Chip Away The Stuff

My oldest friend (since 1950), Mike Silverman, joined the Corps about one month before me in 1966. He was in Platoon 2027 at Parris Island while I was in 2037. Coincidentally, we both won our Platoon’s dress blue uniform award. Mike went to Vietnam almost a year prior to me and was in the same platoon with Ron Kovacs. Mike was wounded in Dec. 67. Before leaving the country in Jan, of 68′, he found his way to where I was near the DMZ (New York street smarts at work). Several months ago, a member of Platoon 2027, Jay Solis, attempted to find all those remaining and effect a reunion. He did a hell of a job and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had not lost a man in combat, which was truly remarkable given the time period. What remained for them was to locate their old drill instructor, Sergeant Albright. They took a reunion picture and e-mailed it to someone they thought was the right man.

What follows is the response:

Sept. 5, 2002
To: Platoon 2027

I take my eyeballs off you pukes for a mere thirty six years, and look at you !!! Wearing all different color clothes, straggling to chow, growing hair, and some of you have obviously been going through the chow line for seconds! Dambrose, you still owe me 300 bends and thrusts! Silverman, that damned statement you wrote (college boy) on the injury report got me an ass chewing from regiment. Fishbaum, what are you doing wearing a cover indoors!? Solis, I was considering making you the Platoon scribe, but it took you two years to find me and you didn’t even invite me to the reunion. I’d have you all down for push-ups, but you’ve probably forgotten how to do them.

Last week, I was up in Yellowstone camping and harassing the critters. When I got home, I checked my e-mail and saw ,”I hope you are the Marine” message. I thought it was a sales pitch and was going to delete but couldn’t take the chance of ignoring another Marine. When I opened it and saw the dates and signature J. Solis, I knew it was for real. What a great surprise! Thank you for your persistence Jay.

After reading the attachment and forwarded mail, I was deeply touched but think you have given me far too much credit. There is a story that Michelangelo was asked how he could create a work as perfect as his statue of David. Old Mike replied that David was always there in the marble, and all he did was chip away the stuff that didn’t look like David. Well, I think you guys always had lion hearts, and all us drill instructors did was chip away the shit that didn’t look like Marines. Granted, some of you took more chipping than others, but you all had balls to start with and you chose the Corps. Boot camp just weeds out the fakes and tunes out the lions. I salute you all.

I make no apologies for treating you harshly, and I doubt you expect any. When I had you guys, I had already been a corporal in country with D/ 2/12 in Oct.-Nov. of 1963 when “Big Minh” and some Viet Colonels killed President Ngo Dinh Diem and I knew what a pile of crap you were getting into. Solis, I thank you again for letting me know that “not a single member died there.” I thank God.

I lost contact with Ott and Washington after leaving the drill field. I heard that Ott died of a heart attack, but never confirmed same. The reunion pictures were great. I look forward to hearing more about you guys. I’m proud of all of you.

Semper Fi

Jim Albright
Sergeant Major USMC (ret)

Submitted by: PTB2929

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