While fixing a little batch of my favorite snack I couldn't find my
wife's mixer, but I did find one of the blades. She was busy and I
didn't want to bother her, so I did what any good Marine would do.
You might say I got caught with my hands in the cookie jar.
Once a Marine, Always a Marine
Many Squat Thrusts
Hey Sgt Grit,
I shot these photos late summer of 1968, flying out of San Diego. I
was at MCRD for Radio/Electronics school.
The first shot is of the Quonset huts at the south end of MCRD; I was
there for boot camp, Plt. 152, A Co., 1st Bat. The close proximity of
the airport is obvious. I remember waking up to the sound of jet
engines starting and the smell of jet exhaust.
The second shot is of the training area for bayonet (pugil stick) and
The third shot is of the grinder with a parade in progress. The noise
of jet aircraft taking off caused us many squat thrusts or holding
our M-14s over our heads because we didn't hear our drill instructors
on the grinder.
Sgt. A. Wong USMCR
Can't Forget It
On the night of my high school senior prom, my friends adjusted their
cummerbunds while I was adjusting artillery fire. That night as my
civilian peers prayed that the wish they made prior to their date
would come true in the back seat of a car, I prayed I would have the
opportunity to see daylight one more time.
"Hey, Lieutenant," I yelled over the sound of gun fire and rocket
explosions. "Any chance of getting some time off this afternoon? I
want to run down to DaNang and pick up a tux for tonight."
"What in the h-ll are you talking about? Keep your head down and get
ready to call in another fire mission. What do you need a tux out
here for anyway?" he asked.
"My senior prom is tonight," I said.
"Why didn't you go last year?" the Lieutenant asked.
"Because this is my senior year, I dropped out of high school so I
wouldn't miss all this," I said.
"Hiers, you are crazier than I first thought. Now get the guns up
and tell them to drop 100 meters from the last target and fire five
rounds at your command. Then find out what's holding up those
"Aye, Aye, Sir, five rounds on the way." I said. "Medevacs have an
E.T.A. of fifteen minutes."
"Hiers, don't sweat missing the prom. I can't even remember mine,"
the Lieutenant said as he left our fox hole.
Twenty years ago while I was taking a few photographs of my daughter
and her date prior to them leaving for their high school prom, one of
the chaperones asked. "Can you remember your prom?"
"I can't forget it," I said.
B Co. 1/26 Marines
Official Radio Man
I arrived in MCRD San Diego on the evening of 26Jan1956. Of course we
were berthed in the reception barracks until we were picked up by our
DI's the next day and were moved into the Quonset huts. A day or so
later we heard "219 to the company street" and off we all scrambled
to get out and into some crude form of a formation. The DI asked if
anybody had any radio experience. I had been an amateur radio
operator "ham" in civilian life. Stupidly I raised my hand. I know,
never volunteer, but I was just now in the process of learning that.
The DI took me into the duty hut and pointed at a radio sitting
there. It had been made in the early 50's and it was playing very
quiet. It was old and crude and was powered by vacuum tubes
(transistors had not been invented yet). Most better radios had 6 to
8 tubes. This miracle of design only used 2. The DI pointed to a
short wire coming out of the back of it. I was instructed to take
hold of the wire and hold it until relieved. When I did, my body
acting as an antenna brought the volume up to an audible level. I
stood there for several hours. From that point I was the official
radio man for PLT 219.
Paul S "Steve" Murtha
Sgt 25Jan1956 to 24Apr1959
"Radioman", Plt 219
It Pays To Advertise
Last week I was returning to Los Angeles from Scottsdale, AZ. All
the traffic crossing the desert area was rolling along at 90 MPH. As
we crested a slight hill there was a CHP car sitting cross ways to
traffic on the shoulder of the highway. As I was driving I wasn't
paying much attention to my mirror which I always do, and when I did
look up, there was the CHP Cruiser behind me with red lights
As the Cruiser got closer to me I knew he was after me. I flipped on
my turn signal planning to stop. Then all of a sudden, he killed the
red lights, and pulled up along the driver's side of my car and ran
alongside me, he saluted me, and off he went. All I could think of
was the USMC - Eagle, Globe, and Anchor - and Semper Fi silver
stick-on on the rear of my car that I purchased from SGT. GRIT. This
proves to me that it "Pays To Advertise".
Plt: 354 MCRDSD
I agree with Jim Grimes in your last letter about Green campaign
covers worn with dress blues. I return to PI every year (24th yr.) to
our DI Reunion. I think they look tacky. (Only my opinion) I might
suggest the Corps purchase the blue campaign covers the Air Force
trainers at Lackland wear.
Parris Island, September, 1966, I think, the days all ran together...
At the movie theater, to watch John Wayne and "The Green Berets", saw
a Drill Instructor from the corner of my eye, as he moved his f-cking
Privates into their seats. His cadence was a perfect rendition of
the theme from the movie "Exodus"! I was absolutely AMAZED, but
couldn't share the moment with anyone...
JJ Holland 2229533,
Sergeant of Marines
What a great experience reminiscing about the times and events while
wearing the uniform.
Cpl Bob, each and every saying can be deadly when prefaced with the
words... "here, hold my beer"
Semper Fi brothers.
Sgt David Chilbert 1971-1975
"Have it on good authority that the reason that MCRD SD takes longer
to complete than PI is because SD is right next to the San Diego
Airport and the DIs have to stop talking whenever an airplane lands
or takes off!" Bullhockey! The DIs didn't ever stop barking commands.
We learned to read lips and/or develop a supernatural
hyperaudioacuity, and fast, or else! I like to think they just taught
us more at SunnyD.
In my platoon we had Pvt. Zasurinski at MCRD San Diego. I'm sure my
spelling is incorrect. Our DIs just called him f-cking alphabet!
L/Cpl M.L. Wilson
1978 - 1982
I went through boot camp at PI in 1991. I was in 2nd Battalion, Plt
2077. We had a Marine in our series who had the unfortunate last name
of "Seamen". All of the series Drill Instructors referred to him as
"Private D-ck Juice".
I was just looking at my platoon picture and we were wearing khakis
with the fore and aft covers. Platoon 27, 4th Bn April 1956 PISC. I
can still remember wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on our
collars. I also remember having the khaki uniforms, and having the to
get them starched. We were issued brown shoes and the Ike jacket. And
at that time we were taught squad drill.
MSgt Bill Dugan
I went thru MCRDSD Boot Camp in Oct 1969. There was a Drill
Instructor named SSGT Jester. He was also short and wiry, but built
like a 155MM round. His cadence was great, and I can still hear it in
my mind. I actually ran into him a few years later in 29 Palms. I
was a SGT and he was still a SSGT, but he knew me at a glance. I
don't think they ever forget any recruit they put thru Boot Camp!
John R. Persich
Hi Sgt. I'm replying to Cpl. Roy Lively. I too was in Vieques Island
when they made "Battle Cry". I was in the 2nd. Marines. We also were
there Jan. – March. We were in the tent area, I guess we all were.
The actors stayed in our area. Van Heflin, James Whitmore and others.
I was at the beach when they made the landing seen. We also made
landings for that movie. I was in PLT. 255 at P.I. 1953.
PFC Ron Dougherety
I saw a picture of a Marine's license plate in this week's Grit news.
I have a Marine Corps plate on the back of my car. On my front bumper
I have a plate that reads "Iwo Jima Survivor". I am always pleased
when someone comments about it. Especially when the party knows where
IWO is and its significance. I even had a gentleman pay for my
wife's and my meal at Cracker Barrel one evening when he saw my IWO
plate out the window from where he was sitting.
Bill Daw '42-'46
How about this for auto air freshener: 50 percent burning flesh, 50
percent napalm. That's one I will never be able to forget anyway.
Marine aviation ROCKS.
