Here are a couple pictures of a friend of mine's father taken in 1948. He passed away on Easter Sunday April 23, 1986. His name was Richard Leroy Rankin Sr. After the war he went on to Graduate and married my friend's mother. I know today he stands proud as he helps Guard the Gates of Heaven, but it would be an awesome tribute to my friend Michelle and to him if you would find the space to post these two shots for her and some of the old timers that read these pages, and to show the difference of the uniforms of days gone by.
Proud Of My Two Marines
I am writing to tell you how much I enjoy your products and reading the old stories from Marines. My dad was a Marine and sadly passed away three years ago. I really miss him.
SSGT Johnny Nelson proudly served in the Marine Corps, graduating from MCRDPI Platoon 528 in 1951. He served in the Korean War as a crew chief on a Sikorsky helicopter. Although like many other Marines from that era, he very seldom talked about his experience in Korea. He did tell me once that his chopper was shot down in an enemy area and he was one of only two survivors that had to fight for their lives until they were finally rescued. Both were injured and I believe he said the pilot was the other survivor and he was severely injured. My dad carried a visible piece of that experience in the form of grenade shrapnel in his leg his entire life. He later received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart as well as several other awards. He later went into law enforcement and worked in that capacity until he retired.
Although the Marine legacy skipped a generation with me, (because I went into law enforcement) my youngest son joined in 2011 and also graduated from MCRDPI. My dad had quite an influence on him and ultimately his decision to join. He later served in infantry at Twenty-nine Palms and saw combat action in Afghanistan. He is now out and serving as a third generation police officer.
I couldn't be more proud of my two Marines!
(The photos are of Johnny Nelson from graduation, with one of his buddies, to law enforcement, his awards and then a picture of my son, Jonathan).
Pirate Hunting Fleet In 1823
Earlier this month while vacationing in Key West, FL and wearing my new 'Semper Fi Fund' shirt my wife and I came upon the Truman Annex and Naval Air Station. The plaque on the wall to my right reads:
October 1, 1977
The first United States Marines arrived in Key West with Commodore David Porter's Pirate Hunting Fleet in 1823.
The Corps has played a vital role in the life of this island both in war and in peace intervals since that time. From 1939 until September 30, 1977 Marines were on continuous service at the United States Naval Base and Naval Air Station here. The city of Key West salutes the:
United States Marine Corps
Mark Hite, S/Sgt
RVN 1966-67, '69-'70
Desert Utilities Still Fit
I read with amusement Mike Kunkel's letter and photo (20 Apr) of him trying on his service uniform. Seems that is a common fate for most of us as we add on the mileage.
On the 25th anniversary of the First Gulf War, I thought I would see if my desert utilities still fit. I was so skinny then that I had tied knots in the adjustment tabs on the sides--the logistics hadn't caught up to us very well, and what we did get to eat was rather sparse. That, coupled with living in the cold, windy elements, and constantly moving and digging kept us in fighting trim. After I took the knots out, I could get them on (photo attached).
Now the service uniform--that would be a different story, and forget about the boot camp-issue khaki trousers with a 28-inch waist!
Managed To Win The Award
This picture shows me receiving the "Outstanding Member" of my platoon award during Boot Camp graduation ceremonies at Parris Island in late November 1961. As you can see I was wearing a "P-ss Cutter" instead of a barracks cap and that was because clothing issue was out of my size. You might wonder how someone wearing a Rifle Marksman badge managed to win the award. Well, let me tell you. I fired the rifle range with my favorite rifle of all time, the U.S. Rifle Cal .30 M-1 and I had fired a solid average of about 228 all week and I was well on my way to qualifying as Rifle Expert. As luck would have it as I started to fire the 500 yard line slow fire string of 10 rounds on pre-qualification day, the sear in my trigger housing group broke and I was suddenly firing an automatic M-1. I went to the online armorer and he replaced my trigger housing group but that was the end of firing for the day.
Of course anyone who ever fired the M-1 knows that just replacing the trigger housing group messed up the dope on my rifle. We weren't even allowed to break them down for cleaning the last week on the range. Anyway, the next day on qualification day I was given the chance to fire three spotter rounds to get my dope back. I am sorry to say that didn't help much so I wound up firing a 209 which was Marksman and one point short of Sharpshooter. I fired expert later with another M-1 at my permanent duty station but of course that didn't help my Boot Camp Score.
