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Beirut Circa 1982-1983

Beirut Circa 1982-1983

Attached are three more photos circa 1982-83. The top photo is one of (left to right) Narvel Don Hesson, me, and Tim Wheeler getting ready to link up to one of the “Rock” squads for an evening patrol. “Rocks or Rock-heads” is the slang term that we slapped on the 0311s and was used by the 0331s, 0341s and 0351s. We called them Rocks to their faces and of course got the customary “f-ck you aszhole” in return, but they knew we loved em! LOL Now… I say this tongue in cheek today and I know that all former and current 0311’s who read this are going to want to strangle me, but as you can probably ascertain from my mere mentioning of the term Rock, it was a direct reference to intelligence or lack thereof. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger Marines! Something tells me I am going to pay dearly for this post! LOL.

beirut circa 82 83 kunkel photo 2

Anyway, the second photo is of one of the out-post several miles away from our compound on the outskirts of downtown Beirut. We always had an M60 on this post, and this location was one that was manned by several Marines during the daytime hours with two Marines on the gun for two hour watches. I recall there being a few huge trees where we could take cover away from the sun when not on watch and it was boring as h-ll, but this was one of the few locations that we did not guard the entire time we were in Beirut. Not sure why though, but this did not hurt my feelings at all because I always had the feeling we were being watched. Of course, we were being watched and you could always just tell by the seedy individuals that were passing by, but I never really understood the reason for us manning this post in the first place. Not much was told to us, but this was one of the few where a SNCO accompanied the Marines on post. (Virgil Howard if you read this post, please provide more details if you recollect them, or correct me if my memory is clouded a bit.)

beirut circa 82 83 kunkel photo 3

The third photo is of me on machine gun watch on the ship on the way back to Beirut for my second tour. I don’t recall us doing this on the first cruise, but on the second cruise all the 0331’s were cross-trained on all of the ship’s machine guns and we manned these gun post 24 hours as soon as we left the last liberty port and headed back to Beirut (or anytime the ship went into General Quarters before we went into Beirut). This particular weapon was a 40mm machine gun and the round was similar to if not the same as the round fired from the M203 grenade launcher, if I am not mistaken. It had a very slow rate of fire but was fun to fire. During our training the Navy was very generous as to the amount of rounds we fired out into the water. Check out the hair on my grape. This had to be at or near Marine Corps regulations. I rarely wore a High-N-Tight after boot-camp, but usually kept my hair on the shorter side as I recall. I guess they let up a bit while we were on the ship, but that’s a hairy grape if you ask me. Semper Fi Jarheads!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt

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Mike Wallace - June 28, 2020

Was with kilo co. 3bn 8th mar. 1st platoon 1st squad led. Sgt wallace. Remember running lots of patrols. Damn perimeter guard with the Lebanese soldiers?? Very few could speak the language!! Remember getting hot chow in the morning’s at the company mess tent! Coffee ! Ssgt Avery Platt. SgtMotellio 3rd Sqdldr had large EOD staging area in front of us! Hope to reconnect with some of us that served thru this time!

Mike Kunkel - June 28, 2020

Just now reading your reply to my post! I was not aware that Blackjack had given any public talks. Yes Gunny Backus was one squared-away Marine. You could just tell he was dedicated through and through. Semper Fi!

Mike Kunkel

Rich Noll 3/8 Comm ’82-’85 - June 28, 2020

More of Blackjack Matthews boys!!!!!! Have you guys seen his talks on alcoholism? It is painful to hear about his bad times but inspiring to hear about how he beat it. Semper Fi 3/8. And yes Gunny B. was a fine SNCO!!!!

Mike Kunkel - June 28, 2020

Virgil, yes I remember Danny Wilson. Good guy. Would love to track him down. Danny probably went back to driving tractor trailers which I believe is what he did before the Corps.

Virgil d. Howard jr. - June 28, 2020

No I didnt.but a real good marine.well, we can say we know some guarding the gates .Sen per fi brother.

Mike kunkel - June 28, 2020

Virgil, I do remember Gunny Bachus and SSgt Russell going to that gun position with us. Did you know that Gunny (later SgtMaj ) Backus passed away in 2010? Died in a boating accident.

virgil Howard Jr.. - June 28, 2020

Was this the one that gunny,went with us on post. With us and we got to go in town. As long as we went in two’s? And we could buy food and sodas in town too. There was a house by the trees that we could lean against. Remember Wilson from Ohio. And mark h. From upstate n.y. is the post you are talking about.

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