Hi Sgt Grit,
This past July 22 was the 30th year since my graduation into our esteemed Marine Corps. I already had gotten a tattoo right after ITS, but it was not an eagle, globe and anchor. So feeling nostalgic I got this tattoo. If any of my fellow recruits from platoon 3043 in 1983 see this, find me on Facebook.
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Leading The Way
While waiting on my phone to be repaired, I had a long conversation with an Army warrior who had served in Iraq and was on full disability from an IED that took out his vehicle in Baghdad. After talking for a while, and swapping stories he understood that I had served many eons ago... and the only action I ever saw was bar fights in Oceanside.
When he had his repaired phone in hand and was walking out the door, I said "thanks for your service!" I received a quick reply, "thanks for leading the way."
That was the first time I had heard that response and thought it was worth passing on.
D.McKee, Cpl., '59-'63
Tall And Bold
Dear Sgt Grit,
I'm Sgt Guadalupe, a Marine Corps recruiter. I want to have one of the Marines I have put in recognized for this work of art he hand crafted in your magazine and or newsletter online. PFC Joshua Terry.
As you can see in the picture, he was inspired to become a Marine as a kid and made that into reality. During one of his college classes he was to create a piece of abstract art. Being in the delayed entry program awaiting boot camp he wanted to make something that would be Marine Corps related. As you look at the sculpture you see the Eagle standing tall and bold with his wings spread out and leaning forward as if he is ready to take on any challenge that presents itself. The earth is represented by a rock and surrounded by two metal spheres that symbolizes the world wide travels to protect the country we love. The Anchor that looks sharp, but yet gentle to touch, just like the Marines, we look sharp in uniform and were aggressive towards our enemy with the ability to cut through their defenses and yet be gentle enough at heart to stand tall and receive toys to be donated to kids in need, or help those who survive a natural disaster.
Make Sgt Grit your one stop shop for all of your Uniform Supplies such as medals, ribbons, and mounts. Mounting orders may take up to 7-10 business days to ship.
In response to "0311" (latest newsletter) asking about "Weapons Company" designation. His assessment of the Infantry battalion during the Korean conflict and on for a few years was correct. However, sometime between Korea and Vietnam, I do not recall the exactly date, the Corps made a change in the Battalion Table of Organization (T.O.) from three rifle companies with a Wpns. Co. and H&S Co. to four rifle companies and H&S Co. Under the old system "Weapons Company" contained the Heavy Machine Gun Plt. (water cooled .30 Cal.), 81mm Mortar Plt., and Assault Plt. (3.5" Rockets, Flame Throwers and two 50 Cal. MG's).
Under the new Battalion T.O., the designation was Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and H&S Companies. "H&S" now contained the 81mm Mortar Plt., 106mm RR Plt., and Assault Plt. (same weapons as before).
I served in I/5, Wpns. Co., 81mm Mortar Plt. 1950-51. in Korea. In 1965-66, I was with I/7, H&S (106mm RR Plt.) in Vietnam. I also made a return tour to RVN in 1968-69.
I hope this will be of some help for "0311". Keep up the good work brother!
C.R. Scroggins, GySgt. (Ret.)
Good mourning, another outstanding Grit newsletter. A reply to EAS 0311 about Weapons Co. When the MARINE CORPS went to 4 Rifle Cos to Bn H&S Co. it had the 81s and Anti-Tank Plts. I was a Section Ldr in 81s while in H&S Co 1st Bn 2nd Marines.
Semper Fidelis and keep up the good work!
R B Scott
After 46 years, I meet up with my old Marine buddy Sgt. John Benefield. We served together in Viet Nam with 3/26, 81's. '66/'67.
L/Cpl Rick Starkey
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I have been complaining about these two people for some time now about their Political correctness. Finally it seems that they have decided that they did not like where the Marine Corps was headed. Today I received the Marine Corps Times and I believe our Commandant has finally woke up. I heartily agree with the new uniform orders. "All Marines on duty will wear the Service A or B uniforms." NCOs back in the barracks. My guess is that most LCPLs and PFCs do not own a complete Service A uniform. If you had a junk on the bunk, I would be willing to bet that you would have a 95 percent failure rate. After the second bunk, any field grade officer would terminate the inspection and walk out.
I realize that we are still at war, but there are probably 130,000 Marines who are not at war, and there is no reason for them to not look like Marines. When a Marine is in the field, he needs to wear utilities, but when in the radio shack he should wear the service B uniform. I do not know who ever thought that a PFC or L/CPL could live in a barracks without any supervision or oversight, had to be living in LA LA land. I know that it seems that when I write that I am always complaining, I can b-tch at you, but Gen Amos will not talk to me.
Wait For It, Wait For It
Here comes the BOOM!
