Let me start this story by saying, I know each of these warriors well. I consider both to be great friends. Pictured is Cpl Greg Coats and SSgt Codi Tanksley. I could write a book on these two Marines, but I will keep my observation short this time. Both of these Marines were in the store at the same time this past week. These Marines both served during the Iraq War and served heroically at that. I made sure that these two met when they were in. I felt the need to bring these brothers together.
Greg was doing some pictures for our catalog and he had come over to find a lighter to get some of the IPs off the shirt. That was when I introduced them. What I witnessed then was just short of tears for me. Immediately proceeding the handshake and introduction, one Marine was helping the other Marine burn IPs off his clothing as if they had been best friends forever. I knew at that moment I should get a pic, but of course, the moment passed. They spent the next hour laughing and reminiscing of their service and I looked on with immense joy.
This is what Marines are all about. They are brothers. 'Nuff Said.
C.O.O. Sgt Grit Call Center
Smiling Drill Instructor
Reading some of the funny boot camp stories reminds me of the night our DI SSgt. DeSisto yelled, "Out of the head!". The reply, "Out of the head, aye-aye sir!".
We all come racing through that hatch like ants to a picnic. I was near the end with one hand holding a towel around my waist and the other holding my shaving kit. When my wet shower shoes hit the concrete on the quarter deck my ankles went to the sky and my back to the floor right in front of the DI. He went from his usual scowl to a full on, burst out laugh. He immediately turned and walked into the duty hut slamming the door behind him. You could hear him in there just busting a gut laughing. I can't help but smile thinking about it 35 years later.
Hard Lessons From My Old Man
After I graduated high school I spent the summer in unrepentant sloth. Graduation parties, bonfires on the beach, and the consumption of alcohol led to many late nights and even later mornings. I hadn't gotten a job nor had I registered for college. Why would any 18 year old when he was having so much fun, right?
Early one morning in late July my father entered my room. He announced his presence by nearly splintering the door off its hinges, which was impressive because it was already open. This was followed by a sonic boom that in my memory sounded like: "What the h-ll are you doing?"
My father was a child of the Great Depression who had joined the Marine Corps in 1947. He'd served for 33 years fighting in both Korea and Vietnam on multiple tours. He had been a machine gunner, a sniper, and a Reconnaissance Marine. Among his hobbies as a young jarhead were boxing, jiu jitsu, and All Marine Judo competitions. On his time off he got into brawls in local bars because he thought it was fun. When he held his out hands, each finger went off in a different direction as he'd broken them all on someone's face at one time or another. His nose had been broken so many times a doctor once exclaimed: "How in the world do you breath through that thing?"
This was the figure who suddenly filled my door frame vibrating with rage. He had watched me stagnantly p-ss away my summer and was about to inform me this joyous era of my life was coming to an abrupt close. There was a cadence to his speech not unlike an artillery battery firing.
The walls vibrated as he loudly pointed out I had no job, was not registered for school, and had no prospects to speak of. With disgust he noted I had become physically soft. Prior to graduation I had run track at school as well as karate, and weight lifting on my own time. Since graduation I had not so much as stepped outside while the sun was up. He announced that I would have a job within 30 days or he would throw me out into the street.
"It'll break your mother's heart but I'll do it!" He stormed away leaving the doorframe scorched and smoking behind him.
Still being a teenager, I was naturally outraged at my father for threatening to throw me out of MY home and forcing me to be a productive citizen. What a d-ck.
The month of August ticked away. I hardly saw or spoke to my dad that month, seeking to avoid him as much as possible. On the night of August 30 my parents were in their bedroom and my father was agonizing about what he was about to do to his son.
"Honey, I don't want to but he's going to make me kick him out," he confided to my mother.
"Why?" she asked him.
"It's the end of the month and he hasn't gotten a job!"
"What do you mean? He's been working for weeks now." I'd started working at a print shop sometime in mid August, I simply hadn't told him. Take that dad.
"MIKE! YOU SON OF A B-TCH!" He stomped down the hallway to the kitchen where I was.
"YOU WERE GOING TO LET ME SWEAT IT OUT!" Grinning and scowling at the same time, he was simultaneously ticked off, relieved, and impressed. We talked about my new job and he explained that as long as I had a job or was going to school I would always have a place to stay in his house. There would be no deadbeats under my father's roof.
Thanks for the lesson dad, I think it stuck.
