Boot Camp San Diego '69, trained as a jet engine mechanic, arrived in country Sept. '70 assigned to the HMM-364 Purple Foxes, never got to work on one engine... assigned as a door gunner, and crew chief in training, reassigned to HMM-165 at Futema MCAS and qualified as crew chief, after an overseas tour I was assigned to HMX-1 from '71 to '73, served 4 years, and reached the rank of SGT E5. Both photos are before and after... '70 at Marble Mt. Viet Nam, second photo is at Pop A Smoke Helicopter/Tilt Rotor Association at Miramar, CA. That helo flew in Viet Nam, and retired in the fall of 2015 and is on display at the air and space museum at Dulles Air Port, VA.
Semper Fi my brothers, live life to the fullest every day!
Chuck Pflughoeft, Sgt
Always Carried A Swagger Stick
I arrived at MCRD, SD around 9am on the 21st of Sept. 1961 and stood on the yellow footprints outside of the receiving barracks across from the base theatre. At that time the street between the theatre and receiving barracks was off limits to regular vehicular traffic, but that is no longer the case. The yellow foot prints were moved to just in front of receiving barracks sometime in '62 or '63. Our basic issue included 2 yellow sweatshirts and 1 pair of red shorts. The shorts were used mainly at the swimming pool and sometimes on Sundays during free time. Our three DI's were Korean war vets, SDI Gy/Sgt E-6, J N Green, JDI S/Sgt E-5, R P Regalot and JDI Sgt E-4, P J Phelps, and all three were promoted upon our graduation. All three were hard as nails and a little attitude adjustment was not uncommon, but fairly meted out. My platoon number was 275, the second of four in the series and we were the Honor platoon. JDI Phelps was a little unusual as he was British with his father being in the Royal Marines. He always carried a swagger stick though I never saw him use it for anything other than pointing.
After ITR I went back to MCRD to attend C & E schools and in November of '62 I graduated as a ground radar repairman MOS 2741. I was transferred to Camp Pendleton joining 1/1 at Camp San Mateo. We rotated to Okinawa in May of '63 to become 2/9 at Camp Hansen. We did the normal tour, a couple of weeks at Camp Fuji in Japan, a cruise that included the Philippines and a week on Taiwan conducting a field problem with a unit of the 4th Marines. On the return to the Philippines from Taiwan we did a small detour sailing toward Vietnam. The dictator at the time called for help and we were available. Although we never landed we got close enough to sight land before we turned around and sailed back to the Philippines. We did a weeks liberty in Hong Kong before returning to Okinawa. We returned to CONUS in June of '64 becoming 1/7 at Las Puglas.
I was discharged from the Corps in Jan. of '65 as a Cpl E-4 and my last duty station was FSR across from the airport at Camp Pendleton. I joined the reserves in '73 and left in '81 as a S/Sgt with an MOS of 5931 and secondary of 0369. Neither 2741 or 5931 exist today.
S/Sgt KR Thomas, 1957XXX
Rough Side Out
I arrived at Parris Island in March of 1958 and Cpl. McKee's story reminded me of my own experience with LPCs. Our platoon was issued one pair of black boots w/hook eyelets on the uppers and one pair of low cut boondockers, rough side out. We wore the boots at the rifle range, but the rest of the time at P.I. we wore the boondockers exclusively.
After graduation, when we arrived at Camp Geiger for infantry training, we were informed that our boondockers were not standard issue and were ordered to purchase a second pair of boots. A cost effective way to dispose of obsolete equipment, I suppose. On the up side, I still have my pair of P.I. issue boondockers: the stitching is weak, but otherwise in good shape.
