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Dear Sgt. Grit,
It was Christmas 1969, I was in Chu Lai on my way home after serving with Alpha Co. 1st Bn 4th Marines, BAS 1/4 and CAP 1-4-1 most of the time in the boonies or close to them. I had arrived in Vietnam on Jan. 9th 1969 and would arrive stateside on Jan. 9th 1970. But that' s not the story.
We, a group of Marines and Corpsman waiting to rotate, occupied a tranist barracks on the CAP Compound HQ in Chu Lai. Sometime during night on Christmas Eve tiptoed through the tranist barracks and tied an OD ditty bag filled with candy, sundries and a wash cloth. When we got up Christmas morning we were like little kids because someone had given us something FREE. I had cut the bottoms off several towels in the bush to make a wash cloth to wipe my face whenever we came to a stream. I had wanted a real wash cloth forever. I treasured that wash cloth for years.
Sometime during Christmas morning we took time to wonder who the brave Marine or Corpsman might have been to creep through a barracks filled with Marines and Corpsmen who had only been out of the bush 24-48 hours and tie ditty bags to their bunks while they slept.
Thirty some years later, I still remember a special Christmas in land far far away.
Alpha 1/4 and CAP 1-4-1
It was at the outdoor theater, a piece of plywood painted white and a few rows of step-up benches, at camp Los Flores, Pendelton,1962.
A "B" grade movie of forgotten name, the woman has just shot her lover and says" what do I do now?", from the last row a young Marine shouts, "police up the brass and move to the 500 yard line".
Jim Bridges, Sgt. Ret'd
1st&3rd Tanks 1962-66
Spotted The Pogybait
I was in PI in platoon 330 during the months of Sept to Dec. 1956. We had great DIs who often displayed a bit of a sense of humor, although it might seem a bit warped to those in the real world.
A couple incidents have always stayed in my mind and have brought me another chuckle over the years. One involved a boot using a candy machine while doing cleanup at a headquarters building in our platoon area. The DI spotted the pogybait in the boot's utility jacket in ranks shortly thereafter. Well, the idiot had to stand at attention with the hershey bar melting between his teeth for a long while in front of the platoon, all the while having the DI rant and rave about integrity. Then, to top things off, he was put in the brig (a wall locker) and locked in while singing "I'm in the jailhouse now." for about four or five hours. After awhile, all we could hear was a whimper and they finally let him out of there.
Another incident involved the DIs telling the platoon to get their smokes from our locker boxes and fall out in back of the squadbay. We were told to put a butt in our lips and get our lighters or matches ready. Then, the head DI said "Smoking lamp is lit." As we began to light our cigs, he immediately called "Smoking Lamp is Out!" I don't think anyone even got a drag off of their butts.....See....our DIs did have a sense of humor.....
Dick Vara '56-'59
With all the Christmas remembrances in your letter, it hit me as to why I didn't care to especially remember "A" Xmas, '51 & until 27th 'Jan. '52, spent dusk to dawn in a foxhole (16+ hours) in a valley floor at 30 below. No bunkers permitted there or the other side would have been a field day with their mortars. We had the new thermal boots, but on orders couldn't wear them as the sweating and freezing would have certainly done us in. (And you feel that some 40+ years later) So they went into our sleeping bags for the time. Before dawn, Tanks would relieve us for the day and we could go into a bunker and get some sleep. As in every time and place, different times, different climes!!!!
Chesty's last regimental command.
The Stand Tall
Hello Sgt Grit:
First off I want to say thanks for your newsletter as I look forward to reading it. I am a Marine veteran with over fifty four years experience, three years active and as my wife of fifty three years will tell you I may as well stayed in the other fifty. I joined Fox Co. 2nd. Bat. 7th. Marines in early January 1952 soon after they broke out of Chosen. We manned a section of the MLR on the crest of very high mountain on the eastern front. I don't know what the wind chill factor was at that time but if there had been one, it would have frozen to death. I was WIA on July 4, 1952 and spent a couple of months in Japan healing up before being returned to my unit. I also served a couple of weeks on Bunker Hill as a temporary replacement and didn't get as much as a scratch. The Marines that I served with in combat in Korea are the same today as they were back then, they stand tall and the world knows and respects them for what they were then, and for what they are today----The Few--The Proud--The Marines, Simper Fi.
