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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 26 MAR 2015

In this issue:
• Up Against The Starboard Side
• Parris Island History Lesson
• PTSD Poem

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Sgt Grit and Staff would like to give a hearty Semper Fi and Welcome Home to all of our Vietnam Veteran Marines!

Browse our collection of Vietnam Era stories!

The Dog's Got Grit

Shopping at Sgt Grit with my dog in Oklahoma!

Lynne Holmgren
From North Mankato, MN

Up Against The Starboard Side

"By Your Leave, Sir" reminded me of an incident which happened in Norfolk, Virginia. I was a Marine, but -- through circumstances -- became a Captain in the Army Reserve.

It was a short tour at the War College in Norfolk, Virginia where many Reservists pulled annual training. An Air Force Major, who taught Military History at West Point, became my buddy.

While heading out for lunch, the two of us were walking through a narrow passageway, when -- lo, and behold -- two Flag Officers were walking together toward us. I recognized one immediately as Admiral Kelso.

The pair was about ten feet in front of us when I shouted, "MAKE WAY! FLAG OFFICERS!"

I shoved my Air Force buddy into the bulkhead and slammed myself up against the Starboard side.

As the two Admirals walked between us, I could hear Admiral Kelso remark to the other, "He's a Marine!"​


Parris Island History Lesson

I was primed for the inspecting officer's questions having memorized my general orders and rifle serial number. Every move was executed perfectly when he approached and slapped the rifle out of my hands. As he was studying the serial number, he asked a question and I didn't know the answer to.

"What did Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon lose in the assault on Tripoli, Private?"
"Duh", says I.
"It was his left boot dumbie, get down and give me twenty"

A history lesson I'll always remember when I hear the Marine Corps Hymn and they get to the part about the shores of Tripoli. I picture Lt. O'Bannon crossing the burning sands, one boot on, one boot off and me doing twenty push-ups because of it.

Norm Spilleth
Platoon 374, 1960

What A Screw Up

To Gunny Rousseau esp. "Semper Fi" Marine! I recall from past discussions the differences over Ike Jacket vs. Battle Jacket. I just read that when General Eisenhower first went to England. He in truth did not have many Americans to command. So, he inspected British troops. He was impressed with their 'battle jackets'. He then had one designed for his personal uniform. That was the start. So, what's the correct title. As far as supply went it was 'battle jacket'. Oh well...

The origin of the 13-man squad drill. I remember attempting to master it well. What a 'screw up' that was. Especially for Marines who didn't want to drill... Anyway, I was told that it orignated all the way back to General Washington's Army. It was used in battle. Designed so the first squad would fire, then kneel and reload, the 2nd would then fire, kneel, reload, the 3rd the same. Then the firing of the squads would continue, etc. I'm guessing the British probably used the same tactics.

Another point. In one letter a few weeks ago an individual stated that "war was good". I thought oh yeah! Tell that to the Warriors who have come home paraplegics, the burn victims, etc. Tell the kids whose daddy was KIA "war is good". Tell the mothers, fathers, wives "war is good". Go to a National cemetery, and if you could, tell the spirits from those crosses how good war is. Tell their survivors the same thing. Oh, I could go on and on. War is good? Get Serious! Oh... by the way, I watched a good Marine Lt. burn up. I for the sake of having a happy mind today won't describe that... and/or his screams.

Semper Fi Marines!

Bill Morenz
Sgt. USMC​

Walking In The Footprints Of Heroes

In your last newsletter there was a story about Hue City. A couple pics from 1969. Walking in the footprints of Heroes, 1969.

Ken Martin

I Wandered Around For A While

BOY! Do these photos bring back MEMORIES!

Too bad the few remaining huts have fallen into such disrepair. I went to the USMC Scout Sniper Association reunion a few years ago in San Diego and we as a group attended a recruit graduation. Things have really changed since I went thru MCRD in '64. For one thing, on that grad day the recruits did not march in review like we did back then. They were marched out by platoons, lined up in front of the reviewing stand and just stood there while a Colonel gave a congratulation speech. Then they were dismissed and that was it. (R. Lee Ermey showed up and visited with some of the officers and DIs, then left without even a nod to us).

I wandered around for a while and found my old platoon street in the old 3rd RTB area. There were about a dozen huts there including the one I was in and that was it. All were being used as storage sheds and the ice plants had taken over the Drill Instructor's Grass area in front of the huts. Not the little neat rows that we had to plant and maintain and rake lines between the rows (to show any boot prints in case someone stepped in the dirt/plant area).

