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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 19 MAR 2015

In this issue:
• Stopping The Rotation Of The Earth
• By Your Leave Sir
• Hue City

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Sgt.Grit,

While reading the newsletter from the last week I saw Camp Fuji mentioned so I thought I would send some of my memories of the camp from my stay there for 14-1/2 months in 1955 & 1956.

Berg


POW Times Two

In 1960-61, I was Maintenance Officer for 3rd AT at Camp Schwab, Okinawa. My Maintenance Chief was Gy/Sgt John Vogel. He had been captured on Wake Island in WWII and was a POW. Then came Korea and again he was again captured and was a POW of the Chinese.

I'm not sure if the Marine who wrote you is the same John Vogel, but if he is, I would sure like to contact him. I last saw him when I was transferred back to the "Land of the Big PX."

Edward L. Dodd, 1stLt

Here is a photo of us, Lt. Dodd and Gy/Sgt Vogel with one of their Ontos.

Semper Fi


In Country

In response to Mark Smith's post, my husband served in the USAF 1969-1974. When asked if he served during the Viet Nam "conflict", he always makes it clear that he did not serve "in country". We recognize that those who served in country faced the kind of hardships and experiences those who did not will never understand.

We are grateful to all who have served or are serving in the military, regardless of which branch, but we have a special place of honor for those who were "in country".

Elizabeth McKnight
Army Brat
AF Wife
Marine Mom


Stopping The Rotation Of The Earth

Sgt. Harlan need not feel bad about his reaction to people thanking him for his service, I well remember one of my company Gunnery Sergeants saying "don't thank me, the government thanks me twice a month" whenever anyone wanted to thank him for doing his job. Anyway there are undoubtedly many civilians who are truly grateful for what ever role anyone may have performed in our nation's service. There are also those who are not sincere and are merely going along with what is currently the trend of the populace. Since it is difficult to identify the sincere from the patronizing, I just take anyone thanking me at their word and let it go.

Prior to the Gulf War and just after Vietnam (I enlisted in '75, yeah I know to most of you a boot) the general response I got from people concerning my military service was "you could do better" or "Oh, that's too bad" and my favorite "anyone can carry a gun", you've probably heard them all, and then a couple of years after returning from the Gulf, someone thanked me for my service. I was working in a Nursing Home at the time and the guy that thanked me was certified crazy, (that's why he was there) but he was sincere and I appreciated his comment. Think about that, about two years or so after the war and a crazy person says thank you, and that was about ten years before people began to thank vets (or at least before the news media picked up on it) for their service.

And today we vets are supposed to be so grateful for the public acknowledgements that we occasionally receive. The way I see it, our government thanked me twice a month and promised future assistance should I need it for basic health care and compensatory payments for injury/sickness as a result of my service. (We call that VA comp) So when someone thanks me for my service that's fine, I take it with a grain of salt and I don't feel guilty about my attitude and neither should Sgt. Harlan.

On a lighter side, the letter about never saying "I don't know" brought back a incident when Plt Commander Sgt. Robinson said, "I'm tired of hearing you privates saying the private doesn't know. From now on if you don't know just say the private doesn't give a f--k, because if you gave a f--k you'd know"!

Fast forward to Initial Inspection (1st Phase) when the Series Commander 1st Lt. Carpenter asked the recruit next to me a question, I don't remember what it was, maybe the question referred to the fact that his belt buckle was on backwards, all I can remember is my peripheral vision seeing the Drill Instructors abruptly turning around or heads tilting so the covers hid their faces (they must have been busting their guts trying not to laugh). We must have come close to stopping the rotation of the earth that evening.