No Vietnam Service Medal
2/9 Koh Tang Veterans, who did NOT receive the Viet Nam Service Medal and Viet Nam Campaign Medal, what a travesty! How can anyone say that these Marines and associated units (Navy, Army, Air Force) who served with them and backed them up are not eligible?
I was with the 11th Navy Seabees, Two tours Northern I-CORP with the 3rd Marines. For my action with the Marines, I received the Viet Nam Service Medal with FMF insignia and Silver Star attachment, The Viet Nam Campaign Medal and above all the Combat Action Ribbon! While not at An Hoa, I was at Khe Sahn, Cam Lo, My Chang Bridge, The Rock Pile, Dong Ha, Quang Tri and I am a TET '68 Survivor! Operation Dye Marker in the DMZ.
By the way just for your edification, one of my Brother Seabees in '65 was awarded Posthumously, the MOH for saving a Marine Fire Team pinned down by the NVA. Maybe some of you have heard of CN Marvin Shields U.S.N. Seabee Team 1106.
Along side my Brothers in the Brothers in the Corps, I wouldn't have wanted to be any where else! I am always proud to say to a Marine "SEMPER FI" "WELCOME HOME"!
Ron Pariseau, PO3C
11th U.S.Navy Seabees
I was talking to my neighbor about his grandfather who served 31 years in the Corps. He enlisted in or around 1930. He explained that he has a picture of his grandfather with E-5 stripes on his shirt standing next to his fighter plane. They called them "peons flyers". His grandfather didn't get a field commission until he was the only one to came back to his carrier out of the whole squadron. Up to that time, he was a wing-man for a Lt. and was at Peal Harbor on Dec. 07, 1941, fought over the "canal". My neighbor tells me that he has some pictures of his grandfather as an enlisted Marine standing next to his plane. If he allows me to make a copy of them, I'll try to put them in the next news letter.
Is there any of you "Hard Corps" Marines around that might remember when the enlisted men flew with the officers? Or is this person, who had to join the army because those who can't get in the Marines will have somewhere to go, just pulling my leg (as they would say)?
Semper Fi. my friends,
MOS: 0341 - and proud to be a grunt!
Isn't Life Amusing
I spent 6 years serving in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in Jan of 1973. During the 42 years since my discharge, my occupation has involved a LOT of travel - repeated visits to 46 of our 50 states and visits to 37 foreign countries. Having driven and flown millions of miles during those 42 years, I have chanced to meet thousands and thousands of people along the way. Unfortunately some of those people were Marine "posers" and others were just plain Vietnam Veteran "posers". I have lost count of the number of posers I encountered, so I don't know exactly how many were pretending to be "Marine Snipers" or "Force Recon Marines". However none of them ever claimed to have been in Motor T, Supply or HQ office personnel. All of the pseudo - Vietnam "veterans" however claimed to be either Marines or SEALs or "Special Forces " or were "in Recon", or the Green Berets, "were Snipers" or were in "Black Ops - Special Ops - Wet Work" with TOP SECRET CLEARANCES. Give me a break! A few well chosen questions exposed every d-mn one of them as frauds. I find it very humorous that 40 years ago, we Vietnam veterans were considered 'Persona Non Gratta' because we stepped up and served our country during an unpopular war, yet 40 years later, many of the same people who condemned us then now want to claim they were part of us. Isn't life amusing sometimes? However to my authentic fellow Marines and my fellow Vietnam vets, thank YOU for YOUR service and Welcome Home! You were a Vietnam Vet before it became popular.
Col. William Barber
I was reading the Sunday paper on July 5, 2015 when a picture caught my attention. It was a picture of Col. William Barber, who was the Regimental C.O. when I served with Fox Co. 2/2 in the 2nd. Mar. Div. at Camp Lejeune from 1968 to 1969. The story was about his home town, West Liberty, Morgan Country, Kentucky; honoring him (and rightly so!) with a bronze statue. The statue shows him as a Captain during the Korean War in the battle of Toktong Pass with Fox Co. Col. Barber received the Medal of Honor and a bullet lodged in his pelvis for that action. Fox Co. kept the pass open which allowed those at "Chosin" to escape from a much larger force of Chinese. Col. Barber had a company of 240 Marine take position at the pass against a force of 1400 Chinese. After 14 days and nights, 80 Marines left their position after the last of the American forces made it through. The plaque on the statue credits Col. Barber with telling his men "We will hold and we're going to pay for it". That my friends is a Marine and courage!
