Going To Write The CG of MCRD San Diego
Our reunion, 3/3 Viet Nam era, was in San Diego a couple weeks ago. Of course we went to a Friday Graduation. Afterwards we had a few moments so I wanted to see if the EGA on the base theater was as shinny as I left in Dec 1965. You see our PLT. drew maintenance duty instead of Mess duty. For a whole week I was assigned the job of shining that EGA. Well sadly I must report that it has not been kept up. A matter I am going to write the CG of base about.
Warriors Of The Grind
Here is something I composed in 2006 - when TOO MANY Marines were dying or being wounded. My first poem ever...
Please consider publishing it in your newsletter. If you do and want to, add a notation that if someone wants to put music to it, I'll sign away use of the lyrics.
I wanted James McMurtry to write a song for it...
Were you there? Am I here? Suddenly it's not as clear.
Soldier of the muse. Did we really lose?
I always knew I'd sing to you.
Soldier in the news. Won't need two shoes.
I always knew I'd sing the blues.
You say you care. I seem to stare. This thing's nowhere.
Soldier of the muse. Red, white and blues.
I always knew I'd be confused.
You come to listen and seek me out. You say I'm great and get wiped out.
I'd be there too. If I'd been you.
Soldier of the muse. Soldier in the news.
Was it rough—singing my stuff. I've got it down and didn't drown.
Star on the stage. You hide your rage.
Two lifetimes ago I wouldn't age.
I always knew I'd sing about you.
House lights down. Hide the frown. Going through another town.
Knock it out. You scream and shout. You'd never know I let you down.
I always knew I'd sing for you.
Soldier of the muse. Nothing do I lose. Standing here in my two shoes.
Soldier in the news. I can't save you. Come on back I'll sing to you.
I'm not looking but I see you there. Sometimes standing in a chair. Different lengths and shades of hair.
I sing my set and watch you drink. I'd be there too, Wait... I was - I think.
You come to escape the things you feel. I sing to feel the things I escape. Is that too heavy; let's sit down and share.
Warriors of the grind. Soldiers of any kind. A war of words may come to mind. Let it please just stop there.
Bob Venceil, USMC 1969-73
A Hollywood Marine
I always enjoy reading the stories and tales. I was wondering if any of the readers were at MCRDSD during the period of 07-70 to 09-70. During that time period, I believe it was in August; Hollywood was at MCRD. There was a movie being filmed called "Tribes". Starred Darren McGavin and Jan Michael Vincent. Our platoon, 2090, was one of the ones chosen to do drill sequences. Many hours were spent on the grinder in practice so that we looked good. Staff Sgt. Spiller, our platoon commander (known as "the voice") is frequently heard during the drill sequences. He let us know that he would take it personally (not a good thing) if we were not the sharpest marching and most squared away platoon out there during the filming. As an aside, watching other movies through the years I would hear some of his cadence calling during marching scenes. They must have kept it in an audio library for re-use. There was no mistaking his unique cadence calls. I know that during our frequent drill sessions in preparation for the filming I wore the heels off a pair of boots. The movie was so-so but the memories are good looking back. I can truly say I was a "Hollywood Marine".
BV Schultz, Sgt. '70-'73
All I Needed Was A Three
After I graduated from high school I decided to go into the Air Force as I was told that this was the "country club" of the military. When I went to sign up I was told that there was a 6 month waiting list. I tried the Navy and was told the same thing. I definitely did not want the Army. All four branched of the military had their recruiting offices upstairs in the post office. I started to go downstairs and the Marine recruiter stopped me. He told me that they were having a "buddy platoon" going to P.I. from Bridgeport, CT and thought I might like to join him. I told him that he must be kidding. Here I was a 5'8" skinny kid that weighed 119 lbs soaking wet. I explained that without my glasses my eyes were very bad. He took me down to the other end of the hall and told me to take my glasses off. He pointed to the large cut-out of a Marine in dress blues in front of his office and asked if I could identify that as a Marine. I told him I would have to be blind not to. I signed up and went home. A buddy of mine that lived in the same apartment building that I did had a father that was a Marine veteran from WWII. He said his father burst out laughing and said that I would never make it through boot camp.
