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Relating to Discipline Admin |

Sgt Grit;

Recently there have been two letters relating to discipline for putting hands in pockets in boot camp. I just wanted to add my experience to the pot. But first let me give a little of my background:

I was drafted into the Marine Corps during the Korean conflict. At the height of the conflict there apparently were not enough volunteers to meet the need so the Corps resorted to the draft. The draft for the Marines started on 1 August 1951 and I was drafted on 6 August in Indianapolis Indiana and shipped by train to San Diego. We arrived at the receiving barracks late on Friday afternoon and slept there over night before being assigned to a platoon (228). On Saturday we were issued all of our clothing, bucket, etc. and instructed to dress in Utilities (the herringbone twill, solid green ones with stenciled logo on the pocket) and boon Dockers (rough out, ankle height). These utilities came from the manufacturer with a stiff paper tag stapled to each and every piece of cloth that went into the garment. We were told not to take off any of these tags until told to do so. We also had to pull our covers (caps) down to our ears, I guess to let everyone else know we were green boots. One day, after chow I had fallen back into formation while we waited for the stragglers and I reached into my pocket to remove one of those pesky staples that was digging into my leg with every step and my drill instructor saw me from some distance away. The punishment was for me to fill my pockets with sand, sew them shut and wear them that way until he told me I could empty them. After three days I quietly emptied my pockets and hoped he would not notice. Eventually he did notice but I explained that I understood it to be for three days and he let it go.

Even though I was drafted into the Marine Corps I was treated just like any other boot and later was given schooling, etc. just the same as if I had volunteered. That may have changed after the higher ups got wise to the fact that by the time these draftees finished with schooling they did not have enough time left to serve in Korea. However, I am just as Gung Ho as anybody else and maybe more so. I did not succeed in producing any Marine Corps children. I do have one son that is a graduate of the Naval Academy and is now a Navy Captain (25 years) at SHAPE Headquarters in Belgium and another son that is a helicopter pilot in the Army (20 years), I have two granddaughters at the US Naval Academy now and a grandson who is a Corporal in the Marine Corps at Quantico VA. So you see I really do have a military family, even if they are not all Marines.

One other thing: All this chatter about earning the “Eagle, Globe and Anchor”. I cannot remember ever hearing anything about that back in the early 50’s when I was in nor have I ever heard anything like that since until I started getting this newsletter. I never thought it was any big deal, they were simply emblems we wore on our uniforms. I don’t think the average person today treats it any different than that. I cannot see any problem with parents or relatives wearing these emblems in support of their Marine Corps service members.

SSgt Merton Bushong
(Active 1951-1953, Reserves -1959)


The Corps also drafted during Vietnam. In early November 1965, my squad was guarding a bridge near Hwy 1, just south of Da Nang. There were three bridges along a dirt road that used to be old French railroad tracks. Bridge One was the big black steel bridge that crossed the Riviere du Torraine (Da Nang River), Bridge Two, about 500 meters down the dirt road that split off Hwy 1, crossed a wide stream that connected two rice paddies (and was a USMC engineer steel bridge), and Bridge Three was a old French concrete bridge about 500 meters farther down the road. Each of our squads in 2nd Platoon, Mike 3/9 had a bridge to guard for two weeks. I was on watch one day and I saw one solitary Marine walking down the road toward us from Bridge One at sling arms. I was on watch and couldn’t believe a lone Marine would be walking down the road by himself! And at sling arms? The area was infested with VC of the R69 Main Force regiment and they had snipers (not very good shots, thank God!). When this young lad arrived I asked him what he was doing and he said he was looking for 2nd squad as he was assigned to us. I said “you’re lucky you didn’t get your ass shot off! Who are you?” He explained that he had just got out of ITR (Infantry Training Regiment–now called the School of Infantry at Pendleton), and was shipped out to Vietnam with other boots. AND he and several others were draftees! I couldn’t believe it. Draftees? In the Corps? He said that when he was drafted he was at the Induction Center and they had everyone line up and count off 1 to 10, then “Every tenth man take one step forward! YOU ARE NOW JOINING THE MARINES!” Draftee or not, Ken was a good Marine and a man that could always be trusted to do a good job, and we’re still in contact to this day. L/Cpl Craig Roberts, USMC 1964-68, LtCol. USA 1973-99.

Craig Roberts,

I was in the Corps from 1964 to 1968 and served with alot of Draftees. They were Marines and that was all I needed to know. I had the highest respect for them. They obeyed the law of the land and served their Country and their Corps, when others fled the country to get out of going to Viet Nam.

A. Troy Morris Sgt. USMC 1964- 1968,

In reply to Larry Verbitsky.
The Marines also drafted during Viet Nam. In boot camp, the DIs tried to get the draftees and the reservists to change their enlistment to 3 years.

Terry Betts,

Ssgt Burshong talks about is clothing issue. I was at MCRD in 1965. At that time we wore yellow sweat shirts. We had to earn the right to wear a utility shirt with the top button buttoned. We had to earn the right to every change, which included blousing our boots and finally getting to wear starched utilities.

