This is the Punisher.
View more images of this motivating Marine's custom Corvette.
The Company CO Ate C-Rats
I recently returned to the ranks of Sgt. Grit readers and I have enjoyed "catching up" on the stories of other Marines from various generations.
MRCD, March, 1966, we were issued the infamous yellow sweatshirts and as I recall, we wore them during PT and drill until we started looking more squared away and deserved to wear fatigues. I recently had to buy a new yellow sweatshirt from your catalogue as my old one was no longer serviceable.
Reading the different references to other MOS's, in addition to my 0311 MOS out of boot camp, I wonder how many Vietnam era Marines have an 8611 MOS? I went to Vietnamese language school in CA in the fall of 1966 and spent my tour in Viet Nam as one of the first Kit Carson teams in country as an S-2 Scout with Headquarters Company, 1st Bat. 5th Marines. Many stories about the experiences in the field with the line companies that I won't bore you with but also some advantages. One night, after setting the perimeter at dusk, we were approached by a villager who asked our Chieu Hoi which one of the Marines spoke Vietnamese? He pointed to me and we were invited to dinner with the village chief. When the CO asked if he could join us the chief denied his request which p-ssed him off and he wasn't going to allow us to accept either. After I explained to the CO that declining his offer would offend him and the goodwill we would get from accepting the invitation he reluctantly consented. That night the village chief killed a prize chicken and an E-4 (me) and my Kit Carson partner ate chicken and rice in the chief's hut while the company CO ate C-Rats outside. Definitely one for the non-com's.
1966 - 1968
Can Still Lock And Load
Me and Bill C. at the Dirty Name, the first obstacle on the Parris Island confidence course on the day we graduated from platoon 374 in the Fall of 1960. Hard to believe that was 56 years ago. In my mind we haven't changed much since then. Don't know if we can still do 20 pull ups, but we can still lock and load and put them in the black at 500 yards.
Ship me over Sergeant Major!
The Drill Instructors Are Tough
Here's a caricature I did of a very tough D.I., Cpl. J.L. Stelling, Platoon 218, MCRD, San Diego; graduated 13 May 1964.
"Cpl. Stelling, if you read this, I just want you to know that you did a great job of turning the Platoon 218 "mob", as you sometimes referred to us, into hard-charging Marines. Semper Fi, Sir!"
Over the years, people have asked, was it really that bad? Was it really that hard?
Here's how my brother and I explained it in my book, EXCITEMENT! Shot At And Missed:
Ken laughed. "People who haven't experienced Marine Corps boot camp don't really understand what it's like. People say, 'Awe, you're just exaggerating!' or 'It couldn't be that bad!' Well, you and I and every other Marine knows it is that tough!"
We remained silent for a moment more, memories flooding our minds. Then Ken continued, "But you know what, it was worth all the pain, humiliation and BS. I guess, in a way, it really was interesting and definitely life-changing. I suppose training schedules have been changed and updated over the years but the mission has not changed. Training civilians to be Marines is the goal, and the DIs do a great job. Just look at our history!"
"But, as you know, the rough, insane stuff is just a part of the entire program. The goal has always been to weed out those who don't match up to the program. The marching, the running, the pull-ups and sit-ups, history lessons, yeah, even the crazy stuff... it all adds up to a finished product that fits the Marine Corps mold: the creation of new Marines. Yes, it truly is an interesting and life-changing experience."
Is it really interesting? Absolutely! Life-changing? Absolutely! But, ask anyone who has passed through the hallowed sand pits of MCRD, no matter the era, whether it be at San Diego, California or Parris Island, South Carolina, if they would do it all over again, and the deafening roar would most likely be a resounding, Hell No!
At the same time, those who have experienced and overcome the rigors of 'boot camp' would undoubtedly also say that it was probably one of the greatest experiences of their lives. Doing things that most people can't even contemplate doing brings about a metamorphosis that changes civilians into hard charging, Gung Ho Marines, troops who learn early on that following orders and accomplishing things that seem impossible lead to ultimate success. The Marine Corps prides itself on its hard-Corps, iron-clad, rock-hard discipline as the only way to train men to be warriors. To become a member of this exclusive group, recruits are pushed to their limit and beyond – physically, emotionally, psychologically and academically. Every recruit is goaded, pushed, harassed and cajoled to succeed. They are constantly screamed at and many times humbled into succeeding. The standards of excellence are set very high. Failure is not an option!