R/S
Duane Peterson
Sgt. Pete, TOW Plt


By Your Leave Sir

We have used "By your leave, Sir", when asking to pass an officer from behind since the days of iron men and wooden ships... and probably borrowed it from the English, a generally polite lot. The custom is said to date from the days when a ship's Gunnery Officer stood at one end of a gun deck to control the cannon for 'broadsides'. It was important that his vision down the line of guns not be blocked by some casual block-headed passer-by, so the leave (permission) to proceed was to be requested (along with a hand salute). As a very basic, but important custom, this was (and is) taught in boot camp, with the exception that when a recruit is requesting to pass a Drill Instructor, the salute is omitted.

As a very basic learning objective, the custom is sure to be a common question asked by inspecting officers for any personnel inspection early in the training cycle... in the day, that would have been the "Third Week Inspection"... and so it was asked of one of my recruits in the first rank... and it went like this: Series Officer (a 1st Lt.): "Private... what do you say when you approach your Drill Instructor from behind?"... Private: (loud and clear)... "Sir!... the Private says "By your leave, Sir!" Series Officer: "good... and what does your Drill Instructor say?" (he was expecting to hear "Granted")... the Private: "Getthefugouttahere, maggot?"

It was probably fortunate for me that Lt. Powell had two more stars on his Good Conduct Ribbon than I had on mine...

​ Ddick


Cold And Foamy

Sgt.Grit,

My Expert Badge from Hdqtrs, MC is marked; "50 - 51 - 55", However I fired Expert Prior to that. While Stationed in Bermuda, The CO, Capt. Dunagan, got all of us the shooting medals we deserved. I still have mine hanging on a momento board I put together, The Momento board has a Gong on it, duplicating the Gong in front of "A" Co. 1st Recon Bn, Vietnam with the Words; "DIE! BUT DON'T QUIT! These words were the Life and Legend of 1stSgt. Otis Barker who was a Friend. I still live by that Creedo!

At the Age of 88 years, many of my Friends are at the Marine Corps up there somewhere and I'll join them one day (I know they'll have a bottle of Japanese Beer, cold and foamy, waiting my pleasure). They say we all have a purpose in Life, Mine is remembering the Corps and my Friends, the times good & bad, and sometimes I think back and cringe at what I did then and burst with Pride with all that I've accomplished besides the Marine Corps, 5 children, 2 daughters (Both Married, 3 sons, Oldest Retired from the LBT, Middle Son a Successful Cabinet Maker, and Youngest a Weapons Handler for Movies).

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retied


Hue City

Sgt. Grit,

It's been 47 years since Marines from the 1st and 5th Regiments fought the NVA and VC in Hue City. I had been to the city several times before the Tet offensive and truly enjoyed the unique culture. It was a beautiful city.

I was with "H" Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. Captain Ron Christmas was our Company Commander. He currently is a retired Lt/Gen living near Quantico, VA. He was and continues to be involved with the Marine Corps Museum located just south of Quantico on highway #1.

We entered the city on February 2, 1968 on a "Rough Rider" convoy. As the convoy crossed the Perfume River, we were ambushed, and we immediately knew we were in deep sh-t. If memory serves, we took 22 casualties in the first hour of the fight. Lots of snipers, everywhere. We had orders to retake the Provincial Capital buildings. The mission took us four days to accomplish. But on February 6, 1968 we raised the stars and stripes over the headquarters building. My platoon was down in strength by 50% since we entered the city. I guess the toughest part was the almost constant rain because we were in the middle of the monsoon season. We were always wet and played hell keeping our weapons and ammunition from malfunctioning due to the constant downpour of rain. Very little air support due to the weather. No artillery support. The generals didn't want to damage or destroy the beauty of the Imperial Capital. Well, that didn't last. Toward the middle of February, 1968, artillery, tank, ontos support was finally authorized, and the fight took a dramatic turn.

Just hours after we raised the flag, we were ordered to take it down. There was only one flagpole, and the U.S. agreement with South Vietnam required that we also fly their flag beside ours. As fighting Marines, we didn't really give a sh-t, but we obeyed orders.

