Just a note of Marines training to go ashore the Marine way, 1953. Going over the side with full packs, helmet and rifle was always tricky and dangerous. And, sometimes you had to wade for a long way to shore... Good Old Days...
Sgt. Bob Holmes
1359XXX, Plt. 16
Clearly I Missed A Salute
Reading Cpl. Bill Reed's story about the California blonde in the Marine uniform reminded me of what happened to me in LeJeune in 1966. I was stationed in Geiger as part of Range Maintenance and rarely got on the main base at LeJeune... so one day I had to get something from the PX so I was there and walking to the front door when I spotted one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen... what I did not see was her Marine Captain husband right next to her so clearly I missed a salute. The man went up and down on me for about 15 minutes. I just stood at attention until he got it all out of his system. Needless to say I was much more diligent going forward! But she was 10 plus...
LCpl Art Montegari, '65-'67
Mid-Rats Marble Mtn 70-71
Was working in the message center at MAG 16 on night watch. I said I was going to take a sh-t. Lewenski says "Hey wait I'll go with you", and Kennedy says "Bring me back a sandwich will ya?"
Cpl of Marines 69-71
The "Are You Really A Marine" Games
I was at the gym this evening wearing my "Grumpy Old Marine" t-shirt when a younger guy (I'm 67, so they're mostly ALL younger guys at the gym) came up and looked at my shirt and said that he was a Marine as well. Sadly, because of all of the stolen valor frauds, we found ourselves spending about two or three minutes playing the "Are You Really a Marine" Games. We played the MOS game, the Boot Camp Game, the General Order Game, until we were both satisfied that we were, in fact, bona fide Marines. I met a new Marine friend tonight. It's too bad, though, that a few people have made us suspicious of each other.
Tom Mahoney ('67-'71)
The Pride Of New York
When we arrived at P.I. we were greeted by one Sgt. Drennan. He was a man of few words, unless he wanted to destroy whatever self-esteem you might be carrying with you. We were all from N.Y.C. and Sgt. was quick to let us know what he thought of us; "I'm from South Carolina and I don't like Yankees 'worf-a-Dam'", he stated.
I knew we were all in trouble! He had only 8-weeks to do his dirty work and he made the most of it! I recall one morning while marching, one platoon member had the audacity to slap a bug that landed on his face. The Sgt. halted us immediately to find the culprit. Once he was located the Sgt asked "Did you eat breakfast this morning?" The response was, of course "Yes Sir!" The Sgt replied "Well, them bugs gotta eat to." The culprit had to "find" and bury the creature!
Boot Camp was an experience never to be forgotten, as any Marine would attest to! And by the way, on Graduation Day our friendly Sgt. described his platoon as "The Pride of New York"!
Don O'Connor (Sgt)
Prepaid In 1964
Have recently seen several articles regarding the rifle range at Camp Matthews, La Jolla, CA, so thought I would add my reminiscents.
My boot camp Plt 141 (and Series 140) was the last recruit platoons to qualify at Camp Matthews in July 1964. Little did we realize at that time what an honor that would turn out to be. How fondly I remember the smell of fresh coffee in the mess hall, and who could forget that first whiff of spent gun powder as the sun peaked over the mountains and the center of the line ordered, "commence firing!" Somehow, I knew that I was where I was supposed to be in life.
Following qualification, and because Plt 141 had the highest combined scores, we pulled maintenance duty instead of mess duty. That week was mostly spent disassembling the target carriages and other range equipment and moving it all to Edson Range at Camp Pendleton. We marveled at the brand new air-conditioned barracks at Edson Range, and even before graduating boot camp became the "Old Corps" because we lived in the tents at Camp Matthews.
While visiting California in 1985, we were driving from San Diego to LA when I noticed the exit for the VA hospital and Torrey Pines State Park. It hit me like a bolt of lighting that this was the old Camp Matthews which is now the campus of UC San Diego Medical school. I was able to find the flag pole that once stood in front of the Headquarters building at main side, now with a commemorative plaque attached. Surprisingly, there was one other building that still existed, and that was the old mess hall. Appropriately, it was now/then a cafeteria with the old steam cauldrons still intact. I got a cup of coffee, but there was no way that the taste or smell could compare with that of 1964.
When we got back to the car I found a parking ticket on my windshield because I didn't have a campus parking sticker. I ignored it because I think that I had prepaid in 1964.
