Sgt Grit Newsletter - 11 MAY 2016

In this issue:
• Some Other Marine's Trophy Case
• Now I Look Back And Laugh
• It Wasn't A Maggie's Drawers

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Marine mailbox front

Sgt. Grit,

Here is how I show my pride outside. I maintain this yearly and refinish it when necessary. Wisconsin weather is tough on everything outdoors.

Enjoy it, it doesn't take long to make this, and I get lots of compliments.

Donald Sofia

Some Other Marine's Trophy Case

British machine gun in Beirut in 1983 Cpl Kunkel

Sgt. Grit,

Here is another photo I found from my Beirut collection. One night on patrol I found this 9mm sub-machine gun and it was in perfect condition. I know it was stupid, (all of you reading this are cringing) but I picked it up. We found it off to the side of one of the streets in one of the small local business districts. I was not leading the patrol, but was the machine gun team leader and we were near the front of the column if I recall correctly. I don't know how the others missed it, but I saw it about twenty feet in front of me near the front hatch of a building. We stopped the patrol and faced outboard and I walked over with a few others and we looked it over. I went ahead and picked it up and inspected it. There was no magazine inserted and no round in the chamber. Turns out it was a British Sterling (not sure what model) with a nice, comfortable pistol grip and folding stock and it was in excellent shape, and was obviously nearly new, as you can tell from the photo. I took it back to one of our two SSGT's stupidly thinking that they would let me keep it and send it home to my father, but they turned it over to our platoon commander who turned it over to our CO. It might have made it home into some other Marine's trophy case, but it never made it home to mine! Semper Fi Jarheads!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl. 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt

Now I Look Back And Laugh

Hey Greg Pawlik. I too arrived at MCRD San Diego on June 26th 1969. Was assigned to Plt. 2119. I arrived about noon and waited for the rest of my platoon to get there at about what seemed like about midnight. Probably the longest day of my life. I was put in a room where the yellow footprints were right outside. Every time a new group of recruits arrived all h-ll would break loose with the D.I.'s shouting for them to get on the yellow footprints. Every once in a while I would get the nerve to look out the window hoping not to get caught. I had already gotten chewed out for asking to go to the restroom & then saying thank you to the NCO across the hall when I got back. "There are no restrooms here. We have heads. Do I look like your mama? You don't thank me. You thank your mama!" I was one scared 17 year old & wondering what the h-ll I had gotten myself into. And training hadn't even started yet! Little did I know the worst was yet to come. Now I look back & laugh at a lot of the things that happened during boot camp, but there wasn't a lot of laughing going on back then. I'm sure there are a lot of us who went through some of the same things. Every time I meet a fellow Marine, boot camp stories always come up & we sit there & laugh & tell stories for what seems like hours. It definitely was a once in a life time experience. One I don't regret at all. And Greg Pawlik, I do remember that the fitness course was down for some reason or another & we did not have to run it. But we made up for it with plenty of PT... We were never short of PT. Semper Fi!

Mario Mata, Cpl.
Plt 2119, MCRD San Diego

Commands On The Firing Line

Sgt Grit,

Regarding the Firing Range Term "Lock and Load"... I read most of the replies and none reflected the term used while I was in the MC 1954-1978.

The command on the firing line "Lock and Load" meant to place your weapon in a safe unfirable condition, i.e. engage the safety and then proceed with the actions necessary to load your weapon, rifle, pistol or whatever. On the range the next commands in order were, "All ready on the right, All ready on the left, All ready on the firing line". If all was in order and everyone was ready, then the next command was "Unlock" which meant to take weapon off safety and make it ready to fire. As soon as targets appeared the command was given to commence firing...

I don't know about the origination of the command but that's how it was in my Marine Corps.

Not a distinguished shooter but an Expert Rifleman every time, I fired for qualification. Highest score ever 249, could never get that perfect score. Always pulled one off.

Jerry R. Hattox
GySgt USMC (Ret)
Always a Marine in my heart.

