A Marine’s Marine

While stationed with JAG at Quantico, Va. during the mid 80s, I had the pleasure of having Command Duty Officer for H&SBn. This was a 48 hour tour and to keep busy, and awake, I would conduct a routine walk through of the three buildings occupied by the battalion personnel.  While making my tours I would ensure proper security, stop and speak with some of the Marines as to any problems or questions they might have.  I actually enjoyed this part of my tour as I got to know some of the new Marines and where they worked. During one tour early in the morning I happened to see a few Marines talking in the common area but I did not want to disturb them so I acknowledged their presence and continued my tour. I did take notice of one Marine whom I did not recognize but I thought him distinguished and tall.

I finished my tour and then took a few weeks R&R to recharge as our court-martial case load was heavy and 12-14 hour days were the norm.  Arriving back from R&R I got to work, cleared up our case load and then started playing racquet ball and basketball during lunch with the other JAG Marines. After losing 5-6 pounds in sweat one day, I took a long cold shower, rehydrated and decided to buy a pesi from the junk food machines directly outside the head. As I was ready to leave I heard a voice from my left asking “Hey Gunny, you got a few one dollar bills I can borrow?”  I said sure and pulled out a few and turned to give the money to the Marine and as I did I frooze in my tracks.  The tall, distinguished Marine I had seen on my prior duty  watch was none other than Lieutenant General Peterson. I gathered myself and offered the General 3  one dollar bills and he said, hell, I just need 2.  He then asked me my name and I told him and he then said he would have his aide return the money to me shortly. He turned, walked away and said thanks Gy to which  I replied “Not a problem General.”

It wasn’t but two hours later when a sharp looking second lieutenant knocked on my office door and asked for me. I stood up and he gave me two, one dollar bills and said “The General sends his regards.” All I could reply was “ditto, sir, ditto.”  He smiled and left my office.

I was touched…here was a LtGen, soon to be base commander, driving around at night in his own vehicle while in skivies and stopping at the different barracks, talking to other Marines in skivies, finding out from the source, what they did or did not like about any particular issue.  His passing broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Here was the simplist of Marines, concerned about his Marines and their welfare above his own. He was a Marine’s Marine.

GySgt Kent, USMC(Ret)

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14 thoughts on “A Marine’s Marine”

  1. I recently received a gift copy of “MARINE – The Life of Chesty Puller” as a birthday gift from my daughter. It had been 52 years since I first read the book in 1967 as a hard charging Corporal. I thought it was interesting how my perspective has changed, yet the lessons are the same since reading it all those years ago. LtGen Peterson must have also read the book, because he was certainly emulating Chesty’s leadership style and principles. True leaders are easily recognized wherever found. Good night, Chesty, wherever you are!! Semper Fi!!!

  2. I was lucky. I served under the command of Gen Puller in Korea 1951 52 as a BAR man. B15.
    The greatest Marine who ever lived. As he said at Chosin when the Corps was surrounded “wonderful now we can fire in all directions”
    I went in the Corp a commited but confused and out of shape kid and came out a man
    God Bless the Corp. Siempre Fi
    I am going on 89 years and still carry the Gung Ho attitude

    1. It must have been awesome to have served with one of the greatest of all Marines. Although, I don’t think it would have been very awesome at the “Frozen Chosin” in 1950’s Korea. All of you “Old Corps” guys were my heros when I was a FNG newbie in 1964. Semper Fi!!

    1. Hey Dave – I’m the very one! Are you the guy we nicknamed “Shankers?” Used to travel and hang out with Jerry McCoy, Paul Walker, Mike Jett and others. Good to hear from you. Drop me a line at edd_prothro@windstream.net. Those were great days, young and invincible! A lot of water under the bridge since then. Semper Fi!! – Edd

  3. This is the 1st time I have ever heard of the likes of a Lt.Gen. doing something like engaging directly with his men that is impressive . I came face to face with a Maj.Gen. while serving as a mess hall cashier at Camp Butler Okinawa , that was the highest rank I ever encountered .

    1. Gary, l came face to face with Gen. Westmoreland 1966. I was working down at the Da Nang air strip, had my back turned to the door heard a voice turned around and all I saw was STARS. Gen. W. L/cpl young, RVN 65/66/69. Semper Fi

  4. This is the first time I’ve seen comments from Marines who were on Okinawa during my time there. I was stationed at Camp Hague from 1959 to 1962 with HQ 4/12. I also ran the base Ham station KR6MD, was a jump master with the 3rd Division Sky Divers with Gy John Freitas. Only two Marines I’ve been able to contact are Tony Vicar and Ed Pinero. Would love to hear from anyone who served with us.

    1. Hi Gordon, remember me, Paul Lindner? We pulled a lot of liberty together
      both on Okinawa and Camp Fuji. We both made E-4 at the same time and both looked KR6MD over. The Gunny decided that you would go to the Ham station and I stayed on, became Radio Chief Zookeeper28. After I got home I realized that I had not returned some negatives you had loaned me
      of pictures of all the guys in HQ-4-12. I made pictures, and still have the negatives. Give me an address and I will send them to you. Paul

  5. Great post!!! Thanks Gunny.
    Lt. General Frank Peterson: “In To The Tiger’s Jaw” (great read) it said first USMC African-American aviator and General.

  6. In 1970, while passing thru the Honolulu Airport and traveling back to CONUS I met an African American Colonel, Aviator. We set and talked for at least an hour. Catching my flight, I bid the Colonel farewell and I thought what a great officer and aviator on top of that. Later , years into the 80’s while picking up my Leatherneck I saw the Colonel as a Lt.General and Commanding General at Quantico
    Semper Fi, to this great Marine!

  7. I knew Lt Gen Peterson from Chu Lai when he was a Lt Col and squadron commander. The general was always a Marine’s Marine and a great leader.
    Semper Fi!

  8. It is surprising who you can meet under many circumstances in our travels. I had the honor of serving under LtCol K.J. Houghton with 3rdBatt5thMar from 1959-1961. Later I found out that he retired a 3 star General, last command MCRDSD. His leadership techniques that he taught us, I used when I entered the aerospace industry from 1967-1994. Like many of our honored Marine Officers, we learn and use what have been taught by them throughout our life. Semper Fi to all those who made us what we became in life.

    1. Sgt Shimono – I was awarded a certificate of commendation for service during the rescue of the SS Mayaguez which was signed by MGen Kenneth J. Houghton. He was CG 3d MarDiv/III MAF in the spring of 1975. He came up to Camp Schwab and personally, meritoriously promoted every Marine who had been wonder under the rank of sergeant, and other awards for the operation. A great man and great leader. Semper Fi!!

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