Sgt Grit and staff were recently visited by Purple Heart recipient Sgt Armando Ybarra. Sgt Ybarra was injured in the 23 October 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. During his rescue from the wreckage of the barracks a photo was taken that made its way on the cover of TIME magazines October 31, 1983 issue.
We are grateful for Sgt Ybarra's service and we are thankful that he decided to stop in and motivate us all.
Semper Fi Marine!
What Do I Do
I was attending a movie at the base theater at Camp Pendelton, shortly before being shipped over to Japan in 1957. I don' t remember the movie's name but it was one of those film noirs popular at the time. There was a scene where the leading actress had emptied a full magazine of 38s into her unfaithful lover. In a state of shock she exclaimed, "Now what do I do?" Right on cue someone yelled out, "Police up your brass and move back to the 500 yard line!" It brought down the house as every Marine there recognized the rifle range command.
Marine Corps War Memorial
Brother and Sister Marines, here is a photo of our beloved Marine Corps War Memorial that was taken by photographer Navin Sarma. Somehow, the word "BEAUTIFUL" just doesn't say enough!
Out-Friggin-Standing... Now that's more like it!
View more photos taken by Mr. Sarma of the memorial at:
Navin Sarma Photography
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First 24 Hours
When I went through my Officers training in 1954, we were stationed at Camp Getche (Sp?) which is located at the far northern end of Quantico on the top of a mountain. We were in Quonset Huts. We had been under the guidance of our Senior Drill Instructor, Gy.Sgt Habbock since our arrival the morning before, and it was now 0100 hours. We were all standing tall beside our two tier bunks in a total state of shock, when our beloved DI announced that it was now time for a safety drill. When he yelled "Flood" we were to stack our two footlockers on top of the top rack and then climb on top of them. If he was to yell "Air Raid" were to pull our foot lockers out of the deck and lay between them. Now since were so stupid we would practice until we got it right. For the next half an hour (seemed like an eternity) all we heard was "Air Raid," "Flood" over and over until the footlockers were just being shoved off the top bunk onto the deck. As we stood exhausted, at attention, our caring DI said now that you are refreshed, and can't get to sleep, give me 20 pushups. Thus ended our first 24 hours in the Corps.
Ed Dodd, 1st LT USMC
Cpl Chuck Lindberg
Attached are pictures of a Memorial for Cpl. Chuck Lindberg at the American Legion Post in Richfield Minnesota.
Most of us know that Chuck was part of a combat patrol that climbed Mount Surbachi and raised the first of two U.S. flags on the summit during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was the last surviving member of both of the Mount Suribachi flag raising events on Feb. 23rd, 1945. It took forever for people to believe he was on the team that raised the first flag. Now the World knows the rest of the story.
World War I Cartridge
Of all the World War I items in my small collection is a W. R. A. Cartridge dated 1917. The primer has the necessary dent from the firing pin striking it but the cartridge is complete with bullet. However the shoulder of the case (when fired) left a double shoulder effect. The bullet comes out easy enough and mounted inside the base of the projectile is two strong wires that are formed to make tweezer like affair. Knowledge of World War I and the "COOTIES" that flooded the trenches. Upon relief from front line duty and movement to the rear area, a man removed his clothes tor a bath and usually in his underwear he worked to removed the cooties from his clothing after being boiled. The eggs and the dead cooties still hung on in the seams of the clothing. If there was no way to boil your clothes you had to remove the "COOTIES" by hand, some men heated wires and ran them carefully along the seams to kill the "COOTIES" which sometimes resulted in seams opening or easily tearing and in Europe winters this wasn't desirable. So with the homemade tweezers he could pick out the cooties. I got this years ago from the man who got it from the original owner. For the readers information when the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) was formed it originally had a "COOTIE" Club which was quickly absorbed, however for a few years after the VFW was formed you could find cootie club items like patches, paper work, and other memoribilia from the "COOTIE CLUB", and I have no doubt there is still some stuff laying about from the "COOTIE CLUB". My "Cootie" Catcher is a long forgotten part of that War and the VFW.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
In 1977 we were one of the first Phantom squadrons to begin year-long unit rotations to WestPac. At each leg of the TransPac we briefed with the tankers and pathfinder so we'd all be on the same page for radio freq's, timing to rendezvous and so forth. At one of the briefings I recall a tanker pilot who was a CWO and was apparently one of the longest experienced KC-130 drivers in the military. I do not exactly recall his name or call sign, but something like Wolfgang? Something with Wolf... in it.
A Bad Joke
The other day I found myself in the emergency room answering questions for a young doctor. We went through a few and he asked if I had been in the Army. I frowned at him and then he said Navy, and I frowned again. He then got it right with Marines. He then said he had been in the Army because even Marines need someone to look up to. I groaned loudly and told him that was a bad joke.