And the head with all the sh-tters lined up... and the showers where the DI's could "adjust the water temp" at the master control valves... "HOT... COLD... HOT..."


Semper Fi,

Close To God And All

We were taught both drills in Plt. 143, MCRD San Diego in June of 1955. Our original platoon commander was relieved of duty following an incident and was replaced by SSgt Cartwright, Sgt. Richardson, and Cpl Y. Ota.

If I remember correctly, we were told that the "Squads Right drill" was the infantry adaptation of the horse cavalry drill, i.e., the command "Wheel... right" became "Squads... Right". etc, etc. I do not know if this is correct, but it seemed plausible at the time and has stuck with me all these years... and of course I have always believed everything the DI said to us came down "from on high"... Him being that close to God and all... LOL!

Salute to all Marines, past, present, and future!

Semper Fi!
Sgt. Donald H. Kinum, Jr.
HqCo, HqBn, 2nd MARDIV
Division Sgt/Maj Office​

Had Heard Rumors

Two letters in the 19 March 2015 newsletter captured my attention. The first concerned Hue and the Tet '68. Around July of '67, a group of us from Phu Bai were taken on a"field trip" to Hue where we toured the Citadel and other sites, one of which was the beautiful Catholic church. I still have pictures of it. Soon after that I transferred Delta Co. 3rd Recon at Dong Ha and didn't see Hue again. My Tet "celebration" was spent at Quang Tri when we were hit at 0210. I know the time because I had just looked at my watch while on inner guard. The second letter concerns the 3rd Recon Bn. I had heard rumors as to the reward offered for Reconners but this was the first time I actually saw it in print.

Sgt. Marvin Byrd​

We Called It Stud

Every time I hear a story about Motor "T", I smile. In 1969, after I recovered from a leg wound I got on Dewey Canyon, I went back to Kilo 3/9, 3rd Platoon. Mr. Johnson sent to the CP to work for the company Gunny. On one occasion I went to Vandegrift Combat Base [we called it Stud], I was assigned a prisoner. Gunny Rojas told me just to kinda hang out with the guy. He was a mechanic that had volunteered for duty in a provisional platoon. Apparently he did well in the bush and had a couple of confirms. He also punched out a platoon Sgt. Gunny didn't know if he was getting a medal or a court martial. One day the "prisoner" asked if we could to visit Sgt. Green at Motor "T". When we got to Motor "T" we were told to go to their club. Sgt. Green bought us beers all night. I might add when Kilo would get to Stud, once a month or so to clean up, we were told the Ninth Marines club was for rear area personnel only, no bush M​arines allowed. That's why I like those motor "T" guys!

Adam "Wally" Mackow
Kilo 3/9, 1968-69​​​

​​Platoon's Battle Guide

Seeing the drill instructor names on this banner makes me think of what my SDI called our platoon's battle guide, this one possibly for platoon 1054. We were allowed to create one for our platoon after sweeping the inter-battalion competition during boot camp. Attached is my graduation photo. In it, you can see the Marines in the second row holding the guide. It amounted to a tribute to our drill instructors for leading us to victory, their names in the upper left corner with USMC slogans in the opposite corner. Ours never left the barracks and I have no idea what happened to it. It should have been disposed of given the nature of some of the content. I'm top row, fourth from the right.

Stephen King
Sgt. of Marines
1976 - 1982​

My Two Cents

I would just like to add my two cents on a couple topics.

1. No disrespect intended to my fellow Marine vets or any other vet, but if you did not earn the RVN service medal do not claim to be a Vietnam Vet! I could go on about my reason, but that could be a story for another day.

2. I agree with the opinion about being thanked for my service. I think a lot of these people do it just to make themselves feel good. It's starting to embarrass me. For the past few years I only wear my veteran hats and shirts on veteran holidays.

CPL. H. White
P.I. 1967
7th Engrs. RVN 1968 (Camp Love/Liberty Bridge)
8th Engrs. Camp Lejeune 1969-1970

A DI To Remember

It is with great anticipation to receive your email letters once a week from all your contributors. Most of the stories bring back some wonderful memories. But one writer has on occasion jumped out at me more than any other. J.L. Stelling. Boy, oh boy how I remember that name. Although it has been almost 50 years since we first met, just seeing his name and the way he writes his entries brings back a whole host of good and bad. You see, Sgt (E-5) Stelling was my DI from June 1965 to September 1965. He, along with Sgt (E-5) Hogan and SSgt (E-6) Willingham, made up the three that would train Platoon 243, MCRD San Diego and mold all our maggot recruit b-tts, not only for the Marine Corps but for life. Sgt Stelling was the hard one and he proved it every day for twelve weeks. If you take Sgt Jim Moore (Jack Webb) from the movie "DI" and add GySgt Hartman (Lee Ermey) from "Full Metal Jacket" you would come somewhat close to Sgt Stelling. But with that being said, I wouldn't have it any other way. He taught me so many things I still remember and use today. Whether it's discipline, honor, trust or just being true to yourself, it's the things you need to succeed in life. So "THANK YOU" Sgt Stelling. I still have our platoon picture hanging in my man cave. Hope you're doing well.

