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As a peacetime Marine I found myself with my sneakers on the yellow footprints in March of 1978. After going through the nylon wash sack to make sure the puke beside me hadn't swiped my gear yet, we were off to get uniforms. I had been issued pretty much everything and met up with a Marine that had a dozen stripes (so I thought) on his shoulders.
He looked at me and said, "what size boots ya wear son"? to which I responded "oh, about ten and a half". He leaned across the counter and gave me a horizontal hand reminder that the first AND last word out of my filthy sewer was to be "sir".
Once again he asked my boot size, my tongue busy surveying my dental work. I loudly belted out, "Sir, size 11, Sir". He grinned at me and said "keep moving maggot, we ain't got no F--in boots here. I got off easy, the guy behind me made the mistake of laughing about the scene...MD
In This Issue:
As usual a lot of great pictures, they always add to a story. Many different kinds of stories this week. From 3 generations of Marines, fantail shooting of a Bazooka, to Chu Lai sh!tters. There are trigger jerkers and vice grips; frog giggin' to the smokin light is lit (kinda) as only a DI can do.
For you daily dose of Marine Corps there is the Sgt Grit Facebook page and the Blog. There is even a story by me below about my Vietnam group's last reunion at Las Vegas.
Fair winds and following seas.
Watch for it
We've got a new website coming out soon.
Better navigation, new and improved wish list, better shopping cart and more...It only gets better folks!
One Of Those Type Questions
It's been a while but I thought I'd send a few pics and see if anyone recognizes them. be advised, Infantry Training School at Camp Pendleton commanded by Col. P.J. Rowe was later changed to School of Infantry.
Remember a while back I mentioned Gunny Panickowski who was SDI at one point and he became Series Chief Drill Instructor. He was Series Chief for my Platoon 3084, SDI SSgt Rozman. I'd be very interested to know where the guys in that platoon all went. You know, one of those type questions that comes to mind all those years after we all graduate and move on.
The one pic with me in t- shirt and jeans with arms folded is me at my age of 44 just recently.
Semper Fi, Marine
On The Check Crew
Here's an airwinger Pic for you. This was taken in early 1966 to commemorate our 5,000th sortie. VMA 223 flew A4 Skyhawks. What a great war bird it was. I was on the check crew and recruited to hold the sign (I'm the one in the T-shirt) for this photo op. Later that year I was rotated to CONUS for separation from active duty.
Still a Marine
Michael J. Galle
Semper Fi Til I Die
Kicked By Him Again
I'll always be glad I didn't "get away" without an a** beating by my Drill Instructor in boot camp! Up to this point I had stayed mostly under the DI's radar and Platoon 3096 was a couple of weeks from graduation in December of 1967, the place MCRD San Diego. This day however, was "my day" and a day that every boot should experience, at least once.
It started at evening chow as our drill instructor, SSGT. K.N. Andrews approached the table behind mine to give that famous command, "READY... SIT!". Remember, after staring at the guy across the table right in the eyes for what sometimes seemed an eternity, that command would cause all butts at that table to hit the bench as one? And then we would continue staring until we heard, "READY... EAT!". Well, SSGT. Andrews decided to mess with the table behind mine a little by making them get up and down a couple of times. That was just enough to throw me off cause I didn't notice that he was now at the end of my table when the command came, "READY... SIT!". Everyone did but me!
There I stood, sweating bullets as I stared into space! Too late now (you know the feeling). Well, he "politely" asked me if I would like to join the platoon for dinner. How could I refuse? He made everyone get back up and stared laser beams right through me as he bellowed, "READY... and I sat down so hard I can still feel my tailbone hit the bench. Yeah, just me.
He peeked around the other recruits who were still standing and by this time were also sweating bullets and asked if I was really that hungry? Well, third time's the charm and this time we all hit the bench at the same nano-second. Next thing I know he's digging his fingers into my shoulder and says into my ear, "I wouldn't eat too much cause you and I have a date after mail call tonight Sweetheart.". Needless to say I sneaked my food to my buddies on either side and didn't even take a sip of water.