MSgt Ret. USMC
Broken Arrow, OK
A Copy Of Sgt Grit's Catalog
In August and September, 2015, my wife and I were on a series of photo safari camps in Botswana, Africa. During our first days in Camp Sango, while talking with other guests, it was noted that I was a U.S. Marine of the Vietnam era. Imagine my surprise, a few days later when we arrived at our next camp... when the manager of Camp Savuti took me over to the Bar, and there... I found a copy of a Sgt. Grit's catalog.
Evidently, other Marines had been TAD there too.
Chaplain Needed To Counsel
In March of 1968 after receiving my second Purple Heart, I was transferred to Okinawa to finish my 13-month overseas West Pac tour of duty. As most other (WIA) Marines, I was assigned an administrative duty/billet as the Protestant Chaplains assistant at MCAS Futema. The Chaplain was a true professional Naval Officer and fine person, Cmdr. Don Alexander now passed. The Chaplain and I were close and often ran together and he even trusted me to babysit his two young sons. My radio operator from Nam was still in Nam but was soon to rotate back to the States and would pass through Camp Hansen. The Chaplain knew this and asked me when John Rastovak, my radio operator, would be coming through Oki and if we planned to see each other on his way home. I said we would probably not get together as there was only liberty for Sergeants and above, John and I were Corporals. Chaplain said that was not true if a Chaplain needed to counsel a Marine on a personal matter. Thus, Cmdr. Alexander typed up a "dummy" set of orders for John, provided me his car and driver and off I went to Camp Hansen. We picked up John at Camp Hansen and the driver dropped us off at Bad Conduct (BC) Street near Gate 2, Kadena AFB. The rest is history and it goes without saying that John and I had a great evening (well earned). A bit late with this but, thanks Chaplain, I owe you one.
Cpl. Bo Van Fleet, Nam '67-'68
LtCol USMC (Ret) USMC '74-'98
My Fellow Maggots And Drill Instructors
For the past 15 years or so I've searched for Marines I served with and Marines I went through boot camp with. In addition to the 60 or so Marines I served with after boot camp, I had found 51 of my fellow maggots (some deceased) plus all four of our Drill Instructors. Thirty-nine of the maggots plus one Drill Instructor are still sucking air. Thanks to Sgt Grit's Newsletter one more maggot has rejoined the fold.
I had written to Sgt Grit in response to another Marines tale about the march from San Diego to Camp Matthews rifle range in 1962 and had included my platoon number. The following week I received an email from Sgt Grit telling me he had not given out my contact information but here was a fellow Marine that wanted to get in touch with me. Lo and behold it was Private Ronald Smith, someone I had given up hope of finding. I replied. He called and we talked for an hour and a half. There's a lot of catching up to do after 53 years.
Welcome home, Ron and thank you Don. There have been others I've come in contact with through the newsletter. Some who shared Drill Instructors and others who were stationed at the same duty stations I passed through, but this was the first fellow recruit that responded to one of my contributions. Don, I really appreciate what you do for all us Marines out here. I may have to buy a new t-shirt in appreciation. Smile :)
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
Platoon 145 â€“ MCRD San Diego - 1962
Recommended location for use is upwind of a mess hall (or, for the newbies... "dining facility"... note that the uniform is contemporary, or nearly so... some things never change, or, more appropriately: "in every clime and place"...) Those of you with friends "in the military" (that's the way AF folks always refer to themselves)... take the friend aside, and explain life in the field as gently as you can... and steal most of their ammo, should they happen to have some...
While Being Herded
February 1963... Like most recruits... arrived at PI at night... early the next morning we were picked up by our DI's. While being "herded" over to haircuts and clothing issue we walked/marched over dew covered soggy grass. I was wearing loafers. One of the loafers came off in the soggy ground. This recruit was not going to p-ss off the DI's by stopping and getting it.
So... now we are in front of the wooden bins placing our civvies into the bin to be boxed up and sent home. The bins were in rows facing each other separated by a narrow beam that a DI was striding back and forth on screaming at us "maggots."
Yep... you got it... the DI noticed that my bin only contained my clothes and one shoe.
He leaned over... screamed into my face... "You came into MY Marine Corps with one shoe?"
Then he proceeded to ask where I was from... "Nutley, New Jersey sir!"
He said "ah, a nut from Nutley!"
Needless to say he called over the other DI's and pointed out the nut from Nutley with one shoe.
My older brother was a Marine a few years before me... his advice for Parris Island was... "shine your boots... shine your brass... never be first and never be last."
