Ref: James Henry's letter "So Glorious about our "Sand Fleas" at
PI -vs.- SD hills (or Mountains as I found out they really
Oh we both have our crosses to bear, but, the only thing you SD
Marines don't understand about the "Sand Fleas" at PI are, that
by any other name (in the rest of the world), they are called
"Alligators" ---oh yeah, and don't forget the sharks in Ribbon
Creek behind the butts at the range---swim at your own risk----
of course a shark attack is easier to survive than your Drill
Instructor if he finds out you went in the creek. (Hey--MY DI
can whip your DI) ;-)
Semper Fi Marine---Were all cut from the same cloth and molded
from the same clay. From a PI Marine --1961 and forever.
Henry H. Hight.
Once a Marine Always a Marine
The latest Sgt Grit Photo Video Montage...
Semper Fi - We are made Marines (You Tube)
Alive To See This
Dear Sgt. Grit,
You betcha there are Woman Marines out there, I'm one! I went
in 1969 fresh out of high school, this was during the Viet Nam
war and we did drilling and marching and classes, but I never
held a rifle the time I was in. We hit the gas chamber (some
more than once, ahem) and PT'd till we thought we'd drop. Boot
camp would have been a walk in the park compared to what is
expected of these woman nowadays. We were there to relieve the
men from desk jobs so that they could go to war. Our MOS's were
VERY limited and of course no combat. Although I wasn't able
to finish my tour for medical reasons, I was discharged with an
Honorable Discharge. I feel pride when I hear of the Marine
accomplishments and feel I was so fortunate to be a part of this
wonderful organization. I feel every bit the Marine today as
they day when I put on the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
Yes, I have been referred to as a BAM and it was one of the
sweetest things that ever happened. I had told my Uncle Al
(career Army and mean as a snake) I was going into the Marines.
He took one look at me and grabbed into his arms and with tears
in his eyes he said, "You will be the most beautiful BAM the
Marines have ever seen. I am so proud that I was alive to see
this." From that time on, hearing BAM really didn't faze me
Jean Tweedy (Houghton)
Skinny, Boney, 17 Year Old
I finally got my first Tattoo after 30 yrs, I retired from the
Marine Corps in Sept of 1999, and in the same Month in the year
1979, I was a young PFC, in Jacksonville,N.C. and I was on Court St
getting ready to get my first Marine Corps Tattoo, but I decided
not to, because my arms were quite skinny back then, I was a
skinny, boney 17 yr old kid from The Bronx, Several of my
buddies got their tattoos that night so I decided to wait, Well
the time finally came 30 yrs later, while I was on Vacation in
San Jose, Costa Rica, where I also happened to have been a
Marine Security Guard at the American Embassy, in the Early
80's, I'm so glad I finally got it!
Sgt Doyle Clark wrote about his experience with "BAMs". My
Momma was a WM in WWII and after I graduated from Boot Camp, she
let me know in no uncertain terms that "BAM" stood for
"Beautiful American Marine", although she did acknowledge that
occasionally my Father (a Marine PFC in the same Squadron)
referred to WMs as "Broad Axle-d Marines"!
Sgt of Marines, 73-77
Honor Them Everyday
As per your request to print a story, this is a picture of my
mortar platoon section in Viet Nam 66 -67. Foreground upper left
L/Cpl Rick Starkey. The other photo is of SSgt. David Nugent,
who was seriously wounded trying to return a chicom grenade
thrown into his position. Sarge was helping a wounded Marine at the time.
This action took place Sept.67 at the church yard in
Con Thien. These events were documented in a book called Ambush
Valley. Because of Sgt. Nugent who recovered from his wounds and
other Marines that gave their lives, I survived that day but if
for nothing else to remember and honor them everyday.
L/Cpl Rick Starkey
In Slow Motion
I was in VMFA-323, MAG-13 based at Chu Lai, RVN during the TET
Offensive of 1968. When the rockets hit our side of the base,
they sent me and my hooch mates running for the bunker. We got
hit around 2 a.m. and I was a virg!n with regard to these sort
of things. Needless to say, I was scared s___less and didn't
know one end from the other. We all managed to squeeze in the
bunker and we all lit up to ease our nerves. At that point, it
was probably more dangerous to stay inside from all that second
hand smoke than it was to go outside.
After a while, we heard the order to get our 782 gear and get on
the road in preparation to man the perimeter. While on the way
out, and still trying to pull my trousers up, the bomb dump blew
up. At first I thought it was a nuclear bomb and thought that I
might as well kiss my _ss good bye. The fireball was huge and
it seemed like it was expanding in slow motion. I was a few
yards behind a hootch as I watched the fireball expand over the
roof and when the shockwave hit me, it didn't knock me down. I
checked to see if I was still in one piece. After that, I heard
my buddies yelling at me to hurry up and get on the truck, which
I did as it was starting to roll.
We got to the perimeter and were told to dig individual fighting
holes. In the soft sand, it was problematic that they were
effective but when you're scared, it didn't matter. Someone
decided that Dick McGregor and I should man the tower that was
equipped with a M-60 machine gun. I don't know what Dick was
thinking but I was not very enthusiastic about being up there
since that was the first thing that would get hit by a RPG. I
didn't say anything to Dick, but now I was really shaking in my
boots. I didn't have to worry, though, because no attack
occurred. I like to think that the VC thought there were too
many Marines, me and Dick McGregor.