When our platoon went to the rifle range, I did not qualify on pre-qualification day which meant I would be set back a week. One of the junior DIs called us to formation after chow and announced the guys that did not qualify. He did not call my name. After we got to the barracks, I pondered if he was checking to see if I would say anything or if he actually made a mistake. I went to his barracks and he wanted to know what the h-ll I wanted. I said, "Sir, I did not qualify today, sir." He had been laying on his bunk. He jumped up, grabbed me by the front of my utilities and shouted, "No sh-t, Pvt Perry, but you ARE going to qualify tomorrow, aren't you Pvt Perry?" Nothing like getting me all tensed up. The next day, when I had one round left to fire, I figured I needed a bulls eye. I was in the prone position and every time I wanted to squeeze the trigger I was sweating so bad that the sweat would run into my eyes and I would have to wipe them. The rifle coach finally whacked me over the head with my score book and told me to squeeze off the round. I did and when I saw that it was a 4 that I scored I didn't want to get up. The coach threw the score book at me and said, "You know what you did didn't you?". I said nothing, but when I looked at my book I found that I had added wrong at one point and all I needed was a 3. I could not have been happier if some one had handed me a million dollars.
In my next letter I will tell you what happened when I had to go to main side to pick up a package from home.
S/Sgt Frank Perry
We arrived at P.I. on 3 October 1958, I was in 3rd Bn, platoon 347, Roberto was in 348. We got to know each other as well as the system would allow, as we were both squad leaders in our platoons, and platoon field day competition was a big thing then, as the D.I.s made no secret of the facts bets were made on the competition.
We both earned a PFC stripe leaving the Island, and ended up in the same platoon at ITR. Having the stripe got us both squad leader positions, "until you f... up".
Got to know him well there, a really fine guy, no ego, and without question, the finest athlete I've ever been around. Nothing, physically, he couldn't do better than anyone else. YOU DID NOT WANT TO GET INTO A PUGIL STICK CONTEST WITH HIM.
Finished his six months and on to Pirates and the big time.
Just a good guy with all the talent and humility in the world.
Back At Marble Mountain
I did two tours in Vietnam in 3 different helicopter squadrons in MAG-16, lst MAW at Marble Mountain Air Facilty.
One day in my second tour in 1970, I was working on a repair job on a Cobra helicopter in one of HML-367's revetments. It was in the last row of revetments and the next row over was the start of HMH-463's revetment area.
I heard someone yell to get my attention and when I looked up it was the crew chief of a CH-53 helicopter about to take off and he was waving for me to come over. I didn't know this guy and never saw him again after that day. He told me that his squadron was on its way to bomb an NVA target of some kind in the Que Son Mountains. Each of the three 53's in the flight had about half a dozen 55 gallon drums of aviation gas that would be suspended in nets under the helicopter and he asked me if I wanted to go along and watch. I wasn't doing anything that couldn't wait so I hopped aboard that 53 and took a seat and away we went. On the way to the target area we rendezvoused with a couple of OV-10 Broncos. The target was an NVA HQ or base camp or something and was somewhere near Charlie Ridge or there abouts.
The 53's flew in line and each dropped its load of gas barrels as they passed over the target then they flew a ways off and orbited so we could watch the OV-10 Broncos dive in almost vertically and fire their rockets into the gas. The fireball was enormous and I actually felt sorry for whoever was in the middle of it. They were either instantly incinerated or even if they had cover in a cave or tunnel they must have suffocated when the fire ball sucked all of the oxygen out of their underground shelters.
Fifteen minutes later we were back at Marble Mountain and I went back to the repair job I had been doing and never thought much about it at the time. It's amazing how things that would be startling under any other conditions just seemed like normal occurrences that were not worth noting in a place like Vietnam.
Former Sgt. Wayne Stovcik
Stamina Was Stretched At Boot Camp
I remember that our stamina was stretched to the limit a lot in boot camp and it took its toll on our series as we went to Camp Geiger. I was in from August 1963 to August 1967, and in reality we went from - some days - black flag days - in the 90 degree temperatures to freezing cold in the boondocks of good ole North Carolina. I do not remember our table of organization at Camp Geiger - we had I think 3 or 4 platoons. It seems that one platoon had a group who came down with pneumonia. One had meningitis - and the 3rd got a few mumps or some other childhood illness. Scary as h-ll as we were grown men.
