Sgt Grit Newsletter - 28 MAY 2015

In this issue:
• A Flying Twenty
• PX Chit Book
• Purple Heart Reissued

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Don Farnham WWII Marine with U.S. flag on Iwo Jima

Don Farnham WWII Marine with U.S. flag on Iwo Jima for Michels family

At 12:00 p.m. on Memorial Day I was at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, IL. We had a dedication of a new headstone at my father's, First Iwo Jima flag raiser Pfc James Michels, grave. Also, a fellow U.S. Marine, Donald Richard Farnham, who served with my father on Iwo Jima was there. Mr. Farnham went on an Honor Flight to Iwo Jima in February and raised an American flag for my dad and the Michels Family! He was one of the speakers at the dedication and he presented this flag to our family. The location of my father's grave is: Section 36, Lot 32, Block 32, Grave 3.

Semper Fi,
Betty Michels-McMahon

Temporary Commission

Some time during the late 1980's my brother-in-law a Retired Sergeant Major and friends would visit Oceanside Ca. during the West Coast D.I. Reunion and we would gather at a local watering hole outside the back gate called Papa Joe's. Several of those gathered there had been temporary officers and as the conversation progressed one of them, the bar owner, asked "Ted how come you never got a temporary commission?" The response my brother-in-law gave was priceless. He leaned over towards Ski and in a reverent tone calmly said, "I got a good lawyer and beat it." Most who heard Teds response burst out laughing.

​ George

USMC Nike Dri-FIT Dugout Polo

10 MPC

Military Payment Certificate front

Military Payment Certificate back

I saw someone mention MPC. Here is a copy of a 10 cent MPC I brought home. Know anyone who wants to trade me for US?

Semper Fi and remember our fallen brothers on Memorial Day.

Cpl. J Kanavy

A Flying Twenty

I entered MCRDSD on 8/11/55, Platoon 160. Like Jerry I'm a little foggy on some aspects of that experience.

I do remember getting paid once. It was called a "flying twenty". A disbursing Lt. set up a table on our company street and we lined up to get our money. Naturally, there wasn't anything or anywhere to spend money except the PX. That being out of bounds except for one time after being paid, the platoon was marched to the PX before its regular opening hours and we were allowed to enter one at a time and make purchases of razor blades, shaving cream, blitz clothes, brasso, boot and or shoelaces, etc.

I don't remember what I bought except for one item I asked for that brought down the wrath of the Drill Instructor upon me. I asked for 2 hankies. I was immediately informed by my JR. DI that the correct name was not hankies but hanker-chiefs. I was lucky because the clerk was a young lady and I think because of that it was a minor as-chewing but I was marked for additional instruction upon returning to the company area.

About a week before finishing ITR, I vaguely remember that we were allowed to talk to a designated travel agency that booked airplane tickets for us. Like Jerry, I don't remember how I paid for the ticket but I did fly from L.A. to Detroit on the 4 engine Constellation aircraft. Noisy but sure beat the train or bus.

WR Nicoll

USS Henrico APA 45​

I had almost forgotten this 'til I read an article about the USS Henrico. In 1964, while serving with 1st ANGLICO out of Camp Smith Ha, we were sent to Korea for a exercise with the Army and ROK Marines. Part of the exercise was an amphib landing. There were about 50 Marines and God knows how many soldiers. This was a steel ship with wooden decks that had been converted from a sea freighter in 1943. The Navy guys took pity on us and treated us much better than they treated the soldiers. Anyhow, we went down the nets into landing craft for the landing. The Army had almost no training on the nets and I'm surprised no one got killed.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I look forward to your newsletter every week.

Semper Fi,
Steve Gardner

Galvanized Pail

I remember on pay days in boot camp, a desk was put together made out of recruits' foot lockers with a quilt thrown over the top. There was a galvanized pail placed at one end of this desk. The pay distribution officer seated behind this makeshift desk would receive your military I.D, look-up your pay that you had coming, and count-out in front of you the amount. You picked-up the cash and then deposited $ into the galvanized pail. You then did an about face and moved out. Don't remember how much each one of us privates had to drop into the pail (with the drill instructor watching), or what this pail of cash went to pay for. Back then you did not ask questions.

Sgt. Parker, J.D.
Plt. 2107
Hollywood Marine

2nd Battalion 4th Marines Gear

PX Chit Book

Sgt. Grit,

In response to Cpl. Jerry D's "where did all the money go" submission, I too recall the PX chit booklet. I went through Parris Island in 1981 (July to October) and while I can't recall receiving any cash until we graduated, I do recall the chit book. However, our platoon was instructed by our DI's to buy certain items for the entire platoon with our chits on our trip to the PX, but were not allowed to buy poggy bait or any personal items. On the day we received the chit booklet, we all stood on line in the squad bay and counted off our laundry number. Certain numbers were instructed to purchase particular items to stock up on the platoons supply, such as shaving cream, toothpaste, aftershave and your basic field day cleaning materials and other personal toiletry items. It was explained to us that since we were a unit and not a mob of individuals, we could not continue to think of ourselves as such and instead would pool our funds to buy what the unit needed. I suspect this was the first time many of us had to spend our personal money on anyone other than ourselves with the exception of buying birthday or Christmas gifts, and I bet many recruits struggled with this internally. It was actually the first step by the DIs to get our stupid-azsed, greedy, ignorant selves to think of the unit first and ourselves last.