Stuck In My Brain Housing Group

While sitting here reading the beloved Sgt. Grit News Letter about everyone's different experiences, I just had to pause. It was this time some 43 years ago I was being educated at Parris Island on the Marine Way by three wonderful, loving, caring, and hard charging Drill Instructors, SDI SSgt. Burkamp, ADI Sgt, Benn and ADI Sgt. McDavid. It was these three men who would shape me into a Marine and instill in me the character and integrity that served me well throughout my law enforcement career of 36 years.

So, lets get to the meat of this letter. Just curious if there's anyone, Drill Instructors and/or recruits, out there from Plt. 325, March of 1973 to June of 1973. Additionally, is there anyone out there that I was stationed with on Parris Island Sept. 1973 to Jan. 1976, that was a Armorer (2111) and was stationed at the Depot Armory that was underneath the chow hall out at Weapons Bn. (Down in the dungeon).

As corny as it sounds, I remember when our Senior was having one of his talks to the platoon, be it in a class room or camp fire type of talk, he spoke of the word "Integrity". He made the statement, "Integrity is doing what is right, even when no one is looking." For some God known reason that comment stuck with me. Funny thing was that a couple years later during a NCO leadership class I attended, that same exact statement was taught to us and again it had a great impact on me. And then there was the term "tact", and the definition I was given as, "The ability to tell someone to go to H-ll and they thank you for it." That tidbit of information definitely came in handy over those years in law enforcement. Obviously there were many more things taught to us, but those two things just stuck in my brain housing group.

Semper Fi
Rick Wilson
H & S Bn. Service Co.

General Cushman

General Cushman had just assumed command of Force Troops, 2nd Mar Div, I believe in 1969, and I was in 2nd Tank Bn. One day a young Captain was waliking down the street and up comes the General's car with flags flying. The Captain saluted, but slightly cupped his hand. The car screeched to a halt and out steps Gen. Cushman. For what was probably the longest five minutes in the Captain's life, the General had him salute over and over until it was perfect.

We were told he had just come from 8th & I St. and was all split and polish. We ended up having to go to supply and busying a set of utilities that matched in color and texture, top to bottom. This was to be our inspection utilities, and to be worn only at that time. (At the time there were five shades of green and five types of weave.) Then we had to have inspection boots and shoes that were to be worn only at inspection. Even the soles had to be shined. When we went out to the Med or Vieques we had to take an extra foot locker for every three men, just for our Inspection Uniforms.

The worst was in Vieques when we were ordered to wash our tanks. There was a regulation that stated if we got water above the sprocket boxes we had to notify Hq USMC within 24 hours. Thus the only solution to please the General was to paint the tanks. It took gallons of green paint to cover 5 tanks, just so the General could drive by in his spit shined jeep.

These are my memories of the General.

E.L.Dodd (Lt) USMC

Duck Walking Big And Little Agony

Regarding Bob Lonn's mention of Big and Little Agony at Camp Matthews. You mention running up and down them. In 1957 (Plt 243) we had to "Duck-Walk" them in the July heat and dust. That was with steel helmets on and our Garand M-1's behind our neck. It was brutal, but every one made it.

I also have to mention that we had two (2) JDI's... Sgt C.E. Francis and Cpl E.V. La Cour. (Cpl LaCour made Sgt near the end of our boot.) I swear when we started out with them they had a pact going for the entire 13 week boot camp. For the first half one of the JDI's played good cop while the other played bad cop. The second half of boot they switched. This was a real blow to all of us as we were just getting to like the "Good Cop" JDI. However, this we all survived too!

Robert L. Hammershoy, E-4

Those Were The Days

I went through Parris Island in June 1956, was in Plt. 156, Baker Co., 2nd Btl. No yellow foot prints, No Oorahs, No fancy running shorts or shirts. When you jumped out of the rack in the morning you better have your sheets, blanket and pillow in your hands standing at attention. And I remember those wonderful cotton stuffed mattresses. Great for junk on the bunk inspection and also great for the DI to roll up and toss all your gear, and 782 included out the second story window. Great exercise running outside to get it and put it back together again and hope it passes, or out it will go again. Those were the days, some didn't make it through Boot Camp, but this 17 yr old did, and will never forget it. A lot of Mental and Physical stress, but what kept me going was that no one in our platoon was better than me. How I wish that at age 76, I had the energy and strength as that young 17 yr old Marine. Semper Fi, my Brothers. Take care.

