The Foxhole

A trip down memory lane to honor & pay homage to two incredible, and i do mean “incredible” friends, Jimmy Crysal & Gary Wilkins, who saved the lives of those of us in 1st platoon, Hotel company. And paid the supreme sacrifice while doing so. They manned a listening post about 100 yards outside the perimeter.

This photo makes things appear a bit peaceful, but a few nights later the north Vietnamese Regulars (NVA) attempted to overrun our platoon size perimeter, on an adjoining hill just east, at about 1:00 am, but we pushed them back. “Thanks” to Jimmy & Gary, who radioed to us that there was serious movement where they were positioned at the lp (listening post) about a hundred yards out. We immediately went on “full alert” and met a vicious attack about twenty minutes later.

The next morning, we found ourselves searching through the bodies of about two dozen NVA. No informative or significant documents to be found on the bodies but recovered a shit-load of opium on each & every NVA corpse. We put the drugs in a pile a burned them.

Four Marine Corps phantom jets arrived in the morning and bombed & napalmed the entire sector, east, west, north & south of our hill. The final jet zoomed over our perimeter, at about a hundred foot altitude, at the end of their mission and the pilot gave us a “thumbs up”. It was a reassuring site!!! We wouldn’t see action again for a couple of weeks.

Very sadly, we also recovered Jimmy Krysal’s and Gary’s Wilken’s bodies off in the distance. Immediately surrounding their bodies were the corpses of a half dozen NVA. Half died from Jim & Gary’s M-16 fire and the other half died from USMC K-bars.

Though Jimmy and Gary were our only losses, to those of us who wanted to thank them for their awesome courage it was like losing an entire platoon. They are the finest of the finest of Marines and I remember them in my prayers every night. Jim & Gary were from Wyoming and joined the Marine Corps on the “buddy system”, trained together and insisted on their request to be assigned to the same outfit in Vietnam.

I, and all of 1st platoon, literally, owe them both our lives. If you ever think that “survivors guilt” doesn’t affect those of us who have found ourselves in precarious positions in combat, think again. Damn, I miss those guys…!!! If you can, please remember Jim & Gary, at least for a night or two, in your prayers…

Thanks for listening.

Spirits be safe, happy, & secure

Jimmy Krysal & Gary Wilkins, and may your wonderful living spirits be safe, happy & secure as you await your re-crossing of the great divide. We’ll be standing by with “beaucoup” cases of ice cold coors. Gonna’ be great to both “shoot the shit & gamble money none of us had in poker games during all those many hours”. And that’s a promise…!!!

Semper Fidelis
(Always Faithful)

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

97 thoughts on “The Foxhole”

  1. Man, the memories of being in country and losing buddies. God bless those two and all those that never made it home to their loved ones. Semper Fi Jarheads. OooRah! Sgt.A.J.Apodaca USMC

  2. Pls return the old format, don’t know what happened but it needs to be fixed! You all broke something that was not broke. Gunny Barlow 1961-1981

        1. Yep, I like the old format better and they told more than 2 freaking stories, It’s not Sgt, Grit anymore to me and if they don’t change somethings, I’m not sure if I’ll doing much business with them anymore,

    1. Have to agree. The last couple of weeks I had only three stories to read compared to a dozen or more on the old format.

    2. Is this the Joe Barlow from HMM 161. God last time I saw and heard from you was back in 68-69. Have not heard from any one since I left RVN. got stationed in Hawaii MCAS Kaneohe spent 6 years with Search n Rescue then retired out.and moved to Tustin Ca. in 1980.

  3. About an other week of this and I will be unsubscribeing

  4. The a yes have it this new format is not conducive to sitting down and reading the mail. Please at least eliminate the read more part. Jumping back and forth sucks ,this ain’t the morning news paper look for all the extra space under the Viagra ads. I need this news letter to stay sane but this format is making me crazy.

    1. I think Sgt Grit shot himself in the foot this time. Put a dressing on it and get back to the great news letter you once had. LC E. Noll Kaneohe MCAS, 1956 – 1959

  5. Big mistake Grit. The old format was a comfortable welcoming one…kinda felt like home. This? Not so much. It wasn’t broke…and you didn’t fix it. I’ll try but the new look just might send me on down the road. Not good.

    1. I just joined the newsletter, I don’t know what the old format was, but it has sure P.O’ed a lot of listners, most marines that have been there ,and done it.; So what ever the old was, maybe it was best. I will look forward to it. dapper dan says:

  6. I agree with the Gunny. When you had something that was working efficiently and we look forward to it why mess with it. Semper Fi Sgt Torres

  7. That was a heroic, but sad story. I always admired they guys that volunteered for the LP every night. I didn’t know if they were brave, or crazy. I guess a little bit of both. Mike, I don’t think that you said where this occurred. It looks familiar, but then again much of the scenery, in Vietnam looked similar. I would love to know the location.