Howard Tsuchiya, Sgt. 1966-70
Mortar Round Probably
It was a Friday afternoon in November just after Thanksgiving. I
stopped in the Worcester, (MA) Detachment Marine Corps League #
144 for a beer or two in the Leatherneck Lounge. The only one
there was the bar manager Marine Joe Ricci. Within five minutes
one of our few remaining WW II vets, Marine Carlo Mastrototaro
came in and sat beside me at the bar. Within two minutes the
door opens and the second WW II vet Marine Walter Maloney enters
and sits next to me on the other side. We immediately started
talking about how Carlo and Walter Had met in Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba in 1941.
The four of us (including Joe) had served at Guantanamo Bay at
one time or another, so we called it a Gitmo Bay reunion. After
a few minutes I realized that I was sitting between History.
Both Carlo and Walter Joined the Marine Corps in 1939, both are
88 years old , soon to be 89, both served at Gitmo in 1941 and
1942, both were from Worcester, MA, both served in the Pacific
against the Japanese on three different islands each. So I took
the opportunity to ask the two of them about their exploits in
the Pacific. At first they both didn't want to talk about it but
after some prodding on my part and specific questions to Carlo;
"tell us how you got the silver star?" and "tell us where you
were and how you were wounded?". Carlo looked at me for a
moment, then said "you really want to hear about it?" I said
there are over 260 Marines in our Detachment and I'll bet not
one of them know how you were awarded the Silver Star and Purple
Heart, we all want to hear about it, it's time Carlo. "I have
never talked about this before" he said "so I may not get all
the facts right".
He started by telling us about being stationed in Iceland, Cuba,
then Camp Pendleton (stories for another day) and finally
Saipan, Marianas Islands. "It was about mid June 1944 " he said
"I was the BAR man for my squad of "B" Company, 1st Battalion,
25th Marines, 4th Marine Division. We were on the third wave on
a Higgins Boat just about to hit the beach on Saipan when the
landing craft next to us hit a mine and blew about twenty feet
out of the water and split in half. Marine bodies were flying
everywhere. The next thing I remember is being on the beach
about forty or fifty yards from the water's edge, laying on the
ground behind a small ridge with the rest of my outfit.
The next two weeks the fighting was fierce and heavy and we had
many casualties but I made it without a scratch. It was a couple
of days after my birthday July 3rd, I had the watch at night
while most of the platoon slept in their fox holes. I heard a
noise behind me and when I turned to look I saw a couple of
shadows hit the deck. I challenged the shadows real loud to
alert my platoon, and after the second challenge with no reply
or pass word, I jumped out of my fox hole and moved toward them
to get a better angle to fire from because they were still lying
down. I emptied my BAR and got all of them, about 8 or 9 of the
enemy without being hit by their fire. My Battalion Commander
put me up for a silver star for saving my platoon from an enemy
sneak attack from the rear."
"A few weeks later we landed on Tinian. The first night I gave
my spot in a four man fox hole to a wounded Marine Ralph Hamit.
A couple of hours later a mortar round hit next to the fox hole
and all five of us were badly wounded. The next day we were
evacuated to a hospital ship. After about 6 months in hospitals,
I was given a medical discharge. A few weeks later the 4th
Division made the landing at Iwo Jima and most of my outfit was
wiped out on the island. That mortar round probably saved my
It's good to hear stories of our Marines being welcomed home
from deployment but it reminds many of us about a different
situation years ago when returning from Southeast Asia. We
returned to MCAS El Toro in October 1969 to a half dozen cars in
the parking lot and transportation instructions. Having grown up
in Southern California, I was lucky having my mother pick me up
and haul me home through the anti-war protesters at the gate.
Within four hours I was on a double date with "The Twins" and
Topper Rankin, my 3rd Recon buddy I met on the USS Iwo Jima.
Fast forward to October 2000 at the MCAS Miramar Air show. A
group of old Marines gathered to display an airworthy UH-34D
helicopter which, to many Vietnam Marines, is a religious icon.
It was four days of "Welcome Home" from the public, the young
Marines of Miramar and even Vietnamese who escaped the Communist
takeover. We even signed autographs. The event ended with
towing the helicopter to the end of the ramp, firing it up and
cruising around the hills behind Miramar for a trip of a
lifetime. Talk about memory lane. After 30 years, to gather
with America's best who you know will cover your back was
something never to be forgotten. It took a week to come back
down from the high. Every Vietnam and Korean Vet should have
Note: Hey....forget the ride, welcome home, etc....who are the
Geeezzz you aren't that old!
Malta Rifle Match and Hop Leaf Beer
Does the Sixth Fleet still compete in a rifle match against the
British Joint Services while in the Mediterranean? I was on the
BLT 2/6 Med Cruise in 1970. One of our ports of call was
Valetta, Malta. We stayed in tents out in the field and ran the
old WWII British obstacle courses for PT. The Sixth Fleet
traditionally fielded a rifle and pistol team to fire against
the British Joint Services Garrison Team. I was pulled from my
rain soaked tent in the field to try out for the team along with
twenty five or so other Marines, mostly higher non commissioned
ranks. I was a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Bn Recon Platoon.
