When I joined the Corps in July of ’57 we were flown from Portland,Or. We landed at Los Angeles and one of the guys asked the stewardess if we could get off the plane and stretch out legs. The nice lady said sure; long story made short the plane took off without us, we had to catch a later flight and when we got to San Diego we were already in deep ****. Helluva way to start out!
In 1962 my brother, who was an active duty Marine, was home on leave and told me we were going to be in a war so I had better learn to fight. He said that I had better learn the right way if I wanted to stay alive and suggested the Marines. He was a PaRA-marine stationed in thailand. I believed him but by the time I enlisted they had done away with the para-marines. I don’t jump out of planes anyway.
I saw my older brother on leave 1964 in his dress blues, metals, and rows of ribbons. My first thought was, I want that uniform and I want to be a Marine. September 12th 1968 I was at MCRD Camp Pendleton platoon 3081. I asked my brother before I went to boot camp as to what to expect. He grinned and say, no can do. I don’t want to ruin all the surprises. There were more than surprises awaiting us and my thanks goes out to DI Cpl. Joy. For his tough, physical, hard nose training, on and off the tarmac. The training it took to bring a lot of young Marines back home. Semper Fi.
CHRISTMAS WITH THE CORPS
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the Corps;
no one had liberty; the troops were all sore.
We were all sacked out – every man in the lot;
on our beds of spikes; the Marine Corps cot.
Then out of the night there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my rack to see whats the matter.
I rushed to the window while craning my neck,
but I tripped on my locker and fell on the deck.
The door opened wide, and it seemed to get colder;
when I saw that St. Nick had four stars on his collar.
It was the Commandant, there was never a doubt;
he was wearing his poncho, with the green side out.
He tip-toed around by every man’s rack;
closely inspecting each man’s field marching pack.
A chosen few got a ninty-six chit,
but most of us got a ration of shit.
Then he took off in his gold plated tank;
drawn by 8 colonels, all bucking for rank.
Going over the trees, he turned with a shout;
“Merry Christmas, your bastards, you’ll never get out!!”
I’m not privy to the type of budget information and discussion that is entailed in the funding of the various military branches as Lt. Gen. Spoehr and Rear Adm. Beard obviously are. Both protested a Journal op-ed that found the Marine Corps getting shorted on funding through the defense budget. (“Marines May Need More, But The Navy Helps”, Letters, WSJ, 12/5/19). I can only speak from the personal observations of a lowly Marine grunt, but it is historically true that the Marine Corps has always been on the dirty end of the stick in peacetime (relatively speaking) funding. Doug MacArthur hated the Marines – and used them to spearhead his Pacific drive. Harry Truman was no fan – until he was caught flat-footed by the North Koreans. Dwight Eisenhower felt they should be absorbed by the Army. The Corps had to survive on crumbs to keep from being disbanded.
When the Marines landed on Guadalcanal riflemen carried the 1903 Springfield bolt action rifle. While the Corps was actively engaged in combat the Army was being issued the new M-1 Garand which the Corps didn’t receive until the end of 1942. At the end of the war the Army dumped millions of tons of arms and equipment in the oceans, or otherwise disposed of them, confident they would all be replaced with updated weaponry as it came on line. The Marines, kept their weapons and ammunition, packed them in cosmolene, and warehoused them while their ranks were thinned to bare bones. When North Korea invaded the South the Marines were the only viable force to form the fire-brigade that saved the day at Pusan after the Army had been routed from the 38th Parallel.
Equal funding? When my battalion was staging to rotate to Okinawa in 1959 I personally saw our chow hall receiving a shipment of beef clearly stamped “Rejected, U.S. Navy.” Why did the Corps accept it? It was cheaper once the Navy rejected it. In 1960, while serving on Okinawa, we suddenly started receiving tons of WWII type C-rations. Why? The Army was receiving the newest type of field rations and the Corps bought up their old rations.
When my younger brother went to Vietnam in the earliest part of the war Air Force personnel were wearing camouflaged combat uniforms before his battalion ever saw one. They had to scrounge jeep radio antennae’s from discarded Army equipment. To get extra batteries for field radios they traded liquor brought in by pilots. Their Supply NCO made weekly trips to various Army dumps to see what they could salvage.
