September 1955 I reported to Boot Camp MCRDSD. First one on the left next to the Senior Drill Instructor. 3 years later I was in DI school, selected as the youngest DI to attend DI school for that time. Many NCO's were much senior to me, but I made it through DI school. This is a picture of me with one of my platoons. I am on the right. We were the only two sergeants that were DI's of a platoon, usually there was a senior NCO assigned with us.
It was hard work, we enjoyed it and made Marines out of bunch of crappy civilians. One platoon, we had a group of reservists, with a PhD in Math. Private Ball was intelligent but we were worried if he could pass the rifle range. On the day of qualifications, I told him I've never done this, but was going to give him a muscle relaxer pill. It was nothing but a baby aspirin, but it worked. He barely qualified and broke down and cried upon learning he had qualified.
Life goes on. I later was promoted to Captain and retired in 1975. Served two tours in Vietnam.
Captain, USMC, retired
Sharpshooter And Marksman
SgtMaj Jesse Pacheco (then a Sgt E-5) was one of our Jr. Drill Instructors at MCRD San Diego in the summer of 1962. This 91 year old three war Marine received his final orders to Heaven's Gates on 14 April 2016. He was one tough old Marine. Those who knew him, remember him as he was.
"I remember shooting 10 rounds off hand at 200 yards, 10 rounds rapid fire with a magazine change in the sitting position at 200 yards, 5 rounds sitting at 300 yards, 5 rounds kneeling at 300 yards, 10 rounds rapid fire with a magazine change in the prone position at 300 yards, and 10 rounds slow fire prone from 500 yards."
--Sgt. Jim Grimes
Sgt Grimes, that is correct. I know the minimum needed to qualify as an Expert Rifleman was 220 because I shot 220 on the nose and was as nervous as a cat, fearing a mistake would be found in recording my shots and I would get knocked down to Sharpshooter.
I don't have a clear recollection of the minimum scores for Sharpshooter and Marksman, but consensus of opinion online is 210 minimum for Sharpshooter and 190 for "toilet seat". Does that sound right? Any input appreciated.
Fidelis Ad Mortem
Boot Camp Then And Now
Recently I attended my grandson's graduation from Parris Island. It's been a long time since I was in boot camp( San Diego 1974 plt. 2019) but have things changed that much or just at the Island? I spent a lot of time spit shining my shoes, boots, and brass. Now they're issued corafram shoes, anodized brass, and tan boots. They're clothing gets sent out to be washed where I had my scrub brush, bucket, and a bottle of Wisk.
So I'm wondering when all this changed.
Cpl Kulpa 1974-1978
Big And Little Agony
Digging around through my 'artifacts', I found another jewel from boot camp - my U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Marksmanship And Data Book (For U.S. Rifle 7.62-MM, M-14). Memories of Camp Matthews  just roared back - living in those tents, running up and down 'Big and Little Agony', burying our rifles (with bolts open) in the sand and pouring water on them (rifle inspection hadn't turned out very well, I guess), showering in less then warm water. Awe, yes... those were truly very informative days!
Once a Marine! Always a Marine!
Freedom Isn't Free
In early October 1964 the 2nd MAR DIV and 2nd MAW began loading on ships in Norfolk, VA, Moorehead City, and off the North Carolina coast at Onslow Beach: for what would be the largest amphibious landing since WW II. A convoy of approximately 80 ships began a crossing of the Atlantic which took 3 weeks. Zig Zagging, going in circles, one step forward and two steps back. I was on an LPH, and for some reason I can't remember her name. Maybe 52 years might have something to do with it.
On the morning of October 26,1964 at first light. The first wave of Sikorsky choppers left the flight deck carrying Marines from the 8th Marines to establish a beachhead inland. I was on the 2nd wave traveling with the Regimental XO (I was his radioman). Word came in that 2 choppers from the first wave had collided, crashed, and burned. As we were approaching the LZ I could see the carnage below us. Every time I see and hear a helicopter, particularly a military one (they have a different sound), I get a vivid visual. Nine were killed and 13 injured in the first few minutes of this exercise. Each time I see or hear of these types of accidents; I am reminded of the sacrifices that all of us have given, and especially to those who have "Given All".