CAP, Sgt of Marines
Captain U.S. Army
I don't know about your DI's. But my DI's at MCRDSD could out-shout
those jets any day!
Phil "Akabu" Coffman
Sgt '72 - '82
To all Marines who survived boot at San Diego: Don't take it
seriously when a Swamp Marine calls you a Hollywood Marine. It's
just for fun. It's not your fault you were born west of the
To CPL Schilling: You're right. I know it and so do all the rest of
As most of your readers will know, the United States Marine Corps
provided fighting men aboard Naval vessels since the beginning of the
Corps, but some may not know that in 1988, then president Bill
Clinton, removed the last of the seagoing Marines from ship's
Between 01Feb1963 thru 01Feb1965 I was one of those seagoing Marines.
It was an honor to be chosen to serve as a seagoing Marine, but
having been twenty-five years since the last Marine detachment, we
are becoming a dying breed. I see little in the newsletter in regard
to our missions afloat for 223 years and would like to remind our
fellow Marine Corps brothers of our history at sea. We experienced
some pleasant and unpleasant days of service at sea, but our memories
are mostly of the pleasant ones.
I would like to post this photograph of my sea school class of 1963.
The photo was taken at Marine Barracks, Portsmouth, Virginia on 21
Dec 1962. If any readers are included in this photo or can help
identify and/or locate any of the Marines, please contact me. Some
of the names, I can recall, but many fail my memory after fifty
years. I would love to hear from anyone on this subject. If I am
permitted to post my e-mail address here, I can be contacted at
R.Dotson[at]charter.net. If not, I hope Sgt. Grit will forward any
comments to me.
Good Number Of Misguided Recruits
Dear Sgt Grit,
Sgt. Dennis Warn's comments about D.I.s and San Diego International
Airport (aka Lindberg Field... see SW corner) brought back a few
memories from my time at MCRD (June-Aug 1968).
MCRD formed a triangle... along one side was the Interstate, along
the base of the triangle was a pond... with the Navy boot camp on the
other side... and the airport on the third side. Perhaps not as
grisly as P.I. for a recruit trying to "flip the fence" but tough
enough. Airport security turned over a good number of misguided
recruits to SDPD who returned them to the Depot.
A good portion of our morning runs took us along the fence line.
While in graduate casual awaiting further orders, I ran on my own at
first light. I once saw several Staff NCOs near the fence line...
shouting... seemingly at nobody.
I discovered later that they were attending D.I. School. Seems that
one of their instructors felt that they were not "projecting" their
commands properly and had them out before the recruits came by
shouting commands at the aircraft moving on the field... "To The
It's me again, the Ancient 2531 with yet another unbelievable tale.
When in the Nam, I saw several times, a CH-53 helicopter with a
rather large white painted middle finger on the ramp. I thought this
was pretty cool as someone was giving Charlie the bird by air.
Fast forward to the early 1980's. I was working at a retail firearms
store here in Houston when a law enforcement officer comes in. We
found out that we were both Marines and were in Nam about the same
time. I asked the gentleman if he ever saw that chopper. He replied
that he was in fact the crew chief of that very bird and he was the
artist of that very finger. When quizzed about it, he said that he
had, had a falling out with a sky pilot (Chaplain) and this was his
way of showing his displeasure with him.
I wonder if anyone else remembers seeing this 53. This was late 1970,
early 1971 in the DaNang area.
Orientation To The Bush
Have loved reading all the stories from the fellow MARINES. Myself,
Corps '67-'73, Sgt., Plt. 188, MCRD San Diego, May - July '67, Delta
1/4 Nam '67-'68, Con Thien, Cam Lo (TET 68), CAP '68-'69 (Quang Tri)
some 12 clicks down river, Marine Barracks San Juan, P.R. '69-'71,
NCOIC Division Reception Center, Camp Pendleton ('71-'73).
I still believe the best years in the Corps were the ones spent in
the Nam with the Grunts in D-1-4. I remember still, very clearly, my
first patrol in country, November '67, during the start of Operation
Kentucky. When moving up in front of Con Thien, as a Battalion
listening post, at the Mac Line. Of course, as the new boot in
country I was assigned to walk point, at the time I thought it was an
honor, not knowing any better, with that Big Pink Air Panel on my
chest and back. All the first few days I walked the point not
realizing the fact I was wearing a bulls-eye saying "here I am, shot
It was not until a few days later that I came to realize what I had
done, and everyone laughing at/with me, and how young and unknowingly
(stupid) I was. I can and have to this day laughed at that
experience, which I would NOT trade to this day. I realized that it
was just my turn to wear the panel, and all my grunt buddies had to
do the same during their orientation to the bush.
Just want to say thanks for the website and printed letters. Now at
64, the time seems to fly, but those days in the bush are still the
best of my life, and as fresh as ever.
Kenneth W. Read, Sgt.
still/forever a MARINE.
Put That Safety On
I enjoyed all the responses on Lock and Load. All had some merit. I
have to concur with Kenneth Mumford on "Locking" meaning putting the
safety on and "Loading" meaning inserting the clip.
Prior to the Marine Corps, I was in High School ROTC and each
Christmas Vacation we went to Fort Erwin for a week of, sorry to say,
Army life. We fired BARs, our M1s and 1911 .45s.
While on the firing line, the command, "Lock and Load" was given. I
thought that it meant to load the clip and let the bolt slam close
until a Capt. yells at me to lock my weapon. Looking at him with a
puzzled face, he yelled, "Put That Safety On". Now I knew what Lock
Owning an M1 and shooting in Military matches today, it is understood
why locking before loading is important with the M1. If the weapon
is not on safe and you insert the clip, you can have a slam fire as
the bolt closes. I have seen this several times. When locking the
M1, the safety catch actually pulls the hammer back off the trigger
release and locks it in place. The hammer cannot move due to
vibration from the bolt slamming closed.
Sgt. USMC '65-'69
I read many answers to the question on "Lock and Load" in the last
Sgt Grit Newsletter... they all seem feasible... BUT, I distinctly
remember hearing the commands during rifle qualifying so long ago.
The range officer would say over the public address system:
"With a clip and 2 rounds (M-1), Lock and Load... All ready on the
right... All Ready on the left... All ready on the firing line...
Unlock... Watch Your Targets..."
The command to unlock was to push your safety to "off"... so, guess
what lock/unlock means to me?
Sea Going, USS Princeton LPH-5
Greetings Sgt. Grit:
I, too, was kept informed that "fighting hole" was the correct term
for its Marine occupant.
I'll go on to point out that I browsed a couple books a few years
back; one in a bookstore, the other in a library. (I no longer
remember their titles). It's pretty evident that the term "foxhole"
originated in World War I, probably after successful offensive
advances ended the use of trenches, and digging a more personal
defilade became necessary.
Anyway, both books credited the Devil Dogs, not Army doughboys, with
coining the word "foxhole." As is too often the case in fighting
holes, the waters get muddied...
D. L. Mellott
'70 - '74
Cactus Air Force Marine
Our brothers who have gone before us beared greatly on the fabric of
the Corps we are privileged to wrap ourselves in as Marines past and
present. It saddens my heart as I read the letters in Sgt. Grit and
learn how those from the greatest generation diminish in numbers with
each passing year. I have been blessed to cross paths with a few of
these Marines and cherish those events.
Over the past few years I have come to meet and share a few moments
with a Cactus Air Force Marine, Billie "BK" Kennedy. With each
encounter I would learn a few more bits and pieces. When I learned
that BK flew F4F Wildcats on Guadalcanal it was just unbelievable. I
would typically see BK at Sunday brunch with his family and as fall
approached I knew those moments could be coming to an end. But as you
can see BK has a few more stories to share what a great spring it
If anyone served with BK I would love to hear. I always try to do
something for BK at brunch, find old pictures, unit items and so on.
