All the talk regarding the bayonet or no bayonet on the M1 Carbines in the South Pacific during WWII reminded me of the only time a bunch of us airwingers ever heard the command "fix bayonets" ever uttered "in anger" or maybe it was just "in ernest".
Stationed at MCAS Yuma in 1970-'71 with VMFAT-101 as a radar tech, my most exciting moments while on duty were probably those spent on guard duty. Yeah, Yuma was considered a "hardship" station not because of any enemy about to pounce on us but because of boredom always just around the corner! So it was with a high level of anxiety that us airwingers were going about getting our "combat" gear (let's see that would be helmet and cartridge belt with bayonet and scabbard) together and drawing M-14s from the armory!
The word that "all non-essential personnel" should report to the barracks immediately came down in mid-morning of another beautiful day in paradise. When us "non-essentials" got to the barracks we were filled in to the news that a group of people from L.A. would be storming the brig to release a prisoner, a brother.
Now, let me remind those old enough to remember those turbulent times back in the late 60' and early 70's. Not only were the hippies running things in California but the Black Panthers and their agenda were also in the daily news. Even our beloved Corps had both camps within our ranks. Don't forget that the draft was to blame for many wearing o.d. green when they didn't want to.
Well back on the dusty streets of MCAS Yuma we proceeded to gather a motley crew on a side street to practice the art of "riot control"! I still don't know who was in charge that would have had that kind of knowledge at an air station! I guess somebody had seen a movie or read a book about it because before we knew it we heard what only John Wayne should be allowed to yell; "FIX BAYONETS".
By the time that command was given we had already practiced how and when to form a "fighting wedge", the wedge extended from curb to curb on the street (the intent was to clear the crowd by scaring them down the street), how to stomp our boots with every step (in our case, our work shoes with unbloused trousers) this would certainly scare the most blood thirsty rioters, how to hold the M-14 in order to thrust the rifle and bayonet forward while also protecting our fellow Marine to our left (or was it to our right?) . In the center of the wedge was a radioman, an officer, a ranking NCO and probably a photographer or two and maybe even the local homecoming queen since this type of gathering was totally unheard of by the locals or "Yumanoids".
Us guys from Texas thought this is really overkill since we had been brought up with legends of the Texas Rangers, remember "One Riot, One Ranger" was all that was needed.
We spent so much time out there on that street that the mess hall even brought us sack lunches, fried chicken I remember. Well somebody finally appeared across the street from the brig which was right inside the main gate. Back then there was a SunKist orange orchard directly across from the main gate. "Yep, there they are, the jailbreakers are here!" "Where?" "There in front of the orchard." "You mean those two little girls with the sign?" The sign that reads, "Please free our bother."! 'Yeah, those are the two meanest looking 10 and 12 year olds I've ever seen!" Well, I'm sure the Black Panthers must've gotten word of a fiercesome looking bunch of airwingers in a wedge formation eating fried chicken and chunking the bones over their shoulders like a bunch of murderous Vikings cause we never had a problem again. Or maybe we did and the C.O. called the Texas Rangers.
Ahh, good times!
Semper Fi, you scary Devil Dogs
Corporal David Martinez