Cpl. (E4) F. W. Rambo
Toughest Old Bird
SSgt J.L. Stelling was my Platoon Commander in 1968. After the first two weeks living in tents, we were the first platoon to be welcomed to the new High rise barracks in San Diego. SSgt J.L. Stelling introduced himself from the top floor while we were outside washing our clothes. From that point on Boot Camp became a whole lot more interesting. He was bad, tough, and scared the sh-t out of everyone. The other two D.I's were p-ssies. SSgt Stelling demanded perfection in everything we did. As a platoon we won every streamer except the two PT streamers. Believe me it was hell to pay to the bitter end for not winning them all. Graduating as Honor Platoon we still weren't good enough to eat with a fork or knife, nor was the smoking lamp lit before we boarded the Busses for Camp Pendleton. He had us by the short hairs to the bitter end. I went from scared, to hating him, to total respect. Before leaving boot camp, I became salty and had developed a mental toughness that I have kept to this day thanks to SSgt Stelling. "There's always that 10%, there is no excuse, and always do your last order first". The civilian world hated these Stelling quotes which I live by. He is by far the toughest old bird I've ever had the privilege to have known. To this day I still don't like eating with a spoon.
Platoon 2058, Aug-Oct 1968
RVN, A1/1, Jan-June 1969
PFC Franchot Duncan
Locker Box Injuries At MCRD
In August of 1960 our sick bay was in the 2nd battalion area at Parris Island. If a recruit from the 3rd battalion was sick or injured he would be escorted to the 2nd battalion to be tended to. I was in platoon 374, third battalion at that time. One day it happened that a couple of 374 recruits had a disagreement that turned violent and one of them had to be "escorted" to sick bay.
It went like this: on return from PT, we were running single file up the ladder and through the hatch into the squad bay. One of the recruits involved in the "disagreement" went through the hatch and stood to the side out of view with his fist spring loaded to the p-ssed off position, waiting for the Private who he had an issue with. As this Marine ran through the hatch, he ran into an unexpected knuckle sandwich thrown by the one waiting behind the hatch. It dropped him like a dirty shirt. The rest of the platoon following (me included) being prodded by the Drill Instructors drawn sword, jumped over his bloodied body and stood at attention in front of our racks. Said Drill Instructor, being the last man to enter, calmly stepped over the prone recruit, continued to the end of the squad bay, did an about face (with his sword shouldered) and said, "somebody take that man to sick bay." Two of us volunteered for the job as we were all three from the same hometown area. By now, he was semi-conscious, and able to walk as long as he was held up on both sides. He was nailed right in the center of his nose, which bled like a stuck hog. We got him over to the sick bay which was crowded, so we stood in line supporting him. As we moved up closer to the Corpsman who was taking names and conditions, it was apparent he wasn't the only one there with injuries. Several recruits ahead of us had things broken or bruised or bleeding. It was also curious to us that when the Corpsman asked how they were injured that each one had tripped over a locker box. When our guy's turn came up he too had tripped over a locker box. Locker boxes caused a lot of injuries in the "Old Corps".
Recycled To 3rd Battalion
I have been reading all the stories lately about the yellow sweatshirts, and thought I'd throw my two cents in. I arrived at MCRD Parris Island in September of '77. I can still remember the moment we arrived at receiving, and being told to "Get off my bus!" We stood on the yellow footprints then. Later, I received a grey sweatshirt and red PT shorts as part of the initial issue, and assigned to 1st Battalion. Thanks to a major case of tendonitis in my ankle, I was sent to the Physical Conditioning Platoon for rehab. After completing 1st phase in PCP, I was recycled to 3rd Battalion, where SDI SSGT Orris was oh so happy to have me. The only yellow sweatshirt I can recall seeing was worn by our series commander during a formation run. I'm pretty sure the DI's all had green or dark blue sweatshirts. Every time I think back on those days, I can still smell the mosquito repellent the fog trucks used to use as they drove around spraying the base at night. My fondest and most vivid memory though, is that first morning at receiving, after what was probably only a few moments of sleep, and being herded outside to go to chow. Dazed and disoriented, standing on the street in total darkness, I will never forget the sounds of marching boots and the cadence calling of the DI's, as they marched the platoons to the dining facility. It's funny what memories stand out from others. Any way, that's all I recall about yellow sweatshirts. Keep the stories coming, and Semper Fi!