Records were pulled and anybody who had qualified expert at Boot
Camp was brought in for the try out. We were billeted in old
British Army Barracks during the tryout and actual match. We
even ate at the British Mess--powdered eggs pretending to be
scrambled. Staff Sgt. McDuffie was the NCO in charge,
Lieutenant Wagner was the officer in charge. Several days were
spent re-learning our shooting positions from Boot Camp and then
we had a shoot off to see who was going to fire for the team.
The Eight best Marine shooters were chosen each for the pistol
and rifle parts of the match. I made the team and continued on
to become the high shooter in the match against the established
British team which were using FN-FAL rifles(no windage
adjustment) against our M-14's.
After the match and a spirited celebration at the British
Officers Club we returned to the old barracks to pack up as we
would return to our regular outfits the next day. Back on the
ship I was alerted by my platoon sergeant, Sergeant Rudy Fennel,
Baltimore, MD, that I was to stand tall in front of the
Battalion Commander the next morning. I was given a meritorious
promotion to Corporal for being the high shooter which was d*mn
exciting since now I could have liberty every night for the rest
of the cruise. The best thing was that the British Officers
Club contacted the ship I was on, the USS LaSalle, requesting
that I visit their club on their tab at anytime as long as I
was in Valetta. Besides having some pride in preserving the
Marine Corps Superior Marksmanship Traditions alive I also
enjoyed the Hop Leaf beer served at the British Club.
Garent Gunther, 1968-70
Sgt Grit--- After reading so many memories of boot camp in your
last newsletter I dug out this photo of my platoon taken spring
of 1951 hoping it would spark some interest.
I remember our train backing into MCRD back gate and being
welcomed by two mild mannered gentle Marines (just kidding here)
and my life has never been the same since then. I think we all
thought we had got off the train at the wrong place.
SSgt R. L. RINEHART and Sgt J. K. JOHNSON was our DI's----I am
2d from left in second row.
Robert E. Bailey
In The 50's
Sgt Grit, In the March 26, 2009 letter David E. Tyre asked for
confirmation of the positions used for rifle qualifications in
the 50's. I was in a few years before David having entered the
Corps in August of 1951. I completed boot camp at MCRD San Diego
and qualified at Camp Matthews in the first two weeks of
September 1951. I also qualified again in July 1952 at Camp
Lejeune. As it so happens I still have the record books for both
qualifications. The positions used with the M1 at that time
were: 200 yards offhand, ten rounds slow fire; 300 yards
sitting, five rounds- slow fire then shifting to Kneeling for
five more rounds- slow fire: 500 yards prone slow fire - ten
rounds; 200 yards sitting -rapid fire- ten rounds; 300 yards
prone, rapid fire- ten rounds. This makes a total of 50 rounds
with scores of up to 5 for each round. In 1952 I shot a 222 and
was qualified as Expert.
I still have the medal. Incidentally, there were no "yellow
footprints" when I hit MCRD San Diego. However, for an old
country boy from a little town in Indiana, that first
introduction was quite a shock. I will never forget the
experience of boot camp but wouldn't want to do it again.
I have a grandson in the Marines in Iraq and a granddaughter
graduating in May from the Naval Academy, who is going to
Quantico to become a Marine officer. Her father (my son) is a
Merton Bushong SSgt. 1951-1953
Re: RANGE LINGO. AGAIN: The course of fire was, 10 rounds
offhand at 200 yards at the "A" target followed by 10 rounds
rapid fire in the sitting position at the "D" target. Police
the brass and move back to the 300 yard line. At 300, 5 rounds
sitting and five rounds kneeling, slow fire, at the "A" target
followed by 10 rounds rapid fire from the prone position at the
"D" target. Police the brass and move to 500 yard line, fire 10
rounds slow fire from the prone position at the "B" target.
(Targets were referred to as Able, Baker and Dog well after
Alpha, Bravo and Delta had replaced those terms in the phonetic
alphabet.) With the M-1, the command for rapid fire from the
center of the line was "With a clip and two rounds, lock and
The second (8 round clip) came from your cartridge belt. With
the M-14 if I recollect correct, it was "with a magazine and 5
rounds, lock and load", the second mag was loaded from the belt.
This is in response to the letter concerning the term "BAM". In
1961, I was in Platoon 5-A at Parris Island. A few days before
we left for our new duty stations, a WM Master Gunny was
telling us what to expect and what we might encounter. She told
us about the derogatory term "BAM" and that it stood for
broad-azzed-Marine. She suggested, if we were ever called that,
to respond by calling the other person a "HAM". The "H" stands
LCpl. Gwen Cochran
1961 - 1963
I entered the Marine Corps in 1958; Platoon 231. I was 17 years
old, stood 5'2", weighed 109 lbs. I was the shortest Marine in
my Platoon. Needless to say they were not able to provide a
regulation uniform that fit, or a weapon either. Everything was
too big. All of my uniforms had to be tailored made.
I was issued a M1. With the bayonet attached, the weapon was
longer than I was tall. As anyone knows your arm has to reach
the stacking swivel. At the firing range, my DI's were trying to
stretch my arm when the Warrant Officer came down he demanded
that the weapon be made to fit the Marine, the Marine can not be
made to fit the weapon. Improvise, overcome....No problem, the
stock was sawed off so I could then qualify. Afterward I shot
Sharp Shooter. I have been told that this story continues to be
used to inspire new recruits.
