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Chaplain's Corner

The Password
By Bob Boardman

During combat in WWII in the Pacific, the enemy was often a skilled infiltrator and night fighter. Because of this, Marine units found it necessary to adopt a different password for identification every night. In the First Marine Division, before nightfall, the password was sent out verbally through the Regiments, Battalions, Companies and on down to Platoons, Squads, weapons-served units and tank crews. Every man knew that, usually simple, but vital one word. Sometimes a double word was used like Harley-Davidson.

Each night your very life depended on knowing that word.

Make one move after dark without that all-important password, no matter how good your purpose or urgent your mission, and you are a dead man.

Challenger: "Halt, who goes there?" followed by the ominous click of the safety being released on a M-1 rifle, carbine, Tommy gun or .45 pistol.

"It's me, your buddy, Joe," comes back a nervously whispered answer.

"Gimme the password, demands the sentry.

For those who had either forgotten or never received the magic word, it meant life or death. You earnestly prayed that the challenger is a reasonable guy and not a green, trigger-happy Marine.


Especially The Cookies

Our platoon was in formation on afternoon before Easter for mail call. Some boots were receiving cookies and other Easter gedunk. Our DI, Sgt. Jenkins, ordered that all goodies go straight into the Dumpster. Later in the evening, I convinced a buddy of mine that we should sneak into the Dumpster and partake of some goodies, especially the cookies my girlfriend had sent. Sgt. Jenkins is waiting for such an occurrence. After we were in the Dumpster, he locked the doors. Guess where we spent the night.

As for the feared march from Mathews back to MCRD, it was a cakewalk. After several hours, we were picked up by the familiar green "cattle cars" and taken back to the base.

Jim Starkovich
Cpl, 1957-60

Do You Have To

I first heard the deep OOH-RAH in Boot Camp as a Hollywood Recruit in 1977.

I am in agreement with the Recon Marine from the Vietnam Era, the other services have a wimpy version, especially the Army with their hoowa, or however they say it. It has to be guttural from the diaphragm. I still practice my OOH-RAH's. Whenever I attend a function with my family and the pledge of allegiance or national anthem is played and when it finishes and people clap, I give a low, subdued, OOH-RAH. The first time I did it with gusto with my second wife and daughter present my wife almost jumped out of her skin, my daughter just gave me the teenager look of "Dad do you have to do that?" Now they know why I do it, I love my country, my Corps, and my flag! Just the other night we attended our credit union members dinner / annual meeting. After the pledge I gave the low guttural OOH-RAH. Two couples close to us replied, "Must be a Marine"! My wife's answer, "Oh yea he always does that"

Semper Fi
Gale Owen
Munising, Michigan


It's a beautiful morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and a cool breeze is blowing. I gained so much greater appreciation for these simple things after graduating from PI! Just the fact I can rise each morning and freely go about my daily activities is owed to so many who can not do so. If they are looking down from guard posts above -Thank you. I was stationed at The Basic School, Quantico, MCB prior to shipping out to RVN in '70-'71. Home was Warner Robins, GA. I remember making the circuit of Dulles, Friendship and National airports in the D.C. area trying to get a "military stand-by" discounted airline ticket to get home. We Marines in uniform didn't need Military Police roving the airports to monitor our conduct nor our appearance. It was not infrequent that I slept at the position of "sitting" attention at airports! July 4th, 1970 I had scrambled to all three airports all afternoon into the evening before returning to Dulles in the morning and, lo and behold! getting a first class seat! It was the first time I was offered and tasted champagne! I was in my "tans" and carried a very "boot" green ditty bag with big, gold, "USMC" emblazoned on both sides. I arrived in Atlanta about midnight before realizing I hadn't figured out how to get the rest of the way to Warner Robins. As the gorgeous stewardesses came out of the terminal I was hoping one of them would give me a ride -anywhere! A cab driver pulled up and asked where I was going. I told him I was hoping to get the Interstate so I could hitch a ride south. He told me to get in and took me to the interstate - gratis! Well, it was about 1a.m. by now. I only stood on the shoulder about ten minutes when a Volkswagen van covered in painted flowers pulled up. The long-haired dude driving told me he was going to a rock concert in Byron, GA . That was only about 20 miles from home so off I went. His girlfriend was asleep in the back with only a sheet on! That was my first encounter with hippies. Traffic was backed up for miles at the Byron exit.

