From a Sr. Drill Instructor, Parris Island, once upon a summer.
During breakfast one of the Jr. D.I.'s advised me that one of
the recruits was praying. This was normal, in fact encouraged,
until I learned that the recruit was praying that GOD "please
let him die". I then knew I had what I thought would become a
good MARINE. He was praying to "die", not for GOD to let him
James G. "Sam" Gossage, Sgt. Major, U.S,M.C. Ret.
P.S. Was I rough on the recruits, you d*mn right I was. Now its
my time to pray to GOD, that I was rough enough that none of
their names are on THE WALL.
I Could See Him Strain
The following happened in DEC. 1986 in Fort Worth Texas at an
Air Force hospital.
The week before I had surgery for a sinus issue, today was the
day I got the stitches out.
Being a Marine recruiter (yes, one of THOSE) I went in full
As I was leaving an elderly lady ask me to speak to her husband,
as he was a World War Two Marine Officer and he was dying of
cancer and was not expected to last the week. I said "I really
don't know what to say" But, I have an idea. So she went in, I
heard her say "there is someone here to see you honey"
I put on my cover, white gloves, checked my military alignment
and stepped through the door, a left face, looked right into his
eyes and snapped the best salute I have ever done.
I could see him strain to return it as he tried to rise out of
the bed, a tear in his eye, his wife had to keep him down. I
brought the salute down, did an about face and stepped back in
to the hall.
A few minuets later, she came out in tears and thanked me for
"the best thing I could have done for him". I said no, THANK YOU
and your husband for all you've done. I left with the more pride
and an unshakable love for my God, Country and Corps, than I
ever had before and that still burns in my chest to this day.
That Marine left that night to report for guard duty on the
streets of Heaven.
I never learned his name.
This is my favorite memory of my time in the Corps.
Thank you for reading this.
Makes Me Think Back
Reading all of these best officer submissions makes me think
back to my time in the Corps. CWO Gus Axelson was truly a
Marine's Marine. He sacrificed for his troops and always went
the extra mile for his Marines. I will never forget the night in
Jan 1993 when he was shot in Somalia. He would travel daily from
the airport to our sight at the soccer stadium in Mogadishu to
bring us hot chow and mail and make sure we were okay. One night
on his way back to the airport the convoy encountered some
hostile fire and he was hit in the shoulder. I remember
listening on the radio in our fox hole and when we heard who was
hit the anger and sorrow was overwhelming to all of us at our
sight. Even though he was shot he still directed traffic to turn
the convoy around (we were told) to head to the embassy for
medical attention. He was shipped home and all of his Marines
knew the guilt he felt for leaving us behind. I will never
forget returning to Camp Pendleton on April 23 1993. Warrant
officer Axelson said to us sees you on May 10. We were confused;
he arranged a 17 day basket leave for us. I know his career
suffered for all of the times he stuck his neck out for us when
one of his troops would get in trouble for something, but that's
type of Marine and man he was, ands I hope he is doing well to
Don Mendell CPL USMC 1989-1993
While serving with HQCO HQBN G-1 3MarDiv at Camp Courtney,
Okinawa in 1973 (that's right, the CG's staff), we had a
Lieutenant serving as Protocol Officer (can't remember the guy's
name), who was a former Los Angeles cop who came up through the
enlisted ranks. Very professional and squared away, but very
much in synch with his men. Anyway, the scene is this: the CG
of the Japanese forces is visiting General Ryan at our HQ. The
entire HQ Bn is in formation on the parade deck in front of the
HQ building; our officers and SNCOs with their backs to the
building, enlisted pogues at attention facing the building. The
Lt is coordinating the affair from a window on the third floor
of the building, facing the enlisted formation. We can see him
but the officers/SNCOs can't. The Japanese CG pulls up in his
limo on a driveway in front of the building, in between our
officers and enlisted. The band strikes up, and an artillery
piece lets off a volley in tribute to our guest. As this
godawful blast occurs, the Lt in the window grasps his chest as
if he'd been shot, and with a look of agony slips down behind
the window. Funny as h&ll, and only the pogues could see it!
The grunts of stifled laughter from the formation at attention
were disguised by our impeccable military bearing!
LCpl Gene Brugger
As always it's a pleasure to receive your letter Wednesday
nights. Turned on a Marine Mom to your Newsletter a couple of
Christmas '65 "a day like any other except you had to be
there". Chu Lai RVN with G-3-11. All the units with BLT 1/7
started popping flares just before midnight the 24th.
Christmas '68 what a sight. On hill 65, south of DaNang.
Everyone was up, in I-3-11. The first unit to let go must've
been Marble Mtn., then The Air Base, Freedom Hill, Hill 34, Hill
55, Liberty Bridge, An Hoa, Hill 37, Then Hill 65. Red, Green,
and Illum. From about 2350 to 0030 what a sight. Since then when
ever I see fire a works display. I go back to that night , and
I haven't seen anything to compare to it since. Word came down
that that would be the last time there would be such a display.
And like good Marines nothing happened on New Years, "Right".
Keep up the good work. GOD Bless the "Corps", "Corpsmen",
and "C B's"
Black Bean And Rice Burrito MRE
We had finally stopped driving after more than 20 hours on the
road. The barren intersection we stopped at was... well,
unpronounceable, but the Marines who had taken it before we came
through named it "Dead General's Crossing", because when they
got there, this crazy general came tearing up the road in an
armored car, trying to ram their convoy.
