Sgt Grit Newsletter - 23 JUL 2015

In this issue:
• The Night I Believed I Was...
• Operation Silver Lance
• A Marine’s Marine and a crack DI

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Semper Fi,
Pfc. R O Berg--1472xxx


The Night I Believed I Was Going To Die

Boot Camp MCRD San Diego – May 1966

While we were double timing on one of the base streets one afternoon. I was allowed to run beside the platoon and call out the songs because my voice was very loud and I could make up stuff as we ran.

At one point a rival platoon from the company street next to ours was seen in the distance running towards us. They had one of the largest Drill Instructors I had ever seen running beside them calling cadence. The night before was one of those rare times when it had rained slightly and there were some puddles in the middle of the street. I could not resist this opportunity. I waited until the exact moment the rival platoon and their DI was opposite ours and I did a “give me your left foot.”

Due to the perfect execution of this command a beautiful wall of water covered a significant number of the rival Marines including their DI. The DI stopped his platoon and my platoon and began to express his displeasure to me in a way that only a DI can do properly. I, of course, believed my insignificant life was about to end. I was ordered to double time around my own platoon when we started again. Our DI turned us onto a side street and stopped our platoon. At this point our DI and our platoon members congratulated me and I was immediately restored to my position of calling out the songs. It was a great moment. I still laugh about it but when I tell the story I still remember that I thought my life would truly end on a street at MCRD in May 1966

David B. Singleton


D-mn Fine Pilot

Regarding the submission by Robert Bliss on the enlisted pilot. In 1966 I was flying from Iwakuni MCAS to Danang on an old Korean war vintage plane, I think a C-54 but not sure. I was with MAG-15 at the time and was not real fond of flying back then and that old plane had me a little nervous. It was pouring rain also and that didn't help matters much. We took off and as we climbed the plane appeared to fill with smoke. Needless to say I was ready to open the hatch and jump without a parachute. There was a Lt. Col. with pilot's wings sitting near me and must have seen the look on my face and he said take it easy it is just condensation from the moist air forming from the pressure change as we gained altitude. About an hour later I noticed the pilot getting out of his seat in the cockpit and as he walked to the rear of the plane I noticed he was wearing Master Sergeant's chevrons. I asked the Lt. Col. about this and he said that this was the last enlisted pilot in the Corps and that during WWII and Korea that it was not unusual for enlisted to become pilots.

The Col. also said he was a d-mn fine pilot and had turned down a chance to become an officer to remain enlisted. Later I was allowed to go up to the cockpit and sit in the co-pilot's seat and and talk to the Master Sgt. He was a nice guy and and we spent about an hour talking about flying. He was very gracious about answering all my questions and put me at ease. It was kind of ironic that the plane was full of officer pilots being transferred to Vietnam and beingflown there by an enlisted pilot.

Cpl. Howard Nethery
'65-'68


Operation Silver Lance

We’re all getting older, memories fading, somewhat forgetful, and trying to share the best knowledge we can before the bugle sounds. I have always encouraged everyone to record their memoirs, if nothing else for their families. But on Operation Silver Lance and Steel Pike, Both Master Gunnery Sergeant Jim Mackin, and the Sergeant Major were technically correct.

Reinforcing our commitment to our allies of NATO, Operation Steel Pike was the largest peacetime amphibious landing exercise in the European theater since World War II, consisting of 84 ships and 28,000 Marines in November, 1964.

Operation Silver Lance was conceived by Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak during the period of 19 February 1965 through 12 March 1965. The objective was to prepare the Marine Corps for its war in Vietnam. Silver Lance consisted of 70,000 Sailors and Marines, and 80 ships.

It was to be the largest operation ever held on the west coast with a contingency of 31,000 Marines. It was to include 6,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Brigade out of Hawaii, and would have been the first time the 4th Marine ever set foot on U. S. soil since the end of World War II. They never made it to the shores of Camp Pendleton: reducing the III Marine Expeditionary Corps to 28,000 Marines from Pendleton. A difference of four ships between the two operations.

In route to the Operation Silver Lance, the 4th Marines with its complementary forces, were ordered to Okinawa, and then to Vietnam to continue the buildup of American Forces in Vietnam. On 14 April 1965, the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines made an amphibious landing at Da Nang on Red Beach 2.

