Upon Learning He Had Qualified

September 1955 I reported to Boot Camp MCRDSD. First one on the left next to the Senior Drill Instructor. 3 years later I was in DI school, selected as the youngest DI to attend DI school for that time. Many NCO’s were much senior to me, but I made it through DI school. This is a picture of me with one of my platoons. I am on the right. We were the only two sergeants that were DI’s of a platoon, usually there was a senior NCO assigned with us. read more


I just wanted to tell you all about the best thing I ever heard a man tell his ex-wife. This man was a WWII vet that was captured at the battle of the bulge and even though forty or so years seperated us, we struck up a friendship that was close to father and son. Well he and his ex- still owned a restaraunt together and Clyde and I would meet there every morning around six and drink coffee and just talk about whatever. Well one morning his ex- must have been in a bad mood because when she came in she walked up to the table and said why don't you two get to work and stop drinking my coffee. Well Clyde was an easy going man but he must have had enough of her crap. He looked up at her and calmly said "You know the Germans treated me better as a POW then you ever did in twenty years as a husband." Well that shut her up fast and she stormed away. I had to bite my lip to keep from busting my gut. Well, we continued to meet every morning before we went to work and she never bothered us again about drinking her coffee. read more

Gun Totting In Frisco

In the early 1970 I was on Recruiting duty in the San Jose area south of San Francisco. We had several small offices there. About once or twice a week I’d make a trip to HQ 12 the Marine Corps Dist at 100 Harrison St downtown Frisco to pick up supplies and what not, deliver case files, police checks, and what nots. The Gunny who was in charge of supplies knew I was starting to collect WWl and WWll firearms. He told me about a gun store just up a few blocks from HQ where they had a Remington 03A3 for sale (cheap). So I’m thinking, I’m here so I better take a look. Now parking was a real problem in this area so I figured I’d just walk over as it was only a couple of blocks. This area that HQ was in was also noted for being home to a bunch of panhandlers, winos, and all sorts of odd balls. If you were in uniform, you could and would get a bunch of cat calls and B.S. from this bunch. Even though you wanted to drop kick a few of 'em we were instructed to ignore they’re BS. So I go to the store, looked at the firearms and figured I was here, had money in pocket. The kids would have to live on peanut butter and jam for a week but what the hell, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, right. So I paid for the piece and walked out the door. As I stood on the sidewalk, rifle in hand, I think how do I carry this thing back to HQ. Port arms, trail arms or right shoulder arms or what? So I take it by the forearm, butt stock over my shoulder and took off. I hadn’t gone 10 feet and I knew I’d made a bad decision about not driving. The first people walking on the street who saw me ducked in the nearest store or they crossed the street and the further I went more of 'em vanished. I passed a SFPD car with two cops sitting it, they looked at me nodded, I nodded and kept walking. I think I know how Moses felt at the Red sea. When I got to 100 Harrison St, no cat calls this time. Nobody said anything. As I was telling the gunny what I did, the Major came out of his office, looked the rifle over, handed it back and as he walked away I remember his words like it was yesterday ”Top, hope you were smart enough to put it in a gun case.” read more

The Salute And Marine Corps Policy

After reading Cpl Bill Reed and LCpl Art Monterari's failed salute stories, I wanted to share mine. While stationed at Camp LeJune I was a warehouse supply clerk. There was a LT that worked in the office in my warehouse. Every morning when she would get to work, I would see her drive up and go over to the dock to wait for her to walk by. One morning my OIC was walking in with her, and I said the same thing I did every day, Good Morning Lieutenant. My OIC said how about Good Morning Sir? I then said one of the dumbest things I ever said on active duty, She outranks you so I was not talking to you. I actually stated the Marine Corps policy states when addressing a group of officers, you only address the senior officer, but I could see on his face he heard the first way. To which she said he is correct. Needless to say I was on his sh-t list after that until I left to go to Desert Shield with CSSD-40. I never once in the 2-1/2 years that I worked with her called her ma'am, always Lieutenant. That was one of the most beautiful women I ever met in the Corps. read more

Yankee Candle

Recommended location for use is upwind of a mess hall (or, for the newbies… "dining facility"… note that the uniform is contemporary, or nearly so… some things never change, or, more appropriately: "in every clime and place"…) Those of you with friends "in the military" (that's the way AF folks always refer to themselves)… take the friend aside, and explain life in the field as gently as you can… and steal most of their ammo, should they happen to have some… read more

Aye Aye Sergeant Major

In 1975, I was a Weapons Platoon Sergeant with Fox 2/7 at San Mateo, Camp Pendelton. All of the Battalion NCO's including myself were attending our monthly NCO meeting. Sgt.Maj. Yanachi was an Eskimo Indian, but to hear him tell it he was Born at Tun Tavern. The Sgt.Maj. when answering a question would always start out with "Well I remember in the Old Corps when all you young kids wer just a twinkle in your daddy's eye," and we would all give a little laugh. Being the Smart-Ass Comedian Sgt. that I was… I raised my hand and Sgt.Maj. pointed at me and said "Yes SGT. HAMMER." I stood up and asked him if he had any pictures of himself polishing his Sword and Shield in the Old Corps? Some NCO's were laughing and most were wide eyed going OOOOOH! He turned around to the podium (I thought he was ignoring me) and picked up the Battalion NCO Duty Roster, turning back to face me he said "NO, I'm sorry to say I don't Sgt. Hammer, but I promise I'll be here every weekend this month to take your picture at the battalion guard duty desk." He then ripped the schedule in half and threw it over his shoulder and looking around the room at all the other NCO's said "Is there any other questions?" "NO. Alright then, I want everybody here to thank Sgt. Hammer for volunteering for duty NCO this month so that his fellow Marine NCO's can enjoy their weekends this month… Isn't that right Sgt. Hammer?" I snapped to attention and yelled "Aye aye Sergeant Major!" Everybody snapped to attention and Sgt.Maj. yelled "DISMISSED" everybody was laughing so loud you wouldn't have heard a grenade go off. Every NCO patting me on the back saying "Way to go Hammer, Thanks!". I Loved the then and still do, I didn't mind at all. My Wife and Kids all lived on Base at 633-A Puller Place a five bedroom 2-1/2 bath NEW home. And I Respected the Sgt.Maj. more than any man on the Base. I read Sgt.Maj. Yanachi's Presidential Citation that on a mountain top in South Vietnam went outside the wire one night with no weapon other than his "Razor Sharp" E-tool to dig a "Cat-Hole" (out of Respect for his fellow Company Marines). On the way back to his position The Marines came under Attack. The Sgt.Maj. surrounded by Combat Armed NVA's who not wanting to fire their weapons at one "Lone Marine" and alert the Company of Marines inside the wire attempted to bayonet the (then) 1st.Sgt. Yanachi, He just started swinging that E-tool in all Directions. It was later determined (after the battle) that THIRTEEN (13) Enemy Soldiers had been killed by an E-tool. Sergeant Major Yanachi told me he had to dig a second Cat-Hole inside the wire to clean out his shorts. I TREASURE the memories of every day I served in the Corps from 1972 to 1978 even the bad ones. read more