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Once A Corporal Of Marines

Once A Corporal Of Marines

3rd squad all present and accounted for!

Just thought I'd add my two cents to the discourse. To the Marine recalling, "praying to the sun god". Yes, I remember it vividly; we had to "pray" during "qual" week at the rifle range. We had been doing a whole series of stretching exercises that week so "praying" actually to me was rather easy and I was quite surprised I could accomplish that feat having never thought of myself as flexible.

While at the rifle range, I ran across a slogan prominently displayed at an entrance and it read, "Let the enemy bast-rd die for his country, we'll teach you to live for yours!" I knew then I had made the right decision when I joined the Corps. Yeah, I wanted to go in harm's way but I also wanted to come out alive on the other side, and I knew that good training would help me in this goal. I knew my safety was not guaranteed but excellent training would give me an edge.

I shot expert the day after betting my Senior Drill Instructor (big money!) that I could accomplish that feat. I was down to my last shot (to make expert) from the prone position at 500 yards and the SDI growled that if I hit a bull's eye he would kick my azs! My coach looked at me and said, "Should I tell you to raise your sight one click" and I grinned and replied, "Should I raise my sight one click?" He told me I was low on the last shot and to go ahead and raise my sight one click and I did so, fired and hit a bull! Won some money and used that to play (and win) high card that night (with the SDI!) to celebrate our finishing up on the rifle range. Loved my SDI; taught me to be a man!

Does anyone remember doing the manual of arms with their footlocker? How 'bout this one – the three things you cannot do? Ok, I'll tell ya – you can't slam a swinging door, you can't put used toothpaste back in the tube, and you can't strike a match on a wet bar of soap!

We really weren't a bad platoon as we acquired some pennants; but one time we f–ked up so bad that we made our SDI cry. First time I ever witnessed that in a man. Showed he really cared for us!

Spent a year and a half on the "Big I" (USS Independence CVA 62) as a sea going bellhop (3rd Marine Detachment) guarding atomic bombs (technically you were supposed to guard the bomb from the ammo locker to the plane and then down the runway!) and scaring the h-ll out of the "squids" when they wound up in the brig. Sometimes after liberty when the Marines and "swabbies" were waiting for the bus to return to the ship there would be tense moments between the two services – ha, ha that was something as us Marines were always outnumbered (the Marine detachment only had about 50 or so personnel on board ship and a carrier crew was about 4000 sailors) but we never "punked out" and stood our ground as we were trained.

Spent many an hour spit polishing shoes and visors, "Brassoing" brass and rubbing wooden M1 rifle butts with a mixture of linseed oil and wood polish (I'm not sure about the wood polish) and clipping off "Irish pennants". The navy and women wear pants; Marines wear trousers.

Never made a "Med" cruise as the ship was in dry dock for most of my stay there. That was something to see when they drained the water from the dry docks to expose the bottom of the boat; it was surreal to look down into the dock and view the hull and propellers and shaft that was exposed, you could almost get vertigo the dock was so deep.

Did get to go to 'Gitmo for a training cruise and the view from the fantail when that big 'ole moon was full was a sight I'll never forget, along with flight ops, especially at night. I did get a chance to go through a training program (amphibious reconnaissance course) with the Seals and ended up jumping off the back of a high-speed motor boat at night several miles from shore. That was fun!

We pulled into Norfolk one blustery day and as per SOP, us "jarheads" were in position on the bow of the ship with the "squids" standing position on port and starboard sides (manning the rails); the breeze was blowing so hard you had to lean at a 30-degree slant to keep from getting blown off the deck! Whenever the CO and the guidon walked in front of you during the required inspection, you almost fell over because they would block the wind! The wind was blowing so hard the boat captain dismissed the sailors (all 2 to 3000 of them!) before we got to port! Naturally as Marines, WE weren't going anywhere! It could have been a tornado, we weren't going anywhere! Ughow! Hard chargers! "Sweepers, sweepers man your brooms, give the ship a clean sweep down fore and aft!" "The smoking lamp is lit; light 'em if you got'em!"

I learned how to break the M1 down all the way to the sights (we were doing armorer work!). Too bad I couldn't use the M1 or at least the M14 in combat. I was not a fan of the M16 as any bit of dirt in the bolt made the "pig" almost useless (had that to happen to me one rainy night while on an LP) so I always kept a nice supply of fragmentation hand grenades on me (very good equalizer!) I spent 13 months with 3/3 "Killer" Kilo as a squad leader and right guide in '68 and '69, humping the bush around the "Z", Con Thien, the "Rockpile", Camp Carroll and "Leatherneck Square" and as per my position as a CPL of Marines I always got the spaghetti and meatballs and fruit cocktail C-rats… loved the beans and weenies too.