The STARS AND STRIPES reported on October 30, 1964 "Exercise Steel Pike Called Big Success". Vice Adm John S. McCain Jr. said "We have learned some things and reaffirmed others by having an operation like this". I say "At a very high cost". Be grateful and remember that Freedom isn't Free.
John DeStefano / Cpl
aka duffle bag
A Few Of Us Recruits
I arrived at MCRD PI in early Feb. '59 and graduated in mid May '59 in PLT 211. There were quite a few of us recruits coming from the NYC area and we flew commercial (DC3) to Charleston and bused to PI, arriving late a night to a screaming Marine NCO at the receiving barracks. I don't recall any yellow footprints. We were not issued a yellow sweatshirts, but received a yellow tee shirt with large USMC in red letters and red bands around neck and short sleeves for wearing during PT. We also got a red P-cap with a large M above the brim. We were all issued one pair of boondockers (high top shoe with rough leather outers) and one pair of boots. We did not wear the boots until after we returned from the rifle range. Some of us were also issued the WWII herringbone utilities while most got the new era green utilities. The only DI whose name I recall was A/Ssgt Roscoe Ammerman. A tough Korea veteran who later was KIA in Vietnam. Semper Fi.
Feb. '59 - Feb. '63
A State Of Mind
Being a Marine is a state of mind. Being a Marine is an experience some have likened more to a calling than a profession. Being a Marine is not a job - not a paycheck; not an occupational specialty. It's not male or female, majority or minority; nor is it rank insignia. Stars, bars, or chevrons are only indicators of the responsibility or authority we hold at any given time. Rather, being a Marine comes from the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor that is emblazoned on the soul of every one of us who has ever worn the Marine uniform. It's a searing mark on our innermost being which comes after the rite of passage through boot camp or Officer's Candidate School when a young man or woman is allowed to say for the first time, "I'm a United States Marine." And unlike physical or psychological scars, which, over time, tend to heal and fade in intensity, the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor only grows more defined - more intense - the longer one is a Marine.
"Once a Marine, always a Marine."
Regardless of where or when you served, you are a valued member of the brotherhood.
"A Former Hat"
GySgt, USMC, (Ret)
Never Forget Them
Picture taken on graduation day for platoon 374 in back of the barracks on the third battalion drill field with the mess hall in the background. Left is SDI Gunnery Sergeant Kearney. Purple Heart from a shot in the stomach on Saipan. A model for R Lee Ermey. To his right is Staff Sgt. Wright JDI, Purple Heart in Korea, heavy weight boxing champ for the Marines in 1956. Missing in the shot is Sgt. Murphy the other JDI. Never forget them or platoon 374.
Reflect On Your Sins
How well I recall those old 3rd Battalion barracks being demolished. I arrived at Parris Island in September 1961, initially as part of Platoon 376. Unfortunately due to an infected blister, I ended set back to Platoon 383. Home became one of those 3-story barracks.
Platoon 383 was on the 3rd & top deck. My 4 year tour started out in these barracks, then I think to some very old 1-story models in Geiger, back to barracks in Amtracs, winding up in Quonset huts in Iwakuni 1st MAW, plus several tents & ships at sea. So I've lived in about them all and can compare.
You'd assume those nice new barracks would be the best accomodation. I mean they were new right? New is usually nice. And at face value they were, except this was boot camp and as someone said they were new and you were expected to keep them that way. Or from the view of the DI's, THEY were expected to keep them that way.
I remember there was one thing that constantly p-ssed them off. A constant aggravation. I think in the back of the squad bay there was a "rec room" and a store room, with a water fountain (scuttlebutt) which was off limits to we recruits, unless you screwed up. Then you'd be banished there to reflect on your sins with plenty of space to exercise & shout with pleasure while so doing.
But from the standpoint of keeping it spotless there was a design flaw back there. Imagine a small rectangular window (port hole) built right in front of another one, which was permanantly in place. If I recall right you could remove the top part of the front one, but not the bottom. Which left this space between the two windows on the bottom, with not enough space between the two to stick a (recruit's) hand to clean it. Uncleanable. And eventually both bottoms got unclear with dirt. It went against field day grain. It got so that the DI's in almost conversation tone, were asking for ideas on how to get the d-mn things cleaned with allusions of great benefit if someone could find a way to clean those windows. They were free with their open opinion about whoever designed it that way. Really lush language. I don't recall in our platoon's time, that we solved that problem, though not for the want of trying.