Steve Zukowski (Ski)
Sgt '77 to '83
Gators In The Rifle Range Butts
I went through Parris Island (2063) in the summer of 1981 and so this might just be a figment of my imagination, but I seem to recall the DI's telling those of us working the rifle range butts to watch out for alligators coming up into the butts. I recall that the area we worked from to operate and change out the target frames was a concrete bulkhead with wooden benches below the target berm and was only about 18" above the blacktop surface, so I always kept a watch behind me. I used to wonder where the hell we were supposed to run to if one of those suckers ever did wander into the butt area. I recall there being a few brick "maintenance" buildings down there too that the fulltime range personal used, but I personally never saw or heard of gators coming up into the pit area. I often wondered if our DI's were just f-cking with us, but I can tell you that I took them serious back then. Just curious if any other Jarheads saw any gators in the pits?
Lima, 3/8 Weapons Plt
A Disgrace To Our Country
After learning about HR 91 from a post on the newsletter, I finally got around to stopping by the VA office to inquire about getting a VA ID Card. Like many Veterans, I don't participate in the VA health care system so I don't have a card. Businesses see my Marine hat, thank me for my service, and offer a discount if I have a card. Most of them require a VA card so this would be beneficial to old veterans like me. The guy at the VA office tapped around on his laptop, printed a sheet of paper, and handed me a flyer with a large note at the bottom:
NOTE: HR91 VETERANS ID CARD ACT WAS SIGNED INTO PUBLIC LAW 114-31 ON 7/20/2015. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAW WILL NOT BEGIN UNTIL 2017 WHEN THE FUNDING AND DETAILS CAN BE FINALIZED. ACCORDING TO THE LAW THERE WILL BE A FEE TO OBTAIN A VA ID CARD.
HUH? It takes TWO YEARS to implement this? Considering they already do ID cards, there should be no "details" involved and since we are PAYING for them, there should not be any funding required. Want to bet they even get it done by 2017? The VA continues to be a disgrace to our country.
S/Sgt Richard T. "Jim" Holland
USMCR 1966 -1974
No Shooting Badge
A local friend is writing an article on qualifying at various ranges such as Quantico, PI, and Diego. He seems to remember things a little differently than I.
I qualified in February of 1970 at Camp Pendleton. I remember shooting 10 rounds off hand at 200 yards, 10 rounds rapid fire with a magazine change in the sitting position at 200 yards, 5 rounds sitting at 300 yards, 5 rounds kneeling at 300 yards, 10 rounds rapid fire with a magazine change in the prone position at 300 yards, and 10 rounds slow fire prone from 500 yards.
Highest possible was 250. I found my range book and it said 24% went unc. I thought that a little high but after going through my platoon book I found a lot of members with no shooting badge.
I shot 211 but they counted only 209. I checked it several times but was afraid to say anything to my Drill Instructor. I still have the range book and I still could shot 211. Someday I will ask Gunny Dickerson to recount it, if I get up enough nerve.
Now I see they are able to use optics. No longer old corps, must be the new politically correct soft corps.
What does everyone else remember?
Sgt. Jim Grimes
Had Them Since WWII
FYI Major Sanders... First: Semper Fi. Those boots were boondockers, and the Corps had them since WWII. I was issued two sets, both with a fuzzy brown color. The dress shoes were dark brown. Army issue no doubt. We had to dye the dress shoes. I don't know if mine were WWII or not, but they were stiff. I recall taking the 'fuzz' off of the boonies with the edge of the shoe polish can, and trying to spit shine the dress shoes with spit. I remember the grunts were issued leggings for support to go along the with boonies.
I don't remember when boots were issued. I also remember I was issued two different types of utilities (jackets), and stenciling our 'stripes' on the jacket sleeve. A buddy of mine got busted from Pfc to Pvt. He inked out his stripes. I don't recall if anything was said. A Sgt was ticked off at me because the guy was busted. He was up for Cpl and I got the stripe. I didn't say anything to the Sgt, but I laugh today. Oh those were the days.
Semper Fi Marines
Bill Morenz, Sgt. USMC
A Timely Quote
Here's a timely quote from one of our Founding Patriots.
"Sad will be the day when the American people forget their tradition and their history, and no longer remember that the country they love, the institutions they cherish, and the freedom they hope to preserve, were born from the throes of armed resistance to tyranny, and nursed in the rugged arms of fearless men."