Fifty-five miles to the south, the 1st and 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines; supported by 3rd Recon Battalion; and 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines (Artillery) landed on 7 May 1965, to provide security for the construction of Chu Lai Airfield. On 12 May 1965, the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines landed to reinforce the security of the airfield. As predicted by General Krulak, twenty five days later Chu Lai Airfield became operational during the first week of July 1965.

Currently my information shows that the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines TAOR was in and around the Da Nang area, and never participated in the Chu Lai Enclave region.

By the end of 8 July 1965, there were over thirty thousand Marines deployed to Vietnam. Including supporting arms, air wing groups, service support groups, and heavy equipment support. The war continued for ten years after the first landing in Vietnam.

References used were:
1. Victor H. Krulak, First to Fight, An Inside View of the U. S. Marine Corps.
2. The Marines In Vietnam 1954 – 1975, An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography.
3. GySgt V. Mroz, Editor: The 1st Word, 1st Marine Division (REIN) FMF; Vol. 1. No 1; 1st Marine Division in the field; 5 Feb 1965.

Semper Fi

Herb Brewer
1st Sgt USMC (RET)


April 9, 1962

Sgt Grit,

I was looking at the following chronology:

April 9, 1962 - The leading elements of Marine Task Unit 79.3.5, a helicopter task unit codenamed Shufly commanded by Col John F. Carey arrived at Soc Trang, Republic of Vietnam.

Significance: This was the first Marine squadron-sized unit together with a small security force to deploy to Vietnam as a result of the establishment of the U.S. Military Assistance Command on February 8, 1962. They were to provide helicopter support to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in its campaign against Communist Vietnamese forces called Viet Cong (VC).

Next entry: March 8, 1965 - The 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) commanded by BGen Frederick J. Karch landed at Da Nang, Vietnam, consisting of two Marine battalions, one arriving by air and over the beach. The following day, the MEB assumed control of the Marine Task Unit 79.3.5 at Da Nang which became Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16.

Soc Trang is in the Mekong delta.

Jim


Phony Operation

Grit,

Keep up the good work. As near as I can figure "Operation Silver Lance" was a phony operation to move the 1st Marine Brigade from Hawaii and the 7th Regiment from Camp Pendleton to Viet Nam. Short version, I was in 3/11 (we supported the 7th Marines). We were going aboard ship for an Operation with the Brigade. Loaded ship at Del Mar, at night. Big top secret move. Stopped in HI for a week liberty, next stop Okinawa. 1/7 with G/3/11 landed at Chu lai around 1 Aug (give or take a week).

Of course the cat got out of the bag when we got 3 days liberty in San Diego after we got aboard ship. Big investigation who let the "cat" out of the bag. We were told not to bring civilian clothes.

To All Thank You All for your Service it wasn't a job it was an adventure.

Semper Fi
Jim Leonard
SSgt USMC (Ret)


Invasion Of The Fiji Islands

It was interesting to hear stories of the service of those veterans who have either passed on or on death bed. I read a death notice several years ago of a man who the notice said was in on the "invasion of the Fiji Islands, and that he was one of 200,000 men." That's about 12 divisions. First of all, I doubt that we ever invaded the Fiji Islands or if any troops were stationed there in any great numbers, if at all. I calledthe person who wrote the column, and she said she just wrote what the family told her. I had always thought my step-father was a gunner on a tank in the Army's 6th Armored Division during WWII. When I saw his DD214, it said his MOS was clerk-typist. Now he may have been crossed trained, but now I'll never know for sure.

I think looking at a person's DD214 would give the family, funeral director, or newspaper a good idea of the veteran's service. We all embellish stories, and sometimes when they're repeated enough they become gospel. I have no qualms about telling people I am a Marine, but I was an office pogue, or as the grunts would say: office pinkie! I was proud to serve in the 3rd Marine Division, FMF, (in the field) on Okinawa.

The only action that we had was when the Dali Lama was exiled from Tibet. For a few short hours, they had us thinking we were going to board ship. That "crisis" ended briefly.

I'm glad the readers here are calling these pretenders on their exploits.

James V. Merl
1955...
1957-1960


Close It Up

I don't want a BAR, all I wants a candy bar.

Close it up ladies, close it up, make him smile

With a clip and two rounds, lock and load.

Are there any more at home like you?

Did your mother have any children that lived?

After standing at attention for three or four minutes, That's it ladies, mill around, scratch your a-s..

What are you smiling at, do you think I'm funny, I should be on TV? followed by thump, thump....

Standing guard inside a Dempsty Dumpster..

Day #2 Whoa, whoa, stop, stop, you're not even a mob, a mob has a leader, you're a herd.