I believe BK was in VMF-223 or 224. Thanks in advance. "To those that
served the taste of freedom is so sweet, the protected will never
know." Semper Fi.
SSgt Rindels EA '79-'91
Capt. ANG (Ret)
P.S. Rank converted pretty good to the Guard, only a slight
That Hollywood Thing Again
Really enjoy your letters and they bring back lots of old memories.
I was sworn into the Corps on 8 July 1952 in Milwaukee, WI, by a
Captain wearing what we called "undress blues". That was the closest
I ever got to a dress blue uniform in the three years of my service.
We were put on a train and arrived at MCRD San Diego on 11 July 1952.
We graduated on 20 September 1952 as PFC's. During that time we
spent about a week at Camp Mathews for "rifle training". While
drawing our initial uniform issue, one of the recruits asked, "when
do we get our dress blues?" To which the 1st Lt., Supply Officer
replied, "We only issue them to the peace time Marines." I was later
told the only way to get dress blues issued to you was to go to Sea
School and become an Embassy Guard or serve at sea aboard one of the
larger ships. Have no personal knowledge as to if that was true or
Our drill instructors were, Sgt. K. W. Wright, Cpl. D. W. Elkins, and
PFC. O. H. McClelland. On a daily basis they wore the summer khaki
dress uniform, but with a pith helmet. The only exception was the
day we graduated and the time we posed for the (Honor) Platoon 451
group photo. Then we all wore the summer khaki uniform and garrison
cap. The only other time I ever saw a Marine wear a pith helmet was
when I was a 2611 radio repairman in Korea. Our NCOIC, a Sgt. (E4),
had one and wore it during the hot weather. We never found out when
or where he got it.
Corporal Elkins was a small man, and was shorter than us little
feather merchants. What he lacked in height he made up for in being
"squared away". He was a quiet man (if a Drill Instructor can be
such a thing) and walked as though he was seven foot tall. For some
strange reason when he called cadence everyone just fell into it like
it was a natural thing, even the klutzes. He seemed to have a kind
of lilt to his voice or something when calling cadence, although
that's not the proper word. We used to look forward to him taking us
out for "troop and stomp" because then we were really good. Unlike
the other two drill instructors, Corporal Elkins introduced us to a
couple special maneuvers that when executed properly (only under his
command) were very impressive. Like any Marines we liked to show
off. Could that have been the Hollywood in us? By the time we
graduated, everyone had a set of boondockers that needed new heels.
One day late in our training we came back from evening chow only to
have Corporal Elkins have us fall in and we went out on the grinder
pretty much in front of the base theatre for some close order drill.
A number of off duty Marines and their wives, etc. we're waiting to
get into the theatre. We had no idea what was playing that evening,
nor did we care. We put on quite a show for them and finally the
doors opened and they went in. Suddenly we found ourselves in
formation up near the entrance and then we marched single file into
the theatre and sat up in the back. We were dumbfounded and then
came the real surprise. Bob Hope had brought his USO show to MCRD as
part of his dress rehearsal and warm-up to go to Korea. We were the
only boot platoon to be so selected. It was the only time I ever saw
Bob Hope in person. And in Boot Camp no less! That Hollywood thing
During my tour there were no Lance Corporals, no Gunnery Sergeants,
and we never heard of "OoRah" or whatever that is. Pay grades were
E-1 through E-7. We were issued the green "Ike" jacket and a green
wool shirt. Does that make it the OLD CORPS?
You can call me a Hollywood Marine if you want, as long as you call
me a Marine.
Semper Fi brother.
Stewart, Terrance W. Sgt. USMC 1318xxx
Half A Brain
I'm sick of the constant reference to "Hollywood Marines". Anybody
who has half a brain, number one, knows that MCRD San Diego is 125
miles south of Hollywood, Los Angeles. Those who received their
"hump waivers" at P.I. who make reference to Marines trained in San
Diego as Hollywood Marines are uninformed and I best bet 99 percent
have never stepped foot on MCRD San Diego. While the "swamp dogs"
are trekking around on flat land in P.I., those out in S.D. spend
5-weeks at Camp Pendleton in total remoteness, humping what they call
today "The Reaper", and what we in the past called "Mount Mutha
F-cker." Oh, they have their sand fleas, such treacherous little
bugs. After all, being bit by one might be cause for a medical
While at Edison range, we encountered rattle snakes. While at San
Onofre there were brown/orange Mexican Tarantulas, and when he were
in the field, before I hit the "rack" (sleeping bag in the middle of
who knows where) I discovered a 3-inch long scorpion which was
promptly scooped up in a canteen cup, delivered to the D.I.'s and
roasted on the open fire. Oh, yeah, but we who went to San Diego
enjoyed the mild Mediterranean climate. Almost forgot that one.
Yeah, right. In the mountains of Camp Pendleton out in the field, 28
degrees at night is great. Humping in the freezing rain and hail
storm really made me want to hit the surf, which we once saw from
Edison Range miles out. Bottom line: referencing Marines trained at
MCRD San Diego as "Hollywood Marines" is pure ignorance. And, yes,
I've been to P.I.
Thursday mornings here in my humble mountain retreat have become a
new tradition. That new tradition revolves around your newsletter.
I'm almost always "home alone", so I can read the newsletter at my
leisure, enjoying a cup of richly brewed coffee. Nothing gets done
until I have consumed and evaluated every interesting, historical,
tribute to our "Corps" written by Marines from almost every era.
Most recently are the comments made about Drill Instructors and their
penchant for perfection. To some degree, I agree that "hats" are a
breed unto themselves; however, they weren't always that way.
Drill Instructors aren't born. They are made. In a process very
similar to recruit training, they are taught how to be what they are.
Contrary to popular belief, "hats" are not made in Drill Instructor
School. While the school is among the finest of military schools,
how to be a "hat" is not taught there. Yes, the school teaches the
fine points of drill, military subjects, PT, and a variety of other
skills, but it does not really teach Marine NCOs and SNCOs how to be
Drill Instructors. That's taught in the trenches, on the grinder, in
the barracks, by more experienced Drill Instructors. That's learned
by observing, and paying attention, listening to "hats" who have been
training recruits for many years before the new "hat" assumes his new
duties. It's passed from Drill Instructor to Drill Instructor during
down time when the recruits are in a class and the "hats" have the
time to learn from each other.
The most common comment you might hear between two Drill Instructors
is - "Try this, or try that. That's what I do." Incidentally, Drill
Instructors are extremely reluctant to reveal their "secrets" to just
anyone. An example of this is - When I first became a Drill
Instructor, I noticed that the other "hats" in the series weren't
sweating through their shirts like I was when we were out on the
grinder doing COD. So, I asked. Well, at first all I got was
laughs. Then, the Senior Drill Instructor who I was working for gave
me the "secret". All "hats" sprayed the inside of their shirts with
Scotch Guard water repellent. Therefore, the sweat doesn't leak
through the material.
I suppose if all the different methods used by Drill Instructors was
written down, the information would fill volumes, maybe libraries of
books. But that's what makes your Drill Instructor the best. He has
learned all the "tricks" of the trade. He applies those methods that
work and rejects those that he finds unacceptable. In order to be
the best, every new "hat" must be willing to learn the "tricks" that
work. He must apply them diligently, and be ever watchful of the
primary mission - to mold scuzzy civilians into basically trained
I wrote the following some time ago and was chastised for it. The
only method of training recruits that I, as a "hat", found
unacceptable was "thumping" or beating recruits. If I need to
"thump" a recruit to get him to follow my leadership, then I don't
want him in my Marine Corps. Marines follow their leaders because
they trust them and have confidence in their leadership. Leadership
from fear is short term leadership. When he no longer fears you or
he is out of your sight, the leadership is gone. If the fear is
gone, the leadership is gone. Marines obey orders because they want
to obey. Marines perform because they want to succeed, not because
they fear their leadership. That's not to imply that a Marine who
was "thumped" in boot camp is any less a Marine than any other. Many
"hats" out of frustration and lack of patience "thump" recruits. I
just don't happen to believe that that type of leadership works very
Thanks for allowing me to "sound off".