Col Barber retired from active duty in 1970 and passed away in 2008. If there is anyone who wants to learn more about this battle then please read "The Last Detail of Fox Company". It is truly an excellent book to read. Anyone who would like to read the story and see the photos and video of the statue need to go to Kentucky.Com and pull up the article from July 5, 2015.
Old Alma Mater
My trip was short and sweet. I recently revisited "our" old alma mater - the University of MCRD, San Diego campus. I graduated there just over 59 years ago. Coincidentally, I was there on a Thursday, the day before graduation. I guess a lot of the guys got time off to visit with those who came to their graduation.
I visited the Marine Corps museum while I was there, where I ran into a lot of new Marines with their families - the museum happens to be next door to the receiving barracks where I arrived, 24 January 1956. It is housed in a similar building - architecturally - to the receiving barracks. As I walked the museum I got a sense of Deja vu. I could see myself in the haircut line, receiving a cover that was too big for me (never wore a cap before then), then downstairs receiving my "bucket issue" (do they still do that? I forgot to ask), the sweatshirt, and most of all using Brasso (never heard of the stuff) on all the window latches and door hardware, what seemed like all night (just till lights out, anyway).
Now for the real story of my trip. I met and spoke with several of these new Marines and their families. If you have been out of the Corps for a while you need to revisit the place if you still have a heart for the Corps. These young sharply dressed, evenly tanned, young men with their slender, fit and hardened bodies, will make you even more proud. Not only proud for yourself but proud for them. God, I was so proud of these guys - hey Marines don't cry... do they? Someone pass me a tissue. Sad to think they have to go out into harms way against the unconditional warfare that we see today. The politicians need to visit these young guys on a regular basis just keep in touch with reality, for when they have to make their decisions as to when and where to send this men, oh so young and eager to do right by their country.
At the museum with my bride of 58 years.
As you can see I haven't strayed too far from the mess hall.
Through the years my mother lost track of the year book I received with all the dates and pics from boot camp, and I cannot recall my unit. Arrived 24 Jan. 1956 and graduated near the end of April. Drill instructor was GSgt Costello. Best I can recall my platoon 215, 219, 315, or 319 - can't seem to narrow it down any closer than that. I asked if they had any information about this in the museum archives and the answer was, not that far back! D-mn, am I that old?
If anyone recognizes any of my info, I would appreciate some direction. An do, visit the Museum. They are continuing to improve it.
Gotta love that San Diego weather!
1956 - 1959 (3 year active duty enlistment, 3 year reserves)
I Simply Said
My Father-In-Law was a WW-II vet and his kids, including my wife, were always told never to ask their dad about his service during the war.
In 1998 he was dying from cancer and wanted someone to drive him to New Jersey to visit his elder sister. Of course I volunteered. On the way there we passed the exit to Fort Indian Town Gap and he told me that he was stationed there before he was sent overseas. I asked, "What did you do in the service?" He said that he was a Tech Sgt in the quartermaster corps and was sent to the Pacific and, was involved in the invasion of Okinawa. There is more but I'll move on. 22 Apr. 1999 he died.
The day after, my wife and her two brothers were sitting around the kitchen table trying to write his obit. and, they knew only that he was in the Army. I spoke up and told them what I knew.
My wife looked up at me and asked how I new all of that. I simply said, "I asked him."
Semper Fi| Snakefighter
Same Time, Same Place
This past 4th of July weekend, I was on vacation with my wife, and my oldest daughter, and my 7yr old granddaughter. We were enjoying a Beach Boys tribute concert, and during the bands break my granddaughter wanted some ice cream, so my daughter and I took her to get some. As we were returning, a man about my age, 66 yrs, was watching us, and as we approached, he stood and said "Semper Fi". I returned the greeting, and as he was wearing a Marine Corps cap, I asked when he was in, '67-'70, me too '66-'70. Was he in 'Nam? When, with who? '68-'70, 3/26. When I heard that, I said "no sh-t"! I was there too, '68-'69 with Hq 26th marines. We began talking, and the years fell away. We were remembering things that happened 45-46 yrs ago, as though it were last week. Sometimes I can't remember things that happened last week! My daughter and granddaughter returned to their seats with my wife, and when she asked what happened to me, my daughter said I was talking to a fellow Marine. My wife said I would be gone awhile, because I had found another Marine, and our stories always took some time.
We talked for about 20 min, and about that time, the concert was starting again, so we said our goodbyes, wished each other well, "Semper Fi" and returned to our seats. Once again we were in the same place, same time.