Getting Their Attention
Most Marines should remember the following from boot camp. All D.I.'s should know this in one form or another. "Thirty inches back to chest, lean back and strut, heels, heels, heels." While doing drill we yelled this at the herd to always remind them to keep their aliment, to look sharp and stand up correctly no slouching, and to dig in their heels to make that well know sound of a herd of recruits then Marines later as they marched. I read hear on in the newsletter that some Marines refer to the D.I. as a "hat" or being a "hat"? When did this start. I was always called a D.I. and I always referred to others on the field as D.I.'s. So not only when but why did the term of "hat" become the slang for a D.I.? I really do not care for the slang term because I was not a "hat", I was a D.I. and I earned that title just like I earned the title of Marine. I was really kind of hot about getting D.I. duty. I was just selected to receive my first rocker and I did not want to mess that up. So like a good Marine I did not attempt to turn down the orders or anything I just reported to D.I. School.
As I recall it was 6 or 8 weeks. It started out with the instructors kind of treating us like recruits again and that did not help matters. As a Marine I sucked it up and did as I was told. As time went on things got a lot better and I saw the reasons for the actions of the instructors. I graduated from D.I. School and went onto the field with the 1st Recruit Training Blt. It was tough duty and at that time with the number of herds that were being formed we were lucky to get to go home for more than a full day or one full night a week. It seemed that we were being moved around and what not to have D.I.'s for all of the new herds.
Then we had the platoon that gave up two of the D.I.'s. The recruits were right to do so because the actions of those two D.I.'s were way out of line. Burning recruits with cigs, chasing then with an M-16 shooting blanks at them, burning them with irons and many other things they did. I had hit some of them. I had told them how they had screwed up, or how they were not paying attention and I would pop them one in the chest. Never left a mark never hit them where it caused any damage or sever pain. That does not make hitting a recruit right and it was not. It was a violation of the U.C.M.J. and I could have faced the music just like the other two. For some reason the recruits did not include me in the reports and comments they made to the C.O. They never said anything about the times I did hit them. I guess because of the reasons given, no damage done and not hitting them where it would really hurt them. They did not say anything about it. I think they took what I did as getting their attention not trying to be just downright mean like the other two D.I.'s.
SSgt. Joseph E. Whimple
U.S.M.C 1970 / 1976
Thank you for helping me to recently connect with my past. It's been good to share with someone who was also there.
Yes! The swooping circle was always something to do on a weekend in Camp Lejeune in the late 60's. However, if you were with 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, and Col. Barber (as in The Last Detail of Fox Company and one of the great Marines) was the Regimental CO then you most likely had to wait for your Good Conduct Medal a little longer than you had planned. At least I needed to because swooping to the Western part of New York was not really practical no matter the size or power of the car or determination of the driver/riders.
Col. Barber was getting really feed-up with Marines coming in late from swooping and too tired for training the next day. But let's face it, what Marine doesn't love to raise to a challenge? I still do to this day. So any ways, we were "cut lose" late for liberty Friday afternoon. I "beat feet" for the swooping circle and find someone who is going my way. Well actually, he could drop me off about 80 miles from my home and I figure someone would come to get me. I was sure they would love to visit with me all of an hour or so. I mean, I wasn't going home to see the folks if you know what I mean. I had not been home in a while and "Suzie" (what was her last name?) would be there. So off we went! We had music and stories and snacks to share, and that really was most of the fun in swooping. On the way back was a little more difficult due to a successful weekend (actually one day). I "sh-t you not", we were 14 seconds late!
My presence was requested by Col Barber. I did my best to look good and did all the movements we were taught at P.I. without a mistake. But Col. Barber (a M.O.H. winner) was not impressed with my efforts to show him that I was one of the good Marines in his unit. For being 14 seconds late in getting back to Fox 2/2, I received 14 days restricted to the barracks. Did I mention that one of my personal motivations for swooping was because I found Camp Lejeune dull/boring on weekends. I'm sure that it's not like that now, but back then guys were getting in to some trouble out of the need for something to keep them busy on weekends. By the by, I never got upset with my punishment because I understood what Col Barber was trying to do. And that was keep us safe from going crazy swooping. Some places were just too far to go and too much of a challenge to get there. It also, slowed us down from trying. At least in Fox 2/2 it did.
Semper Fi (to the young and old)
Added some motivation to my fishing boat and POV with your Marine Corps decals.
Gy/Sgt. Lew Souder, USMC/Ret.
Accessorize your vehicle with our Marine Corps auto accessories at:
Decals, Bumper Stickers, License Plates and much more!
