964 to May of 1966. We were issued pith helmets upon arrival there. They were handy during both seasons, the hot and dry and the hot and rainy season.
Cpl J. W. Riner - Naval Security Group/NSA
Skin color does not determine the level of professionalism of a Marine; so why are visible tattoos judged so poorly? The answer lies within he or she who casts such judgement. It is all based on personal bias. Those who posses such negativity towards tattoos, who at some point - rise to a level of power, begin to implement policy against body art. Of course there was never anything wrong with the original tattoo policy that was in place at the time...the wheel just had to be reinvented I guess.
I was one of those who was so poorly judged. Having had tattoos prior to entering service and adding more to my "art" collection over my years in; I, along with many other brothers and sisters who had body art; became targets of ridicule and ostracization by particular Senior Officers and Senior Enlisted in our chain of command. It didn't matter that every single one of my Fitness Reports was of the highest caliber. It didn't matter that by the time I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, I had already earned 5 personal awards - to include the Meritorious Service Medal. It didn't matter that I was the subject matter expert and top of my MOS field. It didn't matter that as a Staff NCO, I was responsible for transforming over 500 civilians into Marines as a Kilo Company Senior Drill Instructor. None of it mattered.
What really matters now, is that this is not about "me". It's about all the other warriors out there still on active duty who are shunned and oppressed because they follow suit in the line of warriors past.
Marines are WARRIORS! And just like every warrior past; Vikings, Native Americans, Knights, Celts and every other warrior who donned body art as part of their culture - Marines wear body art too! It doesn't mean they are sub-standard. It doesn't mean they are unprofessional. It doesn't mean they are eccentric.
It simply means we are WARRIORS. Leave tattooed Marines alone to do what they do best. Support tattooed Marines!
SSgt/USMC - 1995-2007
Attached photo: SSgt O'Connor - Kilo Co. SDI, circa 2005.
1st MarDiv Thanksgiving In Korea 1950
My father, Staff Sergeant Arthur E. Wedemeyer Jr., was a attached to the 1st Marine Division in Korea in 1950 on the Marine Corps birthday. I thought you all might like to see the Thanksgiving menu from this time in history.
C-Rats and Cherries
Really appreciate the sea stories about c-rats and the various experiences in the consumption of same. They bring a lot memories back.
While waiting to go overseas, I had the honor of attending Cold Weather training at Pickle Meadows. I am not sure but I think the whole draft was there. We were counted off and sorted into platoons/companies.
I, being a lowly PFC at the time was assigned as a runner, no comms to speak of at the time. I ran from platoon/company/bn and any place else I was sent. Never being there when rations were issued; I got the remainder of what was left. This usually consisted of beans with whatever else, cherries and tootsie roll. No coffee. Once in awhile someone would take pity and offer me a cup of coffee to get me rolling up the hills. Needless to say after our return to the CP, I never wanted to see either beans or cherries.
The next thing aboard ship after the ships company was fed, the Marines were allowed to eat and guess what, BEANS and canned ham were the main meal, at all three meals all the way over, twenty-three days. I don't think I ate beans for twenty years after.
As to how many cherries were in C-rats. There was almost always a total of 32 in each and every can that I consumed...
Former Sgt. '52-'57
I sure wish that some of these guys would take a moment to check their facts before they post their comments in the weekly newsletter. I still have my old recruit platoon book from the summer of 1964, and it clearly shows that Gen. Greene was the Commandant during that period. According to Wikipedia, Gen. Greene was the 23rd Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1 January 1964 until 31 December 1967, at which time he retired with 37 years of active service. I'm not sure where Cliff Jobes got all of his information from, but Gen. Greene was never a Medal of Honor recipient. His highest award was the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, which was awarded to him during his term as CMC.
MGySgt USMC (Ret)
1964 - 1987
Reflected The Bore Condition
No question about it in 1957... it was M-1's (and BARs) in ITR... odd thing in my memory is that when we out-posted from MCRD SD via 'cattle cars' to 2nd ITR at San Onofre (on Pendleton) on 24 October, we took our M-1's with us... the whole 280 series, and didn't think a thing of it... having lived with our rifles since the day they were issued. Mine stayed with me through the first unit (C Co, 1st ATBn), until transfered to 2/1 at San Mateo in early 1959. The record was 'page 20' in the SRB, and reflected the bore condition... without official mention of the 'pit, six o'clock, four inches from the muzzle' (gas port... inspecting Lts used to think it was funny to sternly ask about 'the pit'... if real and somewhere else, and not there when it was issued, a pit could lead to office hours... or worse)... we did exchange canvas for leather slings at the Camp Matthews range, and back to canvas after qualification. (Have a leather sling on the M1, an IH model, in the safe, would have to get the book out to rig a loop sling... maybe Gy McMahon (lives just down the road) could show me again?)
