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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 17 DEC 2015

In this issue:
• One Service Stripe
• Were You Drafted
• Freedom Bird

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Thought I would share this. Was elk hunting in the Cascade Mountain range, southwest of Ellensburg, WA, when I spotted a flag atop a large rock outcropping. It was eerily representative of Iwo Jima. To my surprise when I got a closer look and it was the Marine Corps flag, tattered but flying strong. Lat/Lon N47'04.607', W120'50.844', Elevation: 3754'.

Kit Wennersten

Clearly Wearing A Pith Helmet

Sgt. Grit,

Regarding Marines wearing pith helmets, I can't say for sure that I remember our PMIs or the guys that ran the range towers at Parris Island wearing them, but below is a picture of my buddy Cpl. Tim Wheeler wearing one as he was running "A" tower at the LeJeune range. This would have been around 1984. Tim was too short to go back on the second MED with us so he got assigned to the rifle range to finish out his enlistment. Not sure if he was a PMI but he did work the towers and he is clearly wearing a pith helmet in this photo. I told him I thought the pith helmets looked stupid, but he said they were required.

Semper Fi
Mike Kunkel
Cpl. 0331
Weapons Plt Lima 3/8

Never Alone

Last month I transferred from the main VA hospital to a clinic nearer to my home. I had an appointment at the new clinic (my first) at 9:00 in the morning. As I am retired I was wearing my usual shorts with the Marine emblem embossed on the leg and a tee shirt. I don't dress up anymore.

I checked in and went to the waiting room. There were about twenty five vets waiting quietly reading and just staying quiet. There were guys wearing hats (We wear Covers) from the other branches with all sorts of logos on them. Stuff like First brigade, 101st Airborne, Ranger, and other such stuff. No one was talking.

I got up to get a magazine and heard a loud (really loud) "Semper Fi Mac!" I turned and there was a man and wife sitting near me. I did smile and went to shake his hand. He asked me my MOS and who I was with. I proudly answered 11th Marines. He responded that I looked like I was old enough to be a Viet Nam Vet. I asked if he was a Marine and he answered that he had been a Corpsman. After we had asked enough questions so we were completely vetted, we started to talk as if we had been buds for a while. His wife just rolled her eyes a few times as if she had heard the same stories over and over. Freedom Hill, Dogpatch, Marble Mountain, and other places dear to our hearts.

He was called in for his appointment and then it dawned on me that we had talked for about fifteen minutes but none of the others had said a word to each other.

I guess the moral of this is that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you are never alone. There will always be another Marine or Corpsman ready, willing, and able, to shake your hand and retell war stories.

Ain't that cool.

No name, Just an old Marine.

Tower Sentry Shot Him

As a newly crafted Corporal E-4 on Okinawa, I returned from a "Float" with 1st Amtracs to the Philippines, Hong Kong etc., in 1962 and was sent TAD to the 3rd Mar Div Brig at Camp Smedley D. Butler. I was immediately issued a Pith helmet and told that was the only cover we wore.

It was to distinguish us from other Marines on the base in controlling prisoners. If the escape alarm ever went off, both the port and starboard sections were to immediately report to the armory (off duty or not), where we were given Model 97 Winchesters shotguns and told what sector we were to control. (pre-designated posts by number that surrounded the base). We went wearing whatever we had when the alarm went off, as long as we had the pith helmet. (that way, when we went over the fence to the post, the Ryukan guards would not challenge us). most times it was a drill, but I remember going over the fence in my skivvies with a loaded shotgun, pith helmet and not much else. The prisoner never made it past the double barbed wire fence, as the tower sentry shot him on the second fence as he tried going over the barbed wire with his mattress, as we would frequently have them air out the mattresses in the compound (Who knew). The Pith helmets also made quite an impression on the prisoners when we would "save" them from mosquitos by smashing the bug to death while on their head. Very few repeat prisoners in that brig. Yellow and red lines and "double time" every where.

Bob Doherty 1959-1965

One Service Stripe

Sgt. Grit,

I recently met this Marine, for the second time in the past few years, and it has got me to wondering if this has happened to anyone else. The actual first time I ran across him was in 1949/50, when both of us were PFCs. The Reserve Company, in which we served, was called to active duty in July, 1950, and shipped to Camp Pendleton, in August.

He, along with most of the Company, went to Korea, and I went a different direction. Fast forward 30 or 40 years and the next time I see anything about him is as the front page story in the local paper, where he is awarded the Silver Star for action in Korea, as a Corporal. BUT, the picture of him in his Dress Blue Uniform, shows him as a Staff Sergeant, with one service stripe.

The last time I saw him was on 11 November, when one of the local churches sponsored a breakfast for military personnel. This time he is wearing Gunnery Sergeant chevrons, still with one service stripe. Evidently, he just decides to promote himself every few years. Should be interesting to see what his next rank will be.