MSGT USMC (ret)
July 8th, 1957
How many have the same story. Graduate HS on a Sunday, enlisted Monday morning at the Marine recruiting office. Three weeks later left Whitehall street NYC by train for MCRD PI. Seventeen years old still wet behind the ears. Platoon 198. You grow up real fast. Spent three years, met great people, and completed my military active service as a United States Marine before my twenty first birthday. To this day when people hear that you're a Marine, they know your someone special. My active time 1957-60, the world was a quiet place. I only wish it was like that now. To all you on active duty now, keep up the good work and we know you'll do us proud.
Marine Detachment USS Randolph CVA15
I'm not sure what operation the SgtMaj was on at the time he departed Hawaii with the 1st Marine Brigade for Okinawa, and then on to Chu Lai, Vietnam; but it wasn't Steel Pike... I happened to be at Camp Gieger (CLNC) awaiting air transportation to San Diego and Camp Pendleton with a west coast draft during that period, and I remember those times well... Operation Steel Pike took place in the late fall - October and November of 1964, on the coast of Spain, and was the largest peacetime amphibious landing exercise in history, conducted by the US Navy and Marine Corps... The operation involved 84 naval ships and 28,000 Marines of the 2nd MarDiv out of Camp Lejeune, and was commanded by Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Jr.
As to the landing at Chu Lai, according the 4th Marine Regt command chronology report, "RLT-4 Headquarters and BLT's 1/4, 2/4 embarked aboard assigned shipping during period 27-29 April, and sailed for Chu Lai, Vietnam. Commencing on D-Day, 7 May, RLT-4 off-loaded at Chu Lai, Viet Nam"... However, 3/9 arrived at Chu Lai from Da Nang to secure the area on 6 May 1965 - the day before RLT-4 landed.
"On 6 May 1965 units from the ARVN 2nd Division and 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines secured the Chu Lai area. On 7 May, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (United States)(3rd MEB), composed of the 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, elements of Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 10 landed at Chu Lai to establish a jet-capable airfield and base area."
"Chu Lai Air Base became operational on 1 June 1965 and remained in use by Marine aviation units until September 1970."
MGySgt USMC (Ret)
1964 - 1987
It'll be quite some time before I run out of stories. Between me and Dickerson we should write a book. He and I served together in 3/5 back in 1966.
Mush was a combat engineer. Ray Mush. His real name was Ray Maslanka, but I only discovered that a week or so after I met him. Mail call I think. He was one member of a team of engineers attached to India Company. Three or four guys.
Mush was a likable kinda guy. There were times though when he got so full of himself and had so much energy it could get under your skin, but once you got to know him, he was a star. Mush stood out from the others.
Everybody knows that combat engineers are nuts. Not just crazy, but downright scary at times. Blowin' stuff up is one of the more entertaining parts of being a Marine, but when an engineer gets the notion to blow something up it's so calculated it borders on the sinister. I wonder what selection process they went through? Their psychological profiles must be something to see.
I normally confined my own demolition activity to tossing grenades in holes or buildings. Any real cool stuff went to the engineers.
I was very impressed on Hastings when they were finally given the green light to clear a helizone in the jungle. We'd been flailing away with Ka-Bars and Filipino machetes for hours trying to clear any space at all, and when we were finally equipped with chain saws the task got only moderately quicker. Finally somebody turned the engineers loose. The explosions didn't do our nerves any good, but they did manage to blow the jungle all to h-ll. This event alone was all I needed to prove my attitude about engineers. You only had to see the looks on their faces to understand. They were in a frenzy. They didn't just blow trees down, they felt the need to launch each tree to an ever increasing height. They were considerate enough to yell "Fire in the hole!" before each blast, but more than a few times they yelled only a second or two before ignition. We actually had some minor casualties from flying wood and gravel.
Poor McGuire only wanted to hobble into the jungle a few feet to take a pee. He'd already been hit a couple of times on a couple of different occasions the day before. He had pressure bandages on two or three parts of his body. One was wrapped around his head, which is probably why he never heard the engineers yell. One of the most heartbreaking memories I have of that day was the vision of McGuire stumbling out of the bushes trying to button up his trousers with his only good hand, near tears, with a new small stream of blood on his shirt. "I can't even take a pee without getting hit!"
A month or two after we were in country I was transferred to 1/5. To mortars. Mortars was a pretty good billet. We stayed with the CP group. We didn't have to do patrols. I got a lot of sleep I wouldn't have gotten if I'd been in a rifle platoon.
