Sgt Grit Newsletter - 25 MAY 2016

In this issue:
• Beirut, Circa March 1983
• M-1911A Qualifying Medal
• When We Got Off The Bus

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Puppy and Cpl Kunkel in Beruit Marine emplacement

Sgt. Grit,

Here are three more photos from Beirut, circa March 1983. As is typical with my photos there is a story with each of them. The top two pictures are of a dog that we rescued and one of my buddies, the late Narvel Don Hessen, while we were digging out one of our machine gun bunkers up at the American University. Did I get that correct MSgt. Chuck Outman - can I call it a bunker or is it a gun emplacement? Anyway, the story is that one day while on the post down by the old railroad bridge Tim Wheeler and I were standing guard with two Lebanese soldiers (this was a combined post) and when we relieved the two Marines before us, we noticed that the two Lebanese soldiers had come across this female puppy and had placed her up in one of the shell holes where a trestle abutment stone was blown out, and they were throwing rocks at her trying to kill her. Thankfully their aim was that of a couple of douche nozzle dorks, but Tim raced over and body-slammed the one goof who threw the last rock as I ran over and got the puppy out of the stone hole. We looked her over and she was OK but was still terrified. We gave her some of our MREs and then took her back with us to the compound where the entire machine gun section took to her right away. She mainly followed Tim and I and Narvel Don, but hung around anyone who gave her attention. We all kept her well-fed with snacks and water, and cleaned up the occasional poop and pee on the deck. The attached photos are of the day we were digging out our gun emplacement and fighting holes and we had her following us around. I don't recall now what month we were replaced by 1/8, but I was just curious if anyone reading this from 1/8 remembers the dog and if they continued to raise her?

The third photo is of me and Tim Wheeler standing by the column and the Sylvester Stallone First Blood movie poster that we somehow obtained and taped to the column. Tim and I were the ones who hung the poster. Just curious if anyone from 1/8 recalls that poster? Semper Fi Jarheads!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8, Weapons Plt

Sgt Grit Exclusive USMC Independence Day T-Shirt Special

M-1911A Qualifying Medal

I went through boot camp back in the very early part of 1966. At that time they were pushing us through so that we could get to Vietnam as soon as possible. Boot camp was shortened from 12 weeks to 8. Anyway, aside from that we trained on both the M-14 and the M-1911A, .45 Cal. pistol. We were then given our medals for qualifying with the M-14. However, we never received a medal for qualifying with the pistol. At the time it wasn't any big deal because we were headed to Vietnam and didn't need any shiny medals hanging on our chest. However, today I belong to our local DAV Honor Guard that holds military services at the funerals of our departed comrades. I am the only one who does not have a pistol qualifying medal on my uniform.

Therefore, I would like to know if there is any way of receiving one after all these years?

Semper Fi,
Ron Hoffman
RVN 1966-67
Charlie Battery 1/13

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When We Got Off The Bus

On a post by Sgt. Thomas J. Clark, said he was a member of Platoon 262 in Boot Camp (PI) 1961 and they 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. This is wrong, for I was in Platoon 271 (PI) from Sept 20 to Dec. 7, 1961 (Pearl Harbor Day, 20 Years) and we had M-1's. We also had them at ITR. I did not get the M-14 until '62 at Courthouse Bay when we had to turn in our M-1's and we got the M-14's.

When I was in Amtracs no comm-man ever drove or trained in our tractors, they where there to operate the comm-gear in the command tractor and repair comm-gear in our tractors. As a matter of fact; they stayed in the COMM shack when we were not deployed. And there where NO YELLOW FOOTPRINTS at PI when I got there. When did they start that? I remember when we got off the bus the DI started screaming to get in a single file so tight that if the first one farts the last one will fill it!