Sometime around the end of second phase I believe they again took us to the PX and again we all bought the same items as we did on the first visit. The only other time I went to the Parris Island PX was the day before graduation when we had a few short visiting hours with our families. My parents drove down from Baltimore, so I did not have to purchase a bus ticket, but aside from buying myself a pair of Corfram shoes, a few USMC tee shirts and running shorts and some anodized brass items, I can't recall how much cash I had after getting my pay, or what I did with it.

Semper Fi Jarheads!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8, Weapons Platoon
'81 - '85

The Senior NCO Stepping Up

Our company lost a few platoon commanders while I was in country, and I recall the senior NCO stepping up to the Commanders posi., but never actually being promoted. The next senior would assume the Platoon Sgt. posi. With that said, my B.S. detector is only about 70% because I don't have all the facts of the situation. I do recall though while stationed at Camp Lejeune a notice on the bulletin board that qualified NCO's could take a test and possibly become a Warrant Officer.

Snakefighter 2

New Assignment

Hi Sgt Grit,

My brother, who arrived in Vietnam in DEC 1967, did not leave Nam until Dec 1969 because he extended. He came home on leave in Dec 1968, kicked my back side and told me I am going in the Marine Corps. Going through Parris Island, I swore that if the NVA did not kill my brother, I would. P.I was no fun for me. I had many duties outside my MOS for the most part of my enlistment. On Okinawa, besides being the driver for Col Wilson L. Cook (a great Marine), MSgt Walker gave me other jobs like payroll clerk for Okinawan civilians working at Special Services throughout the island. This 2nd Lt and I would sign for $50,000 cash, drive from Fatima to Schwab and pay the Okinawans. The 2nd time I did it, the 2nd Lt decided I could do the job alone. When I returned, I was approached by 2 sh-tbird Marines and they wanted me to fake a robbery. I went to the MSgt and told him that if I was not allowed to carry my T.O. weapon, I would refuse to go on another payroll run. I did not want to snitch on the 2nd Lt and the Marines who approached me with their get rich scheme. I was relieved of that duty and 2 months later an attempt to rob the payroll occurred. It did not go well for those involved and I would bet that they are still in the brig since loss of life was the outcome. Also, I worked for a 2nd Lt who was reverted back to G/Sgt at Pendleton and this week, a V.A. doctor told me I will be reporting for a new assignment in the next 2 years. At any rate, I will be able to see some old friends.

Semper Fi,
Sgt A.J. Manos
inactive reserve

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. "The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land," he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn't the anniversary of any particular battle.

Windward Marine 01 June 1962

Windward Marine  1 June 1962 page 1

Windward Marine  1 June 1962 page 2

A little history from the "Windward Marine" the base newspaper for Kaneohe MCAS. I was stationed there in VMA 212 from 1961 to 1963.

Norm Spilleth
1960 - 1964

Purple Heart Reissued

LCpl Mike Price receiving his reissued Purple Heart Medal

The attached article appeared in the Newport Plain Talk, the paper in Newport, TN where I was activities director and training to be a nursing home administrator at the local nursing home at the time.

Resident smoke breaks were divided up among the various departments for supervision. Every once in awhile one resident, Mike Price, would get a pained look on his face and say, "Got shot in Vietnam for nothing...." Everyone thought he was making it up. His medical record said he alleged being in the Marines, but there was no official record of him ever having served. I told him I was in the Marines, and we started talking. He knew it all...the rank structure, the jargon, and he was telling me things about Parris Island I'd forgotten a long time ago. There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Mike was in fact a Marine at one time.

I started looking into it, checking every public source of records I could find. There was no record. Finally I found a guy on the internet who said he knew how to get into records nobody was supposed to be able to access (God bless hackers!). He found one small record, just one line, that said "LCpl Mike Price, MOS 0311." That wasn’t the actual MOS, but that's not what's important. What's important is that when I went to Mike and asked him what his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), he stated the exact same numbers. Bingo!

Now I was even more determined to find proof of Mike’s service in the Marines. I wrote the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of Defense, and the Vice President of the United States. Someone was going to find this record. It ended up being a congressman from Tennessee who helped us out. Our answer came in the form of two Marines showing up to take him away--he had been AWOL since 1969. Here's the story...