In the Spring, Charlie Company was mounting up for a big operation. It took us a full day to prepare. Different units were being attached to us. FO's. Engineers. Various other communication guys. Naval gunfire and Air support. Even a liaison guy for the Koreans. Just before dawn we were all squared away and we were told to muster in a particular tent till the helos arrived. As I lifted the tent flap to enter somebody shined a flashlight right in my face. Before I could complain someone shouted from the dark.
"Jesus Christ, we've had the big green weeny this time! I know this guy, and wherever he goes, there's trouble!"
It was Mush. I recognized the voice, and his attitude and volume were unmistakable. I was happy to see him, but strangely enough I felt the same sentiments toward him. My most vivid memories of him were connected to India Company. We immediately started comparing war stories, more for the benefit of the other guys than ourselves. We were old salts and we were trying to convince anyone that would listen.
Within an hour they had us loaded on H-34s and were airborne. Twenty minutes later we landed, then spent the next week or two slogging around the countryside playing tag with the g--ks.
In the late afternoons or evenings the Company would set up a perimeter for the night. Mush would normally set in somewhere in my vicinity or I would do the same near him. We felt comfortable around each other. It's not that we were friends, but we'd had common experiences so we felt familiar. He was proud when I'd tell crazy stories about him. It didn't take long before most guys knew about Mush and his zany ways, but there was one incident that absolutely convinced everybody that he was truly scary.
On this particular day we set in early enough so we had a couple of hours of daylight left. Time enough to start fires and cook stuff. Time to dry our socks. Time to be social. Because I was in mortars I wasn't actually required to be on the perimeter so I could flop almost anywhere I wanted to. I decided to drop my pack next to some sort of hedge. A raggedy, sparse sort of hedge. About twenty feet long and no more than four feet high.
It was made up of a type of bush I'd only seen in Vietnam. Most guys remember them. This type of bush had tiny leaves lining both sides of the fronds. They were very fragile looking, but their most intriguing characteristic was that if you touched one of the fronds, they'd wilt. All the leaves on that particular branch would just sort of collapse. The first bush of this sort I'd seen really got me wondering. What sort of magic Mother Nature type of sh-t was this? A bush that withers when you touch it? This is too cool! After I'd seen my first one it was like most other things... when you've seen one, you've seen'em all. It got boring real quick. We all knew what they were and what they did. Except Mush.
I was sitting down with a can of Chicken and Noodles heating up on my C-rat stove in front of me. Mush came walking over just to shoot the breeze I'm sure, but as he approached I casually reached out and touched a branch on the hedge. It wilted. It shrunk to about half its original size. Mush stopped in his tracks. He first stared at me, then the wilted leaves, then me again. In a very low tone of voice he asked:
"How da f-ck you do that?"
"Just now. What you did with that bush?"
"What? This?", as I touched another frond. It instantly wilted.
He stared at me like I was the devil himself. I couldn't believe he'd never seen this type of bush before. He was obviously confused.
"Sh-t Mush. You musta seen these things before. They're all over the place."
Ray reached over very slowly and touched one of the branches. Again, it drooped. He looked like he was going to jump out of his skin. He touched another, then another all with the same result.
"Howzat do that?"
"I dunno. It just does."
Everybody in the vicinity looked on as Mush turned around, walked over to his pack, took his entrenching tool out of it's case, then opened it up to the straight position. He was holding it like a baseball bat when he walked back towards me. He had the craziest look in his eye. For just a second I thought he was going to go after me with it, but as he got to the hedge he started chopping at the hedge. Violently. Faster and faster. Cutting it. Chopping it. Clubbing it. Once or twice he dropped the E tool and stooped to yank the remainder of a bush out of the ground. I picked up my noodles and got out of the way. Dirt and leaves were flying everywhere. Five or ten minutes went by. He'd gone completely looney. Eyes wide as saucers. Grunting away at the hedge. From one end to the other. He left nothing. By the time he'd completely demolished the hedge he was breathing hard and wringing with sweat.
He'd acquired an audience for the last few minutes of his frenzy, but he was oblivious to anything or anybody but the hedge. You could tell by the looks on everybody's faces he had us worried. Me most of all.
He stood still for a moment, staring at the chewed up strip of earth. Then he walked back over to his pack and just plopped down in a heap. He sat there, panting, staring at where the hedge had been.