Former Sgt. Thomas F. Williams
I have two little stories to share about Christmas in the US Marine Corps. Nothing dramatic, just boot camp fun. The first is we were at the rifle range during Christmas, 1977 and living at Edson Range in California. For many of us, it was to be our first Christmas away from home. Our mail caught up to us and I had a package from my girlfriend. Of course, packages were suspect for contraband, plus I seem to remember the drill instructors made sure in their gruff way that whatever we got from home was shared with recruits who did not have families and girlfriends. She had made me a stocking and stuffed it with pogey bait and a can of snuff. She also enclosed a nice wool sweater. None of these items of contraband was authorized. I was made to put on my sweater, put the entire can of snuff in my mouth, and to conduct self-improvement and motivational exercises until all my candy and cookies were consumed by the platoon.
On Christmas morning, we had a typically robust boot camp morning chow, but instead of going right to the snapping in or firing range we filed back into the squadbay for an unexpected administrative class. I'll never forget the junior DI stalking back and forth in front of the platoon and ranting about Congress and "the Mothers of America" who wanted to make sure each and every Marine recruit had a piece of candy to celebrate Christmas. He had his house mouse distribute candy canes to all the privates and then we stood at attention, and he said "Ready, UNWRAP! On my command, COMMENCE EATING!" Each and every private had approximately 15 seconds to devour his piece of Congressionally mandated pogey bait. The DI then wheeled and strode back into the duty hut before we could see the corners of his mouth begin to raise.
Bek "the Tech"
E-5 USMC 1976-79
One I Remember
I spent 4 Christmas overseas. My birthday is Dec. 3. Over all I spent 4 Marine Corps Birthdays, 4 Thanksgivings, 4 personal birthdays, 4 Christmas, and 4 New Years Eves overseas.
The one I remember the most was spent with Comm Section A-1-13 at Khe Sahn in 1967. Only 2 of us, me and the Comm Chief had been overseas for Christmas before this. Money was pooled and with the 1st Sgts. blessing the Comm Chief and several of the Gun Section Sgts. were sent to DaNang and the big Air Force PX there. Later the Comm Chief told me they got an Air Force Airman 1st Class to buy liquor for them, as a Marine, even Marine officers were not allowed to purchase liquor.
We celebrated with goodies from home and some goodies from the PX. At the time I did not drink. I was assigned the duty to make sure no one caused any trouble from over indulgence. I still have pictures of that Christmas. One is of a PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY sandwich on real bread. Only a person who has not eaten real bread in 3 months could appreciate that picture.
The older I get the more that Christmas means to me. I had just turned 20 and had been a Marine for 21/2 years. I was considered an old timer. Most of these Marines had been in less than a year and were 18-19. I hope they remember that Christmas with the fond memories that I have of Christmas 1967.
Sgt Walter E. Seneff
Cuba Nov. 1965-Mar. 1967
Viet Nam Oct. 1967-April 1969.
I Have To Laugh
In reply to JM 61/65 thank you to the Docs, It is the "Doc" that thanks you. It is now and has always been our honor to serve with the "grunts". I truly feel sorry for our brethren that only serve on ships and at hospitals and never know the privilege of being with the "Corps". I have to laugh everytime I hear one of them telling a story about how hard it was during this deployment or that op and they had such a bad time (only three new movies each week) Until they have spent time in the dirt with the rest of us they have never been "out there". The feeling of being the "bas!tard step-child" that we get from the Navy is more than overwhelmed by the feeling we get being in the field. Those of us that where the badge and FMF ribbon will never forget out time with your "Corps". Again we thank you and hope as JM does that you never need our services. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Semper Fi.
Doc Higgins 75-97
It Is Hard For Me
To all my Brother Yesterday 21-12-05 at 12oo hrs Lt. Col. Larry Brinkman Reported for duty and now in charge of the Marine Guard in Heaven. The Col. as I remember him was a S/Sgt. in 1967 Sir Drill Instructor MCRD San Diego and then came to Nam were he was a Platoon Sgt. with Hotel Co. 2/9 Larry was a Marine's Marine he was hard but fair. With him the men really did come first it is hard for me to write But his absent will be missed but the Gates of Heaven I know are even safer Larry from all the guys in Hotel we miss you and say hello to Chesty for us. Semper / Fi Brother
Robert Stocker H-2/9 - 66 - 67. weapons
Bananas And Bread
Spent Christmas 1983 on Okwania doing 14 and 14, got wrote up for drunk and disorderly and disobeying a commissioned officer, went to the e club one night and drank 16 shots of JD and went out on the town right outside of camp swab, refused to pay 2 dollars for a beer and starting rising h&ll, happened to be a Ssgt and a boot Lt on duty that night, they told me and my pal Zuppan to go back to the barracks, which we were going to right after another beer. We drank our beer and headed back however, my buddy wanted to stop at one of those jap stores and get some bananas and bread, on our way out of the store my buddy almost got hit by a cab, so I tried to slow traffic down and than here comes the boot Lt, takes our ID cards and the rest is history, office hours 14 and 14, the boot Lt said I was trying to direct traffic! Christmas 1983, I did sneak out to the USO club to call home and spent my last few days on restriction at NTA. Da!mn Bananas and bread!