Dead General's Crossing sat about 30 miles outside of Baghdad;
we had seen several signs along the road counting down the miles
to Baghdad, and we were all excited to finally arrive in the
Capital City. (That is, the REAL capital city; we had crossed
through Saddam City some hours before)
We stopped and parked our vehicles. The Marines there already
had communications up, so we only had to set up a few antennas
of our own. The area had been a small village before the War
started; now, it was just a collection of burning buildings and
a few bombed-out trucks. The terrain actually reminded me of
South Carolina a little bit; there was a small forest quite
We were told to stick close in case the order to take off came
again, so we all broke out our chow to eat. That's the funny
thing about war: You never know when you'll be called into
action, so whenever you can, you either eat or sleep.
Quite soon, the aroma of dozens of cooking MREs floated down
along the column. I had broken out a Black Bean and Rice Burrito
MRE *shudder* and was looking forward to getting some protein in
my system. Of course, as fate would have it, that burrito went
I was sitting on the hood of my HUUMV with my burrito, several
of my platoon-mates and friends sitting on their hoods around,
sharing jokes, stories, and insults back and forth in the
failing light of dusk. Without warning, the most gargantuan
explosion went off a few hundred meters away; The Ordinance
Techs had found a cache of explosives and were detonating it to
make sure that the enemy couldn't come back here after we left
and get it for themselves.
The Explosion itself was a bright pink. I later learned that the
explosion didn't have a color; the pink everyone saw was just
instant scarring to their corneas from the brightness of the
thing. The concussive blast wave knocked me on my side, my rifle
clattering in the dirt. People started shouting and running back
and forth; for a moment, everyone thought we were under attack,
until one of the techs came over the radio to tell us what had
really happened. Thank God only a few of us suffered ruptured
eardrums, and none of the radio operators.
After the initial panic passed, we all settled down again to
resume our meals. The air was suddenly hot, burning hot, and
full of a sharp sizzling noise. Bits of debris, which had been
lifted at least a mile high, came flaming down everywhere,
catching the trees on fire. Again, Marines ran back and forth,
trying to avoid the burning bits of debris.
Finally, we could take it no longer, and one by one, we all
hopped in our vehicles and took off.
That night around 11:30 local time, we took Baghdad.
Jason Gormally, LCpl, USMC
Had The Pleasure
I just had the pleasure of sending 5 gift certificates to 5
young Marines in Iraq - and I wish I could have sent more. I
was going to send 4 $25 certificates but you underwrote those
enough so that I could add one more. That is a wonderful thing
- thank you for that and I hope those guys in the sand box hear
of it - they owe you thanks as well.
Bill McManigal 1851552 - a lot of years ago
Poetry In Motion
If you want to some real teamwork as poetry in motion, take
a look at this video.
YouTube - Marine Corps Field Artillery at its Best
With Loving Respect
Thanks for the newsletter and a special thanks to you and your
staff for your support of Marines, past, present & future.
Was with FLSG Alpha from September, 1966 through April, 1968, &
FLSG Bravo @ Dong Ha from April 1968 through October 1968. At
the time that the attached photo was taken, I was assigned to
Motor Transport Maintenance Company, FLSG Alpha, @ DaNang
(across the street from dogpatch).
At Christmas time, I remember that my mother would send our
hooch a care package containing garland, chocolate chip cookies,
salami & cheese and a plastic quart bottle of Jim Beam (yum).
We decorated our hooch & we'd sit & talk about families &
girlfriends. RD Stepp would play guitar & Gregg Lappan was
Dynamite on his borrowed drums. My M-14 was decorated with
Merry Christmas to you and your staff, and Merry Christmas to
all Marines & Corpsmen, and to all who support our military.
You are all held in reverence.
Cpl. Hugh J. Roche
The following is excerpted from _Duke, We're Glad We Knew You_ a
biography of John Wayne authored by Herb Fagen.
The words are those of John Mitchum, brother of actor Robert
Mitchum, and author of "America, Why I Love Her" recorded by
John Mitchum's narrative:
"The first time I met John Wayne was on a picture called "The
Flying Leathernecks" in the early nineteen fifties. We shot it
down at Camp Pendleton, California, which is a Marine base.
So we had quite a time down there and he fit in with almost
everybody. We had a Marine fighter pilot unit from Georgia,
which had also been in Korea. In fact, the Korean War was going
on at the time and these guys from Georgia were the wildest
bunch of fliers I have ever seen. They would be drinking until
five in the morning, then suck straight oxygen out of tubes,
and go straight in the air.
Wayne, of course, was simulating one of those, so he took on
some of the mannerisms of some of the pilots and was a little
brash on occasion. It was a very interesting experience. I was
in the war but in a very different thing entirely. I was in a
boat company and had no idea what those pilots were like until
I got close to them. They were a fearless bunch, and we had a
lot of experiences with these pilots off the set when we were
through for the day. And none of them was reticent about being
But Wayne held up very well. He just did a beautiful job and he
was very convincing as a Marine pilot. He had all those pilots
around him, and you couldn't tell one from the other, he was
End of Mitchum narrative.
Capt. USMC (Ret)
Been Wanting To
Here is a picture of my new tattoo, been wanting to get it for
years and finally went out and got it after being out since '96.
It was done by "Irish" at Atomic Tattoos in Largo, FL.
I returned to "The World" on December 23, 1967. I got out to the
Corps. in January and returned to college in Beaumont, TX. I did
not last long. Being a vet at that time was not easy to do,
especially in a collage situation. I moved to Houston, TX and
got a job. In 1969 I joined the Marine Reserve in Houston. One
day I received a notice via Western Union of a muster on
Saturday for possible deployment.