After all of my test came back and he was telling me that I would probably have to see a neurosurgeon because it was something beyond his training. I looked at him and said, "That guy is probably a Marine." He grinned at me and said, "Well played, Well Played."
Oscar "Bud" Champod aka Groucho
MIAP And Jim Fuller
I served with Jim with 11th Marines near DaNang. He was one of my dearest friends and lost his battle with Agent Orange in February. In his last few years he worked a lot with MIAP. This is his wife Marilyn (aka Madeline) in the newscast below. He will be laid to rest in Arlington this Sept. 2.
Patriot Guard Riders Escort Remains To Washington DC
Marine Dodge Truck
Dear Sgt Grit,
I would like to thank you. You have a wonderful person at your place named Christina Rodriguez, she helped me by sending me 2 - 12" replacement magnets that had blown off my truck... when they blew off, I didn't even go over 45 MPH.
I take this truck to car shows and cruise events... I should have the local recruiter riding shotgun with me, the way that people flock around my Marine truck - it is a 1956 Dodge 1 ton long bed... see the pictures attached.
Christina told me that I should take some pictures and that you may want to post them on your website? Also, you should see the area that I park my truck in... if you were to check my buying records (all the items I purchased) over the last couple of years, you would see all that stuff is on my walls in my parking Garage.
My History In The Corps
I was in Corps from 1961 to 1964 (3 year hitch) MCRD was my permanent duty station. Motor 'T' / MOS 3531... Hollywood Marine!
I drove 'cattle' cars, buses, officers cars, 2 by's, 4 by's, 6 by's and them big (mf's) trucks that bend in the middle and go Chsssssss! My barracks was across from the parade 'Grinder'. My job - I picked up new recruits coming in and then took them where ever they needed to go, rifle range (Camp Mathews), field maneuvers, etc... I even drove for the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) in a presidential procession from airport, when Pres John Kennedy came to base to speak - (it was only a few months before he was killed). I had easy duty, but, always a Marine and always ready... I did think that I was going to see action in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis... I drove a supply semi day and night for a couple of weeks back and forth from Pendleton to Naval docks in San Diego... loading aircraft carriers with ammo and supplies.
Once or twice Chesty Puller was on base visiting, but,I never got to meet him.
The world is a better place with Marines in it... Semper Fi... Do or Die... Gung Ho!
Come A Long Way From The Willys
Check out the replacement for the HUMVEE.
The Military's Next Totally Badazs Off Road Vehicle
My Own View
Maybe I'm overloading the system but I wanted to respond to some of the letters by or about Marines who were not directly involved in active combat in the various war zones. I'm copying below a letter I sent to a friend in response to a Washington Post article of about a year ago. In that article, an Army reservist who had served in a rear area (not sure where) wrote that rear area personnel were not 'war heroes' and didn't deserve any benefits or accolades for their military service. I don't know how you folks feel about this, but the following is my own view:
"(anonymous friend), I like nothing better than being provoked. If I got up in the morning and thought I'd go the whole day without getting into an argument about something, I'd go back to bed.
Actually, I had read the WP article already this morning and had the same reaction as (another friend). It sounds like the writer is the epitome of the much disdained 'rear-area pogue', otherwise referred to by the troops as a RAMF (no translation provided). If he thinks he's getting too much in benefits or somehow doesn't deserve what he gets, then simply shut up and don't accept them. Or turn them back in to the Treasury. Or donate them to a worthy charity. Or whatever.
Maybe I'm being a bit simplistic here. But there are a number of deeper, more systemic problems with what this guy is saying.
In the first instance, I don't think whatever benefits I receive, or you receive, or anyone else receives, are excessive. In our case, you and me, it's pretty straightforward; we - and a lot of other people - served in direct combat assignments. That includes those who served in combat in all the wars before and since. The benefits were clearly earned and in many cases dearly paid for in flesh and blood. But what about combat support and combat service support units? Did you know that in the Marine Corps, Recon units, including Force Recon, are designated combat support, not direct combat units? Advisors to VN units in our day, including Marines assigned to, for example, the PRU, were also not direct 'combat' units. According to the article's author, on that basis alone, we shouldn't get any benefits at all, right? I wish I had known that 50 years ago. I'm sure that the VC and NVA would have taken pains to avoid shooting at me and my guys, and even apologized for blowing up my jeep that day long ago.
