Shore Party Beach Matting

While surfing Marine sites on the web I came across this picture of Marines from Co. C, 3rd Shore Party Bn. taken in Okinawa in 1971. I served with Co. A, 3rd Shore Party at Dong Ha, among other locations in Vietnam 1966/1967. When I left Okinawa in August, 1967, Co. C and Co. A were side by side in the same area.
Note the rolls of beach matting on top of a 5-ton truck. They appear to be made of a type of composite fiberglass material. Before the fiberglass matting was used Shore Party used a “chain link” type matting that folded and fit into the back of a 5-ton truck accordion style. The truck was equipped with a frame that came over the cab and down in front of the front bumper. When landing on a sandy beach enough of the matting was pulled down over the frame to allow the front wheel to roll onto the matting. When the truck was driven across the beach it laid down the matting to create a makeshift roadway for other vehicles to drive across without making ruts or getting bogged down in the sand.
Now for my interest in the picture. When I came back from Vietnam in the summer of 1967, I was assigned to Co. C, 2nd Shore Party Bn at Camp Lejeune, NC. One morning I was called to the Company Office and told that we had a section of a fiberglass type beach matting that the Marine Corps wanted to test because they were considering replacing the older close woven chain link type matting. Another Marine and I hauled the test section, approximately 20 to 30 feet long and a little wider than a 6X, out to Onslow Beach. We were directed to lay the beach matting on the sandy beach and drive over it for the rest of the day and record how many passed we made. For an entire day, I drove the 6X back and forth over the matting while the other Marine recorded each pass we made. I treated it pretty ruff, slamming on the brake several times while on the matting. I would drive across it, make a tight circle and drive back across it. I don’t remember how many passes we made but we were out there all day running back and forth over the beach matting.
At the end of the day we took the matting back to the 2nd Shore Party Bn office along with the report of how many passes were made across it. I never did know what the results of the test were or what the decision was made until I ran across this picture. So, I take it from the picture that the fiberglass beach matting was procured to replace the heavy cumbersome metal matting.
Cpl Bob Mauney (1381)
Vietnam, 1966/1967