As we were standing in formation, being reviewed by the C.O. I
was spotted. The C.O. came over and asked what the h*ll my major
malfunction was. In a sea of soft covers I was the only one
wearing a helmet. The First Sgt. told the C.O. I was their
(only) Viet-Nam Vet. The C.O. asked why I was wearing my Helmet.
I answered, "Sir, I served with 2nd Battalion/9th Marines in
Nam. We were called H&ll in a Helmet and we never wore a soft
cover. The message stated we might be deployed to combat and
this is what I wear for combat, Sir". The C.O. turned to the
First Sgt. and said, "At least one Marine is ready for combat.
Someone give this Marine a soft cover", as he continued his
Add The Piece
After 20 yrs of having the basic "USMC" on my arm I finally was
able to add the piece below it and touch up the original.
I enjoy your web-site and all the letters and submissions from
fellow Marines and family members. Keep up the good work.
LCpl. 0331 (86-90)
Security Forces, St. Mawgan United Kingdom 87-88
5th Marines, Camp Pendleton 88-90
Insane Rate Of Speed
Its 1967, and we are a bunch of "green sticks" perched atop
Monkey Mountain just outside of DaNang and have been in
country just long enough to realize that if you had to be in
Viet Nam, this was the place to be. Although we did have one
nemesis; known to us as "the duty cloud". And it was on station
over the mountain...a lot of the time! So I can state that
"living in the clouds" is sometimes not all that it is cracked
up to be for everything is damp, cold, and clammy. It was soon
discovered that someone had invented a device called a "hot
locker". This was a plywood box in which one would hang a 100
watt light bulb, with the result being that you had warm dry
utilities to put on at "0 dark thirty" every morning. This
immediately became a high demand item on everyone's short list.
Now this was a problem...where was a bunch of electronic types
like us, being totally ignorant in the art of scrounging;
going to lay our hands on some plywood.
Seeing as how the SeaBees had constructed everything we had; to
me, it seemed a good place to start. So early one afternoon I
spot this Bee bounding down the road an a fork lift. And
admittedly thinking only of myself, I wave him to a stop and
inquired if he could obtain enough plywood for me to build one
of these hot lockers. Obtaining an affirmative response and
instructions to return at 1600 hours, I leave being quite self
Returning at the specified time, I see this Bee bounding up the
road carrying a full banded pallet of some 50 sheets of 4 by 8
plywood on the forks of his lift. Setting the load down he asks
if this would be enough or would I need more. "Uh, I think this
should do it, ..I'm good to go"
Now this was a problem...I am now the proud owner of a "honey
pot" full of plywood and how to disperse it. After posting an
armed guard [the biggest guy I could find in a hurry] and after
some discussion it was decided 5 rips [script] a sheet for all
comers; first come first served. By 1800 hours the problem of
dispersal was over.
I have now incurred a debt and am unsure of how to repay it.
Who to see.. the old gunny of course, and mine was truly a salt
encrusted type. After explaining my situation, he relives me of
all the acquired script and instructs me to return in two days.
In doing so, I am presented with a small wooden box containing
six well packed bottles of Chivas Regal. Being lower enlisted
[E-4], having such liquid-gold in ones possession was classified
as contraband. Such that I have to go on an immediate Bee hunt.
Finding him and his fork lift in the area; again I wave him to a
stop and ask for another favor...that I was in the possession of
contraband and could he dispose of it for me...somewhere? Not
being sure of what he is getting involved in he inquires of the
nature of said contraband. At which time I hand him up a small
Seeing what it was, and with a big smile he says "Thanks, Marine".
I think that was the last time I saw him, bounding down the road
on his fork lift...at what seemed to me to be an insane rate of
The moral here is that SeaBees...not only can they fight, build
anything and everything; they will, in some cases, dispose of
contraband. And a lot of us got to put on dry clothes that year
because one of them was kind enough to act as a scrounge for us.
Sgt Steven Parmenter
Serve As The Tree
When I arrived in Okinawa in December of 1973 I was very
fortunate to be assigned to the 3rd Recon Battalion. The small
group of us mostly new to Corps Marines were immediately put to
the test during our RIP training. We were up early, wet, cold
and working late every day.
But on Christmas Eve our
instructors Sgt. Abbey and Sgt. Cook decided we needed a break
to celebrate Christmas so we were sent to find a tree. We could
not find a suitable fir tree on Ona Point so one of our platoon
was designated to serve as the tree. Pvt. Davis made a great
tree, we had a short break from training and a good laugh to
Sgt. Dave Andrews
3rd Recon Bn. 1973-1974
Man in the Doorway
A narration by Marine Michael Rierson to celebrate the one abiding image we all brought home from Vietnam...It came in low and hot, close to the trees...View Video
Gitmo And Salt
I see a lot of references to Gitmo in the news letter. As a
Marine who spent 16 months it Gitmo (Nov.65 - March 67), I would
like add one more. At the age of 60 a lot of my friends are
fighting high blood pressure and trying to reduce the use of
salt. I do not have that problem. In 1966 while on a post at
Gitmo, on a hill between post 12 and the gate at Main Side, I
was watching a Cuban worker, through the ship binoculars on the
post, shovel salt. He stopped, unbuttoned his pants, urinated
in the salt, then continued shoveling. I quit using salt right
Sgt Walter E. Seneff
Cuba Nov. 1965-March 1967
Viet Nam Oct 1967-April 1969
He Would Sit
The Best Officer I served was Captain Bateman. I served in
Charlie Battery 1/12, Capt. Bateman, then a Lieutenant, was a
Forward Observer, who later was assigned as C.O. of C-1/12. He
was a Marines, Marine. He knew all of us gun poges and you could
talk to him about anything. He would sit down and eat with us
and drink a beer with us when we had some.