But what about people and units that are more clearly support or service support? Let's say you're a truck driver in a Motor T battalion and you drive over a mine or get blown away by an IED. You're not a combat soldier, you're a RAMF and a certifiable pogue. You can tell that to your buddies in the amputee ward - or in the morgue. That should get a laugh. The problem here is that in Vietnam and in all the wars since, every soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine that served in a combat zone was subject to combat and in mortal peril for their lives. There were no rear areas (despite what the front line troops might say) and even the Air Force's air conditioned "O" Clubs were hit by mortars and rockets. Remember FLSG at Red Beach with all its logisticians? They got hit all the time. All day long they drove their forklifts, packed the crates, did the paperwork, etc. Then at night, they put on their flack jackets and helmets, picked up their rifles, and hunkered down in foxholes and bunkers to guard the perimeter. I remember an incident at Hill 327, when enemy sappers launched a major assault on the commo facility on top of the mountain. The reaction force consisted primarily of the 1st Division Band. They fought a back and forth battle all night and finally drove the sappers off with heavy casualties. At the 1st Recon area at the base of the hill, we could watch by the muzzle flashes and grenades/satchel charges going off. The Bandsmen, not even 'combat service support', were magnificent. I suppose they shouldn't get any benefits either. Later that same day, I had the dubious honor of leading a composite company as a reaction force to counter a major attack on DaNang airfield. We had Recon Marines as well as cooks, bakers, and candlestick makers in the company. The biggest problem I had was holding these guys back. They were magnificent - to repeat myself. At one point, we relieved a unit from the Wing consisting of MPs, mechanics, bulk fuel operators, etc. These guys had stopped the attack and saved the air field. We helped carry out their dead and wounded, before launching our own assault. So, my candlestick makers and the Wing's bulk fuel guys don't get any benefits? Well, of course not, they're just rear area pogues.
Do you detect a theme here? What I'm saying applies equally to Iraq and Afghanistan. No, not everyone is a Sgt. Rock-type combat hero. But every mother's son (and daughter) out there, every man jack, serves the greater purpose and puts his/her life, history, future, family, hopes and dreams, etc. in peril. Just because this writer suffers severe self-image issues for having avoided the ultimate challenge, doesn't mean that others suffer the same lack of intestinal fortitude. Nor does it mean that the legal assistants, finance clerks, aircraft mechanics, etc. should be flagellated with the same whip as our esteemed author. I for one know that the support and service support personnel are just as much deserving of our benefits as anyone else. Without the bean counters, there would be no beans - or bullets or snakes & nape or big ugly nco's to drive the troops to heights of courage and conquest (they also do a great job on 2nd Lts.).
A problem arises in that a lot of untutored people, including in Congress, will be reading the mindless drivel in that article and they will start questioning why the military is generous in its benefits. There is a mantra going around among the self-proclaimed illuminati (who would never deign to sully their soft and effeminate hands by actually serving some cause greater than self). And that is, "you signed up for the military accepting the risks, so you shouldn't complain." You're a volunteer, so suck it up. These people have no concept what it means to serve in the military - nor apparently does our author - and they don't realize - or they choose to ignore or minimize - the stress and strain and the burden that a military member assumes as a condition of service. And its even sadder in that this 'service' is not service to self, but to the very people who would disdain or diminish it - and deny its proper reward.
The author was also a Reservist, although it doesn't indicate what exactly he did in the Reserves. I know that as a Reservist in Thailand I served for almost nine years with the Royal Thai Special Warfare units of the Marine Corps, Army and Navy. I had more time in the field than a lot of senior active U.S. Marines. In Laos, I worked for the Stony Beach program (look it up). I never got paid a penny for all my service while overseas. All I got was a lot of time down and dirty, an artificial knee, and an ear that doesn't hear. At least that last part got me out of jury duty. I know other Reservists who put in probably twice as much time into their Reserve units as into their day jobs, with no extra pay or other benefits, just satisfaction, dedication, and service to Corps and Country. I don't think that's a bad thing. But maybe like the writer says, they don't deserve any benefits. After all, why should you pay a guy for working when you can channel all the taxpayers' money to far more deserving people who don't work at all. But that's just me.
I could go on and on, but I figure you could use a break by now.
Semper Fi and all the best, "End letter"
Leave A Proud Legacy
I initially enlisted back in 2006. I joined at a time when the Corps was looking to beef up its numbers with the War on Terror going on simultaneously in both Iraq and Afghanistan. By the time the latter part of my enlistment came I found out that the Corps overshot its goal of 200,000 Marines. With this in mind, as well as the opportunity to take advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I decided to get out and take my chances in the civilian world. I went to a local college to get my degree in Music Performance (I played the French horn in two different Marine bands: the III MEF Band in Okinawa, Japan; and the MCAGCC Band in 29 Palms, CA) under the GI Bill. Along the way I became acquainted with veterans, including Marines, both young and old. At a local health care center I "adopted" one salty Korean War-era Marine 1st Lieutenant as my honorary grandfather (I never got to know my biological grandparents), and while reenlisting was never on my mind at the time I kept the Marine Corps spirit alive between the two of us through small gestures such as letting him wear my 8-point MARPAT cover, and holding small Marine Corps Birthday celebrations including things like cake and a reading of General Lejeune's Birthday Message. When his health and mind started to go downhill I believe that thanks in part to what I did for him he never forgot he was a Marine, even on his bed right before transferring to supervise Marines guarding the streets of Heaven, and in my opinion was a shining example of the phrase: "Once a Marine, always a Marine."