James B. Johnson 1958 - 1966
Tried To Bring I Home
Here is my 2 cents on the Bomb Dump.
I just read about the Ammo Dump at DaNang in mid to late 1969
blowing up. No one talked about when the Bomb Dump blew up in
1967 or the first part of 1968. I was with VMA(aw)242 (A6As) at
DaNang when it went. We were in our hooches when it blew in the
afternoon. I saw the biggest RED ball of fire in my life when
the main bombs blew. The ball of fire shot straight up in the
sky - then I saw the shock wave coming at me. Just as I ducked
into the bunker I heard a whistling noise go over my head. After
the all clear was given - I got out of the bunker and saw what
made that whistling noise.
It was a 5 lb. piece of the rear end of a 500 lb. bomb embedded
in the ground. I tried to bring it home for a souvenir but the
higher ups said NO.
That was probably the scariest moment in my life - thinking that
I might have lost my head if I were a few seconds late getting
into the bunker.
Gunnery Sergeant of Marines
Gy/Sgt. Lew Souder, USMC/Ret. 1956-1976
Belong To The DI
I was with Platoon 3080 MCRD in 1980. We had one recruit that
was absolutely fantastic at spit shining his boots, they were
like glass. In fact, during our short free time at night, he
would offer to shine other guys boots. This would usually cost
us cookies at the chow hall or some other treat.
One day we marched up for chow and were standing there in
formation. Anyone who has ever been to MCRD knows about the
Pigeons that congregate around the chow hall. Anyway, this one
wayward Pigeon saunters over to this Private with his perfectly
shined boots. The Pigeon starts to peck at his boot. We were
all still at attention, but we watched in amazement as this
Pigeon was destroying his glass shined boots.
Finally, he could take it no more, and he kicked the Pigeon. It
flew in the air straight up with feathers flying everywhere.
The DI was all over the poor recruit. How could he kick that
poor Pigeon. And of course the Pigeon just happened to belong
to that DI. He made the recruit go over to where about 2 or 3
hundred of them were walking around pecking at the grass, and
made him act like a Pigeon so he could apologize to the bird.
We were all biting our tongues to keep from laughing, I almost
bit mine in half.
3080, 3rd Battalion
Made My Day
Doyle Clark, Sergeant of Marines. Good grief yes, the term
B---- A---- M------ is still around, especially with the old
dudes wandering down memory lane. I used to hate the
expression, finding it demeaning and derogatory which in my
opinion was how it was meant.
Now I have a tag on the front bumper of my Sport Trac that says
BAM. Most people now see it and think some of the letters have
fallen off - like maybe OBAMA or the school BAMA.
The other day a KorVet Navy guy saw my tag, smiled and came over
to my truck, gave me a big hand salute, thumbs up and a hug. He
knew where I was coming from. Made my day.
Yes, I am a BAM, and as the years move onward I am among the
fewer, prouder Marines. I am a huge History buff and writer of a
new volume of history Vietnam War Veterans of Wayne County, TN.
which features 523 narratives and pictures by, for and about the
men and women from this county who served during the NamWar era.
This is a companion to Volume 1, WWII and Korean Vets from Wayne
County, TN. great reads and available through the Wayne County
Historical Society, PO Box 688 W'boro Tn. 38485 Sunny 1960-1962
Boot Camp brouhaha
I must chime in on the forever-ongoing Parris Island versus San
Diego Boot Camp brouhaha. This ongoing albeit comical
disagreement has been going on since Christ was a Corporal.
I was a "Hollywood" Marine that served with many of my Brothers
that had their Azzes chewed off by Sand Fleas. I can say many
things about both, but we are all Marines and went through H&ll
and back to earn that title, and that's all that matters. One
poke @ P.I. Marines; you never humped Mount Motherfvcker!
Note: Or practiced drill by the fence line next to the San Diego
When a jet took off or landed you could not hear the DI. Of
course that was not acceptable. "On your knuckles ladies."
What Makes Me Stay a US Marine
Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome
Never Surrender, Never Give Up, Full Speed Ahead
Swift Silent Deadly
When a child cries, I Listen, Locate, and Help
Walking with a lady, I walk on the curb near the cars to protect
I Pray 3 times a day to the Almighty Father Creator of Heaven
All my Body Parts are Weapons
Cpl Edwin Encarnacion USMC Vet
SSgt D. E. Wilson is right in his assumption that the ONTOS he
unloaded at the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia did in fact end
up at Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va. I
was assigned to G-4 Section, Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force,
Atlantic from 1955 to 1959 and remember typing reports on the
ONTOS evaluation. The funny thing I remember about this was that
all the reports were classified either Confidential or Secret.
Then I went home on leave and happened to pick up one of the
Men's magazines and saw a better report with pictures of the
ONTOS than I had worked on in G-4 Section. Don't remember much
about the reports other than it required dismounting to load.