I reported to my first duty station which was Marine Detachment CINCLANTFLT Headquarters in Norfolk, Va. in January 1962. Here is another picture that was taken when I was orderly for Deputy SACLANT. While I was there I performed security guard duties and also became orderly/driver/body guard for Deputy SACLANT. In March of 1964 I was transferred to F/2/2 at Camp Lejeune where I was a squad leader and while at Lejeune we were deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and we were part of the 2nd. M.E.U. that took part in Operation Steel Pike 1 in November 1964. After being extended in August 1964, I was transferred to I/3/6 at Lejeune.
I joined the Corps on 31 August 1961 and was discharged on 30 August 1967. I was released from active duty on 20 December 1965 with the rank of Sgt (E-5). My active duty was extended as a convenience of the government because of Viet Nam. I spent the last three months of my active duty tour as a Marksmanship Instructor on the Second Division Rifle Range at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
I was a member of Platoon 262 in Boot Camp and we were the last series at P.I. to be issued the M-1 rifles. The new series coming in were drilling with the fragile M-14's. Three years later when I was transferred to Camp Lejeune I was issued an M-14 too. We lived in the old WW2 H-shaped wooden barracks and I am saddened to see that design gone.
Sgt. Thomas J. Clark
Inspection By The Brute
I remeber Gen. Krulak (Brute). In the early 60's stationed in Kaneohe MCAS with Lima 3/4 we had an inspection by the Brute, and the Co. Gy said if Gen. Krulak stops and asks you a question... never look at him directly, but straight ahead because he was short and didn't like anyone looking down at him. Well, I had a PFC standing next to me Gen. Krulak asked him a question he looked at Gen. Krulak and answered, one could see fire coming out of his eyes and I assumed that he was p-ssed cause he stared at that PFC for a second and kicked him as hard as he could in his shin. The PFC fell over to the ground, Gen. Krulak said as long as you live you will never ever forget this moment, and strolled through the entire company. Can't remember the PFC's name because after that incident he was known as DUMB AZS.
Nothing Derogatory About The Corps
Going through recruit training was one of the most intense experiences I ever had. I have to say that it has provided my 3 brothers and I (We all served between 1955 and 1969) with many good laughs. Admittedly, most of it wasn't very funny at the time it was happening - especially if it was happening to you. But try to imagine having to ask a D.I. for a sick-bay chit because you have contracted a case of the crabs - 4 weeks after being isolated from actual humans. Or think of trying to stay incognito to your D.I. while one of your squad-mates is a mentally challenged individual who enlisted by accident, recruited by a hard-up recruiter in the aftermath of the Korean War. Yes, it happened and he was with us for 4 weeks until he was transferred out to await a Section 8 discharge. He thought he was registering for the draft at the local, rural Nevada Post Office and saw two tables, one with a long line, the other with no line. The guy was built like a gorilla and was scared to death of the D.I.s until he realized there was nothing they ordered us to do as punishment that he couldn't breeze through. He couldn't stay in step while marching and was banished to trail behind our platoon. Anyone who screwed up when drilling on the parade ground hated to hear the words "Get your sorry a-- back there with "Jones" until you learn how to... whatever."
Between my brothers, myself, and several old Marine friends, I have compiled enough funny or oddball stories that I am trying to finish a fun book about boot camp - nothing derogatory about the Corps, of course. I am about halfway through the process but I need more material. I'm using no real names other than the contributor's. I'm asking for the year, RTC platoon number, and boot camp portrait if possible - or earliest picture after graduation. Anyone willing to contribute will receive a copy if published. Write to bootcampstories[at]yahoo[dot]com.
