I met a 90 year old Marine vet who landed on Tarawa on the 2nd day, and after a short time he was hit and spent 11 months in the hospital. I really hit it off with him and his wife. I have been a scale model builder all my life. I made a diorama of an LVT landing on a beach with about 12 Marines around it. I built a base, painted it and my wife poured sand in there in layers spraying glue as she went to keep it down. I have attached 4 pictures of it. Do you think the guys that read the newsletter would find it interesting? Dave, the Marine is now 91 by the way and doing quite well. The story is about him and not my crazy model that I built with the help of my drill instructor (my wife that is).
The Best BS Detector
Almost every poser I've run into claims to have been "Recon".
A few years ago I ran into a very charming and convincing one while accompanied by my daughter. She listened to his routine about 2nd Recon until the end, then batted her eyelashes and asked "Were you at French Creek or Courthouse Bay?" "Oh, I was laid up in the hospital recovering from wounds during those Ops," he quickly replied.
At that point he learned some choice words that could only come from a BAM who survived a tour with 2nd Intel. Although she's gone Army to finish her career, she's still Corps deep down and the best BS detector I know.
We Never Seem To Learn
MCRD 1964. Our series had several South Viet-Nam soldiers going thru boot camp as guest of our country. We were rout stepping up to Camp Matthews, when all of these Vietnamese decided they had enough. They threw down their M-14s, sat down and refused to go on.
The drill instructors called in trucks to carry them on to Matthews, and nothing was ever said. Well, about eighteen months later as a radio operator in Viet-Nam, I saw this happen on a larger scale. Now we see it in Iraq. So much on helping other poor countries. We never seem to learn!
Ed Ritcherson, Cpl.
Did I Miss Something
Regarding Charlie Younger's comment in the most recent Newsletter: Cherries In C-Rats?
I served from 1969 thru 1975 and have eaten my fair share of C-RATS and I never ONCE had cherries of any kind in my chow! The closest that I ever came, was the fruit cocktail that came in the B-1 unit. Did I miss something?
Ron Morse (Sgt. of Marines)
Cheers Of Freedom
Wishing you and your staff a joyful season and prosperous New Year!
As all Vietnam veterans remember the Christmas Day(s) we spend away from our loved ones, thus the season is special to us. We thank you for printing all our memories of our youth and how we aged. Wonder how many of us can remember the day we looked out the window of the Freedom Bird as the plane roared down the runway in DaNang and all the cheers of freedom hit us. Yet, we thought back, of the day we arrived there and it all seemed as a dream that awakes us every now and then to remind us of what we are, U.S. MARINES for life.
I read your story on how the K-BAR got its name, but that is not how it was told to me by my old friend, Major Gene Duncan. USMC.
In 1955, I was a senior in high school. Duncan was five years older and was dating my sister. When he recruited me, he had come off active duty and was in the Reserves in West Palm Beach, Florida. At that time he was a SSgt, salty as h-ll, and had served in a mortar platoon in Korea. Later he became his own legend as a Major, fighting in Nam.
Here's how Duncan told the story: He said the first time Chesty Puller was introduced to all the marvelous things a BAR could do for a Marine rifle squad, and then had a chance to witness its firepower, Puller watched patiently before growling, "Where in the h-ll do you attach the bayonet? It's no good without a bayonet." Of course, there was no bayonet. So the knife was created for the BARman to carry, and that's how it got its name -- K for knife, BAR for Browning Automatic Rifle.
In 1958 I finished at the top of my class at NCO School at Stone Bay, NC, and was awarded a K-BAR. I still have it, and I have a book that then-SSgt Duncan gave me ... Rudyard Kipling's "Barracks Room Ballads". His favorite poem was Gunga Din.
In closing, I have to tell you, Major Gene Duncan loved sea-stories, and whether or not the Chester Puller version about the K-BAR is true, I like it much better than the one about a man killing a bear.