Cpl Bill Lang
l963 - 1966
Sorry, I Wasn't A PI Marine
Just a few questions for Sgt. Black. Sir, you said you took pictures at PI... as a recruit? How did you manage to have a camera? Also, you wore 'greens', etc. to the mess hall? Now I was a Hollywood (Dago) Marine in 1953. No one in my platoon had a camera. (wish we did to have pictures taken while on the beach sun tanning, etc.) though, I don't remember putting on a dress uniform of any kind until we graduated. Just wondering.
Also, regarding 'what I wanted to do' after 'boot'. I remember being interviewed by a Sgt. for about 5-10 minutes. He asked me what I wanted to do in the Corps. I wanted to be in the infantry... or tanks. He wrote something down, and I was dismissed.
We then got our orders after graduating. I was assigned to aviation school in Jacksonville, Fl. Oh well... I don't recall many getting the mos they wanted. Most of the troops were assigned 0300, went to ITR. They then rotated to the 1stMarDiv in Korea, as most of those troops were being rotated off the line.
The kicker was that those replacement guys were given a big parade when the Div came back home. Most of the combat vets, the ones who really deserved the parade, had already rotated. As for my time... went to Cuba in '54, the Med in '55, and Japan in '56. My main point of all this is back in those good ole days we got assigned where the Corps decided. I also 'shipped over' for two more years and got a bonus of around $300... (I think)...
Even though I was in aviation, I still loved the Corps... and do till this day. I am now 80 yrs of age. I also wonder what would have happend to me if I got assigned 0311, which was my original dream...
Also... I am really sorry I wasn't a PI Marine... but if I were, I would have had to miss liberty in Hollywood on the week-ends, going to the beach, etc. That would have been a really tough boot camp.
Sgt. Bill Morenz
United States MARINE CORPS
P.S. I actually liked boot camp. No lie!
Yanked Up Our Trousers and Waddled
In response to the PI Experiences, whenever I think back about Parris Island, I initially get a huge smile on my face and then laugh to myself, but as we all know, humorous as a number of the incidents were, very few times throughout the training cycle days could be classified as fun. I can actually laugh hysterically now at some of the stories, but I don't ever recall smiling until graduation day on the parade grinder. In trying to think of the best or funniest experiences (as they relate now), there are many thoughts jumbling through my mind, and I have submitted several boot-camp stories over the years, so I tried to narrow it down to the most impactful incident(s) and or any that I did not submit before. One of the most interesting for me was an incident that started before I even got to Parris Island. Not sure how it is done now, but back in 1981 my recruiter picked me up at my house the day I was to report and drove me to Fort Meade. I was given a large, sealed manila envelope and was sworn in along with about twenty other turds. Soon after, I met a guy from Hyattsville named Jimmie Cornell and we started talking about how nervous we were. Sitting across from us and listening was a short, rather husky chap with a high and tight haircut and he was also sporting a Marine Corps bulldog tattoo on one of his arms. He said to both of us, "you two guys are p-ssies, what are you afraid of? Those DIs are just like your grandfather. All you have to do is give 110 percent and it will be like one big boy scout camping trip. Follow me and you guys will be just fine." I asked him why he had the high and tight and the tattoo when he had earned neither, and he replied that ever since he was a kid he wanted to be a Marine and it was a foregone conclusion that he would be one.
I did not know much, but I knew enough to know that it was not going to bode well for this dude. I had been forewarned by a Marine friend who just finished active duty who advised that I not do anything to make myself stand out negatively so as to give the DIs a reason to remember my name. Fast forward to the old white, wooden receiving barracks and getting off the bus. The fat chap was the last one off the bus and onto the yellow footprints and the Marine who got on the bus and screamed at us to get off, was on this guy like stink on farts. I could not see how he reacted, but the Marine was on his azs all morning long. The fat chap was the first to fall asleep and the first to f-ck up filling out the forms and constantly drew the ire of this p-ssed off Marine, who we mistaking thought was our DI, but when he noticed the high and tight on the fat chap he went off on him, yelling something to the effect of, "you fat, slimy piece of pond scum, who the f-ck do you think you are wearing my high and tight haircut before you earn it? Who the f-ck do you think you are?" Fortunately for the fat chap this Marine did not see the tattoo. That horror was yet to come though.