R.J. Wilkinson
Sgt 213XXXX
USMC 6/65-6/69
RVN 12/67-01/69

Just a side note. Four years after boot camp and after returning from RVN, I was in front of Headquarters MCRD San Diego waiting to be decorated, when much to my surprise, Sgt Hogan, now a GySgt was standing next to me for the same purpose. When I asked him if he remembered me, he said sure do, Platoon 243, I was shocked and amazed.​

GySgt Hatchcock

Ya well, the rest of the story... notice John Dalton, Class of '64, USNA pinning on the silver star at Carlos Hathcock's home in Virginia Beach, VA, Jay Johnson was appointed CNO by Clinton after Mike Borda shot himself about a combat NCM. Right after Jay Johnson took over as CNO, Dale Snodgrass and I lambasted him with making it right for White Feather. The burning APC, when he, on several returns, pulled his fellow Marines out of the APC, under heavy NVN fire... THAT alone was an MOH! Long Story Short... too long since the APC event which crippled White Feather = Silver Star... max. However, since the military retired Carlos Hathcock 11 months before he had 20 yrs. in... it was adjusted to what is right... with back pay. He and his wife Jo Hathcock had been struggling financially... this made it (almost) right. I personally knew GYSGT Carlos Hathcock... visited him in VA Beach at his home twice... listened to every word he said. He was the Masai of gunnery... A Hero of Gigondous Proportions. Jay Johnson (CNO) was overseas, so John Dalton did the honors at White Feather's home with Marine Color Guard. I was not able to attend. Thanx for the photos... Eyes Wet!

Hoser Satrapa​


It's All In Your Head

Curled up in the corner of my old back porch
I saw two Unicorns and a Dynasaur
Fire Flies were flashing red and green
One of them hovered right in front of me
A car backfires, I hit the floor flat
This house won't take incoming like that
So I filled sandbags for my living room
I swear I was right back with my old Platoon
Flashbacks remind me my buddies are dead
The VA says it's all in my head.

We've had a steady diet of government lies
A dessert called Agent Orange Surprise
I'm coughing up blood, spittin' up lead
VA says it's all in my head.

I wake up in the night with a start
Grab my K-Bar, fumble through the dark
Go sit in my old Pickup till round three
That's when the dreams come most violently
I've got sores on my head, sores on my feet
Scars inside that no one can see
Flashbacks remind me
My Buddies are dead
The VA says it's all in my head.

We've had a steady diet of government lies
A dessert called Agent Orange Surprise
I'm coughing up blood, spittin' up lead
VA says it's all in my head.

I started drinkin' heavy in Vietnam
Carried that habit back across the pond
I can't see and I can't hear
My third wife says, "Just face your fears"
I loved that woman, knew she wouldn't stay
I heard she ran off with a Green Beret
So this ol' Pub is my new home instead
The VA says, it's all in your head.

We've had a steady diet of government lies
A dessert called Agent Orange Surprise
I'm coughing up blood, spittin' up lead
VA says it's all in my head.

Sid Orr
Woodstock, GA

Blank Check

I joined the USMCR in August 1959 and went active in June of '60. Served on the Cuban Crisis aboard the USS Theatis Bay, then was at Memphis, TN, to assist the US Marshal Service in enrolling James Meredith in the U of Miss. In 1963, arrived in DaNang, S. Viet-Nam still a Cpl in HMM-261. Later we served aboard the USS Iwo Jima the Special Landing Force Pacific. Upon returning to the States I became a Field Musician and was transferred to the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. as a Cpl in their US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in 1965. I remained at the Barracks rising to the rank of GySgt before resigning in June of 1974 to take a job in Law Enforcement. After a 10-year break in service I joined the Maryland Army National Guard in the 629th MI Bn (CEWI) and was promoted to 1stSgt of A Co. I retired from them in September of 1992. I served in the Charles County Maryland Sheriff's Office from 1974 through 1999 when I retired again as a Lt. All of this I did because I wanted to serve and considered it both a privilege and an honor to have been able to do so. I never expected any thanks, nor sought any and quite honestly when some stranger thanks me for my service I feel awkward! But I am glad that our troops are no longer spat on and called foul names, but are once again held in high esteem for their service. In both of my chosen professions, I willingly signed the blank check, never knowing when, or if it would be cashed and was proud to have been able to have done so.

