Sgt Grit Newsletter - 13 JUL 2016

In this issue:
• Parris Island Broken Arm 1970
• My Beloved Marine Corps
• I Was The House Mouse

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Parris Island Broken Arm 1970

MCRD Parris Island1970 broke arm

On July 5th, 1970 I arrived at Parris Island after a long bus ride from Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, there were yellow footprints. I was 17 at the time and my Dad had served in the Army so naturally, I had to join the Marines. Anyway, I was a pretty squared away recruit. Tried to just look forward, stay under the radar and get the h-ll out of there as quick as I could. Mind you, I had signed up for a 4 year hitch. I cannot for the life of me remember what platoon I was in but I do remember wood barracks and was on the second floor. To make a long story short, about 2 weeks before we were to graduate I cracked a bone in right forearm. I have no idea how it happened only that my right arm started to swell up like a summer sausage and at night the pain was getting pretty uncomfortable. At that time we were full sleeve fatigues, buttoned at the throat for PT and drill... which kept me undetected and under the radar. I would sneek into the head at night to wrap a cold towel around my arm fighting the swelling and my fears, my huge fears, that I would be sent back to start all over again in yellow footprints. I was bummed, really bummed.

Anyway, about a week before we were to graduate we did some small obstacle course and I could not make the rope climb. That arm was broke and there was no hiding it anymore. My SDI, SSGT Chadwick took one look at my arm and hustled me of to sickbay, x-rays and a subsequent cast. I cannot put into words almost 47 years later the feelings of despair sitting in that sickbay ward room just KNOWING I was going to have to do Parris Island all over again. And I was so close... After the cast, they assigned me to Casual Company for another couple of days all the while I was dreaming on how to steal a car to get off of the island because there was no way I doing boot camp all over again! After 3 days in Casual Company SSGT Chadwick came over picked me up and took me back to the barracks where he had assembled what was left of our platoon (after 10 weeks) and made an announcement that "I would be graduating with the rest of the class". Guys, I had tears my eyes. At that moment my 'bunky' came up to me and he and SSGT Chadwick took me to my footlocker/bunk and showed me that while I was in sickbay my bunky, Dan (can't remember his last name but that's him standing to my left in the group photo) had pitched-in and shined all my brass, boots and shoes and generally got ALL of my gear squared away for graduation. I will never, ever forget that moment.

As you can see in the photos I graduated on the parade deck and my Dad came down also. My platoon moved on. I stayed in Casual Company as a brig-chaser for another 2 months before the cast came off and I could head up to Lejeune to complete my training, then on to 3/7 at Pendelton/ Keflavik, Iceland / and Quantico. My DI's were SSGT Chadwick, SGT Evans and a corporal whose name I can't remember. Got out a Sergeant and like most Marines I've talked to over the years they all say they should have stayed in. I agree. Best decision I ever made was the Marine Corps. Worst decision was not staying in. That's my story. I would welcome any contact from Marines in my platoon as I've lost photos, year books, etc...

Semper Fi,
Sgt Dennis Nowak

My Beloved Marine Corps

Sgt. Grit,

While visiting my son in Los Angeles recently, we traveled on down to San Diego, where I finally made it to MCRD for a much-anticipated visit. Not knowing where the main gate was, I took the first exit I saw that pointed toward the depot and stopped at the guard station to ask what a 1968 graduate would be able to see. The post was manned by a squared-away Lance Corporal and a slovenly, rude, uninformed, thoroughly unpleasant, armed Homeland Security turd. I spoke to the Lance Corporal, who deferred to the HS jerk and seemed afraid or unable to answer any of my questions. Mr. Homeland Security seemed baffled that anyone who wasn't on active duty would want access to MCRD and finally told me, with much rolling of his eyes, that I would have to go to the next gate and maybe, just maybe, I would be able to visit the base museum and nothing else.

Not only did this punk reflect badly on MCRD and my beloved Marine Corps, since when do Marines need civilians to guard their installations? If this guy was any indication, the Department of Homeland Security hires the dregs of society and puts them in positions of responsibility. I was disgusted and still am by his show of incompetence and incivility. This guy would never make a Marine and I am baffled as to why he was allowed to represent, in even a small way, MCRD San Diego.