A lot of memories, ninety percent of them good.

Christmas will be 29 December this year

Bill Mc Dermott
Platoon 347
Oct 3-Dec 28 1958
Parris Island


Attitude Is Everything Day 58

Here is one of the popular Marine Corps quotes that was posted on Sgt Grit's Facebook Page this past week. 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:

Tony Russo Sr. - My sailor uncle, who was only two years older than me, use to say that the Marines were part of the Navy. My answer to him always was, "Yes, the fighting part!"

Joseph Gulli - Except for Doc. That is.

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


It Never Lets Me Down

I love this newsletter ! It never lets me down. I always read something that I can relate to and comment on. This week goes to Capt. Jinx. I here you loud and clear. Where are all of the cooks, clerk typist, supply guys etc. I remember a gunny sgt. I don't think I ever knew his name. When I was assigned to the Liberty Bridge ferry crossing on the Song Tu Bon he would cross the river a few times each day taking hot chow to the men at Phu Loc 6. He was in the process of setting up a mess at Phu Loc 6 in Mar 69' when he was killed when the hill was attacked.

I will never understand why some alpha hotels have to pretend to be something other than what they were.

I was 1371 Combat Engr. and doggone proud of it!

SEMPER FI!

Snakefighter


Enlisted 1919

To Sgt. Robert Bliss,

I, too, am a Marine veteran, having served during the 1950’s. My Uncle Millard T. Shepard was an enlisted pilot, having enlisted during 1919 and retired after 35 years of service in 1954. He served in Marine Aviation, and was one of the first pilots to receive his commission from the President of the United States. He also was awarded the Silver Star for his service during the Nicaraguan Campaign, and the Haitian Medal during the Haiti Campaign. He flew the Ford Tri-motor airplane, hauling the gearfor the pilots who made up the then-current Flying Team, and visited every chance he got. He went on to serve in the Korean war and was awarded the Legion of Merit. I am delighted to confirm that there were, indeed, Enlisted Pilots in the Marines. His picture can be seen in the camouflage album in USMC, the Complete Picture, put out by the Marine Corps Association, on page 256, second from the left. So don’t let anyone tell you that there weren’t enlisted pilots, FOR THERE WERE! My Uncle Millard died in 1982 and was buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

Semper Fi,
Autumn Day W706460


In Other Words

I retired in 1988 as a MSGT with 22 yrs of service, both active and reserve. I was the Regt Comm Chief of the 25th Marines, in Worcester, Ma.

Around June of 2008, I was on one of the Marine Corps web sites, when I noticed a request for retirees to come back on active duty to help out when the Corps was spread a little thin. I decided what the h-ll, and started to fill out the information. I completed the boxes about MOS, and Date of Rank, but the box asking for my Date of Birth didn't go back far enough, only to 1950! I clicked on that date and sent it off, keeping my fingers crossed.

About a week later, I received a package in the mail from HQ Marine Corps. Hot D-m I thought, I going back in! I opened it, and read "Dear MSGT Culliton, according to our records, you are 6 months away from your 60th birthday. At that time you will be eligible for your Reserve Retirement. Please sign where indicated, and return this form. Thank you for your service." In other words "don't call us, we'll call you!" A rude awakening!

I still have a seabag packed, and if they ever called, I'd go in a minute!

Semper Fi
Paul Culliton
MSGT USMC (ret)


Error Of Their Ways

In answer to Robert Bliss, Yes I remember several enlisted pilots in VMF 214 in Korea in 1950 and 1951. They were called “Flying Sergeants” Flying F4U Corsairs. One I remember very well was TSgt Monk Taylor, who I later ran into at Flight school in Pensacola, FL. The Marine Corps finally saw the error of their ways and commissioned him a Captain and gave him a job as a flight instructor.

The navy also had enlisted pilots during WWII and the Korean “police action”. A navy chief landed a R5D (four engines) at the half built field at Hagaru to evacuate wounded.

Semper Fi!
W. F. Mitchell


Sincerest Type Of Flattery

Dear SGT Grit!

I just read Captain Jinx’s “Isn’t Life Amusing” letter wherein he states in part, in reference to “Posers”, that he finds it humorous that 40 years ago we ‘Nam vets were considered 'persona non gratta' because we served in ‘Nam, however now, 40 years later, many of the same people who condemned us then, now want to claim that they were a part of us.

I totally agree! Life is definitely amusing!