I got out and thanked him, walked across the street and put my thumb out. Immediately one member of the "Pagan" motorcycle gang stopped and gave me a ride on his Harley chopper into Warner Robins. I heard the Byron Rock Festival was the largest of it's kind next to Woodstock. I still grin at the sight of a uniformed Marine with USMC bag sitting on the back of a Pagan chopper! I eventually bought a chopped Harley myself and participated in a 18,000 biker Toy Run from Griffith Park (L.A.) to Burbank, CA city hall circa 1977.

Mike Ligon

All the talk about hitchhiking reminds me of the many occasions I did so from either Camp Lejeune or from MCAS Cherry Point. If couldn't find a 'Swoop' heading in that direction I'd hit the road for the 800 plus mile trip. I would always wear my uniform in the hopes it improve my chances of getting picked up.

I had many memorable trips including being picked up by an extremely drunk driver (I ended up driving!) and also by two young black men who, it turns out, had to make a pit stop in Harlem on the way to the Boston area. I ended up in a back yard somewhere and there was a party going on. Both the driver of the car and his passenger got out for a short time, conducted whatever business it was they had to conduct and we were on our way to Boston. I admit I was a little nervous being white and this being the very early seventies, but I was treated well.

One particular incident sticks out in my mind though. I had been picked up by a young couple on the New Jersey Turnpike. The husband was in the army stationed somewhere down south and he and his wife were heading home to New York on leave. They were driving a small Corvair (not Corvette) and I was in the back seat.

At one point during the ride, which was probably around 11:00 p.m. or so, I had fallen asleep. The next thing I knew there was a tremendous crash and the back window came in on me. We had been struck by an eighteen wheeler (there driver later admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel) were locked together and were being pushed off the road. Miraculously, we were all unhurt but the car was not drivable. On Corvairs the engines were in the back. A New Jersey State Trooper ended up taking me off the Turnpike with the instructions that I could not hitchhike on the Turnpike itself but had to do so at an entrance ramp and that is where he left me. It had now stared to rain and I was standing there at 1:00 a.m. with little prospects for a ride. I hadn't been there long when a car pulled over. I went up to the side door and opened it to find a 'Little Old Lady' driving. She was easily in her 70's. She asked if I were a Marine and I told her I was. She asked where I was going and I replied "Boston'. She then said she was only going as far as the end of the Turnpike but she would take me along. I jumped in. She then confided to me that her son was a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps and was in Vietnam. We had a nice conversation until we reached the point where she had to exit. When I went to leave the vehicle she asked if I had a raincoat. I replied that I did not but that I would be O.K. She then handed me an umbrella. She then asked if I had any money. I replied that I was O.K. and then she handed me a few one dollar bills. I tried not to accept either the umbrella or the money but she would have none of that. What a great lady, I'll never forget her. I hope her son made it home to her O.K.

God Bless Our Troops.

Semper FI
Rick Callahan
Sgt. USMC 1970-1974


I have noticed that in the past newsletters there is some controversy as to the term WM, bam, and other slang terms for a Woman Marine. Lets analyze this problem. Males go through boot camp, so do females. Males go to the rifle range, females also go to the range. Males learn hand to hand combat, so do females. Males earn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor through hard work, sweat, and tears. Females also earn the right. To me they seem to be totally equal in fighting, shooting, and all other aspects. Drill, chow, and all other forms seem to be equal also.

