He Was an Old Salt

Since the Corpsmen used to give us short arm inspections, we use to call them pecker checkers. Of course if you needed one he was Sir. I smashed my right index finger under a 20 MM box of ammo and it was swelled up and black and blue and killing me.  I went to see the Corpsman as I needed some relief. He had a big paper clip which he unwound so as to have a single round piece sticking out. He held it over a Zippo until it was red hot and put it to my finger nail. When it burnt it’s way through it went straight to the bone and the blood flew all over and I let out a yell that could be heard all the way to Po Hang Dong, down by the sea. After the blood let up the pressure was off and so was the pain. I had to hold it above my heart for a few days as every time my heart beat it would throb. I also had a few stitches put in by the same Doc and he should have been a surgeon. He was an old salt with tattoos from one end to the other but he knew his business. I was told he was a hold over from the Island campaigns.

Sgt. Dan Powell 52-55

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

11 comments


  • Cpl. “Pop” Trainor

    Rember “Pain is weakness leaving the body”


  • E.H. Scott

    Was reading various stories on the website, a moment in my tour flashed back, while flying as a Airborne Radio Operator/Loadmaster, with VMGR 252, MCAS Cherry Point N.C. on November 22, 1963 I was assigned a flight to Kanas City Mo. We had wheels up early that morning, if I recall we were to layover that evening, then fly to Nellis AFB. Short flight, had to be 1030 local time, the aircraft was secured, we were at a local hotel checking in for sleeping quarters. Took hot shower, reading local paper, turned on TV, headline on paper President in Dallas Texas, ironically channel covering parade. The rest is all history, Seemed like micro seconds knock on my room door, Aircraft Commander in door way, “get packed, dressed, standby for flight orders”. 2 hours later, flight plan NKT. Just one of many experiences while crewing a C-130 that I will have in my flight log to remember. Hoorah.


  • David Hennion

    was with 2nd Mar Div afloat had bad infection in my calf Corpsmen used the long wood Q tips to dig into it and drain it then new Q tip to pack it with 110 in. of some string gause, that crap did hurt still have a scare like a silver dollar on my calf, Corpsmen name we just called him Rocky. 1968


  • Top Pro USMC ’64-’84

    Never met a Corpsman “Doc” that I didn’t like and have the greatest respect for. I would take a bullet for any of them. Semper Fi!


  • Larry Derouin. HM3 USN 1973 to 1976.

    I was a corpsman from 1973 to 1976, stationed at the Dispensary @ T.I. San Francisco. The above remedies were NOT taught in HM “A” School but in the field or dispensaries by senior Corpsmen to Junior Corpsmen. The best times I had while @ T.I. were on training ops with the Marines from Security Co T.I. They always sent two of us, usually a HM1 or HM2 and a HN or HA (E3 or E2). The Marines couldn’t do enough for us (we didn’t ask for any of it either). Riding shotgun in the Deuce and a 1/2, setting up our tents or shelter 1/2’s, carrying our extra medical stuff, besides the medical bag, etc. My paternal Grandfather was a Staff Sergeant in WWII and it was drilled into my thick skull by him that if I didn’t take care of “my Marines”, my ass would be handed to me on a platter, and literally shoved down my throat. So I kept up with them on the hikes, dug my own foxhole, in camp set up the slit trench with a X frame to sit down (so no one would get their utilities crapped on) on,Got qualled on the M1911A1, M-14, and the M1. Nothing below expert on all of them, but as I was technically a non combatant I wasn’t allowed to have it entered in my Service records, or get the medals/ribbons. I learned the same technique on treating blisters, reducing blood blisters under the nail ( red hot paper clips) and the usual foot problems (pecker dripping on the foot), etc. And the most important, keeping the cooks in line, so there wasn’t any intestinal disruptions. I usually kept 10-12 bottles of Tabasco in my pack and the guys knew they could get it out any time. The food was that bad. Having been a boy Scout as a kid, most of the camp stuff was a variation on what I learned as a Scout but to USMC/USN Standards. One time we were out on a field op, and the gunny slipped on something and spilt a whole pot of coffee(it wasn’t 30 seconds off the field stove) down his leg. 2nd degree burn on the front 1/2 of the thigh. It was Sunday afternoon and we were due to be picked up in 3 hours so it was the last pot(or was supposed to be). The blistering was just below the crotch all the way to the knee and engaging the whole front 1/2. I poured alcohol on the whole burn and opened it up along the edge from the knee up about 2″ and drained the fluid. 6mg M.S.in the Arm, Merthiolate on a Q-tip, Burn cream, with a drain in the opening into the bandage, then wrapped the whole thigh. When we got back to the dispensary, I recleaned it and dressed it. As he was my patient initially, the Duty Medical Officer (Dr. Lane) ordered that I was the primary care giver and I was to treat the Gunny for the whole treatment regimen. Gunny came in 2 times a day for dressing changes, debridement, and cleaning. I lived in the Barracks and I was on standby on weekends and days off. I didn’t mind as I didn’t have anything else going on. 4 weeks later it was healed, and no scarring. From then on the Gunny made sure I went on all Field ops (even Annual Weapons quals)while I was at the dispensary. After that I never had to pay for beer at the EM club or anywhere else there was booze and any Marine from Sec. Co. I didn’t drink so I was a cheap date. (I didn’t like the taste of beer, wine, or any of the hard stuff. Still don’t). So they kept a case of Cokes on hand in the Rec Rm for me. Gunny wasn’t the ony guy I treated for more than minor stuff, but his injury was the worst I had with them in the field. When I made HM3 I had a party and made damned sure the whole barracks was invited and had a couple cases on hand in the cooler for the duty section when they got relieved. I still have the memories, and most are clear and fresh in my mind still. If I could do it again, I would have re-enlisted and requested FMF School and stayed with “My Marines” for as long as I could get the detailer to get me a detail with them. My grandfather died while I was @ TI and 6 of the Marines went to Riverside for the funeral. I didn’t ask them to go. They served as pall bearers. Grandma thought I had set it up, but I told her I didn’t have anything to do with it. They came because Grandpa was a MARINE. You guys are the BEST, and I’m proud and Honored to have served with you.. SEMPER FI! .


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