Cpl. E. Heyl

Barracks, Footprints, And Other Random Thoughts

(That last part comes from one of my favorite columnists, who occasionally produces one of his columns with a 'random thoughts' heading. I'd like his take on things even if he wasn't a Marine, but Thomas Sowell is one of us, Korean War vintage (photographer, with the Wing, I think)... and an economist/observer of the human condition at Stanford's Hoover Institution... could be plagiarism, but I don't think he'd care... imitation being the most sincere form of flattery)...

Bn affiliation for billeting assignment didn't mean diddly in my time at MCRD SD ('57, and then again '62-'66 as a DI)... A Quonset hut was a Quonset hut, was a Quonset hut... but then, along about the beginning of 1964, came the new Edson Rifle Range at Camp Pendleton... which had three (?) story brand spankin' new concrete barracks... which indeed, the Drill Instructors were charged with keeping in new or better than new condition. Those of us who had worked the two years or so pushing platoons and were now assigned to one of the several Special Training Branch units (Casual, Motivation, Correctional Custody, PCP (fat farm), Hand to Hand, etc.) just knew that the Corps had gone soft on us, and worse than that were the tales of brother DI's who had the threat of loss of Proficiency Pay because a new range barracks deck... had been fouled with liquid shoe dye... Feibing's Leather Dye... totally not removable by any means available to recruit platoons. (at the time, black shoes were 'new'... and as issued, dress shoes were brown... until dyed... at which point they would be a bilious green until vigorously brushed, coated with Kiwi (or Lincoln) polish. We heard that any permanent marks on the new barracks decks were duly noted, and records kept, and would be signed for when the platoon arrived at the range... woe be to he who had new damage noted upon departure back to San Diego. (nevamind what might have happened to the maggot who 'left his mark')...

Dunno when the Quonsets were started at MCRD SD, but recall hearing tales from older hands of WWII era about hundreds of pram (pyramidal) tents surrounded by sand as the WWII buildup began... and stories of carrying buckets of sand from the edge of the bay to build up the area... You can see pram tents in Sands of Iwo Jima... probably time to watch it again anyway...

The yellow footprints... who knows? don't recall them as a recruit, although we did first form in the NE corner of the grinder... pretty sure they were there by 1962, but those were something used by the Receiving Barracks personnel... when we working DI's first saw our platoons (1962), they were formed out back of the Receiving Barracks... and no footprints that I recall. There is a U-Tube video from the mid-1970's that depicts yellow footprints in the back of the building... in the area where we used to park the platoon for haircuts... and I know they weren't there when I left for leave enroute to staging Bn.

Quonsets had one interesting feature... a back door... which was never used. The Ladies would get so used to hauling azs, pushing/shoving to get through the 'front' door, which faced the 'platoon street', that they forgot that there was another door. The door was useful on those days when 'they' were in the hut... supposedly with their noses stuck in either their recruit notebook (red, flip-type in my day), or their GuideBook for Marines. One might fling that door open to find a recruit seated on his footlocker, notebook in hand... and asleep. Found Pvt Carter in that situation one day, had him by the stacking swivel against the door jamb (Carter, John J, platoon 365, graduated 21 November 1963...) didn't know the Skipper had walked past behind me... more to the story for later, but I have a picture from a parade where Carter is behind me as the 1st Squad Leader... must've gained his attention...

Regarding billeting... would like to hear from any who recall 'living' in A-frame tin 'tents' at Camp Wilson (29 Palms) in the late 1970's or later, up to maybe the 1990's... before the K-span buildings were built (for other old dogs, a K-span looks somewhat like a Quonset, but is different in several aspects...


Unfulfilled Devotion To The Corps

Sgt. Grit,

Briefly, there is a young lady (19 or 20 yrs. old) that works in a store where my wife and I often shop. She as stopped me to ask about my cover and my service in the Marines. She actually caught me by surprise when she used terms that we all learned in boot camp. This young lady explained that she had always planned to enlist in the Marines after high school. She was sent to Parris Inland for recruit training and was experiencing difficulty doing the push-ups. She just could not push "Mother Earth" far enough away. It was discovered at the Naval Hospital that this motivated young lady has a serious bone disease in her right shoulder that will one day make her right arm unusable.