Billy J Gaines Sr.
Cpl. 198XXXX
Amtracs - 1833

On The Rifle Range 1962

After reading a few stories of fellow Marines qualifying with their service rifle during boot camp I just had to put in my two cent's worth. I went through MCRD San Diego in '62 (Plt.166), and we were billeted in quonset huts, which at the time I thought was more than adequate. As I recall our rifle training was akin to religion, and no matter what you could or couldn't do on the PT field every recruit was expected to qualify. The rifle range was located at Camp Matthews, a short bus ride up the road from San Diego, but when the bus stopped we had to march to the range which was quite aways from the drop-off point.

Long story short, I was a motivated 17-year old inner-city boy with an issue M-14 rifle that I was looking forward to shooting, so when we were given the "secrets" of marksmanship by salty old Marines I was all ears. There I was in a Marine Corps uniform with a Marine Corps rifle, and they gave me all the ammo I could shoot... life couldn't be any better. I had a lot of learning to do but I was an apt recruit, and I quickly got the impression that a Marine and his rifle were a big deal. I listened and I learned and I waited for qualification day with high hopes and a bit of trepidation. When that day finally came I shot the close-up distances with the standard 10s, 9s and 8s, no Maggie Drawers but by the time I went to the 500-yard line I knew I was pretty close to not getting the coveted Expert Rifle Badge.

Back then there was a chalkboard behind each shooter and a rookie Marine was marking down every hit, once I saw that I sucked it up and never looked back again for fear of swallowing my tongue. My score going into the 500-yard line was such that I could only drop two more points to get Expert, and being human my heart was pounding and my mouth was dry... what were the odds? We had to shoot ten shots prone and the first two shots I squeezed off were 9s, not even a prayer could help me. But my third shot was a 10, an so was the next one, and so were the rest of the shots in the string. When the target went down into the butts after the last shot I was holding my breath until it came back up... with a white spotter I did it, I qualified for an Expert Badge just under the wire with no room to spare. When I looked back at the chalk board I saw several of my DIs behind me, and that's when I understood how big shooting was in the Marine Corps; no matter what your MOS was every Marine was a rifleman.

I carried that single (significant) experience with me into the civilian sector after I left the Corps four years later, and as a career LAPD cop I excelled in pistol shooting right from the get-go, and I went on to be a police Pistol Team member until the day I retired with my share of awards and records. To this day when someone asked me where I learned to shoot I flat out say that I learned the basics of marksmanship in the Marines, and boys and girls that ain't no lie; the Marine Corps taught me everything I needed to know about shooting and to this day I'm proud to say that I was a USMC Expert Rifleman. Semper Fi my brothers and sisters, I'm thrilled to be a part of the clan even as a 71-year old curmudgeon!

Fred Romero
USMC '62-'66

Beach Matting

Beach matting Bob Mauney

While surfing Marine sites on the web I came across this picture of Marines from Co. C, 3rd Shore Party Bn. taken in Okinawa in 1971. I served with Co. A, 3rd Shore Party at Dong Ha, among other locations in Vietnam 1966/1967. When I left Okinawa in August, 1967, Co. C and Co. A were side by side in the same area.

Note the rolls of beach matting on top of a 5-ton truck. They appear to be made of a type of composite fiberglass material. Before the fiberglass matting was used Shore Party used a "chain link" type matting that folded and fit into the back of a 5-ton truck accordion style. The truck was equipped with a frame that came over the cab and down in front of the front bumper. When landing on a sandy beach enough of the matting was pulled down over the frame to allow the front wheel to roll onto the matting. When the truck was driven across the beach it laid down the matting to create a makeshift roadway for other vehicles to drive across without making ruts or getting bogged down in the sand.

Now for my interest in the picture. When I came back from Vietnam in the summer of 1967, I was assigned to Co. C, 2nd Shore Party Bn at Camp Lejeune, NC. One morning I was called to the Company Office and told that we had a section of a fiberglass type beach matting that the Marine Corps wanted to test because they were considering replacing the older close woven chain link type matting. Another Marine and I hauled the test section, approximately 20 to 30 feet long and a little wider than a 6X, out to Onslow Beach. We were directed to lay the beach matting on the sandy beach and drive over it for the rest of the day and record how many passed we made. For an entire day, I drove the 6X back and forth over the matting while the other Marine recorded each pass we made. I treated it pretty ruff, slamming on the brake several times while on the matting. I would drive across it, make a tight circle and drive back across it. I don't remember how many passes we made but we were out there all day running back and forth over the beach matting.