Daniel Rousseau, former Sgt., USMC
Note: Major Duncan was a great story teller. Great books he wrote. But I think he got this one wrong. Or at least formally wrong. There very well could have been a episode with Chesty. Sounds like something he might have done. The formal brand name is spelled Ka-Bar.
Mine Eyes Have Seen The Devil
Keep up the good work. Iwould like to know if any old Corps Marines know the words to the Marine's version of "The Battle Hymn of the Rebuplic"? First line is as follows:
"Mine eyes have seen the devil,
on the shores of Tripoli,
He is a MSgt with a harsh mark on his sleeve."
Also "Jingle Bells" First line.
"Dashing through the sand, with a M-1 in my hand..."
The last I heard these "Ditties" was back in 1961 in the 12th Mar. on Okinawa. They were sung by a couple of SNCO's out in BC St. Can anyone help me out. I started them out for my Granddaughter, she has been waiting for the rest of them. Somebody, somewhere must have written them down.
Jim Leonard SSgt Retired
Man, Did I Get Stuffed
Concerning Sgt Phil B.'s post about his receiving a big meal on Thanksgiving in Boot because it was his birthday. I had a similar experience although mine turned out a bit differently. While undergoing Marksmanship Training, we marched to the chow hall for lunch. Since we had our M-16A1's with us, we had to stack arms and I was ordered to stand weapon guard until my relief came out after he had finished his chow (at least that's what my D.I. told me). I waited and waited and was never relieved. When my D.I. came back out with my Platoon and saw me standing at Parade Rest, he realized he'd forgotten to send out a Recruit to relieve me. He walked over to me and told me he would make it up to me at evening chow but I figured he'd probably forget about it and I sure as h-ll wasn't going to bring it up. Every Jarhead reading this post knows how hungry I was for the rest of the day. So at evening chow I was kind of shocked when my D.I. called out my name and put me at the head of the line. We went in and I got a double portion of spaghetti and meatballs with a huge double of one of my favorite desserts, strawberry shortcake! Man, did I get stuffed. So of course as soon as we got back to the barracks he calls out, "P.T." gear!" which meant we were going for a run. I puked up my chow within the first mile, but I never dropped out of a run!
James A. Howerton II
SSgt USMC (Ret)
Continuous Practice Until
When I was stationed with the Marine Communications Detachment on board the USS Pocone AGC-16 from June 1965 to June 1967, our t.o. weapon was the M-1 Garand. We fired for qualification each year with this rifle, as well as the .45 pistol. We were issued two sets of wooden stocks for our rifles, one for use on the firing range and one which we linseeded the h-ll out of till they were so shiny you could see your reflection in it. These were used when we were in a foreign port & pulled guard duty at the foot of the ladders from the dock to the ship, & when foreign dignitaries came aboard. On one of our cruises, we were mustered on the bow and at the stern of the ship with our M-1s and shot down a barrage balloon with about 6 shots & then shot up the barrel to which it had been attached until it sank when the squids coot hit it with the ship's guns. Needless to say, the gun crews were on continuous practice until we reached port several days later.
Sgt. J.T. McAniff III
Mar 1964-Mar 1972
RVN May 1968-M969
Fast Forward 50 Years
The first time I saw (in person) a Marine wearing a pith helmet was on a hot Korean summer day in 1953. A corporal from another unit was wearing one while driving a jeep through our area. I was standing with a few other Marines and remarked to them that it was the first time I'd seen a Marine wearing a pith helmet. A S/Sgt. was standing with us and said he had been introduced to the pith helmet while in boot camp in the summer of 1943 and that he and his whole platoon (plus other platoons) wore them. I and the others had never heard of such a thing and we processed his remark with a grain of salt. The S/Sgt was a well known accomplished raconteur and it was felt that he embellished his tales at times to make them a bit more interesting.