Cpl. of Marines
LZ Torch June 1968
Blisters, Broken Bones
I'm just going to add my two cents to the "Corpsman"
Discussion... "Docs," they PT with us, live in our barracks, eat
the same food, carouse with us on liberty, live with us in the
field and berth with us on ship, they are frowned on by squids;
the treat our maladies, blisters, broken bones, lacerations,
bullet wounds, and have died with us. Don't mess with the Docs.
Fifteen years as a civilian and I still have that lack of
respect for blow hard regular squids, but when I meet a Corpsman
he instantly gets a handshake and my thanks. In my eyes if you
have a problem with the men who cared enough for us to risk
their lives to save ours then you aren't much of a Marine.
Cpl. of Marines
Loud Cracking Sound
I, along with five close high school friends, arrived at the San
Diego train station on August 10, 1946 at 2:30 PM. We were met
at the train by a red haired Gunnery Sergeant loudly instructing
us to get off the train and on "his" bus. There were two things
about him that I immediately noticed - he had many hash marks on
his sleeve and he carried a swagger stick in his hand that
seemed to be constantly in motion. Later, after we were
assigned to Plt. 154, I noticed that our DIs' also carried
swagger sticks which they occasionally used to emphasize a
point. They, along with all of the other DIs' that we observed
while in Boot Camp, had brass cleats and taps on the bottoms of
their dress shoes. When they walked, or ran, on any hard
surface a loud "cracking" sound was emitted. At any time that
you heard that sound coming toward you, especially at a rapid
pace, you feared for your life. It was my understanding later
that only the DIs' were allowed to wear the cleats and taps.
The swagger sticks that they carried were made of a tapered hard
wood with a 30 cal. cartridge on one end and a 50 cal. cartridge
on the other.
Ray Cox 630508
Corporal of Marines
MCAS El Toro, MAG 33, VMP 254
Dear Sgt Grit
Here is a pic of a tattoo I got after I graduated from boot camp
thought you would want to put it on your page. I am currently
at my mos school at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri
Korean Kids Greeting
By the way -- don't let anyone razz you about using the term
"Gooks" for Koreans.
The word "Gook" in Korean means "people" -- Koreans are Han-
Gooks, folks whose origins came from the Han dynasty.
The polite term for Westerners is "Mee-Gook."
The story is often told of Korean kids greeting US military,
shouting gleefully "Mee-Gook! Mee-Gook!" hence the term.
On the other hand, don't let 'em get away with calling ya "Ko-
Jeng-Gi" -- them's fighting words!
(It means "big nose!")
Formerly The Marine Band at 8th and Eye
(Spent quality time in Korea)
Hey Grit; Here's a shot of some bumper stickers on my truck in
the Concord, NH annual Magic Christmas Parade, where The Gary S
Dillon Det MCL kicks of the season's Toys for Tots
Joe Shea 1953-1961 Still a Marine . 16yrs in the League
I just celebrated my 40th Marine Corps Birthday at Camp Victory,
To make a long story short, I served as an enlisted Marine
1967-1973 and after an eight year break joined the National
Guard to get a commission and have been in every since. I've
had several active tours since 9/11 and most recently with the
Army Operations Center at the Pentagon and I came to Iraq as
HQDA LNO to MNC-I.
Marine Corps 232nd Birthday in Iraq - 10 Nov 2007
In the afternoon, the Marines put on a great cake cutting
ceremony that was attended by all branches of service. They had
a Marine color guard, band, and of course a great motivational
speech by the senior Marine, MajGen Paxton The youngest Marine
was a female Lance Corporal and the oldest was a older looking
Major who was serving as a Marine retiree recall and he was
dressed in an older era uniform.
That night the general hosted a dinner at his house for all
Marines, past and present, and when desert time came, he gave
another great speech and said now we want to find the "real"
youngest and oldest Marines to cut the cake. The female Lance
Corporal was replaced by a younger male lance corporal. The
older Marine announced his birthday and the General asked for
any Marine present that was older. I raised my hand and told him
my birth date and that I graduated from Parris Island as a
Marine in 1967. See attached, the oldest Marine waiting to get the first piece of cake is wearing an Army uniform (Me).
OOH-RAH and Semper Fidelis,
THOMAS W. SIMPSON
MNC-I C3 Plans / HQDA G-3 LNO
Very Wise Man
A very wise man told me something before I left for Viet Nam, it
goes like this.....in the course of your lifetime, you will meet
a thousand people that you will know by name, out of that
thousand, there will be 100 that you will call a friend, out of
that 100, there will be 10 that you will call a best friend, out
of that 10 there will be 1 that you will call your 1 true
friend. for a Marine that 1 true friend is his rifle....
L/CPL WILLIAM C BENNETT ( BUGS )
L 3/3/3 RVN 1969
That very wise man was my father U.S.M.C. 1940-1965
Simply Because He Was
As I sit here reading your newsletter, many memories pass
through my mind. One of them was of one fine Marine Officer,
1stLt Fred WINTERS. Lt. WINTERS was from New Jersey and a
graduate of the Citadel in Charleston, SC.
