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Thanksgiving 1966

By: Carl Gregory

As I sit and reminisce of where I was on Thanksgiving Day, 1966, this is what comes to mind: Mike Co 3/5 was on 3 hills west of Chu Lai. One platoon was on each hill. I was in 81 mortar attached to one of those platoons. It was the monsoon season. The hilltop had been stripped of all vegetation. The mud was so deep that you mired up halfway to the top of your boots. I had eaten C-ration for over a month. No hot messhall food at all during this time, not even on the Marine Corps birthday because we were in the field on Operation Mustang. If I remember correctly, a chopper came in with our birthday treat, a can of nuts and a slice of cake.

Back to Thanksgiving Day: my gums were bleeding and receding from my teeth because of vitamin deficiency. I had my transistor radio on and President Johnson was giving his Thanksgiving message to the troops. He stated that every American serviceman would be having a hot turkey meal that day. I suppose this was true if you considered turkey loaf from your C-rations and you could keep your heat tab burning in the pouring rain. What a morale booster his speech was. Incidentally, about 2 weeks after Thanksgiving in 1966, the V.C. penetrated the perimeter of one of the hills. On December 14, 1966, ten Marines and 1 corpsman were killed.

Today, 50 years later I am thankful for the Marine Corps. It took a 5’55” 117 pound 19 year old poor country farm boy from rural Tennessee and gave him pride, determination and confidence. Because of these traits and the G.I. Bill I was able to get my B.S. and Master’s degrees after I left the Corps.

I was drafted into the Marine Corps but my pride in the Corps is as great as any Marine that made it a career. After a week at MCRD San Diego, if the D.I.’s had told me it was a mistake and I would be sent to the Army, I would have gone kicking and screaming. The hook was in, the challenge was given. I would become a U.S. Marine.

Today, thank you Lord for the opportunity to serve. Thank you that my name is not among the 58,195 names on the Wall. Thank you for all the friends that I have made in the Marine Corps and at our reunions.

At our reunion each year we recognize and honor a KIA family from 3/5. This year we are honoring the family of L/cpl Jerry Waller, an 81 mortarman that was attached to the Lima Co. He was KIA on May 26, 1967, the first day of Operation Union II. If any readers knew him in Vietnam, I would like to hear from them. He won the Bronze Star that day. Someone had to witness his action in order for the citation to be written. He had a daughter born ten days before his death. The family has lost the citation. I would like to present her a new one at the recognition ceremony.

My email is

I was in Platoon 110 at MCRD San Diego graduating. March 14, 1966. If anyone remembers me from bootcamp or anywhere else that I served, please get in contact with me. I would like to talk with you.

Semper Fi
Sgt. Carl Gregory 3rd Bn 5th Marine Co.
K Co. Weapons Platoon July – August 1966
81 mortar attached to Mike Co. August 1966 – August 1967

P.S. I agree with other readers. Please make this website more user friendly. I used to anticipate the newsletter each week. I still have not read last Sunday’s newsletter.

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

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Carl Gregory - June 13, 2020

I remembered that it was called Operation Starvation by the Marines. It was called that because we almost starved. We were issued dry/dehydrated food; rice, dehydrated onions, salt, pepper, coffee, maybe dehydrated soup, raisins and Tang. Everyone was left to their own ingenuity of how to cook and combine the ingredients. I think the theory behind this was that we would not have to be resupplied and the enemy would not know that we were in the area. We were to hike over the tall hills west of Chu Lai into the enemy territory undetected. Do you attend the 3/5 reunion each year at Lake Barkley each year? Please email your reply to Semper Fi. Carl

Carl Gregory - June 13, 2020

My bad, I knew the bronze star was awarded, not won. The wording just slipped by me. I turn 70 in a month and I do not have the brain cells that I once did. Semper Fi. Carl

Sgt Angelo J Manos - June 13, 2020

Semper FI,Marine,Just a friendly reminder that no Marine ever won a Medal….they were awarded a medal and just about every Marine I have talked with say that there were better Marines who did more and were never awarded a Medal.Always Faithful.Ang USMC 1/69-1/72

Harry - June 13, 2020

Operation Mustang also known as (Operation Starvation) Bless You Brother and SEMPER-FI!!

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