Fast forward to 50 years later! In 2003, my wife and I were touring the east coast of the USA (we are Californians) and driving south on the New Jersey Hwy. that borders the Delaware River (a very pretty drive indeed) headed for Washington's Crossing. A few miles from our destination my wife spots an antique store and asks me to stop so she can "Take a look". We enter the store and go our separate ways as she likes the knick-knacks and porcelain and I like to look at old photographs. As I enter the nook where the old photographs are displayed the first thing I spot (in a somewhat ornate brass frame) is an old official USMC boot camp class photo of a platoon of Marine recruits and their Drill Instructors. The D.I.'s were wearing campaign covers and the whole platoon was wearing pith helmets! The date on the photo was 1943! Before I left the nook I said a silent prayer for the S/Sgt. and apologized for doubting his story.
Sgt. of Marines
1952 - 1955
Succulent Roast of Beef
After reading all the Thanksgiving menu's and stories I was reminded of an incident where I called the local mess hall (don't remember the base) and inquired as to what was on the menu. The person who answered said "Sir, today's menu features succulent roast of beef, creamy mashed potato's, savory beef gravy and various steamed fresh vegetables." As my eyes rolled to the top of my head he also mentioned some great desserts and beverages. I said thanks as I hung up. My buddy asked what's for lunch and I told him beef and potato's. Guess that call made the cook's day.
Got Them Back
I'm with Sgt. T. W. Stewart, when it comes to the pith helmet. All three of my Drill Instructors wore them for my entire boot camp "experience". As I have previously mentioned, I was transferred to MCRDep from the Naval Station at 32nd and Harbor Drive; going through boot camp as a PFC. After graduating, I wound up working in the office of the 3dRTBn, staying at MCRDep until October, 1953.
If Sgt. Stewart will recall, the DI's also made it a point of banging recruit heads with those pith helmets. After so many whacks, though, the small rounded top notch would become quite soft.
I'm probably the ONLY person to have reported to boot camp with sunglasses, camera, and even a S&W .38, and got them all back after I graduated.
Semper Fi, y'all
Cut Him A Huss
I have seen this video before and, came to the conclusion right away that this is not the typical case of "Stolen Valor". This person, my opinion, is mentally ill. Just to listen to him made it clear to me. There was a guy in a town near where I live that would walk the streets pulling a red wagon and wore a Marine shirt with Sgt. stripes and wore a Campaign Cover. The shirt was covered with medals, ribbons, and pins etc.
When he was ask where he served he said "everywhere". What war? "all of them". When he first appeared people got really upset, but as time went by everyone accepted the fact he was mentally ill and let him be. I don't know for sure, but I was told that the locals, at one point, bought him a new wagon.
The wanna be, faker, poser are way better at it.
Case #1: The service officer at our Legion post claimed for years that he served with the 101st Airborne in WW 2 and jumped on D-Day. Turns out he was stationed at Ft. Dix, and never left the states. (He was outed by his own brother who lived out of state and was home for a visit).
I know it "pithes" you off to see that video but, "cut him a huss".
Cleaning Rod Inside Of The Breach
After arriving by train at Yemassee, S.C., we rode buses at 1 am to P.I. I went through basic training at MCRD Parris Island, S.C. starting 20 July 1961. We were issued M-1 Garand rifles. We trained with them, marched with them, had inspections with them (I think we maybe "slept" with them a couple of times?) and qualified on the rifle range with the M-1 rifle. I never got a "M-1 thumb", which resulted from getting your thumb hammered & caught in the breach while having your M-1 rifle inspected. I did how ever get a fat lip while firing the M-1 on the rifle range. That taught me to really hold your rifle tight & keep your head just a little bit further back on the "spot weld". Near the end of basic training, our Senior DI had each Marine in the platoon put one section of our rifle cleaning rod inside of the breach of our M-1's so as we marched & was doing the left shoulder-right shoulder arms as a 80-man platoon we made a little extra noise. Our platoon marched well and did "win" the series marching completion trophy.
