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Pork Chops and Bread

Pork Chops and Bread

1963. Seventeen year old, high school drop- out, 5’3″, 133 lbs. Mom said I did pull ups all summer trying to get tall enough to join the Marine Corps. Boot camp, San Diego – hurt and hungry all the time. Used to slip cookies, pork chops and bread into my utility jacket, then run the obstacle course. After lights out, I ate the stashed food and sand grit. Platoon 199, Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sgt Moon (tough but fair), Staff Sgt Shields (tough but fair), Jr Drill Instructor Cpl Hicks (just plain ole mean!). We won all the pennants except the obstacle course (I probably took too much sand out of it!) We were an awesome bunch. 100% qualified and Pvt Norman Colvin regained the title for San Diego of best Marine marksman by shooting a 244 (M14) at ole Camp Matthews.

I left boot camp at 5’9 1/2″, 155 lbs. (no wonder I hurt all the time). Made PFC in ITR, Camp Pendleton and was assigned to MACS-5, New River, NC out of radar school. I became one of the youngest Marines to make E-6 at 20 years old. After the Marines, I had a very successful 40 year career with IBM (got my HS and College GEDs in the Corps and my engineering degree while working ).

I attribute most of my personal and professional success to those 4 years in the Marine Corps. They taught me self- confidence, team work, loyalty, dedication, perseverance and adaptability. Being a Marine never leaves you. I am now retired but ride motorcycle with my Marine brothers, Leathernecks MC, International. Not a better group of Marines around and we get to continue telling all our old sea stories and making new ones.

Semper Fi Marines
SSgt Don Mitchel

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Comments

Harry - April 30, 2020

I guess if I counted ITR as boot camp it would be about 13 weeks but the fact is that in 67 I spent 8 weeks at Parris Island and I am certain of that! In present day it is 13 weeks and at one time before it could have been longer.Just like you I just know what I know.Harry

Don Mitchell - April 30, 2020

Bill, thanks for your comments. I smiled the entire time I read them. Especially the ones about Cpl Hicks. I still remember his missing teeth. Guess he had some of those fights.. haha. I think GySgt Stankowski was our Series Gunny as well. I’d forgotten him. Really laughed about the cookies. I was just darn lucky. Semper Fi brother

Bill Evans - April 30, 2020

I also had SSgt Moon and Cpl Hicks from Sep to Dec 63 in platoon 168 and it was 13 weeks! Your comments about both DIs were right on. Still to this day I tell everyone what a prick Hicks was. But I guess that is what we were supposed to endure in our quest to become a Marine. They had just come off of having an honor platoon before our platoon and from your comments, the one after ours. Half of us were from Indiana and the other half I believe from Detroit. We gave it our all and became Marines but we never won any of the honors and that just made it worse for us from their perspective. I tried to sneak some cookies into my jacket when we had mess duty one week and SSgt Moon was standing outside in the dark watching. He came in and walked straight towards me and asked if I was getting enough to eat and I said “Yes Sir”. He patted my stomach and said it looked like I was putting on some weight. After feeling the cookies he said, “What is this Pvt. Evans”. I said cookies Sir. He said, “I thought you just said you were getting enough to eat Pvt. Evans”. At that point I knew I was screwed. He slowly unbuttoned my jacket and took the sugar cookies (3 of them about 4 inches in diameter) stacked them on top of each other and told me to open wide and then crammed them in my mouth. Wound up splitting open both sides of my mouth. Never took any more food after that! Cpl Hicks was always trying to get us to fight each other but never succeeded. Later at ITR at Camp Pendleton there were numerous fights between our platoon members. It’s a shame Cpl Hicks never found that out! Went on to aviation electronics school in Memphis and was with VMA-533 and VMA-242 (jets) at Cherry Point, NC. Was asked to extend for three months to be able to go with VMA-242 as they were to deploy to Vietnam soon thereafter. Did not extend and wound up leaving the next day with orders to join HMM-362 (helicopters) in Vietnam. Finished my tour there and then was discharged. So many great memories over those 4 years including numerous ones during boot camp. Wouldn’t change any portion of it for the world. A great learning experience that taught me so many attributes to be used for the rest of my life. Have owned and operated several businesses and have enjoyed a great life. Thank you GySgt Stankowski, SSgt Moon and yes, even Cpl Hicks!!