I'll take this as yet another illustration of how present expectations usually fail to match our fondest memories. I'm now a wiser but very much sadder Marine.

In other matters, I'd like to bring to your readers' attention a book that I just ran across called "Never Leave Your Dead." It's an interesting read for Marines or anyone who is interested in the degrees and effects of PTSD. The author's stepfather was a China Marine who served there from 1937-39. He witnessed the horrific violence unleashed on Chinese civilians by the invading Japanese, and because of political considerations, was barred from intervening. He was haunted by his inability stop the carnage he saw every day and the strain of being a Marine trained for action but having to hold back had lasting consequences, including his later conviction for murder and his confinement to a mental institution for 22 years.

The author is Diane Cameron, and as the cover says, it is a true story of war trauma, murder and madness. I recommend it.

Semper Fi,
Sgt. Bill Federman 243xxxx
USMC 1968-71
RVN 1970-71
Platoon 2019, MCRD San Diego, 1968


American Flag Made of Wine Corks

Every time I, or we, go on vacation, I, or we, bring back wine corks for our daughter. She builds things with them... trivets, log cabins, boxes, etc...

This is her latest. 470 corks.

Semper Fi!

Struck A Cord Deep Down

A Marine Poem

The attached was sent to me on Facebook. I re-did it so it would look nice and I have it hanging in a frame. Don't know who sent it, I'm sure something can be done with it. When I read it, it kinda struck a cord deep down.

I was in the Corps as a Reservist during the Viet Nam War. I was assigned to H&S Company, 4th MP Battalion, 4th Marine Division. I know there are no MP Battalions in the corps today, they're Law Enforcement units.

Semper Fi!

Glenn Bellot

The Owner And A Fellow Marine

Sgt Grit,

I have a story to tell you. My family and I were on vacation in Washington state because my niece was getting married. We were staying at a motel in Everett because it was close to the wedding site. My daughter had made arrangements to meet up with one of my son's at a local bar. We arrived at 3 pm and he was there so we went in and ordered drinks. Luckily it was happy hour. I was wearing my Marine Corps hat and sweater. A guy comes up and shakes my hand thanks me for my service and says Semper Fi. I say Semper Fi back and he says the beer is on him. I thanked him and didn't think anymore about it cause it has happened a couple of times before. Later that evening the waitress is going off duty and wanted to close out my tab. I said sure and she comes back and tells me that all my beers are free (and I had a lot of beer). Come to find out the guy was the owner and a fellow Marine. Makes our brotherhood something special. I have another story like that for another time. Semper Fi

SSgt Don Robinson
'75-'83 3rd Recon/H&MS-11

Beirut Circa 1982-1983

beirut circa 82 83 kunkel photo 1

Sgt. Grit,

Attached are three more photos circa 1982-83. The top photo is one of (left to right) Narvel Don Hesson, me, and Tim Wheeler getting ready to link up to one of the "Rock" squads for an evening patrol. "Rocks or Rock-heads" is the slang term that we slapped on the 0311s and was used by the 0331s, 0341s and 0351s. We called them Rocks to their faces and of course got the customary "f-ck you aszhole" in return, but they knew we loved em! LOL Now... I say this tongue in cheek today and I know that all former and current 0311's who read this are going to want to strangle me, but as you can probably ascertain from my mere mentioning of the term Rock, it was a direct reference to intelligence or lack thereof. Hey, don't shoot the messenger Marines! Something tells me I am going to pay dearly for this post! LOL.

Anyway, the second photo is of one of the out-post several miles away from our compound on the outskirts of downtown Beirut. We always had an M60 on this post, and this location was one that was manned by several Marines during the daytime hours with two Marines on the gun for two hour watches. I recall there being a few huge trees where we could take cover away from the sun when not on watch and it was boring as h-ll, but this was one of the few locations that we did not guard the entire time we were in Beirut. Not sure why though, but this did not hurt my feelings at all because I always had the feeling we were being watched. Of course, we were being watched and you could always just tell by the seedy individuals that were passing by, but I never really understood the reason for us manning this post in the first place. Not much was told to us, but this was one of the few where a SNCO accompanied the Marines on post. (Virgil Howard if you read this post, please provide more details if you recollect them, or correct me if my memory is clouded a bit.)