After graduation at Parris Island we were put on some buses & we were off to Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune, N.C. During ITR Training we still field trained with the M-1 Garand rifles. I remember after installing an adapted at the end of the barrel and using a "blank" cartridge... I recall firing white phosphorus rifle grenades down range at the target area. When firing rifle grenades you would never hold the rifle to your shoulder... it goes under your arm pit & against a wall or a tree... or push the butt of rifle into the ground with barrel elevated down range. We also fired M-1's from the hip at "pop up targets"... 1st round fired into the dirt, adjust accordingly & 2nd round quickly hit the silhouette targets. We did night firing with the platoon on line, every 3rd round a tracer... it was M-1, M-1 and every 3rd man firing a BAR... at "commence firing" all rounds, we lit up the night real good. After a lot of field training with our M-1's they set up these steel barrels with 3 feet of boiling water that we used to put our metal part of the rifles in to clean the dirt & grease off.
I really do not remember the first time we were issued M-14 rifles. I do know we all carried M-14 rifles when 3000 Marines got aboard the USS Breckinridge to go overseas to the far east during the Cuba Crisis in November 1962.
For our basic training and ITR training it was all done with the M-1 Garand rifle in 1961.
I also attended Communications & Electronics School classes at MCRD San Diego, CA. and do remember the saying we memorized to recall the resistor color code... "BBROYGBVGW... Get Some Now". That was a long time ago.
Semper Fi Marines,
Cpl. G. Bradshaw
1961 - 1965
Which Was Normally Zero
I went through Parris Island, mostly with Plt 383 graduating in December 1961 after which we were bussed right to ITR long enough to stow our gear then depart for Christmas leave. We were told in PI that we were the 1st series to train with the M-14. Like others have noted, they were issued stinking of Cosmoline, and in need of extra attention on our part. If I recall, our DI told us, via his connections and out of the goodness of his heart, he had them steam cleaned before we got them. (Mess hall most likely). But, they were not inspection ready, so we had to work on that and all managed to get rid of any remaining traces of the Cosmoline, and the usual unacceptable specs of grit, grime and corruption your friendly DI didn't want to see. Just because they were new, didn't mean they were dirty. If I recall we spent time outside at the laundry racks using soap, water and elbow grease.
I don't think anyone mentioned the bigger pain in the azs. The stock. Since we were the 1st to have these rifles, we weren't handed off, nice shiny wooden stocks. The wood on a new rifle was dry, and lifeless. And that wouldn't cut it. So we were introduced to the wonders of Linseed Oil and hours and hours of working it into the wood until they did properly shine & to the benefit of the 2nd series to get them after we left.
The other problem for us (and the DIs) were the moving parts, e.g. the bolt, springs and such which weren't moving too well. Things were tight and had to be broken in. Limbered up. I remember being right next to one of our shorter recruits who tried to smartly open his bolt to present his now shiny new rifle to our DI... but ended up in a wrestling match with his M14. Nothing would budge. Our DI losing patience (which was normally zero) snatched the rifle away with a sneer, planning to show this puny recruit how to properly present his rifle for inspection. I think he just about got a hernia trying to demonstrate the right way it should be done, but... nothing would move. I think he even shared some choice words and opinions on sending him rifles not broken in. So he slammed the butt to the deck, and repeatedly drove the bolt open with his foot (Slam! Slam! Slam!) until he thought it would behave and threw it back to the recruit... who then did much better.
Like others who wrote about being on the front end of the M14 arriving on the scene, we went to ITR where we were issued, some very well used (decrepit) M1s. Why mess up brand new rifles in ITR?
After ITR, I went to my unit (2nd Amtracs) in about Feb 1962. You then got some sense of what a big deal introducing a new rifle model meant. People don't like change, and the older hands didn't at all like the idea of giving up their beloved M1's. As a recent boot, there was some irony here. An exception to the rule. We came in, trained on the M14, had experience using and qualifying with it, and not many others in the Battalion had any at all. I got all kinds of questions about how they compared, which I really couldn't answer. All I really knew was an M14 & I barely qualified. Show me metrics and I'll show you behavior. What the issue really was all about, is qualifying with this new thing... something you were not comfortable with, that may screw up your score on the range. Everyone who never qualified with an M14 had that underlying fear of not qualifying... or losing Expert status. So the general consensus, with some exceptions, was the M1 was a better rifle... etc. etc. I think I read somewhere, when the M1 came on the scene, replacing the Springfield? The reaction was much the same, b-tching about moving out of your comfort zone, and likely repeated when the M16 arrived on the scene.
