Here are two photos that are essentially 50 years apart. The more recent photo (color) was taken in July 2015 at MCAS Cherry Point. The two civilians in the photo are former Sgt. Kurt Helm (on the left) and former Cpl. Ed Barewich (on the right) standing with the crew of Cherry Point's Search and Rescue unit. The black and white photo comprises then PFC Kurt Helm standing in the back row on the left, and then PFC Ed Barewich standing in the back row, middle, with Cherry Point's Search and Rescue unit in December 1965.
Lt.Col. Marty Bedell, the current C.O. of Search and Rescue (standing in the back row between Kurt and me) and his men could not be a finer group of Marines. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome. As you might imagine, much of our conversation dealt with the changes in the SAR operation over the years; and there were many. As an example, today's SAR unit flies the CH-46E, where as in the sixties we flew the UH-2B. But the basic functions and procedures varied very little. No question though, today's SAR crew are better trained and have more resources available to them, than available in the sixties.
When first learned that the SAR function at Cherry Point was to be shut down, I contacted Kurt and with a very small window of opportunity, we made arrangements to visit the current SAR unit to say farewell to the last crew of Pedro. Pedro is the radio call sign for the search and rescue helicopter. Search and Rescue at MCAS Cherry Point was established in 1957. After 58 years of supporting the air operations for the headquarters of the Second Marine Air Wing, Pentagon budget cuts will find the SAR function, shutting down by the end of September. Over the years, Pedro has become somewhat of a celebrity within the surrounding communities, due in large part to the many life saving and disaster relief missions flown by the SAR unit, much as we did 50 years ago.
The SAR billet is very small in comparison to other Marine Corps operating units. For example, there were only eleven of us in SAR back in the mid-sixties, compared to thirty or so in today's SAR unit. Most Marine Corps air stations had an SAR function and Cherry Point's may very likely be the last. Nonetheless, it is gratifying to see that the legacy was brought forward with the same level of dedication, motivation and that crucial, can-do attitude.
To current and former Marine Corps air station search and rescue helicopter crews, I extend to you all, a Well Done!
Ed Barewich USMC
I didn't know any flying enlisted pilots but I had the pleasure of serving with a CWO who was an A-4 pilot in VMA-224. I was working at my "additional job" as S&C clerk, swithcboard operator and mail man in the S-3 section. It was at Chu Lai in 1965-1966 so I'm not sure if the statute of limitations has expired yet. I'll just call him "Gunner R" and he was of native american extraction.
From the vantage point of our Operations hut which was located on a small hill overlooking the north end of the flightline and runway, I could observe the departing aircraft as they were launching on their missions. One morning, I was glancing at one of our "Whisky Kilo" birds as it lifted off the runway and was surprised to see an incident in the making. The wheels were not yet up when I saw the canopy blow and the seat come out. The chute blossomed and drifted down as the aircraft nosed into the sand ahead. As the "amcrash" raced to the crash site, I saw the intrepid aviator gather his chute into his arms and start walking up the hill toward the Operations hut. As he walked into the hut, one of the Operations officers asked him, "Gee,Gunner! What happened?" The Chief thought for a moment and then answered, "I guess I must have done something wrong." Naval aviators have such a sense of humor.
Sgt USMC 6511
Stole My Stolen
I just read Sgt Hulet's comments on the USS Henrico. He and I served together at LSU 2/5 An Hoa. It reminded me of July 4th 1967.
Before requesting and getting a transfer to LSU 2/5 just to get out of 'Red Beach' (inspections, etc.), I was assigned as a "checker" working nights with the Navy at the Tien Sha supply depot getting trucks loaded for transport to Red Beach. I developed a few contacts with the Navy.
So, a few days before 4 July I hitched a ride back to Da Nang to "requisition" a case of steaks from my Navy buddies for a July 4th party at An Hoa. I loaded the steaks aboard a pallet headed to An Hoa on a C-123. I arrived, the steaks didn't.