I met Lt WINTERS in 1980 while assigned to OSO Duty in Kansas
City, MO. As I look back on my tour with him, the one thing I
remember the most about him was his professional attitude about
every thing he did. His professionalism and dedication to the
Corps helped bring many young men and a few women into the
Corps. Many of those college men and women became fine officers
simply because he was a real Marine who led by example. Captain
Chris TOBUREN (turned down an NFL contract with Atlanta to fly
planes for the Marine Corps and killed in helo crash at
Pendleton) Ben SHORT, Tom LUDKE (sorry if I misspelled it) who
became lawyers for the Corps, and Leslie JOHNSON, Finance
Officer (she later married and I do not know her name) were only
a few of the outstanding officers that served in our Corps. I
truly believe that not one of all he recruited would have taken
their commission had he not been a true professional.
Thank you Lt. WINTERS for showing me what a Professional Marine
Officer really is. May God bless you and yours. Happy Birthday
and SEMPER FI.
Gary L. COON
MSGT USMC (Ret)
OSO Duty KCMO / Lawrence, KS
Yes - we - the members of
the 11Th Engineer Bn - back
then in the middle of 68' had
closed down camp J.J. Carroll
located in the Leatherneck Square
area. We were the last ( my squad )
to walk out after setting the time
fuses in blowing the bunkers etc...
Keep in mind that just up the road
along route # 9 was another base
camp called - LZ Strud, then renamed
Note: For those returning Marines
to revisit Vietnam - the Vietnamese
have erected a statute depicting US
Marines with their hands up - surrendering.
This is( BS ) folks. The Marines fighting
up in this area - never surrendered to anyone!
We had kicked their asses from start to finish
back then - as I recall.
Also - pilots would say - If I cannot ditch in
the South China sea - then left me bailout
over the DMZ with all of the Marine FSB sites
there in hopes of being helped.
11th Engineer Bn
DMZ - Vietnam 1968
King Of Battle
This is my moto tat for all those cannoners out there and our
brothers who didn't make it back. I got it done by Tom Young in
Redding CA while I was on recruiting duty. now its back to 11th
Marines.....KING OF BATTLE!
Comment on best officers
While in boot camp in 1963 at MCRDSD I found myself in a
difficult situation relating to a witness statement for a USMC
investigation. Two of the officers of Platoon 125 made a lasting
impression on me, as to the integrity and leadership on the
Marine Corps. To this day I have the utmost respect for Capt.(at
the time) J. L. Compton and 1st LT.(at the time) L.A. Luther. To
me they were not only the finest examples of Marine officers but
of men a young man could strive to emulate.
Happy Holidays Sgt Grit...To You and Yours
Respectfully - Jeffrey Cox
Former Marine Corps Sgt
Col. Jefferson DeBlanc, Sr
With sadness, I'm asking you to share the news of the passing of
another Marine. I did not know this warrior, but I understand
that we are losing almost a thousand veterans of WWII each day.
Like so many past and present Marines, there are stories to be
told. Taken from the AP and Dallas Morning News, with the
deepest respect, I quote:
Retired Marine Col. Jefferson DeBlanc, Sr., an ace fighter pilot
who won the Medal of Honor during World War II, is dead at age
86. Col. DeBlanc, of St. Martinville, LA, died Thursday
(Thanksgiving Day) at Lafayette General Hospital of
complications of pneumonia. Col. DeBlanc was awarded the Medal
of Honor, the nation's highest military honor for bravery, for
his actions during a bombing raid against the Japanese in the
Solomon Islands on Jan. 31, 1943.
A lieutenant barely in his 20's, he was in charge of the six
planes providing air cover. In an F-4F Grumman Wildcat, he
downed two Japanese float planes and one fighter before heading
back the naval base at Henderson Field. Because all six
fighters were low on fuel, he ordered the rest of his flight
group back to base. He took on and shot down the two enemy
aircraft alone, though it was unlikely he would have enough fuel
to make it back to safety (Col. DeBlanc became an ace in one
day, shooting down five planes).
His plane was hit, and Col. DeBlanc parachuted into the ocean
and swam all night to reach Kolombarangara Island. Wounded in
the back, arms and legs, he subsisted on coconuts for the next
two days, according to medalofhonor.com. He was captured by
local tribesmen and bartered for a ten-pound sack of rice.
He was eventually picked up by a Navy float plane and reunited
with his squadron. He recovered from his wounds and went on to
see action in several other campaigns in the war. He was
decorated several times for his service in the war before and
after that engagement. After the war he returned to St.
Martinville. He was a schoolteacher and administrator and
retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1972.
Rest in peace, Sir. It would be an honor to meet you on the
Sgt., USMC 1975-1979
My first Christmas in the Marines, was in boot camp at M.C.R.D.
San Diego plt.404 1953. I was called to the duty hut because I
had received a package from my sister. It contained a regular
size fruit cake, which was a no no !
I had to stand in front of the D.I. an eat the whole cake! He
got tired of watching me an sent me outside to finish eating it.
Boy did I get sick! I prayed not to receive any more packages
from home. And to this day, I have never eaten another BITE of
Last Marine Left
Dear Sgt Grit, I am the youngest of three brothers we are all
Marines. My middle brother was the first to go in, in 1967 he
was with the First Mar Div in Vietnam, LCpl Merrick R. Pierce,
he was killed in late October of 68, 3 days before his 21st
birthday. My oldest was the next to go in out of collage to OCS.
I was the last to go in 1969. I was with 1st MAG Support in
Yesterday my oldest brother passed away after a bout with
cancer. He was always the smartest of all 3 of us. He became a
F4 phantom in the late 60's and stayed active for 6 years and
then went to reserves and stayed for 25yrs. He retired as a full
bird col COL Jerry N. Pierce. He like all of us was a true
Marine with crossed swords over the fire place, when he passed
yesterday he was 3 weeks from his 63rd birthday.
