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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 16 APR 2015

In this issue:
• Major Rich Risner
• WWII Marines
• All The Way To Tijuana

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The attached images show Marine Wounded Warrior Lead Clinician Jimmy Craig (Cpl. USMC-R) as he instructs umpires from the Marine Wounded Warrior Battalion-East at the Palm Beach Challenge. Marine Appreciation Day sponsored by The Semper Fi Fund and Sgt. Grit. Six Sergeants - Boles, Rogers, Dean, Bletcher, Simmonds, Mauro. These Marines will become instructor qualified and will help us reach full Marine implementation and direction.

Daniel J. Weikle

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USMC Semper Fidelis Red T-shirt


So Called Dummy Round

Sgt. Grit,

In 1950, I was going to Small Arms Ordnance School in Quantico, Virginia. We were being taught the Functions and repair of Small Arms which included the M1911 .45 Pistol up to and including the 75mm Recoiless Rifle. While we were Learning the 75mm Recoiless rifle we had an Empty Casing, regarded as a 75mm Recoiless Dummy casing. During a break, we all were looking over the 75 and playing with the Dummy casing (we didn't have a complete dummy round) and I opened the 75 breech block which laid back flat so the rifle could be loaded. The Dummy 75mm round was bent around the mouth and couldn't be loaded into the rifle. I had the breech block open and sat the (so called) dummy round on the OPEN breech block, twisted the safety on the trigger and pressed the trigger button. A LOUD BLAST went off. I rolled off the table because I was holding the 75 casing on the breech block, the room was filled with Smoke, Officers and Senior NCO's in seconds. I was taken to Sick Bay to see if there was any damage to me and the only thing that kept me from being the Goat of this incident was the fact that the Ammunition Section had provided the (so called) blank (with a live Primer) so the Ammunition Section got the blast on my screw up. AH, the days of our Youth.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired


Major Rich Risner

​In honor of all our Marines who served in Vietnam, I submitted the following to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation:

On 20 August 1968, while serving with the MAG-12 Civic Action Team in Chu Lai, RVN, our leader, Major Rich Risner, was captured by the enemy. We were on a mission to deliver school supplies to the village of Khuong Quang when the Major and I got separated as he returned to our vehicles to meet another Army Major who was the Ly Tin District Advisor. Waiting for him to return for over 30 minutes, I left our group already in route to the village while I went back to find Major Risner. To my dismay he was nowhere to be seen and was later listed as Missing in Action. Three days later he was spotted on Highway One about 6 km south of Chu Lai by an Army MP who returned him to our group HQ. During his three day ordeal he had been interrogated, tortured and subjected to humiliating treatment that included dislocating both his shoulders and smashing his toes with a hammer to keep him from escaping. While being blindfolded with hands tied in front he was being led to a POW camp in Cambodia when he made a daring escape killing two of his captors. His training and determination guided him back to his unit where we all celebrated his return. Decorated with a Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts he was a true hero who left this earth in 2005 always haunted by his ordeal.

I salute him and all of my Marine brothers, some of whom never made it home. Semper Fidelis.

Gene Hays
MSgt, USMC Retired
Author and Historian


He Was Just Resting

In 1960, I was Sgt. of The Guard at a camp on Okinawa when I observed a guard asleep in a jeep with his hand on the muzzle of his M-1. Knowing he would deny being asleep I lifted his hand off the weapon and gently let hang down. Now I had his rifle, removed the trigger housing group and pocketed it, then I woke him up. He of course said he was just "resting". I replied, "Get out now and patrol this motor pool!" (Plus the popular expletives of the day). When he slung his M-1 up on his shoulder he realized it was in two parts, hanging down his side. I could see his red face and embarrassment even in the semi-darkness. After a little pleading from him I said, "You owe me a beer or two, get going." After all, it was peacetime in a friendly country.​


WWII Marines

Sgt Grit,

I know WWII Marines are a thinning heard, but there are still some of us around. Maybe not enough of us for Sgt Grit to feature the era. Even if we won't be around long, our grand children and great-Grand children enjoy the history of old Grandpa.