Not only was I in trouble for not providing the steaks as promised, An Hoa got hit pretty hard when I was gone. The guys were upset about the steaks and yours truly missing out on the fireworks provided by the VC.
Stinking Air Force, they stole my stolen steaks. And they lived like kings, they even had toilets that flushed.....can you imagine that!? Coincidentally, I found myself on 15 days of mess duty shortly after my return.
Mark Smith, Cpl LSU 2/5 An Hoa 1967
CW5 US Army Retired
Hit In The Butt
My old buddy "Tex" Keyes told me this story. Tex and Sandoval, aka Tex for they were both from Texas, went out with a line company. They were the TAC team with one carrying the large radio and the other with a case of C-Rations and water on his pack board. He said they landed in a hot LZ with shrapnel flying all over. Tex said they manage to get into a small hole with neither able to move very much. Soon Sandoval asked Tex to feel his backside because it felt wet.
Tex said he felt the wetness and determined it was water. He told Sandoval you got hit in the butt and it is bleeding real bad. Tex said Sandoval got real quite and did not say anything else. When the fire lifted and they got up Sandoval found out it was only one canteen had been hit he chased Tex all over and said he was going to kick his butt. Tex went to Bangkok on R&R and brought a pet snake back to the Rockpile but that is another story.
That is picture of me and Tex at A-3 in 1968.
Rubber Boats, Veno, Bread, Sardines
I have been following this site for about 5 years and was surprised to see a story from William c. about Montford Point. I was attending N.C.O. leadership School there in early 1964. I had just completed 2 years with I co 3bn 8th Marines at mainside. After completing School I received orders for 2nd recon bn at Montford pt and around june of 1964. I AM SURE William will remember, operation steel pike in September 1964 I went ashore in a rubber boat with 3 other Marines to Recon the area before the landing . We went in , Hid the boat and scaled the 200 ft hill on the beach we met many great natives who fed us plenty of (veno) Wine , home made bread and sardines . It was a fun operation for me I had a guy who could speak Spanish that helped a lot . My C.o. was Capt Charles Wellzant who later went to Vietnam. I am betting William and I crossed paths. William did you ever repell down that tower lol.
Edward libby Cpl U.S.M.C. 1992XXX
Fire Drill Valentine
In reading Cpl. Kanavy’s letter regarding close order drill with your footlockers on our shoulders reminded me of drill we used to do. One of our drill Instructors name was Sgt. Valentine. His favorite thing was Fire Drill. When he yelled Fire Drill we placed our footlocker on our shoulder and raced for the door. Now, we were in a Quonset hut and you can imagine all these boots trying to get through the door at the same time with their footlockers. Once outside in formation, we were dismissed to go back inside then we did it again. We called him Fire Drill Valentine.
Maskill Cpl. Plt. 266
I was TAD from 4/10, (Mike Battery) to Montford Point from June, 1970 until July 1971. At that time, our area (towards the back of the base, I think on Company St. C) was a Comm school. I was an instructor in the field wireman's course, even though my MOS was 2531, field radio operator. New Marines were trained in their assigned MOS's at the Montford Point school. Ssgt. Jackson was our wireman's class NCOIC. It wasn't until after I left Montford Point that I learned of the history of that place. Anyone out there during that time? I'd like to hear from you.
Sgt. Crosby USMC '67 - '71.
This is how Andi has the cards displayed in the showroom. Notice the hand on the left is face down.. She said every customer that walks in has to lift up those cards to see what the hand is..
Kristy Fomin, COO
What you have is a pre WW II Barracks Cap Emblem for Marine Dress Blues, most likely late 1920's through mid thirties. The reason for the pin clasps vice the screw assembly was to make it easier to mount on a "Button Board" for sea going Marines to be able to polish their brass. They usually used navy brass polish which worked better with an old tooth brush and then cleaned it off and polished it with their Wool GI socks.
My late Father-In-Law was a Marine who entered service eight months before the WW II started. Some of his emblems and buttons were the same except they were brown or black vice the brass. His Dress Blue brass was similar and I have his "Button Board".