After mail call I thought I'd be smart and catch him between the hooches as he went back to his "house". The thought was that he'd be too busy and tell me to get lost, didn't happen. He grabs me by the collar and slams his door shut. You've seen the cartoons where there's a fight going on inside some building and the walls keep bulging in and out with each punch? Well, that was my head, my butt and sometimes both at the same time! After he tired of me, he kicked me out the door and as I came flying out there stood my buddy, Ortiz, in line for his a** beating!
Yeah, we did what we could just for a chance not to be left out of a mighty fine tradition. Hope you got yours!
SSGT. Andrews is kicking a** for St. Peter now and I'm hoping to get mine kicked by him again.
Cpl. David S. Martinez
1967 - 1971
Enclosed are a few copies of other Pacific Front magazines from 1945. Also, I found some Japanese pages from a book, looks like someone carried them for some time.
See more magazine covers
PFC Robert Tannahill
There I was in Platoon 232 (PI) Dec. 66 to March 67. On the first day at the Rifle Range, so many of us "jerked the trigger". How did the DI (Sgt Paxton) know which of us had jerked the trigger? We returned to the barracks, the DI had a cigar box full of ????. He calls us "trigger jerker's" name one at a time to approach him, look at him eye-to-eye, reach in the cigar box, don't look down and grab one of the items and return to our rack.
Given the order to look down, in our hand is a "mini" vice grip. The order was given to our "bunkie" to clamp the vice grip on our trigger finger until the fingertip was white. Of course, the DI double-checked to ensure there was sufficient pressure. I can't remember how many vice grips were handed out, but those vice grips stayed on our fingers for a l o n g time. The next day only about two or three Marines jerked the triggers, and on the third day, all seventy-four of us became non-trigger jerkers. Thank you Sgt. Paxton! To this day, I fire a M1A Supermatch and a SOCOM II without jerking the trigger.
Let's not forget about the "UNK" (unqualified shooters) on the first day at the range. The "UNKS" were allowed to take hot showers (no cold water mixed) before us qualified shooters, and we could not understand that at all. Here comes all the sunburned "UNKS" out of the hot shower, wrapped in a white towel.
The DI yells, "crawl on the deck and under one rack and over the other rack, yelling; "I'm an unk, I'm a worm, I'm an unk". That had to be the most humiliating thing a Marine can do in front of his fellow Marines. The second day at the range, every one of us qualified. Our Drill Instructors knew we were going to Nam, and he did what he had to do to prepare us.
Thank you Sgt Paxton, SSGT Chaverious, and Senior DI; SSGT Corneilson. Later I went to Amtrack Mechanic School at Camp Pendleton, and then to Nam with various Amtrack units.
Sgt. John C Valenti
Flying Snakes II
Hey Sgt. Grit
Here's a story of when I was going through the freshly renamed SOI (formally ITS back in '87)
As an 0311, and the field being our classroom where we spent countless hours training, if you have a phobia or disdain for the wild life, here's where your true colors are soon shown. On a routine patrol just below the military crest, we were told to find a spot and settle in.
I happen to be near an old fighting hole that had long since been overgrown with tall grass. I know it was old since we were not permitted to dig fighting holes at Camp Pendleton when I was there. '87 The hole also contained a discarded MRE box, that I just knew was going to be harboring a snake and as I lifted the box with the muzzle of my M16, sure enough, there was a long thick dark brown/blackish snake of which I still don't know what to call.
All I knew was that I wanted that fighting hole and didn't want any company. So as I jumped into the hole, the snake slithered into a smaller hole to make a hasty retreat, but not before I grabbed it my the tail and flung it up and away as hard as I could.
Now keep in mind that we were on the military crest so the snake caught some serious "airtime" going down the hill. Well as luck would have it. There was only one Marine in our entire platoon that had a phobia, and of all the phobias his was ...yup you guessed it snakes.
Well, like watching a train wreck about to happen, I watched this big thick snake land squarely on LCpl. Macks shoulders and then all h&ll broke loose as he ran down the hill screaming "Flying Snakes! Flying Snakes! Oh Lordy There's Flying Snakes!"
Mack if you should be reading this. I never did stop laughing long enough to say I'm sorry. so here it is...NOPE, still laughing !
And that Sgt Grit is my short story of a "routine" training patrol.