Trops and Khakis
I remember wearing the old lacquered EGA's on the collars of our trops and khakis. Yep, khakis. Anyway, the emblem was worn with the eagle's wings parallel to the collar top, and the anchor's tip pointing to the tip of the collar. A 'collar stay' was also worn. To look salty the stay was bent to make the knot of the tie (field scarf - I never did know why it was called that) protrude.
As for 'blues'. In the 50's, I hardly ever saw a set being worn. Maybe at a Marine Corps Ball. I was married in mine though. They were wool. I was married in July in the Illinois heat (105) and sweat completely through my jacket. As I said they were 'wool'. I never saw anyone wearing just the 'blues' trousers w/o a jacket. I know it is common today, but when did they start doing that?
I also think we at times we were allowed to wear our trops w/o a tie. Anyone remember what specifically class that was called. For example: dress class "C", etc.?
Also, when did the Corps do away with the 'Ike' jacket for greens? I wore mine every chance I got. As they say today I thought that was 'cool'.
Thanks for the memories... and Semper Fi. I never get tired of sayin that.
Sgt... '53-'63 USMC
Reading the latest newsletter I discovered an error in Sgt. Manos's article. A CH-53 is the Sikorsky Sea Stallion, not the Chinook which is the Boeing CH-47. The big difference is the CH-53 has a single main rotor while the CH-47 has twin main rotors.
The reason I know this is, after my tour of duty in the 50s (I spent a little time in Korea driving an ammo truck), I went to college under the GI Bill. The small college I went to existed on government checks with over 90 percent of the students going there were ex-GI's.
After completing college with a degree in mechanical engineering, I went to work for Sikorsky Aircraft. I had the pleasure to meet Igor himself. I ended up in the CH-53 project engineering office. My last official job there before I moved on was to sign off on all drawings that Sikorsky has complied with all military specs in the manufacture of each part. My signature is on probably on about 10,000 drawings.
I enjoy your newsletters, Semper Fi!
25 year NRA Firearms Instructor
Here is a picture of the new USMC chrome decal on the trunk of my new Chevy Impala. It accents the trunk lid nicely. Note the USMC plate frame from Sgt Grit, as well as the new Michigan MARINE license plate. I've received numerous compliments as a result.
SSgt of Marines
Get this auto accessory at:
USMC Chrome Auto Emblem
Hit Them On Green
I was stationed at Camp Lejeune from April 1948 to September 1951 - and I never heard the term 'swooping', but I sure did more 'commuting' than most could imagine. In fact there were only three weekends in that entire period that I did not make it to the 360 mile limit - Washington, D.C. - or maybe a little beyond.
My parents had taken delivery of a 1947 Buick Roadmaster just before I graduated in May 1947 and they gave me the older 1946 Oldsmobile as a graduation present. It was left at home when I went to Parris Island in January 1948. But after my boot leave I took it with me to Camp Lejeune.
There were two weekends that I had to fall out for drills and I was land locked at C.L. for the remainder of those weekends. But I made up my mind that this would not happen again. Saturday drills usually ended at about 1100 - and off I would go for the weekend - or what was left of it. And one weekend my car developed a whining sound in the rear end and I had to leave it up north for repairs. The dealer, a family friend, loaned me a 1942 Olds to get me back to base. My car had not been repaired before the next weekend so I sat that one out at C.L.
Every other weekend I went to Washington, D.C., Medford, N.J. (18 miles to the east of Philadelphia, Pa.), New York City, N.Y. or Simsbury, Conn. (about 100 miles north of N.Y.C. and almost 700 miles from C.L.).
My high school sweetheart had gone to New York City to do some modeling (She was a beauty). She lived with an aunt on the east side of the city. When I was driving the Olds she would take a Greyhound home on Friday evening and we had most of the weekend together.
In late 1948, I traded the Olds for a 1949 Hudson sedan and started driving to N.Y.C. each weekend. I would reach her home at exactly 0200 Saturday morning. She would have the sofa-bed ready for me to 'hit the rack'- and I would be asleep in a matter of minutes. She would get up at 0600 to go through her morning routine, and then she would wake me and we were off to her home in Mt. Holly, N.J. I would drop her off and head for my own home about 8 miles away. My mother would have breakfast ready when I arrived.
At 1400 on Sunday I would leave my home, pick up my fiance at her home and head for N.Y.C. We would have dinner at a really good restaurant and I would start the long trip back to C.L. I always had five Marines to pick up at specified times and places - in N.Y.C. it was at the USMC Recruiting Station in the middle of Times Square and in Washington, D.C. it was at the Servicemen's Lounge at 14th Street and New York Avenue. I NEVER had anyone fail to be at the pickup point on time.