The Drill Instructors are tough, strict and, above all, not willing that any should fail. But some do. Why? Because everyone is not cut out to be a Marine! Period! Are Drill Instructors happy when a recruit washes out? No, of course not!
So, what is so 'special' about MCRD, and the personal sense of pride, anyway? And why do impressionable young people choose the Marine Corps?
There is a mystique about Marines. Ken joined because he wanted to be a Marine. I joined because I wanted to be a Marine – like my brother. The reasons for joining the Marine Corps are too numerous to even try to explain. But the bottom line is this: all who make it through to the end are transformed, mentally and physically, into United States Marines! Ask the parent of a new Marine, what they think of the transformation that has taken place, and the inevitable response will be something as simple as, "Wow!"
Each day at MCRD seemed like a re-incarnation of the previous day's screaming and yelling from the frothing mouths of the DIs. There seemed to be no other rationale then the realization that we were continually treated like cr-p by those maniacs.
"As I said before," Ken confessed, "there were many times when I wondered, but didn't speak openly, of course; How could any normal human being treat other people so shabbily, so crappy? Prison would probably be better then this! Is there no dignity left in the world?" He laughed. "But, of course, the screaming, the shouting, the shoving and the absolute, iron-fisted discipline is just a part of the program. And of course, it works!"
"Anyway, through it all, graduation finally came in September! Ah, what a great day that was! Survival of the fittest really exists! Yeah, that was a really great day. I had survived! I had completed my course and survived!"
Grand Theft Auto
In 1971, I was a patient in Philadelphia Naval Hospital. I had shattered my lower right leg in an accident and spent about a year going through numerous operations at that excellent facility. We patients were on the best of terms with the Navy medical personnel stationed there but the Navy non-medical personnel did their best to make our lives miserable. Occasionally the hospital would provide free tickets to a ball game or some other event going on in town. One of our favorite activities was going to the roller derby games down at the Spectrum. Since we were all on crutches, canes, or wheel chairs, the hospital would provide transportation to and back from the Spectrum which was about 3 miles from the hospital. When the event was over the half dozen of us Marines went outside to find no transportation waiting to take us back. As the senior man it fell to me to sort the problem out. Having served two combat tours in Nam I was rather too salty for polite company. I called the hospital, reached Navy Security, told them our problem, and was told in no uncertain terms that we should walk back to the hospital because they didn't feel like sending transportation. As I previously mentioned we were all in plaster casts and it was raining.
One of the wheel chair bound guys had an idea. He had undergone some new type of bone graft surgery and the doctors were real sensitive about his care. So I called the Navy Security back and told them his condition. They sent a van to us but when we tried to board the Navy driver told us he was only taking the wheel chair man back and the rest of us should walk. I was inspired. I asked him "what about Steve?" who I claimed was passed out behind a nearby shrub. When the sailor looked over the hedge I clubbed him with my cane and threw him over the bushes unconscious. With me driving we all boarded and drove back to the hospital where Security was waiting for me at the gate. The next day I had Captain's Mast. When I entered the room to stand before the hospital CO the sailor I'd struck was already standing there with a bandaged head. The Capt. asked to hear my side of the story which I told him in full detail. The Capt. turned to the sailor and asked him if what I'd said was true? The sailor sheepishly admitted that it was. The Capt. looked at him and said "he should have killed you!" After a proper azz-chewing I was dismissed with no charges filed. Thank you Captain! That was the Old Corps.
If anyone reads this who may have been there that night I'd love to hear from you.
Sgt. of Marines
1966 to 1972
Plumbing You Can Count On
If your sh-tter is unsat, this Grunt can get it squared away!