At the end of the day we took the matting back to the 2nd Shore Party Bn office along with the report of how many passes were made across it. I never did know what the results of the test were or what the decision was made until I ran across this picture. So, I take it from the picture that the fiberglass beach matting was procured to replace the heavy cumbersome metal matting.

Cpl Bob Mauney
Vietnam, 1966/1967

The Confederate Flag

To DDick,

Since you were in SD in July 1957, the month I got there, maybe you can either verify it happened, or if it is just a complication of getting senile. But I remember a rumor hitting platoon 178 one morning that someone had raised the Confederate flag on the flagpole out on the south end of the grinder. There may have been an all Southern platoon going through at the time?

Another question. With a clip and ten rounds, lock and load. How did we load those two extra rounds. I shoot the old M-1 once and a while and I can't remember, but I don't remember it as a problem then as it is now.

For anyone wanting to put a name and serial number on those faces you remember from boot camp, the National Archives and Records Administration has them for U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798 - 1958. Easy to do on

Jim Lynch, 169XXXX

Response To DDick's "At The Stumps"

In answer to DDick, I may be a little earlier than you were asking for, but I spent the summer of 1972 at wonderful Camp Wilson, at least July and most of August. If you're talking about the squad tents, then, yes they had them there then along wth the wooden-legged cots. The fun part about that was when it was time for lights out, the temperature was still too hot to sleep comfortably even with the sides up, and by the time we had to get up (it was still dark out) the single wool blanket they issued us, was barely adequate.

I was "blessed" with staying out there only every other night. Fortunately, I was a TAD regular Marine from Pendleton cooking for the reservist that summer (I had heard they were from Chicago), and got to spend every other night at main side in the air-conditioned barracks. We not only slept in those tents, but we had to cook in tents as well. Yes, cook in them. What's more, the stoves we had to cook on were gas burners. Not propane. Gasoline. The same stuff they used in the jeeps. BTW, the black flag calling off work didn't apply to the cooks. People had to eat after all.

The best part of the entire job was taking a shower when we were done. The water we had out there was delivered in a single pipe that was laid on top of the sand. After laying there all day, with the sun gently warming the water in it, those who got to the showers first enjoyed a nice warm shower. The rest of us, as in the cooks who were the last to finish up, not so warm. Actually, it was cold.

The days in the mess tents were truly h-ll on earth. We were allowed to go without our blouses and just wear our t-shirts. We still had to wear our covers in there because of the food, but we were allowed to roll up the bill like Beetle Bailey while inside. We would come out of the mess tents to stand in the sun and cool off. Really! It was cooler outside than inside the tents.

Obviously, there are plenty of other stories that were brought back from there, but those stories can wait until another time. I mean, it lasted more than 6 weeks! You think I only had one story to tell?

Sgt. RSB (to protect the innocent)
USMC '71-'75

50 Years Ago

Fifty years ago today. Monsoon season is over, the weather on Monkey Mountain is gorgeous just about every day now and I'm getting short. I'm a double digit midget and don't have enough time left to pay attention. The land of the big PX and round eyes galore is calling my name. Home. What a glorious thought. I'm sure I could have told you the exact number of days and a wake up it was then but fifty years later, I'll have to just say, it's only 90+ days until I catch my freedom bird.

50 years. Sometimes it seems like yesterday.

Semper Fidelis
Fidelis Ad Mortem
Jerry D.

WWII Heroes

Loyd Brandt WWII Marine photo by Josh Morgan

Article By
Jim Holland
Rapid City Journal

Like so many young men returning from military service in World War II, Loyd Brandt just tried to pick up and move on and leave memories of the war behind.