I had a sister who lived in Granby, Conn. She screwed up and married a swab jockey. My grandmother lived across the street from her and I had a brother who lived in Simsbury, 8 miles south. My grandmother called me at C.L. to tell me that my sister's husband had beat her up - that she had a black eye and a bloody nose. Her brother would not do anything about it (He had a very sensitive position at the Ensign-Bick - Ford Corp. They were the inventors and sole manufacturers of 'Prima-Cord', a fuse of sorts that some of you may be familiar with.) She asked if there was anything I could/would do.
I talked with my sister and we made arrangements for her to leave her front door unlocked when she went to bed on Friday night. She told me that her husband had a loaded revolver in his night stand; that she would hide it when she went to bed. I had a fellow Marine that had been bugging me to take him to Meriden, Conn. the next time I went to Simsbury. After I dropped him off I headed for Granby. I pulled into my sister's driveway - with my lights out - right up to their car so the rat could not get away. I walked up to the front door, opened it, flipped the switch to turn on the lights, and the rat came running out of the bedroom. Within a matter of minutes he had not one - but two black eyes - and a broken nose - and I tossed him down the cellar steps. He got up, with blood all over his chest and shorts and decided that he better not come back up.
I told him that if he EVER laid a hand on my sister again he would not be able to climb the stairs because I would break both of his legs. I went down to my brother's home in Simsbury. It was 0330 when I arrived at my sister's house and 0355 when I arrived at my brother's house.
All of my weekends were quite pleasant - including that one to Granby. How could I afford them? Well, everyone that went with me would contribute to cover the expenses; $10 to Richmond, $15 to Washington, $20 to Philadelphia, $25 to N.Y.C. $30 to Conn. or $35 to Boston (The trips to Conn. and Boston were usually on long weekends). The vast majority of my trips - after I bought the Hudson - were to N.Y.C. and I drove about 1500 miles on those weekends.
Enlisted personnel were not allowed to leave the base on Friday until 1600 so they would line up on the right side of Holcomb Blvd. starting at the crossover to Paradise Point. This line of cars was usually two to three miles long by 1600 - and on long weekends almost back to the traffic circle.
Back in those days there were only three traffic lights between C.L. and Petersburg, Va. - one each in Jacksonville, Kinston and Scotland Neck, N.C. At 1600 these cars would go through the gate non-stop until all had left the base. When approaching the light in J'ville there were a couple of policemen standing under the light. When this stream of cars approached they would ignore the light and wave them straight through or permit them to turn left to go south or turn right to go north until all had passed this point.
The next two lights could be seen a couple of miles away and by adjusting your speed you could hit them on green. So, when you left the base you would rarely come to a halt until you reached Petersburg some 200 miles distant. I would plan to reach this point at exactly 2000, and this is when a lovely waitress at a restaurant at that intersection would come out and listen for me to tap my horn. The number of taps would tell her how many of those in my car wanted 2 cheeseburgers deluxe, a shake and a pile of fries. She would have them cooking while I left my car at the American gas station across the way for their excellent full service.
The items at the restaurant would cost a total of $1.80 and we paid her $2.00. (Tips in those days were 10 percent). Her total tips from those in my car were probably her biggest of the day.
When we went back to the service station to get the car they would have checked the tires and oil and washed the windows - all of them - and this one will puzzle many of you - they filled the water bottle that fed the Ganes Air Flow Needles at the base of the carburetor. This little gadget enhanced the performance of what was already known to be the fastest car on the road. After I paid them they would always hand you one of their cards and tell you to hold it in your hand until you had passed Colonial Heights a couple of miles north. That was the only speed trap I ever encountered. The speed limit through this bump-in-the-road was 20 MPH, and if you exceeded 18 MPH you were sure to be stopped. They did not give you a ticket - they took you in to their station to write you up. Usually it was required that you post an $80 bond for an appearance in their court. The reason for the card was so that if you did not have the $80 you could call the service station and they would send someone up with the cash to keep you out of jail. Then you could repay them the next time you came up. (That is what you call FULL SERVICE.) It has been said that the huge City Hall in the middle of this two miles stretch was bought and paid for by the Marines from Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point and soldiers from Fayetteville. This is a distinct possibility.
Needless to say those of us who risked life and limb to make these trips were always a mile or two above the speed limit and you learned quickly what to look out for. The majority of police cars were Fords, but in N.C. the State Police drove Buick Specials which G.M. upgraded with Roadmaster engines, brakes, etc. They were fast, but there was no way they could catch a '49 Hudson. When I was returning to base early on Monday morning it was not too uncommon for me to get one of them behind me between Kinston and J'ville, and the chase was on. It was easy for me to keep ahead of them and the light in J'ville was always in a flashing yellow mode. I would slow down, make my turn and head for the gate. Since the guards slept in my squadbay all I had to do was flash my lights and be waved through the gate. They did not have to stop the police car; they were not allowed to enter the base and made no attempt to do so.
