The Co. Gunny and the Radio Worm

Its a short story about Fox Co. , 2 Bn, 9th Mar, 3rd Mar Div, Okinawa in 1974.

In 1974, I was a LCpl on my first tour overseas and ended up the BN Radio Operator for Fox Co. 2/9. My CO was Capt Shawn Leach. Toward the end of my tour, we went on a training mission to the Northern Training Area (NTA). We were supposed to be on alert all night long and the radios were to be manned all night. I had taken a redheaded LCpl from the battalion HQ radio platoon. He had never been assigned to a grunt company and didn’t know sh*t about us or the way we worked.

He was senior to me in rank by a month or so and kept trying to pull it the whole time. I had been with Fox Company through an entire 6 month WESTPAC float. Some where along the way I must have gained the respect of the CO and Company Gunny, because every time ol’ Red tried to run me down, they backed me up. Anyway, the Company Gunny, GySgt Davis, made a point after evening chow that he did not want anyone sleeping on radio watch. If they did, there would be hell to pay. And I knew that if it happened, I would catch it because I was the knucklehead in charge of HQ radios. I set the watches and the 2 Co. Admin pogues got the 10-12 and 12-2 watches and I took the 2-4 knowing that it was the worst watch. I gave Red the 4-6 so he could sleep and be awake for the watch. We put 4 benches in a + sign under the roof of an outdoor classroom and settled in, passing the two radios from bench to bench. All went well and I passed off to the radios to Red. Just at sunrise I woke up and saw the Gunny coming full steam towards the outdoor classroom. I looked over at Red and he was out cold, zipped up to his chin in his mummy bag. Before I could get him up, the Gunny got to him. Reaching down with both hands he picked up Red, the radios and the bench. Stuff went everywhere and Red woke up cursing. Hearing that, the Gunny proceeded to heave the whole squirming mass down a small hill. Red came to rest at the bottom wearing a torn up sleeping bag, 2 PRC 77 radios not to mention a few lumps and bumps. Meanwhile, I was at attention waiting for the storm to turn on me. Shaking in my boots, I watched and listened as the Gunny stormed right by, winked and said something about the radio platoon and their worms. By the time the CO came out we were ready for the days march. Red had earned a place at the back of company line of march carrying a 292 antenna pack, plus his own. Now and again, I am reminded by that incident, that *^%$ really does roll downhill.

Vincent S. Dorsey, SSgt, USMC (Ret.)

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10 comments


  • TJ Kelly

    Here’s my favorite radio operator story. In 1968 I was the TACP radio operator for Mike 3/3. During a battalion operation we choppered from Camp Carroll to the base of Dong Ha Mountain. Our objective in Mike Co. was to secure the summit. It took us three tortuous days of climbing up and down the mountain’s foothills until finally reaching the summit. Thankfully there was not the expected enemy contact. Just getting there was an extraordinary athletic feat. India Company hit the jackpot by finding two pack 75 artillery pieces hidden in a cave further down slope. Those guns had been shelling Camp Carroll for weeks. At that point our much beloved and respected CO, Lt. Colonel John Wesley Marsh, decided to move his Alpha Command Group from India’s position up to the summit — without the security of even a squad. The Alpha Command Group, sometimes know as the antennae forest or the pistol platoon, had a critical shortage of M-16s. The colonel solved that by putting his radio operator, who did carry an M-16, on point. The colonel slung that man’s PRC 25 on his own back. When I saw the command group emerge from the treeline and Col. Marsh humping that radio I went to help him take it off. He was drenched in sweat. Catching his breath he said to me, “Now I know why the Marine Corps doesn’t have any 40 year old radio operators.”


  • Kelly

    There are still some of us old 2531’s still kicking. Cpl USMC 1967-1971. Nam 1967-1968


  • EDWARD LIBBY

    Love the radio stories . they say never volunteer for any thing but it paid off for me . In 1962 3rd plat. I 3-8 needed a radio man I got the job .Being a grunt this put me in the c. p. with the 2nd Lt. and plt. sgt. prick 6 prick 25 and helping put up the 292 every time we went to the boonies . anytime a school came up I was there n.b.c..warefare I placed 3rd in class got me Lance cpl. tactics of a marine rifle squard later I was able to attain e-4 in 14 months into my enlistment .Never took a test for a promotion .Did my 3 years and out .


  • Richard Dumas

    2531 (You can ABOUT us…But you CANNOT talk without us!) SHOOT BOOM COMMUNICATE !!! Echo 2/12 FO attached to 2/9 Fox Co


  • Gary Nash

    2500’s are great Marines! Anybody remember Captain Jerry Woodall, 2502, KIA in ’68? A terrific Marine loved by all his men!


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