10 years ago I built the caboose as a yard ornament. Badly weathered it was time to be rebuilt. I decided to make it honor the Marine Corps. People seem to like the change from the former R.R. motif. I served in the Corps from 1946-1952.
Dog Tag Of The Korean War
In a recent letter, one lad asked about Dog Tags. But in the old, old days one of the Sergeants or Officers went back over the battle field to identify the Dead, or the Dead were just buried without concern for the identity. During the "Cold Harbor Battle" of the Civil War, men on both sides sewed their name and address on their coats so they could be identified and the family informed of their Death. I'm sure it happened more often than not.
The first Government issue Dog Tags during WWI were round. You were issued two round discs about one inch in diameter during boot camp. There was a metal stamp kit that had metal letters of the alphabet, a metal block and a small hammer. Each man had to stamp his name on the Dog Tags and hang them around their neck with a length of leather thong or shoe string.
Then during WWII the Government issued Dog Tags and I understand it started some time in 1930's. The Army had oval about an inch and a quarter long. The Navy/Marine Corps were a bit more than round as you can see by my Dog Tag from the Korean War (I lost my WWII Dog Tags when I got out after the War).
There was Tetanus Shot date, your Religious preference, and of course name and serial number, and during WWII it was marked USMC or USMCR. An interesting note on Dog Tags, at a Gun Show after I retired, a guy came to my table and handed me a USMC Dog Tag with the name on it and it had the fingerprint on the back. He told me he bought something from Japan and the Dog Tag was inside the item. He gave it to me to see if I could find the owner, so I believe I sent the data to "Leatherneck" magazine and they found the owner who had been a POW in Japan and somehow his Dog Tag was lost while there.
Here's my Dog Tag of the Korean War which is on my key chain along with my Vietnam War Dog Tag.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
The Reunion And A Wedding
The Marines of 1969 MCRD San Diego, Platoon 1066 met in Branson, MO once again for our sixth annual reunion on 4-8 June 2014. We were again joined by our two Drill Instructors and their lovely wives. In addition to excellent shows and camaraderie, the highlight of our five days together was my marriage to Denise on 6 June at the Stonegate Glass Chapel. At our wedding banquet on Saturday night all of the great items so generously donated by SGT GRIT were distributed to the attendees to everyone's delight.
On behalf of the platoon and this old Marine, I would like to thank you for once again being a very special part of our reunion. Everyone so looks forward to this each year. The two Marines with drawn swords in the attached photos are GYSGT Tony Gatling (my Best Man) and CPL Tom Rogers. Finally, one of our platoon members, SGT Kenneth Fielder shared with us photos of the magnificent shadow box display of his medals and awards that SGT GRIT had recently put together for him.
Bob Deal '69-'75 MOS 1371
Proud Member of PLT 1066 - "Honor Platoon"
Private - What was the best scr-wing you ever got? Be truthful numbnuts!
Sir, when I joined the Marine Corps Sir!
DI to disgruntled recruit at chow: "Senor Shitb-rd, do you understand the chow may not be fit for pigs, but it is sure fit for you Marines!
One recruit could not climb the rope - soooo the DI took a bayonet and poked him in the b-tt to motivate him. Eventually he got up rope, but one day he went to the hospital for a high fever and the doctors saw the bruised b-tt of his. He was asked what happened - the dumb sh-t told a Navy Captain it was Divine Intervention because he scr-wed up? Captain went to some Colonel and complained and the recruit was a hero of the DIs for not ratting them out! We had a few scr-w ups who got many free passes for keeping their mouths shut - they were worked harder and we helped them - as we all wanted to be Marines!
We were called girls all the way through boot camp - and on graduation day after we passed in review - our Senior DI dismissed us by saying, "Ladies fall Out!" My proudest moment!
Vietnam ERA Marine
It's The Only Thing
Regarding the question of WWII round dog tags, when I enlisted, in July 1951, I was issued round dog tags. We wore two round dog tags, one on a long chain and another on an attached short chain. At some point (can't remember when) we were issued the rectangular dog tags with a notch in one end. Later on came a similar dog tag without the notched end.