I have devised a test to see if Marines of either gender are the same. Who exactly is a real Marine. Here is the test:

Find a male Marine, a test subject, a First Sergeant or above. Also find a Female Marine, a test subject, also a First Sergeant or above.

Now tell them their uniform looks like a bowl of soup and/or their ribbons are as crooked as a dogs hind leg. Compare the number of seconds that your life, as you know it, goes completely to h&ll in a hand basket.

I think you will see that all Marines are equal.

SSGT D.J. Huntsinger


Sgt. Grit,

My name is Nick Hayes (S.Sgt. USMC 1967 - 1971). In response to the question about how Recruit platoons are numbered, the system has been tweaked over the years but probably remains essentially the same.

The first number in the platoon number does match the Battalion. I was trained in San Diego in 1967. My platoon was formed and out of receiving barracks in less than two hours the evening of 8 May even though the official training commenced date was 10 May. My platoon number was 373 in the series consisting of platoons (373, 374, 375 & 376). This numbering system could not advance beyond platoon 396 because the next series would have been platoons 397 through 400 and the first number would not be a 3 (for 3rd. Battalion), so before we graduated, platoons started coming out of receiving barracks as platoon 3001, 2002 ..... The series was assigned to the Battalion matching the first number, but it was also assigned to a company based on the availability of space and Drill Instructors. Platoon 373 was in L Company that year (there were two other companies in the 3rd. Battalion.

In February of 1970 I returned to MCRD San Diego with orders to Drill Instructor School and graduated in Class 5-70 on 1 May 1970. I was assigned to 3rd. Battalion K Company and in the following 13 months, I graduated 5 platoons and the only thing that had changed to the numbering system was that we no longer had three digit platoon numbers (probably to avoid the confusion of jumping from 396 to 3001. The 1st. and 2nd. Battalions used the same system but of course with a 1 or a 2 as the first number. This system started over each year in January at 3001. Therefore after graduating from Drill Instructor School my first platoon was 3051 (which had commenced training 20 April 1970 and graduated 24 June 1970) next was platoon 3086 (which commenced training 13 July 1970 and graduated 15 September 1970) followed by platoons 3124 (which commenced training 13 September 1970 (yes they did overlap) and graduated 17 November 1970) 3157 (which commenced training 6 December 1970 and graduated 9 February 1971 and 3021 (the numbering system had reset) (which commenced training on 2 March 1971 and graduated 6 May 1971. That's a lot of detail, but I hope it helps.

In response to SSgt Stirling Rasmussen's "Morning Delta Flight" I doubt that it was the same Delta schedule so many years apart, but on 8 May 1967 I arrived in San Diego on the last Delta flight of the evening. The plane would overnight and leave out early the next morning. 3rd. Battalion L Company as well as K Company were adjacent to the little grinder which was adjacent to the fence between MCRD and San Diego International, so any night I had fire watch or guard duty, I got to observe that great white bird with the blue vertical stabilizer which had brought me to MCRD. As a special touch, Delta would leave the flood light which highlighted the vertical stabilizer on all night, and then bright and early the next morning off it would go.

God bless all Americans in uniform and Semper Fidelis Marines.

SSgt Charles (Nick) Hayes USMC 1967 - 1971
MCRD RTR San Diego May - July 1967
Pendleton ITR July - August 1967
NAS Jacksonville August 1967 - January 1968
Cherry Point VMA (AW) 225 February - December 1968
Danang 1st. Mar Div VMA (AW) 225 January 1969 - January - 1970
MCRD RTR San Diego February 1970 - May 1971