Mike's platoon was in the Quang Tri province of Vietnam, as far north as you can get while still being in South Vietnam. More ordnance and agent orange was dropped there than anyplace else in the entire war. That's where the most vicious firefights took place. During one such firefight, he watched over half of his platoon get killed and his best friend earn the Medal of Honor posthumously. Mike was shot in the foot. It was some time before they were able to medivac him out because of the firefighting. After triage in a military hospital in Germany, they sent him back to the states for some convalescent leave. He never went back. Between the time he returned from Germany until the day he ended up at the nursing home, Mike lived on the streets. When he got to the nursing home he was half dead from alcohol.

We told those two Marines that as soon as they got through doing whatever paperwork they were going to do, to get his tuckus (well, something like that…) back immediately. When he came back, it was with a discharge type that allowed him to still get full military benefits because of the extenuating circumstances of why he went AWOL. I wrote the Commandant of the Marine Corps again, and we were able to get his purple heart re-issued, complete with a copy of the original citation describing the circumstances. A bunch of us former Marines went through our closets and pieced together a uniform for him. The local JROTC provided a color guard. The VFW provided a rifle team. A divisional president in the company was a retired colonel and came to present it to him...he's the one in the picture. I'm the guy at the microphone, and the guy with the beard was the administrator. It was nothing short of glorious. But gets better.

Mike had always been volatile. He would break into fits of rage, would be cursing, and getting his temper back under control was a challenge. But from the day of that ceremony forward, he was as peaceful as a monk. He came up to me and thanked me for it, saying that the secret of being AWOL had tortured him his entire life and he was glad that was over. Not only was it over, he was validated for his sacrifices. Instead of the $30.00 allowance from Medicaid, he now got the $90.00 from the VA.

If you look at the picture, you'll notice he was on oxygen. He had throat cancer from the agent orange. We knew it was a race against time, one that we won. Shortly after the ceremony I finished my administrator in training program and got my first job as an administrator in Dalton, GA. About a month after I got to Dalton, the administrator from Newport called me. He said Mike was dying. He said they'd asked him if there was anything they could do, or if there was anyone he wanted to see before he went, and he nodded yes. They ran through a long list of names before they finally got to mine. He wanted to see me. I was in the car and on the road in 15 minutes. Mike was buried with full military honors.

Gregg Martin

Read the attached article at Veterans program includes presentation of Purple Heart.

Attitude Is Everything Day 23

Attitude Is Everything Quote of the Day 23

Here is this week's most popular Marine Corps quote that was posted on Sgt Grit's Facebook Page. The replies are nothing short of what you would expect from our fellow Marine brothers and sister, or Marine family members.

Here are a few of their comments:

Dennis DeEmo - Sgt Fish, SSgt Conroy and Sr DI SSgt Statham Plt 2009, 3rd RTB MCRD San Diego Oct 1956 to January 1957... Series Honorman, Right Guide And meritorious PFC... OOORah!

Jimmy Copenhaver Sr. - Very true S/Sgt Pekard, Sgt Airres, Sgt O'Connor Plt 231 MCRD San Diego 1963.

Craig Young Bear - SSgt Grimsley, Sgt Connaly, Sgt Green (light), Sgt Green (dark) Plt 2006 graduated Jan 77 PISC.

Annette Begaye - Or Her, Sgt Heart, Parris Island Aug-Nov 1988

Frank Rubio Senior - Drill Instructor SSgt Reed, Charlie Co, Plt 1001, 1st RTB, 1995.

Check daily to see what the next quote or saying of the day will be on the Sgt Grit Facebook page.

Hard Lessons

Hard Lessons book cover

For many of us, life lessons are learned the hard way. When we reach a place of stability and calm, we are able to look back on those life-changing experiences and reflect on what they meant, and how they changed us. Read my story about how lessons I learn throughout life and my service in Vietnam shaped my personality and my beliefs in my book "Hard Lessons: Lessons Learned The Hardest Last The Longest".

My book cover displays a photo of myself and two of my Marine buddies in Vietnam in '68-'69. From left to right: Speedy, who lives in California and suffers from health complications linked to Agent Orange; Next is Dutch, passed away last year (health complications also linked to Agent Orange), and I am the last guy with the cig in my mouth, smoked then but I don't smoke now.

Bob Martin

Get "Hard Lessons" in hardcover or paperback.

Skid In Broadside

Sgt. Grit,

Hanline, Ralph J. 2003536
Feb. 20, 1962 - Aug. 20, 1966

I'm Cocked, I'm Locked, and Ready to Rock!

Join The United States Marines. Travel to Exotic Distant Lands. Meet Exciting and Unusual People. And Kill Them. OOH RAH and Semper Fi Till I Die.