After some went to sickbay - The Corpsmen came to our barracks to check us all out - AND DOCTORS WERE CALLED IN TOO! They quarantined the Company and some of us were sent to Beaufort Hospital. I ran a high fever but had no other ties to any of the above. At Beaufort we were in a ward - and I had a few dollars - but not a lot of money - was there a few days more for observation as my fever broke with rest and a less hectic schedule. One Marine ran a very high fever and they could not bring it down - this was at 0300 and the Doctor was called and next I knew one Corpsman woke me up and I helped him put a rubber sheet under a Marine, and we packed him in ice to reduce the fever. Scary as h-ll. The Corpsmen at the Hospital got me and another sodas as we had little money - and even got food after hours. After I got back to normal I went back to Camp Geiger and was reinstated with the original group.
The other point I want to make is after being at boot camp and being told what to do and when to do it - the freedom of Camp Geiger was a real treat. Some clowns stayed up late and hurt themselves. A few found a place with washing machines and dryers close by and did clean our clothes - do not remember if they were free or not? Camp Geiger was a very interesting place to show us Marines some interesting clearing up of what we can do and cannot do with weapons and explosives. One explosives expert set off a charge next to something and it did not blow it up - then placed it a distance away and blew the cr-p out of it. Placing explosives is an art? Also, this big S/Sgt picked up an M-60 with a belt and ran and shot off rounds at the same time - explaining that the sh-t we see in movies is all Hollywood!
Bruce Bender Cpl USMC
Vietnam Era Marine
Make A Bunk The Marine Corps Way
After 2 days in receiving barracks, I was finally put into a Plt. (324), this is San Diego February 1964... Our DI's were graduating another Plt, but Sgt. Duncan, came over to show us how to make a bunk the Marine Corps way... Sgt. Duncan, was (is) the meanest Marine to ever put on a smoky bear and duty belt... Anyway he's showing us how to make the bunk and myself and another pvt. are whispering... Without looking at us he hit me so hard in the chest (I could see the breath leaving my mouth) I went down and 2 others also... Needless to say the rest of that lesson was quiet as that bus by the foot prints...
H. Young 1964/1969
Korean War Joke
The Korean War, in which the 1st Marine Division fought and won some of its most brutal battles, was not without its humor.
During one such conflict a ROK (Republic of Korea) commander, whose unit was fighting along with the Marines, called legendary Marine "General Chesty Puller", to report a major Chinese attack in his sector.
"How many Chinese are attacking you?" asked Puller.
"Many, many Chinese!" replied the excited Korean officer.
General Puller asked for another count and got the same answer, "Many, many, many Chinese!"
"#%$@*&$@#!" swore General Puller, "Put my Marine liaison officer on the radio.
In a minute, an American voice came over the air: "Yes sir?"
"Lieutenant," growled Chesty, exactly how many Chinese you got up there?"
"General, we got a whole shitload of Chinese up here!"
"Thank God." exclaimed Puller, "At least there's someone up there who knows how to count."
Pohang Steel Company Historical Thread With U.S. Marines
I read with interest Greg Pawlik's story about meeting with some South Korean steel company representatives in 2002 who had something nice to say about American Marines. If those representative were from the Pohang Steel Company then there is a historical thread that can be explored.
During the Korean War K-3 located in Pohang was the largest Marine Air base in Korea. Major league baseball players (and Marine fighter pilots) Ted Williams, Jerry Coleman and Lloyd Merriman and (later) Astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn all flew jets providing close air support to the Marine infantry units a little farther to the north. A year or two after the truce was signed in July of 1953 the base was deactivated and the Marines left the area.
In 1968, the Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) was founded and began construction (partially) on the grounds of that abandoned Marine Air Base and with outstanding leadership and some good luck grew rapidly. In the year 2014 (POSCO) was 5th in the world in the production of certain types of steel.
Since several civilian residents of Pohang were employed on the base during the war and (I don't think that it would be too much of a stretch) some of them and/or some of their descendants were employed at the steel plant as well, tales of the Pohang experience with the U.S. Marines have been told and passed down. I'm sure some were negative and some were positive. It's nice that what Mr. Pawlik heard was overwhelmingly awesome!