Mekong To The DMZ

In response to the 13 Apr. newsletter about Operation Jackstay by Bill Allen. I was a young Cpl. when we loaded our tank plt. aboard the USS Alamo LSD-33, at Camp Delmar, Ca. This was in early Jan.1966,we were assigned to BLT 1/5.We sailed down to 32nd St. Pier in San Diego and loaded up BLT 1/5 among our 3 ships USS Princeton, Pickaway and the Alamo. From here we sailed to Hawaii and picked up a 05 Btry. We were fortunate to spend a couple of days liberty[hotel st.],we were sad that we had to leave. I made Sgt. aboard the Alamo and was promoted by Lt Col H.L. Coffman the BLT Cmdr. The interesting fact was that my tank plt. had 3/4 of the plt draftee's, the good thing was that we got them a few months before deployment and were able to work with them. Sailing to Vietnam, we were told that we were stopping in the Phillipines for additional training. Once there we were told that we are landing in the Mekong Delta and that tanks was going in as a plt of the Provisional Rifle Co. which consisted of Heat & Steam Plt, Tank Plt, Amtrac Plt and M T Plt. I remember my duties as a squad ldr of a squad of tankers was cut out for me. The old saying that every Marine is a basic rifleman was true to form on that BLT. We left our tanks and the other heavy equipment aboard the ship and charged the Beaches in a Amphibious landing in the Mekong Delta, Operation Jackstay. This proved to be very effective, we denied charlie the mouth of the Saigon river, where he was distributing the ships sailing up the river towards Saigon. We also destroyed an R & R Center, a major hospital and a mine factory a very successful operation. The V C were living the good life down there until the BLT landed. We also were Helo lifted by the C-34 a few times, for tankers we sure got our money's worth as grunts. We also made one more landing up near the DMZ, also as grunts, I can't remember the name of that operation. From the Mekong to the DMZ, that was a heck of a way to get broken into Vietnam. Looking back, BLT 1/5 was a good unit and me and my tankers were proud to have served with them.

Capt.John Bartusevics USMC Ret. 1960-1990


Cpl. A.D. Wooddell mentioned a FASMO in his letter in the April 13th newsletter. I always thought it was spelled PHASMO, but never was told what it stood for. All I know for certain was that during a PHASMO in 1977, the personnel in the Telecomm Maintenance Shop at MCTSSA, Camp Pendleton had to hide any and all extra parts, tools and/or equipment we may have 'reappropriated' since the previous one. We also had to make sure serial numbers for our radio equipment matched the correct communication centrals (AN/TYA-11 and AN/TYA-12) to which they were assigned as well as the four 'portable' AN/GRC-135A, both of the radio direction finders, AN/GRD-11, all of their antenna accessories and all pieces of electronic test equipment assigned to the shop.

And we had this PHASMO between two IG Inspections!

Semper Fidelis,

Tony Glass


Speaking of bloopers in the movie Full Metal Jacket, in Part II when Joker is receiving his assignment in Vietnam, the Lieutenant appears to be wearing his bars Navy style and not USMC regulation. Anyone else notice this? Great movie (Part I at least). R. Lee Ermey reminds me of my D.I.

Semper Fi
Ken Davis, 1st Lt. USMC (Ret.)

To Correct

Bill Allen is very mistaken. The 5th Marines did indeed see 'duty' between WW 2 and Vietnam. They were not 'activated' at Margarita. The 5th was already a very active regiment when the Vietnam action began. To correct the record. The 5th was reconstituted at Pendleton (16 Area) in 1949. It was made up mostly of the 5th, 6th and 7th Marines; officially, BLT 6 (1/5), BLT 7 (2/5) and BLT 5 From Guam (3/5). There were Marines from other units included, I believe the 1st and 9th Marines and others recently returned from North China. The Regiment shipped out for KOREA July 12,1950 aboard USS Henrico, USS Clymer and USS Pickaway as the infantry element of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, BGen. Edward A. Craig, Commanding. The Regiment saw considerable action as part of the US 8th Army in the Pusan Perimeter, for which the Brigade was awarded the Navy/Marine Corps PUC and the Korea PUC. After that, of course came the Amphibious invasion of Inchon, Seoul, Chosin and all. I was with 1/5 and prior to that 6th Marines at Pendleton from Sept. 1947.