The third photo is of me on machine gun watch on the ship on the way back to Beirut for my second tour. I don't recall us doing this on the first cruise, but on the second cruise all the 0331's were cross-trained on all of the ship's machine guns and we manned these gun post 24 hours as soon as we left the last liberty port and headed back to Beirut (or anytime the ship went into General Quarters before we went into Beirut). This particular weapon was a 40mm machine gun and the round was similar to if not the same as the round fired from the M203 grenade launcher, if I am not mistaken. It had a very slow rate of fire but was fun to fire. During our training the Navy was very generous as to the amount of rounds we fired out into the water. Check out the hair on my grape. This had to be at or near Marine Corps regulations. I rarely wore a High-N-Tight after boot-camp, but usually kept my hair on the shorter side as I recall. I guess they let up a bit while we were on the ship, but that's a hairy grape if you ask me. Semper Fi Jarheads!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt

I Was The House Mouse

I just read with interest the story submitted by SGT Dennis Nowak titled Parris Island Broken Arm 1970. I have a similar tale. I was on Parris Island in 1967. While on mess duty week (after rifle range) one of our recruits was slopping the chow on the trays and giving the "boots" a hard time. My SDI called me over to his table and said "Mouse (I was the house mouse) Smith (alias) is acting like a jerk and needs an attitude adjustment". Well, to me and attitude adjustment only meant one thing. So I called Smith and told him to follow me into the back. We went into a big reefer, closed the door and I punched him in the head. With that, we tussled about for a while until the mess Sgt came in and stopped the fight. My hand swelled up and I had to go to the hospital for x-rays and was told I broke the hand so they placed me in a cast. Attached is our platoon photo (I'm bottom row on the right). My drill instructors managed to hide me the last couple weeks and I graduated with the platoon. When we got to ITR at Camp Geiger I was told I could not go through the training with a cast on and would be held back. With that, I went around behind the barracks and commenced beating the cast on a metal trash barrel until I could take it off. I then stayed with my platoon, finished ITR, and went home on schedule. Great memories.

Tom "Bulldog" Simpson
SGT of Marines 1967-1973
RVN 1969-70

Posers Claiming To Be Marines

Sgt. Grit,

I know I have written in about this before and my wife says I have a problem and that I need to let it go, but this phenomenon is really getting out of control. I'm talking about posers and fakes and particularly the azsholes who claim the title of Marine. A title that we earned and they did not! To spew bullsh-t in a bar to pick up the ladies is bad enough. But, to steal valor by wearing uniforms and medals/ribbons you did not earn is just plain sickening and disturbing. A person must really be a pathetic individual to do this. But then it takes a very different ballsy f-cking scumbag to get on a site such as this and think that we are stupid enough not to pick up on them. They are playing on a whole different playing field than the other f-cktards. The balls they have must be immense to join in on a site and make comments and tell stories and think they can blend in with us without being caught. Warning to any of you azsholes thinking about doing it in the future; you might get a few post past us, but you will be caught. Try it with the Army or the Air Force, but don't think you can blend in with us. If you still want to try it, at least take the time to read and learn about our history.

Semper Fi to all real Marines. F-ck off to all you fakes, phonies and poser piece of sh-ts.

Mike Kunkel
Cpl. 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt

Marine Projects

Dear All,

Legacy of a Hero is booked to premiere in Guadalcanal at the 75th Anniversary of Guadalcanal - August 2017!

In order to make it to our very concrete deadline, we've turned to Kickstarter to gather our funds for the editing and polishing and the last haul.

Legacy of a Hero

With limited edition rewards and chances to come to the U.S. premiere, we're very excited about the fundraising opportunities!

A little about the project:

I am Diane Basilone Hawkins, niece of WWII war hero Sgt. John Basilone. Legacy of a Hero is a documentary film I have been working on, memorializing the life of Sgt John Basilone and the men who fought by his side.

I have traveled to Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal to retrace the steps of the soldiers who fought and risked their lives in WWII for our freedom. Our foundation, The Sgt John Basilone Foundation, raises money for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Funds from Legacy of a Hero will help support the foundation and it's cause.