Being a Marine isn't everything... it's the ONLY thing.
Gerald T. Pothier
Capt. USMC (Ret)
60 Foot Jump
In recent letters, ship's "cargo nets" have been mentioned. I would like to tell you of a different "cargo net" story.
Sometime between Sept. and Nov. 1964, I was on the Navy ship, AGC-7, Mt. McKinley, cruising off the coast of South Vietnam in the South China Sea. I was with 1st. Comm. Supt. Co., Hdqtrs. Bn, 3rd. Mar/Div. (Rein). We were attached to the 9th MEB.
We had aboard a 2-star Admiral, (in charge of the flotilla), and a 1-star Marine General, (in charge of 9th MEB Marines). You Marines that have ever been on a Navy ship know of the stifling heat in the bunking areas where Marines are billeted. And you remember the scorching weather of the South China Sea during those years.
After many weeks of cruising up and down of the coast of South Vietnam, the Admiral, and the General, (probably with some staff input) decided that Marines, and Sailors, (not on watch), could go for a swim in the South China Sea. The ship dropped anchor, 4 life-boats with Marines and their M14s, were put on shark patrol, and cargo nets were put over the right side of the ship.
With the heat, the 60-foot jump into the ocean was so cool and fantastic!
The climb back up the cargo nets without pack and rifle was very easy for the first 6 feet... then it became a usual cargo net climb, six guys climbing parallel to you, the net moving back and away due to the ship's movement, and guys not in unison, and the fact that we were barefoot, and in our skivvies.
After the third jump, I said, "No way am I climbing up that net again", and I returned to the berthing furnace.
Sgt. '62 to '68
The Lieutenant Distinguished Himself
Hello, Sgt. Grit,
There was a 1st Lt. Brophy (sp.?) an Aerial Observer, who used to ride with those LOHs and spot artillery at H.Q. Battery, 11th Marines. The Lt. was quite excellent in his role, as I remember hearing. He distinguished himself in two ways which I remember clearly.
1. He would tote an M-14 with him on his missions. When the opportunity allowed, he'd have the pilot zip low enough to put M-14 rounds on the V.C. The Word had it, as I recall, that he'd radio back to FDC and report having dinged a VC, or two.
There was an officer in our FDC who was senior to Lt. Brophy, and he would accuse Lt. Brophy of lying about his M-14 kills.
2. Very soon after my arrival to 11th Marines, Lt. Brophy went up on a mission. Came across a VC or two, fleeing the chopper. Dove down, shot one, and radioed FDC about the kill. That skeptical senior officer, it was said, again called him a liar...
Down the hill in the Comm section word quickly spread: "Get up to the LZ and check it out!" Don't recall who all dashed up there, but just off the LZ lay the corpse of an unlucky VC, bullet holes very apparent (one of my first snapshots In Country!). The Lt. had been called a liar by that other officer, so the Lt. had the pilot set down his bird, lashed his latest victim to a skid and carted his dead self-back to 11th Marines for any doubters to see. Word had it that Lt. Brophy was never again accused of lying about his kills.
Memory says Lt. Brophy was shot badly while flying a mission early in the '69 Tet activities in our AOR. Perhaps you R.O.s had note of it in your Bullsh-t Log? I recall he was rumored to have had a tracheotomy during treatment pre-medivac, and in true John Wayne fashion asked for a smoke... the lit cigarette then was held over his open neck incision so he could inhale his smoke. Do any of you Lads recall hearing that?
Sgt "Junior" / Doug Helmers
I'm always up for military history in my travels. Several years ago on vacation with the family we found the USS Texas, now a museum ship.
Attached are a couple of photos about the formation of the 1st MarDiv. The 1st MarDiv. guys probably already know this and have been there but for the rest of us... a little more history.
