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Meeting John Wayne in 1965

In 1944 when I went to Boot Camp we were informed that in the Old Days there were Wooden Ships and Iron Men, now all they had were Iron Ships and wooden Men. I don't remember being on any wooden ships but some Wooden boats that took us to shore, course those wooden boats had slabs of steel in critical places to help stop bullets, you couldn't do any thing about the Mortar shells raining down or the Artillery shells exploding here and there. Life is hazardous in war in all kinds of places, ship or shore.

My DI had survived Guadalcanal and Tarawa and I met him later on Okinawa. He was on the ship I was on going ashore on our last Great Battle of the Pacific War. Some years Later I met him again when I had Prison Duty as they were Transferring Prisoners from Naval Prisons to Federal Prisons closer to their homes. He was a 1st Lt. again as he had been later in WWII. We had a short conversation about our past and the Future, I later learned he had retired as a Captain and was living in New Zealand with the lady he married during the War. My biggest regret is my memory isn't what it used to be and his name remains a Memory but his rank as GySgt. was probably why I always held GySgt. as the most revered of all ranks in the Marine Corps (I know some of you Punctuation Mechanic's are going to comment on how I failed to remember MSgt & MGySgt but this story ain't about them).

The only Rank I hold above Gunnery Sergeant is Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, the other ranks are but Jobs and Job Titles and I'm sure I have rattled some bones and earned the enmity of some of my peers, So be it.

Before WWI the Top Rank in the Marine Corps was Gunnery Sergeant. I have a Picture of a Marine Gunnery Sergeant 1918 and the comment on the bottom of the picture is, "The Commanding Presence and Personal Example of such Veteran NCO's enables the 4th Marine Brigade to Fight Effectively against the Most Lethal Adversaries the Corps had Ever Faced." Col. John Thompson wrote about these Men and how they led him as a Young Lieutenant through the Great War (World War 1) and a Picture of one of them is in Google and I show it here.

(Image courtesy of the Marine Corps Art Collection)

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired

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