Hope that answers the question.
Gunny John Sandle; USMC(Ret)
Anyone with Italian Ancestry
Seems that most of the older Marines have a story, or two, about an enlisted pilot, so I’ll add my .02 cents to the pile. After I returned from MACS-4 at MCAS, Iwakuni, in October, 1964, I was transferred to MCAS, Yuma, and assigned to the Station Admin Office, CO was Col. Joe McGlothlin, XO LtCol. Wilson Terry. Somehow I got involved in radio controlled model planes, and met Maj. William G. Siegfried, who had been an enlisted pilot and had flown the F4U Corsair. My wife and I were invited, on more than occasion to visit with him and his family in Phoenix.
My other story is about a gentlemen that I recently had a chance to spend some time with, in Gallatin, TN. He joined the Navy in 1942, when he was 16, sent to NTC, Great Lakes, and upon graduation was assigned to the CBs. He was sent to Mobile, AL, for training, and finally to Port Hueneme, for more specialized combat training. In addition to the various construction skills of the individuals, all were issued weapons of some type; his was a BAR.
As the training was winding down, and the Battalion was getting close to embarking on ship, he said that the CO had everyone in formation on the grinder. The CO told everyone with Italian ancestry to take one step forward, and many did. Next, he told anyone from Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York to take one step forward. These men were then issued the Thompson .45 submachine gun. An interesting way to assign weapons, to say the least.
On the day of embarkation, everyone, in the same utility uniform of the Marine Corps, was marched through a warehouse (in one door and out another), issued ammunition and rations, and then on to a Navy ship. He mentioned something that most Marines probably don’t know; on almost every landing craft that “hit the beach” in the Pacific, there were CBs aboard each one. He also said that in some of these landings, the CBs were already on the islands when the Marines landed.
On one occasion, the CBs were given the task of creating a landing strip, and were given 20 days to do it, on some little island that I never heard of, but they did it in 19 days. This particular strip was to be more like an emergency strip for the planes that couldn’t get back to the carriers, for whatever reason necessary.
It’s always great to talk to these individuals.
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines (1949-1970)
Saluting the Marine Corps flag
This is our little guy, Barrett, saluting my Marine Corps flag and of course I bought it from you.
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1945 Naval Armada Set to Invade Japan
View the 1945 Naval Armada Set to Invade Japan, Awesome! If you have any interest in WWII info, you may find this very interesting.
Here comes another surprise... It was 1944 and the pictures were not available during the war. The US kept this place unknown to the citizens of the US. This is quite a story!
This is phenomenal! An Armada of ships and airplanes poised for the invasion of Japan that never happened because President Truman authorized the dropping of “A” bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima that resulted in the Japanese surrender. Just think of the American lives that would have been lost had this invasion occurred. Be thankful that we had a President with the courage to make the call. Sadly most Americans today know nothing about this and the sacrifices made by those before us. We are not teaching US history in our schools anymore . Some great pictures of the Ulithi armada! US Naval armada deployed for invasion of Japan. Keep this for posterity. There will never be another assemblage of naval ships like this again. Staging area for the invasion of Japan. Check out the carriers on "Murderer's Row." If any of you folks had fathers, grandfathers or uncles in the Navy during World War II, they may well have been involved in this operation, given the tremendous number of the ships and personnel involved. You may also recognize them in some of the photos.
View the photos on the Warbird Information Exchange.
I'd Like To Clarify
I just finished reading Sgt. Mike Leonard's post in this last week's newsletter, and I too remember that fateful night on 5 February 1970. I was at the Maint Bn SNCO Club that night at a going away party, saying good-bye to an old friend who was rotating back to CONUS the next day, when we heard the grenade explosion over at the E-Club. Our club was emptied in minutes, as we all ran to the E-Club to see what happened.
