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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 09 JUL 2015

In this issue:
• The Most Boot PFC
• MARS Call To My Mommy
• 2/9 Koh Tang Veteans

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From the "wayback" files 1969. 2nd Anglico, Courthouse Bay. The memory is fading... I think that is Lt Col. Schuler (sp) presenting me with the Navy Achievment Medal with Combat V. After the photographer left and the door was closed the Lt. Col. advised me that on my way to the barber shop, I might want to stop and see the Corpsman about getting some regulation eyewear.

Why did I feel like I was the only one in the Company without jump wings? I did make 10 static line jumps at my Brothers jump school at Seneca Falls Airport in New York. But as the most boot PFC informed me "That Don't Count."

Honored to have served with that bunch.

Ken Martin
Corporal of Marines
1967 - 1970
RVN '68-'69

Sun Rising In Wrong Direction

Just to echo a bit on DDick's "Dead=Red", I was with the 1st Marine Brigade in Hawaii in March of '65, we pulled out of Pearl Harbor headed for an operation called Steel Pike off Camp Pendleton. Problem was, when we went out on deck the next morning, the sun was rising in the wrong direction. 17 days later we landed at White Beach, Okinawa. On arrival, the 1st Marine Brigade became part of our parent unit, the 3rd Marine Division and after about a six week work-up on Okinawa, we headed further south. I landed on the beach at Chu Lai with 2nd Battalion, Fourth Marines on 7 May 1965 and I am positive we were the first American Marines or Americans period on that beach. That afternoon, the Engineers and SeaBees started working on the SATS mat airfield and A-4's were operational off that strip within a month. Only light contact with the VC until Operation Starlight in August but any live captured Vietnamese was considered a VC suspect, if dead, they were confirmed VC.

SgtMaj, USMC (Ret)

MARS Call To My Mommy

Hey Grit,

I agree. 1st MARDIVHQ was on the hill, down the road from freedom hill in the Fall of 1969. I had been hurt at AN HOA earlier, medivaced to 1st Med in Danang and after some time at NAC (northern artillery contonement) was sent back to AN HOA with a no-duty chit to complete my recovery. While back at An Hoa, I sent some pics back home which included some deceased enemy. These pics could not be developed in-country so I sent them to my Uncle in the states. Or so I thought. I accidentally sent them to my mom. She immediately had them developed, and to her horror saw these pics along with pics of me after my injury. She surrounded our local congressman and raised plenty of h-ll that her little boy was hurt and still in a forward unit. Said congressman called HQ MC and as they say chit rolls down hill. Word finally got to my Lt. and he ordered me to catch the next chopper to Danang/1st MARDIV HQ with a chit in hand to make a MARS call to my mommy assuring her I was OK and to quit harrassing the Congressman.

Semper FI,
Deck, A.C. NCOAD (Not currently on active duty)
3rd 8inch Howitzer Battery (SP)
RVN 1969-1970
USMC 1968-1974

2/9 Koh Tang Veterans

I appreciated Herb Brewer's posting about the 2/9 Koh Tang Veterans. I've had the honor of meeting several members of the Koh Tang/Mayaguez Veterans Organization through my good friend, Al Bailey, and, in the future, I'm looking forward to meeting additional members. A great group of men-Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. Much to my regret, I missed a chance to see some of them again at an informal get-together at Al's place this past month, due to tasks assigned by the boss (my wife), but hope to see Al in another week or so.

If any readers of the Sgt. Grit Newsletter are Koh Tang vets, but not members of the Organization, I would encourage you to join, and get back together with your brothers. I am not a combat veteran myself, but I have met enough people who are, and have seen how many suffer from PTSD (a lot of these guys do), and how important it is to support each other. There are several books out about Koh Tang, one of the most recent is titled "The 14 Hour War", and includes interviews with a number of those who were in the battle. Well worth purchasing and reading, although some of the interviews have been edited for several reasons. Al graciously emailed me a complete copy of his interview, which I printed and keep in my copy of the book.

Even though Koh Tang is considered the last action of the Viet Nam War, and the names of those who were lost are on The Wall, those who were involved were not awarded the Vietnam Service Medal or Vietnam Campaign Medal. I would be interested in comments from those who served in Vietnam on this. I know veterans from other branches who served in Thailand, never setting foot in Vietnam, but were awarded these medals. Under that criteria, the Koh Tang Vets would seem to qualify, in my view. I did not serve in Vietnam (by the time I got my WestPac orders, and arrived in Okinawa in April, '71, as the 1st MarDiv was being pulled out. I spent my first 6 months at Camp Schwab, where the 9th Marines were based, and developed a respect for that Regiment (I was with 7th Comm Bn), as well from meeting the Koh Tang Vets of E & G/2/9. Of course, I also highly respect all of the other Regiments and units too!

