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The Old Corps

Submitted by, Jim Almeida

When We Were Young, They Talked About “The Old Corps.”

Now We Are The “Old Corps!”

Remember when…

Everyone was issued dress blues.

You kept your rifle in the barracks.

Your 782 gear did not wear out.

Mess halls were mess halls (NOT dining facilities).

No vandalism wrecked the barracks.

Everyone was a Marine and his ethnic background was unimportant.

We had heroes.

Chaplains didn’t teach leadership to the experts.

Getting high meant getting drunk.

Beer was 25 cents at the slopchute.

Skivvies had tie-ties.

We starched our khakis and looked like hell after sitting down the first time.

We wore the short green battle jacket with the winter uniform.

We wore Sam Browne belts and sharpened one edge of the buckle for the bad fights.

We kept our packs made up and hanging on the edge of the rack.

We spit shined shoes.

Brownbaggers’ first concern was the Marine Corps.

Generals cussed.

Generals paid more attention to the Marine Corps than to politics.

UA meant being a few minutes late from a great liberty, and only happened

once per career.

Brigs were truly “correctional” facilities.

Sergeants were gods.

The tips of the index and middle fingers of one hand were constantly black

from Kiwi shoe polish.

We scrubbed the wooden decks of the barracks with creosol.

We had wooden barracks.

Privates made less than $100.00 a month.

Privates always had money.

You weren’t transported to war by Trans World or Pan American airlines.

Barracks violence was a fight between two buddies who were buddies

when it was over.

Larceny was a civilian crime.

Every Marine had all his gear.

Marines had more uniforms than civilian clothes.

Country and western music did not start race riots in the clubs.

We had no race riots because we had no recognition of races.

Marine Corps birthdays were celebrated on 10 November no matter what day

of the week it may have been (except Sunday).

Support units supported.

The supply tail did not wag the maintenance dog.

The 734 form was the only supply document.

You did your own laundry, including ironing.

You aired bedding.

Daily police of outside areas was held although they were always clean.

Field stripping of cigarette butts was required.

Everyone helped at field day.

A tour as Duty NCO was an honor.

Everyone got up at reveille.

We had live bugle calls inside the barrack, sometimes at the foot of your rack.

Movies were free.

PX items were bargains.

Parking was the least of problems because troops couldn’t afford cars.

You weren’t married unless you could afford it.

Courts-martial orders were read in battalion formations.

A bum didn’t have a BCD awarded more than once before he actually got it.

We had the “Rocks and Shoals.”

Courts-martial were a rarity.

People receiving BCD’s were drummed out the gate.

NCOs and officers were not required to be psychologists.

The mission was the most important thing.

Marines could shoot.

Marines had a decent rifle.

The BAR was the mainstay of the fire team.

Machine gunnery was an art.

Maggie’s drawers meant a miss and was considered demeaning as hell to

the dignity of the shooter.

Carbide lamps blackened sights.

We wore leggings and herringbone utilities.

We had machine gun carts.

We mixed target paste in the butts.

We had to take and pass promotion tests to get promoted, plus have the

required cutting score.

We really had equal opportunity.

Sickbays gave APCs for all ailments.

We had short-arm inspections.

The flame tank was in the arsenal of weapons.

We had unit parties overseas with warm beer and no drugs.

Marines got haircuts.

Non-judicial punishment was non-judicial.

The squad bay rich guy was the only one with a radio.

If a Marine couldn’t make it on a hike, his buddies carried his gear and helped

him stumble along so that he wouldn’t have to fall out.

The base legal section was one or two clerks and a lawyer.

We had oval dog tags.

Marines wore dog tags all the time.

We spit shined shoes and BRUSH shined boots.

We wore boondockers.

We starched field scarves.

We worked a five and one half day week.

Everyone attended unit parties.

In the field we used straddle trenches instead of “Porta-Potties.”

Hitchhiking was an offense.

We used Morse Code for difficult transmissions.

The oil burning tent stove was the center of social activity in the tent.

We had unit mail call.

We carried swagger sticks.

We had Chesty Puller.

Greater privileges for NCOs were not a “right.”

EM Clubs were where you felt at home — and safe.

We sailed on troop ships and we rode troop trains.

Sentries had some authority.

Warrant Officers were not in their teens.

Mess hall “Southern cooking” was not called “soul food.”

Marines went to chapel on Sundays.

Weekend liberty to a distant place was a rarity.

The color of a Marine’s skin was of no consequence.

The Marine Corps was a big team made up of thousands of little teams.

We debarked from ship by means of nets over the side, landed in LCVPs and

always got wet.

We had platoon virgins.

We had parades.

We had pride.

