“Doc” Sanchez

“Doc” Sanchez

Hey Sgt. Grit–

For your "Marine Corps BS pages", an entry for your "CORPSMAN" section:

I was working in the Electroenchephalogram (EEG) Clinic at the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, IL, when the POWs came home from the 'Nam in January 1973. I felt proud to have 'known' them. Like many young hotshot Corpsmen I knew then, I couldn't keep my mouth shut. One day I was called into the Chief Nurse's office and chewed out for something I didn't do. When I was asked for my opinion I gave it, telling her to fornicate herself. She smiled and dismissed me. Next thing I know, Personnel Office called with orders for me: 3rd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Okinawa. I was sent first to Devil Doc school at Camp Pendleton where I was honored to meet Gunny Allan J. Kellogg, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient for action in March 1970 in the 'Nam. He was our Company Gunny while I learned how to field strip the Colt .45 Model 1911 and the Mattie Mattel M-16 and dig a slit trench and give Morphine Sulfate 16 mg intramuscular and keep Marines alive under fire.

I ended up with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines at Camp Hansen, Okinawa. My first day I met Ssgt. Walker, about 5 foot tall, a tour on the drill field and two tours in the 'Nam. Life was deadly serious to him. He looked me over for a long time, noticing my fluff dried olive drabs and my scuffed boots and tarnished brass and the fact that I hadn't shaved or gotten a haircut since I'd gone on leave a month earlier and he shook his head. "Shine your boots and brass, starch your uniform and cover, shave your head and face and report back to me ten minutes ago." I replied that I wasn't in the Marine Corps, blah blah blah, and he snatched me by the front of my shirt and pulled me down eyeball to eyeball with him and mumbled something about breaking his foot off in my butt and that I should drop for 25 before he really got mad. I'd never been spoken to like that and not since. I dropped and counted out, "ONE, STAFF SERGEANT, TWO, STAFF SERGEANT…." God knew just the right guy to take the rough edges off my character.

Later we embarked on the USS Mount Vernon (LSD-39) sat off the coast of Viet Nam and after that sat off Cambodia. God smiled on all of us as we didn't see a shot fired in anger the whole time. The bulk of my time with those loveable crazy Grunts was spent giving Penicillin shots because they couldn't keep Little Elvis in Graceland and wouldn't put on a raincoat when Elvis left the building…so to speak. Even one of our senior enlisted personnel, who shall remain nameless (but his initials are "Gunny") took 2 million units of Procaine Penicillin in the butt. I learned a lot of amphibious knowledge and in exchange I got to be 2nd Platoon "Doc" with the toughest and finest bunch of guys I've ever known. I'd still take a bullet for any of'em and they would for me, Those Magnificent Bastards, Second To None.

Pvt. Jones came down with malaria and nearly died but he hung on till the ship got to Manila and I got him on a plane to Clark AFB hospital in the Philippines. 'Always wondered if he made it. Thank God for the U. S. Embassy Clinic staff for helping him. Soon I was with 1st Battalion 4th Marines as the Weapons Platoon "Doc", a wilder pack of rogues and hooligans than the 2/4 crowd. More Penicillin and light duty chits. More good times. God Bless the Corps and God Bless the Grunts. My time with them forever shaped my character and not a day goes by that I don't think of them, "my" Marines. I'm still serving Marines at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco which is far easier duty than humping with the Grunts, but I miss them all and wish I'd done more for them. Thank you, Staff Sergeant Walker and Gunny Kellogg.

M. J. "Doc" Sanchez
HM2 (FMF) USN
Gator Navy

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