I'd like to clarify Sgt. Leonard's comment about the perpetrator being an "agitated Marine". This incident was fratricide -- a racially motivated fragging committed by three black Marines. There had been three M-26 hand grenades tossed over the fence into the patio area of the club that night, and each grenade had the pin removed, and the spoon had been taped with a strip of duct tape for a delayed explosion. Fortunately, only one of those grenades went off that night, but that one caused a lot of devastation.
LCpl Pate (Pate was promoted to Cpl posthumously) was a 2841 ground radio repairman from my company (Electronics Maint Co), although at the time of his death, he was temporarily attached to H&S Co for a month of guard duty. I was there as the corpsmen tended to him, but he died of a sucking chest wound before he could be med-evac'd.
All three perpetrators were later identified and apprehended during the subsequent investigation. From everything that I've read about this incident, only one of the perpetrators stood trial, and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The other two were never brought to trial because of some sort of "legal process issues" during the investigation, and so all three scumbags got away with murder.
MGySgt USMC (Ret)
I well remember the incident at 1st FSR, FLC of 2/5/70. There was a USO show featuring a group of beautiful Australian women. The show area, as I recall, was about 60' x 100' with small round tables and chairs set on the sand. There was a stage at the far end where a movie screen usually hung and an 8' vertical board fence at the sides joining the club building to the stage.The area behind the EM club was packed to the gills with Marines longing to see some round eyed women. Marines and beer (usually Iron City or Black Label) can make a rowdy combination but overly outrageous behavior was seldom a problem as we didn't want to lose the privilege of the club.
FLC was a fairly large compound and some of the personnel problems mirrored those happening back in the world. There had been a drug shakedown inspection in a company earlier that week and some Marines were caught dirty. As they all happened to be black, there was a cry of discrimination from a small group of radicals who called themselves the Black Panthers of Vietnam. A group of three decide to strike a blow for their cause by fragging the FSR EM club. That night the crowd was exceptionally unruly with beer and soda cans and other debris being thrown around. Things settled down as the show finally began. Behind me a full can of something thudded into the sand. Damn that would have hurt I thought. Seconds later about 30 ' to my left.... Kaboom! Something exploded. Incoming was the cry. Sappers on the compound! I hit the deck as Marines exited the area rapidly
As I got up, another Marine and I ran to a wounded man on the deck. We carried him out to a hopefully safer area. Looking at his wounds I said it looks like one of our frags did this. Leaving him to the docs we deedeed to our hooches to arm against who or whatever. Flares and choppers with searchlights lit the area all night while we looked for the intruders. Nobody and nothing were found. Then it hit us that it must have been an inside job. Because the perps were unknown there were extra internal patrols and special walking posts every night. The three were caught about a month later after one of them wrote home about their exploit and the recipient went to the authorities with the letter. The frag that did the damage had hit a table and bounced up and burst in the air thus the large number of casualties from one grenade. The can that landed behind me turned out to an M-26 with the pin not pulled. The three perps were tried but since the Corps only eyewitness was a co-conspirator turned state's witness they all skated. Although this happened 45 years ago, I believe my collections are accurate.
Can Read Minds
Parris Island, August 1960. Platoon 374 was going to the pugil stick fighting ground after noon chow. Earlier, me and my good buddy, the Moose, (we called him the moose for obvious reasons) worked out a deal that we would volunteer to fight each other and go easy with the blows. Now the moose was about three times bigger than I and because of this height/weight disparity, I figured the Drill Instructor would go along with the plan. Wrong! Standing in the chow line, our Junior DI called me out;
“Private Spilleth, get your boney a$$ up here boy”. “Aye, aye SIR”, says I as I ran up to the head of the line. “Private La---y, get your a$$ up here too”. His a$$ not being as boney as mine apparently. Now Private La---y was about my size from somewhere in New England and had been a Golden Gloves champ back in civilian life. “Private Spilleth do you think you can kick La---y’s a$$?” “YES SIR” (not really believing it, but averse to admitting it). “Private La---y, you hear that?” “Can you whip his a$$?” “Yes sir”, says he. “Well, we’re gonna find out after chow” says the Drill Instructor. “Oh s—t thinks I”. So goes the well laid plans of the moose and me, and I steel myself for an a$$ whoopin’. After chow, we double timed to the pugil stick field. Then after suiting up with the helmets and (thank God) the crotch guards, La---y and I are called into the ring and go at it. I was holding my own using the boxer stance bayonet fighting rules we were taught during bayonet training. Parry left, horizontal butt stroke, then smash. I had him down! As I turned to acknowledge the cheers from my platoon mates, La---y stood up in back of me holding his pugil stick like a baseball bat and not following the rules of bayonet fighting, smashed me upside the head like he was hitting a home run. First time in my life I actually saw stars as I hit the deck.