Robert J. Bliss
'63-'67 in country '65-'66
Ended Up On Ulithi Islands
"What did you do during the War?" This was a title for a movie, books and stories that always come with an answer.
Let me tell you a story of something that happened to me during WWII. Because I was only seventeen and looked much younger I was often transferred. For some reason I ended up on Ulithi Islands awaiting transfer to somewhere else. There was an ship with smoke coming from it and people took off afraid the ammo aboard might explode. Now on the Ulithi Island of Mog Mog, you couldn't go very far. Due to my innocence or gullibility or what, my friend and I went to the ship, there were two men working on it and they were leaving. One was working in the hold loading ammo boxes on an elevator and sending them up. The other guy took the boxes from the elevator and then he removed the boxes so they could be placed on barge next to the ship. The smoke was coming from the opposite side of the ship where the ammo was so I went aboard with my friend and went down in the hold and started loading ammo into the elevator and sending it up to my friend on the deck.
It was hot as H-ll in the hold, not so much due to the fire as to being in the middle of the South Pacific where it does get hot and Ulithi is near the Equator so the guy in the hold came up for a breath of fresh air and to get cool in the 95 or higher temperature outside. A Navy Lieutenant came over and watched for a while and took our names, rank and serial numbers. Someone relieved us a while later and we went back to our tent.
The next day we were given Letters of commendation and we were thrilled to have done something we weren't punished for. Later things were not so calm and our records were blown up or lost or something and the Letters of Commendation became a thing of the past to talk about to our skeptical mates like we were weaving a tale of near heroism.
Like so much we hold onto and never, never tell anyone, this story belongs where it is, in my memory of long ago at an Island where people still say, "WHERE?"
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
Jones Beach Marines putting the Poolee recruits through the paces... 6/7/14.
Thanks for the always interesting info and particularly the Dave Baker post r.e. USS Fremont (APA-44). I traveled on Freddy Fremont in the early 60's while a member of BLT 1/2. We were on the scheduled Med Cruise (6 months). Prep for amphib assault landing in a Pappa boat, we started down the nets making sure we held on to the vertical ropes (so you didn't step on someone's hands or be stepped on) and made it to the bottom.
Prior to going, in the early a.m., the great mess hall had prepared beef strog(enough), peas and mashed potatoes for energy while riding the waves. We traveled a distance and then circled the boats prior to going in waves to the beach. One of my brothers-in-arms had turned a lived green, made it to the opposite side, leaned over and would have put a fire hose to shame. Straight out for a foot or so and the wind dispersed all without hitting anyone.
Just a note to let all know that mere mention of a ships name can bring back memories. Thanks Dave and Thanks my Brothers.
MGySgt E-9 198xxxx
HqBn (Comm) 1/2 1961-1991
1stLt. Presley N. O'Bannon USMC
Fred S. Stoki standing by the location marker signifying that just north of the marker is the birthplace of 1stLt. Presley N. O'Bannon. 1stLt. O'Bannon was the first American to command U.S. forces on foreign soil and the first to raise the American flag over a fortress in the Old World. His success at the Battle of Derne, Tripoli (present day Libya), on 27 April 1805, ended a four-year war against the Tripoli pirates and inspired the phrase "to the shores of Tripoli" in the Marines' Hymn.
Operation DeckHouse I, 1966
My good friend Ken, seated on the mine plow of an LVT E-1, which was the engineer version of the LVT P-5 family. This one was sited on a bluff as a museum piece at 21 Area, also known as Del Mar area at Camp Pendleton. Ken and I had gone there for a 1st Marine Division Anniversary observation... probably 2005. This is most likely the tractor that Ken was assigned to when in 5th Amphibian Tractor Bn, circa 1969. Even though it is ahhh... 'secured'? we were able to somehow (and we ain't telling how) get inside the thing... bits and pieces have disappeared over the years, including the driver's 'joystick'... most likely to have been made into a plaque for some old salt's retirement. The mine plow is folded in the picture... there are 'wings' on each flank that fold out for plowing up mines on the beach. From memory, this thing has a fuel-injected, twin supercharger, liquid-cooled gasoline V-12, 1,790 cubic inches... 1,080 HP at the flywheel. Crew used to snuggle down on top of the line charges ('bout a ton of C-4, linked on a rope) to catch some Zs...
