THE CO. GUNNY AND THE RADIO WORM

Its a short story about Fox Co. , 2 Bn, 9th Mar, 3rd Mar Div, Okinawa in 1974.
In 1974, I was a LCpl on my first tour overseas and ended up the BN Radio Operator for Fox Co. 2/9. My CO was Capt Shawn Leach. Toward the end of my tour, we went on a training mission to the Northern Training Area (NTA). We were supposed to be on alert all night long and the radios were to be manned all night. I had taken a redheaded LCpl from the battalion HQ radio platoon. He had never been assigned to a grunt company and didn’t know sh*t about us or the way we worked. He was senior to me in rank by a month or so and kept trying to pull it the whole time. I had been with Fox Company through an entire 6 month WESTPAC float. Some where along the way I must have gained the respect of the CO and Company Gunny, because every time ol’ Red tried to run me down, they backed me up.

Anyway, the Company Gunny, GySgt Davis, made a point after evening chow that he did not want anyone sleeping on radio watch. If they did, there would be hell to pay. And I knew that if it happened, I would catch it because I was the knucklehead in charge of HQ radios. I set the watches and the 2 Co. Admin pogues got the 10-12 and 12-2 watches and I took the 2-4 knowing that it was the worst watch. I gave Red the 4-6 so he could sleep and be awake for the watch. We put 4 benches in a + sign under the roof of an outdoor classroom and settled in, passing the two radios from bench to bench. All went well and I passed off to the radios to Red. Just at sunrise I woke up and saw the Gunny coming full steam towards the outdoor classroom. I looked over at Red and he was out cold, zipped up to his chin in his mummy bag. Before I could get him up, the Gunny got to him. Reaching down with both hands he picked up Red, the radios and the bench. Stuff went everywhere and Red woke up cursing. Hearing that, the Gunny proceeded to heave the whole squirming mass down a small hill. Red came to rest at the bottom wearing a torn up sleeping bag, 2 PRC 77 radios not to mention a few lumps and bumps. Meanwhile, I was at attention waiting for the storm to turn on me. Shaking in my boots, I watched and listened as the Gunny stormed right by, winked and said something about the radio platoon and their worms. By the time the CO came out we were ready for the days march. Red had earned a place at the back of company line of march carrying a 292 antenna pack, plus his own. Now and again, I am reminded by that incident, that *^%$ really does roll downhill.

Vincent S. Dorsey, SSgt, USMC (Ret.)

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7 thoughts on “THE CO. GUNNY AND THE RADIO WORM”

  1. This story had previously been posted some time in the past year or so. I remember because I was assigned to 2/9 in March 1975 as the Message Center Chief up at Camp Schwab. We were designated as “Air Contingency Battalion” for WestPac as we prepared for the upcoming deployment to Korea and Fugi in the summer. It was a very eventful spring that year that will long be remembered by all who were there. I remember thinking how strange it would be to go to WestPac without including a trip to Vietnam and beautiful southeast Asia. Boy, was I wrong about that! Early in mid-March we sent a small contingent to augment 2/4 as part of Advance Ready Group Alpha aboard the USS Okinawa,USS Vancouver and USS Tomaston in the Philippines. They participated in Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Americans from Phenom Penh, Cambodia on 12 April ’75. Just a few weeks later we were once again tasked to deploy the entire battalion by air to Vung Tau RVN about 40 clicks east of Saigon in support of Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon RVN. On 28 April we boarded C130s at Kadena AFB and MCAF Futema and waited for orders to go. Fortunately, the orders to commit never came and we disembarked and returned to Camp Schwab. I say fortunately because later intelligence indicated that the NVA had both heavy artillery and tanks to secure the Vung Tau area. Had we been committed as a light infantry battalion with no supporting arty or armor, we would have been decimated. Back on Okinawa, as we continued our deployment training, the thought never occurred to anyone anything else could go wrong in WestPac. Well, Murphy’s law works well once again. The entire battalion was in the field in the northern training area and Kin Blue area on 12 May when we heard news of the capture of the USS Mayaguez container ship by Cambodian pirates. I really didn’t think much of it because I thought the Navy would take care of it, and 2/4 and ARG Alpha was still in the Philippines. Wouldn’t you know it, 13 May we were pulled from the field, in driving monsoon rains, returned to Schwab and prepared to deploy to U-Tapao Royal Thai NAS. From Thailand, utilizing USAF CH-53 & HH-53 aircraft, Echo and Golf Companies assaulted the island of Koh Tang where the Mayaguez was anchored and the crew believed to be ashore. We had our butts waxed because of poor intelligence reports about the size of the enemy force on the island. We lost 11 Marines, 2 Navy Corpsmen, and 2 USAF flight crew, not to mention 3 Marines left on the island during redeployment under fire. I won’t go into anymore detail and leave it up to you to Google or use Wikipedia for the gruesome details. The people we lost are the last 41 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC and will live forever in our hearts and minds. Not a day passes that I don’t think about them. Semper Fi!

    1. I was with Golf 2/4 stationed at Hansen in 74. We were on Float and our Battalion had boots on the ground for Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind. We choppered in on CH-53’s. After Eagle Pull we were headed to Philippines, But we turned and headed it Vietnam. Again we were choppered in. Golf landed at the Airport in Saigon. Stayed there then flew to the embassy to help evac the people there. My platoon was on the next to last Chopper to leave the embassy. The Master Sgt. in charge of the Embassy Guards told us to get on that bird. He said they had ways to get out if another could not come in. Found out later another chopper made it in and everyone made it out. When the Mayaguez went down I was back in the U.S.A. …… I had a good friend with the9th Marines.Sgt Robert Robb. Did you know him.

  2. Was part of that operation with 2/9 from February 1975 to March 1976. Initially assigned as the radio operator for 106s but ended up as part of TACP.

  3. MCRD Parris Island 1958. Does anyone remember that Leatherneck Magazine had a rifle range competition whereas on qualification day the top 4 shooter’s of each platoon in the series stayed on the range to compete against each platoon for the week and the rest of the platoon had Mess Duty. Medal’s (for display only) were given to the highest scoring team with the M-1. We also qualified with the 1911 ,45 pistol and issued badges ‘Marksman, Sharpshooter or Expert’ to be worn on the uniform. No one seems to remember anything like this. My graduation yearbook has pictures of our platoon’s team with the 11 out of 14 medals we won which included my winning Hi Rifle. Obviously…our D.I’s went nuts with pride and for one brief moment, we were treated like royalty.

  4. I too was on board USS Okinawa LPH 3 as Ships Company assigned to the SOAP Lab which only 3 Marines had been through the training for. We all Three were from HMMT 402 at New River (MCAS (H) then). We went Westpac in April of 72 We were attached to the 1st MAW Rolls and we were all CH 46 Mechanics (Flight Qualified) Myself and one Marine were stationed on board the Okie Boat, the other Marine went to the lab at MCAS Iwakuni Japan home of the 1st MAW. When our tours were done Greg and I got stationed at NAS New Orleans at 4th MAW. While on board we flew with the Ships CH 46. Anywhere in Vietnam was a chance of attack… not really any rear areas.. I reenlisted in 74 and got choice of duty as an Instructor at NAS Memphis at BASHEL (Basic Helo), I was there when I heard about the Mayaguez.. There but by the Grace of God go I… Proud to have served Proud to be a Marine.. Semper Fi to the 58,479 that didn’t make it back.

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