Plt 324 MCRD San Diego
More Than Just Our Motto
My Fellow Marines,
Having religiously read Sgt Grit's weekly newsletter each Wednesday for several years now, I recall reading so many heart-felt articles regarding how your drill instructors training and how serving in our beloved Marine Corps changed you for life - and taught you the ABC's of how to survive and how to succeed. The "tough-love" that was doled out by the DI's at times pushed you farther than you ever thought you could go - both physically and mentally, and taught you how to suck it up, ignore the pain and complete the mission. You learned how to "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome" obstacles and situations that non-Marines could not handle and would not even attempt. The Corps values of honor, integrity, courage, discipline, persistence, loyalty, initiative, endurance, unselfishness, dependability and mission-orientation served you well, both during your time in the Corps and everyday since you transferred into the civilian world. The ability to handle life's hard knocks - be it cancer, heart surgery or most any other card you were dealt, springs from the values you learned as a Marine - whether you served for 3 years or for 30 years. Add to that the bonds of brotherhood you formed with fellow Marines - those deep, abiding friendships that never went away, and you have SO much for which to thank the United States Marine Corps. Where do you think you would be today if you had NOT become a United States Marine? Semper Fidelis is more than just our motto - it is a way of life. There is truth to the saying "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" - it never leaves you.
Sometimes You Have to Look Up
Our granddaughter joined the Air Force and I asked her why she didn't join the Marine Corps to which she replied, "Grandpa, I don't think I could take the stress." I said good for you. Better to realize it before your are on the receiving end of a Drill Instructor rant. Well, most of the family made the drive from Chicago to San Antonio to Lackland Air Force Base for her boot camp graduation. To say I was one proud grandpa, regardless of the branch of service would be an understatement. We had to park a couple of blocks away from the parade area where the graduation would occur, so we walked along the main street and crossed over an expansive bridge and I couldn't help but look up and notice that every light post had an American flag flying from it, and most were torn and tattered. So now I'm a p-ssed off Marine on an Air Force base. We watch the graduation, which was pretty cool and then our granddaughter took us to show us her barracks. While there I'm introduced to her commanding officer, a Captain, who I thanked for the guidance and training he gave all the Airman and then asked, "is the Commanding General of the base available?" His eyes got real big and asked why to which I replied, "I have a message for the General - it is unacceptable to be on an American military base and have torn and tattered American flags flying." Well, my family went ballistic on me fearing our granddaughter would lose her weekend liberty. I assured them that a good officer would take it with the intent meant. His response was, "no Generals around here." We drove back to Chicago and a few days latter our granddaughter called and said, "Grandpa, do you remember what you said to that Captain?" I replied, how could I forget after the h-ll I got from the family. She said, "well grandpa, because of what you said they replaced every American flag on the base today." Mission accomplished. How many times have officers, including the Commanding General, Staff NCO's and NCO's traveled along that street and bridge and failed to look up and notice the disgrace looming over their heads? Sometimes you have to look up from what you are doing and recognize what is wrong and get it squared away.
Semper Fi Marines,
USMC / RVN '70 - '71
Attached are four pictures from my first tour in Beirut in 1983. The top left photo is a pic of me and my best buddy Tim Wheeler from Portsmouth Ohio. We are getting ready to go out on patrol. Tim is on the right of the photo with the M60. The photo was taken on the second floor of what I call the American University, but not sure if that is correct as another Marine a few years ago who is also a Root Vet had another name for the structure when he replied to a previous post to Sgt. Grit. Hopefully that Marine reads this post and can shed some light on it, but anywho, we referred to it as the American University as best as I can recall. My question is, is there anyone out there on the Sgt. Grit site from either 1/8 or 2/8 (we were 3/8) who occupied the space next the ladder-well in the photo behind Tim and I? We hung out in this corner and held nightly card games. We hung a First Blood poster on the column to my right in the photo and we left it for the unit who replaced us in the building. Also, being from Baltimore the bar Hamerjacks was a huge deal back then and I was the one who plastered the Hammerjacks sticker on the bulkhead behind Tim. The sticker is visible in the photo right in between my head and Tim's head. If anyone recognizes these photos, please have them contact me.