Thanks,
Bud

Note: OK... I get this type of email occasionally. I, Sgt Grit, write nothing. This newsletter is for and by YOU! If YOU do not send me stories you will not see stories about your era, unit, war, location, platoon etc...

I always respond to this type of email asking for a story. In twenty years of doing this I do not remember one story coming back. If you don't see something about your famous Third Combat Mess Gear Repair Battalion it is because you didn't send something in. Almost all stories sent to me get published. So get off your lazy azs put your fingers to the key board and write me. You enjoy reading everyone else's story, they will enjoy reading yours. Do it now!

Semper Fi!
Sgt Grit

And by the way, we have several WWII contributors. GySgt Rousseau being the most prolific.


The Kukri Machete KA-BAR

Dear Sgt. Grit,

I bought a pair of your Ka-Bars... one the Marine Corps Combat knife, the other a Kukri Nepalese Machete. The Combat Knife is just a sacred artifact of the Corps. This letter is to comment on the Kukri.

The balance of the Kukri is stunning... the grip solid and perfect. And the edge of the Kukri is something one doesn't want to trifle with, a casual brush lifted the tip of a finger and the surface of my bib overalls. But, I'm not b-tching.

In my City of New Haven, Indiana, we have a "Greenway" trail that goes through an ancient, deep woods. Many of the trees are draped in either wild grape, or world class poison ivy. As you might guess the latter makes it less than desirable for many people. So, I decided to engage in a bit of Guerilla Maintenance... chopping sections out of the poison ivy to kill it. The folks at Parks and Rec. are thrilled. The tool of choice, of course, is the Kukri. Today I harvested the stalk of a 3-5/8 inch diameter vine {the vine from hell}.

No, I'm not nuts... but I am a former Staff Sgt. of Marines. Nearly 30 years ago, following a horrid accident and many transfusions, I acquired an immunity to P.I. which I formerly did not have. Since I can handle it with impunity I figured I should help my neighbors, starting in deep snow, moving now to the greening of the 5-acre wood.

The shape of the Kukri is magnificent... and the steel of the blade is magical, it will take and hold an edge through chopping on the tree, or in the dirt {not a good idea for blade longevity}. I am so impressed I had to let you know. What you sell isn't an illusion... it's the real deal... which means that I can respect you like I do my Corps.

Thanks, Sgt. Grit, for making my belief make sense.

S/Sgt. Tim Doyle

Get your hands on your own Kukri at:

Kukri Machete KA-BAR


You Grew Into It

Sgt. Grit,

My First Issue of Greens were compared by the DI and made sure Blouse and Trousers were the same hue (color). I never realized just how much some Marines worked at being a MARINE. Being a Marine to some is enlisting, going to boot camp and wearing the Uniform. I knew Old Marines that made sure everything was the same. In those days we didn't have back pockets, to keep a flat front you carry your cigarettes and wallet in your socks. The blouse looked like you grew into it, the Leather Belt was shined like the shoes, the trousers had a sharp edge running down the front, we didn't have to steal Girls from the Swab Jocks Or Army, they came readily because nothing in this world looks as good as a Marine Squared away, Standing Tall with a Bearing and look on his face of complete control of his day and time.

We had survey in those days and I surveyed my Green Trousers at least twice due to splits in the creases from being ironed so many times. My pay was $50.00 month with $6.35 taken for GI Insurance and I sent home $25.00 month savings. I was young and dumb in those days until I realized it cost more than $20 a month to exist in the Marine Corps at the time. In 1947, I got Married in my Greens, our wedding picture is fading now but you can still see the Greens and the Beautiful dress my Wife wore and 3 ribbons on my blouse, Pacific Theater, Asiatic Theater of War w/2 stars, Victory Ribbon. I learned later we had been awarded the Presidentual and the Naval Unit Citations.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired


All The Way To Tijuana

MCRD, San Diego, 1955. Platoon 157 & 1/2.