We fought street to street, house to house, and block to block for the next four weeks until we were ordered to return to Phu Bai combat base. Once again, if memory serves, we went into the city with 238 Marines. When we returned to Phu Bai, we had 36 Marines. But we accomplished the mission. We sent the NVA and VC scrambling to get out of the city. Unfortunately, we also destroyed the Imperial Capital. The beautiful Catholic Church was leveled. The university was nothing but rubble after 11th Marines got through shooting. To this day, I'm not sure that the mission was worth the price we paid?

Why the river was named the Perfume River, I can't imagine. The smell was nothing like perfume.

Semper Fi,
"A Former Hat"
GySgt, USMC, (Ret)


Squad Right

Sgt. Grit,

All this talk about the squad drill has brought up some ancient memories of being on the parade ground at MCRDep, SDiego, in the early l950's; I don't recall using it after I was transferred to MB, NAB, Coronado, in October, 1953. As a Sgt (E4), I was always included in the close order drills of the day. Later, when I was sent TAD to the Naval Training Center, I also was given the privilege(?) of conducting close order drill for platoons of sailors, waiting to go into the mess hall.

If you think that the squad drill was something new; may have been for the Marine Corps, check out an old, old movie about WWI, "The Fighting 69th", with James Cagney, George Brent, Pat O'Brien and others, in the 1940 film. In one scene, I believe, after getting off the train, the command "Squads, right (or left) front into line", is given, and it was done exactly as we were instructed in the 1950s.

So, this brings up another question, was this drill first developed in WWI, or later?

Semper Fi,
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines (1949-1970)
Hendersonville, TN​


3rd Recon Marines In Vietnam

This widely distributed WANTED POSTER was printed by the North Vietnamese and specifically targets the 3rd Recon Marines in Vietnam. I guess we caused a few too many problems for them and they clearly wanted us eliminated.

The value of piastres varied all over the place, but I have been told that in my day this was about $750 US Dollars. Hell! We were worth more to the NVA than the Marine Corps because my pay as a 2nd Lieutenant, with the combat kicker, was less than $400 a month.

And some wonder why Recon Marines were a little nuts.

Jeff


13th Infantry Battalion

Sgt. Grit,

I have been trying to find out whatever became of the reserve outfit I was assigned to after my 4 years of active service ended and I was fulfilling my remaining 2-year obligation. Having resisted all the shipping-over lectures, in Jan. 1963, I was released (not discharged) from active duty and instructed to report within 10 days to my designated reserve outfit. It was part of the 4th MCRRD headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. It's official designation was 13th Infantry Bn. FMF USMCR, NMCRTC, Bldg. 218, Naval Weapons Plant, Wash. DC. There was no regimental or division designation, just 13th Inf. Bn.

When I reported there I was given another pep talk about going active reserve, which I again declined.

I filled out the necessary paperwork and left, and never heard from them for another year. In Jan. 1964, I was summoned to Bldg. 218 again for what they called "records maintenance", in other words, just checking to see if I was still alive and living in their jurisdiction. At that time, I was unofficially engaged to the girl who is now my wife of 50+ years, but officially single. I received another pep talk about going active and all the many benefits it included. I had a good job I enjoyed, and was going to be married soon, so once again I declined their generous offer. A few months later I received a letter from them saying that due to the growing situation in SE Asia, and the fact that I had a critical MOS (when did 2533 become so d-mn critical?), I would be called up within the first 30 days of any call-up. I showed the letter to my boss, who assured me my job would always be there for me, and soon after, married my wife. That was the last I heard from them until Jan. 1965, when I received my discharge papers in the mail. I have scoured the internet for anything pertaining to the 13th Inf. Bn. in Wash. DC and found nothing that tells me what became of it. I assume it was probably mobilized and became part of some regiment after VietNam heated up. The only mention of it I found was an article about a Captain James Joy assuming command of the 13th Inf. Bn. in 1963 and soon after, going to VietNam with the 26th Marine Regt. I sort of assume that the 13th Bn. was absorbed into the 26th Regiment when it was re-activated for VietNam, but don't know for sure. If any of my fellow Marines out there in Grit-land can shed any light, I would like to know.

