U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant Dick Cole’s passing Tuesday, April 9th, raised barely a ripple of interest. But Lt. Cole was a genuine American hero. Today’s youth display scant knowledge, interest or patience with the history of the blood that has been shed to raise them to their current sheltered existence, of which they do much complaining. It is men and women of such courage and dedication to freedom that has assured them that privilege.
Lt. Cole was the last surviving member of an elite group of 80 Airmen who, in one of our country’s darkest hours, gave it hope that by courage and dedication, America and our allies would prevail against the axis forces. Under the command of Colonel James Doolittle, this small band struck the first American offensive blow of the war against Japan, shocking that nation and its leaders to know that America had just begun to fight.
Japanese commanders were humiliated, confused and confounded because they had no idea from where the aircraft had launched the attack. The B-25 medium bomber required 1000-2000 feet minimum of runway to take off. They paused offensive planning and refocused on Midway Island which became a pivotal battle and turning point in the Pacific War.
Of course, the Doolittle Raiders had been launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in an amazing feat of cooperation between the Navy and Air Corps, a feat that was thought impossible by most everyone except Jimmy Doolittle. His all-volunteer unit had been training and practicing short-runway take-offs without knowing what they were going to be asked to do. When they boarded the Hornet, watching their aircraft being swung aboard they assumed they would be off-loaded elsewhere. Once at sea, Doolittle finally told them the plan. He gave every man a chance, no repercussions, to back out of what seemed like a near-suicide mission. The plan was to get close enough to Japan so that they could make their bombing runs, fly straight on to mainland China to land at a Chinese airstrip. Unfortunately, the small fleet ran across a Japanese fishing trawler. Afraid that the boat had radioed Tokyo of their presence, it was determined that the raid had to be launched immediately – 200 miles farther away from their target than planned. It was almost a guarantee that fuel would not last long enough to reach the safety of the Chinese army lines. Again, every man was given the chance to back out, with no stigma attached. Again, every man stood fast. To make matters worse, the fleet was in storm conditions, the bow of the Hornet dipping so deep that water was spraying over the end of the flight deck. The navy launch officer had to time every dip just right. The pilots would run their engines up to top speed while standing on the brakes, then release and hope the timing was immaculate – which it was for all 16 aircraft. No power assisted take-off was available in those days – just the guts and skill of the pilots and navy personnel.
Though it did little damage, the bombing and strafing of Japan by 16 American aircraft was a scandal that shook the confidence of the Japanese people and their leaders. 15 of the aircraft crashed, 3 men were killed in action, 8 were captured, 3 were executed and one died in captivity. One crew landed in Russia and was quarantined there. The rest miraculously survived after parachuting from aircraft flying on fumes, were rounded up by Chinese nationalist troops and civilians and taken to safety.
The Doolittle Raid is an iconic example of bravery of which all Americans, and especially the youth of our country, should be aware. That the last surviving member of that heroic band of men would pass with so little notice is tragic. How can we expect young Americans to fully appreciate what they have inherited if they do not know, or understand, what has been sacrificed for them. read more

Desert Storm action

Semper Fi y’all, I am an 0311 ground pounder from the Montgomery, AL reserve unit that was deployed to Saudi Arabia and saw action near Kuwait City. Our unit was Hotel Company of the 3rd Bn 23rd Marines (4th Div). Our unit followed behind the 2nd Marine Division when they rolled into Kuwait. I guess we were protecting the rear and eventually taking a position outside Kuwait City where we remained for a month or two after all the other units left Kuwait. It seemed to us that there were a few Iraqis who hid from the 2nd Div but grew brave when they saw us as we had a handful of engagements. There was only one Abram attached to our unit so we appeared less intimidating. I rode in the back of a Mercedes cattle truck we comondered after its driver fled the Iraqis. Our truck was 2nd to last in a column because it would get stuck in the sand. The last six bi would push us along. Approaching a small farm village an Iraqi fired at the front of the column. After taking position along the side of the road, the last two trucks were selected to patrol for the “sniper.” Not in an emotionaly healthy state of mind, I volunteered for point. I walked through a couple of goat pins and stood in the gateway of a sheet metal fence. Twelve feet to my left Corporal Rouse our shortest man had a green tracer pierce the fence above his head. I hugged the dirt and watched a sea of red tracers fly toward the grain silo the Iraqis had fired from. Anyway, mostly the Iraqis were ready to surrender. So, there aren’t a lot of combat stories from Kuwait but there are some Storm vets with combat action ribbons. Corporal Vickers 1991. read more

non vietnam vet

I enlisted in the Marines in Feb.,1966 while I was a senior. I entered boot camp July, 1966. Went to infantry training a Pendleton and then supply school at Camp Lejeune. When leaving school, we were given three choices. Over seas, west coast, east coast. I chose over seas because I thought being in the Corps for four years I would go to Viet Nam sometime I might as well get it over. When my orders came, they sent ten of us to MACS-2 at Kaneohe Hawaii. Next duty was C&E Bat. at San Diego. As such, I never refer to myself as a Viet Nam Vet. I just served during the war. read more

Desert Shield/Storm?