My Intro To Uncivilized Behavior
Yellow footprints at San Diego MCRD, Receiving Barracks, 13 January 1963: We got down from the truck bed and began practicing placing our feet on the yellow footprints and running back to the truck. Then, after we got pretty good at that, we practiced going from the footprints to the wall and back numerous times. I think the idea was to test the stucco wall for strength. Then we were herded into a room in the building and told to strip down to BA to rid ourselves of civilian clothing. The next step was my introduction to uncivilized behavior of a Receiving NCO when, while being herded into the shower, I asked the NCO to hold my glasses! Yes I did! I didn't even say "sir," not that it mattered. Two choices but only one is correct: a) I was told he'd be happy to hold my glasses, or b) who the *&@UI@$F do you think I am, etc, etc? What a night that first night was!
Lee Bartkowski, Sgt, 1/63-6/66
I Made It Through
Graduated April 26, 1957, platoon 33. As I recall 3rd BN. was in a remote part of the base. Quonset huts and you knew immediately you were in a different world and that's putting it mildly! Personally I could have been in Alcatraz and not felt differently. You just knew that you had to shut up and listen and do what these crazy people said.
We started out with seventy something recruits and graduated fifty four. We lost people to the fatmans platoon, that platoon had a guidon whose emblem was an elephant. Some went to the motivation platoon, never saw them again. Some guys got sick and just had to start over, while others just couldn't take the mental part, so they left.
I always remember the door to the drill instructors hut where the metal frame around the door was completely bashed in and I mean "bashed" because recruits used to hear the DI's yell "I can't hear you!" and you might pound on that door for five minutes or more.
Well I made it through and am so proud to have been allowed to enter that brotherhood. I am so proud to be a United States Marine.
Godzilla Wearing A Smokey Cover
I was in platoon 381 R.T.B. Parris Island from late August 1960 to late November. S.D.I. was S.Sgt Hitzfeld, J.D.I.'s were Sgt. Prater and Sgt. Scott.
To clear up a little confusion I've been reading lately in the Sgt. Grit newsletter; we "animals" were placed in the old quonset huts on the far side of the grinder for only a couple of days upon our initial arrival and then we were herded over to the new brick barracks. I was in the last barracks by the curve in the road and the platoon was quartered on the second deck for the remainder of our "wonderful" time away from home. Three years ago while on a visit to the area I stopped by the island for a look around. The barracks were still standing - but were empty and getting ready for demolition. Also, I can't ever recall seeing those yellow footprints on the island. They may have been at Yemmassee but we got in at 0 dark 30 and I was too scared to notice anyway, especially after some Godzilla wearing a smokey cover screamed at us to look straight ahead and nowhere else! Never got sneakers, yellow (gold) sweatshirt, or red (scarlet) shorts issued either.
One last area of confusion was the type of rifle we were issued back then. It was the venerable M-1 Garand, the best rifle I ever had or fired. Had it at ITR Geiger and at Camp Lejeune for the better part of the following year when we were then issued the M-14.
Sgt. of Marines, Bob T.
Blood, Sweat And Honor
If you have not checked out my new book titled "Blood, Sweat and Honor" Memoirs of a Walking Dead Marine in Vietnam, you can view and even order from my web site. I was with Bravo 1/9 3rd Marine Division 1967-68.
Get your copy of Blood, Sweat & Honor: Memoirs of A Walking Dead Marine In Vietnam
You People Are A Herd
There are probably a few variations of this depending on the drill instructor but I remember, "You people are not even a mob. A mob has a leader and I am not your leader. You people are a herd."
Someone wrote in that there were yellow footprints at Yemmassee train station when arriving for P.I. in 1959. Maybe, but there were none in July 1958. In addition, we didn't live in Quonset huts nor brick buildings. We were in wooden WWII barracks in the shape of an "H" visible across the parade field in photos from that time.