That's what our squad was called one day while marching back to our Quonset huts after drill practice on the grinder. Reason was, us feather merchants at the rear of the platoon could not execute correctly the command, "Squads, Right About". There was always someone scr-wing up. Our DI was so p-ssed he wanted nothing to do with us so he positioned our squad about six feet behind the rest of the platoon when marching back to our area. We finally got our sh-t together but during final drill competition our stack of rifles fell during "Stack Arms". Some Pvt tried to align the stack more evenly with the rest of the field of stacked rifles and boom, there they go. Seemed that the noise of the rifles falling carried all the way to Tijuana. We survived however and were Honor Platoon for the series. Semper Fi!

GySgt G.R. Archuleta
Never Retired, Always a Marine

Post Script: In 1963 & 64 I was assigned to 1st Comm Provisional Company, HQ.Bn.,3dMarDiv at Camp Hauge, Okinawa. Does anybody out there know what happened to 1st Comm? I tried Googling with no results. Any info appreciated.​


My Trigger Has Been Squeezed

Once again my trigger has been squeezed. This time not only by Ddick but also GySgt. F. L. Rousseau. GySgt. Rousseau relates the story of turning a prisoner over to the brig and what a eye opening experience that was, I was also involved in the same scenario and came to the same conclusion, I wouldn't want to spend any time in the Brig! The Brig was in Alameda (I think) and it was around 0100 on 1-1-63 the other chaser and I then continued to T.I. As we went through the gate we were waved through by a very smart Marine guard. The next day with our liberty card in hand we headed for town and as we went out of the same gate, there was NO ONE on the gate! Seems the base security detail had been turned over to the Navy! I never felt secure for the next three days I was there.

​ John Selders


Still Remember My Rifle Number

Read Malcolm Forbes letter and I agree with him.

I also went to P.I. in December '54 and was in Platoon 470, graduated Depot Honor platoon, Assistant D.I. Named Sgt. Callahan. Forget the Sr. D.I., but he had a great cadence and did Squad drills all the time.

Would you believe I still remember my rifle number 4278347... (60 years later). I even married a Woman Marine. My Brother, a Marine, and uncles who were at Saipan in WW2, both made it through and one still kicking today. Ornery cuss.

Once a Marine, always a Marine, I guess. Not worrying about a call up any more tho'!

Semper Fi, Malcolm!

George Engel,
1478XXX


Only A Marine

I work security - at our site - I was called on my radio and told to see the head of security at another building ASAP. I went to look for my boss and found him in front of a flagpole on a chilly windy day, and he needed help to replace (2) flags on the pole that morning. We lowered one flag and then the American Flag. We raised the bottom flag - then the new American Flag. The old American Flag was taken into one of the buildings and he asked me to help him fold the old American Flag. I instructed him in the proper way to fold the Flag of our Country. He could have asked anyone - but he commented - "Only a Marine can do this task properly!"

None of the flags touched the deck on my watch!

Bruce Bender
CPL 1963-1967
Vietnam Era Veteran


Read The Obit

About a month ago, I found a plastic-encased obit in the "mail" box for items to be posted on the bulletin boards in our "park". I didn't look too closely, & figured it was someone from the park who had died & a relative or friend wanted the info posted. After about 2 weeks I figured I'd take it down as enough time had passed. Then I actually read the obit. It was for a man who had died several years ago. I felt real foolish. But I also noticed that he was a veteran, and he had a son who lived in Clermont, Florida. I checked out the White Pages online and found the son, and stuck the obit in an envelope with a little note as to where it was found, and mentioning that my husband & I were both veterans (Marine Corps, of course), signing only my initial and last name. Well, in today's mail a small padded envelope arrived, and I thought it was for my husband. I didn't notice how it was addressed, & gave it to my husband with his mail. He opened it, then asked me if I knew the person who sent the envelope. I didn't recognize the name, but when I read the note inside, I realized who it was. The son had written a nice note. It seems that he is a Marine (on civilian duty, don't ya know), and a veteran of Vietnam (2 tours), and was touched by my taking the time to return the obit. He said he didn't know how it came to be in Orlando, Florida. He also enclosed 2 golf ball markers with the Eagle Globe & Anchor on them for my kindness, and closed with "If I can ever be of service to help let me know."