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Happy Birthday Ben 1942

I have recently gained a new online friend in the person of Ms. Patricia Reynolds, who lives in Georgia, near Atlanta. Pat saw my reply to an article in a newsletter in which I offered to share the pictures my wife and I took while on a tour of several WWII Pacific war islands, which included the island of Peleliu. Her interest was personal. She said, “My Dad was in that battle with the 1st Bn, 7th Marines, B Company.” I immediately agreed to pass on every relevant picture I had of the tour as well as a copy of the video we took.
As we communicated, I learned that Pat’s Dad, Ben Reynolds, had also served with Chesty Puller, then a Lt. Colonel and Battalion Commander (and well on his way to becoming a Marine Corps legend), on Guadalcanal. She has a natural desire to be able to form a mental picture of what he experienced, and pictures of the jungle terrain brought back memories of conversations she’d had with him. She told me “Most of the stories I learned were from the 1st Marine Division conventions when he would get around his buddies and they would start talking. They usually kept to the lighter stories. I often think about those guys who, like Dad, had so many “firsts” in their lives during that time. First time on a long train ride through states they had only heard about in school. First time on a ship. First time in the islands. First time to see native ceremonies and taste their food. Their first time in battle.”
Ben had told her of the rain and the toll it took. “I grew up hearing about jungle rot, which was a fungus that almost all, if not all, of the guys contracted from having boots filled with water that rotted the socks off their feet.” Our pictures of the narrow trails through the jungle matched his descriptions, “Dad talking about how they had to look up as well as side-to-side because snipers would fasten themselves to the tops of trees. He also talked about how the men at the end of the line had to watch behind them to keep from getting picked off.”
“I can tell you that the story about Chesty having his pipe shot from his mouth is true. Dad was just a few men down the line from him when it happened on Guadalcanal while they were pinned down by a sniper. I would have to check but I believe it was two Marines killed trying to take the sniper from the top of the tree when Chesty called for a rifle for himself. As he rolled out of hiding while firing, he took the sniper but the sniper shot his pipe which was found in the middle of the path.”
Ben’s respect for Puller took on a more personal meaning on the first birthday he “celebrated” in the islands – his 19th – in what is officially called the Second Battle of the Matanikau or, by the Marines who were there, the Battle of Point Cruz. As described by Wikipedia, “The Matanikau River area included a peninsula called Point Cruz, the village of Kokubona, and a series of ridges and ravines stretching inland from the coast. Japanese forces used the area to regroup from attacks against U.S. forces on the island, to launch further attacks on the U.S. defenses that guarded the Allied airfield located at Lunga Point” – Henderson Field. The article continues “…elements of three USMC battalions under the command of …Major General Vandergrift attacked Japanese troop concentrations at several points around the Matanikau River. The Marine attacks were intended to ‘mop-up’ Japanese stragglers retreating towards the Matanikau from the recent Battle of Edson’s Ridge. They were to disrupt Japanese attempts to use the Matanikau area as a base for attacks on the Marine Lunga defenses.
As General Vandergrift explained the events in the book “Once a Marine”, “Finding the river defended in considerable strength he (Puller) marched down its east bank to the coast. Hoping to box in the force uncovered by Puller, I sent Sam Griffith’s raiders south to the upper Matanikau, there to cross and come in behind the enemy while the 2d Battalion, 5thMarines, attacked across the bar at the mouth with Puller’s battalion landing from boats on the other side of Point Cruz. The action, commanded by Merritt Edson, backfired when the raiders ran into severe opposition. Believing the raiders had crossed the river and started to fight toward the coast, Edson sent the 2nd Battalion across the bar of the Mantanikau and simultaneously pushed Puller’s battalion west for the Point Cruz landing. Both attacks ran into enemy concentrations which repulsed them with severe losses to us. When Edson radioed for air support to help the battalion that was all but surrounded at Point Cruz we hastened to comply. But now an air raid…hit us very hard and temporarily knocked out communications.” These Marines had stepped into a hornet’s nest containing most of a Japanese regiment. The following is Ben Reynolds’ account of that birthday as related to me by his daughter.
“September 27, 1942, Dad’s first of three birthdays he would spend in the South Pacific. He became 19.”
“The order came for a landing on Point Cruz, later nicknamed Little Dunkirk.” The Marines were ferried by 24 landing craft operated by Coast Guard personnel with Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro commanding the small flotilla. Major Rogers was in command and Chesty stayed behind on the other side of the island in the command center.”