By the time I graduated college I had already made an effort to find better work than my current entry-level job; especially since I was married and a proud father by the time of my graduation. Things began to look pretty bleak until this fiscal year. I learned that the Corps needed me again! Now, I was still relatively fit when I first EAS'd, but I did fall for what many other EASers did upon getting out which is getting out of shape. I became complacent, and those who have done time in a combat zone know this well: complacency kills. I knew the path to get back in shape wouldn't be easy, nor quick, but I knew I had to do it to have a shot a reenlisting again. I first started by working out with the local poolees at the local recruiting station. Compared to them at the time I was very weak and horribly out of shape. I couldn't even do the minimum required pullups to pass a PFT anymore. I soon invested time, effort, and some money into a local gym as well as an effective fitness program. Slowly, but steadily, I began to lose the weight and fat. Along the way I took an audition to go back into the Marine Corps as a French horn musician. It was one of the best auditions I had ever done, and I can safely say that if my audition score was that of a PFT or rifle qualification score, then my score would've translated into an upper 1st class, or a high Rifle Expert score, respectively. I had proven to not just be a good French horn musician, but a darn good one. It turned out that the Marine Corps needed French horn musicians, badly, and I realized I had the potential to be a great prize for them if I put forth the effort to come back in. One: I had already done time as a Marine Corps musician. I knew what to expect, and what was expected of me. My time prior as a Marine Musician also means the Corps would save money and time by not needing to put me through boot camp, combat training, and our MOS school before sending me out to the fleet again. They can simply send me straight out to one of the bands once I receive my orders. Two: because of how well I did on the audition I proved I wasn't just a musician who played a much-needed instrument, but that I was good enough to be on par with some of the top French horn musicians in the entire MOS. It didn't take long for me to make a good name for myself not just among the local recruiters, but within the recruiting chain of command of my district.
By last month, however, my weight loss hit a plateau, and I wasn't losing weight like I used to. Knowing that the deadline to get me back in was looming near: the Corps took measures to step up my game, and I soon ended up doing one on one workouts with a couple of the recruiters, and even some of the staff from the chain of command of the recruiting district. They want to see me back in as much as I want to get back in myself. To quote one Gunnery Sergeant, "You must be pretty damned important for them to send me down here to watch your progress." As I type this I have very little weight left to lose before I am considered to be in regulation again, and my reenlistment package is all but set to go. Reenlisting for me means I don't get to waste my degree, I can finally provide for my family in ways that my current job just can't, and I can look to the Corps now as a definite career. I plan to stick to the Corps up to retirement unless I am able to find actual, great work for me. If that's not the case, then keep signing me up until I'm considered too old to raise my right hand again.
When it's all over and it's my turn to take duty on the streets of Heaven I hope my descendants can look at my life story and be inspired to make the most of their lives, and leave a proud legacy as I hope to do so.
Atwood, Aaron F.
P.S. I was sworn in on Friday the 21st August.
I found Cpl. Edward Libby's blurb about rubber boats etc. interesting. I was in 2nd Recon when we moved from mainside to Montford point. My active duty ended July 7, 1963.
Cpl. Ron Crosswhite (1959-1963)
I have a Veteran license plate on my car and was elated to hear that the State of Arizona had a new plate which had the Marine Corps emblem on it and it could be personalized. As I had to prove I was a veteran to get my veterans plate, I grabbed my DD214 and headed to the place to get my new USMC plate. No proof was required to get the plate. You did not have to be in the Corps to have a Marine Corps license plate. I left in disbelief. The lady said that $17.00 of each plate went to some charity.
Fifty years ago, on August 31st 1965, we landed at Da Nang, Republic of South Viet Nam and Bravo Battery, 3rd LAAM Bn became Alpha Battery 1st LAAM Bn. I remember the date so clearly because we were in Viet Nam for less than twelve hours yet received 'Hazardous Duty Pay' for the entire month of August.
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
"We are all born ingnorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."
"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."
--Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army
"A Marine is a Marine. I set that policy two weeks ago. There's no such thing as a former Marine. You're a Marine, just in a different uniform and you're in a different phase of your life. But you'll always be a Marine because you went to MCRD Parris Island, MCRD San Diego or the hills of Quantico and Camp Pendleton. Again, there's no such thing as a former Marine."
--General James F. Amos, 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps
"I've surveyed more sea bags than you've surveyed socks!"
"My first office hours was for buffalo sh-t on my spear."
"... is that your service number... or the national debt?"
"When the Lord said let there be light, I was the firewatch."
Fair winds and following seas.