Gulf war Grunt
Fire for Effect: Guam Liberation - Back to top
Enjoyed your newsletter and would like to share a bit of humor with you.
I was in F Co. 2nd Bn Third Marines on the Liberation of Guam. We got pretty badly beat up and my platoon ended up with one Cpl. Squad leader and 12 PFC's. After the campaign was declared over, we were still in perimeter defense and foxholes for 2-3 weeks. One nite a black and white cow came in front of our foxhole and we leveled it with a BAR. In the morning one of the officers came by and asked, why did you shoot this cow? We told him that we thought it was a J-p carrying two Lister bags over his shoulders. At nite it looked that way, as we were exhausted from the campaign. He told us to bury it, as the flies were so many and a health hazard. Guam was a Coral Island and after a foot of soil our entrenching tool hit solid coral. After an hour of digging, we told the Lt. that we could not dig a big enough hole for this cow. The company had a Jeep and we finally drug it away.
There were 5-7000 bypassed J-ps and were ran patrols and ambushes for about four months to secure the Island. Then we trained for Iwo Jima. The Third Div. was a reserve Div. for Iwo and the day we arrived they took all the replacements off the ship and all the supporting artillery and engineers and attached to our Bn. For five days we went to the landing nets to go ashore and the Bn. Commander would get on the loudspeaker and say it was called off. One night we unloaded the ship and sent the ammo ashore and we left back for Guam. The Ninth and 21st were put ashore at about D plus 2 and took terrible casualties. Our tent city on Guam was next to A Co. of the 21st Regiment and out of 220 men original, they came back with 5.
I turned 19 yrs old two days after landing at Guam and I was the Bazooka man for the Company. I was given the Bazooka 1 day before the landing and given instructions on the fantail of how to shoot it. I also carried three rounds of Bazooka rockets in an apron on my back and we were pinned down immediately on landing. I wiggled out of my pack and kept the Bazooka rounds, I had a very high profile with the rounds over the pack and did not want to get hit in the Bazooka rounds. I am now 85 and still in good health and have 6 kids and 18 grandchildren. Went to college on the GI Bill and have had a great life. I still remember all the fun things that we did and all my buddies. My squad leader on Guam became a 2nd Lt. and took a different Platoon. He Retired as a Major and just died about a year ago at 90. I have visited him several times in NYC. He is the reason I am still alive, as he knew what he was doing in combat.
Fire for Effect: Short Rounds - Back to top
I remember seeing the scene in the HBO documentary on the "Pacific" and thinking, what would I have been saying if I were in that particular position. Like Gene, I too would have hauling azs while resisting my favorite prayer--the 23rd Psalm.
I would Like this information passed on. The 2nd. reunion for Anacostia Marines will be held the 17th.to the 22nd. of October, 2010 The place is Branson, Missouri at Boxcar Willies Hotel. Phone # 1-877-704-6611 Mention Anacostia Marines To get the best rate
All Marines who served During the 50's Are Welcome
Contact # 612-499=0776 Ron Bursch
or #952-758-7103 Mike O'Brien
When did Delta go from First Battalion to Second Battalion, 26th Marines? I was in Alpha and Delta was also part of "The Professionals".
another outstanding SGT GRIT NEWS. concerning the story about squads right about in 1956 i was a mg section leader with EASY 2/9 on Okinawa was sent to NCO school in Japan at Camp McGill close to yokusoka.
we were taught the 13 man squad drill. took a while to get it right, but once you got it right and done properly looked better than regular drill. when i was in high school we were an ROTC school and we did the 8 man squad drill
keep up the good work
SEMPER FI R B Scott
I joined the Marines on my 17th birthday July 29th.1967 the recruiter came to my home, and my parents signed the waiver and after I turned 18 I went to Vietnam served 1968-1969 H&S.CO, 1stBn, 7thMar, 1stMarDiv.
As a young Marine I could handle about anything. I find as getting older I'm dealing with PTSD and fighting a new battle I wasn't trained for. I went through Boot Camp in San Diego First Battalion Platoon 1042.