“Rogers was warned by a Marine named Kaufman not to dress in full officer uniform because he would be a target for the Japanese who had been killing officers, thinking it would cause the Marines to fall apart and run. Rogers did not take his advice.”
“Rogers led the Marines to Point Cruz and had them land in the wrong place. The Marines crossed the beach, two huge logs, and made it to the top of the hill. As they looked back toward the beach they saw two large columns of Japanese Imperial Marines coming down the road. Japanese could be seen in every direction.”
“Mortar and machine guns started hitting the area where the Marines were. Then the Marine artillery started firing and shelling the area. Lt. Meadows called a halt to the shelling, stating they were telling the Japanese where the Marines were. About that time a mortar shell hit Major Rogers between his feet, blowing him to pieces. Dad was sprayed by blood and guts but no metal. Kaufman, the demolition man, was hit in his gut and died within minutes while begging someone to kill him. Warren, another Marine, got a large piece of metal in his leg.”
As explained by General Vandergrift’s book, communications were out. “The Marines took off their T-shirts and spelled ‘Help’ so the SBD pilot, Lt. Leslie, could radio for help.
The call for help galvanized Chesty Puller. “Chesty had realized the Marines, fewer than 300, had landed in the middle of a Japanese stronghold of more than 4000 enemy.” With communication knocked out, Puller quickly boarded a Navy destroyer, the USS Ballard, and steamed to Point Cruz to supply close support and direct the extraction of his battalion by the Coast Guard-manned Higgins boats that had landed them. During the action, Coast Guardsman Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro earned the only Medal of Honor in the history of the Coast Guard. “Dad always felt that Chesty deserved total credit for the rescue of the Marines that day and the official accounts back up his story of how they escaped certain death.”
“A Lieutenant called for the troops to dig in. Gunny Madden reminded him they were on coral and could not dig in and needed to get off the hill. About that time, the destroyer USS Ballard came in sight. The Radio man, Sgt. Raysbrook, stood up to signal the destroyer. George Cooper stood next to him with his BAR shooting Japanese. The ship signaled they were going to shell from the beach to the middle of the hill and the Marines should fight their way to the beach. As the Marines fought their way down (through the Japanese positions) a Marine next to Dad had his head cut off by a sword wielding Japanese officer. Dad dug his bayonet into the officer and kept going.”
Munro started sending his landing craft in to evacuate Marines off the beach under intense fire. “Some of the Coast Guardsmen were too afraid to come all the way in. One gunner got part of his face blown away and the assistant gunner took over. Marines were wading out to the boats and put some wounded on before climbing aboard. Gunny Sgt. Andy Malonowski, from A company grabbed a BAR and stayed behind to cover their escape. His silenced gun told his fate.”
It was quite a birthday for Ben and he credited Puller’s quick thinking for getting the Ballard on station in time to save him to see the next one.
While Chesty’s charmed life continued on to the invasion of Peleliu on September 15, 1944 (The Japanese gunners destroyed 60 landing craft in the first hour of the invasion. Puller’s landing craft was hit by a 40mm shell as it approached the beach but the shell was a dud and didn’t explode), Ben Reynolds luck temporarily took a holiday. Puller’s 1st Marine Regiment was pulled off the line after just 8 days, having suffered 70% casualties. By 15 October the 7th Marines had suffered 46% casualties and were replaced by the 5th Marines. Ben hadn’t lasted that long. Pat related the story.
“Dad was one of those 7th Marines severely wounded. He was hit in the right shoulder and then again in his lower jaw. He made his own way back to the beach (the Japanese were shooting stretcher bearers, knowing the Marines wouldn’t leave the wounded out in the open to die) and was spotted by a Higgins boat driver getting ready to pull away. The driver had him crawl onto the gate, closed it and rolled Dad down into the boat for the trip out to the ship.”
With his luck still on pause, “Once on the ship, the medical team had him moved to the ‘dead’ area, believing he wouldn’t make it” and moving on to those whom they felt had a chance to survive their wounds. “Three days later (the raging battle keeping a steady stream of wounded coming aboard) they realized he was still alive and gave him life-saving medical aid. He was then sent back to California, then to Idaho, and finally to Bethesda. All this time his jaw was still shattered. He was walking down the hospital hallway looking for some help when a doctor spotted him and asked him what was going on. Dad told him and the doctor, a civilian, told him he was a plastic surgeon and if Dad would go with him immediately, he would fix his jaw. So they walked down the hallway to the operating room with the surgeon gathering his team along the way and Dad got the surgery he needed.”
Pat is understandably proud of her late father. She is one of the lucky ones who have had the good fortune to hear his story in his own words. I’m proud that she has given me the chance to share it with whoever might read and appreciate his story. I thank her and all the “Ben Reynolds” who have answered our country’s call.