In the Quonset huts, rifles were stored by using blanket roll straps to suspend the rifle under the outboard bunk rail. Have wondered about that transport for years, as five years later, turning in the platoon's rifles was a task for the day before graduation... finally came to the conclusion that it was something worked out between MCRD and ITR Supply Officers to balance inventories, without involving crates and shipping. Think the stated value of an M1 at the time was $91.00 (more than a month's pay...)
BTW... on that cattle car ride... Mission Bay (recreation area) in San Diego was just mud flats... and the juncture of what is now I-5 and I-8 overpasses and cloverleafs... was two four-lane highways, with traffic lights at the intersection. It has changed a bit...
I Had A Bad Habit
I enlisted in the Marines 3 months before graduating college in 1960 on a deferred induction so I could finish school. My old man wanted me to drive a jeep for a general in New York and I told him no. He said you'll do what I tell you and I said I am 22 and my signature is legal. He said he'd arrange it and call me back and I said do what you want, but I'm enlisting. I drove from Champaign, IL to Danville, IL and joined the reserves. My father went nuts, but I was in and nothing could change it. Parris Island was certainly a wake-up call. I discovered I had a bad habit of laughing when they screamed at me. It was like my old man was back in front of me screaming. I was a respectful kid and no one had to shout at me to do something, but it was my dad's style. Need I say it did not go over well with my DI's. I got slapped, kicked, punched, etc. but I never complained. My biggest mistake was admitting I was a college graduate. The psychiatrist doc tried to get me to say I didn't like the Marines. I looked him right in the eyes, with my 3 DI's right next to him and said the Navy doctor didn't want to accept me because of a serious surgery when I was 9 months old and I persuaded him to let me in. The doctor backed off, but the DI's figured I was a problem and rode me hard. I made the mistake of telling a buddy of mine at the university in a letter a few negatives about the DI's. On smoking break one of my DI's, Jimmy E. McCall asked me how to spell moron. I jumped to my feet and never being a good speller I figured they'd set me back in training for poor spelling. I guess that shows where my head was at. I spelled it and the DI said, "You think your DI's are morons boy?"
I said no sir and he called me a liar. After the smoke break I knew I had to square myself away or things would get a lot tougher. I went to his hut and banged 3 times. Of course he said, "I can't hear you, lady." I screamed louder and louder 'till I thought my larynx would pop out of my throat. He told me he knew more than I'd ever know and I screamed, "Yes Sir!" Then he picked up a league ball and wound up like a pitcher and I knew if I ducked or ran I was a dead man. I closed my eyes, tightened up my abs, dropped my chin a bit to protect my throat and stood there. After a few seconds I opened my right and he said to get the hell out of his hut. I stepped back, screamed "Yes Sir" and ran like h-ll. I can't tell you how many times I got knocked around, but I just kept on going and they finally realized that I wanted to do a good job and I was proud as could be about trying to become a Marine.
They wanted me to apply for MARCAD, a program to train fighter pilots, but I suffer from air sickness and I said no because I wanted to stay in infantry anyway. They were very upset with me to say the least.
One night at mail call when I ran by the DI and clasped a letter I could feel something was in it. I didn't know whether to come clean and confess or to try to hide it. I opened my mail and there was one stick of gum in there from a my cousin. I divided it 4 ways with George Scott, Mike Elardi and Alton Jackson.
We all enjoyed that special 1/4 of a piece of gum and the DI obviously didn't know the gum was in the envelope. I made squad leader and got a stripe out of boot camp which really meant a lot to me.
On graduation day Sgt. McCall came looking for me to tell me he gave me 'special attention' because he thought I'd make a good Marine. I was a reservist, or as Sgt. McCall described it, "a draft doggier". I left active duty and went into the reserves for 5-1/2 years and in my 5th year made buck sergeant. I was very surprised by that promotion and did my very best to live up to it. I always treated the men like I wanted to be treated. I gave orders in a respectful way and got great cooperation. I guess you could say I treated my fellow Marines as I wanted to be treated. And it worked well for me. My company commander, Major Kemper used to call me 'General Alpert.' He was a fine officer and a good guy.