We had Esprit de Corps.

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RT - April 1, 2020

OLD AS DIRT!!!!!!!!!

Steve Hamel - April 1, 2020

Is old Corps when you had a serial number on your dog tags and not your SSN? That’s what I had. Nov 1966 – June 1969 MCRD PISC 3rd Battalion Platoon 320 (disneyland?… I don’t think so). RVN Mar ’68 – Apr ’69 (thereabouts). Am I now old Corps?

J. Roscoe - April 1, 2020

I did not see Quonset Huts on that list…

henry kaspar - April 1, 2020

i served 1951-54 the only ones issued Dress Blue were the ones who were assigned to sea going duty..I still have my original issued DT which are rectangle shape with round corners.
Cpl.Henry kaspar

Greg Smith - April 1, 2020

This list of “Old Corps” was from Maj. H.G. Duncan USMC (RET) from one of his great books of the Green Side Out, Brown Side Out, Run In Circles, Scream and Shout volumes or Fact and Fiction From Dunc’s Almanac. He was in during the Korean war till 1979. His books had a profound effect on me during my time in from 1983 to 1987.

Bob Dwyer - April 1, 2020

I don’t understand why a number of replies say Mr Almieda is a poser since most of us did not serve in the 40s & early 50s era of Sam Brown belts, swagger sticks, round dog tags nor issued dress blues & troop ships taking us to Asia plus using creosote an squad bay decks.The only time I wore a dress blues tunic was for 5 minutes for the boot camp graduation photo. To us Chesty is a mythic God but many many Marines did serve with him in WWII & Korea. I believe he served in the Corps until it’s demonstrated to the contrary. As I age I reflect on the good times but the crappy memories are right behind them. Semper fi Bob D

Sgt Vince (Bud) Nelson - April 1, 2020

Graduated Plt 218 MCRD June 64 and after ITR went to Sea School and received dress blues gratis USMC. Upon graduation from Sea School was assigned to the USS Midway CVA 41 and deployed to WestPac and ended up on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam for nearly 13 months with stops in Japan and the Philippines for some R & R. Our longest period without seeing land was 64 days – flying sorties day and night. Ended up at Hunters Point (San Francisco) where the Midway was decommissioned for repairs in dry dock. The Midway is now a museum in San Diego and remains as the longest serving ship in the US Navy. I was then transferred to H&S Co 3/2 Camp LeJune and and was deployed to Panama for jungle training and then to Vieques for a vertical assault on the former Naval target practice island. We are planning a reunion for Platoon 218 MCRDSD mid summer 2020 – please contact me for information.

Johnny Reyes - April 1, 2020

I understood the Marines that served aboard ship and the ones on embassy duty were issued dress blues.

Stephan J Robertson - April 1, 2020

Dear Marines,
I read with most interest, one of your fellow Marines, Jim Almedia’s write up of the old “Corps. I also read the many comments made by many. Many of his comments/statements are most rue and accurate.
My grandfather retired from the Marine Corps in 1937 as a GySgt. My father served in the 1940’s and 50’s and yes as a DI, then called and ” Advanced Instructor” at Camp Lejuene in 1950. My Uncle, my fathers Brother was with “Chesty” in the 1st Marines at Inchon, Seoul and Frozen Chosin. I grew up under a very tough “Son-of- a -Bitch” my Dad. Yes our family was very close to “Chesty”. A very long story, but I spent many hours with him. Enough fluff for now but I can prove I was “Chesty’s” friend.
Dress Blues were issued at various times, but only one set. Have my Grandfathers from 1920. My father had his issued at the end of WWII, but only one set, they both had to buy their next sets after several promotions, wear -tear”. Cargo Nets. Of hell, Marines were still having to use them in excercises in the Carraibean, etc after WWII for training. My father told me many terrible stories of the deaths, etc. of Marines in this. I fully remember Marines worn Dugree’s and oh yes….heavily starched and even their skivvies. There is much more I can add to the comments made. I lost my best friends, Iwo Jima Marines. Lost my Grandfather in 1972 and my Dad in 1997……yet I wish they were still here, because just like talking with “Chesty” for over 22 years, you learn alot. One comment “Chesty” rang very clear when asked about the “Old Corps and New Marine Corps”……he forcebly stated.”Old Corps, New Corps, all that matters is the Marine Corps.
I enjoyed Jim Almeida’s letter. Much thought and knowledge put into this letter. Whether he is a Marine or Not, he spoke of history, which on knowledge I find true. Blast away Marines.
Steve Robertson
“Chesty’s Friend”
PS: Sgt. Grit knows I will speak and so many in the Marine Corps.

Bob 1381 - April 1, 2020


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