Among the several lessons learned that day;
1. There are no such thing as bayonet fighting rules and
2. Drill instructors can read minds.
Cpl. E-4, 1960-1964
Nice Piece of History
In this week's newsletter you showed a picture of a Eagle Globe and Anchor pin submitted by a gentleman named Mike. In his letter he asked about the pin. He was wanting information about it as he had evidently never seen one before.
I've bought two or three of these from eBay in the past. All of the auctions usually state that they are from WW II or even before. Like, Mike's mine do not have a screw post to put them on a cover but instead have either a pin that you push through the material and hook it behind the item or they have studs that allow you to attach clasps to hold them in place. Either way I think they look pretty cool.
I did have a Korean War Marine tell me that he seemed to remember having them back then but that his memory might be a bit fuzzy. Guess they could be a nice piece of history no matter how you look at them.
Just remember that at one time the ribbon that states Semper Fiedelis the eagle now holds at one time wasn't on our beloved Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
Vietnam War Era Marine
Getting older so one story brings back another. Wear a red USMC cover with USS Wisconsin Former Crew Member at all times in public and most asked question is "What the h.... did Marines do on a battleship" That takes a while... but in my early days aboard I served as Captains Orderly (Capt G.S. Patrick) whom I found later was Pacific Commander in Pearl Harbor in 1943. His father was chief of Naval Chaplains and he was a beauty. In over a year I heard him use swear words probably twice.
In any event we were at sea on bridge and he gave me 50 cents and said "Don please go get us a geedunk" that was soft ice cream from machine in ships store. Was feeling mean and said, "Hey Geedunks now 30 cents" so he asked when did this all happen. I said about 3 months ago. He asked me to get the OIC from ships store up to see him about the price change.
When JG got there they visited few minutes and then Capt asked about price change for geedunk. Response was, "Well, ship's store not making much money and 5 cents isn't much.
Captain's response was "Geedunk always been 25 cents. Please reconsider and change back. JG said fine Sir, will do, Aye Aye, etc. I was about to wet my pants to laugh but I knew I would be dead meat if I did. So, JG departed and I couldn't contain it and did laugh. Cap said "And what is funny Mr Wackerly." So I told him, here a Captain of a major ship of the US Navy was discussing pricing geedunk. He considered his response, always did, and then said "Son I am the captain of this vessel and as such responsible for ALL its functions, including geedunk pricing." I was justly chastised and we went from there.
Sgt Don Wackerly... 53-56
My mother, Mary Kerke, CPL US Marine Corps Womens Reserve WW2, stationed at Brown Field MCAS Quantico and Corsair aircraft machinist, received her final PCS Orders at age 91 on August 19, 2015.