L/cpl G.B. Hill
Wpns Co 1/2
80 bums 1982-86
Dink Adau Marine
I've always had an interest in other languages besides English. My dad, being a farmer in the southern tip of Texas, spoke Spanish like a native, although he was born in Oklahoma. (His family moved down here when he was 10 years old back in 1921.) Having lived here near the Mexican border all my life except for three years on active duty in our Corps, I speak enough Spanish to communicate with my students' parents, and I definitely know when some racist little individual thinks he can get away with insulting the "gringo" teacher.
Many of the expressions I heard Americans use in trying to communicate with Vietnamese were actually adopted from Japanese or some other Oriental language, or simply "made-up." I remember Sgt. "Flowers," one of the Vietnamese interpreters assigned to 3/7, offering me some food he got from a villager as we passed through on patrol, saying, "Here, Lieutenant. This beaucoup number one chop-chop." (It took me only one bite to realize that we had different ideas about what constituted "excellent food," but that's a different topic.)
Anyway, I came home from my tour in Vietnam with the supposedly French and Vietnamese expression, "beaucoup dink adau" (or however it's pronounced), which I was told means "very crazy". However, a few years ago my wife was regularly having her nails done at a salon run by Vietnamese immigrants. In a conversation with one of the girls there, my wife mentioned that I had served in Vietnam, and that I was a "dink adau Marine". No one in the shop knew what she was talking about. Although they spoke Vietnamese to each other, the girls in the shop did not understand what my wife was trying to say.
Ever since that incident, I've wondered about the authenticity of that expression. For some reason, I thought of that today and wondered if one of your readers can answer this question: "Is 'dink adau,' or 'dinky dow' as I've heard some 'Nam vets say, actually Vietnamese, or is it some corruption created by Americans?"
Once a Marine captain, always a Marine.
'63-'76 Vietnam Dec '66 to Dec '67
Introduction to KMC Discipline
I stumbled onto your website this weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see photos of my first assignment in-country, the An Hoa op.
I was with 1st ANGLICO, and one of two Marines assigned to the recon platoon, a part of the 2nd ROK Marine Brigade. This op was a hill adjacent to the village of An Hoa and in approximately November 1967 was occupied by the KMC recon platoon, two ANGLICO Marines, and a platoon of PF's.
As soon as I stepped off the helicopter and dropped my gear in the assigned bunker, I walked around the perimeter. This was my first assignment and I was green and nervous. I discovered that the wires to all the claymores were cut. I reported this to the platoon CO, I think a Lt. Lee. Soon thereafter, some poor KMC Marine who was deemed responsible for this was hauled down into a perimeter trench and punished. He was bent over with his feet and his forehead on the ground and his hands behind his back. He was beat with an e-tool for a very long time. That was my introduction to KMC discipline.
Thanks for posting those photos.
Shortly after this we were moved to the Hoi An area, south of Da Nang. That's where we spent Tet.
Pounding First Aid Procedures
Dear Sgt. Grit,
In our day to day lives as Marines, to include those of us who have chosen to pursue civilian careers, we often hear or see in the news negative depictions of ourselves, as bad publicity on one Marine reflects upon us all. My purpose in this letter is to douse the fires of negativity that have distracted the public's eye from our Corps' glorious history. My name is Scott Moran, I left the Corps honorably in 2002 to return to my hometown of Houston, TX where I am currently working and finishing my degree in Computer Information Systems.
On the early afternoon of September 25 th 2003, I was retrieving my garbage can from the curb when I saw my next door neighbor stumbling towards me. I asked him if he was ok, he said no. He said he had just accidentally shot himself in the chest, so I immediately dialed 911 from my cell phone. I laid him down on the ground, propped up his head and feet, ran to my truck where I keep my first aid kit and put field dressings over the entry and exit wounds in order to stop the bleeding and prevent shock. I told him and the emergency operator that I knew what I was doing, hung up the phone and concentrated on the victim. The entry wound was high in the chest, and I could tell there was lung damage because of his difficulty breathing. I assured him everything would be ok, as long as he followed my directions, even though I was unsure myself. He listened intently through enormous pains I instructed him to take slow, deeper breaths and to keep his eyes focused on me. God only knows where his thoughts were, even though his eyes were staring straight into mine, I felt as if we were soon to be in different worlds. His body however was in the street in front of my house, and I wasn't going to let him give up, not on my watch.