P.S. My sincere and profound thanks also goes out to SSgt George Amos
(SgtMaj, Ret). He is the Marine that taught me how to be a "hat".
GySgt, USMC (Ret)
A Former "Hat"
Private To Captain
I did it too... 1 April 1965 to 1 June 1988, Platoon 2063, graduated
5 Oct 1966, Parris Island, Enlisted / Warrant / LDO. Us Southern boys
are pretty good too! :-) Pvt to Captain, Loved every second of it.
My warrant class was the oldest group of individuals to go thru and
no one was below the rank of Gunny... we played h-ll with them
Lieutenants in the club at night!
T.L. Johnson, Jr
Captain USMC (Ret.)
Promoted to 17 Different Ranks
I noted Capt Kenneth Young's note about being promoted to 13
different ranks. I do believe I have that beat having been promoted
to 17 ranks (albeit some of them twice) but of course I served for
almost 35 years and he only served 20.
I enlisted in 1955 and advanced through the enlisted ranks to SSgt.
I made Warrant Officer in 1965 and then was selected as a Temporary
Officer 2nd Lieutenant. I was a Captain when I reverted to my
permanent Chief Warrant Officer Rank in 1971. In 1973 I was selected
as a 1st Lieutenant Limited Duty Officer and was promoted to
Lieutenant Colonel in 1986.
I believe I had a unique career having served as a Sergeant twice
(Sgt E-4 and Sgt E-5), also serving twice in the ranks of 1st
Lieutenant and Captain; all without being reduced in rank as a
punishment. I also served as a Battalion Commander, something very
few Limited Duty Officers have the privilege of doing. I also
retired twice; after I retired in March 1989, I was recalled to
active duty and served for another 16 months being released from
active duty in July 1990. At the time I was one of only four (4)
Retired Officers on recall to active duty in the USMC – two Colonels,
one CWO4, and myself as a LtCol. I guess I didn't get things right
the first time and had to do a repeat. Of course I repeated the ranks
of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain twice also. The important thing
to remember is the opportunities to succeed are there in the U.S.
Marine Corps... one only has to apply himself and keep-on,
Briefly my ranks were as follows: Private (E-1) (1955); PFC (E-2)
(1956 - Meritoriously); Cpl (E-3) (1957); Sgt (E-4) (1958 –
Meritoriously); Sergeant (E-5) (1961); Staff Sergeant (E-6) (1965);
WO (1965); CWO-2; 2nd Lieutenant (Temporary); 1st Lieutenant
(Temporary); Captain (Temporary); CWO-3; CWO-4; 1st Lieutenant
(Limited Duty Officer); Captain (Limited Duty Officer); Major
(Limited Duty Officer); Lieutenant Colonel (Limited Duty Officer).
Palmer (Pete) Brown
Hazard On The Range
So here is the question readers, who was in your platoon that caught
h-ll for their name and why?
My last name is Rounds. It wasn't too bad having that name up until
range week when a PMI noticed my name and said it was a cool Marine
name to have. Not sure if he said something to one of my DI's or not
but a little later one of them comes up to me saying I was a hazard
on the range, etc. Anyways, from then on I was instructed to yell
"Rounds coming down range aye, sir" every time I took a step on the
range. Occasionally I would catch a DI or PMI trying to hide a
laugh. I must say it is pretty fun when you think about it.
When range week was winding down my PMI said it could have been
worse, they wanted to tape a pole to me with a red flag indicating
hot "rounds" coming down range. Fun times indeed!
Rounds, Chad SGT
Tango 5/11 2000-2004
As Little As Possible
I didn't join the Corps because of John Wayne movies, nor pics of a
Marine in dress blues on a poster. My best friend and a good
salesman, re: recruiter, talked me into to it. I was still a senior
in high school, and they did the "120 day delay" program. It was
actually stupid of me, cause late in my senior high school yr. I was
offered 2 different college scholarships (Ohio Univ. and Univ. of
Akron). I had to turn these down.
When I first got to Parris Island, I was hustling my butt off, and
was already in very good physical shape. But after our junior D.I.
(a Cpl. E-4 from Cleveland, OH) began his sadistic beating of
recruits, it completely turned me off. I didn't sign up for
chokings, being kicked, punched and tortured and seeing other young
recruits getting the same. The senior drill instructor (an E-6 with
16 yrs. in the Corps) did nothing to stop this. I lost all respect
for him. While stationed at Camp Lejeune (as a grunt) I did as
little as possible and showed very little motivation to do so. I
didn't give a sh-t about being promoted, but didn't disrespect
anybody. I just followed orders and nothing more. Somehow in the
first 2 yrs. or so they had promoted me to E-3 (LCPL) and I figured I
would never go any higher.
On July 4th (while on standby alert status) I was sent to the
company headquarters and given my orders for 'Nam. So, Sept. of '65,
I landed in DaNang by ship, in a replacement battalion. (about 1,000
of us-going to different units). I was sent to join the 9th Marines
next to Marble Mountain area. After 3 days one of my best friends,
who I came over with was killed. At that point I figured out that
this sh-t is for real. No more phony war games, worrying about spit
shine shoes, and boots. This Is The Real Marine Corps. During my
stint I was promoted twice, was a squad leader and at the end a
platoon Sgt for a while in a CAC unit.
So, Semper Fi!
Louis J. Ferrante
Active USMC 1963-67
SGT. Of Marines
Sands Of Iwo Jima
Semper Fi Sgt Grit,
I just read your latest newsletter. Someone wrote about the Sands of
Iwo Jima being his reason for join the USMC. That movie also was my
reason for joining. I waited for about 2 hours in line to see the
Sands of Iwo Jima. In line with me were 2 of my cousins who
eventually joined the Navy. But after a Japanese Soldier shot Sgt.
Striker in the back I knew I had only one choice, and that was to
join the USMC, which I did in August 1959. I served for 4 years and
don't regret any of it.
Louis S. Fusaro
From Our Facebook
Iwo Flag Raising constructed with snowmen.
Check out the Sgt Grit Facebook Page
Best Mexican Food
I grew up in South Texas where there was and still is a very large
population of Hispanics. I grew up on the best Mexican food ever.
Our local baker made the best "Pan Dulce", sweet bread which included
great donuts. Many times for breakfast we ate Cream of Wheat and
Donuts. In June of 1965 at the age of 17, I joined the Marines. I
went through the usual welcome yellow footprints and all.
My first breakfast I thought, "this can't be so bad", since I had
spotted some shiny donuts and cream of wheat at the chow line. I
took both including the usual eggs, bacon, toast etc. I sure got a
surprise when I bit into the worst donut ever. Not only that, it was
quite heavy. The cream of wheat also tasted terrible. Every boot
knows that the plate must be clean when you rise from that table. I
went out to formation and stood at attention awaiting the rest of the
platoon to run back to the Quonset Hut. Did not make it. I
upchucked all of the breakfast. Never ate those donuts and cream of
wheat again. I later realized that I had eaten bagels and grits
which I had never heard of before.
Vietnam '66-'67, 3/5, 81's
Still Flipping Burgers
First and foremost, Thank you Sgt. Grit for your weekly newsletter
and the stories my brothers and sisters send in. I look forward to my
weekly "escape" and hot cup of coffee as I reminisce back on some of
the best years of my life.
For as long as I can remember, I was going to be a Marine. Before I
hit high school, I had already read every book in the school library
about Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Saipan. Even the little government
tests in grade school where they asked you what you wanted to be
"when you grew up" – Marine!