Paul Lindner, Cpl. 1959-1963


Cpl. Linder,

While editing the newsletter, I did some research into the 13th Infantry Battalion to see if I could come up with some info that might answer some of your questions. I found this publication titled, "The Marine Corps Reserves - A History". It is online, starting at page 210 per the book (page 254 per the website) is where you will find information regarding the 13th Infantry Battalion throughout the Vietnam War Era.

View the online version at The Marine Corps Reserves - A History.

Hope this is useful.

Semper Fi,
J. Williams
Sgt USMC '00-'07


What The "P" Stood For

In response to Emilio Galiano Reynoso's question about the "P" with a circle around it on the pistol grip of a rifle, it is the proof mark from the manufacturer. On the left side of the stock, below the rear sight there would also have been another stamp (or two). One from the manufacturer, and the other being an ordinance stamp of crossed cannons laying a wheel, or the Department of Defense stamp consisting of an eagle clasping arrows with 3 stars over its head. You could tell from the marks who made the rifle and when (by the type and style of the stamps).

Some of the stamps were RA (Remington Arms), WRA (Winchester Repeating Arms), SA (Springfield Arms), HR (Harrington Richardson) and rarely OR (Overton Corporation) who only made stocks.

Bill Wilson
Semper Fi 'til I die!​


Sgt. Grit,

On wooden stocks of some - but not all - WWII-era small arms, a 5/16" high "P", inside a 1/2" circle, was stamped into the base of the pistol grip. This "P" stood for "Proofed", which meant the weapon had been duly test-fired, and passed all Ordnance Dept. inspections, and was ready for issue into service.

Semper Fi,
R.R. Hopkins
0311, 1955-1960, USMCR


In the 11 March 2015 Newsletter, Emilio G. Reynoso asks what the circled "P" on the pistol grip of the M1 Garand stood for. It is an arsenal proofmark indicating the stock has been pressure tested prior to acceptance.

C. Stoney Brook
1961-65
11th & 12th Marines


Happy St. Patrick's Day

Sgt Grit,

I would like to share with you and all U.S. Marines. These photos show images of World War II, the Pacific Theater, U.S. Marines, Iwo Jima, February 19 - March 26, 1945, in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the most costly battle in U.S. Marine Corps history. (7,500 U.S. Marine Corps casualties and 21,000 Japanese casualties).

There also is a picture of the the window of my apartment here in sunny Bristol, Pennsylvania. "Happy St. Patrick's Day!"

In memory of my late father, Mr. Frank F. Mercurio, Jr., PFC, U.S. Marine Corps, 1950-1951. Identification No. 1289XXX


Priceless

In regards to Paul Lindner's post about Mt Fuji, I can relate to his post. I was there for cold weather training, 30 days, in 1961, with C-1-9. Our tents were 8-man tents with wood pallet floors. The Corps issued us wool long johns, in addition to the green wool shirts and the Micky Mouse boots. To go to the shower tent, Marines walked thru the cold clad only in the long johns and the boots. If you needed to make a head call, there were plastic tubes about 3 inches in diameter driven into the ground, at about a 45 degree slant, for relieving your bladder. These p-ss tubes were in the open and placed helterskelter throughout the tent camp. If you were modest, you would probably eventually die of bladder explosion. To facilitate your head calls involving a bowel movement, there were small tents, about 6 feet square containing a four holer. The wind at the tent camp was always blowing hard. To this day I remember one of the small tents blowing over, while a Marine was sitting inside doing his business. Of course several Japanese women were walking by when the tent collapsed and exposed the Marine inside. In typical Asian fashion the women covered their mouths with their hands while laughing at the situation. Priceless...