At the risk of receiving a firestorm of vindictive, I would carry this a step further by admitting that when I read, or watch video tales of “posers”, it upsets me not at all.

Nope. Unlike so many, I don’t get violent. I don't get angry. I don't shout, foam at the mouth, or threaten, nor do I even get hot under the collar. Instead I feel complimented.

I say, “Emulate me as much as you want, I will just feel prouder and prouder."

Yup! You see, in point of fact, emulation IS the sincerest type of flattery.

Nope, and I’m not offended by anyone attempting to “steal” my valor. You see, I don’t believe that its possible for someone to steal my valor or anyone else’s for that matter.

Semper Fi,

Ron Mandell
Cpl of Marines 67-70
‘Nam 67-69
Retired Army Major


A Marine’s Marine and a crack DI

Sgt. Grit,

In reply to Joe Holt’s post regarding forbidden smiles, I recalled one time that I laughed in boot-camp in front of a DI and I paid the price. I went through Parris Island in the summer of 1981 with platoon 2063. It was one of the very first days of First Phase and Sgt. Mazenko was instructing us pukes on the proper way to make a rack. We were assembled school-circle in the rear of the squad-bay as he went through each piece of bedding. When he got to the cotton sack that covered the mattress and called it a fart-sack I broke into a face-wide grin, but I did reach up to cover my mouth. Apparently the ever so small snicker that slipped and the movement to cover my mouth was enough to alert Mazenko.

I was somewhere in the middle of the circle, but he was on me like stink on sh-t and went into one of his patented, profanity laced verbal assaults. I can’t recall it verbatim, but it was something to the effect of “Kunkel, you filthy-as-ed maggot, do I f-cking amuse you? Get on your f-cking face scumbag.” Of course I did push-ups and “bends and motherf-ckers” for what seemed like eternity, but the funny thing about Mazenko was that he actually had a hell of a sense of humor and showed it at times. Oh, he tried his best not to, but it slipped. He was in his early twenties and as such, not much older than many of us, but we did some things throughout our training that were so ridiculously stupid they were comical and he had to turn his head on many occasions so that we would not see him laugh and so that he could maintain his military bearing. He was a Marine’s Marine and a crack DI, but his weakness was that he was human and had a sense of humor and because we were so stupid at times I know he had to work hard to keep from cracking up at our stupidity. Although I never did crack a smile after that altercation, I did laugh internally and a lot of things that happened.

We had one recruit from our platoon who was from the West Indies. He worked hard to assimilate and did graduate on time with us, but there were times that he struggled. He was about 6’5” and as such stuck out from the rest of us, particularly since the DI’s had him march at the rear of the formation while most of us where organized in the squads from tallest to shortest. One day after PT, we got back from a run and they walked us under this water sprinkler contraption to help cool us down. It was on that rear lot with the dirt track over behind the Second Battalion chow-hall. Anyway, we all formed up in platoon formation afterwards, but our tall platoon mate was seen over in one of the squads of another platoon.

One of our recruits requested permission to speak to Mazenko. “Speak freak”, said Mazenko. Sir, Recruit “Jones” is over in Platoon 20XX, sir.” Mazenko looked over and started to get pissed and then turned around and said, “aaaww leave his a-s over there, let them deal with him for a while.” But once again we saw Mazenko sneak a smile as he turned around. Mazenko started to march us back to the barracks and we moved right passed the other platoon when “Jones” stole a glance our way and saw us. He was too scared to do anything so he just remained in ranks.

We “got him back” that night on free time but when he was returned to our deck Mazenko PT’d the sh-t out of him. Every time I think of this stuff today, and it’s been thirty-four years since, I still crack up laughing. I know there were more than a few things like that situation that made us laugh back then, but we were just too d-mn scared to even crack a smile especially after seeing what happened to dumb-as-es like me who did laugh, however, no matter what boot camp story I think about these days, it always brings a smile to my face. God Bless all my brother and sister Jarheads and all Marine families! Corpsman too!

PS. To all my sister Jarheads; is the term BAM still used? No offense, just asking!

Semper Fi
Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8


Annual Retiree Appreciation Day!

Camp Lejeune
Retiree Information Seminar and Health Fair
September 26 2015
0900-1400
Marston Pavilion

Guest Speakers:

* MCIEast-MCB Command Representation

* Mrs. Rawls; Director of the Winston-Salem Compensation Division

* The Honorable Congressman Walter B. Jones

* CAPT. Freedman, CO Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune

Presentation of the “Whitey” Welbourne Award

Lunch will be served


Taps

We lost another Marine on July 12, 2015. James Warren Thomas was 90 years old at his time of death. He served as a private first class in the Marines during World War II, receiving a Purple Heart for injuries while serving in Iwo Jima.