Semper Fi, y'all!

JimMc, GySgt


Sgt. Grit,

Even though I only did my one year, you will be hard pressed to find a prouder Marine. To top that off, I am a retread. There is no shame in that, h-ll; I went through PI twice! At the time I was 4'11-3/4" tall, 100 pounds soaking wet and when I was at PI my last name was (brace yourself), SWEET! I have a promotional products company also and since I live in Fayetteville, NC; I deal with the Army. We have a great relationship kidding back and forth, but yet there is a mutual respect.

I am not a Combat Marine. That always makes one wonder about their performance should the time have ever come to be "called to duty". I consider I was called to duty because I at least did a small part to contribute to the protection of our country. I was a 2542, Comm Center Operator. My Army clients say that with my attitude, they would not hesitate to have me in the foxhole next to them (of course they may just be saying that to be polite). I love going over there because when that door closes, we leave our "Politically Correct" attitude outside.

I read you use the term BAM and even though it makes my blood curdle sometimes when I hear it, if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. I did want to share a story with you about that.

One day I was coming out of the Law Enforcement Center which is located next to the County Courthouse. I saw a young female coming out of the courthouse wearing a tee shirt with the inscription "PROUD TO BE A BAM!" I was being escorted by a Captain with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department. He just looked at me and said "Katie, let it go, don't scare that poor little girl to death". You see, I am quite outspoken when it comes to my patriotism and the Corps. I caught up with the girl, stood directly in her path to her car and asked her where in the h-ll did she get a tee shirt and I did not EVER want to see her in it again! She said she got it from her recruiter. She was one of those persons that always start a sentence with "Like you know?" I asked her if she any iota what a BAM is. She replied (get this!) "Like you know, it stands for BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN MARINE!"

I felt the breath of Captain Brown on my neck trying to keep me from committing assault. I live with the phrase just like others live with the term Jarhead. At least I am being recognized as a United Sates Marine! That is what counts.

! I'll save for another time, the story of the two recruits coming out of the courthouse uncovered, playing pocket pool in of all places, Fayetteville, NC!

I apologize for this post being so long but it is the first time I have written. It is nice to have a place to read and express stories, feelings, and ideas. You don't find many active Marines living in Fayetteville, You would be surprised at the high number of inactive ones living here. Thank you for giving us a place to vent and share feelings.

Katie Piercy

Not Just Civilians

I have been reading the stories about imposters and it brought to mind two incidents. The first incident occurred when I went to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. I spent 5 days there listening to recorded conversations in the bowels of the institution. When myself and another Special Agent went inside, we were accompanied by a guard. The doors were double locked so you entered or left, were secured between two doors, and then proceeded. The guard had spent 8 or 10 years in the Army. This was in the late 1980's. One of the days we were locked between the doors with a Navy doctor, about 28 to 30 years old. I looked at his ribbons and he had Vietnam service and campaign ribbons along with his firewatch ribbon (national defense). He was too young to have been in Vietnam. I asked him when he got the ribbons and he replied "prior service". I came unglued and told him a lot of guys earned those ribbons and he was not one of them. I said to take them or I would do it for him. The guard didn't know what was next. Needless to say he took them off before the doors opened. I still get mad thinking about it.

The other incident involved a Marine my sister-in-law was dating. When we were invited to meet him for the first time she told my wife to caution me not to say anything about the Marine Corps of Vietnam because he had been a POW and had terrible nightmares and flashbacks. My wife, having lived through some of my nightmares after someone brought up the war, understood. When we got there he was wearing a bush hat with the EGA on the front. I thought this guy doesn't want anything mentioned. This is total BS! They need some refreshments and I told him he and I would go for them. When we got in the car I began to question him about his MOS, duty stations, units, and dates of service. It became clear he was not a Vietnam vet and definitely was never a POW. I told him, when we get back I want that hat off of you and if you want to blow smoke up some girls azs to get sympathy s-x, do it with someone other than my sister-in-law. My brother was stationed in the state police in the county where he resided and I called him to check this guys DD214. He pulled it and found he was a Marine and served 2 years with all of his service after boot camp and ITR in supply at Camp LeJeune. All he had to do was be up-front. He served and the Corps decided he should stay stateside. No explanation needed. I promptly informed my sister-in-law of his deception. So it is just not civilians stealing valor.

Semper Fi,
J. Kanavy, Cpl

Were You Drafted

The Marine Corps resorted to the draft in late 1965. How any drafted individual would put up with such nonsense was a mystery to me. I volunteered for goodness sakes, and there wasn't a week go by when I didn't ask myself why.