I was into my fruit cocktail by now so I just sidled up to Mush and said, "You OK Mush? What the f-ck was that all about?" He was still staring away, but a few seconds later he looked up at me with a real dull look in his eyes and said, "I hate anything I don't understand."
Like I said before, Mush wasn't just nuts, he was scary.
Reading Vernon R.'s "Sad Performance" post, I can sympathize. At PI in 1966, (Platoon 3020) I weighed about 155 soaking wet and stood about 5 foot nine. In pugil sticks, I drew this waaaaay tall guy with long arms... I had to look up to see his face! He was standing there with his legs apart beating me over the head like he was chopping with an axe and I couldn't reach him. So I crawled between his legs, giving him a rap in the balls on the way. (We wore only helmets and jock straps back then). Since he was bent over holding his jewels when I reached the other side, it lowered him to my level and I beat cr-p out of HIM over the head from behind. The DI (Sgt Jones, AKA "The Good Fairy", and even smaller than me) called time and didn't say anything, but he was having trouble controlling his laughter. Obviously this is not a recommended bayonet technique, but "Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome".
S/Sgt Richard Holland
1/12 Bravo & Charlie Battery's Recent Viet Nam Era Reunion
After so long, the data still circles in my mind. It becomes clearer with the meeting and re-acquaintance of Marine friends past. I salute you all, every one!
In my mind I can see it, seemingly such a short while ago.
Will Adjust, Over...
On the way, Over;
Roger, on the way.
Drop 100, Right 100,
FIRE FOR EFFECT!
Marines manning their 105's while under fire to return fire. Our Infantry preparing for a ground assault. Humping ammo to the guns. Such Dedication, Devotion to Duty, with Marine Corps discipline and training to carry it out.
The Outright Audacity of us all, We spit fire and destruction in the enemy's face. The cost however in friends lost was high.
Once again I swell with pride. Thank You.
1/12 Battalion Fire Direction Center
April 1966 - May 1967
Da Nang, Camp Carroll, Gio Linh
This Group Gets It
My wife and I drove to D.C. over the 4th to see the parade, fireworks and visit some old friends. The parade was O.K. but, I have seen better.
One entry in the parade was a group of Vietnamese Americans. As they approached, the first thing I noticed were the men dressed in RVN uniforms of the branches of service carrying the U.S., P.O.W. & RVN flags. Next was a group carrying a huge banner that stated in bold letters "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE". My emotional bucket has been pretty much emptied out over the years but, I have to say, I teared up a little when I saw it.
This group gets it. They really get it! This did more for me than any "Welcome Home or Thank You" ever did.
This gives me more cause to say "What We Did Was NOT IN VAIN!"
1st Mar. Div. '68
I Just Did My Job
Dear Sgt Grit,
Just like most Marines, I honor all Marines, especially those who served during WW2 and Korea. Recently I had the honor of meeting a Marine from the Battle of Iwo Jima, Pfc. Robert Hensley, 3rd Marine Division. As a Garland Deputy Marshal, I get the chance to meet many citizens during the week. On one occasion 3 months ago I observed a senior citizen entering the lobby of the building I am assigned to. As he got closer, walking slowly with the aid of his cane, I noticed that he was wearing a cover with the Marine Corps Emblem. So I gave him a strong "Semper Fi Marine" greeting! He stopped, straighten up and looked over at me and with a slight smile on his face he returned the greeting! And as almost all Marines do, I asked when he served and what unit he served with. He responded proudly that he is a WW2 Marine and served with the 3rd Marine Division at Iwo Jima. So he stopped next to my desk and we discussed our experiences in the Corps. As you can guess, my part of the conversion was brief and his was a bit longer and more interesting!
He is Pfc. Robert Hensley, USMC, and as he began to talk about his Marine Corps experiences and mentioned that he was at Iwo Jima. I asked him about his part in the battle for Iwo and he talked about him being in the 3rd Marine Division. Pfc Hensley said that they arrived at Iwo on the 5th day of the battle. He was a truck driver and "his Ford Truck" was loaded with ammo, so as soon as they could, they hit the beach. When they landed he said that the terrible carnage on the beach was undescrible! Upon getting on the beach he and another truck were sent to resupply a unit that was heavily engaged with the enemy. As Pfc. Hensley and a second truck arrived at the unit's supply point, he remembers how ecstatic the Marines were! They told him that he had just saved their lives because they were about to run out of ammunition and the Japanese would have overrun them! After they finished unloading the trucks, he asked one of the officers what they could do to help. The officer pointed at a pile of stretchers and told him that he and the 2nd driver should "take one of those and go out on the runway and remove the dead off of the landing strip!" They told him that the landing strip was needed to allow planes to make emergency landings!