Sgt. Grit, I was in the Marines from 1957-60. I have been seeing the Geico Insurance ad with Drill Instructor Ermey. I never heard his punch line "Jack Wagon". Is that part of the language of the Marines now. I think I know what it means, but I would like for you to confirm it. Thanks. Donald
I just recently retired, and one of my retirement gifts was a 23ft flagpole. I was telling my wife and daughter about a term I heard in boot camp. If I remember right, the DI remarked as we were on the parade deck when they raised the colors. He said we were caught in the rain. Has anyone else heard that expression? If it a real expression, there must be some story line behind it.
Semper Fi Cpl William Pippin 1966-1969
For GySgt Whalen, I just wanted to say to him and all those in his unit, sorry for your loss. Thanks for your brave service and Semper Fi, Brothers.
USMC 1st Radio Battalion held its 2010 Reunion in Fountain Hills, Arizona, last May 13 - 16 ... pictures are attached
SSgt R. J. Zike
just a short note to say hello to my fellow Marines from 2nd force recon, Camp Lejeune, don't know how many of you are left. we had some great times and some bad times. and we all had the privilege of serving under a Marine who went on to be the commandant of the US Marine Corps..our commanding officer was at the time captain p.x. kelly. how fast those years go by.
cpl. raymond reid, radio telegraph communications.
Spring 1959. MCRDSD. We were still using the 8 man drill.
Mitch Young 1637142
I found my Marine Corps Handbook the other day and found a Marine decal in it. The decal has a blue circle instead of the red it has today. Do you have any idea when it change to red?
Freddie fender, from Texas, the singer of felis na ve da. not sure what years, but one of his album covers had the bio on the back.
Cpl . a . a ' kaminsky
Wanting to know if Marine Barracks Newport RI (1971 to 1973 is officially closed.
Sgt. Watson 1969 to 1973 (company armor)
In response to "JJ's" execution of "to the winds, march", the 1st squad performs a right flank maneuver, 2nd squad continues forward, 3rd squad performs to the to the rear maneuver, and 4th squad performs a left flank maneuver. During 3rd phase our platoon 394 practiced this maneuver many times and finally got it down after a few days. What a feeling we had after completing it.
Sgt USMC Vet 1976-1980
Fire for Effect: New Tattoos, Finally - Back to top
40 Some Years
My husband's (Frank Cooper) three week old tattoo
God bless the Marines, every one!
I Always Wanted
Here is a picture of my new bulldog tattoo 19 years later. This was something I always wanted to do and knew eventually I would get one.
Ink done by Squablo at Daytona Hardcore Tattoo
Once a Marine, Always a Marine "Semper FI Brotherhood"
Bradley "Smitty" Smith
Corporal USMC 87-91
1/24 Company C
The Only Time
I served with the USMC as a FMF Corpsman from 1960 to 1963. I was the lead sick call Corpsman for the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines 2nd Mar Div.
After college I intended to enlist in the Corps but learning that my career field, medicine, was not available in the USMC, I enlisted in the USN determining to request FMF as soon as eligible.
I studied hard and took advantage of all the classes available and when I had finished my term of shore duty I was an E-5 and more than qualified for duty as an Independent Duty Corpsman. My experience with 3-6 included being deployed during the Cuban Crisis and then a response to Haiti which was Dc'd.
Interesting is that the only time I was on a ship while in the Navy was with the Marine Corps.
I thoroughly enjoyed serving with the USMC as an FMF Corpsman and count those years as "special". I salute the USMC - "Semper Fi"!
John Brenner HM2 FMF
Fire for Effect: In Vietnam - Back to top
Coke For Sale
I had the pleasure of serving with SSgt Price in 1967 in 1st Plt Bravo 1 1 as his guide. He was a big, but gentle man. Remember he would cry when someone got killed or wounded.
On Operation Medina, as we were witing for choppers to fly us out into the jungle, I had a can of coke. I offered it for sale for $1, no takers. After that each day the price went up $1. At the end of 32 hard as- days, we were back at Quang Tria nd in plt formation. I offered up the coke for $32 and no takers.
I then opened the can of coke and took a drink, really playing it up how good it was. I handed it to Percy and he did the same thing. He then opened a can of sardines that he had carried the whole operation and with some c-ration crackers, he and I ate sardines and crackers and washed them down with coke.