I was laying on the couch on a Saturday morning nursing sore muscles
from my Friday night football game when I got the call. "Hey Paul,
this is Sgt. Baseida (sp) and I am the local Marine Corps recruiter,
what's your plans after you graduate?" I said, "I am going to be a
Marine"... silence on the phone. "Oh, h-ll I don't even have to talk
to you then, when do you want to come in?" I had totally threw him
off his game plan and scripted cold calling conversation and was
probably the easiest quota number he ever got. Long story short
within a month I was tested, had my physical, and signed my contract.
Guaranteed Marine Corps Security Force Company (0311). I was set.
September 1992, found me taking my first airplane ride (MCRD SD) and
my next step in becoming a Marine. I was dropped into Plt. 3076,
Sept-Dec '92. Senior DI Sgt Howell (called me Strawberry because of
my red hair, "F'n Strawberry" with a smirk, as he did his nightly
inspections of our hands and feet... SNAP-POP), he was a short dark
green Marine that looked like he was chiseled out of a 5 foot piece
of granite. A god in my eyes, as we all probably thought our Seniors
were. Sgt Barron was our heavy and his sidekick Sgt. Lewis. These men
are still like super heroes to me. I don't remember much from boot
camp, kind of a blur, maybe it was the frantic pace or the fear of
God they put in us, but I know I loved every minute of it.
After boot, MCT and SOI in Cali, I was off to MCSF school (AKA Gun
Slinger School) in Chesapeake, VA, awesome time. My first duty
station landed me in a foreign land, as SSgt John "Jack" Nolan in
last week's letter "Sin City of The World" MCSF CO. Panama City,
Panama. SSgt Nolan is right, plenty of things for a 19 year old
Marine to get in trouble with down there. The Marine barracks we
called "The Big House" had to have been around when he was there.
Spent 23 months of fast roping from Army Blackhawks, live ammo
patrols through the jungle guarding the Navy fuel farm (ATF), "Green
H-ll" the Army's jungle school at Fort Davis, holler monkeys,
catching lobsters on the reef after guard duty by hand. All while my
buddies back home were still flipping burgers and going to college.
Headed to Camp Lejeune after that and joined India Co. 3/6. Did a
couple CAX, UDP to Oki, and a float. My own little world tour at tax
payer expense. Last duty station I was on I&I duty in Waterloo, IA
with Delta Co. 2/14.
Nearly 10 years of service before I decided to get married and hang
up my boots. I regret that decision most days and miss the travel,
but being there when my children were born and watching them as they
grow makes my decision a little easier to handle. They know I am a
Marine and one day, maybe I will be back at MCRD watching them start
Sorry this got a little long but in closing, here is my favorite
"humping" song. Learned during the long marches to the ranges in MCT
and SOI. Enjoy.
SSgt Sanders – 1992-2002.
Good night Chesty – wherever you are!
You can keep your Army khaki,
You can keep your Navy blue,
I have the World's best fighting man,
To introduce to you.
His uniform is different,
The best you've ever seen,
The Germans called him "Devil Dog",
His real name is "Marine".
He was born on Parris Island,
The place where God forgot.
The sand is eighteen inches deep,
The sun is blazing hot.
He gets up every morning,
Before the rising sun.
He'll run a hundred miles and more,
Before the day is done.
He's deadly with a rifle,
A bayonet made of steel.
He took the Warrior's calling card,
He's mastered how to kill.
And when he gets to Heaven,
St. Peter he will tell,
One more Marine reporting, sir,
I've spent my time in H-ll.
So listen, all you young girls,
To what I have to say;
Go find yourself a young Marine,
To love you every day.
He'll hug you and he'll kiss you,
And treat you like a queen,
There is no better Fighting Man,
The United States Marine!
In the last two newsletters there were mentions about PFC. Jacklyn H.
Lucas Medal of Honor Winner at Iwo Jima. Let me tell you a bit about
PFC. Lucas, he landed on Iwo 4 days after his 17th Birthday. He was
given his Medal of Honor for falling on one Grenade and pulling
another grenade under himself. Only one grenade exploded and he
became the youngest Marine to receive the United States Highest
Military Decoration, the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him by
President Harry Truman at the White House almost eight months after
his Act of Bravery.
But there is so much to his story, he enlisted in 1942 saying he was
17 years old, actually he was fifteen years old. He was at Pearl
Harbor when he told his friends he was going to join a combat outfit.
On 10 January, he walked out of camp and was declared AWOL. He
stowed away on a transport that was going to Iwo. When the ship was
at sea he surrendered to the Senior Troop officer dressed in neat
Clean Dungarees. He was allowed to remain and was assigned to Hqtrs
Company, 5th MarDiv.
He landed on Iwo Jima just four days after his 17th Birthday. His
Bravery, his will to fight and get there are so much more. He was
more than just a brave Marine, By the way the charges of AWOL were
Get the whole story about him on the internet or in books.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau,
"We Saved the United States Marine Corps"
Since 1775 there have been many generations of United States Marines
who made their mark in its glorious history. The 1948 Marines are
unique by their arrogant claim, "We saved the United States Marine
Corps!" The following article, printed in the Nov./Dec. 1997 issue of
the Chosin Few News Digest, explained this comment.
C.O. of "Summer of '48" Marines
By Col. J.P. Brancati
It is a little known fact that the Marines who served during 1950
unknowingly saved the U.S. Marine Corps from extinction. Startling as
this statement sounds... it is fact! The story starts in the year
1949 which also was President Harry Truman's first elected year in
office. The subject of debate in the U.S. Congress was the postwar
dismantling of the military. It was at a point, when the suggestion
of eliminating the Marine Corps, that all of the other services
grasped for the Corps' missions and budget. Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff Omar Bradley (a Missourian and Truman confidant) said
"large-scale amphibious operations... will never occur again!" He
said that in Oct. 1949. President Truman, a former Army Captain who
had many prejudices against the Marine Corps, described us as "the
Navy's Police Force" with "a propaganda machine almost equal to
Stalin's"... he made this remark in August, 1950. (Note this date).
During this period there was talk among the ranks of Marines about
what would happen to them. After all, they enlisted in the Marine
Corps... not the Navy! Would we be re-assigned to Naval units to
complete our enlistment? Would they give us an option of taking early
discharges? Would we be allowed to complete our tours of duty in a
service of our choice?
The invasion of South Korea by North Korea on June 25, 1950 took our
minds off of the dismantling subject and turned to the question...
Where is Korea? Congress did the same!
That August a small part of the 1st Marine Division joined a U.N.
force, from 15 countries, to stem the hordes of North Koreans from
pushing the remains of all the resistance into the sea at a place
called Pusan. This area was later referred to as the Pusan Perimeter.
General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the X Corps (the U.N.'s
Korean fighting force) was studying an amphibious force to assault,
seize, and occupy a port called Inchon. The 1st Marine Division was
picked to perform this task along with going on to seize and protect
the Kimpo Airfield. Lead by Major General O.P. Smith, the 1950
Marines accomplished all of these objectives and were sent by ships
north east of this peninsula to a place called Wonsan. The purpose of
this action was to have the Marines push northeast to the Yalu River,
joining up with the other elements of X Corps moving northwest from
the west coast. The purpose was to cut all supplies thus ending the
hostilities. As you know this was not to be.