  8. The world is changing. “This is not the world we want but this is the world we got.” Now I get constant emails from Sgt. Grit about getting me to hurry fo buy products that are only available for a short time. Hurry, Hurry. What a bunch of B.S. And oh yes, Chesty wants me to buy Marine Corps jewelry! Yea, Sgt. Grit has changed and it’s all about money. I think I’ll go puke.

    1. I agree with you 100% getting like the high pressure car salesman and the prices are way out of line.

    2. Yep, gettin’ to be a bother havin’ to delete all them promos for goods from Sgt. Grit………this letter is too formal, doesn”t feel like it’s the poop from the “guys”……jumpin’ around trying to find stuff sucks…..don’t the see the posts by the good old regular salts who told us about all the other parts of the Corps we never saw……………..come on Grit, suck it up or your sales are gonna go south. We are a captive audience and when we want or need something “Corps” we can come to your website or go to one of the catalogs we so often receive……………….sent with respect but General Puller would be upset with you also. Semper Fi.

    3. I agree 100% Sgt Grit Got real greedy . What are you doing selling out and trying to make all you can real quick? getting real tired of the buy me buy me e-mails every day. I have your catalog and will buy when I need something . you are starting to sound like a used car salesman. Maybe you need to busted back to Pvt Grit. Don’t forget it was all of us that has kept you in business. Semper Fi Brother.

  9. The new format does suck. The question now is will you stack the “Aye’s” with the “Nay’s” and see it is ruining a good thing. Or, are the opinions of the readers on this to be treated as a hollow jesture? Who is the pencil neck poag who thought this format up. I can’t believe it was Sgt. Grit himself.

  10. To fix something that is not broken satisfies only the need to be inventive and make YOUR mark. Now throw it in reverse and satisfy your masses while you still have them. Sgt F. Volpe, Old Corps – Semper Fi.

  11. Brought tears to my eyes, taking me back 48 years to my days as Rifle Platoon Cmdr, XO, & CO. I will never forget the Marines I lost. When you’re alive because of the devotion, dedication, & courage of another, it never fades in your memory nor should it

  12. Never been a follower but in this case I will follow the lead of all the others who have commented previously, I like the old format much better. Take note Sgt. Grit.

  13. I agree with those who dislike this new format. I have also noticed that it appears that the “old” Sgt Grit in Oklahoma is no longer in Ok. Maybe Sgt Grit has sold the company? If this turns out to be the case it might be time to “di di…..”

  14. It’s obvious that the old and wiser guard has been replaced with a younger and greener one that doesn’t know shit about leaving what ain’t broke alone. Really feel the loss for these 2 who paid for freedom with their lives. the other format was more comfortable. Semper Fi! P. J. Lombardi

  15. I too have thought of dropping out of the newsletter with this new format. I have no problem with the promotional emails and understand the need to remain competitive and relevant. The newsletter seemed to be a different aspect, that in my mind, made it distinct from other promotional material that I receive pretty much daily. While I have not purchased anything, the newsletter tended to promote the idea that Sgt. Grit’s would be the place I would go to first should I want something “Marine Corps” either for myself or another (and in other words a kind of loyalty). I think that Sgt. Grit’s newsletter help some of us feel connected in ways that have been gone from our lives. This new format is okay, but feels lacking in something..from my perspective it feels rather sterile and skimpy in content.

  16. All you jar heads, get your sh t together and stay focused on the mission! Except for Tom, you all dissed a very important subject. We are supposed to be honoring two brothers who made the ultimate, selfless price for others. My condolences to Jimmy’s and Gary’s families. I look forward to thanking them when & if I get up there!! In the meantime those of you that can still get down, give me 20 bends and motha- Fers!!!!!!! Mike, You, Jimmy & Gary will definitely be in my prayers. Same for everyone else. Semper Fi, Cpl. Bill Walter 2542/USMCR/Greensboro, NC

  17. Sgt Grit sold the store to a guy from Arkansas. Don’t know if he is a former Marine or what. Semper Fi Bill Weaver

  18. MSgt Gary B. Sprinkle, Know what you guys mean……..Plt Commander died at my left shoulder, never got a scratch, rounds by both ears! Prayers to family of both Marines!

  19. I’m in total concurrence w/every comment above re. this new format. I suspect it may’ve something to do w/insufficient stories being submitted….though I find that sooo hard to believe! The old format was NEVER lacking in that category. Do all of us JarHeads a favor & let’s have an ‘As You Were’ execution to the previous format ‘cuz this one sucks!!!

  20. Grit, I have bought a lot of your merchandise. And if you have sold out I sure would like to know that.sure would like to know who we are supporting.and I served with you in nam.semper fi buddy.