Thank you, Mr. Hegg, for your service. Semper Fidelis!

Sharon Hill
1965-1967​


Found My Drill Instructor

Sgt. Grit,

I went through Parris Island in 1962, Plt. 352. I just found my Drill Instructors about five months ago. My Senior DI was Staff Sgt. Flynn, mustang over and retired as a Captian, lives in Ca. My junior DI was Sgt. Carswell, he also mustang over and retired as a Major. He lives in Tenn. I talk to them once or twice a week. I had two other DI's. Sgt. Joyce, which was promoted to Gunny, was killed in Vietnam and awarded the Silver Star. Then there was Sgt. Lee, which I have no clue where he is. God Bless them all.

Cpl. Girvin
xxxx872​


Khe Sanh

Semper Fi,

On the evening of November 30, 2014, I and two friends attended the showing of "Bravo" a movie about Bravo Co. and the 77-day siege of Khe Sanh. The movie took 5-years of research, and was produced and made about the history of the 77-day siege, by Ken and Betty Rodgers, and was well done. It had actual film footage that was taken at Khe Sanh, reports given by Marines who were there and took part in the action and is 118 minutes long. This is an outstanding report and as Ken Rodgers states, "I believe the film speaks for all veterans, time and again we have seen people transformed by this story, people suffering from mental fatigue of combat, people who have other battles in their lives, and people who have no idea what we ask of our military servicemen and women."

I had the honor of attending the film with two friends who were highly decorated Marine Veterans of Vietnam, one was Jon Sprison who received two purple hearts, and the other was Ricardo Figueroa a member of the 1/9 "Walking Dead" and received three Purple Hearts, and as they commented, any Veteran who served in Vietnam is a "Hero". The "Egyptain Theratre" in Boise Idaho was packed full of veterans and guests, wanting to see the film, we all had a great time talking to each other before and after the film, I can only say it was worthwhile, a few other showings will be in our area and information can be obtained from Ken at "bravotheproject.com". All proceeds from the show went to the Ada County Veterans' Court & Idaho Ceterans' Network.

Thank you and again Semper Fi,
James L Murrell
Cpl USMC


Great Pick-Up Place

While on Recruiting Duty in Detroit in the 1950's there was a plan to Recruit a Platoon of Detroit Marines. They would be sent to Parris Island as a Group and Boot Trained as such. I visited Family's to talk the Parents to sign for their son. They flew the entire Platoon down to PI in old DC-3's. There was a place in the center of Town where the Transportation People turned over to us a Booth they had. I worked the Booth several times. As far as I know we never recruited a soul from there but it was a Great Pick-up Place for the Single Marines because as I remember it was mostly girls that visited the booth. My tour of Duty was Two Years, I never went back on Recruiting Duty again and was thankful for that, Independent Duty wasn't all it was cracked up to be as I saw it. I was Promoted to Staff Sgt. Shortly after Returning to Regular Duty at Camp LeJeune, being a 2100 MOS I figured it was Recruiting Duty that got me that Promotion.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau,
USMC Retired​


Cpl Blackburn Last Week

In the newsletter of 8 April, Alex Dimitrew posts a purported official document regarding the heroic actions of Marine CPL Alvin L. Blackburn, asking if it's true. This 'sea story' has been floating around for about 10 years or more... and it has been debunked.

In the accompanying 'statements' by the alleged survivors, there are references to how these Recon Marines made a parachute jump, used a BAR and other obsolete weapons (the BAR was gone by 1968), to name but a few technical and historical errors. The names of the KIAs do not appear on The Wall and there's no record of Blackburn being awarded any major combat decorations. There is no officer named William W. White and, according to one source, a Marine located through the FOIA named Alvin Blackburn appears to have been a personnel clerk for his entire career.