This was before there was a Delaware River Bridge and unless you wanted to go thru Wilmington and Chester your only alternative was the Pennsville-New Castle Ferry and as you can guess it was quite busy on Sunday evening. You could get on the end of a line of cars long enough to make you late to C.L. or as a nice gentleman at the gate told me - I could go around the block and come up to the gate and flash my lights. He would take a couple of cars from the line and wave me in. I would slip him $1.00 and save 3 hours' time. And this way took you past Dempsey's Diner, an Amish run facility that had a specialty of ham and eggs. You had 3 choices - a full center cut slice of ham (about 5/8" thick) with up to a half dozen eggs and a pile of home fries for $6.95; 2/3 slice with up to 4 eggs for $4.95; or 1/3 slice with 2 eggs for $2.95. Believe me, this was good and quick eating.
I was deeply involved in the transfer of the 2nd Marine Division (Rein-forced) from Camp Lejeune to Riverside, Calif. in July 1950 and there was an incident worth noting, but it will make this newsletter a bit too long - so I will have to keep you in suspense till next time.
The old, real old, real, real old (84) Master Gunny.
Harold T. Freas, SR.
(26JAN48 TO 4AUG60)
Younger Guys Doing PT
See pic of Rick in November 2011 at the USMC Ball at Quantico (Rick is '77-'80). As a high tech Remedy installer he's worked at Dumfries and KC (in the same building he'd worked in 30 years prior as a Marine), but this time he was actually placed on Quantico. He was thrilled to have to stop for colors, and enjoyed seeing all the younger guys doing PT. Being on the road so much (only home every other weekend because that's the only contract he could get that would support us) he was also eating out 'so much'! Then after seeing the young Marines for a while he thought, "I'm a slob!" so he started watching his weight and utilizing his hotel's gym. He's worked very hard and looks amazing with this nice 6 pack now.
Very Proud Wife and Mother of United States Marines!
D-Day Plus 20
I read Gy. Sgt. F. L. Rousseau's very interesting story of his experiences in three wars as it brought many memories of my one war life.
My brother and I joined the Marine Corps in July, 1942, he was 17, I was 19 years old, went through Boot Camp, wanted to go into the Raiders who were fighting on Guadalcanal, instead, half our platoon went to the Raiders the other half went to Service and Supply. We were in the Supply outfit, disappointed but later happy about it. Spent 19 days aboard the Bloemfontein, a Dutch cattle ship with painted-over cow poop on the bulkheads. The boat was so slow we began the trip with ships as far as you could see, but after a few days there was only us with a small Navy destroyer as escort, ran out of chow half way there, one half meal per day, starving when we reached Noumea, New Caledonia, I ate three big Spam sandwiches after a 5 mile hike to our camp. Stayed at New Caledonia about 1-1/2 years supplying Raiders at the Canal and other places until Okinawa was coming up. We shipped to Guadalcanal for 6 months, everyone volunteered to go to Okinawa as a unit. Landed there D-Day plus 20, lost a Marine getting off ship while the sea was so rough the landing boat was at times above the ship and vice versa.
The Marines had to jump when possible into the boat, this one Marine misjudged and fell between the two, never learned what happened with him. The only type of combat we saw was Kamikaze planes diving into ships, shrapnel falling all over, but that was enough for us to be thankful we never got in the Raiders.
When we joined the Marines every other one was a Reservist, the next was Regular (4 years enlistment), my brother was a Reservist, got out after about 3 years, I discharged after 4. We decided to move to Los Angeles from Indiana, drove our '35 Chevrolet to LA, went to Unemployment office for job, had to step over veterans waiting in line to sign up for the 52/$20 weekly check. Some were laying down because of the long wait. We never had to sign up for that because there were plenty of jobs, we had 5 different jobs in 5 days, a different check for each day, until we found the job we wanted running punch presses in a little factory making small area heaters. Stayed there about 5 months, saved our pay check, sold our Chevy and took a Greyhound bus to Indiana, took 5 days and people on board carrying chickens in cages made it quite an interesting trip.
I did a 5-year apprenticeship at the local newspaper, got my card moved to LA in 1956, Sacramento in 1960, retired 1990, turned 90 in March, and still going, but not as strong as when I went to the Marine Corps. Although I do go to the Marine Corps League meetings each month.
Thanks GySgt. Rousseou for bringing back some memories, mostly good ones.