After about 8 minutes, the first paramedics came on the scene in a fire truck inadequately supplied and ended up using parts of my first aid kit, which I offered without hesitation. But it wasn't until about 15 minutes after that when the ambulance showed up to rush the victim to a hospital, which was subject of a local news channel investigation and is another story completely. Upon exiting the scene, the first paramedic team thanked me for my efforts, but grimly informed me that it did not look good for the victim. They mentioned that if he had any chance at all, it would have been my actions as the first on the scene that saved him.
It would be long sleepless hours before I heard anything on the man's condition, or the situation that caused him to get there. Officers on the scene (one of which was another former Marine) recovered the weapon, a .22 caliber rifle soon after a family member arrived home to the bad news. How a man could shoot himself on the chest with a rifle perplexed everyone involved until the victim recovered consciousness. He told police and family members the bullet ricocheted off the concrete floor. It then entered his chest, hit his collarbone, then his hip bone, and out his back, causing several ruptured organs and hours of surgery. Doctors had to remove part of his damaged lung and stitch up his kidney, but he did make it. He spent nearly a week in the Intensive Care Unit at Ben Taub hospital in the famous Houston Medical Center, where he fully recovered. After his release, he expressed to me the deepest gratitude for what I'm sure he saw as acts of heroism, acts which are to us, nothing more than following procedure, especially when we're uncertain of the outcome.
I want to thank the motivating drill instructors at MCRD San Diego for pounding first aid procedures into my head, all the docs who served with Ammunition Company in Okinawa between 1999 and 2002: HM3 Herrera, HM3 Pagan, HM3 Perez, and HM3 Lewandowski for reinforcing those procedures over time, as well as the traditions, training regiment, esprit de corps, the instant willingness and obedience to orders (and procedures) provided to me by the United States Marine Corps, but most of all God, for allowing me to bring positive change to someone's life.
Let this serve as an example how we all can still serve as positive role models by effecting change around us. Residents of my street and others who heard what happened respect each of us more and are happy to have us around because they have been positively influenced by the acts of one Marine. Let's not be shy, and proudly show our good deeds to others, just as our U.S. flag and Marine Corps Colors proudly fly above our homes and buildings. When we stumble, as we will, let's pick each other up and move on, and may our light outshine our shadows.
Cpl Scott A. Moran
Trading "War Stories"
Semper Fi, Sgt. Grit, I was in the Marines from 75-78 stationed at 3rd LAAMBn in Cherry Point. I received the Marines hat that I ordered from your catalog. Almost everytime I wear it, I am greeted by another former Marine. If my wife is with me, she has to wait for me while we Marines trade our "war stories". She understands the brotherhood the Marines share with no one but each other. My children also understand the importance of the Marine Corps. They tell me that being a Marine has made me a great father also, through the discipline that was given them and has made them upstanding citizens. Please remember our troops serving this great country both abroad and here at home. Stay the course. Joe Steele, CPL/E-4
Marines Providing Training Opportunities
With the stories of Corpsmen in your newsletter, I thought your readers might like the following from my collection of Marine & political anecdotes, The Good Bits.
My buddy, Sgt. Dave York was with the Marine air wing at Cherry Point, having gone through air radio repair school. One weekend, just before Christmas, he came down to visit me at LeJeune, so I didn't swoop.
But Saturday morning I stood up too fast, and split my scalp open just inside the hairline on a corner of my wall locker. It was bleeding freely, so Dave walked me to sick bay.
There were several corpsmen and a young doctor, but I was the only patient. "Who hasn't put in stitches before," the doctor asked. One young corpsman raised his hand, and was selected to put two in my scalp.
When he finished, the doctor looked them over, declared they were in wrong, and ordered the corpsman to yank them out and, "Do it right this time!"
So out they came and he sewed me up again. I guess they were okay, or they saw the look in my eye, but the doctor declared the second attempt a success.
Marine enlisted men-providing training opportunities for the Navy!
The same Marine Corps blood
I have to say, I had no idea about the depth of this website, or the personal and proud relationship it maintains with past and present Marines. I logged on here to pick up some OORAH gear from my new truck, and to my surprise received this newsletter, and I wanted to thank you. I read these stories here, and if you left out whatever years they served, you couldn't tell them apart. Meaning... I read some of these stories, and at the end it was saying Cpl so and so. 67-69 or Sgt whoever 55-59. And their stories ring true today. That brotherhood is so strongly rooted, it can be felt through these readings. Regardless if it was that you served 2 years ago, or 40 years ago, the same Marine Corps blood flows through us all.