I do regret greatly that our nation no longer has a draft as I feel every young person upon graduating from high school should perform some service to their country for at least two years. It could be building needed infrastructure, filing papers, computer entry or any number of other needs. But it would provide more benefits for those who elected to serve in the military because of that blank check they would be writing!

Just the two cents worth of an old guy who served as best as he could!

Semper Fidelis
DB Wright​

Small World

I cannot answer his question about the reserve unit, but I believe Capt. Joy would retire as Brig. General James Joy. My wife and I were eating in a Dairy Queen in Arkansas one afternoon and I had a Marines t-shirt on. This older gentleman came up to my table and said "Semper Fi" and gave me a card with his name on it and said "if I can ever be of service, call me."

Well, it was Brig. General Joy. It's a small world. Google him up and you can read about his career.

Sgt. C.

MIA Poem

Now deep in the Ashau Valley
It's not safe for mortal man
But the NVA keep moving
And supplies keep pouring in
So they insert a Recon Team
You know the swift, Silent type
On a trail they call the Ho Chi Minh
They settled in first night.

I'll be right back
Gonna set these Claymores down
Gonna slip right through the clearing there
Stay close to the ground
Gonna leave my noisy helmet here
Gonna leave my belt and pack
The last words the Hero said
Hey Sarge, I'll be right back

Now you wouldn't think a man
Could vanish just like that
They checked the place for trip wires
They checked for Boobie traps
They trained for every danger
They sent out the Tunnel Rats
So the Hero said with confidence
Hey Sarge, I'll be right back.

I'll be right back
Gonna set these Claymores down
Gonna slip right through the clearing there
Stay close to the ground
Gonna leave my noisy helmet here
Gonna leave my belt and pack
The last words the Hero said
Hey Sarge, I'll be right back.

Now politics didn't trickle down
To the area around Khe Sanh
From Quang Tri to the Rock Pile
From Camp Carroll and Beyond
So they never knew how true the words
When the evening news came on
Tonight in South Vietnam
We've lost another Son.

I'll be right back
Gonna set these Claymores down
Gonna slip right through the clearing there
Stay close to the ground
Gonna leave my noisy helmet here
Gonna leave my belt and pack
The last words the Hero said
Hey Sarge, I'll be right back.

They never sent his Helmet home
Never sent his belt and pack
The only remains were memories
For his home town high school class
But they Swore to God They won't lose hope
They'll hold out to the last
Because the promise that he made
Hey Mom, I'll be right back.

I'll be right back
Gonna set these Claymores down
Gonna slip right through the clearing there
Stay close to the ground
Gonna leave my noisy helmet here
Gonna leave my belt and pack
The last words the Hero said
Hey Sarge, I'll be right back.

Sid Orr
Woodstock, GA

Short Rounds

Grandaughter Brianna is a beautiful girl who soon will be able to date.

Asked her dad, my winger son Todd, what he will do when she begins to date.

He said, "When the boy comes to pick her up, I'll toss him one of my 9mm shells. And, I'll tell him if she isn't home on time the next one will come faster."

God Bless his Marine training.

Bob Rader

This Marine has a reserved place in heaven.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Cpl Kyle Carpenter.

Sgt Grit,

When I am thanked for my service, as I am often done today, my response is always to say thanks for their kindness but it is not necessary to thank a Marine. To be good enough to serve as a Marine is a great honor, I was associated with the greatest of men, I had a fantastic adventure, and a got to see many parts of the world. That's payment enough.

Semper Fidelis,
Red Dog '45-'57

"Doc" - a song about Navy Corpsmen by Country duo Walker McGuire.

Watch video at "Doc".

John Wear


"[H]onesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a nation be just."
--George Washington, 1783​

"The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle."
--Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, U.S. Army Commander of American Forces in World War I

"Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellowlegs alone. Strike the American Army."
--Orders given to Communist troops in the Korean War; shortly afterward, the Marines were ordered to not wear their khaki leggings.

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom."
--Albert Einstein

Philip of Macedonia in a message to Sparta:

"You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Sparta's reply: "If."

"You aren't Marine Recruits... YOU'RE A HERD!"

"What did you call your rifle?"

"You just finished chow... let my sand fleas have theirs!"

Semper Fi, Mac!
Sgt Grit

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