Does the Navy “help” the Corps? Hell yes! Ask any Marine what he thinks about Navy Corpsmen who go into the field with them and you’ll get nothing but glowing admiration. Doctors and nurses, the same. They school officers at Annapolis, train pilots, build facilities. Not mentioned by Adm. Beard is Marines provide security and man battle stations on all Navy warships. Marines run the brigs that house their miscreants. And, when my youngest brother went to Vietnam in 1971, he did TAD (Temporary Additional Duty) with the Brown Water Navy that needed extra fire power on their PBR river boats – His weapon was the M79 grenade launcher.
Marines have had to use the “Midnight Requisition” (theft from other branches) and other nefarious means to succeed in their mission – such as on Guadalcanal when they stole extra M-1s from the Army ordnance depot. A Marine recruit in WWII had a 95% chance of seeing combat and it was probably the case in Vietnam. I don’t know what that figure is today but, yes, they need logistical support. I respect the contribution every veteran makes to our country, but excuse my skepticism if I believe the Corps may be getting the short end of funding. Semper Fi.
Three of us got off a Grayhound bus at the front gate of Parris Island at 0200 the morning of March 24, 1965. The guards laughed at us. One of them, a Lance Corporal, said something like, “You’re gonna regret this.”
A pickup with an OD canvas cover framed over the bed loaded us in the back and we headed for the receiving barracks.
Some recruits had been there for days because recruiting was slow at the time. We were picked up about three hours later, our heads shaved, showered, got uniforms, M-14s, bucket issue, and herded by at least 4 megaphone-loud Drill Instructors across the parade deck to 1st Battalion.
One recruit tripped over his bootlaces and spilled everything onto the parade deck. He was immediately confronted by a Drill Instructor and named Private Crazy for the length of his PI residency. The squad bay steam radiators had the temperature up to about 95 degrees. Platoon 120 would be on the island for 13 weeks because it took two weeks to form a company before training could begin. We drilled and ran and did PT and “learned how to fall” for those two weeks, and swept the company-wide competitions until graduation.
When I got off the train at Yamasee, SC in Aug. 1961 our Drill Instructor (a DI was Jake Webb in the movies that we learned the hard way) was a interesting young man that had a very loud voice and an abrasive attitude. He turned out to be one of our junior Drill Instructors (Sgt. Adcock). He was a young female feline compared to SSgt. Jacoby who was the Senior Drill Instructor. When we reached Parris Island the next day I don’t remember yellow footprints. I suspect they came later for the intellectually deprived recruits which also deprived the Drill Instructors the FUN of getting the mob in line. Memories!!!!
After 13 weeks of boot camp, during which about half of all
Communication coming down from your DIs is expletives, the most
common verb, pronoun and adjective in your vocabulary becomes the
crude, four letter word most commonly used to describe a most beautiful
and natural function of mankind. All Marines have heard the story of the
young Marine home fresh from boot camp. Previously quite outgoing, he is
strangely quiet during the first, special, homecoming dinner – attended by
favorite aunts, uncles, grandparents and siblings, all beaming with pride at
their young Marine. Mom, sensing some tenseness, asks “Johnny, you are
being very quiet. Is there something wrong?” Johnny responds “No, Mom.
I’m just afraid if I talk too much, I’ll f**k up!” Obviously, in “polite company”,
freshly anointed Marines have to be on their toes.
The first day, It was November 18 1982 M C R D San Diego, Platoon 1114 Delta Company. I remember it very well. One minute the drill Sargent was a nice fellow the next he was mad and we were not getting off the bus fast enough. I thought what have I gotten myself in to, 13 weeks with this guy ?. Simpher Fi!.
What I remember there were 5 of us coming from Pittsburgh Pa. We stopped somewhere waiting for the bus to take us to PI and got drunk on our asses. The guy that was in charge of us was going crazy about us drinking. But we all paid for it for 2 days when we got to PI. At least I know I did. We were not ready for the reception we go. It was like going into the TWILIGHT ZONE.