After 5 years I was in the reserve center walking in this long hall with the sun sort of in my eyes and I couldn't make out the face of the Marine walking towards me, but the silhouette looked familiar. It looked like Sgt. McCall and sure enough it was. I walked up to him and identified myself and addressed him as Sir. Old habits die hard. He looked at my stripes and said, "you've done well for yourself." I felt so bad that he was still the same rank as I was that I said, "I was lucky, Sir." We became friends and often spoke to one another as two buddies.
He put the grit in my gut and it made a big difference to me in later life. After 30 years I wrote the Commandant, General Mundy and asked if he would forward a letter to Sgt. McCall. The "General said to send it on and I did, but it took 3 tries until someone in Washington got it straight. I sent a letter of gratitude to Sgt. McCall and told him what a difference his hard work and training had made for me in my life. I guess I just wanted to know if he was okay, but I never heard a word. The Commandant wrote me a very nice letter because I left the envelope open so he could read my letter and approve it before he sent it on. I then decided to send it to Leatherneck magazine and see if they wanted to publish it as a tribute to McCall. I got a personal letter back from the publisher and one from the editor thanking me for the letter. They said they couldn't publish it because it was written to a private individual. By the way, my father never once said, "Good job, son."
I never saw combat, but I did my job as ordered by my officers and senior NCO's without hesitation. I never embarrassed the Corps and I mentored a couple of younger men who enlisted in our service. To this day, and I'm 77 now, I can tell you that the proudest thing I have ever done is to have enlisted in the Marines and it was an honor to serve my country. The Marines changed my life.
By the way if anyone knosw Jimmy E. McCall (from Ashville, NC.) or if he is still alive please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. My thanks to all of you served our great country.
Buzz Alpert USMCR
Just Plain Sad Stolen Valor
Fake Marine Busted In Local Laundromat For Stolen Valor
STOLEN VALOR! This Phony Marine Might Be the FUNNIEST... This bogus United States military member should hit the road. Hire the guy who filmed the following lunacy and do an Abbott and Costello-styled routine.
I've met turds like this one over the years. The last one was at a flea market last summer. After he gave me his bullsh-t story, I turned and walked away, thought better of it and returned toward him. My intention was to strike him repeatedly on the head and shoulders with my red USMC cane! Calmer heads prevailed, in other words, Judy saw the look on my face and stopped me. The next time I saw him there he was wearing biker attire so I let him slide. Goog would have probably beat the sh-t out of him at that point!
To me this is way more "sad" than it is outrageous.
My father referred to my brother and I as Major disaster and General nuisance! Does that count as impersonating an officer?
Yea, I want to be a Private Lieutenant.
Usually you can find these guys out right away. Just ask a few questions or see how they carry themselves. The uniform is both funny and sad. The best one I have read about was the guy who had Sgt chevrons and bronze oak leaves and said that he was a Sgt Major.
This was 50 years ago Plt. 197 USMCRDPISC 6 Oct. 1965. Enjoy! You don't realize how special you are, and how many people couldn't even make through Boot Camp!
PARRIS ISLAND: Cradle of the Corps
I reported to the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego on Aug 12, 1964. Was issued the M-14 in bootcamp and also later at ITR. Had the M-14 in 'Nam '66-'67 and requalified with it at LeJeune in '68 and '69. Not issued the M-16 until 2nd 'Nam tour in '69 but was promoted to E-6 and issued the 1911 and I still have one of those today.
MP Hite, S/Sgt
RVN 1966-'67, '69-'70
Marine reported 1964 experience at Camp Matthews in last newsletter. My recollection is the same in 1963. We had M-14 in boot camp and issued cr-pped-out M-1 at San Onofre ITR. I tell non-Marines that ITR was like the Boy Scouts with weapons. The time of my life that month. The desert was the culminating field exercise in defending against assaults by the permanent personnel. Learned to appreciate the axiom that every Marine is a rifleman.
RVN 1965, 1966-1967
"Power should always be distrusted, in whatever hands it is placed."
--Sir William Jones
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
"Where there is power, there is resistance."
"The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."
"Athens hold sway over Greece; I dominate Athens; my wife dominates me; our newborn son dominates her."
"Private, you are about as squared away as a soup sandwich!"
"Dress right dress! Cover down!"
"When I give you an EYES RIGHT I want to hear those eyeballs click!
DO NOT MOVE! I don't care if there's a bee on your eyeball maggot!
DIG'EM IN, DIG'EM IN! Six to the front three to the rear!"
Semper Fi, Mac!