From The DISBURSING CHIEF
(Vol #6, #3)
August 4th, 1950. I was granted an early discharge, CofG for the sole purpose of reenlisting for a six year period. I was given Form DD-214. At 1300 I was sworn in for another 6 years. I took my Form DD-214 to the Enlisted Payroll Office where I was paid to date, including unused leave, plus $100 MOP and $360 reenlistment bonus. When added to what I had in my wallet I had more than $1000 for the first time in my life. I was going on a 15 day leave and I was going to leave with the most beautiful woman in the world. Tell me, what more could a man ask for? She should be here at 1500. I was on 'pins and needles'.
At 1455 I got a call from someone in another office that could see her arriving 'in a long white limo' as he described it. I went down to meet her. If I had thought she was beautiful when I first laid eyes on her - it was nothing to compare with what she looked like today. She was in an all white golfing outfit (a short, pleated skirt and a peasant blouse.) Now she looked absolutely GORGEOUS. She greeted me with, "I see you are wearing your Sgt stripes today." I replied, "You look fine, too!" She introduced her son, S:, and got into the passenger side of the car. I closed the door when she was settled. I walked around (behind) the car and got under the wheel. We pulled away at exactly 1500.
I drove around the traffic circle and headed for the gate. We passed a long line of cars parked on the right side of Holcomb Blvd. She asked, "What are they?" I said, "They are enlisted personnel waiting for 1600 to leave the Post." She said, "Why do they have to wait until 1600?" I told her, "There must be some reason for it. That line is already about three miles long - with an hour to go before the guards will let them out." She said, "I think that's horrible." I pointed out my own car, my 1949 Hudson, which was quite close to the front of the line. She said, "It's pretty shiny!" As we got closer to the gate I began to slow down. She said, "You don't have to slow down. With the tag on the front of this car we usually go through the gate at between 15 and 20 MPH." I had no idea what kind of tag was on the front of the car but from the way she talked I suspected it was a rather low number officer tag. I sped up, as she suggested, and went through the gate at about 20 MPH. There were four guards on duty - and I got four of the sharpest salutes one could ever expect. I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw that at least one of them had recognized my Sgt stripes - and he probably knew me. These guards slept in my squadbay.
When we were nearing Kinston, I suggested stopping there for dinner. She agreed. There was diagonal parking on the main street and an open spot in front of the biggest restaurant. I zipped right in - and she had a tizzy. I said, "What's wrong?" She replied, "I never would have tried that - unless the spaces on both sides were open, too."
See You next week, the old, real old, real, real old (85) Master Gunny.
Harold T. Freas, Sr.
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #9, #6 (JUL, 2019)
I just finished typing in the Vol number and the date and I was getting ready to start a new issue of the FLIGHT LINE when I had several thoughts. One was that I forgot to mention that when the Technician came out to Cube Point from the States to inspect the Rotor Heads he was accompanied by a Sikorsky Factory Field Representative. This Rep. would stay with us because of the uniqueness and urgency in completing this mission and Headquarters MARINE CORPS would like to have a Factory Rep on site with the units involved. Anyway, as I recall the Factory Rep. was on the Test Flight with me, after the inspection, and also verified the achievement of the 200 MPH flight. In fact, he was the one that later presented the achievement patches to the Flight Crew at a regular Morning Formation. This is again a very unusual and coveted award for a Flight Crew Member. It is personal and with no entries in your records. You very seldom see the patch indicating achievement and participation. I have never seen the patch for sale at one of the after market outlets such as Sgt. Grit, or any of the others.