"You just started living a new life, raising a family. You were too busy to dwell on the war," said Brandt, of Rapid City, who celebrated his 90th birthday a week ago.

But now, as Loyd and about 120 other area WWII veterans gather for a private luncheon in their honor in Rapid City today, most realize they are nearing the end of their lives, and for many it is honorable and even therapeutic to reflect upon one of the seminal periods in all their existence — the saving of an entire world.

With ease, Loyd can still recall his time as one of six South Dakota brothers to serve during the epic conflict.

Five of the brothers would experience some of the deadliest island battles of the Pacific War. Two would be wounded and one would die in the conflict.

Loyd and his twin brother Lester were just 17 when they enlisted in the Marines in 1943.

Older brother Harry was the first to join, serving with the Marines in China, helping protect an international settlement in the center of Shanghai from Japanese invaders before U.S. entry in the war.

Kenneth, Herbert, Luverne and twins Loyd and Lester would follow their brother into the same branch of service. "Harry was the one that started it," Loyd said.

Harry left the military before the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled America into the war. He found work in a Navy ammunition depot on the East Coast.

Kenneth, Herbert, Luverne and twins Loyd and Lester all served during the invasions on remote Pacific islands with hard-to-pronounce names — Eniwetok, Saipan, Kwajalein, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Those remote islands and sandy atolls would all become part of Marine Corps legend, paid for and drenched in blood.

Kenneth participated in the Gilbert Islands campaigns and the invasion of Okinawa. Luverne was part of the Battle of Cape Gloucester on the island of New Britain and was wounded at Peleliu.

Loyd was part of an amphibious reconnaissance unit charged with going ashore to covertly scout landing zones for an invasion, often having to fight their way out again.

He nearly lost count of the number of islands he saw.

"If you can picture yourself in a 10-man rubber boat paddling ashore from a submarine or a destroyer with swells as high as the ceiling, and landing on rocky terrain, you can imagine how dangerous it was," Loyd recalls. "We did this 64 times."

Both Loyd and Herbert were part of the Invasion of Saipan, although in different units, in mid-June of 1944.

Herbert, still recovering from a shoulder wound suffered at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, had visited Loyd in Hawaii before the invasion.

Loyd had tried to visit Herbert on Saipan, but learned the sad news of his brother's death, on July 4, 1944, from another member of his unit.

"I asked one of the guys in his platoon about Herb. He asked who I was. I said 'I'm his brother, just looking for him,'" Loyd said, pausing for a moment.

"He said, I'm sorry to tell you this, but he was killed yesterday," Loyd said, pausing again.

Loyd was one of thousands of marines and sailors who later watched as five marines and a navy corpsman raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history, the invasion of Iwo Jima.

A photograph of the flag raising, taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, became one of the iconic images of the war. Three of the flag-raisers were killed soon afterwards.

During the invasion of Okinawa, Lester was critically wounded. After pulling another wounded marine out of the path of advancing U.S. tanks, Lester was hit by sniper fire, the bullet exploding his own ammunition carried in pouches. Shrapnel from the ammunition destroyed a kidney and his spleen. He was left for dead in the ankle-deep mud of the battlefield.

"He fell on the side that he was wounded. The mud sealed up his arteries and kept him from bleeding to death," Loyd said.

Eventually Lester was found alive and evacuated to a field hospital. He would spend the next year in hospitals, facing numerous major surgeries.

Kenneth and Luverne also survived the war. Kenneth returned to the Black Hills, working as a logger and truck driver. Luverne worked as a cattle buyer in Iowa. After a long period of recovery, Lester eventually found work as a lineman for Black Hills Power and later with Rapid City Police Department.

The oldest Brandt brother, Roy, earned his own place in history as one of the carvers of Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Now, only Loyd and Lester remain from the family of 10 children — seven boys and three girls — raised near Hamill, north of Winner. Lester lives in Sacramento.

"I just talked to him the other day," Loyd said.

Loyd also worked for Black Hills Power for a time after the war. In 1951, he and his wife Joyce and their young family moved to California, where they lived for 21 years.