Being a Marine made bellyaching about it permissible. We all complained. Looking back now, I can see we were somehow proud to be mistreated to a certain extent. Marines dealt with adversity rather well. We had to.

I had been assigned to Sea School, San Diego, in preparation for being sent to a ship's detachment. I was a Corporal. I felt confident, not nearly as intimidated by MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) as I was the first time I'd been there as Private Holt. I reported in, and within a day we'd all received instructions on what uniforms would be required for the various duties involved. We, as ship's Marines, had to be exceptionally squared away, much more so than normal.

We had to buy many more items, but with the assignment we were issued a set of dress blues. Marine dress blue uniforms weren't part of the basic issue back in '67. We had to buy them ourselves unless we'd been sent to a duty station which required them. There is nothing like a Marine dress blue uniform. It dazzles. Just sayin'. (I've still got my blue's blouse stored in the basement somewhere. Of course I can't fit my arm in the leg of my blues these days, but it's nice to remember what shape I used to have.)

All except for the blues, we had to buy these items ourselves. We also had to have each item tailored for perfect fit, primarily our shirts. We all needed some extra money for this. So there we were, Corporals Holt, Gilbert and Johnson walking over to dispersing (Sort of like a bank) one afternoon to apply for an allotment (A loan) for the purchase of these extra items of uniforms. It was a standard situation for the clerks, but when we were handed the form to fill out we all stood there for a second and gawked at it. The old lady clerk (She musta been at least forty) smiled and took the form from Johnson and started to fill it out for him.

What a kind lady she was. Just like somebody's Mama, tending to her confused flock. She'd obviously filled out a potful of these forms in her day. I imagined she got some sort of motherly satisfaction in making life easier for befuddled Corporals.

While she asked questions of Johnson, we all stood there and b-tched about stuff. The fact that we had to buy the uniforms. Our instructor, Sergeant Tate, being such a tight azs. What a bunch of candy azses all these MCRD base personnel were. There was no end to stuff we could complain about when the mood struck us, and the mood had certainly struck Johnson, all the while turning every few seconds to the sweet lady and answering her simple questions.

"Name?" He'd answer then turn away toward us and continue to b-tch. "Service number", only pausing to keep our conversation going. "Date of birth?" Again. The nice lady didn't seem to be bothered by Johnson's lack of attention, but then she asked, "Were you drafted?" Johnson instantly stopped talking and turned toward her. "Absolutely not!" The kind lady then leaned forward just a bit and looked Johnson straight in the eye, then said, "Then shut the f-ck up?"

She was right. We'd signed up for this, so we really didn't have a right to complain, but like I said, it's what Marines did back in 1967.

Joe Holt

Freedom Bird

I still remember my last night at An Hoa. I felt like I was running out on my 3 best friends Cpl. Weiss, Cpl. Ski. and Sgt Crabtree. My last day I could not face any of them so we said our good byes the night before. Crab had been in Vietnam 2 years and Ski 1-1/2 years. Weiss came back to the states and we hooked up at 29 Palms but after 4 months he went back to Vietnam. Crabtree and Ski both extended again right before I came home.

The only thing I could think of when I was on the Freedom bird coming home from Vietnam was that I was running out on my friends.

I was with 12th Marines 8 months then 2nd Bat/11th Marines, 10 Months.

I wanted to go and I wanted to stay. I still remember the feeling I had getting on the chopper at An Hoa to fly to Da Nang. In Da Nang I still wanted to change my mind and go back. But, I had not been home in 18 Months and my wife said enough was enough and we had a son I had never seen.

So the freedom bird was a bad experience for me.

Semper Fi
Sgt. Robert L. Sisson
July '68-July '71

Ditty That I Remember

In reference to Jim Leonard's post, this is the ditty that I remember:

Mine eyes have seen the devil on the shores of Tripoli,
He wears the globe and anchor just the same as you and me.
With a rifle in his shoulder and a woman in his arms,
And "A" company marches on.

Glory, glory what a h-ll of a way to die,
Glory , glory what a h-ll of a way to die,
Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die.
And "A" company marches on.

2nd verse:

Mine eyes have seen Marines on the shores of Viet Nam,
They are tramping out the jungle where the Viet Cong are found.
They loosed the mighty power of a swift and mighty Corps,
And "A" company marches on.

(Repeat of chorus)

3rd verse:

Mine eyes have seen Marines at the gates of heaven,
They're reporting to St Peter and they're saying to that good man,
"One more marine reporting sir, I've served my time in h-ll."
And"A" company marched on.

New chorus

Glory, glory it's the only way to die,
Glory, glory, it's the only way to die,
Glory, glory, it's the only way to die,
A Marine serving his country!