Ron Goodrich

Never Heard Of Korea

It was the morning of 25 June 1950 when I went across the street to Pettengill's store on Old Wharf Rd. in Dennisport, MA to get the Daily Record, the headline of which read, "North Korea Invades South Korea". Didn't mean too much, never heard of Korea, but the map inside was very interesting. We were staying at Eddy's Silver Camps on Cape Cod, Barbara Eddy was my classmate, and we had been promoted to seniors. I would finish my senior year in North Attleboro High School before enlisting in the Marines.

Sgt. Max Sarazin, 1194xxx

Sad Performance

I was in Platoon 124 when JFK came to MCRD San Diego in 1963. We were at the Pugil Stick Pits where he came to observe. I drew the largest recruit in our platoon to fight. Pvt. Garner knocked me around the pit just a few feet from JFK. It was a sad performance on my part. That is me in 1968 in Leatherneck Square.

Vernon R.


Sgt. Grit,

I do see most strongly, and through the years of your website/newsletters, that you have a tremendous respect/love for "Chesty". Sir, I can honestly say... he loved his Sergeants above all and most strongly felt that the Sergeants were the "Backbone of the Marine Corps". He openly stated many times, it is the Sergeants that make everything happen and perform to the mission. He was most critical of the Officer Staff if they didn't listen or follow the recommendations of their Sergeants. Sir, I could make you laugh on a few examples of a Sergeant telling "Chesty" of how his Officers weren't listening and oh h-ll, "Chesty" had all of them in and barking "orders".

Semper Fi,
Steve Robertson

Mines and More Mines

1970 - At morning quarters it was announced that due to the upcoming 4th of July, extra precautions should be taken. All personnel are to be vigilant, watching for anything not right. The USMC sweep team and security detail loaded aboard a weapons carrier, having decided to drive out over LTL-1D instead of walking to our work area on LTL-4. Immediately after leaving Freedom Bridge their vehicle hit a mine... blowing the 10 Marines aboard into the air. NMCB-62 Detail Buford and USMC personnel assisted in the MEDEVAC of seven of the U.S. Marines involved in the mining incident. Three were transferred by ambulance back to DaNang. The weapons carrier was a total loss.

When we started out to our work site the water tanker detonated a mine, which caused the MEDEVAC of two Seabees EOs Pike and Gillion. EO3 Gillion had severe burns over 50% of his body. Operations were halted and all NMCB-62 equipment and personnel were left lined up on LTL-1D. We were informed that a 3-Star General was flying in to assess the situation. Just as his chopper was to set down at the same approximate location as the NMCB-62 incident, a USMC jeep detonated a mine resulting in one Seabee, EO2 Nelson M. Hyler, and two Marines becoming KIAs.

ALL operations were ordered to be ceased, and personnel and equipment were directed back to the Hill.

Now That's Called Improvising

Regarding Joe Holt's smoking story... At ITR Camp Pendleton in the Summer of 1957, our platoon was sitting in bleachers getting a lecture on the use of explosives when the instructor stopped mid-sentence, stared at one Marine and asked him, "What are you smoking?" Turns out the Marine ran out of money and stripped a bunch of butts he had scrounged and rolled the tobacco in a laundry slip. Now that's called improvising!


Attitude Is Everything Day 52

Here is this week's most popular Marine Corps quote that was posted on Sgt Grit's Facebook Page. The replies are nothing short of what you would expect from our fellow Marine brothers and sister, or Marine family members.

Here are a few of their comments:

Jason Chrzan - Mattis 2016!

Michael Jay Fulton Sr. - I love that man.

Bill Simons - Dear ISIS, read the above.

Doug Brassard - No better friend, no worse enemy.

Check daily to see what the next quote or saying of the day will be on the Sgt Grit Facebook page.

Forbidden To Smile

You aren't supposed to laugh in boot camp.

It only takes a minute or two in boot camp to realize there's not much to laugh about, but even if there was, you are forbidden to smile, much less laugh. If a drill instructor saw any of us having too good of a time I can guarantee we'd all be on our faces doing push-ups till sundown.

Once I laughed. I couldn't help myself. The drill instructor, in this case our PMI (Primary Marksmanship Instructor) said something that I'm sure he thought was humorous. I wasn't the only guy who thought it was funny, but for some reason it really made me laugh out loud. A lot. Loudly. D-mn near hysterical. I'm pretty sure there was some psychological excuse for my lack of control, but that didn't mean sh-t to our drill instructor.

Imagine. Third week of boot camp. We're all at the rifle range sitting in some bleachers listening to some of the first instructions on how to become a proficient rifleman. Eighty of us or so. The PMI made it perfectly clear that the rifle range was the one place in boot camp where questions were welcomed. Marksmanship was our vocation and he wasn't gonna bust our chops over some chickensh-t things as if we were back at the recruit depot.