The family, including son Douglas and daughter Deanna, returned to Rapid City just after the 1972 flood. Loyd became an electrician at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. He retired in 1991.

Memories of the war would return in the form of nightmares, however. Douglas, a Vietnam veteran, talked his dad into seeing a Veterans Affairs psychiatrist.

Talking about his experiences and participating in a veterans writer's group to document his service, has helped, even though the memories are starting to dim.

"It's pretty tough, because that's 70 years ago. People just don't have that kind of a recollection. Most of the people you talk to are younger so they don't have the same memories," he said.

Loyd plans to attend Tuesday's World War II Veterans luncheon, organized by Bill Casper of Rapid City to recognize the sacrifice and service of what has been called "The Greatest Generation."

"I appreciate what Bill Casper is doing for us," Loyd said.

See more photos at WWII Heroes Stories

The VA And Needless Aggravation

I have read many articles about how difficult it is to get in to the VA system and thought I should put my two cents worth in. As you will see, it is a pain in the azs, but well worth the effort. Keep in mind as Marines we do not question orders, ours it is to do or die!

My wife got tired of being my hearing aids. She knew of my Viet Nam service ('68-'69-'70, 1st MarDiv 1st MAW). I mentioned to her about my discharge physical, the documentation of my hearing loss and to report to the nearest VA upon returning home. As many of the Nam vets know when we got out, we got out period! My discharge uniform is still hanging in the clothes bag as it was the day I walked out of the Sgt. Maj.'s office for the last time. My wife is tenacious when it comes to finding things and proceeded to look for any records that pertained to me and my time in. To make a long story short, she came up with my discharge physical papers, with noted hearing loss and started the long, aggravating process of getting me into the VA system. Here in is a brief intro to the conversations she had with various VA 'officials'.

VA: Do you have a DD 214?
Wife: Yes.
VA: We need to see the original.
Wife: We will send it registered mail.
(Several months passed)
Wife to VA: We see you got my husbands DD 214, has it been reviewed?
VA: We have no record of receiving any DD 214 under that name.
Wife: You are spelling his name wrong.
VA: Sorry how do you spell it again? We will look.
(Several more months passed)
Wife to VA: Have you reviewed my husbands DD 214 under the correct spelling?
VA: Yes, but he does not qualify.
Wife: Why not?
VA: His hearing loss is not military connected.
Wife: He was in Viet Nam look at his DD 214.
VA: Oh yeah, but he was not in combat.
Wife: He has a 'combat action ribbon' as well as noted hearing loss due to combat related exposure.
VA: We will have to review this.
(Several more months passed making it over a year)
Wife to VA: Have you reviewed my husbands combat related hearing loss?
VA: We have no record under that name.

At that time my very fed up wife contacted our local VA county rep who was aware of my military service and was a BIG help with getting the VA on board with her inquiry. After several more months the VA acknowledged my combat service and related hearing loss.

The point here is this; the VA has a well earned bad rep when it comes to admitting veterans. Your local VA rep can be a big help if you push for it. Many many times the people you are dealing with at the VA, ARE NOT veterans and look at their government job as most government employees do 'right or wrong, I still get paid'. Do not give up! As I stated before 'Marines do not question orders, ours is to do or die', unfortunately in the civilian world that does not apply.

When applying for VA benefits you must keep in mind a couple responses when dealing with them. 1. Don't hesitate to ask 'Why'. 2. Don't hesitate to ask 'who is your boss'. 3. All VA's have a patient advocate and county rep. Get their phone numbers and use it as often as necessary.

My wife is the reason why I got into the VA. If it wasn't for her and her bull dog approach to dealing with them I would still be dealing with my hearing loss, PTSD and Type II diabetes (agent orange). Do not give up, do not give in and most importantly do not pass up what is due to you. We paid the price, we earned it and the benefits are there for us.