He'll Correct The Mistake
Sgt Grit: I look forward to your newsletter every week and enjoy
reading stories from Marines both distant past and not so
distant past. I particularly enjoy stories about things that
happened at boot camp. Hence, I thought I would add one of my
I arrived at PI in January, 66 and for the most part kept out of
trouble; except for this one day. Early one morning while
marching around the Parade Deck I screwed up (I don't remember
how) and was told by the Sr. DI to report to him when we got
back to the "barn". I, along with everyone else in the platoon,
knew exactly what that meant. I was going to get my head handed
I guess we had a very full schedule that day (along with every
other day) and did not return until very late that afternoon. As
usual, we ran into the barn, stowed out rifles etc. and stood at
attention in front of our racks. I thought to myself that this
man was only human and by now he had forgotten all about what
happened earlier in the day. I never moved! After waiting about
30 seconds in the center of the squad bay, he came to attention,
turned and headed straight for me. My heart stopped. He marched
as only a DI could, made a precise Marine turn and proceeded to
kick the crap out of the recruit next to me. Since the first day
of boot camp it had been drilled into us that we could never
speak without first asking permission, neither one of us were
able to open our mouth. I'm sure the guy next to me wanted to
speak almost as much as I didn't. I'm not going to mention the
name of the DI since I'm absolutely sure if he reads this, in
about a week there will be a knock on my front door and he'll
correct the mistake he made 43 years ago.
God Bless him and others like him who took young men and women
and did the impossible, turned them into Marines.
C F Larkin Cpl
Embassy Guard Reunion
I read the Sgt. Grit 11/6 issue and saw a couple of the vehicles
So, I thought I'd send a picture of my "2001" Corvette, proudly
representing the Corps and the Marine Embassy Guard Association.
I proudly served from May 69 to May of 73 and was assigned to
the Embassy in Vientiane Laos from Oct 70 to April 73.
The Marine Embassy Guard Association has an annual reunion every
year in April or May. Even years (08) are at a location in the
US voted on by the MEGA members, the April 08 reunion was in San
The odd years (09) are held in Virginia, where we attend a MSG
graduation as one of the reunion activities. Marine Embassy
Guards that were stationed all over the world attend, it is a
great experience and time to reflect with old duty station
A few years back we went to Quantico and Fam-Fired all of the
new weapons currently in use at the Embassies. What a change
from the old M-14's and 38 Revolvers. We burned all the rounds
they provided and when they realized they had more available, in
true Marine Tradition, we burned them too! No One tired of the
experience that day, it was great!
The next reunion will be May 15th - 17th in Alexandria, VA.
If you are reading this and were a Marine Embassy Guard with an
Honorable Discharge and would like to join, go to www.embassymarine.org
for more information on the home page.
Sgt. Jim Hollister
South Bend, IN
Tents The First Night
All those great sea stories brought back some hilarious
memories. I remember boot at P.I. in the forties; WWII was still
on--but coming to an end. We got off the train at Yemasee and
were met by several DIs who came up to us nose to nose and
offered us out for a fight- individually, to show them how tough
we were. Then, we were herded on to open-racked trucks and
carted off to P.I., where we slept in tents the first night.
There were no yellow prints then.
Anyone remember living in the two story wooden barracks and the
Dis continually yelling, "Outside, Inside" making us run up and
down the fire escape stairs until we were exhausted? And then
for kicks, haul us out of the sacks for a sand-field
day--throwing buckets of sand on the wooden floors, and then
buckets of water, and scrubbing the mess with bricks until the
sand was thoroughly ingrained in the wood seams. And then we'd
spend the rest of the night cleaning up the mess until there
wasn't a drop of sand left. It wasn't uncommon to go the entire
nightwithout sleep and then run the regular drill the next day
in the sand pits wearing boon dockers and those heavy dungarees.
And remember no pogey bait? We had a couple of boots slip out
and somehow get hold of ice cream. But they got caught and for
the next several hours under a hot sun, in perhaps 100 degree
weather, our platoon stood at attention while the boots in front
of us, had a gallon of ice cream on top of their heads, slowly
melting in the bright sun. And when they finished, they put the
wash buckets over their heads and yelled " I am a S---Bird" for
an hour. Needless to say, they lost their taste for pogey bait
And remember the cry was not only Semper FI-do or die, but Gung
At one base, we felt the Corps must have been experimenting with
us since the food was so bad. We got black coffee, apple skins
and one piece of hard toast for breakfast. We got the apple
cores at dinner.
And then one day, our outfit was called to attention to witness
a court martial. The chef had been caught stealing our food and
selling it to civilians. Needless to say, as we turned our backs
to him during the court martial, we felt no sympathy for him. It
also felt great to have a decent meal after that episode.
And remember shining your shoes with Aqua Velva after-shave
lotion and polish and then mixing the Aqua Velva with juice for
a drink after? I guess sometimes we Marines did get a little too
Isn't it strange how we all tend to remember the humorous and
good times in the Corps and forget the bad? But then, it's
better that way.
Some years ago, I revisited PI to write a story for several
newspapers about PI 50 years later. The changes were many but
the Corps is still the Corps and training as tough and
disciplined as ever. And the DIs still retain their sadistic
sense of humor. During my visit, several boots said they missed
TV so the DI promised them that if they completed the days
drills in an exemplary manner, he would let them watch TV that
night. They complied and he had a TV rolled in to the barracks
and ordered them to watch. There was only one hitch. There was
no picture. Only snow. And the platoon had to sit there for two
hours watching snow.
Ahh, those DIs. They should be hired by the TV networks to write
comedy. Bless them all. They made the Corps what it is today.
Out To Red Beach
I was at the R&R transit center right across from the Seabee
camp when the dump blew. That morning we could see smoke up near
the ammo dump, and word came down that they were burning brush
around the perimeter. A little later on we saw some willy peter
rounds go off, and no one really thought much about it. When the
first bomb went off it got everyone's attention.