The windows behind us were all blown out and there was a 4' high sandbag bulkhead separating the hooch area from the outside deck, but the area was a popular hangout for all of Weapons Platoon. The second photo is one of the building from the outside. The middle photo is of me on radio watch on one of the out-post which was about 300 yards from the main compound. You can see the main building over my right shoulder. Funny story about this photo - every so often a few small Lebanese boys would come by asking to make a food or Pepsi run for us. I believe the going rate back then for a case of Pepsi was $20.00 and they were not even the full size cans, but we wanted the Pepsi so we paid the price. We would give them money to buy the stuff for us and then give them the change as a tip. Some of them ran with our money but most of them were pretty honest and always came back. Not the smartest thing to do I know, but I think we just got complacent with some of the locals. Anyway, one day the two boys came by and by this time we had known them for about a month and we would let them in the building and they came up on the top deck to talk to us. It was about six of us manning the post and I was on radio watch that morning. One of the boys asked to hold the handset and I stupidly let him hold it. They spoke fairly good English and I told him not to key the handset, but he did anyway and spoke in Lebanese. Almost immediately someone broke in and asked who was speaking and to identify and so I grabbed the handset and replied. On the roof of the main compound were forward observers and snipers who could easily see our position, so when I got back from post later that day I got my azs reamed out by my Platoon Commander and our two Staff Sergeants, but all three were good guys and after lighting me up a bit they laughed it off. The bottom picture is of the Beirut International Airport and was taken from the "Sh-t" River, where we were positioned when we first landed on shore. If any Root Vets recognize any of these pictures, feel free to contact me! Semper Fi.
Lima 3/8, Weapons Plt
Chew The Fat
In your weekly report of 27 April there was a letter from GySgt Larry Schafer about getting into the VA and a VA ID card, and he said they must be just for the new Veterans and as he put it us old Vets don't count. Well to me he is a New Vet as I graduated in Dec. '58 with Sr DI S/Sgt Irwin and Jr Sgt Lay. But to get to my point, I don't know how it is at where ever his VA clinic or Hospital is, but here in Medford, Oregon, it is a different story as I have been in the system since 1986 and was issued a ID card then and when they came out with the new ones with the photo and all, I was notified to come in and get my new card. Now I think I fall in his definition of Old Corps. I might add, our clinic out here I have never had a long wait or any trouble getting in to see my Doc who I had for 26 years until he retired. OH, one more thing, if any of you guys were in Plt. 299 at MCRDSD and know where I could get a Plt. Picture or guide book from back then or just want to chew the fat get in touch.
VA ID Cards For Veterans
In reference to GySgt Larry Schafer's article, The VA can at times be a cluster ---- and disappointing to say the least. However, VA ID Cards only are not available until 2017. VA ID Cards for veterans (service connected with or without a disability) are available. If a Veteran is having an issue, contact a Service Officer from one of the fifty VA certified service organizations, i.e., VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America, etc. That's part of what they do, help you navigate through. More on this to come later.
Sr Vice MCL Det 470
RVN '66 1/5
Scores To Qualify
The scores to qual now are as follows:
Classification Scores: Expert - 305-350, Sharpshooter - 280-304, Marksman - 250-279.
You will have to google MCO 3574.2K for the long winded explanation of why - the short version is there are two courses of fire that you have to complete and the scores are combined.
A known distance range which you will recognize:
Stage One - 200yds "A" target
5rds Sitting - 5rds Kneeling - 5rds Standing - 3pt or Loop sling in 20 mins
Stage Two - 200yds "D" target
10rds Standing to Sitting - 3pt or Loop sling 1 min rapid fire
Stage Three - 300yds "A" target
5rds Sitting - 3pt or Loop sling 5 mins
Stage Four - 300yds "D" target
10rds Standing to Prone - 3pt or Loop sling 1 min
Stage Five - 500yds "B-MOD" target
10rds Prone 3pt or Loop sling 10 mins
Then the next course consists of 50rds across 5 stages of fire with single, double and three shot drills with target presentations lasting from 3 to 10 seconds depending on if you stay standing or shoot standing and shoot kneeling in the same drill. Then there are two presentations for moving target from left and right standing to kneeling with 2 shots in 10 secs at 200yds. Lots of fun and of course I hear that this may be changing again soon.
We Were Honored
Responding to Herb Brewer.