Sgt. Billy Fox
USMC 1942-1946, 423xxx
Life Is Tough
"Life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid"
--John Wayne, Sand of Iwo Jima, 1950
Twice In A Year
Oh, how I loved my Sr. Drill Instructor! No, not while attending the University of Parris Island from September to December of 1952. In fact, I and every other member of Platoon 529 of the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion despised him with a passion. I recall one of those clandestine meetings of the mind in the barracks one evening, i.e., talking among ourselves which was a no-no, as to how we could eliminate him from the ranks of the living. After all, we had been receiving training in hand-to-hand combat and we felt any one of us could effectively "do the job" should we run into him in Korea (the war was still going on). But, I digress.
Fast forward to reaching the level of seniority in age. You have come to realize over the years how well boot camp training prepared you not only for combat and military life, but for survival in the civilian world regardless of your profession. My chosen profession was law enforcement and believe me, PI training prepared me well for all the jobs I held in that work. Not only was I able to survive the rigors of policing for nigh onto 40 years, but in all my other endeavors, be it community work, family life, obtaining an education, and yes, even into retirement, our senior drill instructor prepared us extremely well. Well enough that for over 50 years I tried diligently to locate the man so I could thank him for everything he did to make a Marine and man out of a scared, naive, innocent young farm boy.
Advertising in various Marine Corps magazines and journals, calling and writing different Marine Corps organizations and associations over those years trying to locate the man resulted in a lot of goose eggs. I finally concluded he must have left this world and was pulling his duty at the Pearly Gates. Then, lo and behold, last September as I was advertising a 60th year platoon reunion at Parris Island viz-a-viz numerous military resources (including Sgt. Grit's great weekly newsletter), I received a phone call about two weeks before the reunion was to start. A quiet, unassuming voice asked if I was the man organizing the reunion. I replied I was and this quiet voice (believe me, it was not quiet in 1952 by any means!), said "This is Sergeant Johnson." I came d-mn close to a cardiac arrest as I told him that I would love to meet him face to face, not to bury a bayonet in his craw, but to thank him profusely for the things he taught me 60 years earlier.
From that telephone conversation came a trip from Marietta, GA where I live to an itty-bitty town in Iowa where he and I had a great four hours together reminiscing about the Marine Corps (I guess you could say it was "the old Corps" in this case) and most particularly, boot camp. Granted, he did not recall any of the particular stories I related about Platoon 529 because he had taken many, many other platoons through. But war stories aside, we both benefited tremendously from this short visit as I finally had the chance to thank him personally and he said that out of the almost 1,000 Marines he trained, only one had ever gotten in touch with him. And that was watachi-wa.
There is more to the story, though. In Sgt. Grit's weekly newsletter of two weeks ago, somebody submitted a class photograph from Parris Island upon graduation two weeks before I arrived there in September, 1952. Who was the Senior Drill Instructor? My hero - SSgt. Johnson no less. Almost 60 years of trying to find the SDI and suddenly, twice in a year, he has returned to my life. Thank you, SSgt Johnson and thank you Don for publishing this story.
Trouble With His Lunch
I was recently at the VA Medical Center, Salem, Va. and notice that more often than not a Marine will be wearing something to show their pride in the Corps and their service. I have 6 covers myself and always put one on when leaving the house. But more than showing our colors, I notice that you can count on receiving a number of handshakes or a pats on the back or a Semper Fi from fellow Marines as you walk through the center. The other branches of the military don't seem willing to do that for each other; even when they are wearing a cover or shirt or whatever that identifies their service. I wonder why?
The other thing is being stopped by a fellow Marine and telling stories. My wife and I were in Portland, Or. visiting our son a few weeks ago. We were at one of the many beautiful places to see there when this gentleman came up to me and said "you can always tell a Marine, but not much." My response was, "that's because they tell you everything you need to know before you leave boot camp." We exchanged stories about the different stations we were posted at. We had the same MOS (0341), so we recognized each other's intelligence and talked about how different our training was and how good we were with mortars. It's not bragging if you can do it. I guess we stood there talking for a few minutes because my wife and son were done shopping and ready to go. They thought we must have known each other when we were active Marines by how open and friendly we were with each other. I just explained that each Marine is a friend you haven't met yet. Actually, I have had this experience several times through years and I'm sure other Marines can say the same thing.
Last insightfulness I promise! In my dealing with the consequences of having connected with Agent Orange, I sometimes have more pain than the brain can deal with. On several occasions, I have been running errands and feeling kind of down because of the pain. But once I hear "Semper Fi" from one of my brothers (sisters), I truly can't help myself, I feel uplifted by it. I've been able to do this for others at the VA Medical Center. Example, this "Old Corps" Marine was having trouble with his lunch. He had dropped some of his food on the floor and the wheelchair was making it difficult for him. I put my cover back on and went over and cleaned up the mess for him. At first, he started to apologize for what had happen but once he saw my cover he seemed to know that it was alright - just one Marine helping another. What else would you expect but one Marine helping another - his pride was still in place.