What followed was what many historians claim to be one of the most
fierce and bloody battles in the annals of American history,
compounded with brutally cold weather conditions... the Chosin
Reservoir campaign (11/27/50 to 12/11/50). Joining the Marines in
this epic battle was the 7th US Army Inf. Div, Royal Marine
Commandos, and the South Korean Army. This reinforced First Marine
Division emerged from its ordeal as a fighting unit with its wounded
and all of its guns & equipment, including prisoners. They decisively
defeated seven enemy (CCF) divisions, together with elements of three
others impairing their effectiveness as a fighting force for many
months. The 15,000 allies suffered 12,000 casualties, including more
than 3000 KIA, 6,000 WIA, and thousands of cases of severe frost
The CCF suffered an estimated 43,500 casualties including 28,000 dead
and 15,000 wounded. This action culminated the achievements of the
1950 Marines whose total strength during that period was 75,000 of
which, 34.5 percent or 25,918 were 1948 Marines (who signed on for a
3 year hitch... 18,560 trained at Parris Island, SC and 7,358 at San
Diego, CA. There is no doubt that in 1952, when congress approved a
permanent Marine Corps (three combat divisions and three air wings
with supporting troops... and also approving the Commandant of the
Marines be authorized on a co-equal status with the members of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff in matters directly concerning the Corps.) that
the accomplishments of 1950 Marines played a prominent part in that
decision. (On January 7, 1952, the 3rd Marine Brigade activated at
Camp Pendleton, CA became the 3rd Division. The 3rd Marine Aircraft
Wing was activated at Miami, FL, on February 1, 1952.)
I wish to dedicate this story to the members of the "Summer of '48"
and all of the 1948 Parris Island and San Diego Marines. A special
dedication to all who gave their lives in both Korea and Vietnam, our
known Medal of Honor recipients: Cpl. Lee H. Phillips & PFC William
B. Baugh, and all who have died since that memorable year 1948...
As I sit in front of my computer at 4am, I'm reminded of nights at
Christmas while on guard duty in the good old Corps – USMC. I'd
stroll around my designated Guard Post and sing Christmas carols all
night long, and long for family, and the comforts of home.
There was many a night when the cold damp fog was so thick you could
cut it with a knife, and not see to properly patrol you Guard Post.
One such night, I heard either the SGT. of the Guard coming, or the
Officer of the Day (OD), so I sat perfectly still on an ammo loading
dock and waited! And sure enough, I was right, it was the OD. I
really didn't want to scare the pants off of the poor guy, so I
stayed still until he was several yards past me (he was so close to
me I could have reached out and touched him) when I shouted, "HALT!
Who goes there!" He said in a very "Loud and Clear Voice" "Jesus
Christ, you scared the sh-t out of me!" I asked him for the password
and all of a sudden he was lost for words.
The OD that night was a new, wet, behind the ears, Shaved Tail,
Second Lieutenant from "Able" Company, 1st Amtraks, 1st Battalion,
4th Marine Regiment (we gave him the nickname "Bubble Gum") after he
got his sh-t back together he remembered the password, and I gave him
the counter sign as he approached me. He recognized me and said,
"You scared the Sh-t out of me! Let's just sit on this dock a while
and have a smoke." (Smoking was a no-no while on guard duty, but we
all hid out and did it anyway).
We chatted for about an hour then he went on his way with this
admonishment, "Stay alert Marine, remember Pearl Harbor, stand your
post in a military manner. Good Night Marine"
"Fond memories from long ago, and far away."
Larry G. Lovett, USMC 1954 - 1956
Platoon 354 June - Sept. 1954
Dear Sgt. Grit,
"Oldies but Goodies."
Accomplishing the Mission - "This will be like a, "One legged Man in
an Azs-kicking Contest."
If you are serious about fighting me?, "You better go outside and
practice falling down a few times."
Ego - "Marine, please do not let your alligator mouth overload your
"Private", (from the wise old Gunny), "Do you know the difference
between sh-t and shinola?" Recruit from Tenn., "Sir I think they are
both brown, sir." You do not call a Gunny, sir. Pvt. now confused
and walks or should I say ditty bops away. Now gunny says to me,
"Bruce, we get these guys out of boot camp and they remind me of a
When God gave out brains you thought he asked you if you had trains,
and you told him, "I got them for Christmas."
Marine being refused a drink at last call at the NCO Club for being a
little drunk. S/Sgt behind the bar as bartender telling the Marine to
go back to the squad bay nicely. Marine being sarcastic... so the
S/Sgt politely says, "Cpl, please take a flying f-ck through a
rolling doughnut, and get the f-ck outta my club."
My loud mouthed friend at the NCO Club who was told to take a week
off and relax from the First Sgt. who was talking to a Woman Marine
who had no family and just got bad news from a friend at home. Now
you have 2 people who are very depressed! The Woman Marine says, "We
both have some vacation time coming. "Why don't we use our vacation
to paint the Washington Monument purple and we can call it the
"original purple shaft."
We had a Marine who had a father who was a real Indian Chief from
Oklahoma. The Indian who we named "Chief" got drunk, lost his shoes,
and startted doing a war dance in front of the NCO Club after last
call as we were leaving the club. Unbeknownst to him, as he was
drunk, he did a war dance around broken glass and had to be taken to
the hospital. First Sgt. chewed him out and told me I had "Indian
Watch" and to keep the booze away from him. For a month, he was my
problem after work finished.
On The Bright Side
This is in response to the piece by Pvt Ryan in your last newsletter.
When I went through MCRDSD the Battalion Commander at the time was a
full bird Colonel named Coffman. Not a real good time for a private
by that name to be going through! Every time the Colonel did
something that the DI's did not appreciate, guess who found himself
in the Duty Hut or the Pit. On the bright side, I sure did come out
of boot camp in absolutely great physical condition!
Phil "Akabu" Coffman
Sgt '72 - '82
Bounced At Least Once
I attended OCS and The Basic School 1965-1966, (it was the Warrant
Officer's 7th annual class, average age was 31, average time in
service was 10 years, some Corporals, a few more Sergeants, most of
us were SNCOs). There were 2428 applicants and 343 of us were
selected, 280 passed muster and upon completion of The Basic School
in May, 1966, were commissioned 2d Lts (something about a war heating
up in Vietnam).
My bunk mate at the above events was Robert J. Dalton; during a junk
on the bunk inspection at OCS, I observed his ID card on his bunk and
picked it up to comment on what an ugly (something or other) he was
and he snatched it out of my grip rather quickly, but not before I
noted his date of birth, Dec 16, 1934. My birthdate is Nov 12, 1935,
so it was not too difficult to realize that something was amiss. I
knew that in 1950, he participated in the Inchon Landing, battle for
Seoul, and the Chosin Reservoir campaigns, and other actions. Also,
he was assigned to San Diego as a Drill Instructor upon return to
CONUS in 1951, (by this time he was a 18 year old Sergeant). He
accepted his discharge in 1952, upon completion of 4 years of active
duty that began in 1948... at the age of 14. He had broken time,
came back to active duty in 1957, served total of 31 1/2 years,
retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
To add to this saga, after I retired Nov '73 after 20+ years, I was
initially in North Carolina to finish my higher education, Bob would
visit my wife and I from time to time and it was interesting to
observe his rise in rank. By 1975 he was a Major, on CG, ForTrps
staff. One evening when I got home from work, my wife said, "Honey,
Bob called from the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, would like us to
visit him." So off we went, to discover him in a body cast from neck
to toe. He knew that I had served with 2dANGLICO (Air and Naval
Gunfire Liaison Company) at CLNC and thought that I would be
interested in his tale of woe. Seems that on his fourth parachute
jump from a perfectly good aircraft at Fort Benning, GA, his main
canopy Roman Candled, and when he deployed his reserve chute the
shroud lines sort of kinda entangled with what was already collapsed
on the main canopy, and with memorable words of "Oh, sh-t," he did a
magnificent PLF (practice landing fall) from about 1400 feet, more or
Now, I am rather observant, and noticed his blouse hanging on a door
knob, and presiding over about 6 or 7 rows of ribbons (two tours in
Vietnam) was the U.S. Army parachute badge which represents the
successful completion of five (5) jumps. Of course, I mentioned that
to him, being that he mentioned the malfunction occurred on his
fourth jump. Well, he said, when he was reasonably stabilized at the
Ft Benning hospital the CG came into his room, with clip board in
hand, and looked rather severe, as he began speaking to Bob (who was
thinking, Cripes, they are going to make me pay for the parachute).