Tom Allen
Sgt of Marines
Vietnam '68- '69

Didn't Happen

For Ron Morse... yup, you did miss something... that being the version(s) of C-rations between WWII and oh, around 1964... '64 or so was when the "Meal, Combat, Individual" came along... one meal, in one box, twelve to a case. Before that, we had C-rations that came packed one day's rations for one man in one box. The box was maybe 8"X4"X 3" or so deep, and it contained "three heavies, two lights, one (something I've forgotten), and an accessory pack. Said accessory pack contained EDBD (say it out loud... I'm from Tennessee now...) packets of salt, pepper, instant tea, instant coffee ("ascorbic acid added")... (that's vitamin C), toilet paper, an olive-drab book of matches (21), a FULL Pack of cigarettes, some bouillon, either chicken or beef, and candy... typically either a Tootsie Roll (full size), or Chuckles, which were sugar coated gelatin... five flavors, including licorice (extra points to anybody who can name the other four flavors, and better yet, the order in which they were packed in the shallow U-shaped tray.) The 'heavies' might be some assortment of three from something like 32 possible main 'dishes'... there were spaghetti/meatballs, beef & peas, beef & potatoes, stew, sausage patties, pork chunks, chicken & ??... and lots of others... some fairly palatable, if you had the means to heat them... heat tabs, maybe, or for those of us in units like Ontos or Tanks, a small gasoline stove. The sausage patties, of which there were several packed in the can, were tasty and filling... if heated. If they had to be consumed cold, it would take most of the rest of the day to scrape the congealed grease off one's teeth.

The major problem with this one day for one man distribution came when it was a day in the field when only lunch would be individual rations... this meant dividing up one box between three men... somebody was going to get screwed on the 'light' units... these had crackers, PB... and only one of the three was going to get the canned fruit... which included pears, peaches, fruit cocktail... and... cherries...

What we had in Korea, I dunno... little before my time... and was away from the FMF '60 to '66, so didn't have a lot of occasion to consume field rations during the period.

For all of you who will now claim you ate WWII dated C-rations in VN, I have one short comment... BS... didn't happen.

Field food pretty much has always come under the Army Quartermaster Corps for development, etc, also Nattick Laboratories... Google away!

Think it was when 2/1 was training up at Pendleton to be the second transplacement Bn ('59)... word came down that the next Marine caught burying a ration can on Camp Pendleton was going to recieve a General Court Martial... (still doing 'drumming out at the time... this was serious stuff)... we had a 1stLt. Platoon Leader... Buck Rogers... who had a tailgate meeting on the subject... ordinarily, three cases of rations could generate at least one jeep trailer full of trash. The Lt. said: "we're going to put the empty cans back in the little boxes, and the little boxes back into the big boxes"... problem solved! Been over 55 years, but remember it well...


Short Rounds

We like it here,
We like it here,
You're f-cking A, we like it here.
We shine our boots,
We shine our brass,
We even kiss the Gunny's azs
We like it here, we like it here, your f-cking A, we like it here.

SGT. Grit,

Has it ever been noticed by all our brothers that all our sister branches seem to run on SpecOps only? I only met one man, a Korean Vet, who actually said he was a cook in the army. It seems EVERYONE else I've met is either a SeAL, Ranger, Green Beret, or ParaRescue...

Semper Fi
Chaney, Paul (one each)

Can't help Marine Joe Leonard with his songs (re. his questions in recent newsletter), but I can remember singing the Hymn to the tune of "Riders in the Sky" when I was in boot camp 62 some years ago at MCRDSD. Now, I can't get it out of my mind.

Semper Fi,
Bob Rader Sgt 140XXXX
God Bless America and the U.S. Marine Corps

What do you miss or not miss about the Marine Corps?

Sgt Grit


"Most bad government has grown out of too much government."
--Thomas Jefferson

"A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts."
--James Madison, 1792

"Has sturdy Americanism decayed, died? Have we, descendants of doughty, self-reliant pioneers, become a race of backboneless leaners, of suppliant dependants? When the 'most famous baby in the world' is kidnaaped, to whom do the stricken parents turn to find and return their child? To racketeers, denizens of the underworld!...Sound tocsin call to America's manhood, America's old-time fearlessness, arressiveness, all-conquering courage!"
--The Apr. 15, 1932 Issue of Forbes Magazine

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a h-ll of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a h-ll of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling."
--Gen. James Mattis

"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f-ck with me, I'll kill you all"
--Gen. James Mattis

"The United States Marine Corps is a drug and I am a recovering addict."

"Zero dark thirty - rise and shine, hit the deck leatherneck grab your boots 'n socks get in your trousers bail out of that rack make your mark for the day."

"I eat concertina wire and p-ss napalm, and I can shoot a round through a flea's azs at 300 yards."

Semper Fi, Mac!
Sgt Grit

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