I shared these stories so that if you ever wonder does it really make a difference to offer that faithful handshake or that "Semper Fi" salutation. The answer is a big YES. You might just make that person's day a bit better to deal with. Besides, this behavior seems to be something that only Marines seem to understand and willing to do for each other.
Semper Fi (until we die)
Robert H. Bliss
1968 to 1978
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #6, #9, (SEP., 2016)
As one can assume the party that I talked about in the last Issue was not the only time that we gathered to celebrate just the fact that we were all alive, but we did so for the companionship. It seemed like every week there were two or three divorces. This meant that there were a lot of guy's not operating at 100 percent due to personal problems. So, our parties often provided an outlet for the guy's going thru the stress of a breakup in their lives. But, this isn't what I wanted to talk about in this issue. It's more about my good friend Willy.
Remember the part at his place and the Myna Bird well, Willy was involved in the initial Taste Testing of the keg and I'm sure that his thoughts and commitments were to not allow any of us young MARINES to get that "almost too good" beer into our systems and then get sick, so he stepped forward and drank as much as he could to SAVE US from those perils! What a leader! This happened on the second day of this muster at Willy's in the afternoon. We delivered the first keg on Friday Afternoon and broke ranks about 2300 hours. The expected delivery time for the second keg was to be 1000 the next day. The delivery was on time and target as planned. Every one was expected to attend the second days festivity and I think they did. Willy again seemed to feel the need to save us all from the perils of to much Beer and in doing so probably drank a little too much himself. The extra weight of all the Beer in his system caused his Landing Gear (legs) to want to collapse so he navigated and managed to maneuver to the couch and crashed there without any further problems. Doris (his Wife) was quick to see that he was not in a very comfortable position and with assistance from some of the attendees turned him on his back, and put a pillow under his head. Now, It just so happened that one of the guys brought a Large (about 3 feet) Pepperoni stick to be cut up for the snack tray later in the day, well, someone saw it laying on the kitchen table and it was uncut at the time. Apparently the wheels started to turn and he brought it in and placed it vertically between Willy's legs and Doris placed his hands around it. All of a sudden flash bulbs were going off and everybody was taking pictures of Willy's Willy! Naturally, the next day was not a good one for him and it reflected on his attitude and especially his thoughts of those that were involved. Doris would not give up the names of anyone!
Always Plead Senility
When I first met CWO-(?) Don Guisto, in 1966, I had been a 2ndLt about 24 hours. As the most recent officer to join H&S Company, 1st Tank Bn, at Chu Lai, with typical Corps methodology of fitting pegs to holes, it was determined that I would be Gus' replacement... as the Bn MTO... a fitting assignment for one who the previous dawn had awakened as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant in K/3/5, and less than a click away, in a different world. (the fact that I had graduated from Tracked Vehicle Maintenance School while in an Ontos unit some eight years earlier might have had something to do with it...).
Fast forward to August of 1969, beginning of a second tour, and Quang Tri... checking in to Maintenance Company, FLSG-B, where the peg/hole methodology held true, and I got to be the company Admin O... (this happened because my predecessor in the job, and a classmate from the Ordnance O-course took one look at my OQR and advised that I would be his replacement, because the Major CO had promised him that the next officer to join with a GCT over 110 would be his relief... thanks, Banacek, wherever you are...)... and the XO/Operations O was (now) Captain Guisto.
The M151 series jeep, known to doggies as a "MUTT" (Mobile Utility Tactical Truck, 1/4 ton, or some such), had an interesting life-cycle maintenance plan, in that it was never intended to undergo 'Depot Maintenance', which is an absolutely total re-manufacture of, for example, a vehicle. The M-151 did not go beyond 4th echelon maintenance (Depot being 5th echelon), but would be cannibalized, or would be the recipient of cannibalized parts, and would be returned to service, the donor vehicle(s) eventually being reduced to scrap (one of the reasons the model is relatively rare in the military surplus market... and it's a pretty fair off-road ride, IMHO). This meant that in a unit with a motor transport maintenance platoon of over a hundred mechanics, that there were a few bootleg jeeps running around (most of the MT Maint Plt SNCO's had no trouble getting a ride to what passed for a PX...). Camouflage plastic seat covers (courtesy of the Leather & Textile repair folks in General Supply Maintenance... AKA "Stitch & B-tch"), wooden console boxes between the front seats, brass T-handle shift knobs (from the machine shop van), silver pin-striping around the gauge dials... just those little personalization details. Gus had one of these... and since as the last guy in, I had drawn what was left from the 'organic' motor pool... a M37 3/4 ton PC (not cool... not cool at all... until the monsoon season... when the top and windows precluded a day-long session of itchy-b-tt from having sat on a wet canvas seat on the way to work... he who laughs last, etc...).