RE: Snow at Pendleton 1967. I remember that, I was living in San Marcos at the time. It had snowed in San Diego County about 20 years earlier.

Paul Santiago
GySgt (RET)


PLLAAATOOOON TWOTHOUSANNNDD, FIFTYSIX! DIS--MISSED! That was my all time favorite. The last time it was said of course!

My second favorite. "YOU will go inside and brush your nasty fangs"

The funniest was when Series Gunnery Sergeant Benivedous was inspecting a recruits rifle he found a bore pad thread in the buttplate latch. He immediately thrust the butt into the face of the recruit and asked "HOW do you expect this weapon to fire with a rope jammed in it!" We all did push-ups for laughing so hard.

Don Hanke & my brother
USMCR 1974

My Father
USMCR Pilot VMB-423 South Pacific, DFC, Air Medal w/ 3 Oak Clusters

MY Daughter
Current USMC 2 MarDiv, Camp Lejeune NC
Her husband 2 MarDiv, Iraq
My Son Current 1 MarDiv Iraq

Reunion: C-1-1, Korea - 1950 - 1953

C-1-1, Korea - 1950 - 1953
Where: Savannah, GA.
When: August 23 through August 26, 2006.
Contact person: Al Baiocchi
1399 Ygnacio Valley Rd. St.#35
Walnut Creek, CA. 94598
email: USMCC11 @ sbcglobal .net
Place: Hilton Savannah DeSoto

Who Dreams

To all the guys in the middle east who dreams of heaven and 72 v!rgins, a Marine is always happy to help as many of these ol boys get to heaven and get his 72 v!rgins as the Marines can, all they have to do is call one shot dating service at 1-800-Marines, we have 100% results. From an old Marine, Robert L. Smith-Okmulgee

So I Snapped

Sgt. Grit,

I enjoy reading the articles on your web site, but like so many other leather necks, I get so busy with work and chores around the house that I neglect it sometimes.

I just wanted to share a recent experience with everyone. This past weekend I was traveling back home to Phoenix, AZ. with some co-workers from a training we had attended. We had stopped in a small town at the New Mexico/Arizona border to get a bite to eat. I always wear my USMC cap that my kids had bought for my b-day a few years back. When it was time to leave, I heard from behind, "Uncle Sam's Misguided Children", startled I turned around and there standing was an older Native American gentlemen standing with a big smile on his face, wearing his Marine colors, and a few buttons which he displayed with pride. He asked when I had served, so I informed him I was in the Corps in 94-98 and stated, "during peace time." He informed me of when he was in but I forget what he had said. I assisted him with the door, and as he walked away he left with a "Semper Fi!" Naturally I responded with a "Semper Fi!"

Then I was out front with my female co-worker waiting on the other's, the same guy pulled up front to pick up his wife. As his wife was getting in, she said out loud "hey Marine!" I turned and there he was with the same smile and gave a crisp salute, so I snapped to attention and surrender a salute. My female co-worker turned to me and said, "You Marines, every where you go you always stick together, there's something about you guys". That's when I turned to her and stated, "Yes ma'am, that's what you call brotherhood".

I do regret not getting his information, I was thinking maybe he was one of the rare Marines, a Code Talker? That's all I have, maybe next time I'll have some pictures with one of them. Semper Fi!

Cpl. D. Lewis (1994-1998)

Pretty Simple

The new platoon numbers which were started to be used around the end of Vietnam era is pretty simple. Numbers 1000 to 1999 are given to 1st Bn starting with 1000 at the beginning of the fiscal year. And cover companies Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, And Delta.

Numbers 2000 to 2999 are given to 2nd Bn. In the same manner as 1st Bn. Covering companies, Echo, Fox Trot, Gulf, and Hotel.