All day long I just kept thinking about a poem that I read when
I was in Vietnam, about Marines guarding heavens gates and could
not remember how it went. I will have to speak at his service
and can't think of anything more appropriate. If you or somebody
can remember this poem will you please send it to me.
Thank you lcpl Byron L. Pierce
The last Marine left in our family
I reported to MCRD, San Diego on December 9, l954 and of course
spent Christmas there. I remember mail calls where some of us
received baked goods from home and the DI made us open them up,
give them back to him. We all knew we were not supposed to have
or eat candy, cakes or cookies so the DI would throw the
contents in the air and whomever got one could eat it. The guy
that got the package did not always get to enjoy. A few days
after we had formed our platoon and assigned to our barracks we
were cleaning it up, sweeping, swabbing, etc. and I was just
standing around and Pvt. McAlester, a big Marine from Ohio asked
me to grab the swab and mop the floor. I was not used to this
direction and I told him what he could do with the mop. Of
course he told me why don't just do it. I stepped over to him
and never saw his left that clobbered my mouth. I woke up later
in the head looking at my busted mouth. About 2 days after this
incident later in the evening he and I were instructed to report
to the Duty Hut with the DI. We knew we were going to get in
trouble and told each other we would take the blame. But when
we reported to the DI, he told us we had each received a package
from home that was not opened and told us to open them and give
them back. Well, I had received probably a pound maybe, more
fruit cake from my aunt and McAlester received a huge flat box
of mixed nuts, it was big. The DI made us sit in the floor in
front of him and told us to eat it all. After probably 45
minutes, I finished the cake, nothing to drink to wash it down,
I left. Poor old McAlester, he was struggling to eat all of the
nuts when I left. We all wrote home and told our folks not to
send anymore goodies. McAlesiter and I became good friends
Gus Lueck, SGT-USMC
Is Also A Sisterhood
My first Christmas away from home was not so different from many
of my Marine friends. My first Christmas away from home was
spent at USMCRDPISC. The young women who made up Platoon 15A-60
have been my dearest sisterfriends all these years. We each
bought a gift and signed our name to the card so we would not
get our gift and the dollar amount was stated so each of us
would receive a gift of equal value. I received a pendant with
the gold EGA. I wear it still though I have had to replace the
chain three times over the years. And like any jewelry that
receives such wear, it is smoother on one side than the other.
There were 41 of us in that group. As we approached the 30th
anniversary of 15A-60 several of us got together and tried to
locate the gals. We located something like 36. Several had
passed away and since then at least two more have passed away.
We are still missing Credeur, Cummings, Schaide and Kesterson.
We were a great group, different as could be; from diverse
backgrounds and economic means but it was amazing to find how
many common threads we had when we started the reunion search.
Many of us had lost first husbands to the grave or the war or to
the courts. Many of us collect depression glass; many of us
realized long held dreams of a new career; most of us returned
to the area where we were raised. I had always wanted to be a
nurse and finally in 1990 I made it. My 15A-60 friends were the
first ones I told when I got my pin.
The brotherhood is also a sisterhood and I am proud to be a
member of this elite and unique band of brothers and sisters.
Merry Christmas to all and to all I love you.
Lady Leatherneck in Tennessee.
Watching His Back
I was wondering about the lady's hats, did the Marines send her
a couple Marine covers, I would have.
I read the stories about Marines and SeaBee's, I met a "Doc" at
a concert a few years ago, he introduced himself to me as I was
wearing the OD cover with a Cpl. chevron on it, we talked a
little and I got that look from my wife, "here goes the gabbing
with some other vet again, but we made it short as the concert
we were at was starting, there were five guys that had enough
brews in them to be a pain in the a@@. Doc yelled at them to sit
down, well that was not received very well and some threatening
jesters and talk followed, now I could see Doc's wife getting a
wee bit uncomfortable with the situation, my wife tapped her on
the shoulder and told her not to worry that I was watching his
back and if there was any trouble we could handle it and if they
had one more guy it might be a fair fight.
Semper-Fi Doc wherever you are.
Former Cpl of Marines
To The Out Door
I enjoyed reading about Sgt. Tyre's first Marine Corps Birthday
in Booth Camp at Parris island. I did also in 57. Platoon #266 /
C Company / 2nd Battalion. I remember our SDI informing
us."Today is the Marine Corps 182nd Birthday"! "You people will
be going to the Out Door this evening and you will watch "FLYING
LEATHERNECKS" and "SANDS of IWO JIMA" the only order we enjoyed
in Boot Camp ......except the order after graduation."GET ABOARD
BRUCE OTIS / 1957
Witnessed On Tarawa
Sgt Grit - A WW2 Second Marine Division "Tarawa" Veteran told
me. A Seabee and his bulldozer are the instruments of the
bravest act that he witnessed on Tarawa. The driver, high in the
air and unprotected, proceeded to the front lines and pushed
sand and coral into the entryway to that famous two story
building that Lieutenant Bonnyman had shortly before given his
life. The driver is a hero worthy of recognition. There's
suppose to be a photo of this?
He Finally Walked In
During the 1960's a few, very few, Marines got tattoos, maybe a
devil dog or emblem. Now we have wives and mothers getting them?
You are NOT MARINES. An example: There had been many wives
saying they were senior to one another during the mid 1950's.