His voice began to soften and his eyes appeared as if they were looking off into the distance as he continued "So we went out onto the strip and began picking up bodies and pieces of bodies, placing them on the stretcher. Then we would take them to the collection point next to the airfield." I could only guess at what was going on in his mind, going back to those awful scenes of war. Of body parts that had once been young warriors running toward the sounds of battle, just a short time before. His trip back to those terrible days was short one as my handshake brought back! I told him that it was an honor to be in the presence of a United States Marine, a Hero to those of us who came after him and his brothers! Pfc. Hensley was a humble Marine and replied, "I am no Hero, I just did my job!"
As we were ending our discussion, he looked over and saw a coaster with a Marine Corps Emblem on top of my counter. He said that it was a great gift and I told him that my wonderful daughter, Ashley, made it and had given it to me last Christmas! He mentioned how great it was that my daughter would make such a special gift for me and I agreed! As my new Marine brother slowly walked out of the building I thanked our God, who had given this country so many great men and women such as Pfc. Hensley! A few days later I was talking to Ashley and mentioned my meeting with the WW2 Marine. I asked if she would make another Marine Corps Coaster, so that I could give him one next time that he came to the building! She readily agreed and a few days later Ashley handed me another coaster, just like mine!
With Ashley's coaster in hand, I waited to see my new Marine Brother again. And as several weeks went by I grew concerned that Pfc. Hensley may had received Transfer Orders to guard the "Streets of Gold". Then on Monday, July 6, 2015, I saw my Marine Brother walking into the building and I started smiling. As we met and exchanged greetings, I asked him to stop by my desk when he had completed his business. A short time later he came walking up and I presented him with the Marine Corps Emblem Coaster that my beautiful daughter had made for him. Pfc. Hensley then took it, looked at it and with a wide smile he thanked me. He asked me to tell Ashley that he was very grateful and that it was truly a special gift! He said that it was such a special gift, he is going to have it mounted next to a picture of him at Iwo Jima. The picture had been taken when he was on an "Honor Flight" to Iwo Jima two years ago! He will treasure it along with his "Iwo Jima Honor Flight" picture which will be passed on to his grandson! As Pfc. Hensley walked out of the building, I was reminded of Our Brotherhood, Young Marine or Old Marine - Semper Fi!
I am enclosing a picture taken when I presented Pfc. Hensley the USMC Coaster!
Fred "Speedy" Gonzales
Corporal of Marines
2nd LAAM Bn. 1962 - 65
Dear Sgt. Grit,
Thought you and your Marines would be interested in knowing, that Ms. Meriwether Ball, a distant cousin of Lt. General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, wrote a new book on her investigation into his strong past, the personal side. The title is; "Puller Chronicles; Volume 1, Second Edition".
The book can be purchased at:
Puller Chronicles Volume 1: Secrets and Mysteries of the Greatest Marine's Heroic Ancestral Faith
Ms. Ball came to my home and spent the better part of the day with me, discussing my knowledge and experiences with Gen. Puller and also that of my family. The ties between "Chesty" and my family were very close, as well as myself.
Her book is very interesting and factual and supported by Col. Jon Hoffman, USMC (Ret), Author of "Chesty, The History of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, USMC; and by Col. Robert J. Abbitt, USMC, (Ret).
There is a book review on the Amazon Website, of which I found to be most favorable. Ms. Ball gave me a copy. Yes, I read it and found it rather interesting, plus her discussions with me... well... I will just say was very good and I know she did her homework and was factual. She is writing a second book and I do look forward to seeing/reading that one.
The numbers are shrinking quickly of the Marines/Folks who served with or personally knew "Chesty". I am the last in my family.
As always Sgt. Grit... thank you.
Remember This One
It's now 1710 CT, on the 4th of July, in the Hendersonville, Tennessee area. I have been decaling HO gauge flat cars for most of the afternoon and listening to the Sirius XM channel "40s on 4". They have been playing patriotic songs most of yesterday and especially today.
The announcer, with "tongue in cheek" has been making remarks about the songs being played, and has mentioned about the safety factor of the fireworks and the injuries resulting from misuse of same; he has stated that the 2d Battalion of the 1st Marines will perform some fireworks, for the safety of the listeners (actually sounds like a legitimate fire fight that was recorded "somewhere". Of all the services, I found it very interesting that he would mention a Marine Battalion.