Several years ago I was assigned duties in the J-5 US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), MacDill AFB, FL. My job was a Parachute/SCUBA billet and required that all hands re-qualify in parachuting and SCUBA on a regular basis. We jumped in a local pasture field but flew to Special Operation Forces Dive School, Key West, FL for our dive re-quals. At Key West we either dove proximate to the SOF Dive Facility or out near what was called the "reef" by locals. During my final dive with USSOCOM we dove near the "reef" and there were several high priced yachts anchored there. The owners of the yachts tied them together so they could walk from vessel to vessel with little difficulty and party accordingly. On the subject dive my dive buddy, a Navy SEAL, and I surfaced in the center of several of these yachts and he pointed out to me that the girls on the yachts were looking good and more importantly were naked. I am as blind as a bat without my glasses and I could not see any of the above. He tried to describe the goings on to me but this simply was a distraction/frustration for him so we returned to our dive boat. He told all who would listen the above story and my boss a Navy SEAL Captain said he would get me a prescription dive mask regardless of the cost. I never thought any more about the incident, although the above story concerning my inability to see in critical situations circulated throughout all SOF HQs. One day a package arrived at my section and it was a very expensive prescription dive mask complete with bi-focal lens that I still have. Thus, if I ever re-qual dive on the "reef" again, I will be 100% prepared.
Duane "Dutch" Van Fleet
LtCol, USMC (Ret)
Yellow T-shirt And Red Shorts
I've read the ongoing discussion about yellow sweatshirts with interest.
I went through Parris Island from September through December 1961. I was set back so I had the joy of staying on the Island for a few extra weeks. So I straddled seasons, arriving in the Fall and leaving in the winter.
I suppose it got cold in December, but nothing sticks in my mind about it. I certainly don't remember any special winter clothes. What does stick in my mind, is nice boiling hot, high humidity PI. And the dots of a sweatshirt and PI just don't connect. I can't imagine sweatshirts at PI. We got issued the yellow T-Shirt and Red shorts. Perhaps it's a figment of my imagination, but I thought the shirts were some kind of polyester mix, as they seemed to be a bit shiny. But again, that may be bogus. I sweat heavily. I read some quote from an upper class Brit (I think), that horses sweat, people perspire. Not me. I sweat. And PI was just the place for it. During September I was a rolling ball of sweat, partly from the location, but mostly from the encouragement of the DI's and the men who conducted the twice daily PT fun sessions.
This was both a boon and a bane. Since I practically p-ssed through my skin, when they herded us back to the squad bay and allowed a head call, most of the guys desperately ran for urinals and toilets, crowding & sharing by 3's & 4's for some relief. But I headed for the sinks and sucked in as much water as I could get.
I remember the yellow shirt so well. As this is where the downside comes in. I don't remember what we did with them when we weren't headed for PT. Eventually we washed them, but not twice a day. So mine were sodden with sweat, hung somewhere to dry (probably on the rack). But PI's humidity was like 150% and my shirt was never dry. In the morning I put it on damp and had to put it on again in the afternoon, dampened with more sweat.
Before long this got more than uncomfortable. It got painful, stinging my nipples and any cuts or abrasions on my skin. And eventually got me a trip to sick bay with bleeding nipples. I never knew something like this existed, (and I think it was a new one for the DIs too as I don't recall getting any flak) and I must have missed the recruiting poster about join the Marines and bleed from your nipples.
That was a long time ago. It seems it had much to do with the salt in the sweat continuously aggravating the situation until it reached the point when I started bleeding. I don't recall for sure what the treatment was, but I think put some salve or grease on them to buffer my skin from the sodden shirt.
Whatever it was it worked, and I was able to settle back into the usual fun & games and graduate.
Cpl Harkness, 1961-1965
Old Versus New
Old versus new can get a bit scary. Two months ago I noticed an older gent, quite possibly 80 or better, with a walker making his way down the aisle of the local WalMart as best he could. Because of concentrating on nothing more than just getting that done he did not see me approach. I felt so proud of him because he was wearing a U.S.M.C. cover. I approached him and stuck out my hand. He looked up and saw my cover and a certain gleem came to his eyes. I shook his hand and said, "Semper Fi Brother", now the best part, he gripped my hand as tight as he could and replied "til we die and move on to our last duty station" God love old Corps. Getting chills just doing this!
Now the new and scary. Two weeks ago I went to a local sportsmen show. All the branches had recruiters there. I spotted the Marine recruiter and approached him. I noticed he was an E5 and looked like he didn't have a need to shave. He was all decked out in his patton leather "nasty". I stuck out my hand and got a bewildered look. He shook my hand but didn't answer back. Now I know there are a h-ll of a lot of great Jarheads out there serving right now, but some of the newbees are scary. Kinda got chills doing this too.
