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 quit.
Semper Fi,
James G. "Sam" Gossage, Sgt. Major, U.S,M.C. Ret.

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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 Dress Blues.

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.

SEMPER FI
Wayne Fritter
aka Critter
Sgt. USMC
1978-1988

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 this day.
Simper Fi
Don Mendell CPL USMC 1989-1993

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Godawful Blast

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
72-74
0151

"Right"

Sgt. Grit,
As always it's a pleasure to receive your letter Wednesday nights. Turned on a Marine Mom to your Newsletter a couple of weeks ago.
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"
Jim Leonard
SSgt Ret.

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 close by.

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 uneaten.

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
Semper Fidelis!

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

Yo Grit,

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).

Decorated M-14 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 loving respect.

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
2196912

Flying Leathernecks

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 Wayne.

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 very macho.

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 that good......"

End of Mitchum narrative.

Semper Fi,
R.M."Zeb" Zobenica
Capt. USMC (Ret)

Been Wanting To

Devil Frog Tattoo

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.

Soft Cover

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 inspection.

John Halpin
Viet-Nam 66-67

Add The Piece

Sgt. Grit,

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.

added tattoo I enjoy your web-site and all the letters and submissions from fellow Marines and family members. Keep up the good work. Semper Fi!

Paul Bogan
Taylor Texas
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 satisfied.

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 wooden box.

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 speed.

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
'65-'69

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. platoon tree 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 boot.

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 there.

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.

David Hannah
Cpl. of Marines
RVN. 68-69
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.

Brad Engebretson
Cpl. of Marines
86-93

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.

Semper Fi
Ray Cox 630508
Corporal of Marines
MCAS El Toro, MAG 33, VMP 254

Tattoo

tattoo out of boot camp 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
David Dominguez

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!")

So sez

MC
Rochester, NY
Formerly The Marine Band at 8th and Eye
(Spent quality time in Korea)

Bumper Stickers

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

Christmas Parade Joe Shea 1953-1961 Still a Marine . 16yrs in the League

Oldest Marine

SGT Grit:

I just celebrated my 40th Marine Corps Birthday at Camp Victory, Iraq.
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.

oldest Marine 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,

"BULLDOG"
THOMAS W. SIMPSON
COL, FA
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 )
U.S.M.C. 1968-1973
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.

Respectfully,

Gary L. COON
MSGT USMC (Ret)
OSO Duty KCMO / Lawrence, KS
1980-1983

Leatherneck Square

.... 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
Camp Vandergrift.

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.

Gene Spanos
11th Engineer Bn
Charlie Company
DMZ - Vietnam 1968

King Of Battle

moto tat 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!
Sgt Hart

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.

Dan Corum
USMCR
1963-1967

patriotic holidays

Happy Holidays Sgt Grit...To You and Yours

Happy Holidays

Respectfully - Jeffrey Cox

Former Marine Corps Sgt

Col. Jefferson DeBlanc, Sr

Sgt Grit,

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 other side...

Semper Fidelis
Andy Voigt
Sgt., USMC 1975-1979

Fruit Cake

Sgt. Grit.
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 fruit cake!

SEMPER FI
R.R.WASMUND GY/SGT/RET.

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 Vietnam.

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

Clobbered

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 after this.

Gus Lueck, SGT-USMC
1954-1958 1508174

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
Craig

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 that BUS"!

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?
John Ratomski

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.

Jim Stelling

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 again.

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.

Semper Fi,

Tom G.
Hotel Co. 2/1 RVN 70-71

To Sit Among

Sgt Grit
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.
SEMPER FI
CPL CHUCK HARDEN

First Row

sheepdog number 9

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 acoustics.

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 gentleman.

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 remaining socks.

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 Christmas.

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.

SEMPER FI
Sgt. Kevin Keener
1977-86

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