Just played a song a little while ago, "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere", by Elton Britt, recorded in 1942. I wonder how many of your readers will remember this one! First time I heard it was on a wind-up RCA Victrola Record Player, in 1943; I was 12 that year; I also "joined up" 6 years later!
With all our faults and problems, this is still the greatest country on God's green earth!
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines (1949-1970)
3d Battalion 11th Association
We are having our annual 3/11 reunion this year in Charleston, South Carolina September 23-27, 2015. Anyone who would like more information please follow the information below.
Our reunion is for:
All members from WWII to present that served with 3rd Battalion 11th Marines.
We also have a website page on Facebook under 3rd Bn 11th Marines Artillery. Type it in the search box and it will take you to it. Additionally, we are included in the website for all Marine Corps Artillery. We need pictures to make that site go. Sign in on your battery page and look who else has signed up.
CPL of Marines
Marine Corps Mustang Association
30th Anniversary Reunion Muster
Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel-Jacksonville FL Airport
Dates: September 15th to September 18th, 2015
Contact: Joe Featherston (Jrhd[at]aol.com)
The association will unveil and dedicate a large bronze plaque at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle (Quantico) Virginia, July 22, 2015 at 1045. The public is welcome, space may be limited.
Another great Marine, Larry Ward, has been permanently transferred for new duty at the Gates of Heaven. I got to know Larry through my Civil War reenactment group. During events, we used to swap sea stories. Of course, being a career Marine, and former Drill Instructor, he had many more interesting stories than I did. From a past newsletter, I know some of the readers had the honor of becoming Marines under Larry as their SDI. It was an honor for me to have him as a friend.
The obituary is from the 07/08/15 edition of the Washington Post.
4th July 1965, Remembrance
In remembrance of our fellow Marines who have proceeded us by higher orders, the Marines of Echo Company, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, and Alpha Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marines calibrated our 50th anniversary of our landing at Da Nang, Vietnam, on 7 July 1965.
1stSgt Herb Brewer
Ken Martin, I was at Courthouse Bay at the same time you were. Yes that is LtCol Robert Schueler presenting you with your NAM w/V. I arrived at 2nd ANGLICO April '69, Med Cruise in May, Jump School in October and then to GITMO until May '70. Left 2nd ANGLICO for NAM in July '70, returned to the World in July '71 and discharged. Served with Gunnery Sergeant Sam Dunn in Nam. Lost him in April 2010. Still miss him.
1968 - 1971
In 1969 my DD 214 said when my GC would commence... a couple years ago, I wrote to HDQ USMC and had my DD 214 changed to reflect that I could wear the Good Conduct Medal.
So whoever wrote that can get his.
So now I have 3, USMC '66-'69... VA Nat Guard '76-'79... US Army '80-'82.
Chu Lai '68
What a beautiful feel good story about a Marine Veteran.
Homeless Piano Player Gets A Fresh Start With A Makeover And Paying Job
After two - three months aboard the USS Princeton LPH-5, USS Alamo & the USS Pickaway as a BLT, 1stBn 5thMar went ashore at Chu Lai about 60 miles south of Danang off Hwy 1, in June of 1966 after Operations Jackstay in IV Corps & Operation Osage in I Corps. The Battalion then established Hill 54 Combat Base 10 Kilometers NW of Chu Lai Airfield where 1stMarDiv Hq were at this time. The Marines in this BLT only did a nine month tour as 1/5 spent 8 months at MCAS Kaneohe in the 1stMar Brigade barracks. At the time Hawaii was considered overseas duty, so 17 mos served.
Bill Allen Cpl
H/S Co. 1/5
"Freedom is never given; it is won."
--A. Philip Randolph
"On evenings like this most of us will remember the tragedy of losing comrades Beautiful Marines... And we remember them, everyone, who gave their lives so our experiment called America, could live."
--Gen Jim "Mad Dog" Mattis
"What a glorious morning for America!"
--Samuel Adams, Upon hearing the gunfire at Lexington [April 19, 1775]
"Left, right, left, right...
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left..."
"I love working for Uncle Sam, Let's me know just who I am!"
"1,2,3,4 United States Marine Corps...
1,2,3,4, I love the Marine Corps...
"I don't want no teenage queen, I just want my M-14!"
"If I die in a combat zone...
Box me up and ship me home...
Pin my medals upon my chest...
Tell my mom I've done my best"
Semper Fi, Mac!