30 Days Of Mess Duty
C & E Bn. MCRD SD, 1961 - 1962
After also having fun at Parris Island and Camp Geiger in 1961, I had to report in to MCRD San Diego on 22 Dec 1961. Then it was for the third time at least 30 more days of mess duty until Electronics School classes started. It was a large mess hall and we fed a lot of Marines three meals every day. We never knew what meal or what day Maj. Gen. Victor Krulak would come in and go thru the mess line & most likely sit down at a table of Marines to talk some. Sometime after mess duty it was time for Communication & Electronics School in 1962. We started with Basis Electronics Course for 15 weeks (promotion to PFC). Next it was Radar Fundamentals Course for 10 weeks. Then Aviation Fire Control Repair Course for 8 weeks. Upon successfully completing 33 weeks of classes along with MANY "Saturday morning parades" on the giant grinder at MCRD SD my MOS was to be a 6651 Aviation Fire Control Tech (according to the certificate). The radar system we operated/maintained was the AN/TPQ-10. While based in Okinawa we were in Marine Air Support Squadron – 2. And while based at Cherry Point MCAS we were in Marine Air Support Squadron – 1. My DD214 says my MOS was 5961 Aviation Fire Control Tech. Neither MOS is used anymore. The radar system AN/TPQ-10 was used in Vietnam to fly many radar – controlled air strikes that blasted the NVA positions. Semper Fi Marines.
1961 - 1965
Punishment Field Day
I was stationed at Camp H.M. Smith with 1st ANGLICO when General Krulak was CG FMFPAC. I saw him a lot aboard the base and at events around the island. One day our platoon was holding a punishment field day and those of us who were married and living off base had to clean common areas. When we were dismissed I changed into civilian clothing and went to the pick up stand outside the gate with another Marine. Soon the General's staff car exits the base and pulls in next to us. The General lowers his window and asks politely "Where are you Marines Going?" Going to town and going home was my response. The Brute offers us a ride which I attempt to decline, but we give in an accept. The other Marine gets in the front seat and General Krulak opens the rear door and scoots over. In the ride Brute asked many questions of us and as I gained military experience over my career I figured he was getting a pulse of what was going on and the state of morale of the troops. I grew to respect and admire this fine officer and the Corps he stood for.
Also some time later he offered me a ride again. I often wonder what people thought seeing me exit the General's staff car in front of my apartment.
Poisoned Water At Camp Lejeune
Good Day Marine,
I am not one for writing letters or bragging about my Marine Corps time, thats all in the past, what I would like to know is if any of your followers know about what happened at Camp Lejeune, NC from 1953 to 1987, our Marines were being POISONED, every day we drank the water, ate in the mess hall [same poisoned water used to cook with] and bathed with it. Our Marines are dying from all kinds of cancers, babies were born with birth defects, and it was all covered up. Have your followers check it out? we are now in the VA eligibilities list right under agent orange from Viet Nam. There is a DVD that just came out, its called SEMPER FI, check it out.
View more about "Semper Fi"
0311 - Infantry Training Regiment ITR
1/8 - 3/8 poisioned at all 3 units
I Can't Believe Such A Thing
Who in the world is or was "Ron Knight"? He said he served in our beloved Corps from 1967 to 1967 as a 0311? And left as a USMC SGT? Well, we all know how difficult it is to get promoted in that field, so Mr. Knight must of been a super Bad Azz...
I honestly, hope this was a typo. I can't believe such a thing.
SSgt Luis "Rey-Rey" Reyes
Grand Old Man
Secondary 1833 MOS
Read with interest the notes from Matt Dzubak & Cpl E-4 Vince Fischelli & their tours in 2nd Amtracs. I was in 2nd Amtracs from 1962-1964 so we must have trod some of the same ground. And probably know or know of, some of the same people. I came to 2nd Amtracs as an 0231 (Intelligence Clerk) and as such was in H&S Company assigned to S2/S3 in Battalion HQ. And as Matt noted the CO, Colonel Treadwell, had this philosophy that if all Marines are basically riflemen, then in his Battalion, all Marines would basically be Amtrac crewmen, and were sent to training for such, right after we came on board. That training got you the 1833. It was kind of neat really. Although a pogue, I could drive, do basic repairs, drive an Amtrac to and from LSTs and LSDs.