Chesty Puller was Commanding General at the time at Camp
Pendleton. He asked all the wives to seat them selves according
to rank which took several hours. He finally walked in and told
them that they were not Marines, that they held no rank and that
they were civilians and could not tell each other what to do. I
love my mother and My wife, neither have tattoos.
He Told The SgtMaj
I served proudly with LtCol Peter Pace, now General Pace, when I
was with 2Bn 1st Marines First Marine Division. In 1984-1985. He
had an open door policy, you probably think well every Marine
says that but this time it was very true. Let me give you an
example of how great this man was, we had went to Okinawa Japan.
When we landed on the Island we did some training, but he told
us that we weren't going anywhere for a while, and he told the
SgtMaj to let us go on leave, that we could go anywhere we
wanted to (except the States) so all the Marines go on mac
flights and took off to the different places most of us went to
the Philippines and had fun. We all came back together. Then we
got on ship, went back to the Philippines for 4 weeks 2 weeks of
liberty and 2 weeks of training then went to Hong Kong for 7
days of liberty.
General Pace was fair but stern, but to me he had a great
command. I will miss him a lot he was truly the greatest General
I have ever seen.
Semper Fi Marines
James Maroon Cpl Retired
Was Not Heart Warming
Christmas 1970 was one of my most memorable Christmas times. Far
away from home and only 19 years old in a hostile combat
environment gave it significance. The longing to home with the
girl I loved, and married upon my safe return, would have been
to much to bear had it not been for my fellow Marines around me,
each of whom were experiencing the same thing. There is a love
of Marines which is forged in combat unsurpassed by anything
else on this earth. And it is that feeling of brotherhood which
makes it all worth while. The tranquility of a quiet night with
the Marine next to you feeling as miserable as you are that
somehow says you will get through this together, not matter
what. That one night, while "Charlie" roamed around out there
somewhere, we, stayed secure in our positions and felt the
feelings we had for each other, without saying a word. That
feeling has stayed with me all these years and each Christmas
Eve I reflect on that night and how lucky I am to be here today
and how we knew, without saying the words, we were cared for by
each other. Come New Years Eve each platoon, from their various
positions let loose with everything they had to welcome in the
new year. It was a sight and sound to behold. As if each
position was being attacked the rounds, flares and illumination
hit the sky. In a matter of moments it was over and the dead
quiet of night settled in once again and everyone was left
reflecting on the rest of the night what they might do should an
attack actually occur for you see, everyone fired off pretty
much everything they had. It was a long night after that and the
thought of only having fixed bayonets was not heart warming.
Luckily at first light we were resupplied and the hunt was on
There is something those who never serve will never know. The
love of your fellow Marine in the warmest of ways, knowing that
you would gladly lay down your life for them and they for you.
I'm grateful that I became a Marine and obviously even more
grateful I returned to the girl that I love. We have enjoyed 36
Christmas' together since then and each year I think of those
brave young men and the good that we did.
Hotel Co. 2/1 RVN 70-71
To Sit Among
I wanted to tell you about my, MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY. I had the
privilege of being invited to a MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY breakfast
at a place called Golden Korral. At this breakfast were MARINES
from the BATAAN Death March, IWO Jima, TARAWA, CHOSIN Reservoir.
I have no words that can explain how it felt to sit among these
MARINES/MEN. There is no way to find the right kind of words or
ways to explain what it was like to sit among these MARINES.
These men that are considered as HEROES/LEGENDS in my eyes and
heart. I have read books, watched doct. about the things that
these MARINES went through the battles that they fought, the
lives that were lost the courage the heroes the sacrifice that
these MARINES/MEN made. Now I'm sitting in room with those very
same MARINES/MEN. I don't know about other people but that was
something that I will never forget or ever be able to express
into words. I want to thank who ever started that breakfast for
inviting me. That will be something that will savor for ever.
Thank you for the CORPS dear GOD heaven for I could not have
gone into a better organization.
CPL CHUCK HARDEN
First row, squat on the ground, Lance Corporal Jake Stark,
Sheepdog Number 9.
My Grandson in Iraq
Behind The Freedom Hill PX
To all who see these (Christmas) presents, Greetings-
I was sent to RVN in September 1969 on a 'short tour'. I
enlisted with 2 college buddies who also made it "back" and are
both still my dearest friends.
After 14 months in the Corps, and numerous requests through
'channels' that had been ignored, I finally got my WESTPAC
Orders. (I did not enlist in the Marines in June of 1968 to miss
out on the Nam). If I didn't appreciate what a great adventure
my life would be after joining our beloved Corps, it was driven
home when I boarded a Braniff jet painted the most bilious shade
of PINK I have ever seen.
We flew to Kadena AB on the Rock, via Honolulu. We laid over in
Honolulu for an hour or so, under the watchful eye of more MP's
and SP ever congregated in one place. They were laughing so hard
when we deplaned from our colorful jet, that my fellow
passengers and I were first mortified, then angry. Honor
restored, we reboarded and went to war.
But, this is a Christmas story...
On Christmas day 1969, we did 'rock, hammer, paper, scissors' to
decide who from our data processing installation section could
go to the Bob Hope Show. It must have been 100 degrees that day.