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Son of retired USMC MSgt

I am the adopted 77 yr. old son of a 92 year old retired U S Marine Corps DI still giving orders. Although I never served, I feel as though I have been instructed by one of the best and have in some small part earned some Corps values that have served me through life. Thanks “Dutch”
Dad’s handle given to him while in training at P.I.
After end of WW II Dutch was a Drill Instructor at Paris Island, SC
I grew up as a Marine’s son, learning to shoot pistols, rifles, shotguns at age 7 and was very proficient at it. He would arrange matches with me against some of the recruits that he wanted to, I guess encourage, and I would win. All the D.I.’s would have a good laugh. This was at Paris Island 1946-47 My favorite time was spent in the armory with Dutch checking out all the weapons and listening to all the sea stories told by the drill instructors. I guess rules were a little more relaxed back then, compared to now days.
One of the more amusing stories I remember hearing was when Dutch was a recruit in training at P.I. year 1939-40, one of the recruits left his foot locker out to far and the D.I. tripped over it during lights out night count. I guess all hell broke out with some choice verbiage in the ear of the offender. Dutch and some of his buddies thinking this was humorous, after lights out a few days later pulled the same fella’s foot locker out. During night count the D.I. sees the foot locker out and lites into recruit with **#!*!!##* language stating if left out again the foot locker would be tossed off the balcony or out the window. Well guess you know what happens next! Except, they switched the recruits foot locker with the gunny’s foot locker and left the gunny’s locker in the isle. True to his word off the balcony went the foot locker. I think there was some company punishment involved when the gunny discovered the next morning it was his locker he had thrown off the balcony! I hope this was a true story and not something made up, I just remember hearing them tell it, either way it is a good story. I think they may have used it in a movie, not sure.
Dutch was a 19 year old squad leader then platoon Sgt. on Saipan and Okinawa. This short story takes place on one of these island that was nothing but a muddy bog during rainy season. Dutch said their boots would be so coated and weighed down with mud that it was almost impossible to move. He said one night on patrol struggling up a muddy hill they heard the Marine on point slip and fall backward knocking everyone down like dominos but no one going anywhere because there boots were so stuck in the mud they all just wound up on their can’s . Really funny to a young kid, probably not so funny to those involved.
Thanks for the memories Dutch and God bless all those who have and are protecting our freedom.
Frank Hundshamer for
Irwin W Hundshamer “Dutch”
USMC MSgt. retired

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Vietnam 67 – 68

I joined the Marine Corps in 1957 and retired in 1978. I was with 3rd Bn. 9th Marines. We left Okinawa in Jan 1967 but I can’t remember how we entered Vietnam.. If anyone who was with 3-9 at that time could e-mail me and let me know how we landed I would appreciate it very much..I’m starting to forget a lot of things and I don’t want to forget how I got to Vietnam..

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WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS…

On July 4th, 2019 Americans will celebrate our country’s 243rd birthday, born of a declaration that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
After I retired from my “job” I became a school bus driver in the small town of Cottonwood, AZ. I drove all ages from pre-school to eighth grade and loved the interaction with kids. One Monday I challenged them. On the bulkhead over my driver’s seat I wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” The first to tell me the meaning of that phrase would receive a silver dollar. I gave them a week. By the second day they were frantic and asked for a hint. I said I’d give them a huge hint. I said that the answer was “obvious.” No one tumbled onto the answer. Not until Friday morning, refusing to get off the bus as they tossed nonsensical words about did a timid 6th grade girl say “Does it mean…obvious?” On Monday, I presented her with her silver dollar and used the opportunity that week for discussion of why the signers of the Declaration of Independence risked their lives and their fortunes to declare themselves free from foreign governance.
Today, in my 79th year, I wonder how many of those kids, all voting age adults now, really do hold those “truths” to be obvious. How many of them have read and understand that the U.S. Constitution was written to protect those “truths”. Of course they believe they are entitled to “Life”. Unfortunately, many believe “Liberty” is a given, even as we pass the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the 74th anniversary this year of the end of a World War, fought to ensure the “truth” of Liberty. Also, unfortunately, many have come to translate the “Right” to pursue “Happiness” as a “guarantee” of happiness. But most unsettling is that there are those who, although they give lip service to it, don’t quite get the “all men are created equal” part, as they strive to deny equal voice to those with whom they disagree politically.
When asked what the members of the Constitutional Convention had accomplished, Ben Franklin answered “We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it.” He fully understood that one of the greatest documents ever written not only gave us the means to maintain our liberty but, also, the means to abolish it. He understood the frailties of the human ego, when extreme power is placed in the hands of the few. Daniel Webster was blunt. He wrote “It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions…. There are men, in all ages…who mean to govern well: but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters: but they mean to be masters….”
The American experience will never be replicated. Our country was born at a time when two oceans, a vast wilderness to the north, and a weak, disorganized neighbor to the south, protected our shores while we fulfilled our potential. But for it to endure, we must believe in and trust one another. We have to ensure that our children understand what they are inheriting – that they understand that the power belongs to the people; the elected are just temporary caretakers. For it to endure we must deserve it for, as John Adams said “Our Constitution was made only for a moral…people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Every year I donate a U.S. Constitution booklet, complete with the Declaration of Independence and all the Amendments, to the entire 3rd grade of the school where my granddaughter started her teaching career, hoping they will take it home with questions for their parents. Those questions – and the answers given – will determine the future of this great country.