We were being given instructions on how to adjust our rifle slings for proper use at the range. Step by step he showed our "volunteer" how to do each step. One requirement was to have a sling looped tightly around our bicep. When the PMI said it needed to be tight one of our group held his hand up to ask a question. Simple as that. Simple question, yet a colorful answer.

"Sir, How tight should the sling be?" The PMI scanned our group for a second then replied, "How tight is a gnat's azs stretched across a rain barrel?" Instantly I drew an image in my brain of a very distressed gnat with a very distressed look on his face. Everyone smiled. I laughed. And laughed some more. Gigglin', hopping around on my bench seat and shaking the entire bleacher. I could not stop. Couldn't. Honest.

After a moment of my attending drill instructor givin' me the stink-eye he finally ordered me down from the bleachers, me still grinning, interrupting the class. On my face. Push-ups. Forever. I could pump out thirty or forty with little problem, but this was a matter of discipline as far as the drill instructor was concerned. I lost the smile after about twenty push-ups. I have no idea how many I did... or tried to do, but it wasn't long before I couldn't even keep my face out of the dirt, layin' there like a sweatin' slug.

Life went on. That was forty something years ago, but I have to tell you whenever I imagine how tight a gnat's azs is stretched across a rain barrel I still smile. Can't help myself.

Joe Holt

Windward Marine 4 Oct 1963

A little history from the "Windward Marine" the base newspaper for Kaneohe MCAS. I was stationed there in VMA 212 from 1961 to 1963.

Norm Spilleth
1960 - 1964

Lost And Found

Sgt Grit,

I have a hard copy book of MCRD San Diego, 1st Battalion, Platoon 145 and 146 (June-August 1955). I have copied this entire book as JPEG's and will gladly share them with any former members of either platoon.

Art Kidd
Capt USMC Ret

My name is John Colburn, retired Gunnery Sgt, MOS-6042 (airframes), Retired October 1979 at ElToro MCAS. Moved to Seattle, WA and went to work for the Boeing Company.

On father's day my 2 son's and I were going thru the local BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY'S antique section and I found a cruise book from HMM-165, (WHITE KNIGHTS) the cruise was in 1976 aboard the USS TRIPOLI LPH-10, in 1976. Anyone interested in this book let me know at (jhcusmcret[at]juno.com), MCRD SAN DIEGO, PLT-178.

Also am looking for the former Commanding Officer of MCAS EL TORO who was COL HENRY R. VITALI and the SGT/MAJ HERMAN L. SMITH. He was the Sgt/Maj for MCAS YUMA in 1979. Thanks for all your help.

John Colburn
Semper Fi

Around 40 yrs ago I interred MCRD SD, It was Xmas eve of 1975. With a foggy mind, I'm pretty sure my Plt. no. was 1143 Sr DI was Staff Sgt. Paxton and his side kick DI Halib not sure how to spell that, But he was the mean one, I don't remember the 3rd one because he was always changing...

My name is Griffith I was prior service Army... When we Graduated I had PFC stripes and a Hash mark...

So if any of my Plt Brothers can verify the Plt. no. 1143 I would appreciate it...

And I sure would like to locate a Plt. Book.

Semper Fi and God Bless.

Short Rounds

My EAS date fell on a Sunday so I was released from active duty on a Friday "At the convenience of the Government", which happened to conclude my active service at two years, eleven months and twenty-nine days. Unblemished service record but missed the GC by one day, my blues look pretty empty with just the NDSM and Expert Rifleman Badge.

JFK's visit to MCRD/Kitty Hawk was 6 June 1963... not November. Google Kitty Hawk or the San Diego Union-Times (newspaper) archives.

Regarding your phonetic alphabet, sir, not in the Old Corps. Your newer NATO version wasn't in place when I served: Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig, King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger, Sugar, Tare, Uncle, Victor, William, Xray, Yoke, and Zebra.

One, Two, Tree, Fower, Fiver, Six, Seven, Eight, Niner, Ten.

Sgt. Max Sarazin
1194xxx, 1951

Concerning photos of 1963 JFK visit to MCRD - This was taken June 6th 1963. The Marines standing tall are PVT Donald Beckwith right behind is my self PVT Robert Cooper. 1st day of boot camp. What an awakening we got.


"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."
--John Adams

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
--Abraham Lincoln

"I have never been bewildered for long in any fight with our enemies – I was Armed with Insight."

"Images flash through my mind - and I speak from my heart: of an Eighth & 'I' parade in honor of John Glenn who remarked that night: He had been a Marine for 23 years... but not long enough. That was from a man fought in WWII & Korea and was the first American to orbit the earth, His wingman in Korea, baseball legend Ted Williams, put it well when asked which was the best team he ever played on. Without hesitation he said, 'The U.S. Marine Corps'."
--General James "Mad Dog" Mattis

"If it moves salute it - if it does not move - paint it!"


"Alright people, move it up. Make the man in front of you smile."

God Bless the American Dream.
Gung Ho!
Sgt Grit

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