Semper Fi and all of my brothers out there digging in, keep your A$s in the hole and them in your sights!
Sgt JP USMC 98-02 1371 Engineers UP!
The Sweetest Voice of Any
Sgt. Grit. I was at MCRD in San Diego from June 1958-Sept. 1958. My DI's were SSgt Curly, Sgt Rakes and Sgt Matte. Sgt Rakes had the sweetest voice of any one man that I have ever heard when it came to marching. He picked the whole platoon up in spirit when he was at the helm. I would like to thank these gentleman [although I the time I didn't think they were] for taking an Idaho farm boy and making a man out of him. They made me grow up. I had an older brother retire from the Corps and another brother which wished he had. I was the third in a line of Marines from the family. Again I would like to thank SSgt. Curly, Sgt. Rakes, and Sgt Matte from Platoon 348 for teaching me to be a MARINE. SEMPER FI. Howard Tennant
Not like some gedunk ribbon
This is to address HM3 Luis M DeLaCruz USN/FMF who wrote in the last newsletter. Hey Doc, don't you ever think that you are any less a man or a Corpsman because you did not "serve in combat" while with FMF and the 1st Marine Division. The fact that you chose to serve with the Marines makes you no less a Marine than those of us who graduated from MCRD - either at PI or San Diego. Wear your Dress Greens with pride and put on the EG&A and always remember, you were one of the few who earned that Eagle, Globe and Anchor. Not everyone can earn that device and we in the Corps certainly "don't just give it away" like some gedunk ribbon. I have a tremendous amount of respect for our Docs that are stationed with Marine units all over this planet. I know our Doc saved my bacon on more than 1 occasion while in Vietnam, Republic of. Hold your head up high Mr. DeLaCruz and don't ever feel ashamed about not serving during times of war. As you pointed out, the fact that you did serve is ample testimony to your courage and moral fortitude. I will exchange Semper Fi's with you anytime my friend. Continue to go to Marine Corps Balls and think about joining your local Marine Corps League Detachment. Then you will find out that we Marines look beyond the fact that you were in the Navy (by oath of enlistment only) and that you were actually considered a Marine - just like the rest of us. Semper Fi Doc and God Bless our Beloved Corps.
Cpl of Marines
Hey Guy, your news letters are the greatest.
To all the Marines out there, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and may God continue to look after those in Harm's Way.
I'm trying to get some info. Maybe some of you guys out there may know.
There used to be a military prison in Japan, called the Big "8". As I understand it, It was for all branches of the service. For certain crimes. Rather than take a bad discharge, troops were allowed to soldier their way back into the Corps.
When I was with the 3rd Div in Japan, back in 1953. A Marine joined our unit, that had just got out of that Re-Training Command. You have never seen a more squared-away troop. This guy starched and ironed his skivvies. Before he stepped out of he barracks he'd line up the buttons on his jacket. This was all from habit.
He told us, at the prison, every day is like Boot Camp.
Somebody out there must know something about the old Re-training command
Take care and Semper Fi,
H. S. Bane
1103546 (Marine at Large)
Famous Marine D.I.
I have read about a lot of other Marines drill instructors and decided to write about mine. I was in Third Battalion Platoon 371 in March of 1966. Cpl. R. L. Ermey was my drill instructor and at the time I thought he was a mean SOB. I later realized that what he taught me kept me alive during my tour of Viet Nam 1966-1967. He is now a famous movie star who has appeared in many movies. I would also like to thank you Sgt Grit for your news letters. I read every one of them. God Bless you and all of our service men and women serving our Country. I hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year
Thank you love reading the news letters. Hope to some day hear more from the guys who were in the late 60s. Once a Marine Always a Marine
To HM2 Barry "DOC" Stevens
If there ever was an angel on the battlefield, it is a Corpman. I have use for your services 31 May 1945 on Okinawa. The DOC who attended me save my life. In my book, and all Marines, the Corpman is a true Marine. I salute you DOC.
Malcolm T. Lear
L 3 22
Sgt. Grit: My son gave me "Voices of Courage" by Drez & Brinkley for Christmas. It's a must read for all, especially Khe Sahn vets from the 26th. Marines or 9th. Marines. He & I will visit northern I Corps next summer. The book has helped me plan my itinerary.
Sgt. 63 to 72
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