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Woody Williams

My father was a WWII veteran. He served aboard LST 751 in the pacific. When he came home from the war, he had a problem with shortness of breath. This didn’t seem to bother him at first, but things got worse. My mother tried to get him to go to the doctor but no go. She took matters into her own hands and brought the doctor to him. He was diagnosed with Tuberculous. It was determined that he had to have contacted the disease while in the pacific. Which made it service connected and should qualify him for disability. Our family had a friend who worked for the VA, so mom made an appointment with him. His name was Bill Ward. Dad, with the help from Bill, filled out all the paper work. Supplied all of the doctor’s reports that supported my dad’s claim, and it was sent in. Bill explained that it would take about a month to here back. Not so with dad. He received a reply within two weeks. He had been denied. The application was resubmitted and the same answer, denied. Bill resubmitted the application, but this time ask for help from another rep. His name was Hershel Woodrow “Woody “Williams, Medal of Honor winner, United States Marine Corps, Iwo, Jima. Mr. Williams made sure dads application got into the right hands and not some bureaucrat. It was approved. My father passed away in November 1957, he was 47 years old. I was 16 when he died. Dad never naught me very much, not because he didn’t want to but because of his illness he wasn’t able. One time he did teach me a valuable lesson. Dad had some friends over for dinner. They were old Navy veterans from the war. They were having an argument about a sea battle in the pacific. That neither one of them was in, but my dad’s ship was. He tried to tell them they were wrong, but to no avail. He looked over at me and said. Son this is why “You Never Bandy Words With Idiots”. I’ve never forgotten that. This little bit of wisdom has taught me to keep my big mouth shut in similar circumstance.

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Reflections in Stone

Thoughts during a few moments spent standing, staring at a vertical slate of black marble; only vaguely aware of the rain drenched figure standing, staring back; unable to move any closer; unwilling to turn away. All the names in chronological order, left to right, as need dictated. All needed on a given day clustered together. He was there, but it was so much easier not to look or find. Surrounded by the others, he remained silent. When identified, he would cry out. Raindrops fell and a gentle, cold wind chilled my finger as it traced a path down the dripping slate.

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Courtesies and Customs

I enlisted in 1976 in the Marine Corps, went to boot camp at San Diego, went to admin school at Camp Pendleton. did a tour in Okinawa, and reported to MCDEC Quantico, Virginia in 1978. While there I was assigned to mess hall duty. One day, I received verbal instructions from either a gunnery sergeant or a master sergeant who was in charge of our kitchen detail. My response was a prompt “Yes,sir!”. The senior enlisted dutifully reminded me to not call him “sir”, that he worked for a living. I responded with a thought from my upbringing in Texas: “With all due respect, I was always taught to respect my elders.” There was nothing more said from the E-7/E-8.

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SH*TBIRD! How I Learned To Love The Corps

Marine vet Jim Barber has compiled a collection of very funny stories about Marine Corps boot camp as told by those who were there. More than 90 very funny stories submitted by Marines, following the age-old tradition, who innocently left their secure, teenage life to blunder into the upside-down world created by the need to transform them from their soft civilian selves into the proud brotherhood they became. This book will be appreciated by all vets who went through some form of boot camp, as well as by civilians. But it will be most enjoyed by Marines who, wherever they congregate, find the conversation always goes back to who had the toughest D.I. While not always so funny at the time, we can now look back, laugh, and say “Yeah. That was me. A real shitbird.” GREAT BOOK FOR VETS. Ask for an excerpt.

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