Floyd White 1860xxx
0351 January 1959-January 1965


Free Pepsi

Sgt. Grit,

My service started in March 1944. My greens were wool and had no back pockets. We sewed up our front pockets (some of us) to keep the smooth look. We carried our wallet (billfold) in our sock and kept our spit-shined shoes glistening on liberty as well as on duty. In the barracks when you were not doing anything you usually polished your low quarter shoes. Some Staff NCO's and Officers found your front pockets full, they had you fill your pockets up with sand.

During World War II, I went to the Pepsi Cola Center in San Francisco (a USO type affair on Market Street in a 3 floor building). Free Pepsi, Hamburgers were five cents, I don't remember what else was on the menu, usually you got s small package of potato chips. They also had a place to sleep, a place to iron your uniform and a place to shower. All free except the Hamburgers.

After the War, I came back to San Francisco to Treasure Island, the Pepsi Center was gone as was most of the USO's they had. People asked why I went to USO places like the Pepsi Center. I was getting $50.00 month pay, $5.00 month for firing Expert (you got $3.00 for Sharpshooter) rifleman on the range. I sent home $25.00 month, the NSLI (National Service Life Insurance) took another $5.35 a month. You could afford little other wise. When Free Insurance came out in 1950, they asked me to change my NSLI Insurance for the Free Insurance and they wouldn't pay the Wife $10,000.00 Cash, only Monthly payments, so I kept NSLI and Now I only pay half but get only half or $5,000.00 goes to the Wife, BUT I have received a dividend of almost what I paid at the end of the year, which has always been used as Christmas Money.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau USMC Retired


Bath And Fumigation Platoon

Well, it didn't go by that title in 1966... and was probably a sub-unit of an Engineer Bn from down around the Chu Lai area, or maybe from FSR (Force Service Regiment... which later became Force Logistics Command, or 'Fork Lift Command'), but we were sure surprised and happy to see them set up in the vicinity of the runway/LZ at Tam Ky. We (3/5) had been out in the bush for several days, eating C's (when we got them...) humping, sweating, humping/sweating... looked like goats, smelled worse. (you city boys will have a hard time believing that a 'billy goat' (ram) will intentionally whiz on his own beard, but they do... and, come to think of it, have seen Marines also do some really strange things during, and because of, mating season...) We had drawn some cushy assignment for about twenty-four hours, that being providing security around the landing field (saw SVN President Nguyen Cao Ky and 'the Dragon Lady' come in and land in a shiny Huey... 'twas said the Pres was one of the pilots. And before the PC crowd gets on my case about 'the Dragon Lady'... that is a reference to an old comic strip character in 'Terry and the PIrates'... drawn to be Asian babe-a-licious, with the high collar, slit up to there dress, etc... Gunny Rosseau or Gy McMahon probably remember the strip... LOL). Anyway, we were instructed to peel off our utilities, and hand them over... Since it had been months since any of us wore skivvies (guaranteed way to get terminal heat rash is keeping sweat-soaked cotton next to the skin...) we were pretty much, other than un-tied jungle boots and helmets, buck nekkid. Wasn't anythang but a thang, anyway. The guys we gave those funky, fillthy, soggy utes to had these trailers with diesel-powered generators on them that ran huge front-loading washing machines, and burned fuel to heat the big rotary driers mounted on the same trailers, along with collapsible water tanks. It wasn't going to take long, and even though the chances of getting your own stuff back was slim, that meant you would soon have warm, dry, clean, jacket and trou.

Along with the skivvie-dippers, a bakery and mess had been set up, and while we were waiting on clothes, we got baloney/mustard sandwiches on thick fresh-baked bread, and coffee (with grounds floating in it... of course) in our canteen cups. Having found a C-ration carton outer sleeve... water-proof cardboard, sort of... and having located a water buffalo (tank trailer... 400 gallon), Rosie and I went to ground under the water trailer... squatting there, watching the rain pour down, chewing on fresh chow and gritty coffee (real... not instant, "with ascorbic acid added"...). One of the more memorable meals in two tours. My attitude toward 'pogues' changed somewhat that day... 'laundryman' may not be the most exciting of MOS's, and the owners thereof can be excused for telling the GF that their real assignment was "Recon Sniper", but clean clothes, for a Marine who has forgotten what they feel like, can be a real 'force multiplier'... if you were a grunt, be thankful that sometimes those REMF's mission was to make your life just a bit more comfortable...