I am hoping that the film will bring more light to Sgt. John Basilone's story and how it can inspire veterans to find a sense of purpose after they have put their lives on the line for their country and inspire others to find purpose when their lives change direction.

I believe that memorializing the life of Sgt. Basilone may give the same hope and inspiration he gave during his life to the men who fought by his side. By following in John's footsteps, his battle fields - Iwo Jima, Guadacanal - I have taken a journey of courage, fearlessness and drive.

A report on the film, my journey through Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal and the concept behind it can be found at: Filmmaker Visits Oklahoma To Keep Legacy of Famous World War II Hero Alive

One of the most striking parts of my journey through Sgt. Basilone's life has been the accounts from those who fought alongside him. His heroic nature was not only on the battlefield but in life - a big brother as well as a Sergeant. Perhaps it is better described by the veterans themselves - Eugene Iconetti's choice words at John's induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Sgt. John Basilone remains a hero figure to many, resurrected in Spielberg/Hanks HBO Series - The Pacific and it would be a shame not to use his story to reach out to others. I think he would want that.

I hope that this story can be motivational to others.

So check out the Legacy of a Hero kickstarter page and pick the rewards that are interesting to you... I can't wait for you to be part of this incredible project!

View a clip of the film at:
Going Back: Sgt. John Basilone

Diane Basilone Hawkins

Short Rounds

Marine decals on Dodge truck

The only decal not USMC is the one above Viet Vet. It is a NRA sticker. Get lots of nice comments, and got out of a ticket.


I will never forget the first day, our graduation, when we we were called Marines. No more maggot, sh-t bird, etc. It was the beginning of my twenty four years in the Corps. A privilege all the way.

J Fennelly

Hey Sgt. Grit,

Looking at you're web page today, I saw the article about the P-38. As a young boy my father worked for G.G. Greene Co. in Warren, PA. My dad made thousands and thousands of the P-38's. I still have one in the original package. I'm also a customer of Sgt. Grit, great store. Thank you for you're service.

Cpl. D.A Strandburg 1929XXX
1960-1964 Semper Fi

I remember that all of us were marched to a large hall and there we volunteered to donate from our $72.00 a month, a percentage so that the Marine Corps could build the statue in Quantico, Va. of the raising of Old Glory 48 stars. Never one regret. Had to say that just incase you were thinking I was complaining, NEVER.

Biker Bob

In reply to Joe Garcia

I too was privileged to have been a member of the Colonel's command. He was a man of true character, fair as fair can be, tough as tough can be and no BS. When I was promoted to Sergeant he sent a hand written letter to my parents. I assume he did that for everyone, he didn't know me any better than any of the rest of the Marines in the battalion, but it was sure appreciated.

Kevin J. Sullivan

At the bottom of the list of recent write-ins on your website the following appeared:

"You're more f....d up than a soup sandwich!"
"What is you're major malfunction turd."
If yer gonna be stupid, ya gotta be tough!

Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

My response:

Dammit, Sgt.

Back in my old Corps it used to be f---d up like a Chinese FIRE DRILL.
There should be a comma after malfunction, turd!
Get your self squared away

Semper Fi
aka "Captain Gunny"



"To practice freedom is to tolerate mistakes, not in the sense of inviting or cultivating error, but as one of the prices to be paid in the endless search for improved ways and means toward meeting man's rising expectations."
--Paul L. Poirot, The Freeman [February 1966]

"Till the last landings are made and we stand unafraid on a shore which no mortal has seen. Till the last bugle call plays taps for us all. Semper fidelis Marine."
--In the words of what we call the Marine Poem (author unknown)

"Why in the h-ll can't the Army do it if the Marines Can. They are the same kind of men; why can't they be like the Marines."
--Gen. John J. Pershing USA; 12 February 1918

"I still need Marines who can shoot and salute. But I need Marines who can fix jet engines and man sophisticated radar sets, as well."
--General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps, 17 May 1974

"The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country.' I think it is the elite of the world."
--Admiral William Halsey, U.S. Navy

"You people are not a mob, you're a herd. A mob has a leader!"

"YOU! YOU! Do I look like a female sheep boy!"

"Close it up girls. Make the maggot in front of you smile."

Carry On Marines,
Sgt Grit

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