Sgt. of Marines 1952 - 1955
It's Not Me You Have To Worry About
Thank you for your excellent newsletter. I look forward to reading it each week.
During the course of my 27 years in the Marine Corps, I encountered many chaplains. Most were great men who humbly served, and to whom the Marines related well, regardless of faith (or lack of). The ones that weren't willing to get dirty with the Marines, and who acted in a pious manner were not well regarded. Two in particular stand out:
The first is LT Steve Miller, USN CHC. While serving with 2d. Battalion, 4th Marines, we went through the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare summer package in 1985. One day, while back in the base camp (a place we didn't spend much time) I overheard two lance corporals cursing in the usual hyper profane manner. One of them saw LT. Miller approaching, and said to the other, "Knock it off--here comes the chaplain." LT Miller heard him, and with a smile replied, "It's not me you have to worry about!" The Marines were always glad to see him.
The second is the Roman Catholic priest who served as our chaplain at 2d Reconnaissance Battalion during the Gulf War. For the life of me, I can't recall his name, but it was a typical Irish name. He was from San Francisco, and was 52 years old. I asked him why a 50+ year-old man would volunteer to go to war with the Marines? He replied that the church had put out a call for chaplains, and he felt compelled to volunteer. That is a true servant, in my opinion.
SgtMaj. USMC (Ret.)
Sgt Harvey Keitel
I am the author of two books about the Marine Corps and I am considering writing a magazine article about the actor Harvey Keitel. I would like to hear from anyone who served with him. Harvey was a Marine from July 18, 1956 until July 17, 1959. He was in boot camp at Parris Island from July to October of '56. He served his entire enlistment at Camp Lejeune as an infantryman. First as a barman and later as a fire team leader with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. In July of 1958 he participated in the Lebanon intervention as a member of that unit. Keitel arrived, by government aircraft, in Beirut on July 20, 1958 and returned to the U.S., aboard the USS Chilton APA 38 on December 15, 1958.
He was discharged with the rank of Sergeant. I would like to hear from anyone who served with him during boot camp, at Lejeune, in Lebanon or at sea aboard the Chilton.
Contact me at redoubt[at]cox[dot]net.
I recently purchased a Platoon 254 graduation book that completed training on 29 April 1966 at Parris Island. I bought it at an Antique Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you are in this platoon and your name and picture show up I will sell it to you for exactly what I paid which was $2.00 and shipping.
Do not bother responding if you were not a member. If you are a relative and can prove you are a relative I will make you the same offer.
I need to add it is not in the best of shape the spine is loose but it is readable.
Sgt. USMC 1969-72
WWII pics always show the Marines with their bill cover cocked slightly to the right. What's the history on that? (Not allowed in '57, nor were dips in the p-cutters, unless no senior staff was looking.)
Joined in Aug 1953 and was issued some stuff called shaving cream... To the best of my knowledge it was Barbasol (in a tube) and was about the texture and soapiness (Just made that word up) of lard... Kinda like Vaseline or Cosmoline... I had no beard being a 17 year old but that cr-p and having to shave daily grew me one...
Don Wackerly, Sgt 1953-1956
Ooh Rah Sgt. Grit, love the newsletter. The stories and y'all's catalog, Awesome! You represent us well. Outstanding! Makes me feel not so alone sometimes. To hear stories and see pics of other Marines brings back days of the past but never forgotten, Good old days. Once a Marine truly Always a Marine. Good job guys keep it up.
Semper Fi, God bless you my brothers.
I about peed on myself when I read... "They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. In the Marine Corps, you can sure make that horse wish to h-ll it had."
I had not heard that one, but that's about right. I'm still laughing.
B/1/9, '67-'68 Nam
"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
--Thomas Paine (1791)
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
"The American Marines have it [pride], and benefit from it. They are tough, cocky, sure of themselves and their buddies. They can fight and they know it."
--General Mark Clark
"The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth."
--Thomas E. Ricks
"My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage, and better officers... These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost."
--Lt. Richard C. Kennard
"Breaking it down Barney-style."
"Gear adrift, is a gift."
"Grunt by association."
Fair winds and following seas,