Seeing a lot of Vietnam vet posts. Haven’t seen any about 1990,91 Desert Shield/Storm commentaries. I was in 1st LAI Bn TOW plt. We got airlifted out on Labor Day weekend to Saudi Arabia. I suppose some of what I remember most are the exaggerations of the media. Like, I never drank 5 gal of water a day and after getting climatized I drank the same amount of water as I drank back at Pendleton. As far as actually busting caps, I never did, I was the guide and drove the platoon hummer wherever Capt. Freda wanted me to go. When we were sitting in Kuwait airport I found out that about 2/3 of the platoon never fired a shot either. And they were up with the forward units. I was with he supply train about 10 miles back. We sat in the middle of the burning oil wells for about 3 days before moving into the airport and then it ended. Just over a 96 timewise. I’ve only seen a couple of guys wearing Desert Storm covers since then and when I asked them where they were at or which units they were in it seemed like it was a big secret they couldn’t tell me anything. So if there are any Desert Shield/Storm vets out there with more interesting accounts to tell (and you’re not sworn to secrecy) go ahead and write in I would like to read them. And no, I’m not writing a book. R/S Sgt. Pete read more

Scariest Days

While sitting in group the other day someone ask this question. “What were your most scariest days in the service?” After spending 13 months as a gunner in an infantry unit you would think that i would have instantly thought of a day in Nam. I did have some bad days over there but, one thought that came to mind was my first day or two at P.I. I was totally “Scared Sh$%less” I could not take a crap for at least 3 days! I am curious on any other thoughts of your “Scariest Days” in the Corps. Keep in mind that I sit in group with a lot of Army guys and, when I responded it got a lot chuckles. They had no idea what I meant. Anyone else have a similar experience or, was it just me? Bill 0331 read more

I Am A Marine

I Am A Marine

I was born 244 years ago in 1775
Not in a hospital nor a cabin, nor a home
I was born in a Tavern on the docks in Philly.
I was given the task of augmenting the United States Naval Forces in battling for the birth of my Country.
I took that charge and made it my own,
no other would take charge from me.
It is my honor-bound duty to stand for my country,
not for diplomacy, that is the job of others.
I like the Spartans before me, smile in the face of the enemies of my home.
I am the tip of the spear,
I do not wither from my charge,
I care not who you are or what you are capable of,
I am a United States Marine,
I will not falter,
I will not hesitate,
if you are an enemy of my country,
I am coming for you personally and
I will not quit until you are my enemy no more.
It is said to forgive is divine, that is God’s job, mine is to arrange your face to face with Him.
I am just a man, born to a woman, I bleed red, I have a purpose, my purpose is to protect my country from all enemies foreign and domestic,
Try to destroy my faith, my family, and my country, we will meet. When we do, remember this, I WILL WALK AWAY when it is done.
It is said What does not kill you strengthen you,
not true of a Marine,
a Marine will kill you.
That’s my job, that’s what I do. read more

Green Side Squid

One week after finishing Field Medical Service School at CamPen, I was aboard APA 45 Henrico headed for RVN via Okinawa. I roomed with 3 other O-3s, one of who had red patches on the outside of the knees of his utilities. I mentioned at dinner that I would be open for sick call at 0800 the next morning. I arrived at the ships dental office and there was a line of troops down the passageway which really surprised me. My dental tech and I worked as quickly as we could to care for all the patients that day, most of whom had the same strange little squares on their utilities. At dinner that night, I casually asked the group if they knew what the little squares were for?? The Captain I had met who also had the little patches spoke up quickly and said “Hey Doc, didn’t they tell you that those are the guys with VD and you have to be REAL careful with them!!” My helpful and friendly dining companions all chimed in to confirm the need for special precautions when dealing with these contaminated Marines!! Of course I had to appear as un-squid like as possible, so I put on a grim face and said thanks. By this time the battalion surgeon was in on the scam and he advised me to show up at sick bay in morning for appropriate antibiotics. The next morning as I headed to sick bay, the XO met me in the passageway and said he’d heard on “my accidental expose”. It was kind of quiet when I went into to office considering the number of people in the room when Dr Tom said to drop my trou for the shots. As I got thing ready to drop, the Captain who also had the patches came in the room and yelled “Hey, Doc,turn around!” And there he was with the plywood insignia for SHORE PARTYand the room was filled with hysterical folks leaning on each other ……laughing the asses off!!! It’s just about impossible to do anything but realize that I’d been HAD by these screw balls. A great group of men with a fitting introduction to the Corps read more

What Is A Vietnam Vet

I have just recently discovered the Grit newsletter so I guess you can say I am kind of the “New Guy” I served 1 tour with Lima 3/1 never even thought of extending after being witness to some extendys getting wasted after coming back.In my opinion if I made it for one tour there was no way I was going to push my luck,considering the fact that there was really no good reason for us to be there.Thats not why I am writing. Over the years I have run into Vets wearing Vietnam Vet hats and other items claiming to be Nam vets but,when I approach them to find out where and when and who they served with some will tell me “Oh I didn’t actually go to Vietnam ” but,”I served during the war” Does that make him a Vietnam Vet? or the so called Vietnam Era Vet? With that said why does a person that did not leave the states during WW-2 considered a WW-2 Vet yet, if you served during any other period you are an “Era” vet. Sometimes I hesitate to ask someone about their service for fear of what they might say.One time I saw a guy with a 1st Mar. Div hat and was excited to speak with him. When I told I was with 1st Marines in 68 He just turned and walked away and said he was to busy to talk.I followed him and started asking him more questions he all he said was he was “Around Da Nang” “Who with!” I ask. no answer and he just kept walking away. I later saw him inside the store without the hat on he pretended like he did not see me but I just had to ask. “You are a fake aren’t you?” No answer. I just walked away and let it go. My anger management group therapy helped in that situation. A few years prior the Cops would have to be called. Thanks for letting me vent Marines Paul 0311 68-69 read more

my time in the Nam

I was attached to Bravo 1/7 , 1st Marine Division as a Corpsman. Went to NSA hospital three times ,as a patient, in the first three months. Two purple hearts, ten medals in all. Good grief; didn’t know Corpsman were such a big target. I love the Corps; never saw a ship! That’s fine too, I go to Marine Corps functions only. Semper Fi , Doc 1966-1970 read more