There's numerous references to this tall tale all across the Marine-related Internet sites. I put this out there with the story of Old Ironsides sinking British ships for rum (we weren't at war with England at the time), prayers for the "Blackhorse" Marines killed (the names of the KIAs are US Army + one British soldier) or Obama's forged birth certificate and Muslim faith.


​Probably apocryphal... not likely that a Colonel would recommend a MOH just in the closing paragraph of what purports to be an investigation... At the time, there was a standard format for investigations, which, from memory, started out with a paragraph (or two), citing the authority calling for the investigation, then a synopsis of what was being investigated, followed by "findings of fact" (these had to be backed up with evidence), then another section wherein opinions were rendered... these had to be identified as such, and drawn from/or supported by, the findings of fact, and finally, a recommendation as to further action... in the case of a violation of orders, would usually include a charge sheet or sheets. The typing, smudges, corrections, and mimeograph are well done, and pretty much representative of admin papers... long before IBM Selectric typewriters, word processors the size of desks, etc... and never mind 'death by Power Point'...

A MOH (or any other valor award) recommendation would require supporting info... etc.

Note: Sorry for the bogus story. It happens occasionally. Over the years we have gotten pretty good at sniffing them out. But not all.

Sgt Grit


Quonset huts, Graduation, and Range Flags

In the article from Graig "I Wandered Around for a While", appears to have taken place in 2010. Here is a general time frame when the Quonset huts were removed from the depot.

All the Quonset huts located in the 1st, and 3rd Battalion area were removed by 1974, leaving only the concrete forms the huts rested on. And during 1974 through 1975, the concrete foundations and asphalt streets were removed for reconstruction and renovation in the area. During this period, the Correctional Custody Platoon used some of the forms for hard labor swinging sixteen pound sludge hammers making small stones, from large ones: the end product was gravel. The gravel was used for walkways, roads, and parking lots that still exist today.

By 1976, most of the 2nd Battalion huts were removed to make way for "Recruit Hilton Hotels". There are about a dozen huts left just north of the parade deck, behind the reviewing stand and across the street from recruit receiving center. Which by the way is "OFF LIMITS". After fifty-five years, those are the huts that remain, and only a few are left at Camp Pendleton. Attached is a current photo of just a few of the Quonset huts left at MCRD.

During the mid-sixties and early seventies, I completed two tours as a Drill Instructor at San Diego (hope you noticed I didn't say Hat). Most of it with "A" Company, and it sadden me to see the Quonset hut of "A" Company disappear.

As late as 1959 and until 1970, graduation ceremonies took place at the base theater composing of two parts. First, the inside ceremonies consisted of introductions, passing out awards, meritorious promotions, and the commencement by the Battalion Commanding Officer. Then to the outside where the series formed in front of the theater to retire the platoon guidons, and the recruits were dismissed for base liberty. In the olden-days, for most of the young Marines, the next day after graduation the series was bused to Camp Pendleton for four weeks of training at 2nd Infantry Training Regiment. Only then were they granted about ten days of leave to go home.

Range flag depended on the flexibility of the company, where the platoon drew up their own flag, and attached it to the platoon staff. Normally once the platoon returned from the range the flag was retired. However, if the platoon did exceptionally well on the range, the platoon was permitted to fly it up until the seventh week inspection. Not sure what was permitted at Parris Island, but I assume it was permissible.

If by chance you happen to see Gunny Lee Ermey, go ahead and shake his hand. He would be glad to meet you, and exchange in some sea stories of old.

Herb Brewer
1st Sgt, (RET)


Every Word Was A Lie

In response to "Operation Hastings" by A Former Hat, GySgt USMC (Ret) in the 9 April 2015 newsletter.