Anyway, Gus was going on R&R, so I asked if I could borrow his jeep while he was gone? He said he'd be taking it with him down to DaNang, so I asked if he had finalaged a ride in a C-130. When he told me he was going to drive down to DaNang, I figured he was nuts... turned out that at the time, the highway was fairly secure, good asphalt, and the bad guys weren't expecting a single vehicle on cruise control (it had one... t-handle throttle... pull it out all the way to WFO... really intended for landings, fording, etc...)... actually drove it myself alone a couple of times later on as the 3rd Div was moving out, and FLSG-B was moving south. (last trip was not a smart choice... another story for another time...).
We eventually re-located to Red Beach, and Gus became the XO or Ops O of FLC's H&S Bn Truck Company... a unit with more equipment than a standard MT Bn! Gus had gloss Marine Corps Green paint on his (generally a no-no)... and (CG. FLC) General Padalino's jeep, was of course, quite shiny. I ran into Gus at the O'mess one lunch time, and expressed my opinion that he would become an inmate at Portsmouth Naval Prison when he got caught... he wasn't concerned... seems that with the magic of yellow decal numbers, his (bootleg) jeep just happened to have the same serial number as the General's... dunno what eventually happened to that jeep, do know that the five I wound up with were disposed of by sending two to the LSU at Baldy, two to An Hoa, and the fifth was just left un-locked at the Freedom Hill PX (lasted less than an hour there...). Gus, I think, eventually retired as the I-I of a 4th Division Motor T unit in Abilene, TX... and if the statute of limitations hasn't passed yet, I can always plead senility...
I still have the scars on my chest from sleeping with my John Wayne on my dog tags and waking up with the point stuck in my chest. Once I woke and found both chest hairs were matted together with blood. Hey, cut me some slack. I was only 18 at the time and I was lucky to have two.
Sgt of Marines
Today we buried another Marine brother who served as a code talker during WW2, his name is Nelson Draper Sr., he was one of the last code talkers left and was real proud of his service to his country. His younger brother, Teddy, still lives on the Navajo Nation and is also getting up there in age. Nelson made Barstow, Ca. his home and was buried here with full military honors. He was a great man with a beautiful family who will always be remembered.
Finally getting around to re-subscribing to the most kick azs newsletter offered on the WWW.
Adapt, Improvise and overcome.
I remember Log Drills & Bucket Drills (summer of '62). While I don't have much about Log Drills stored in the old brain cage, Bucket Drills is a totally different story. I hated those b'stids and dreaded reporting to that area with bucket in hand. Remember Bucket Drills? Oh yeah, just like it was yesterday.
If I recall our emails correctly, we were both at MCRD San Diego at the same time, although you were a Drill Instructor in (I think) 3rd Battalion and I was a maggot in 1st Battalion. Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end.
Cpl. Jerry D.
Old Corps. New Corps.
There's nothing like the Marine Corps.
The Army doesn't have CH-53's, they and the Coast Guard are the only branches that don't have 53's. The Army has CH-47 Chinook's. The ARNG still has a few CH-54 Sky cranes and they would never be used to carry troops.
On this date 3 October 1958, I hit Parris Island.
The first night, S/Sgt Thomas M. Truax, told us quote: "You may forget your mother's name, you may forget your father's name, but you will never forget mine!" end quote.
Fifty five years later, he was right...
With reference to the letter about the Korean "War". Maybe you now know why it is called "the forgotten war". I was in Korea from Nov. 7 of 1950 to Nov. 1951. I am a member of the "Chosen Few". I was nominated for the Navy Cross and Sliver Star. We don't talk about it much, but there are times we won't forget and this is true of all who saw combat.
"It is mostly a matter of wills. Whose will is going to break first? Ours or the enemy's?"
"Be the hunter, not the hunted: Never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down."
--General James Mattis
"In the beginning of a change, the PATRIOT is a scarce man, and brave and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it cost nothing to be a PATRIOT."
--Mark Twain 1904
"It's a funny thing, but, as years go by, I think you appreciate more and more what a great thing it was to be a United States Marine... I am a U.S. Marine and I'll be one till I die."
--Ted Williams, Baseball Hall of Famer
"Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, what should be the reward of such sacrifices? Bid us and our posterity to bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plow, sow and reap to glut the avarice of men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude more than the animating contest of freedom-go from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
"When the people fear the government, ther is tyranny; when the the government fears the people, there is liberty."
"Every day is a holiday. Every meal is a banquet. Every night is a Saturday night. And every formation is a family reunion. Why would anyone NOT want to be a Marine."
"Shoot - Move - Communicate!"
"Scr-w with the Best, you go down with the Rest!"