I can't recall now how soon it was from this point in receiving to when we were marched to the newer brick barracks and introduced to our DIs, but as soon as they were unleashed on us by the SDI SSgt Krause, the two DIs (Sgt Ishmail and Sgt Mazenko) had us "on line" and were racing up and down and ripping into us. I could not get a clear view of the fat chap without sneaking a look sideways as he was on the other side of the squad bay and about ten recruits down to my right, but I recall vividly Ishmail yelling in his broken-English growl, "who the f-ck do you think you are you fat piece of sh-t, wearing that bulldog tattoo? Hey Sgt Mazenko we have a silly f-ck-stick who wants to be a Marine without our help." Mazenko flew over to him and I could see enough that he was inches away from the recruit's face with Ishmail on the opposite side and the two of them were just ripping into the dumb bastard with a tirade of profanity that is still probably echoed in that squad bay to this day. What I do know is that the fat, bulldog tattooed guy p-ssed himself. After the DI's dismissed us for a head call I heard Mazenko tell him to get his "fat f-ck, food blister-self cleaned up."
The next day we went on our first run for morning PT and we were moving up a road that I believe was slightly tree-lined and we were headed in the direction of where the rifle range is located. All of a sudden there was a commotion behind us and Mazenko turned the platoon and keeping us in formation ran us back to where a recruit was flopping on the ground in convulsions. It was the fat, tattooed chap who had dropped out of the run. Two Corpsmen came running up from a jeep that was following us and tended to him. Mazenko had us circle the dude one more time, all the while calmly calling cadence and then we headed back out the road to continue on our run and never saw the guy again and no one ever mentioned him again either. If he did not get recycled he is roaming around today with a bulldog tattoo that he did not earn. From the few conversations I had with him at Fort Meade, and at the airport and on the flight to Beaufort I quickly learned that he was an arrogant, bragging b-ll-shitter, so I have no reason to think that he changed. He is probably telling all sorts of Marine stories while he shows off his bulldog tattoo.
The most shocking personal experience of boot camp, aside from the initial encounters with the DIs, was having to take a sitting head call on a long line of sh-tters and having to ask the recruit two sh-tters up from me to toss the sh-t-paper down to me. Losing my privacy was a huge shock to say the least, but the most bizarre situation I experienced involved the sh-tters as well. I, along with two other recruits were making a sitting head call one day early in first phase when one of our brother turds committed a heinous crime worthy of punishment on the quarterdeck. In our platoon when this happened, the rest of the turds had to stand on line at the position of attention until the offending turd completed his punishment. The three of us heard the command from Mazenko to "get on line, now move", but d-mn, we were taking a sh-t, didn't Mazenko understand that? Obviously not. He busted into the head and screamed, "get the f-ck on line... now, move!" So, just like any self-respecting human being we started to clean ourselves according to the most basic human hygiene laws. Apparently Mazenko disagreed with this as he yelled, "did I f-cking tell you to wipe your filthy azses? I said to get on line. Move azsholes!" So, we yanked up our trousers and waddled out on line until the turd doing push-ups and bends and mother-fuckers finished up. When he did, Mazenko yelled, "you three azsholes get into the head and clean your stinking azses!" Needless to say, it was the most humbling experienced in my young life up to that point. To this day I still reserve a special level of respect for those three Marines. I could not have become a Marine without them and I will never forget them! Many thanks to all brother and sister Jarheads and all Corpsmen!
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt
MSgt Eric England, USMC
My wife and I were in Blairsville, GA on Friday 09 Oct 2015, where among other activities, we visited a very popular store in the area (Alexander's) that is especially known for its sporting goods department that stocks a large selection of handguns, rifles, shotguns, ammunition, etc. While there, we encountered a retired Marine with whom I engaged in a very interesting conversation which started when he spotted my brass buckle that I wear with a web belt and asked if it was USMC issue. I told him that it was issued to me in November 1958, but that I had not polished it for many years (since I ran out of Brasso). Thereupon he introduced himself as MSgt. (retired) England and shared many details of his career in the Marines (1950 â€“ 1974).
On his recommendation, my wife and I visited The Moving Wall, a half-size copy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that happened to be on location in Blairsville during the period 08 â€“ 12 Oct. We were much moved by our visit during which I looked up the names of three Marines with whom I served who gave their all in Vietnam.
Everybody in the sporting goods section seemed to know MSgt. England. Upon return home, I decided to learn more about him and my search led me to the entry from Wikipedia set out below.