But what a miracle- the monsoon lifted and the sun came out for
the next 2-1/2 hours. As we headed out the gate, some MP
lieutenant wearing gold bars impressed 5 or so of us HQ Co-
types into service as security for the Bob Hope Show at Freedom
Hill. So, back to the living area, flak jackets, helmets and 782
gear. I thought "Oh, boy, we're gonna mix it up, up close and
personal, with Connie Stevens and the Goldiggers!" In a typical
example of Marine logistics, our transportation never arrived,
and we had to hitchhike from the Airbase to Hill 327. The
natural amphitheater was the venue for the show. It was behind
the Freedom Hill PX, and rivaled any Greek theater in size and
And in furtherance of "how its done" in the Corps- not only were
we not ordered backstage, we were ordered to stand outside the
wire, at the top of the hill. What we could see of the stage
looked about the size of a quarter.
About half way through the show, we were relieved by some
"real" grunts (thank you 1st Mar Div) who volunteered to replace
us so we could watch the rest of the show. (One of the many
Christmas presents I received that day).
After the show, that heathen second lieutenant found us again
somehow. (I thought, 'What now, a sweep?'). He marched us to the
stage. That now-terrific officer and a gentleman dismissed us
with "Merry Christmas, Marines- and don't maul the women!"
WOW! We got to mingle with the many stars and celebrities that
made up the Bob Hope USO show. Neil Armstrong, who had just
walked on the moon 5 months earlier, and was still in the Air
Force, accompanied the USO show. The Goldiggers had a mob
(naturally) 10-deep around them. Connie Stevens was signing
casts on the wounded in the front row who attended. Bob Hope was
in a sea of officers from all branches of service. But, Neil
Armstrong was just standing there with a couple of people. I
knew he was from Ohio (we are after all, first in aviation).
People who knew me then knew I was very shy. But I mustered up
the courage to approach him, whipped on a salute and said "Good
afternoon, Sir--- Cincinnati!".
He snapped to attention, and for an Air Force officer, returned
a real salute. He smiled, rather shyly himself, and with a Santa
Claus twinkle in his eyes, (I remember them as blue) asked
"Isn't that a suburb of Wapakeneta?" We shook hands, and d*mn if
I can remember the few words of small talk after that. A true
Then, after we exchanged a "merry Christmas", he sort of just
disappeared in the crowd.
On Christmas Eve (the day before) some guys from our section had
stuffed pogey bait into our green socks for the French Catholic
Orphanage near 'Dogpatch'. The socks did not look very
'Christmasy'. So, we stole/borrowed/procured some ribbon off of
a Christmas wreath from the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing (AF)
mess hall to adorn and secure the socks. (Improvise, adapt, and
overcome). When we ran out ribbon, we just tied off the
After the show, we managed to hitchhike back to the living area,
and somebody had traded a set of camouflaged utilities for a
bottle of Jack Daniel's. (The Air Force will do anything to look
like Marines). Our warrant officer, T.W.Morris, lent us the
section's jeep for us to play Santa. When we were in the right
Christmas 'spirit', 2 of us, still conscious, drove to the
orphanage. 3 very suspicious nuns greeted us, and inspected a
couple of the socks. We weren't allowed through the gate, but
they hugged us, and with the enthusiastic help of some of the
children, they disappeared into the orphanage. I never before,
and rarely since. had the feeling that gave me.
We returned the jeep in good order. We regrouped back at the
living area and sang some Christmas carols around the most
pathetic excuse for a Christmas tree I have ever seen. But it
had a piece of stolen red ribbon on it, with a ribbon from some
Canadian Club whiskey. And it was the best Christmas tree ever.
Merry Christmas, Marines and families! And thank you Sgts
Wilson, Connor, Ernst, and Bell, (my DI's), Cpl Ekiss (Coach and
PMI) and especially Gunny John Menard (WIA Operation Starlight,
1965). And from the bottom of my heart, thank you Bob Hope RIP,
and everyone who has left home and family to serve with the USO.
Former Sgt, USMC J. Stuart Newberry (with the unfortunate moniker
"Newby" the whole time in Nam)
From Christmas, 1969 DaNang, RVN 1st MAW, MWSG-17, DPI-28
Going The Extra Distance
I was a Corporal, attending Air Traffic Control school at NAS
Millington, TN during Christmas 1981. Some of us used to study
off base at the local "SAMBO'S" restaurant a few nights a week
and had established a rapport with some of the waitress staff.
The school had shut down for Christmas Break and if we wanted to
take leave we could. Two of our roommates decided to go home for
On Christmas Day, my other roommate Sgt. Sult and I were going
to go get lunch and see a flick. We sat at the counter at
SAMBO'S and listened to our waitress tell us how they were
"short staffed" and unable to take breaks. The two of us never
made it to the show that day. We didn't really know if the
manager would say or do anything to stop us. Sgt. Sult and I
started to bus tables. Our waitress was speechless. We stated we
were bored and they needed help, so tell us what to do. We ended
up staying around for 5 hours, cleaning off and setting tables,
pouring coffee, washing dishes...we just considered it voluntary
"mess duty". It gave them the chance to take breaks, and we had
a great time doing the work.
I always think back on that event in my life as what it means to
give something of yourself without motive. It also instilled in
me what being a Marine is all about, going that extra distance
whereas others fail. God bless our Marines and their families
this Christmas and every day.
Sgt. Kevin Keener
Shivering And Shaking
Platoon 100 - B Company - First Battalion
Marine Corps Recruit Depot - Parris Island SC
Formed 16 January 1958 Graduation 15April 1958
Submitted by: Former Lance Corporal Robert A Longbottom
In January of 2008 it will be 50 years ago that I got a "free"
ticket to ride the train from Akron Ohio to Yemassee SC. As I
sit back and reflect on that ride it seemed as if we picked up
more and more recruits at each stop the train made as it wound
it's way South along the Atlantic seaboard. We had a 2 hour
layover in Washi