I believe that she is being sincere when she talks about her unfulfilled devotion to the Marine Corps. She admitted to thinking about what might have been in her future had she been able to get through MCRD-PI... I shared this story with y'all because I want to get your opinion, I want to give her one of my covers I got from Sgt. Grit (I actually have some I had not worn yet). I don't think she will misrepresent her experience in the Marines. I'm pretty sure it will make this young person very happy and proud to have the association with our brotherhood. Does anyone have a problem with this?

Robert H Bliss
Semper Fi, Until I Die!

It Wasn't A Maggie's Drawers

I really have enjoyed the stories about qualifying at the range. I was a Hollywood Marine in boot camp beginning 26June69, Platoon 1120.

I can remember getting in one of the cattle cars at MCRD and heading for Pendleton. We all felt like we were going on a camping vacation with the family.

Most of the platoon spent the first week in the kitchen. Some of us had other jobs around headquarters. All day long we would hear the pop, pop, pop coming from the range. Most of us had never fired a high powered rifle. Most of us wondered how we would do.

Then our turn came. Snapping in, pre-qual day and then the official qualifying day. I got to the 100 meter line pretty nervous. My sights were swinging all over the place, left then right. I finally squeezed off that first round. A three. Well, at least it wasn't a maggies drawers I was seeing down range. I guess I wasn't the only nervous one. My next shot was a bulls eye and I started to settle down.

I finally got to the 500 M line. I needed a 45 to qualify expert. Just as we were beginning to fire at that distance, the wind started blowing in from the ocean. My first four shots were fours in a tight pattern right of the black. SSGT Dyer was paying attention to what I had been doing. He came over and asked me how my dope was? Did I hold my alignment correctly? I was very confident everything was good. He said to give my sights one click of adjustment and if I messed this up (he used different language, but this is a family mag) he would find a world of pain and suffering for me to visit. Fortunately for my health record, my next five shots were all in the black. I only needed a four to qualify expert. I nailed one more bulls eye. I was one proud private that night.

One little extra bit of info I wanted to share. When I got to Nam and was issued my M-16, I got a brand new weapon that had never been fired and was prone to jam. We have all heard similar stories. The year I was in country, I never, and never new anyone that got to sight in their weapons. Anyone else have this experience?

Semper Fi,
Bob Hougher

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
--Helen Keller

Largest Fleet Since WWII

During the Cuban Crisis the 2nd MarDiv & MAG-26 loaded across Onslow Beach, via Helicopter Lift and at Moorehead City aboard ships. The USS Boxer (an LPH converted from WWII Fast Attack Carrier) had over 5,000 embarked Marines on it that were off loaded and distributed to other ships at Mayport, FL. HMM-261 met with the other half of it's squadron joining them aboard the USS Theatis Bay an LPH (WWII Aux. Carrier and last 4 smoke stack ship in USN). Two Days later at dawn I looked out and saw the entire sea as far as I could see in all directions filled with USN Ships ready to land via sea and air on Cuba's SE side. This comprised the 2nd MarDiv and 2nd MAW. We were told at the other end was another such fleet with the 1st MarDiv and 3rd MAW along with the 1st Provisional Brigade and Wing ready to land on the NW side of Cuba. Of course we didn't land so when we returned to Onslow Beach the 2nd MarDiv made an amphibious assault landing via sea and air. I saw one of the old twin counter rotating main bladed HOK helicopters of the MAG-26's Observation Squadron taking off from the forward starboard flight deck flip over onto it's side and back into the sea losing I believe 2 Marine Crew Members. We were later told that the fleet down near Cuba was the largest ever assembled since WWII by the USN.

David Wright

I'm Going For It

A few years ago I was going to apply for the VA and went online to fill out the application. I never completed it because of the financial disclosure part of it, and knowing I either had too much money coming in or saved for retirement. After reading this article, I may reapply for the benefits that all of us veterans have earned and should be receiving.

Hopefully, I haven't misinterpreted this and will still be not be eligible for an ID Card, but I'm going for it.. Semper Fi

(The Article)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is updating the way it determines eligibility for VA health care, a change that will result in more Veterans having access to the health care benefits they've earned and deserve.