But as you know... everyone got over it and adjusted, and the impact came out in the wash. Most likely some qualification scores took a hit, but most likely, some likely improved.
Pearly Gates Joke
While waiting outside the Pearly Gates, a Soldier, a Sailor, an Airman, and a Marine got into an arguument about which of the armed forces was the best. Saint Peter butts in and tells them to cool it... he'll ask God and get back to them. The next time they see Saint Peter, he's got a letter in his hand, and he reads to them aloud:
TO: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines...
RE: Which Service Is Best
Dear members of the armed forces,
I've been watching and here's what I think. All branches of the United States Armed Forces are truly honorable, courageous, well trained, and capable.
Therefore, there is no superior service.
God, USMC (Ret.)
NAME: Robert xxxxxxx
"My brother is a Marine, he passed away a couple of years ago. He never got his NCO sword, so I purchased the real one, not the one intended for display, from your store, and it was interred with my brother."
To Hear Silence
Although this book is about the 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines and its supporting artillery unit, Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 13th Marines, the experiences were the same for every Vietnam combat Marine. Since this book was published it has helped several Marines express what they couldn't put into words before. It has given many families an understanding of what their loved ones went through so many years ago.
My hope in writing this book is that it will also help others in the same way. To all those who served and to all those families who had loved ones who served, I salute you.
R. W. Hoffman USMC
Get this book at:
To Hear Silence: Charlie Battery 1st Battalion 13th Marines: The First 15 Months
View other books written by Marines!
Gee, The Second Recruit Said
The stories about "the Old Corps" and many. Some are probably even true! In writing my new book, EXCITEMENT! Shot At And Missed, I described the term in this way (from the Acknowledgements page of the book):
Marines are proud of our history, which is thoroughly taught to all who traverse and complete Recruit Training, known proudly to all who have passed through the gates at MCRD as 'boot camp'. Another endearing term, 'the Old Corps', dates back to that November day in 1775 when the Continental Congress directed the Navy to create two battalions of Continental Marines.
The first recruit sat at a table in Tun Tavern, drinking ale in celebration of his enlistment. Fifteen minutes later, the second enlistee approached and sat down. "Gee," the second recruit said, shaking his head in awe, "I've heard that this here Marine Corps is some tough outfit! Is it really as hard as they say?"
The first recruit nodded his head, raised his tankard, squinted his eyes and stated, sagely, "Boot, you think it's tough today?" He paused, chuckled and shook his head as he took another drink. He paused again then, shaking his head slowly once more for effect, he continued, "This ain't nothin' compared to what it were like in the 'Old Corps'!"
To those Marines who have gone before, and those who serve today, thank you for your service and dedication. Marines are proud of being Marines. There are no ex-Marines. The Corps leaves a lasting impression upon all who proudly hold the title of United States Marine! The motto, Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful), is etched into our hearts and souls. Some say Marines are overbearing, pompous egotists. Well, we don't think it's egotistical to be proud of our accomplishments!
Semper Fi, Marines & Merry Christmas!
Going Home Was A Bad Idea
Read the post submitted by Cpl Spilleth and of course, brought back memories. Four months after I entered Parris Island, I was given 20 days leave. Going home was a bad idea. The Black Panthers and The Students For A Democratic Society had taken over the Cornell University administration building and Willard Straight Hall. My older brother was doing his second tour in Nam (Marine) and my younger brother was a 15 year old 'hippy'. He begged me not to wear my uniform while on leave. I was proud of the fact that I graduated with my original platoon let alone earning my EGA. I wore my uniform. I was in seven fist fights in 13 days just because I wore my uniform. It was never one against one. These so called patriots who protested what I represented tried to hurt me. I left after 13 days and went to Ohio to finish my leave with my boot camp 'bunky', Pvt Bill Eyler.