Last time I saw him he was in DaNang NCOIC of a gym out by the big PX. I stayed with him about 4 days, sleeping in the gym. The booze we put away. D-amn. Lost track of him after that, but have the memory of being able to call him my friend Percy.
SGT DOYLE CLARK 61-69
NAM B-1-1 67 2ND CAG 68
Air Wing S-itters, Chu Lai
Shortly after the TET Offensive in 1968, I was given my choice of a 30 day detail for Guard Duty, Mess Duty or Police Duty at MAG-12 in Chu Lai. I knew about the first 2 so I decided on Police Duty.
Every morning we would burn off the s-itters by pouring diesel fuel in those 55 gallon drums that were cut in half. The highlight of that 30 day detail was gathering up all of the s-itters, loading them on a truck and taking them to a land fill where they were dumped.
The day we were to gather the drums in the Staff NCO area, local Vietnamese workers were erecting our new Rec Hut and had lots of palms and bamboo stored next to our staging area. Everyone was glad to be able to see our outdoor flicks under a thatched roof instead of an outdoor theater we called the "sand bowl."
We went to Motor T to check out a 6Xbye but all they had available was a dump truck. We all had just received our new Govt driver's licenses so the senior Marine Corporal among us checked out the vehicle and drove it to the staging area. Upon arrival, he raised the bed of the dump truck slightly to make it easier to load the drums, as the tail gate was angled up in the back.
We loaded 16 drums loaded with maggots and all and I could tell by the sour looks from the Vietnamese workers that they were glad to see us go. The Marine Corporal, who drove the truck there, hollered "Hays, get in and lower the bed!"
Not wanting him to think I didn't know how to operate a dump truck, I jumped in and was moving gears and popping the clutch in and out till I finally felt the bed moving. Unfortunately, I was raising the bed, not lowering it. Everyone was yelling at me but I couldn't hear them over the noise of the engine.
As the 16 drums rolled off, the contents began to run down a slope right towards the Vietnamese workers and their building materials. They were running around shouting and screaming, trying to get their materials and themselves out of the way of the flowing excrement. They were not entirely successful.
Hoping that our Navy Corpsmen might have some powder or something to sprinkle on it, they just laughed at me and said we had to shovel it! So what normally took a couple of hours, ending up taking the entire day and we all had to burn our jungle utilities afterwards. My name was mud for the next few days or I should say my name was S-ithead, as no one would go to the outdoor flicks.
MSgt, USMC, Retired
Fire for Effect: Tales from Boot Camp - Back to top
Smoking Lamp Is Lit
Boot camp MCRD San Diego 2nd battalion platoon 2100 1974. Fire watch 2am. with my grade/high school buddy Jack R. Patzsch (MGySgt). SSgt Campbell comes out for a smoke outside the squad bay. Calls us over for a sitrep, all is well.
We are the last 3 tier barracks west of the chow hall. When scurrying from between barracks to are left are 2 recruits making a dash for the fence towards the airport.
He looks at us, we look at him. Legs shakin' like two Dobermans staring at jackrabbits. Can we go get'm, Can we go get'm, PLEASE Can we go get'm. With a smile on his face he barks SIC'M! We are on the 3rd deck flying down the stairs. They never knew what hit them except an AB. If I have to be here so do you!
It felt as good as watching a smoking circle with Jack and I being the only ones not smoking. Sergeant. D.A. Jones hands us each a stick of gum and drops 1 pack of smokes/matches and commands "The smoking lamp is lit!".
RIP MGySgt Jack R. Patzsch 6jun94
L/Cpl David D. Pickrum
1942, 1952, 1974
Let me start by saying that enjoy reading your Newsletters and forward them to my Marine buddies that I am still in contact with.
The other day was my Mother's 73rd birthday. When I went to take her and my wife out to dinner, Mom had a surprise for me. My original platoon picture and the Graduation program from the Graduation ceremony. I was very glad that she had saved them, I had lost my platoon picture over the years, but was able to order a copy from MCRD San Diego.
Enclosed are a couple of pictures (see more) that I still have. The old picture is of my Grandfather, Ed Carroll, in 1942. The older Platoon picture is of my uncle's platoon, Blanton Kiser, in 1952. Keep on doing the Newsletter, it is good stuff.