Anyway, the General mumbled something about having sworn depositions
from several witnesses, and they all swore, under oath (and probably
under their breath) that they observed Bob hit the deck and he
bounced at least once, therefore, the command decided that the bounce
would count as a fifth jump and so awarded him the jump wings, with
the caveat that under no circumstances was he to return to Ft Benning
for additional training... ever. And that old sea dog went on to
serve for many more years.
We saw Bob at the first reunion in 46 years of The Warrant Officer
Basic Course of 1966, at Quantico, VA, 26 Aug 2012. He looked good,
healthy and as full of the dickens as ever. And I would like to add,
the gathering enjoyed the freebies that Sgt Grit showered on our
little band of brothers, 34 in attendance, in wheelchairs, canes, and
on two feet... more or less.
Capt., USMC (Ret)
Jul '67 - Aug '68
P.S. I was recalled to active duty Feb 1988 after 15 years of
"retirement" which reminded me of why I got out on 20!
Marine Recruiter Impressed Me
I had received my draft notice and my dad took me up to the
recruiting office. My dad was in the Army, and we walked into see
the Marine recruiter and he impressed me very much. I signed the
enlistment papers for six years and they put us on a bus for P.I.
We arrived at two o'clock in the morning and a Gunnery Sgt. came
aboard the bus. He said get off the f-cking bus. He never said any
words that had more than four letters. We stood outside on yellow
footprints. The recruiter told us to take shaving gear and after
shave lotion. We went inside the building and they put G.I. cans up
on the table. They threw everything that we had in the G.I. cans. I
didn't know what I was doing.
The next day the senior D.I. came out with the SOP book. He went
back into his house and he said that we could do it by the book, or
his way. I bumped my buddy and we put the book on the floor. The next
twelve weeks made me a Marine, and I am proud of it. I received the
leatherneck award from boot camp. Platoon 380, 1966 to 1972.
Column Left, March
With all this discussion on which DI has the best cadence calling, I
have to weigh in. We were on the other side of the fence on this.
Platoon 2264, MCRD San Diego, November 10, 1966, 8+ weeks later. I
prefer to withhold the name of this particular DI as I do not wish
disparage his fine efforts in molding us from wimps into Marines in 2
He was an E-5 from the Deep South (no offense intended to my Southern
brethren), and his commands came out as the most bizarre form of
language I have ever heard. It sounded like he had a mouth full of
marbles. "Column left, March!" came out as "CRUMFTOIL FLENRT, MLPHT!"
(you get the picture). We were all from California and most spoke
"surfer" only. As one can imagine, the early weeks of boot camp were
an unmitigated disaster. 60 boots all going in different directions
at the same time. Guys bumping into one another, some going down to
the grinder, cussing, pushing and shoving. What resulted from this
fiasco each time was about a million pushups and squat-thrusts, and I
assume, cursing by this DI (although we really couldn't tell).
But by week 3 or so, we started to instinctively dissect these verbal
abominations and mentally transformed them into commands. These
weren't words, they were noises. It was as though we all became
experts in foreign language. We should have all been sent to
Monterey, CA, to the language school, taught Vietnamese, and been
given an interpreter MOS. The noise coming from this DIs mouth was
the worst distortion of the English language one could ever imagine.
Every time he took us out for drill, we all sweated bullets.
After 4 years in the Corps, I entered the University. Although I was
an accounting major, I took Spanish as an elective. Aced this class
and two more. I am fluent in it today. I think I owe it all to Sgt.
Mxnxxe. God bless him.
He was born too early. In WWII, there wouldn't have been a code
breaker in the entire world that could have figured out his radio
The Navajo code talkers would have looked up to him in awe.
H&MS 13, Chu Lai '69-'70
Wing Wiper Extraordinaire
Hey Sgt Grit,
Reading Dennis Krug's mention of the movie "The Great Santini" from
the book by Pat Conroy brought back memories of being in the same
squadron with Pat Conroy's father, who was the character Pat wrote
about in the book.
We were in VMF-214 aboard the escort carrier USS Sicily CVE 118 off
the coast of Korea in late December 1950 or early January 1951 (that
was a couple of years ago and can't be quite sure of the exact time)
but it was after we were at Yonpo and the Chosin thing. I was a PFC
not long out of boot camp and doing what PFC's do, anything anyone
wants you to do. Pushing planes around the deck, working on planes,
patching bullet holes, etc.
Anyway to get to the story, then Capt. Conroy was in the cockpit of
the F4U-4B Corsair, engine turned up to full military power, in
takeoff position on the catapult, checked his instruments...
everything OK, and saluted the Cat Officer. At this point the Cat
officer does his thing and waves forward down on one knee, giving the
pilot time to get his right hand back down from the salute and behind
the stick (this is to keep the sudden acceleration from driving the
stick back resulting in a stall, not a good thing). The guy that
pushes the button to fire the cat, fired it too soon and Capt
Conroy's arm was still up in the air in a half salute position as he
was being rocketed into the air. (These cats were the old hydraulic
jobs, not the later, softer steam cats). The result was, we had a
fully fuel loaded, fully armed with rockets and bombs Corsair flying
with basically a one armed pilot as his right shoulder had been
dislocated by the acceleration. He flew it around, dumped his
ordinance, and burned as much fuel as possible while the deck was
being cleared and then came around for a landing.
His first pass was waved off and he was pretty busy flying that bird
and adding full power for a go-around. His next pass was a cut and
he brought it aboard. He passed out from the pain and a flight deck
crewman climbed on the plane and jumped in Capt Conroy's lap and got
on the brakes.
At about this same time the Red Cross notified my squadron that my
father was dying and I was to return to the US. A DE was alongside to
refuel from the carrier and Capt Conroy and myself were transferred
to the can by breeches buoy. The trip to Sasebo, Japan was not a fun
time aboard that DE as we were on the edge of a typhoon and no one
was allowed on deck and only sandwiches were served in the galley.
Upon reaching Sasebo, I was joined by four or five Sailors heading
the same way I was, the train to Tokyo to catch a plane back to the
states. I must also mention that I had all my 782 gear including my
M1. The trip was uneventful except that every stop the train made,
we would take up a collection and one of us would get off and buy
sake. I only remember one Sailor in particular, he was short,
stocky, and had a full black beard. He said he was off a submarine.
At one point along the way, we had to change trains and the submarine
Sailor was so drunk we had to carry him. I believe it was about this
time that I saw Capt Conroy again. He advised me to gather up all
the bottles and follow him. We went to one of the heads on the car
and he had me pour all the "giggle water" as he called it down the
I made the flight home via Northwest Airlines, saw my dad who
recovered and rejoined my squadron back in Korea in Feb. 1951. I
never saw Capt Conroy again, but a friend met he and Pat Conroy while
living in Italy just a few years ago. Capt Conroy was one helluva
pilot. Much later, when I was flying FJ-4's off a carrier I would
remember to salute and get my hand back behind the stick in a hurry.
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #4, #3, (Mar., 2014)
It only seemed about a week before we got the word that there would
be an LST sitting in the Qui Nhon harbor. It was designated to pick
up the recently recovered YZ-67 plus another bird and take them to
the Overhaul Facility in Japan for repair. I can't remember what the
problem was with the other aircraft but the LST was going that way so
they had some open deck space.
Another Sgt. (Bill Jennings) and I were assigned the privilege of
going out to the LST and tying the two birds down and making them
ready for transport. This would happen once they were airlifted out
and put on the deck. Well, this normally doesn't take too long so we
looked forward to the break. We both turned our aircraft over to our
1st mech's and our spare gunner for a day's break. We rounded up
some extra tie downs and loaded the gear that we would require into
one of the A/Cs that was going to be sent north.