Harry - April 30, 2020

I started going to “Rolling Thunder” 1993 the year after 10yr re-dedication of “The Wall” First walk was hard but after that it was like a big magnet puling me in.Some years I would go twice.Once during Rolling Thunder and again on Veterans day. Last trip was 2014 on Veterans Day. During my Thunder days would camp at the Burke Lake campground near Fairfax Semper Fi Harry

Harry - April 30, 2020

It can get pretty rough on this site at times. I went from 155lbs to around 170lbs while in boot camp.Lost around 10 before heading to Nam.I am a little skeptical about stealing and hiding food though.When was boot camp13 wks? Just checked my platoon book my training started 13 Oct 67 ended 14 Dec 67 Anyway nice story. Harry

Buzz ALPERT 1960 to 66, E-5 - April 30, 2020

I went to Parris Island 19 June 1960 at 5’9″1/2 and 147 in weight. I stayed the same height, but weighed in at 150 during my service. When I left active duty I went back to 147. I’ve always had a very large appetite and when I go out to eat with some of my buddies, who are a bit overweight to very overweight they always marvel at the volume I can eat and not gain a pound. I’m 80 years old now and was told not to eat so much at one time, but eat smaller meals more often. So I do it.
I was in platoon 152 at P.I. and my senior DI, SSgt Davis said I was going to represent our platoon against the others in our company. I was lean with just muscle and bone and I still am to this day. Some might call me skinny. He said if I didn’t win he was going to stick his size 10 boot up ass. The 4 of us lined up and started down a log propped up in the air about 3 feet and I immediately fell off. 300 men screaming at one time was enough to stimulate you to get your butt in gear. I kept thinking about that size 10 boot. I leaped up on the log and actually took off running. I don’t know how I kept from falling again, but I hung on, passed one recruit and then another and I was moving like my life depended on it. When I got to the last obstacle the 4th recruit had just hit the final one–the rope climb. I sprinted to the rope and leaped up on it like I was a poor man’s Tarzan. It swung way out from the force of my landing on it, but I just kept going hand over hand. I knew I could use my legs, but I felt that would slow me down so I kept swinging my arms up as quick as I could. Near the top I glanced at the other guy and I was actually passing him. I could not believe it, but at that point I was close to the top and swung my right arm as high as I could and hit the metal ring holding my rope up. I started down as quick as I could trying not to burn my hands on that really heavy thick rope. I heard a DI scream his man was first, but SSgt Davis shouted out loud and clear, “My turn was first!” I walked back and didn’t say a word. I think that event may have helped me to get a squad leader’s position, but I’m not sure as it’s so long ago. That win made me feel pretty good and I stopped thinking about size 10 boots, at least for that day. I loved the Corps and would have made a career out of it, but my Ma wrote me a great Jewish guilt trip letter that my old man was quite sick and he needed me to come into his business to help. The only thing he did well was to scream and swear at me in front of employees and customers and I just hated that. In my last year of college he told me I was going to be a general’s jeep driver in the Army and I told him I was enlisting in the Marines and he cursed me out over that phone. The next morning I enlisted and had to listen to a repeat performance of the first call for joining the Corps. I learned a lot from him on how not to behave. There has never been anything like it for me to have had and still have the camaraderie of my fellow Marines. Those who have not been among us will doubtfully never understand that. God bless the Marine Corps and our great nation and to all of you who followed that same path into the Corps. I wish good health to all of the men and women of the Marines, retired or still serving. I guess I should say the same for all the Joe’s and Jill’s in the other branches of military too.

Don Mitchell - April 30, 2020

Darn Doug, we do share a lot! You are the first Marine I’ve come across that had the same DI’s. I live in Rochester, MN and have traveled all over the US on my bike after retiring. My wife and I road to Washington DC for Rolling Thunder about 10 years ago. Couldn’t get the courage to go to the Wall then but about 5 years later my MC had there National meeting at Quantico. My brothers and I spent a morning visiting the Iwo Jima monument, Arlington and all the other memorials. I finally went to the Wall and cried for almost an hour. It was so emotional but also healing. I retired from IBM in 2007 and now drive a limo car service between Minneapolis and Mayo Clinic to keep busy. Semper Fi Sgt

Don Mitchell - April 30, 2020

Yogi, what an awesome response brother. Thanks for the words and respect.

Don Mitchell - April 30, 2020

Richard, sorry to hear you are skeptical. Every word is true. Don’t need to make up shit to strangers.

Don Mitchell - April 30, 2020

Randol, thanks for your comment. It was very hard to sneak the chow. I eyeballed and snatched what ever I could when I didn’t think anyone was watching. If I thought someone would see me, I wouldn’t try. I was starved all the time and we never had time to eat much. Thanks for your response. By the way my ITR picture really does look like a child even though I’d grown… I look at my grandkids and can’t believe I was in the Corps at that age!

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