Although Jim and I were 25 years apart we share our Marine combat experience together. He is now guarding the gates of heaven with his fellow Marines. Rest in Peace Marine.

Jon DeWitt
SGT 1966-1969


KNIGHT, Robert Leland – Of Grand Blanc, Michigan , age 85, died on Sunday, June 28, 2015 at his residence.

Bob served eleven years in the Marine Corps both regular and reserve, serving a one year tour of combat in Korea from 1950 - 1951.

Mr. Knight was a member of the Flint Detachment Marine Corps League since 1992. He served as the Detachment Commandant for two years and was active in the Honor Guard/Color Guard. He was still a member of a veteran group of Marines and FMF Corpsmen who served with Dog Company in Korea from 1950 - 1955. He was very active in the Genesee and Shiawassee County Young Marines. He was a member of BPOE.

He leaves behind his wife Barbara and son Bradley Paul Knight.

Bob was featured in James Brady’s book “Why Marines Fight” , Chapter 38 titled “A Machine Gunner They All Called Hollywood” . Bob was a terrific Marine and better person. He was also very involved with the Young Marines of Genesse and Shiawassee counties. Semper Fi Bob.

Bill Domby
USMC 67-71


Short Rounds

In answer to the post of Robert Bliss. Served our Marine Corps from Feb 62 through April 1970 and during that time I kept hearing of a MSgt that was supposed to be the last enlisted pilot in the Corps. I can't recall his name but he was still flying fixed wing prop planes during that time.

Semper fi
SSgt of Marines
Roger Everline
1963 DaNang - 1965 Marble Mountain, Dong Ha, Khe Sahn - 1969 Chu Lai


In ref to Robert Bliss story of 7/15 about enlisted pilots, in 1957 we had a warrant officer that flew the R4D assigned to H&MS 14 at Edenton NC. He had been an enlisted pilot during Korea. Just about all of them were gone by then'.

Bob Sullivan '56-59


Did any of you readers have SSgt. Matthew McKeon as a Drill Instructor? He was the Parris Island Drill Instructor who led the infamous night death march that killed six recruits. That incident supposedly changed some of the ways recruits were handled after mid 1956. Be interesting to know what kind of a DI he was.

James V. Merl
1955...
1957-1960


Ken Martin and Ken Van Hooser, I was at 2nd ANGLICO same time as you guys. Was Airborne and a Radio Tech. Saw your letter and brought back memories. Must admit I do not recognize either name but I drove a dark blue Chevelle chrome reverse wheels and jacked up, Remember a lot of muscle cars there and of course Swoopers Circle. Semper Fi.

Lawrence J. Wolf


In Book III of The Corps by W.E.B. Griffin, he writes a lot about flying sergeants and how they came to be. I have read all the books in this series, and the man knows about the Marine Corps.

Dale R. Rueber
Sgt. of Marines


I was a crew chief on a C-47 out of MCAS Beaufort during the 1960's. If my memory is correct I flew with a enlisted pilot. I can't remember his name and I think his rank was Master Gunnery Sergeant. Maybe some one can remember his name.

MSgt Bill Dugan USMC Retired
Semper Fi
God Bless America


In the 16th July newsletter, there was a question about enlisted pilots. I was station at Cherry Point from 1959-1962 and was in VMT-1, a retraining squadron. My Sgt.Major Ryner was one of our trainers who flew our jets and retrained the officers. He could fly circles around most of the officers.

Cpl E-4 G. King USMC


Quotes

"Because every Marine, if he was in a tough spot – whether a bar fight, or tonight in Helmand River Valley, our fellow Marines would get to us, or die trying."


"Entirely satisfied if we gave 100% And entirely dissatisfied if we gave 99% And those [noncommissioned officers] taught us the great pleasure of doing what others thought impossible."
--General James 'Maddog' Mattis


"In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature."
--James Madison, Federalist No. 51, 1788


"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
--Thomas Paine, 1776


If ya got one draw one, if ya got two turn one in.

There I was, twenty feet in the air hanging by my jock strap and the Gunny passed the word "turn in all athletic gear".

Green side out, brown side out, run in circles scream and shout. (That won't mean much to the new guys!)

Semper Fi, Mac!
Sgt Grit

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