(former Lieutenant Colonel USMCR)
Frank Habern Jr., was born September 15, 1921, in Bogota, Texas, a small community just outside of Paris, Texas to parents Frank Habern Sr. and Jessie Davis Habern. He passed away peacefully in Lewisville, Texas on August 17, 2015 at the age of 93. Frank graduated from Bogota High School in May of 1940. He then joined the United States Marine Corps on September 13, 1940 in Paris, Texas just before his 19th birthday. After boot camp in North Carolina he was assigned to protect Iceland from a potential German invasion in early conflict in WW II. He was then transferred to Camp Pendleton in December of 1941 for the rapid buildup of Marine regiments because of the escalation of World War II. From Camp Pendleton he was shipped out to the Pacific where he found action in Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa, and Tsingtao, China. Frank Habern Jr., was in the first wave to hit the beach on Okinawa on April 1, 1945. He was one of the 3 platoon sergeants of G Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 6th Marine Division. He participated in the long struggle to take Sugar Loaf Hill where 7,547 U.S. Marines lost their lives in nine days. He was promoted to first sergeant and he was one of only two survivors of his company of 140 Marines. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corp. in December of 1946 at Camp Lejeune and then spent the next 5 years attending college where he earned a bachelors and masters degree in Aerospace Engineering.
LOWER, JOHN KENNETH "Jack" On August 1, 2015, Jack passed away in his home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, comforted by his family and the Florida Hospital Hospice staff. He was 73 years old. Jack was born in Hamilton, Ohio on October 13, 1941. He was the second child and only son of Kenneth Reed Lower and Cecilia Rigling Lower. He is preceded in death by his parents. Jack was an accomplished athlete in many sports, earning a scholarship to the University of Detroit where he was a successful football player while earning a Bacholer's degree in Chemistry. Jack had options to continue his athletic career in the NFL, but chose to serve his country by joining the Marine Corps after college graduation. He served in Vietnam as a CH-46 helicopter pilot. In his service in Vietnam, Jack received 20 air medals and two presidential commendations. After his return from Vietnam, Jack was a flight instructor in Pensacola. He continued to fly in the Marine Corps Reserve and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2001. Jack married Martha Louise Rose in 1965 In Oak Grove, Louisiana. They made their home in Pensacola and after several career moves to Chicago, Detroit, and South Bend they relocated to Florida where they resided for the last 37 years.
Lost And Found
I look forward each week to reading the letters from my fellow Marines and thank you for providing the space for us. I went to MCRD San Diego July 1958. 12 weeks MCRD, 4 weeks in advanced combat at Camp Pendleton. My platoon #360 Third Battalion. I do have a extra copy of our graduation book if anyone is looking for one. I was a Sea Going Marine for my whole time in the corps. Made two cruises on the carrier Hancock CVA 19 and served as Captain's Orderly for two Captains. Great Duty!
SDI was Sgt J.P. NOVAK
JDI was Sgt F.R. CORTEZ
LCPL James R Szatkowski
Mike sent a picture of the EGA without a fouled line around the anchor. I was issued 2 pair of this same EGA in 1956 they are not pre WWII I still have them after 59 yrs.
E3 Cpl. E.Heyl
The story about "Chester" gave me a good chuckle. Hell; even the Army is aware of Chesty Puller! Thanks Brother.
Referring to the "unfouled anchor" question in your 8/12/15 Newsletter. I have no idea what that device was to be used on but I have the same miniature design on a Zippo lighter I bought in a PX in early 1945.
"C'mon goddamnit! He ain't the last man who's gonna be hit today!"
-- 1stSgt Daniel "Pop" Hunter, 1/5, Belleau Wood KIA
"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men."
-- Samuel Adams
"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men."
-- John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
"You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth--and the amusing thing about it is that they are."
-- Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War
"There are two and only two ways that any economy can be organized. One is by freedom and voluntary choice - the way of the market. The other is by force and dictation - the way of the State."
-- Murray Rothbard
"The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel."
-- H. L. Mencken, Chicago Tribune (23 May 1926)
"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest SOBs I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, of the United States Marines I've come in contact with, are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet."
-- An Anonymous Canadian Citizen
Sir! Out of two hundred and fifty thousand men in the Marines Corps I am the only s--tbird with a gun.
We were called girls all the way through boot camp - and on graduation day after we passed in review - our Senior DI dismissed us by saying, "Ladies fall Out." My proudest moment!
"Take ten.....expect five.......get three.....on your feet, outta the shade and into the heat.....saddle up, move out!"
Semper Fi, Mac!