We all hauled butt to the bunkers and I don't recall how long we
were in there before they had buses and 6X6's pulling up and
telling us to get on and they took us all out to red beach where
we sat outside all night and watched the fireworks. When we got
back to our base a few days later it was mostly destroyed by the
blast damage, and we found unexploded rounds all over including
a 155 round imbedded in the roof of our hootch. I often wondered
what happened to those Marines that were burning the brush, if
that is what actually happened. I would also be curious what the
"official" report was.
Here is a story should get a laugh from anyone who has gone thru
Parris Island. After being harassed all day long and not
knowing which end was up, I suddenly had the urge to use the
toilet (Number 2). As the DI came in my direction while I was
at attention in front of my rack, I said, "Sir! Private
Cavaliere requests permission to speak to the Drill Instructor"
The reply was, "What do you want, maggot?". "Sir, Private
Cavaliere requests permission to use the head" The DI replied,
"What do you have to do, TURD?". Well, now that I was on my way
to being a Marine, I didn't want to sound like a p***y so I
said, "Sir, private Cavaliere requests permission to sh*t!
Well, that really set him off and he ran down to the end of the
squad bay brought back three more DI's. They were all screaming
at me, calling me a punk from NY. So they asked me again what I
wanted to do. This time, after having a little more time to
think, I said, " Sir, private Cavaliere requests permission to
use the KIMONO (I meant to say camode). Now they really went
bonkers, accusing me of wanting to Sh*t in my Kimono. By this
time, I lost the urge and was the target of their fun for the
I did redeem myself. I won the MCRD Parris Island pistol
competition. I shot a 356 out of possible 400. I was awarded a
gold Leatherneck award. Shot expert on the rifle range. Made
the rifle team. I made PFC out of boot camp. I spent two years
on active duty and two years in St Albans Naval Hospital with
two crushed legs. I was discharged for medical reasons.
LCpl Joseph Cavaliere
3rd Marine Division
3rd Anti-tank Battalion
I Can Trust Them
I never thought I would be able to repeat this story, but, here
goes. In 1964 while on my way to Okinawa, I was aboard ship
with 3/9 and were about to dock in Subic Bay, Philippines.
While aboard ship I became friend's (so I thought) with a couple
of swabbies. Since my brother was a swabbie in WWII I thought
what the h&ll, I can trust them. They took me with them during
our first liberty in a foreign port so they could show me the
"ropes". We wound up in a bar in the town of Olangapo. Being
19 years old and, horny as h&ll, they said they would fix me up
with one of the young girl's working there. I told them that
would be great. Pretty soon they came over with a beautiful
young thing that looked about 16 years old. They left the bar
telling me to have a good night and, don't be late coming back
off liberty. I thought to myself, these swabbies are OK in my
After exchanging a lot of spit, tongue, and some quick feels of
her breasts, we left to go down the street to a hotel. Up in
her room she told me to take off my clothes while she went and
changed in the bathroom. She came out wearing a very nice robe
and looking even hotter. As she slowing removed her robe I was
lost for words, embarrassed, p!ssed off, so d*mn mad I could
have won the Vietnam war by myself. (I served 2 tours later)
She, it, or whatever, was more endowed with the male love muscle
than I would ever be.
As I screamed and, told it that I was going to kill him, I fell
over my trousers trying to get dressed as he ran out the door.
I chased him but no luck. He was long gone. I came to find out
he was called a "Benny Boy". I guess my swabbie friends weren't
sure good friends after all. They took a young LCPL and, gave
him a worldly lesson. I never could find them again after
liberty. I'm now 63 years old and can finally relate this story
without too much shame. Maybe some young Jarhead will read this
and, beware of swabbies bearing gifts of friendship. By the way
my brother laughed until he cried, and called me a dumb sea
Sgt. Gary E. Best (inactive but ready)
RVN 65' 66' 67'
"The Grim Reaper"
I wrote a letter to the newsletter a few weeks back. I'm the guy
who went through MCRD San Diego in "64" and got slapped so hard
on the side of my gourd I saw yellow stars.....felt like I got
hit in the head with a diving board. Wasn't the only time I ate
knuckles while I was there either. I don't know why P.I. guys
think that they had it tougher than San Diego guys. The training
is the same. They p.t. you until you think you are going to die,
there is always a Drill Instructor standing by to feed you your
spurs when you make the slightest mistake, or fail during p.t.
Yes, P.I. has sand fleas but San Diego guys have the Camp
Pendleton hills to hump up and down on, and whether its winter
or summer they are a bear. I read one letter that discussed the
old Camp Mathews rifle range. My series was one of the last, if
not the last, to go through before the Corps switched to the
I don't think there was a recruit that went through Mathews that
did not experience both "Big Agony" and "Little Agony." For you
P.I. guys, be glad you had the sand fleas. Both of these hills
deserved their names. Now the San Diego guys have "The Grim
Reaper", and this one looks as nasty and bad as anything I ever
went up, and that includes "Old Smokey" during ITR at Camp
Pendleton. Look guys, both places are h&ll holes, that's why you
come out Marines. Everybody deal with it. Semper Fi boys!