That said, I also thought that I sure have a lot of issues piling up and I thought that I better start separating them and also see how many I had. Now, understand that I was not going for quantity here, but all of a sudden I realized that I was now typing my 102nd issue of something I originally started to keep my mind busy with after my Heart Attack. I know I said something about this before, but it's amazing just how much "Stuff" that you can carry around in this ole Bucket and when ya need it, ya can't find it. I'm sure I have more in there, I've just got to find it!
Let's pick up where I left off in Okinawa and of course the flight home to Seattle was without any problems nor was my re-assignment to my old Office in Olympia, Wash.
After several days leave, I reported into the Main Recruiting Office in Seattle and was basically told by my commanding Officer that I would not be on production or quota and that I should go back down to Olympia and get a job and get my life back in order in preparation for retirement, which was set for 18 March 1974. I might add that this was the same Commanding Officer that I had when I was here before I went overseas, so he knew me because of our previous dealings. He said that I should give him a call every once in awhile to keep him posted or if I needed anything. The MARINE CORPS that I knew had changed while I was gone and it certainly was different back here from what I had recently been exposed to Overseas. I reported back in to the Olympia Office and my desk was vacant and everything was the way that I had left it. No one had taken my vacant seat.
I think that I covered my retirement and the party that followed several issues back, but my years in the CORPS were the most rewarding in my life and I wish to THANK All who I served with for the privilege of knowing and serving with them!
Badge-Heavy Master At Arms Got The Vapors
Never could keep the differences between LPD, LPH, LSD and other ships with wet well decks straight, but Marine Boyer in the 14 May newsletter asked for some experiences from those who had done such launches. Well, for a LSD (Landing Ship, Dock), one 'a them would be me (and I realize that there have to be literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other Marines who have had the experience... not counting the amtrack crewmen, for whom a launch was pretty much just another day at the office). In another item sent to Grit (that "submission" bit still just don't sound right...), I had related, in a piece centered around cargo nets, an experience where we moved from an APA to a LSD the day prior to a scheduled beach assault. (live fire... both sides...) So, after having climbed up the nets from a Mike boat (with a full Basic Allowance of ammo on us, inter-alia) we found ourselves on the weather deck of the Alamo, LSD 33. Alamo was carrying the equipment-heavy attached and supporting units of our Battalion Landing Team (3/5... a Special Landing Force, or 'SLF), and what minimal embarked troop billeting spaces (read: canvas bunks) were provided in this type ship had long since... or at least since Okinawa embarkation... been captured by cannon-cockers (our attached 105MM howitzer battery... F/2/11, from memory) tankers from the 5-tank platoon, truck drivers, cooks, ammo supply folks, etc. bottom line was that there were no bunks available. No biggie, since we were only going to be there overnight, and the guidance from above was just to find a place and flake out. Being an enterprising platoon sergeant, I quickly put 1st Platoon to ground in the shade under a bunch of deuce and a half trucks... which lasted until some badge-heavy Master at Arms (sorta like Navy MP's aboard ship) got the vapors at the thought that my troops might smoke whilst under those trucks, which, by the way, were loaded to the canvas bows with pallets of 105MM HE... so, we scattered, found some comfy, filthy, hard, hot piece of gray steel deck plate, and flaked out.
The word eventually came down that we were welcome to sleep on the air-conditioned mess deck (chow hall)... BUT... not until after the ship's crew movie, shown in the same space, was over. This turned out to be around 2300... and reveille was going to be at 0230... so we could have the traditional steak and eggs breakfast. (just the thing for the surgeons, if somebody got gut-shot... but, I digress...) At least it was cool and dry, although not at all comfortable trying to lie (lay?) across two seats, with all the lights on. Breakfast came and went... and we returned to our gear, saddled up, and stood by to be led by a squid across the walkway over the well deck, down the port-side ladder to the well deck and to our assigned amtrack. The well deck was lit by orange sodium vapor lights, and the interior of the amtracks by the red night vision setting on the interior lights... surreal, at best.