I have a full size American and Marine Corps Flag on a lighted ten foot wood pole on my front porch. I also have a full size American Flag on a lighted pole on my back porch. You want to know why? I have them there because I CAN have them there. I Earned the right to have them there, that's why!

"A US Marines life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "OOH RAH! What a ride!"

It cannot be inherited. Nor can it ever be purchased. You and no one alive can buy it for any price. It is not possible to rent and cannot be lent. You alone and our own have earned it with our blood sweat and tears. You own it forever. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the Title Of United States Marine. That's what I'm talking about!

"I like being a Marine, because being a Marine is serious business. We are not a Social Club or a Fraternal Organization, and we do not pretend to be one. We are a Brotherhood of "Warriors", nothing more and nothing less, pure and simple. We are in the azs kicking business, and business is good!"

Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful... "It's More Than A Motto... It's A Way Of Life... Live it, I DO."


Humble Contribution

humble contribution to all Marines

Sgt Grit,

The attached photo is my humble contribution to all my brother and sister MARINES who have had the honor to claim the TITLE. Many have given the last full measure of devotion to that TITLE and many more have served HONORABLY. Two especially are remembered by me as I served with both of them. G/Sgt John D. Wysemierski and Capt Lawrence Jordan, both of whom are on the WALL. This is my permission for you to use this photo as it copywrighted. Thank you Sgt Grit for Service in Vietnam and your devotion to our Brother ans Sister MARINES.

L/Cpl G.D. Vallejos
USMC 1960-1964​

Lost and Found

Anyone out their from Plt. 108, Parris Island in Jan. 1959?

Email me at gg[at]​.

Sgt Grit,

Looking for lost Marine classmates from OCS Class which began October 2, 1967 and TBS Class 6-68 from December 1967 thru early May 1968. IE: Mike Flynn, Lee Williams, etc - contact Steve Van Tyle at svdutch[at]

Thank you - Semper Fi!


Combined Action Company (CAC) Oscar Company Mini-Reunion

Members of CAC Oscar (Khe Sanh & Phu Vang, RVN 1967 - 68) have decided to meet in Las Vegas, NV for an informal mini-reunion from Monday, July 27th through Thursday, July 30th, 2015. The Golden Nugget Hotel in downtown Las Vegas has been selected as "base camp". We'd like to see as many men from Oscar Company (all platoons, eras, and ranks) attend if at all possible. New information will be posted on our site and circulated to the mailing list as it comes up.

Visit the USMC CAC Oscar website at:

USMC CAC Oscar Bulletin-Board

Point of Contact:

Jim "Bagpipes" Taylor
Email: fjtUSMC[at]

Visit the The Golden Nugget Hotel website for rates or to make reservations at The Golden Nugget Hotel.

All Vietnam War/Era Veterans Gathering

This Vietnam/Era Vets - Welcome Home event will be held the weekend of August 27-30, 2015 at the Forest City Municipal Airport, Heritage Park. Just as the war affected each person in a different way, our goal is to provide a variety of events which will allow each veteran to feel comfortable in whatever way they choose to participate. Our goal is to make all Vietnam/Era Vets, their spouses, children, and grandchildren feel welcome by joining together with their brothers and sisters of the war.

There will be Huey Helicopter Rides, The Vietnam Traveling Wall, Sky Soldiers, and Much More! Camping will be $15.00 a night and payable day of event. Free Admission - If you register, you will not be drafted again! Pre-Registered Vietnam/Era Veterans will receive a "meal card" worth $10 at any of the food vendors (mess halls), and a commemorative "Welcome Home" challenge coin, both can be picked up during the event. Photographers will be onsite and images will be available to registrants from the website after the event, for a limited amount of time.

Register now at: Operation LZ.

Point of Contact:

Ernie L. Martinez
Email: northiowamarine[at]
Office: (641) 423-6023
Cell: (641) 420-5195
Fax: (641) 423-8005

Short Rounds

I want to thank Reddog '45-'57 for the article. It made me tear up. As a FMF Corpsman in Viet Nam it was an Honor and a Privilege to serve with the U S Marine Corps.

Semper Fi!

​Joe "Doc" Garcia
India Co 3/9
Viet Nam '65 - '66

A true story about 19 Marines killed on Makin Island during WWII.

Watch Return To Makin Island.


"[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another."
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, 1821​

"Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix."
--Merle Miller, Plain Speaking [1974]​

"I can never again see a UNITED STATES MARINE without experiencing a feeling of reverence."
--Gen. Johnson, U.S. Army

"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a MARINE CORPS for the next 500 years."
--James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy

General Mattis Quote

"When you men get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a p-ssy."
--Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis

"Keep kicking at darkness until it bleeds light popping smoke!"

"Bends and Thrusts Until I Get Tired Girls."

"What Are You Looking at Maggot"

Fair winds and following seas.
Sgt Grit

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