What was most memorable, about those barracks was falling in and out, particularly out. I'm sure all the DI's in the building told their boots the same thing. At wake up call, you've got 3 minutes to get your azs on to the parade ground & in formation. 3 minutes! The problem was we were on the top floor, in competition with 2 other platoons below us, using the same ladderways & critically needed stairwell space and access to the hatch outside!
I still marvel at getting this done as I futch around today in the mornings for about an hour or so getting myself up and out the door. Instinctively we recruits devised a combination of dressing on the run, and exiting just as we formed in the ranks. We small guys started down 1st forming a flying wedge, medium size next etc. with the biggest guys leaving last and throwing themselves on the backs of the platoon's wedge in front, with a lot of force, driving anyone in the other platoons who got in our way downward. And the guys on the 2nd deck were doing likewise. Freakin mayhem & amazing no one got trampled.
Eventually, someone got the bright idea of getting dressed right after lights out the night before. Then you only had to to jam on your boots and run like H-ll. This worked for a couple of days or less. Unfortunately, to our unpleasant surprise some Lt. (I assume Officer Of The Day) did a walk through one night, probably saw someone uncovered, took a harder look and found a barracks full of boots sleeping with their utilities on. When he woke me up he didn't seem like a happy camper. He let the DI know of course, who rousted us out and got us back to skivvies. He didn't welcome the extra attention from the OD and he duly filed this away for payback the next day.
Caught Up In History
At the buffet my wife and I visit I saw an elderly man with a WW2 hat. He had a Navy type hat with the logo WWII veteran. So I approached him and thanked him. He said thank you, looked up at the hat I was wearing and said or asked if I was in the Marines. With great pride I said yes sir. With a chuckle a he looked at me and said I was in the Navy. I told him that, that was cool. And that it was ok because we were sort of brothers. Well he went on to say that during the war he was assigned to a Marine unit that at the time was a secret unit that nobody then knew existed. I said oh wow and then he said he had to go to boot camp and go train along with the Marines. He looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes and said those Marines were tough. He also said that during the training a Sergeant took a machine gun and fired over his head and the others around him. He said that he was wondering why the Sgt. kept telling everyone to get down and stay down. I could have listened to him all day but had to get back to my table and wife. She asked me what took me so long and I told her I was talking with another vet. I wish I could have gotten a pic of him with me, but I got all caught up in his stories that I didn't think of it. I was caught up in history.
Semper Fi to all... even the Navy.
Easy To Enroll
I have read some post in the newsletter regarding the VA health care and the veterans ID card. I have been enrolled in the health care system since 1985. I know there are a lot of reasons why some vets do not enroll. Some think they need to have a service connected disease or injury to enroll, or they just do not want to be a part of it. I know some vets have had bad experiences with the VA; I have not. The only inconvenience I have experienced lately is the traffic jam at the parking garage at the Pittsburgh
It is easy to enroll, especially if you are a Vietnam vet or you were stationed at Lejeune from 1953 to 1987. The income limits do not apply! There are other periods that
apply as well. Get a VA Form 1010EZ fill it out and send it or hand carry it to your nearest VA Clinic along with your DD-214 or DD-215 and in a few weeks you will hear back and get scheduled for a physical exam, a physical is required once a year or you may have to reapply. The co-pay is $15.00 unless you are SC 10% or greater PH, POW, or MOH. There are some good benefits to being enrolled, for instance, if the VA audiologist finds that you need hearing aids they will provide them, usually at no cost and, provide
a lifetime of batteries even for non-service connected hearing loss!
Please enroll! It only takes a little bit of time.
VA ID Card
I to was told I should contact the VA to get my VA ID card, it's easy they say. So I went online and filled out the paper work that was requested: my financial statement, my health care providers and checked the box asking if I was in Vietnam (yes, 1967) and the box asking if I was stationed at Camp Lejeune (yes, 1966). clicked send. A few weeks later I received a letter requesting a copy of my DD 214 for my claim of Agent Orange exposure (I never mentioned anything about exposure to Agent Orange). I sent a copy. Several weeks later I received a letter saying I don't qualify for VA care, I make too much money (funny). Go somewhere else - we don't want you, all I wanted was to get a VA ID card. Thanks VA, serving my country really hurts now. I guess the VA is only for the new Veterans, not us old ones.