We climbed on a transport helo and were taken out to the ship. We
kind of hung around the forward portion of the ship and we had been
there for quite a while. Finally, a Chief came out and told us that
if we were hungry the ship's cook said we should come below and he'd
make us something to eat. I failed to tell you that this was early
in the morning and the smell of fresh cooked eggs filled the morning
air. Bill and I went below and the cook was very hospitable and
willing to make us what ever we wanted. Bill and I both choose eggs,
toast, and of course milk.
Now, I can't remember ever craving milk in my lifetime, but neither
Bill nor I could drink enough. Plus, I think that we ate a dozen
eggs a piece and we followed that with fresh baked bread loaded with
butter. As I recall, neither of us drank coffee. We weren't
finished eating when the same Chief that told us about breakfast came
in and said, "Why don't you guys just take it easy the rest of the
day because the 2 A/Cs won't be out till tomorrow around noon." Bill
and I both looked at each other and thought that if we have to go
through another breakfast like this we'll weigh twice as much as when
we came aboard. While this was passing thru our minds the cook came
out and said that he had heard that we'd be aboard for supper and
breakfast tomorrow and was there anything that we'd really like.
Well we both looked at each and said at the same time that a steak
wouldn't taste bad and with that the cook said "it shall be done" and
come that evening it was done, and it was excellent.
These guys were absolutely great to us. I'll have to give them a
plug here! The ship was the USS Vernon County. Thanks Guys, Again!
We even had clean sheets and a real mattress that night. I thought
that they were banned for use by MARINES, Ya, Right! Bill and I put
in for inner service transfers. But, I've never seen them. My good
friend Bill Jennings later received a commission and went on to be a
Major. I have since lost track of his where-abouts.
I have to tell you that the two aircraft arrived on deck as scheduled
and we secured for the trip and we were picked up and returned to the
flight line for our interrogation or at least it seemed that way.
Everybody wanted to know why we had to stay and what did we do. Of
course we told them that we just sat around and drank beer and
watched movies. They didn't really push the issue. It was just
another adventure in the life of this ole MARINE. After all, that's
what I joined for!
Writing For The NYT
Gonna have to find the exact quote, but when Gen David M Shoup (MOH,
Tarawa, as a Col) became Commandant, (1960), one of his first ALMAR
messages stated something to the effect that as long as he was
Commandant, the U. S. Marine Corps was going to do Landing Party
Manual Drill... and no other... seems to have worked OK for the last
53 years or so. (you don't wanna know what was used in boot camp a
few years prior to that... "13-man squad drill"... "Squads right
about"... should be a picture of that evolution in the dictionary
next to the word "Fustercluck"... have seen sharper moves with John
Cleese and the Monty Python drill team... somewhere back in there,
maybe between WWII and Korea, was 8-man squad drill... I think.
Recall telling my platoon members in a deuce and a half (during a
'Rough Rider' convoy from Chu Lai to DaNang... and back) that it was
OK to share their cans of C-rations with the urchins running along
the road with us begging... but that throwing H&M's should be
accomplished underhand... vs. overhand.
On that particular trip, we found ourselves as the guests of 3rd
MTBn, somewhere off to the SW of DaNang... 3rd Tanks was also in the
area, along with some other units... they had SEA huts, which we
(K/3/5) hadn't had yet... living either on board ships (Princeton,
Pickaway, Alamo), under canvas, or more often, on the ground... we
SNCO's were afforded a place on the deck in one of these plywood
palaces... which had not only screenwire sides, but doors! No cots,
but no problem... better than what we were used to, and besides, this
being SNCO country, there was a 'club' ('club'= beer (warm) and... a
As we settled in to watch some 16MM B/W 'B' movie, (long forgotten),
there was out-going .50 cal, with tracers, on one of the nearby
perimeters. The Marine in charge of the projector stopped the movie,
and wanted to know if we wanted to secure or continue... we
unanimously declared to get on with the movie because we'd already
seen some firefights... the unit mess hall was known as "Be-No's
Barn"... seems the previous CO had been fond of issuing directives
which all began "There will be no"... plug in there whatever you
want, for example "soda cans left under the hooches" or "cigarette
butts left on the urinal screens, etc...
Later on, reinforcing the idea that Congress can make mistakes, I was
in the same area as a 2nd Lt, with the other Tank Bn... across the
valley from us was IIIMAF brig, a huge ASP (Ammunition Supply
Point... this one blew up big time later on... from a grass fire),
and some other ash/trash type units... Charlie would get in between
these units, pop a couple rounds each way, and go home for supper,
having generated an intra-mural firefight between these units.
Tracers would fly across the valley half the night... and some of
these units had .50 cal BMG's... my biggest worry, in retrospect, was
that I never heard of anyone getting hit... friendly or not. (more
later on the genius who put half-drums full of diesel fuel between
our perimeter bunkers and the wire... and lit them on fire most
nights... illuminated the fronts of the bunkers really well... (if I
could make this sh-t up, I'd be writing for the NYT, and probably
have a Pulitzer...)
"So... there I was, at 10,000 feet, hanging just by my jock strap,
and the Gunny passes the word to "turn in all athletic gear"...
"Was the Skipper happy? I'd say to the point of involuntary hip
"Priv... if brains was cotton, you couldn't make a Kotex for a
"Well. Lt, if you propose to coordinate a night attack by the sounds
of whistles, how are you going to tell the squads apart?"
"It's real simple, SSGT... we'll just paint the whistles different
colors" (this obviously before the day of night vision devices).
Actually had to explain to a civilian co-worker one time that the
term "p-ss-ant", or 'to p-ss-ant' meant to divide the load, and each
carry a portion in a continuous line... as do ants... and if your
urine attracts ants, you might want to get your blood glucose
checked... diabetes ain't fun...
Lost And Found
This July 7th, 2013, will be the 40th anniversary of my arrival at
Parris Island, South Carolina. I along with 60 other fine young men
were assigned to 1st Bn Plt. 177, our Bn Cdr. was LtCol Parker, our
Company Cdr. Was Capt Jolly, the Series Cdr was 1st Lt. Jackson, the
Chief D.I. was GySgt Hathaway, Series GySgt was Gunny Bishop, our
Senior Drill Instructor was SSgt J. Denny with Sgt Hampton and Sgt
SSgt Denny was one h-ll of a DI, he could call cadence like no other
man I ever heard since. The man would call himself hoarse then take a
tablespoon of honey and start all over. Sgt Hampton was almost as
good, but Sgt. Grandel couldn't have called cadence if he were the
only DI at Parris Island. There sixteen of us from Vermont in that
Platoon and as of last June I now know the where abouts of two
It turns out that Michael Dunham has been living back here in Vermont
less than sixty miles from me since he left the Marine Corps in 1974,
he was part of one of the first Harrier Squadrons in the Corps and
then part of the Marine Reserves in Mass. I went on to become a
member of HMM-164 in Okinawa and then off the coast of Vietnam from
April 1972 until February 1973. We flew 6 combat missions between May
and January and the squadron went on to sweep Hai Phong Harbor.
Another Vermont Boy that was part of the Platoon was Lee Longe of
Morrisville, and after he left the Corps he settled in Maine as an
Aviation Firefighter. I came back home to work for Rock of Ages
Granite Corp. and enlisted in the Vermont Army National Guard where I
went to OCS, becoming a 2ndLt and rising to the rank of Capt.
I start drawing my military pension and tricare this coming March. I
had a glorious 24 years in service to our country. Now I would like
to find the rest of the members of Platoon 177 that were from Vermont
and anyone that I served with in HMM-164.
Ronald S. Edson
Blowback - an unforeseen and unwanted effect, result, or set of
--Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
"Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant
obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we
are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the
conduct of our rulers."
--John Locke (1632-1704)
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time
to pause and reflect."
"A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who
winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his
fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart - he always stirs up
--Proverbs 6:12-12 NIV
God Bless the American Dream!