Although not stated in the article, MSgt. England served as a DI at San Diego in 1956. At an inter-service competition at Ft. Benning he shot a 998 out of a possible 1,000, a record that he said stood for many years, and the rifle he used to shoot that score was presented to him as a trophy. [According to the Union County Historical Society: In 1968, he won the all-time long-range champion (998 points out of 1000 with 45 Xs). He also won the Leech Cup (1000 yards open sights) and the Coast Guard cup. The year he won the Leech cup, he was there with Carlos Hathcock who won the Vanderbilt cup (1000 yards scoped). The Leech Cup is the oldest trophy awarded in competitive target shooting in the United States. Firing is with rifles equipped with metallic, non-magnifying sight The trophy is awarded to the highest-scoring competitor in the Long Range High Power Championship, determined through a 10-shot shoot off, after shooting 20 shots at 1000 yards slow fire prone. He held this record for 42 years. There is a great link (National Firearms Museum) in the story to the rifle [ he used in 1968 when he was on the USMC Shooting Team. "Old Yeller" currently resides at the National Firearms Museum.]
Read more about MSgt Eric England.
I felt it was an honor and privilege to meet MSgt. England. Had I known as much about him as I now do, I would have felt even more honored and privileged. I have decided to polish my buckle in case I see MSgt. England again. I had the honor of serving as Guide of Platoon 3013 which was formed on or about 13 Nov 1958. My Senior DI was SSgt. Bennie L. Knott, as 'squared away' a Marine as any I have encountered. Our Junior DIs were Sgt. Hudson and Sgt. Lopez. As if boot camp was not enough of a challenge, our training was affected by the change in drill squads from 13-man to 8-man. As I recall, the drill and rank structure changes (that introduced the 'Acting' ranks) took place as of 01 Jan 1959.
Bring A Ham Sandwich To A Banquet
When I was the Bn Maint O for what was then known as 'First Tracked Vehicle Bn' (had two companies of amtracks, two companies of tanks)... we had two round-eye females on the base, both civilian employees of the on-base USO, who lived in BOQ country... both certain they were going to be accosted at any moment... and frankly, neither was in any danger, as it was said that any Marine who would bring a Stateside woman to Okinawa was also likely to bring a ham sandwich to a banquet...
This brought to mind a panicky Leo Krusemark, S-4 of one of the Bns of Ninth Marines... in deep do-do, as the Bn had been 'flapped' to Kadena for some contingency, and wound up hanging out along a runway... for more than a few hours... with no provision for head calls... The AF guys were getting a bit perturbed. Leo showed up back at Schwab with a jeep and trailer, searching for drums and a way to cut them down... we were happy to help him out at Bn Maintenance... had a Black Cpl, welder, who was a wizard with the 'blue-tipped spanner', and he was able to produce more barrels than my quick count of empty oil drums would have produced... once Leo, driver, jeep and trailer were loaded and gone, I asked Cpl Broadus where he had found the additional barrels?... seems he had also used some empty MOGAS drums... said it was no promblemo... just backed up to the drum, put the torch in the big bung hole, drum went "WHOOM!", and then it was safe to cut... as I recall, Leo got orders to a DOD depot at Tracy, CA... lost track of him long ago...
One of my proudest moments in boot camp was graduation day. As we were marching to the graduation another Drill Instructor stopped his new recruits and made them salute us. He said there goes some REAL Marines. I know the the whole platoon walked taller with pride.
Sheesh! Ddick I had almost forgotten that we live in "rural TN"... here, I was almost thinking that we had become "civilized"... but to no avail!... I still tell people that I live out in the boonies, by the Beech schools...
Semper Fi... y'all!
"Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to h-ll in such a way that they look forward to the trip."
"All questions of power, arising under the constitution of the United States, whether they relate to the federal or a state government, must be considered of great importance. The federal government being formed for certain purposes, is limited in its powers, and can in no case exercise authority where the power has not been delegated."
--SCOTUS Justice John McLean (1785-1861)
"The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country'. I think it is the elite of the world."
--Admiral William Halsey, U.S. Navy, WWII
"The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand."
--Attributed to Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)
"This is my rifle. There are many more like it. But this one is mine. If I take good care of it, it will take good care of me."
"This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for work and this is for fun."
"With a clip of three rounds, lock and load! Watch your targets... TARGETS!"
"Shoot - Move - Communicate!"
"Scr-w with the Best, you go down with the Rest!"
Fair winds and following seas.