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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Definitely A Different Language

I remember one JOB in particular. It was in the wooden Barracks at MCAS El Toro Santa Ana. This was in 1969, it seems as though you were either coming from, or going to RVN. There were many old salts waiting to go home. Some of which had only a pair of utilities, and a new set of greens, receiving early outs to go home for Christmas. The majority were coming from 3rd Marine Division. PFC Kenneth Rexford Brown, formerly Sgt. Brown showed me how to pull your blankets tighter from underneath the rack, by using the springs. Of course we learned that in recruit training but KR had a trick that made the blanket tighter still and even remained that way. I believe KR got out and went to WalaWala Washington. I remember that many of the Marines were “cut a huss” for not having the proper uniforms. I can remember the inspecting Colonel coming closer and approaching a Marine that was obviously not prepared for inspection. He would ask where are coming from Marine? The Marine would reply something almost incoherent, and definitely a different language. The Colonel only said “well done Marine” and continued his inspection. That was definitely one of those days when I knew I had been in the presence of heroes. That evening we celebrated by putting a poncho liner inside a footlocker filling that with ice and beer, and listening to Johnny Cash and Luther played the boogy woogy. The party was great until the OD made us take our shindig outside the barracks. After paying for the beer, ice, and a battery operated record player the only record we could afford was albums on sale in the PX. Johnny sold for .99 and a pack of Camels for .27 cents. I remember Friday morning formation, when Captain Wade, Mustanger and one of the greatest Marines to put on a uniform would read off the names of Marines shipping out WESPAK. I remember Sgt Joe Dunlap our Platoon Sgt. in El Toro. I saw him again in Hawaii as GySgt Dunlap and I was a SSGT. We were mounting up for Operation Frequent Wind. I remember being “gigged” while on embassy duty in Chile for having dust on my wall locker display. Even with that “gig” we won the detachment of the year award. 3 Years Running. I mean RUNNING our NCOIC SSGT Turnbow had been a Physical Fitness Instructor prior to coming on MSG. That guy made us run like Forrest Gump. Like Forrest, my running days are over. Our memories and Junk on the Bunk are what make us ALWAYS A MARINE. Semper Fi D. Womack

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Picky Eaters

We called it “The Rock” and counted the days when we would rotate back to the land of the big PX. Hawaii wasn’t exactly the paradise we expected. The Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe is on a peninsula that forms Kaneohe Bay, with the Pali mountains as a backdrop. The Air Wing enlisted barracks was a group of two story, flat-roofed, stucco buildings with open squad bays that were connected by breezeways. The 212 barracks had the MPs on one side and the helo boys from HMM-161 on the other. Next to the 161 barracks was the mess hall. I arrived with a group of replacements for the guys whose two year tour was over. The barracks had an upper and lower open squadbay arranged in cubicles marked off by green metal wall lockers, and a central corridor. Each cubicle had six single bunks (or racks), as I recall. Each rack had a mosquito net which was a necessity on that side of the island, called the “Windward Side”. The mosquito nets were needed because of the mosquitos that were bred in the swamps between the base and the mainland. Those bugs were huge. One night, I forgot to put my net down. About 0300 I felt a thump on my chest. Looking down, I saw a Kaneohe mosquito turning over my dog tag to check my blood type. Not only were they huge, they were picky eaters.

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Clutching An Ammo Can

Comment on Amphibious Landing Problems.

Ken Schweim’s comments on going down the nets for an amphibious landing are pretty much the way I remember it. It looked easy in the movies, but very tricky in rough seas. I am surprised more Marines did not get hurt just getting off the ship. But those who suffered from sea sickness did not care… they just wanted to get off the ship and on dry land. I will also add that going from the landing craft to board ship was just as bad. Grab the net when the landing craft was high… then before you could get your feet in the net you were dangling in the air. Grab the net when it was low… the net is bunched at your feet. Climbing up the net with all your gear was a bit harder than going down.

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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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U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment are conducting a month-long military exchange program with Marines from the Indonesian Korps Marinir in Eastern Java, Indonesia, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, August 6-29, 2019.

The exchange program, designed to strengthen the partnership between the two militaries, involves each country sending a platoon of Marines to live and train together at the others’ military bases. Working closely though a rigorous training schedule focused around individual, team and squad level tactics, Marines from both nations are able to learn from each other and continue to improve their ability to work together.

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Red Patch Marines

Unfortunately, I had to relinquish my command prior to their “Call to Glory”. Nonetheless, I feel very much a part of this fine group of men and their families and wish to share their past and present with you and your readers.

A Company, 4th LSB, Seattle, WA Desert Storm.
A Company / H&S Company, 4th Landing Support Battalion, 4th FSSG, 4th Marine Division, Seattle, Washington,

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Just thought I’d send this one for your album

My name is George Diehl. At the time of this photo, I was a Corporal and a squad leader…Battery I, 14th Marines, 4th Division. The picture was taken in 1982 at the Mountain Warfare School…located at that time in Pickle Meadows, California. I am the Marine standing near the tree with the sh*t eatin’ grin on my face. We had just run our asses off at about 8,000 feet elevation

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