On my first "op" I had C-rat cans stuffed in socks hanging off the back of my pack (we had WWII packs and the army had the newer rucksacks and I wasn't going hungry!); that lasted about 10 minutes after we hopped off the choppers as it was hot and by that I mean the LZ was "hot" and the weather was hot and it suddenly dawned on me that I might not live long enough to eat all those meals so I sh-t canned 'em! (pun intended).

I remember Sgt. Carrillo standing tall, directing traffic as we hopped off the choppers from about 10 feet off the ground and mortar rounds dropping all around. I had point and I remember telling my radio man that if a go-k jumped up in front of me I wouldn't shoot him, I would run up and beat his azs as he would have scared the sh-t out of me! Sarge got wrote up for a bronze star for that action (so I heard).

One time I got a C-rat box that was stamped with my birth year (1948!), that was a lucky box (in that I could eat it and not die of food poisoning!).

In '69, we started to get the dried meals in packets where all you had to do is add hot water; they were a lot easier to carry than the cans and sometimes they seemed to taste better.

We had been on this hill (out in the middle of nowhere) for about a month and some kind of way the guys in my squad found out it was my birthday and they made me a cake of a C-rat box covered in shaving cream with a half cherry on top; it took all my will power to keep from taking out my K-bar and cutting into the "cake" it just looked so good!

We are still on this same hill and I start to notice that in the morning as we rise one of my brothers is wet in front of his trousers and as the days pass I realize that he is p-ssing on himself. Before the month was out he was dead. Did he have a premonition of his demise?

We were on another hill one time and we didn't get resupplied for a week because of the inclement weather; we ate grass soup seasoned with Tabasco (hot) sauce; hot sauce is real good to relieve hunger pangs. All we talked about was food; hamburgers, milkshakes and steaks.

Lost my squad because I didn't have a flak jacket on (yeah, I know we had just been hit but for some reason I just didn't put it on); then the CO sent me to NCO school for a month in Okinawa. So I'm in this class of 50 or so other Marines being instructed on the fine points of the M16 rifle by a Recon Marine with a chest full of lettuce and his gold jump wings (very impressive), so we get to the end of the lecture and he asks for questions or suggestions – none, so I raise my hand and state, "On the bolt there are three "C" rings that have to be assembled in a staggered order otherwise the gas will not operate the bolt to a rearward position". He replied that I should be teaching the class. I took that as a compliment.

When I got back to the world a brother told me I had saved his life because I went to take a sh-t one time while we were out in the bush. I don't remember the occasion but if he said I saved his life then I take that as a compliment! Hey sh-t happens!! (another pun intended)

Yeah I remember Semper Fi Mac! being a derisive term and even using the term jarhead could get you in a fight, but that was then and this is now; but to this day I still blouse my shirt and make sure my front seams are in line and pants are still something women and "squids" wear (wow! The term is "hat" now – I'm glad the sarge has stuck with "cover"), and I don't quit; adapt and overcome! Lessons learned and put to use to this day. Get squared away Marine! Get your sh-t together Marine! Saddle up Marine! "Gun's up!"

And on the 8th day God created Marines and like fish, we came from the sea! Eat the apple and f–k the Corps!

Once a Marine, always a Marine – very true. My best friends now are my brothers that I served with and the ones I have met at the VA. The bond has lasted a lifetime!

So, I'm at the VA in Salem getting treatment for PTSD with a group (181) of fellow veterans and we're down to the last week of treatment and each individual has to do or say a parting action and when it was my turn I said I couldn't think of anything to give the group because a lot of guys didn't smoke or drink, so the only thing I could give them that they all would understand and appreciate was to drop down and give 'em 20 and then I gave 'em 1 for the Marine Corps, and 1 for the 82nd Airborne, and 1 for the Seabee's, and 1 for the Army, and 1 more because I could do it!
The guys and staff got a kick out of that one!

I never participated in or was subject to having stripes "pinned".

Semper Fi!
John Lee Murphy III
Once a Corporal of Marines and now belong to the Brotherhood of Warriors!
3/3 Kilo 68/69 

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