I've always wondered if other units did the same thing or was 2nd Amtracs unique.
Cpl Don Harkness 1961-1965
7th Engineer Battalion Vietnam Veterans 2016 Reunion
The United States Marine Corps 7th Engineer Battalion Vietnam Veterans Association will be holding its annual reunion at the Crowne Plaza San Diego located in Hotel Circle. For room reservations, book by calling 888-233-9527. Group code is 7th Engineers Battalion Vietnam Veterans 2016 Reunion. Group rate is $110 + tax per night for single/double traditional room. Complimentary parking. More info at Crowne Plaza Hotel San Diego - Mission Valley.
Schedule of Events includes:
Thursday, Sept. 22: Arrival - with Registration and Hospitality Room open for fellowship during the reunion.
Friday, Sept. 23: Hospitality Room is open. Visit to the 3rd Marine Air Wing at Miramar. Box seats at the airshow – largest military airshow in the country! Plus, there are open cockpit displays, static display of all Marine ground vehicles, and a display of weapons. Buses will be transporting to and from the event.
Saturday, Sept 24:
08:00 – Memorial Breakfast, Posting of Colors, Flag Folding Ceremony, POW/MIA Ceremony.
17:00 – Happy Hour
18:00 – Dinner Banquet and Program
Sunday, Sept 25: Depart until 2017!
For registration information, visit 7th Engineer Battalion (Rein) and look under REUNIONS on Home Page or contact Norm Johnson at 989-635-6653, Doug McMackin at 623-466-0545 or Jim Taranto at 518-567-4267.
Harry Dill, Secretary
7th Engineer Battalion Vietnam Veterans Association
704-708-9865 or hdill[at]carolina[dot]rr[dot]com
Pith helmets were worn with the Khaki Uniform for all Marine Barracks Security Forces Sangley Point Phillipines in 1964.
Ref: Frank John Bengier
I too went in, in 1949, served 39 months in the Corps.
Do you have info on where Frank went to Boot Camp and what paltoon he was in. I was in Plt. 63. Parris Is. His name is very familiar. Thanks.
I was at Parris Island from July to October 1961 (Plt 144). I just don't remember any yellow footprints. By the way, I outposted on Friday, October 13, 1961. Been my lucky day ever since.
I just read Capt. Tom Rutherford's article about not remembering the yellow footprints at Parris Island. I was there in 1960 in Platoon 265. I don't remember them either.
R. D. Gavin
Referring to Knight's photo of the EGA
It's cool with me. I do want to know if you were ever at Iwakuni Japan with the Air Wing?
The 1st thing we saw besides a DI telling us to hurry up and get off the bus were the yellow footprints on the pavement where the DI told us our feet were to go. This was in May 1967 at MCRD San Diego, CA. I will never forget.
Porfirio Moreno Jr (E-5)
USMC May 1967 - May 1970
1st MarDiv, 1st Shore Party Bn, DaNang
Dec 1967 - Jun 1969 (3051)
I started boot camp at MCRD San Diego in June of 1961 and returned for a tour of duty as a Drill Instructor in 1971. The Yellow footprints were at the incoming recruit bus drop off point behind receiving barracks.
E. D. Nagle
MSGT USMC RET
To Jim Mackin
Wow, your memory is a lot better than mine. You can reach me at gtalbott[at]frontiernet.net.
Keep the catalogues coming. I don't always buy, but I always drool.
Sgt. (E4) Lloyd L. Ryan
I was at Parris Island Recruit Depot in May of 1973 at 3 AM in the morning and we were told by the drill instructors to stand on the yellow boot prints or foot prints as they call them now.
"[H]e who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him."
--Thomas Jefferson (1785)
"Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
"I have not yet begun to fight!"
--John Paul Jones (1779)
"Leadership is the sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables a person to inspire and control a group of people successfully."
--LtGen John A Lejeune, 13th CMC
"You are part of the world's most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon."
--General James "Mad Dog" Mattis
"I placed the Marines where the hardest work was to be accomplished, and I never once found my confidence in them misplaced."
--General Winfield Scott, USA
"Drop it... and you die by squat thrusts!"
"You people are lower than whale sh-t... and that's at the bottom of the ocean!"
"Rise and shine, another day to serve the Corps!"
Semper Fi Mac!