Later, in Vietnamese Language School, Monterey, DLIWC, we were ordered to not wear our uniforms on liberty. I could not comprehend why I and my comrades in arms, were the bad guys? I was given another 20 days home on leave. The SDS and Black Panthers still controlled Cornell and my home town Police were ordered to stand down. They did not want another Kent State to happen. Again my younger brother begged me not to wear my uniform. He did not understand what it took to actually earn the right to wear it. More fights. I cut short my leave time by 10 days and reported to Staging Battalion. Thirteen months later I was back in my home town. Same deal. Fighting every day. Pres Nixon declared the SDS and the BP as terrorist groups 2 years earlier. Took my 20 days home on leave. Fights every day. Reported to LeJeune, was put in charge of 268 Marines, loaded on cattle cars, and sent to Washington DC for the 1971 Memorial Day war protests. The Marines with me were dispersed to other units there. The entire 2nd Marine Division was there. I doubt there were more than 100 Marines guarding Camp LeJeune. Marines were never given any credit for that operation and as usual, no Marine gave a rats patou about that except for the fact we were out numbered 500,000 to 8 thousand Marines. The 19 thousand Washington, DC law enforcement members were given all the credit. The real truth was that 2 Marine Sgts unleashed their platoons and kicked ass. I warned my platoon commander that I would unleash my Marines if one more rock, lit cigarette, broken glass, spit, etc. was thrown at my Marines. We had empty M16s' and no shields. I was relieved of duty on the spot. Half hour later the 'riot' began. Lasted 2 days and the other 42 days they were O.K.
Upon return to LeJeune,I was greeted with orders to Vieques, PR. I could have refused those orders since I just returned from Westpac but decided to accept them because LeJeune was too petty for me. Had another riot in Vieques. Seven permanent based Marines ran into 15 members of Hotel 2/6 at a bar, who were there for war games. Got into the discussion of who ruled the roost in Vieques. The discussion spilled into the streets and about 60 Ricans wanted to join the discussion. Of course we (Marines) put our discussion aside and demonstrated to the Ricans why Marines ruled Vieques. Twenty-two of us went back to base laughing and joking how one sided the discussion was although out numbered 3 to 1. Next thing you know we were on base lockdown for 2 weeks until everything cooled down. The local police hid at the Officers Club. I returned to LeJeune to receive my discharge. I was offered Drill Instructor School and 2 other jobs plus $10k to stay in the Corps. But, as Clint Eastwood once quipped in a movie "A man must know his limitations", I took my discharge. I honor and respect all Marines but a special oohrah goes out to the men and women who made the defense of our government their career.
Sgt AJ Manos
PS: To any Marine who served with me, you may email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 818 570-4382. After 37 years away, I once again came home to Ithaca, N.Y. two months ago.
Still remember the call from the D.I. "fall out with guns, knives, water bottles and bundles."
SSgt JACK GRIMM
Plt. 29, San Diego March 1948
Reading your eyes right and other memorable quotes from Parris Island... I remember lining up at different times for whatever reasons... our Drill Instructor would instruct us to line up tight... "azshole to bellybutton"... some things you never forget... also had to line up "alphafucxingbetically"... they had a special way with words.
"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglects the care of it? Well what if he neglects the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills."
--Thomas Jefferson, 
"There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."
--George Washington, 1793
"We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals."
--George Washington, 1786
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
"The battle of Iwo Island has been won. The United States Marines by their individual and collective courage have conquered a base which is as necessary to us in our continuing forward movement toward final victory as it was vital to the enemy in staving off ultimate defeat. By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
--Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
"Road Guards Out!"
"Didn't I tell you people you had your last laugh the first time you laid eyes on me?"
"Drop it... and you die by squat thrusts"
Fair winds and following seas.