​Ddick


Lost And Found

Sgt Grit,

I heard you were in DaNang during my vacation there. I served with the 1st Marine Air Wing at the Air Base during 1967, 1968 and went State side in 1968. I served with a ground support unit at the airstrip. I would really like to hear from some of the GUYS who worked at that shop during that time. Remember the CATTLECARS. Remember trading parts for beer with the Air Force who lived in apts on the other side of the base. We lived 8-Marines to a wooden platform on stilts with our Bunker outside the back door. It is funny NOW to remember all 8 of us trying to get out that door at the same time when the rockets came in.

That time in my life and the GUYS I knew is some thing I will NEVER forget. With these new Congress escapades in IRAN AND IRAQ it brings back all those good and BAD memories.

I would really like to hear from some of the guys I Vacationed with.

1. Danial Boone, NC.
2. Lenny Langford, TN.
3. Sgt Bell.
4. Carl Merrit. Idaho the potato state. He taught me how to be a carpenter.
5. Two other Guys who worked for the entertainment group.
6. Last but not least was Dave Hill with the CAT team. Dave we made some fun out of a bad situation. I still remember but will not go into any details here. You Know what I mean Leut, Capt / trip to DaNang to PARTY. AWESOME. My family still does not believe me when I tell them.

Semper Fi,
Cpl. Brendan McCarron
E-mail: bmcarron[at]aol.com
Love You Guys.​


Short Rounds

CB Thompson called in and said that he was beyond thrilled with his order he received. He said every part of his experience was excellent and he wanted everyone to know. He said the Vietnam Ribbon shirts he ordered were even better than he imagined they would be and he wants to say Thank You to everyone involved, and also to Sgt. Grit for having a place like this for "us old Marines".

​Semper Fi,
Andi Jordan
Sgt Grit Customer Service


In the spring of 1975, a battalion officers' call to review the latest combat readiness report (ARMMS) occurred. These reports were typically dismal at the time (manpower and equipment readiness metrics in a post-Vietnam environment). As the ARMMS was being reviewed, the battalion commander (1st Battalion, 10th Marines, "First in the World") LTCOL CLARK would comment appropriately after each item was addressed. His most memorable comment was at the end, "One Attaboy Is Worth A Thousand Oh-Sh-ts."

Semper Fidelis,
Joe Kerke
(then 1st LT, B-1/10)


Quotes

"As contrasted with the ideal ways of organizing effort in other fields, what is needed for maximizing the flow of ideas is plenty of overlapping, healthy duplication of efforts, lots of so-called wastes of competition, and all the vigorous untidiness so foreign to the planners who like to be sure of the future."
--John Jewkes​


"I still need Marines who can shoot and salute. But I need Marines who can fix jet engines and man sophisticated radar sets, as well."
--General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps, 17 May 1974


"I can't say enough about the two Marine divisions. If I use words like 'brilliant,' it would really be an under description of the absolutely superb job that they did in breaching the so-called 'impenetrable barrier.' It was a classic - absolutely classic - military breaching of a very very tough minefield, barbed wire, fire trenches-type barrier."
--Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, U. S. Army Commander, Operation Desert Storm, February 1991


"I am convinced that there is no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world."
--Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill


"Pvt, you're about as organized as a soup sandwich!"

"What the h-ll did you shine those boots with... Hershey bars and sandpaper?

"Oh I hope, I REALLY HOPE that isn't an IRISH PENNANT I see!

Semper Fi, Mac!
Sgt Grit

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