Has This Ever Happened
First wake up at MCRD. Sh*tcans flying down the middle of the
squadbay, wooden clubs beating on the lids, squadbay lights
flashing on and off, and three D.I's running in screaming "Get
Up!" "Get Up!" "Get Out of the Rack!".
I jumped out of the rack and found myself standing at attention
as I fully woke up. Then I realize the recruit directly across
from me is on the ground, and the five foot tall Processing D.I.
is on top of him appearing to be beating the life out of him. He
is lying on the ground thrashing around, arms flailing, in what
appears to be defensive movements to save himself from the wake
up attack. I'm thinking to myself "Oh my gosh, we're awake for 5
seconds and they are already beating on us" "This is going to be
a long 12 weeks". Then the D.I. starts yelling at the recruit,
asking him "Has this ever happened to you before?", "No" he
answered. WHAT? What do you mean, has this ever happened to you
before? Has he ever been woke up by someone beating the crap out
of him? Then the D.I. yells for one of the other D.I.'s to get a
Now I'm thinking "Well at least they're going to make certain
we're cared for after they beat on us". A few more questions and
I realize the guy was not getting a beatdown, he had a seizure.
I guess the sh*tcans, hammering on the lids, the lights
flashing, the yelling, this guy's brain just checked out on him
and he had a seizure. Just goes to prove the point. Boot camp
can't be like summer camp. It's not the Boy Scouts. It wasn't by
any fault of that recruit, but you can't have untested men
falling out having seizures when rounds come inbound. At 6'4" I
never saw that Processing D.I.'s face above the nose. But he did
his job in weeding out someone that would have been casualty or
caused casualties in a high stress situation. That's what D.I.'s
do, make Marines and weed out the ones that for whatever reason
won't make it.
G. Cagle, Sgt USMC 79-83
It Was Really Me
I sent for a copy of my MCRD San Diego, Platoon picture last
year. I had to look at it for a while to realize that it was
really me. I'm happy to pass this along to you.
Ronald Fallo (Sgt) At the time of discharge in 1968. Did my tour
in Nam and got out.
They Would Buzz
Rifle Range, And all that was learn there "Mastering
Marksmanship & M.1 Rifle"
How many Marines remember this or GOT one ouch. m.1 thumb
Also remember the sand fleas took a gal of my blood they where
bad, One other flying hard biting creature not mention or
forgotten about to date.
HORSEFLIES at the SWIMMING POOL, we had to go through them cold
showers to rinse off before going into the pool, then had to
stand in straight lines.
They would buzz us sound loud as a plain then strike land on a
body and start boring remember that experience Marines and all
the while your D.I.watching.
RECRUIT. Mike Dumais
P.I. 1961, MAY to AUG
G-3-11 Cannon Cockers
G-3-11 Cannon Cockers Reunion, will kickoff on September 14th
and end up on the evening of the 17th, 2009, at the Circus
Circus Hotel in Reno, NV.
More details are available by contacting Ken Hanley at (916)
782-2946 or jarhead48 @ comcast .net Like all reunions, when
contacting the Hotel for reservations, you must tell them you
are with "G-3-11 Cannon Cockers" to get the special rates.
Of course all Marines and Corpsmen who were attached to George
Battery are invited. After 50 years we are finally getting
together, this is our 4th reunion and we have grown from about
12 at the first reunion to 37 at our last one in San Diego last
Come on you old Cannon Cockers, pick up that cane, latch on to
your bride and join us, transportation between the airport and
Hotel is provided by the Hotel.
Hello Sgt Grit,
Been seeing the items about 60s Marines and thought I'd share my
boot platoon pic from 1968.
Thanks for great site and awesome newsletter.
68 - 72 and 73 - 75
I would like to share with your readers my Boot Camp picture
from June 1954 thru September 1954. at MCRD San Diego,
California. I was in Platoon 361 and our DI's were SSGT C.J.
EASON, SGT. R.L. PATTON and CPL. S.C. SHOCKLEY.
Just a few observations from reading your great news letter over
the past 4 to 5 years.
I don't ever recall seeing yellow foot prints in San Diego. The
first time I saw the yellow foot prints was at the opening of
the Marine Corps Heritage Museum in Quantico, Va Nov. 10th,
If you haven't visited the Museum in Quantico do so. It will
take 2 to 3 days to see it all. Also I would recommend taking
in a Boot Graduation. It will make your eyes sweat
We were issued Ike Jackets in 1954 and wore then very often on
liberty in Japan.
Finally, we went to Camp Mathews in Sept. 1954, which now I
believe is San Diego State University.
Thank you for all you do for all of us Marines, Past, Present
and Future and the great items that you have in your catalog
Pfc. R.O Berg, 1472172
Chorus Of Shouts And Insults
As I exited the Marine Corps bus in the late evening of
26October56 (to the chorus of shouts and insults) we were told
to find 2 painted yellow feet and place our right foot in the
right and the left foot in the left. This was October of 1956.
Some earlier letters indicated some uncertainty as to when those
'feet' appeared. I know that they were there when I arrived in
October and were still in place when I headed up to CamPen in
February of 1957.
Mention was made in an earlier letter, of the Little Agony and
Big Agony opportunity at the former rifle marksmanship area,
Camp Mathews. Yes, we did the duck walk up and down, holding
our M-1s above our heads all the while, just to improve our boot
camp experience. My platoon (1066) spent 3 very cold weeks in
that location - 2 on the range and one on mess duty. At that
time, housing was in pyramidal tents with an oil burning stove
in the center, implanted in a sand box. Needless to say, none
of them EVER had a fire and despite having grown up in Wisconsin
and Illinois, I was never so cold as during my time there.