Terry Betts,

I was at MCRDSD from Oct. through Dec. 1967. I took a break from college and volunteered even though I was a sole surviving son and not draftable. When I was born in 1946, My Uncle Tony had already been a Marine two years and continued to serve for another twenty-eight years! I knew I had to serve in the Corps at some point. Plan had been to graduate and go to OCS. However, during my sophomore year more and more of my high school friends were serving in ‘Nam. Some dying or being wounded there and coming home not in best of shape. I could not in good conscience continue the college party life. My mother finally signed the waver that allowed sole surviving son to enlist and I reported to the San Antonio induction center. While at the center, the draftees were herded into an area and names were called out: So and so, Army; so snd so, Navy, etc.. When so and so Marines we’re called there was a collective: “Ooooo nooo!” and some “Aww sh*t!”s. Being a volunteer and having some college behind me, I was put “in charge” of two draftees till I turned their paperwork in upon arrival at the San Diego airport. We stayed close friends through boot camp. Another boot camp buddy was there because a judge had given him the option of Marine Corps or prison for manslaughter charges!

David S. Martinez,

Our unit had a draftee that had been drafted out of high school (?) from Puerto Rico, and into the Marines. Another Marine had been drafted and when he was going thru the induction process an army seargent asked if anybody would like to be a butcher. A few raised their hands and the seargent told them they just joined the Marine Corps! Semper Fi. Cpl,USMC,Field Radio Operator 2531


In reply to Larry Verbitsky.
In 1965 our EGA were handed out by the Battalion Commander after our graduation ceremony. And it was a BIG DEAL to all of us.


In reply to David S. Martinez.
That’s interesting you mentioned the judge’s order option. I forgot all about that. They were still ordering guys into the Marines when I was in. I had a couple in my platoon in boot camp at Parris Island in ’81 in platoon 2062. I wonder what year they stopped doing that?

Jerry Tomaschik, Cpl, USMC ’81-’85,

Adding to SSgt Merton Bushong’s story and mostly for the Marines who trained afterwards, I arrived at PI on 1 July 1960. Just in time for a nice warm stay. We didn’t have enough recruits so we were assigned to a “forming” platoon. Our main job 24/7 was to keep the barracks clean, PT, and start drilling. During receiving we received only our fatigue uniforms and boots. The fatiques were olive drab, with the stenciled USMC on the pocket and the EGA on the soft cover, no herringbone, and definitely not Camos (they were reserved exclusively for Recon I later found out). The fatiques were meticulously prepared by base laundry by boiling. We actually had to pull them apart in order to get our arms and legs in them. They stayed that way. They were never pressed. While we did scrub our skivvies by hand and hang them on clotheslines tied by short strings, we did turn in our fatigues to the laundry along with our sheets and pillowcases. You could tell we were recruits, our fatigues were always – wrinkled (was an understatement), and they were wet from sweat. In July ’60 through to about 1963 we used the WWII and Korean War 782 gear. All of it. At PI we were issued M1 Garands and their bayonets. We wore cartridge belts (and helmet liners) all the way through boot camp. Regarding neat fatigues and boots, we were never allowed to press (no irons allowed) or polish (no polish allowed) our boots. We could only brush them. We were not issued dress uniforms until a couple/few weeks before graduation, with strict instructions not to touch the emblems or put them on the collars. That was to be done the morning of graduation and on the DI’s specific order. I tried my emblem on one collar and got severly chewed out by the Senior DI and he told me that I would not graduate and would be sent back. Fortunately, he did let me graduate.

Michael (Andelman) Miller,

I learned discipline the hard way. While going through boot camp at San Diego in 1950, I had a severe knee injury that caused a setback. While healing, I was assigned to a Casual Company which was in the building near all the top brass. In boot camp we had to button are tops all the way up to the top and the bottoms had to be tucked into our trousers. While I was in the Casual Co., I thought that meant I could relax a little and undo the top button, and remove the bottom from my trousers. Well it said casual. Anyhow, one day while limping to the chow hall I met this high ranking officer. After I saluted him, he proceeded to thoroughly chew me about my dress. And I mean he was furious. Probably ruined his chow and his whole day! Now I know what discipline really means.

B. Gordon Cpl Korean Era,

While working at the Brig at KBay in about 1967, I had a young Corporal working for me. One day he was bitching about something in a humorous way and I responded, again with humor, “Shut Up! You volunteered for this!” He started laughing and informed me that he was a draftee – and he was telling the truth.

Michael Hackett,

SSgt Bushong. Would you be willing to submit your “sand in the pocket story” to possible inclusion in a 2nd edition of my book “SH*TBIRD! How I Learned to Love the Corps”? It is getting good reviews and it looks like another edition is possible. It has some very funny boot camp stories from old jarheads that weren’t all that funny when they were happening to us. If agreeable, send it to along with your plt#, duty station (SD or PI), date of service and boot camp portrait if available. Also be specific that you are giving permission for all to be published. Semper Fi.

Jim Barber,

I recall a conversation with a senior staff NCO, I think it was in 1957, about his experience in boot camp. He was not happy at all with how his platoon received their Globe and Anchors. It seems that the DI, after the recruits had been loaded into the back of a truck, threw the emblems into the back of the truck with them. The DI would not even call them Marines even though they had completed boot camp.

Joe Sanders Major, USMC Ret,

In reply to Michael (Andelman) Miller.
Are you sure you were in the Corps??? Never heard a Marine refer to the “Utility Uniform” as fatigues–the Army wore fatigues!!

L. Ortiz,

L. Ortiz, I whole heartedly agree with you…. I spent 51/2 years in the Corps and I’ve always worn utility’s, never dungarees… Semper Fi bro….. L/Cpl H. Young 64/69, Rvn 65/66/69.

Henry Young,

In reply to David S. Martinez.
I too was drafted into the USMC in 1969 at Youngstown Ohio. They took 7 out of 80 the month of March for induction into the USMC. The definition of sole surviving son was the only son of a veteran who perished while on active duty. I was an only child in the immediate family but that did not qualify as the sole surviving son definition.

Ken Bougher,

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