Numbers 3000 to 3999 are given to 3rd Bn. Companies India, Kilo, Lima, and Mike. 4th Bn. gets numbers in the 4000's and are companies November and Oscar. This changed some time while the draft was in Effect.

Sgt. McFeeley

Nagasaki Japan

Aloha "Sgt Grit" I am attempting to reach all 2nd Marine Division occupation forces that entered Nagasaki Japan, Sept 23,1945. I want to be assured that these men are all registered on the Ionized Radiation Register (IRR) at their local VMAC. Since we are all in our late years, and many of us have cancerous conditions it is necessary to register for any compensation that may be due, now or in the future. I can be reached via e mail at clarkc006 @ Hawaii .rr.com Mahalo, Charlie Clark

You May Have Seen

Reply to Old Corps Donald Hughes
When I read your posting in the 13 April Grit News I was amazed at the similar career we had in the Corps. I went through boot camp in the fall of '40 with Platoon 103. There another one that is retired in Oceanside. Had to do 3 months mess duty at the H&S mess hall. Then was transferred to the Naval Fuel Depot at Point Loma. The old Gunny in charge at the time was Nolan. He made me the supernumerary because I could type up the weekly menu and liberty cards. Guess who had a card to buy drinks. While there I witnessed an incident that you may remember. It was a Marine 2dLt with the paratroops that was making a jump and his chute tangled in the tail wheel of a R2D transport. A Navy Chief and a Lt. took off in a 2 seat, open c0ckpit trainer and flew up behind the R2D. The Chief got Lt. Osipoff in his arms and the Lt. cut the parachute lines with the prop of his plane. You may have seen this happen because he plane circled North Island NAS several times. In the spring of '41 then sent some of us to the Navy Radio Station, (NPL) to all the communication guys.

My enlisted #293865 was after you, but my WO #033213 before. At one time I was the youngest WO in the Corps. In February 42 I was sent to Midway just after the battle. As a member of the (Old Corps) you should know what the first Marine recruited at Tun Tavern said to the second one. You should have been in the Old Corps.

Semper Fi,
Donald Henson

Fond Memory

Reading about I.T.R. was a real fond memory for me, I was in boot in 62, was issued a great rifle, the M-14, loved it and trusted it completely, went to ITR and was issued the GREAT M-1 Gerand, all 30 cal. as you can tell they both were capable of close in fighting and could reach out and touch anyone if you would hold-em and squeeze-em.MCRD San Diego was HOT that summer, so was Camp Matthews (ITR), we got a chance to fam-fire most of the squad level weapons, dropped a few morter rounds, 50cal,30cal 3.5 rocket launcher, rigged some 1/4 blocks of the itan had a real kick with the flame thrower. Night firing was awesome, the MAD min. Than went home for 14 days leave, back to MCRD San Diego for sea school, assigned to the USS Midway Mar-Det., Lejeune and Santo Domingo in 65,and out. A Marine for Life, my oldest Son also. Cpl. of Marines, Butch Wheeler service# 2022630 (


I was with 2/1 SLF & BLT when we made amphibious landings near Da Nang in 1965. At various times we used amtraks and/or those funny little rectangular boats the Navy is so proud of. Personally, I think that if God had wanted Marines to use amtraks or flat-bottomed boats, He wouldn't have invented helicopters!

Steve Byars, ex-HM1
2nd plt, E co, 2/1

Reunion "Fearless Fox" 2/9

We are having our third reunion of the "Fearless Fox" 2/9, 1963-1964 to be held in Baltimore, MD 28 Sept. through 2 Oct. 2006. Contact Lloyd (Devil Dog)Downey ldii61 @ aol .com 505-867-4625 or R.E. (Dick) Collis rcollis @ cox .net 602-242-0908 for details.

We now have 26 of us signed up. Hope to see all of T. C. Dolson's Devil Dogs there.