I Would Join The Marine Corps Again
I recently made a trip to Florida to spend a few days with one of my boot camp buddies near Lakeland, Florida. On my way
there I stopped and enjoyed a day and night as the house guest of Norman Lafountaine near Milton, Florida. I got to know "Frenchy" when I was putting together my book about Marines in Vietnam, entitled Marines, Medals and Vietnam. Lafountaine was one of only a few survivors of a mid-air collision of two Marine Corps helicopters at New River during the summer of 1967. It was and still remains the worst aircraft disaster in Marine Corps history. Frenchy was severely injured in the crash and spent several months recovering. He did later serve a 13 month tour as a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam. Although retired, he is very active restoring old cars and helping anybody who asks for help in dealing with matters concerning VA claims. His life has been a success.
In the Lakeland area I was the guest of Mike Allmacher who was with me as a recruit in Platoon 363 during the late summer of 1960 at MCRD San Diego. In Florida we went to a couple of Detroit Tiger spring games. The Drill Instructors for our platoon were SSgt's Marvin Paxton, Dale Flickinger and Richard Bair. Fellow recruits that I remember well were Robert Abendroth, Joe Nesmith, Larry Hunt, Bernard Purol, Arley Hasten, Dean Larson, Robert Quinn, Sam Soda, John Spadoni, Harvey Cavender, Arthur Stull, and the "house mouse", Dillard Smith. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Mike Allmacher has also been very successful during the course of his life.
At one of these games I was reunited with Leroy Czarneski who I was honored to serve with at NAS Atsugi, Japan in 1961 and 1962. Of course we called him "Ski". He is a retired firefighter from Southern California. We worked in Air Freight at Atsugi and spent our days and some nights loading cargo on transport aircraft. My buddies were Lee "Andy" Devine, Tom Bender, David West, Kendall Kirksey, Sam Meridieth, Bill Snow and Terry Stampel. Our leaders were GySgt. James "Mother" Summers, SSgt Emil Cataldo and Sgt. Marvin Whaley. We had a good time in Japan but many of us fell victim to booze, women and Cinderella Liberty. Many of us faced Article 15's (Office Hours) which sometime resulted in reduction in rank and time in the Brig. We had a good time and all of us received honorable discharges.
If I could be seventeen again I would join the Marine Corps Again.
It is my sad duty to report that my father, MSGT Lareau, J.G. departed from Fallon, NV, and reported for duty at MCB Heaven on 1 February, 2016, at 91 years of age. A veteran of Guadalcanal and points west, he served from 1941 to 1951. His final active duty station was MCB Quantico, VA, which was also the birthplace of his youngest child. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, two children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
SGT Lareau, C.R.
A couple of months ago I received an email from an ole platoon member saying that they were trying to move to the next step of setting up a Reunion for our old Parris Island platoon.
We were in 3rd Bn Platoon, 3004, we graduated in June 1966. This June will be our 50th anniversary.
Has anyone heard any word on the status?
R. (Buzz) Powers
The 5th Marines Vietnam War Memorial Monument
2,706 U.S. Marines and Sailors were killed in action during the Vietnam War while serving in the Fighting Fifth Marine Regiment. Their sacrifice is not forgotten. With your help, each and every one of them will be honored with a beautiful new Memorial Monument at the 5th Marines' Memorial Garden, Camp San Mateo, Camp Pendleton, California.
This is a major undertaking. The monument will include the names of all 2,706 casualties and will offer a restful park-like setting for visitors. The monument builder is Rock of Ages of Graniteville, Vermont, the world's leading granite quarrier and memorial manufacturer. Our goal is to raise the necessary funds ($400,000) over the coming months, with the monument dedication targeted for Memorial Day, 2017.
Any memorial monument to be installed aboard a military base requires approval by that service's Chain of Command. This monument project has received initial approval and the "green light" to proceed with fund-raising efforts. If for any reason, this monument project does not come to fruition, all donations made will be returned to the donor.
Our project team includes the leadership of the 5th Marine Regiment, the 1st Marine Division Association, the 1/5 Vietnam Veterans Association, and the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group (a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization who, as fiduciary, are managing all donated funds in a secure trust fund.)