  21. Vast amount of negative responses should be acknowledged and remedied . The new format is toxic -so go.back to the old format or suffer the consequences.

  22. Very dissatisfied with the new format. Used to look forward to reading ur newsletter. This new one is a bummer.

  23. War dogs if u have a bitch about something don’t do it when a Marine post their stories. You are almost bad as that piece of shit football player that doesn’t stand. It’s very disrespectful to Marines. Times are changing suck it up.

  24. I will keep those two Marines in my prayers, having lost Brothers , I know the feeling, many times this old Marine has wept for my Brothers who will forever be young. Cpl. Jim Brock ,KIA 1965,7th Marines. Don’t like the the new format! Lots of Emails, high prices for old retired Leathernecks. If it an’t broke don’t fix it! OOORAH !

  25. I mapped the contact address from the website (218 Massengale Rd., Clarksville, AR 72830). It’s on a nondescript frontage road next to I-40. Nothing there but fields and billboards. No more Grit, I guess.

  26. I posted my comment October 23 @ 10:23pm. Looking at the the post time on the website (October 24 @ 2:23am), the server hosting this site must be in Iceland, Greenland, or West Africa.

  27. I agree with Bill Weaver. This is about our Brothers who were at our backs and gave the last full measure of devotion. I will pray for all our Brothers who gave it all.

  28. UGH!! Have just unsubscribed. If you think this change is good. Best of luck. Grit should have stayed on as advisor at the very least.

  29. They and many more are in my prayers every night. Thank you for sharing this historical story and giving life and light to our brother Marines. Semper Fi

  30. It seams that almost everyone wants the old format (I) included. Majority rules or at least it did.

  31. After reading the story of the Marines that gave their lives while being Marines, it made me stop and ponder why it was them and not me. Then I read the comments and got caught up in the ruckus caused by the changes at Sgt. Grit. I feel a little ashamed that I didn’t comment about the Marines and responded about what I want from this business. “Sgt. Grit” is a business and they can operate in any way they please (this is America). Many of us have enjoyed the weekly newsletter and the opportunity to purchase Marine Corps items that express our brotherhood. There obviously has been changes at Sgt. Grit (new address, changed newsletter format, increased sales promotion) and it would be nice if we were given some update as to what is happening at this business. Thanks to the old “Sgt. Grit” for the years that we’ve enjoyed the newsletter, but I guess it’s time to change, whether we like it or not. Let’s all stop, pray and consider what is the best course of action (each dollar is one vote for our favorite business). God Bless and Semper Fi.

  32. Very dissatisfied with the last several newsletters, really, really enjoyed this site in the past!! Can’t recommend this site to other Viet Vets. Me thinks its tied into the marketing end, too bad.” Semper Fi, Do or Die, Hold ’em high, Eigth and I”.

  33. Semper Fi to all my lost brothers in Nam. 66-67 1st Marine Division. Phu Bai, Dong Ha, Khe Sanh, DaNang and Chu Lai. Been there and lost several brothers. Thank you for your very sincere letter and boy did it bring back memories. It’s been 50 years since I arrived at DaNang and started 13 months of Hell. Most Americans just dont know what we’ve been thru. Always appreciate that we that made it home should always honor and respect wgatciyr brothers gave for their brothers and God Bless.

  34. This post was about two real Marine heroes. How did it degenerate into a griping about format? Should be ashamed of yourselves. Though I never met them, my thoughts will be with them for much longer than just a few days. Jimmy Krysal & Gary Wilkins exemplified what Marines are all about. They died the way all Marines dream of dying. Surrounded by the bodies of their enemies. These two Marines, like so many others, will remain etched in my mind til the end.

    1. I agree with you L/Cpl ! We all need to adapt, re-group, and keep moving. Harry LP,s were very stressful,especially when you had to deal with the elusive monkeys ,mongoose and those gecko that sounded like they were saying Fa-Quuu!! non stop AHHH!

  35. Sgt Grit since you are a ‘Cannon Cocker’ you probably are hard of hearing but you can read correct? Read and hopefully ‘heed’ the vast majority of the above replies

  36. To all you crybabies more interested in whining about the newsletter format than honoring two Marines who gave their lives for their friends, you really should be ashamed of yourselves. If you think that is consistent with being a Marine, you have lost touch with what it means to be a Marine. If you were going to step on a story, why not the one about the two guys jumping the fence to visit a whore house in Kin Village?

  37. Here is an old saying that I just made up – – Change does not always result in improvement, but improvement always results in change.

  38. The marines are where all marines end up heavens gate we will all be together with chesty and our brothers Semper Fi to all and god bless ever marine family that had given the ultimate for our country.

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