Semper Fi,
Ed Heyward


Sgt. Grit,

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my beloved husband, Major Ronald Delabarre. He enlisted in June 1952, platoon 428, San Diego and retired in 1977. At that time, he was XO of 1st FSSG at Camp Pendleton. He served with the 5th Marines at An Hoa, Vietnam in 1970 and was also Commissary Officer at several bases, including "Ron's Grocery" at Iwakuni. Japan 1973-75. He was so proud to be a Marine & a Mustang and although he suffered from Alzheimer's, his thoughts up to the end were always of his troops. I look forward to your newsletter every week as he did too while he could still understand and remember. It is like I still have a tiny part of him.

Bernice Delabarre


Marine of 1st Radio Bn Vietnam at reunion

At one time, these 'young' Marines were all members of 1st Radio Battalion, most served in either Kaneohe Bay or Vietnam or both.

We just finished our 2016 1st Radio Battalion Reunion in San Diego, and a great time was had by all. Of course, we visited MCRD San Diego.

We will be having our 2017 Reunion on the East Coast and another Radio Battalion Cruise is in 'the works'.

Semper Fi, Don.

R. J. Zike
Former SSgt of Marines

Marine Air Groups Reunion

WWII to Present

Branson, Missouri

October 5-8, 2016


Jerry Gipe, jgipe[at]hotmail[dot]com

Joseph Mowry, josephmowry[at]att[dot]net

Short Rounds

To GySgt. Hattox,

My recollection was similar to yours except for two things. Parris Island, 1958.

"Shooters, lock and load. All ready on the left, all ready on the right. (Not right first, then left per the Gunny). All ready on the firing line. Shooters, watch your targets. Commence firing."

That was 1958, 58 years ago, so who can say for sure.

It's just what I think I remember.

Semper Fi,
Rich Robbins
Santa Rosa, CA

Regarding to the above, I was at MCRD 4Jan57, Platoon 101, and I recall the exact commands while at Camp Matthews.

DI's Sgt Olsen & PFC Keeney.

Hard to get something out of the old brain.

Semper Fi,
David J Polzer
Sgt (E-4) USMC

To Robt. H. Bliss,

Go for it! This woman is not a poser! When asked, she has a good story to tell!

Semper fidelis to you and her!

Gary Nash
Former 0302

For fellow Marine Bliss,

Give her the cover!

Semper Fi,
Bob Rader, Sgt '53-'56

To Robert Bliss,

Hell yeah! Give her the cover! At least she went to boot camp and tried!

Semper Fi,
Ron Perkins
Sgt. '65-'74

To all of those that the VA says they have too much money to receive VA benefits. Like you, they didn't ask me how much I made in 1968 when I joined.

Ken VanHooser
Cpl. '68-'71

Looking for a copy of the MCRD Plt 142 Graduation book JULY TO SEPT 1959, please email me at Platoonsarge[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Sgt Ted Shimono, 1959-1968

I have a quick question for the new breed from MCRD SD. What do they call Mt. Motherf*cker in this PC age? Just wondering.

Cpl Keith Grisham, 3534 '82-'86


"A U.S. Marine's life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'OOH RAH! What a ride!'"
--Original Quote By Hunter S. Thompson, altered by Marine R. Martin

"Here were Hessian skulls as thick as a bombshell. Poor fellows! They were left unburied in a foreign land. They had, perhaps, as near and dear friends to lament their sad destiny as the Americans who lay buried near them. But they should have kept at home; we should then never have gone after them to kill them in their own country. But, the reader will say, they were forced to come and be killed here, forced by their rulers who have absolute power of life and death over their subjects. Well then, reader, bless a kind Providence that has made such a distinction between your condition and theirs. And be careful, too, that you do not allow yourself ever to be brought to such an abject, servile and debased condition."
--Joseph Martin, Continental Soldier

"If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
--George Washington, Address to officers of the Army [March 15, 1783]

"What a glorious morning for America!"
--Samuel Adams, upon hearing the gunfire at Lexington [April 19, 1775]

"The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war."

"PT is strictly mind over matter, I don't mind and you don't matter."

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

Semper Fi,
Sgt Grit

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