You can help! First and foremost, you can "pass the word" to family, friends and business associates, especially those who served in the Fighting Fifth in any era. We believe that any Marine or Sailor who served in the 5th Marines will want to see this mission accomplished.
And you can donate. We are seeking the $20.00 individual donation, the $50,000.00 corporate or organizational donation, and everything in between. We are confident that our veteran's networks and friends of the 5th will have no problem raising the money to fund this project. The attached project brochure will help you pass the word and facilitate donations.
For more project details, images of the monument design, and online donations, please visit our website at 5th Marines Vietnam Memorial.
Should you have any questions, please contact me. We hope you will join our team and help us make this dream come true.
Steve Colwell, 1/5 Vietnam Veteran
Project Leader, 5th Marines Memorial Monument
3301 Celinda Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Nicholas Warr, Treasurer
1/5 Vietnam Veterans Association
P. O. Box 1117
Flat Rock, NC 28731
(828) 696-2388 office
(828) 243-8708 cell
Thanks to Sgt B R Whipple for sending that photo of the old 3rd Battalion barracks at PI. I was in Platoon 305 1960 Jan-Mar. [Honor Platoon]. We moved into the new barracks with about two weeks left before graduation. We were in the old Quonset huts with very little heat, if any, and quite a distance to the building that had the head and showers.
First and Second Platoons were already in newer barracks at that time. Thanks for the memories.
Cpl. Stelling was unfortunate enough to pick me up along with PLT. 243 on 4 June 1964. It is amazing that I can remember my favorite teachers in school & Cpl. Stelling. If Cpl. Stelling happens to read this I want to apologize for knocking your coffee cup over on your desk!
Sgt. Jan Zolman 1964-1968
Went thru PI summer of 1957. When Platoon 229 had to put on red shorts and yellow shirts our DI, Gunny Dugan would yell out to get into our "Mickey Mouse" uniforms.
Bob Stalzer (E2)
Was in platoon 3004 from Oct. '65 to Dec. '65. One of 83 in the last of the all volunteer platoons. After that, platoons went to over 100 with draftees. I was talking to a young Marine at the airport and told that my boot camp was 8 weeks and he told me Marine boot camp was never 8 weeks.
Captain Dave St. John - your Visit back to Quantico you submitted to the newsletter last week was so heartfelt and powerful. I loved it and passed it along to my brother Marines and loved ones. Semper Fi!
Matt Callaghan, CPL USMC
To Bob Lonn
I reported to MCRDSD in September of '66. I found my yellow sweatshirt in an upstairs closet at my 90 year old Mom's house several months ago. It must have shrunk over the years because I can't get my head through the hole now.
During Boot Camp, I was sure glad when we got to wear utility jackets. I felt even prouder when we got to unbutton the top button and blouse the trousers. It was an amazing transformation.
Platoon 301, in 1958, quonset huts, kerosene heaters, fire watch really meant something. Still dislike the smell. See a lot of D.I.quotes, anyone remember "you people are lower than whale sh-t and that's at the bottom of the ocean."
SEMPER FI BROTHERS!
To all my Brothers and Sisters
Thank you for your service.
Whenever I see a Marine Corps cover or shirt or other identifying mark I give a "Semper Fi", and whenever a Vietnam vet is identifiable for the same reasons no matter the branch they get a "Welcome Home" and a handshake if possible.
For me getting thanked for doing what I have loved for so many years is a little embarrassing and so whenever I get thanked for my service my response is "thank you for your tax dollars to pay for my ammo".
"If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."
--George Washington, Fifth Annual Message, 1793
I have a platoon book for Platoon 201, Parris Island SC, commenced training January 1962.
If there is a member of this platoon out there who would like this book I will be happy to send
it to him at no charge for the book or the shipping. Verification required.
Fidelis Ad Mortem
"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."
--Thomas Paine (1791)
"The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it."
"A man becomes a creature of his uniform."
"If you were not there, you could not understand. If you were there, it is impossible to explain."
"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
"If the bullets don't get you, life will."
"My DI is hard of hearing, he keeps saying, I CAN'T hear you!"
"The United States Marine Corps is a drug and I am a recovering addict."
ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!