A half hour or so before launch, the front ramps on the amtracks (P-5's... this was 1966) were closed. I don't recall how many of us were in that steel box, but it was full... crowded. Being a person of some importance (had a rocker under my chevrons), I got one of the two troop vision blocks (periscopes), which afforded some limited forward vision... Lt. Rosenau, the 1st Platoon Leader (my boss) got the other one... by this time, it was beginning to ease into daylight, and Rosie and I could see that the stern gate was open, and that there was a mild surf washing up into the ship. Bear in mind that we are just feet forward of a 750HP V-12 gasoline engine, standing above (12) forty-gallon rubber fuel tanks under the amtrack deck plates, and getting a faint whiff of puke mixed in with the usual smells of sweat, machine oil, and the one orange that some numbnuts had decided to filch from the mess deck and peel in our common space. The tractors in front of ours accelerated, went off the tailgate, and began to swim away from the ship in a straight line. When it was our turn, we began to rumble forward over the wooden deck, until the rumbling changed...and we were afloat! Bear in mind that the P-5 weighed around 40 tons, had the streamlined shape of a shoe box, and had about eight inches of freeboard when afloat. And lest I forget... the amtrackers didn't 'go' when told over the radio... the signal, when there was no longer other tractors in the ship in front of you... was a friggin' traffic light! (I kid you not!) mounted up high, aft, on one side of the wing walls (sides of the well deck)... Red meant 'hold it', Yellow was "get ready" (I guess...) and Green was GO!
Once all ten were out, and in line, moving parallel to the beach, somebody commanded "by the left flank" or whatever, and we could no longer see any of the other tractors. We were told later that ramps dropped on the beach within 30 seconds of the scheduled time... the tractors closed their ramps, did a left flank to get back in line, went down the beach, splashed, and went back to the ship... probably got there in time for brunch. We, on the other hand, had absolutely nothing going on... we had arrived at 0630... and, it seems, the psyops folks (Army) had flown over the objective area about 0600 with loudspeakers, advising the locals that "the Marines are coming, and they are your friends"... the VC Battalion which had had a rest area in the vicinity of the first day's objective heard that, and decided to didi-mau... Operation DeckHouse I, 1966...
Have heard tales of the "20-knot launch" in which the launching ship is steaming at 20 knots parallel to the beach, and spitting amtracks out the back... dunno if we were even moving for ours, but sounds pretty interesting... am sure there must be some bilge rats (1833 amphibian tractor crewmen) in the readership who will step up (or sit down at a keyboard) and regale the rest of us with a 'this is no sheit' sea story... please do...
Alexander 'Baggs' Marchese left us & the USMC.
We remember and are Semper Fidelis!
Suggested theme for future newsletter submissions... practical jokes. Considering the generally grabasstic (apologies to Ermey) nature of our tribe, there must be a few thousand classics out there...
What's that one thing you miss about the Marine Corps?
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
--Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"In the United States, as soon as a man has acquired some education and pecuniary resources, he either endeavors to get rich by commerce or industry, or he buys land in the bush and turns pioneer. All that he asks of the state is, not to be disturbed in his toil, and to be secure of his earnings."
--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 
"Totalitarianism is a mortar and pestle for grinding society into a dust of individuals."
--George F. Will
"A free man cannot long be an ignorant man."
"We're not retreating, Hell! We're just attacking in different direction!"
--Gen. Oliver Smith, USMC
"I have just returned from visiting the MARINES at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!"
--Gen. Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army
"Teufelhunde! (Devil Dogs)"
--German Soldiers, WWI at Belleau Wood
"Take ten... expect five... get three... on your feet, outta the shade and into the heat... saddle up, move out!"
"Reveille, Reveille... heave out and trice up, clean sweepdown fore and aft, carry all trash to the fan tail, the smoking lamp is lit in all authorized smoking spaces, stand clear of the mess decks until pipe-down" (never did figure out, or hear, any bosun's call that piped us down to chow... and only a squid would put tomatoes in SOS)"
"God Bless the Marine Corps!"