06/03/74 to 09/12/75
05/20/80 to 05/20/84
Why is everybody screaming?
Why is everybody running?
What did I just get myself in to?
These were the questions that were bouncing around my mind as I ran and screamed and tried to get my head re-wired to my feet. The last six hours of sitting, trying to wrap my thoughts around my future had just exploded into a very real "right here" and "right now." I didn't know where I was running to, but apparently, I should have been there five minutes ago, and now I had five seconds to get there - and they being counted down by someone who was none too happy with my performance.
Last month, my brother and I were floating around pond as still as glass, under a sky that was muddy as the water. Frog gigging - which, for those of you who ain't in the know, is when you keep quiet, listen for bull frogs, float to them, shine a flashlight in their eyes to stun them, and stab them with a gig (a small pitch fork on a long pole). We'd bagged 17.
Now, standing on these yellow footprints, on what looked like the biggest asphalt parking lot ever, looking into blackness broken by the beams of flood lights, I had a new respect for what those frogs felt like. Giant, angry, men swarmed around us, all built like action figures, their uniform shirt sleeves wrapped around arms bigger than my thighs. I'm not sure what I'd done to p-ss them all off at once, but I wished I could fix it so they'd calm down. Seems they were upset just by my being on their "parade deck," which I understood because, troubled as they were, none of them wanted me gone as much as I did.
Last year, I'd told my father that I wanted to be Marine. I wasn't sure what I'd expected, but I'd watched his face go through a stack of emotions. He didn't speak, but I saw pride, worry, happiness, fear, guilt, and some sort of understanding pass, one by one, through his eyes.
"So - that's what you want to do?" He'd asked.
Without blinking, I'd answered, "Yes sir."
He'd said "Son, you do understand that those stories I tell - they are about my good times. There were as many bad as good, more maybe, but I don't speak on them." More quiet - and then, "There could be another war while you're in there. That means folks killing - dying - friends of yours - maybe you." He'd turned away before he said that last.
"Pop, folks die every day." I'd kept my voice from cracking, barely. "When my time's up, won't matter much where I'm standing. 'Til then, I can't be scared to do what's right." He couldn't argue it; he'd told it to me. Often.
I thought about that morning he'd picked me up from the principal's office. Tommy Cromwell had pushed a girl off a swing. She'd hit her head and started crying. The playground was covered in wood chips, but feet had dragged them from under the swings. The few chips left now hung in the little girl's ponytail, her head bobbing as her sobs caught in her chest.
There were teachers outside, but none saw it, or appeared to have. Tommy knew it. He'd glanced around to see, then smiled when no one noticed. The smile did it. Before I'd thought, I'd spun Tommy around and punched him in the mouth. He'd hit the ground and started crying too, blood from his lip mixing with the drool and tears, making things look worse than they were. Of course, everyone saw that part. Kids crowded in, hoping to get a look at Tommy bleeding and crying. Then Adult hands reached through, snatching me up by my collar. Tommy and the little girl went to the nurse; I was escorted to Mr. Ray's office.
I figured my dad would whip me, and his face confirmed it when he walked in. He and the principal, Mr. Ray, had gone behind the door and spoke for a minute. When Dad came out, his look was serious, but softer. Mr. Ray had talked to me, Tommy, and the little girl. I assumed he'd gotten the same story from her and me, though I was sure Tommy's was a bit different. Mr. Ray had told Dad what I'd done - and why.
In his van, going home, Dad chewed over the situation, still making his mind up. Finally, without looking over, he said, "What you did wasn't right, but your reasoning was. Big folks pick on small folks, and that's wrong. Sometimes, somebody needs to stand up for them. That's what you were doing." Quiet. Then, "Think on it. Figure a way you could have done something without getting yourself in trouble. Always try to think before you do." A little more chewing, then, "I won't whip you. I don't ever want you scared to try to do what's right." For the rest of the ride, I'd turned that phrase over, trying to catch it, wondering if I could have made Tommy catch it - without hitting him. I didn't think so. Still don't. If I could go back, I'd hit him harder.
Now, I wondered if Dad was thinking about that day too. There was plenty he wanted to say, but he'd pick through it to find what he meant, or he'd say nothing at all.
"Son, that's a hard road. I've w