An interesting sequence occurred during this part of boot camp.
About a year or so before I began to dig my heels on the
Grinder, there was an incident in the Parris Island area wherein
some recruits were drowned during their training. As a result,
many of the DIs were very, very careful about what they did and
to whom. This is not to say that there was no corporal
Our 3 DIs were, S/Sgt Wakefield, Sgt. Encarniso and Sgt. W.
Self. While at the Mathews marksmanship range, the 2 junior
NCOs decided to take some pelts by bagging rabbits around the
range using their own .22 rifles. Due to their success they
ended up with a dozen or more pelts that were going to spoil if
they didn't treat them. As luck would have it, I was walking
down our company street when I was stopped by Sgt. Encarniso who
promptly told me to go get some salt so they could preserve
their game. (I was 21 years old and had spent some time in high
school ROTC and the USMC reserves which meant I had some
training prior to boot camp. This made the 3 DIs just a little
suspicious that I might have been CID (Criminal Investigation
Div.) and placed in the Platoon to report on any abuses.)
Faced with the mission I headed up to the mess hall which was
the only place where I could think of finding sufficient salt
for the task. I have said it many times that God watches over
Fools, Drunks and Irishmen and this time He really helped.
Trying hard NOT to look as though I was loitering, I loitered
long enough to attract the attention of a messman doing general
cleanup. He and I quickly made a bargain - 5 cigarettes for 5
pounds of salt which he was able to liberate from the kitchen.
At this point, we both could have been charged with theft, but I
was able to hide the salt inside my utility shirt and hastily
presented it to a very surprised Drill Instructor. He started
to ask me where and how I got it but then changed his mind,
preferring to have no knowledge of the transaction.
Later during our boot camp experience, he once accused me of
being CID - to my face. Trying hard to not smile I of course
denied it (I wasn't lying) but the staff never mentioned it
again. Marines who did their boot camp at Dago and shooting at
Mathews will remember the hike back to MCRD from the Mathews/La
Jolla area which, as I recall was about 20 miles. Good training
for the ITR experience at Pendleton.
Terrence L. Moran
Here is photos of me and my brothers.
L/Cpl Dale Landon 2008036
Same High Standards
When I enlisted in the Marine Corps I was a boy in 1968. The
Marine Corps made me a Marine. When girls enlist in the Marine
Corps, the Marine Corps makes them Marines.
They are held to the same high standards that we all are. They
go to MCRD Parris Island for 12 weeks of the hardest boot camp
of all the services and four weeks of advanced infantry
training. They qualify with the M-16 Rifle and 9mm pistol
yearly. They receive the same MarPat training. They face the
same promotion requirements.
The term BAM is derogatory, demeaning, it is as insulting as
calling a male Marine SPAM. As a human relations instructor I
found that this term is equal to the N word. Their careers,
their life's goals, and the Marine Corps are just as important
to them as their counter parts. As a human relations instructor
we tried to empress upon all thatch that there is only one color
in the Marine Corps. MARINE GREEN and the only s&x in the Marine
Corps is MARINE.
Congress will not allow them into direct combat situations but
as they filter into all the MOS fields they are proving them
selves to be worthy of the title DEVIL DOGS.
PFC. Linda Austin You are a Marine! Never let any one tell you
different. You earned the title and no one can take that away
That's my two cents.
Rodney Riffe SGT. of Marines 68 to 75.
For Everyone Else
I was reading your most recent newsletter when I saw the notice
about the death of Jack R.Gulden. I am sure this must be the
same Jack Gulden who worked with me in the beer business in the
1980s. Gulden was a good man and one tough hombre. He used to
say me "when it's too tough for everyone else, it's just right
for you and me." Jack was a Force Recon Marine and a very
Al Horton (former Cpl USMC)
Own Brand Of Discomfort
I suppose this topic will never go away (P.I. Marines vs
Hollywood Marines) so let me offer my opinion.
I was never on the East Coast while on active duty. I can tell
everyone that is does get cold at MCRD San Diego in the winter.
I started boot camp in Dec. 1969 and I learned to LOVE wool
blankets in a hurry. Platoon 1232 was billeted in Quonset huts
with diesel heaters. If we wanted heat, we had to have a
"firewatch". No one wanted to stand that duty so we did without
for a few weeks. Believe me, it did get cold and damp at times
there. My brother was there in the summer of 1966 and I can
remember him telling me of days that a certain flag was raised
in the recruit training area limiting certain types of PT. We
had no sand fleas but we had squids across the fence that we
could see lying on the grass smoking while we were training. We
had diesel fired heaters in garbage cans to boil our mess trays
in after eating chow. Our DI's had no hands off policy then, so
they were a double threat.
Let's leave it at both coasts had their own brand of discomfort
and we all packed the gear!
L/Cpl Dan Buchanan
The Special Year
Thought you would get a laugh out of your sign, decal, emblem
or what ever it is called.. I put the Marine emblem on my truck in the 3 spots where the original "Excursion" emblem is, I wanted to replace the original, but, your emblem was too small
to cover the factory holes for mounting.
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