More than a few of our members of India Company, 3/5 were disgusted at the entry which pertained to us in your last newsletter. The author of the entry obviously did not participate in Operation Hastings. Every word was a lie. Simple as that.

We've all experienced such people over the years, perfectly being defined in the book "Stolen Valor", but this time this person tread on sacred ground when he claimed such nonsense. His words bordered on blasphemy, tarnishing the memories of all the good men we lost those days. We few who have so far responded among ourselves to his entry have decided it's up to me personally to kick his worthless azs. I'm old and fat, but I think I'm up to it.

If he asks for my contact information please give it to him.

Semper Fidelis,
Joe Holt
Email: joep0331[at]aol.com
India Company 3/5 1966


Marine Recruit: Tears In The Sand

"Marine Recruit: Tears in the Sand" is an epic novel of Marine Corps boot camp (San Diego). A compelling unabridged account of recruit training as told by the Drill Instructor.

Author of Chronicles of a Marine Rifleman, Retired 1st Sergeant Herb Brewer, USMC, now brings to life this outstanding all-encompassing witty honest, caringly brutal, human, and timeless narrative. Combining two stories into one, he takes you all the way from the grueling view of the recruit to the panoramic mission and perspective of the Drill Instructor.

At MCRD, you can count on two things the recruit is green, the Marine Drill Instructor is legendary. First Sergeant Brewer captures the essences and awareness of what it means to be both.

Marine Recruit is a rare and unparalleled look into MCRD. Enter now the revered birthplace of the Marine where every Drill Instructor was once a recruit.

Get the dust jacket hardcover copy of this book at "Marine Recruit: Tears in the Sand".


Events

This is the first ride of what will become an annual Event. We are honoring Sergeant Major "Hashmark" Johnson and the Montford Point Marines who dedicated their lives to the defense of our Nation. Hashmark was one of the First African Americans to join the Corps and one of the First African American Marine Corps Drill Instructors. Your Participation will support our building and scholarship fund. Share this with your friends and every rider you know. Semper Fi!

Ralph "Hawk" Jones
Capt USMC
National Montford Point Marine Association
Chapter #42
Greenville, MS
Email: ralph.hawk.jones[at]gmail.com


Lost And Found

Plt 1149, MCRD San Diego, 1970. Anybody out there?

Former Cpl R. Rivera​


Sgt Grit,

I was hoping that you might put this request in one of your future newsletters. This year and next starts a series of 50 year reunions and anniversaries for me so I thought I might try to put together a few of my own. These will mean more than some of the ones I'll be attending except for my 50th wedding anniversary. I would like to contact any graduate of "Warrant Officer Basic Class 79" especially from "I Company" 79.

In addition any recruit or Drill Instructors from Platoon 2063, MCRD Parris Island graduated 5 Oct 1966.

Especially from the following Drill Instructors:

S/Sgt (now SgtMaj) M. P. Martin
S/Sgt M. D. Fazio (Uncle Mike)
Sgt S. A. Downes

Capt. T. L. Johnson, Jr.
United States Marine Corps Ret.


Short Rounds

To Dick Martell... I graduated 24 March 1966... Platoon 127... our Senior DI was SSGT W.M. Martin, the only D.I. that did NOT touch me... and he scared me more than the Junior D.I.s. He was a d-mn good D.I.

Mark Gallant
L/Cpl '66-'69
Chu Lai '68​


Sgt Grit,

Love this website! Will stay on point with it as time flies by.

SEMPER FI Always... My Bros!

Another Short man in the tall grass '66-'67.


Quotes

"At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a nation; and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own."
--George Washington, Letter to the Governors, 1783


"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom."
--Albert Einstein


"A Ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons."
--Adm. David Dixon Porter, USN in a letter to Colonel Commandant John Harris, USMC, 1863


"The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand."
--Attributed to Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)


​

"Keep Your Powder Dry!"

"Gimme a huss!"

"SQUAT THRUSTS, UNTIL MY MOTHER IN LAW DIES!"

​Gung Ho!
Sgt Grit

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