Effective 2015, VA eliminated the use of net worth as a determining factor for both health care programs and co-payment responsibilities. This change makes VA health care benefits more accessible to lower-income Veterans and brings VA policies in line with Secretary Bob McDonald's MyVA initiative which reorients VA around Veterans' needs.

"Everything that we do and every decision we make has to be focused on the Veterans we serve," said Secretary Bob McDonald. "We are working every day to earn their trust. Changing the way we determine eligibility to make the process easier for Veterans is part of our promise to our Veterans.

Instead of combining the sum of Veterans' income with their assets to determine eligibility for medical care and co-payment obligations, VA will now only consider a Veteran's gross household income and deductible expenses from the previous year. Elimination of the consideration of net worth for VA health care enrollment means that certain lower-income, non-service-connected Veterans will have less out-of-pocket costs. Over a 5-year period, it is estimated that 190,000 Veterans will become eligible for reduced costs of their health care services.

In March 2014, VA eliminated the annual requirement for updated financial information. VA now uses information from the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration to automatically match individual Veterans' income information which reduces the burden on Veterans to keep their healthcare eligibility up to date. That change better aligned VA's health care financial assessment program with other federal health care organizations.

Veterans may submit updated income information at VA Health Benefits Updates, or by visiting their nearby VA health care facility. For more information, visit VA Health Benefits or call VA toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

Cpl. D. McKee '59-'65
Base Material Bn. FMF, CamPen

Lighten Up Chuck

Sgt. Grit,

In reply to Master Sgt. Charles Outman... "No I must not have learned that because I might have missed school the day that taught that in boot camp". I made a mistake. Are you so perfect they you never made a mistake? Glad you can fit into your blues. Now grow a sense of humor. You missed the point of the story jarhead. It was supposed to be funny. But, I understand and I am not upset. I am putting on my red Marine HAT and wearing it with pride as I go for my evening walk. Lighten up Chuck!

Cpl (sh-t I hope I abbreviated it correctly) Kunkel
0331 Lima 3/8
'81 to '85


It is my sad duty to report that my oldest brother, my hero, Sgt. Jack Phillabaum has been transfered to his final assignment. He will now be guarding the streets of Heaven. Jack served in 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, 3rd Division. He was also stationed at Quantico as a brig guard and then an instructor at OCS.

Jim Phillabaum
USMC 1963-1972

Short Rounds

A Poem of Parris Island

Beautiful Beaufort
By the sea,
I am a sh-tbird
From the Yemassee.

I would like to tell Cpl. DeStefano that the name of the ship he was on in October '64 was probably the USS Okinawa, LPH-3. I was aboard her and was in the 3rd assault wave of helicopters heading toward the beach. I well remember the collision and the deaths of those fine Marines, and the memorial service that was held later on a high place overlooking a Spanish village below in the valley. The Chaplain said that their deaths were the same sacrifice as in battle, and we all nodded our heads that this was true.

Semper Fi,
Jeff Wright, Sgt.
USMC 1964-1970

To GySgt Larry Schafer

Gunny, I have been with the VA for quite a few years. My situation may be a little different than yours. As far as "to much money", that expression should be deep sixed as it does not hold water! If You have a Military Disability, (Agent Orange is being recognized by The VA). That is considered a "Disability". I would suggest for you to contact Your local V.F.W. (boots on the ground / RVN), or American Legion.

If I can be of any more help, please contact me.

Jim Angelo

Jerry D.,

Read your post in the 4/27 news letter... I don't remember what the #'s were to qualify, but I too did it at Camp Matthews (1964). Prone position 500 yard line last shot... MANHOLE COVER... I qualified... Semper Fi...

H. Young
'64/'69 RVN '65/'66...'69


"Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
--Captain John Parker

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
--George Orwell

"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons."
--Gen. Douglas MacArthur

"She had been proud of his decision to serve his country, her heart bursting with love and admiration the first time she saw him outfitted in his dress blues."
--Nicholas Sparks

"In a man-to-man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine."
--Erwin Rommel

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

"Alright people, move it up. Make the man in front of you smile."

"Private if I see you do that again, I'm going to unscrew your head and sh-t down your neck."

Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

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