GySgt Larry Schafer
A 1/9, '66-'67 VN
CAC-Papa '67 VN
HQMC Flt. Section aka Anacostia Marines Reunion
Dates: June 23 - 27th, 2016.
Where: Ozark Valley Inn, 2693 Shepherd of the Hills Expy, Branson, MO 65616.
Website: Ozark Family Inn.
Reservations: (417) 336-4666, ask for Tammy.
Reunion POC: Gerald Lancaster, (972) 475-4730.
Lost And Found
Platoon 222, it will be 54 years this July since we graduated. Is anybody still around? How about peter Jensen?
First of all thanks for all you have been doing for many years. Last Sunday at our meeting of the New England Chapter of the 2nd Mar. Div. Assoc., one member had a dog tag (but it was narrower) with his picture and signature on one side covered in plastic, with the edges crimped over to keep it in place, and on the reverse was his service number. He was in from '57 –'60. Has anyone seen one before?
Members ranged from WWII to Afganistan and no one had ever seen one before.
In response to the entry about platoon book by Jerry D. in Sgt Grit Newsletter 14 April 2016. I would like the Platoon book if possible. I was a member of Platoon 201.
I arrived MCRD San Diego in June of 1960. We were issued red sweatshirts. There were no yellow footprints. A short time after we got there maybe a month or so, all the new recruits got yellow sweatshirts. I was in platoon 359. Drill Instructors were Gunny Latimer, Sgt. Dermer, and Sgt Brown.
Cpl. Howard Buckle
1960 - 1963
I seem to remember being told that the yellow sweatshirts were issued to identify a new recruit trying to escape MCRD. Would probably pertain more to MCRD SD with the airport just over the fence. The first few days before being issued utilities would have you stand out like a hunter in hunter's orange.
Bruce Parker (L/CPL) '66-'68
Entering a supermarket yesterday the man ahead of me was wearing a USMC cover, so my Semper Fidelis turned him around. He commented that he was not a Marine but his son just got home from from boot camp. I said he was probably a changed young man. The Dad's reply was "We sent a boy, they sent back a man". God bless the Corps.
Cpl Kunkel didn't you learn the difference between a blouse and a short sleeve shirt during the 3-4 years you were in the Corps? You should before you write a letter with pictures. I retired in 1986 and still fit in my Dress Blues at the age of 70.
Sgt Grit, shame on you for letting this get by you.
Master Sergeant E-8
Dear Sgt Grit,
I have to tell with a sad heart that my commander in chief told me that I can no longer order anything online anymore. Like I have told you before, even if I am Navy I love the Marines with all my heart. My hero is Pappy Boyington and I might have told you before that my grandson is a Marine officer, and I am soo very proud of him and of all the Marines past and present.
In re to Cpl Bob Mauney.
The pic of you and your wife brought back memories. Beautiful girl, double-ugly guy. Congrats, Corporal. I can relate. My wife, Jeannie, and I were married in November, 1966.
Semper Fi and God bless,
Col. J.J. Preston, USMC (Ret.)
"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it."
--John S. Mill
"The MARINES have landed and have the situation well in hand!"
--Richard H. Davis
"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."
--Gen. A. M. Gray, USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps
"I still need Marines who can shoot and salute. But I need Marines who can fix jet engines and man sophisticated radar sets, as well."
--General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps, 17 May 1974
"There was always talk of espirit de corps, of being gung ho, and that must have been a part of it. Better, tougher training, more marksmanship on the firing range, the instant obedience to orders seared into men in boot camp."
--James Brady, columnist, novelist, press secretary to President Reagan, television personality and Marine
"Pvt sh-t stain, if u don't get squared away, I'm gonna recycle your azz back to the block, and you'll be suckin fartz outta hospital sheets for a livin'."
"Private, you got a Maggie's Drawers."
"What is the difference between a fairy tale and a
One starts out once upon a time and the other starts out hey man this is no BULLSH-T."