I remember Coffee, who I believe was killed in Nam, and Meeker. About 40 years after discharge I tracked down Schual, Dave Balaska and Frank Magallanes ("Lil Maggie"). Ron Jackson was also there but I've been unable to track him down. Also Don Cushing who lives in Oregon but I've lost touch with him. Many others whose names are coming back to me. Daszkiewicz who lives in Chicago and operated an airport limo service. Schual, I and our wives spent some good times together before his death. He and his wife came to our 50th wedding anniversary party in 2014. Balaska retired from GM in Detroit and still lives there and we're in constant touch. It's probably Frank's mom who is Fred Briuer's mother in law. Frank would take me to his home in LA and his mom really took good care of us. Shortly after I'd reconnected with Frank, when we visited LA, he was killed in a single car accident on the Santa Anna freeway. I still keep in touch with his cousin Martha Lujan and her husband Ruben who Fred might know.
Had an interesting experience in 2012 when a cousin of my Mom, (my Mom died when I was 14 months and dad when I was eight so had no idea of many relatives on my Mom's side)
connected with me through Ancestry.com. As a result I found several cousins one of whom is Karl "Sonny" Leech who lives in Florida. Sonny came to our anniversary party and we were honored; he's a China Marine, Chosin survivor and Vietnam vet. We keep in regular touch now. Sonny's brother Jim was also in the Corps and lives in Oakmont PA.
Thanks for your information.
A.G. Sadowski, Cpl. E-4
My thoughts and emotions are heavy hearted today... Another Marine Brother went today to serve Saint Peter guarding the streets of Heaven, my Brother and Friend Charles Perusse of Newalla, Oklahoma will be truly missed, and this world will be a lesser place with his absence!
Semper Fidelis, Carry on...
Cpl Dale Peterson
Lost And Found
Would like to hear from anybody that was in Plt. 372 at MCRD in 1964.
CPL. R. L. Maske
In re to Cpl. E4 D. McKee's post from the 31 March newsletter: "One thing about those eyelets that could make you fail an inspection if the brass was showing thru. We were issued a small bottle of brown liquid for dabbing on to dress them up and for the EGA insignias."
It was called EmNu...
I was in that same convoy, 106 Plt, H&S Co, 1/2, on the USS LaSalle, LPD-3. We also lost a Marine when a 6x6 ran over him while driving in black out conditions. Later a Seal got caught between their boat and the side of the ship. Even training for war is not for the faint of heart. Besides, we knew the job was dangerous when we took it.
Remember this? "BOY! I'll grab you by your stacking swivel and shake you till your butt plate falls off..."
SSgt Jack Grimm
Plt 29, March 1948 MCRDSD.
I am glad someone finally made a comment about Steel Pike. The STARS AND STRIPES reported on October 30, 1964 "Exercise Steel Pike Called Big Success". A friend of mine from TN was killed falling between the landing craft and the boat. The weather was real bad but President Kennedy said proceed with the "GAMES". A number of NATO countries refused to participate due to the weather. I do not know the final count but there were at least 19. President Kennedy never did speak for the men killed. Was he a great president? 19 families do not thing so.
Semper Fi 'Til I Die,
Cpl. E-4 '62-'66
I have a Graduation Book for Platoon 384... Jan. 9 – Mar. 21, 1963, San Diego MCRD. I will ship to any member of this platoon if they supply their info.
I was in the Marine Corp from 1972 to 1979. I spent time in Camp Lejeune in 1977 and 1978. I also filled out on line the required information to get my VA card. I received a reply back saying that I have a job and insurance so therefore I do not qualify for VA benefits.
At the time I only wanted the card because of the discounts that I could get at different stores.
SSgt. Jackie Thomas
"That government which governs least, governs best."
"No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive."
--Abraham Lincoln (1859)
"I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office."
--Thomas Jefferson (1796)
"On evenings like this most of us will remember the tragedy of losing comrades Beautiful Marines ... And we remember them, everyone, who gave their lives so our experiment called America, could live."
--Gen James "Mad Dog" Mattis
"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."
--Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army
"What did you call your rifle?"
"Oh I hope, I REALLY HOPE that isn't an IRISH PENNANT I see!"
"Forged on the anvil of discipline."
Carry On, Marine!