Dick Collis
F/2/9 '63-'64
Rcollis @ cox .net


Been reading your newsletters(?) for awhile now,and had to add my pennies worth of memories, I was in boot at MCRD,Diego,1968,late Aug.-Nov.,Plt.2154,and one of my fondest recollections was being chewed out by GnrySgt,Ceasar, for shattering the doorframe on the new barracks duty office. Never forget him calling me a Giant Hammer Handed *#!%$. Or my first base liberty after graduation, arms loaded with goodies from the main PX, and passing a full bird and getting my *ss chewed out but good.But, I guess we all have these little snippets of things we look back upon as happy times. Guess I'm still full of P!ss and Vinegar, because I've berated a few teens for lack of respect for our flag and servicemen, thanks for all your hard work.

Semper Fi,
Johnson,T.W., 2607182
(Old Corps,?)

Another Coincidence

Sgt. Grit:

I read with interest the email from LCpl. Jim Harris "Snowed at Camp Pendleton." His recollection of snow in So-Cal is correct. I know because I was in Staging Battalion the same week in 1967! I am also a California native and recall telling out-of-state fellow Marines this was a good location to prepare for Nam because of the warm weather. Then it snowed! From snowy Camp Pendleton I deployed to Nam for two tours, one near DaNang with HQ Co., and the second in ChuLai with MAG 12. The snow training didn't have any value. It didn't snow in Nam once!

It was also interesting to read the email from "Not as Lean, Not as Mean" Michael Olsa (I feel your pain brother) about his son who entered the Corps at MCRD in August 2005. Michael noted he joined the Corps at MCRD in 1967. Another coincidence for me. My son also joined in August 2005 at MCRD (Bravo Co. Platoon 1121). I also joined in 1967! A Marines world is small.

Great newsletter. I am a first time reader and first time writer to the "Sgt. Grit Newsletter." I plan on being a longtime reader. Keep up the good work. Semper Fi and Ooh Rah to "Old Corps" and "New Corps!"

Mike Dahl
Cpl. USMC 1967-69

I've Got To Believe

I noticed some chatter lately regarding the phonetic alphabet and the "Old Corps", etc. Just to add my two cents worth: I entered the Marine Corps on 8 July 1952 and graduated 20 September 1952 from 1st Bn, 1st Inf. Trn Regt. T&R Cmd, MB, CJHP (according to my records furnished by Hdqtrs Marine Corps). I was in Honor Platoon # 451 and I believe our class photo is on your web site. On 22 August 1953 I graduated from Signal School Bn, MCRD, San Diego as a Radio Repairman MOS 2611 and served at K-3 Korea in the Comm Section of H&HS Squadron of the First Marine Air Wing.

During this time the Navy and Marine Corps used the old phonetic alphabet while the Army and Air Force used a new one. Much like the difference in nomenclature between them and us (our R4Q-1 "flying boxcars" were called C-119s by the Air Force etc.) these differences often caused some confusion. By the way during the Chosin march to the sea were the portable bridge units air dropped by Air Force C-119s or USMC R4Qs? I've always read that they were dropped from C-119s but I've got to believe our guys did it from our R4Qs.

We normally operated most of our communications through the Navy Relay Center NDT (Nan Dog Tare) in Japan so the phonetic thing was no problem, however on occasion we would be required to go up on a network run by either the Army or the Air Force. That's when we would have fun. Being good Marines we stuck to our phonetic alphabet and it drove them crazy.

We also used to refer to the aircraft from the different squadrons by their two letter tail codes but using the phonetic letters. One would hear someone ask if they were going to go on R&R to Japan on Willie Charlie (R5Ds from VMR-152) or Able Dog (R4Qs from VMR-253). And at K-3 we had F9F5 Panther jets from both Willie Easy (VMF-214) and Willie Love (VMF-311) as well as F2H2P photo recon Banshees from Mary Willie (VMJ-1) and F3Ds and ADs from Roger Mary (VMC-1). By the way the two (old and new) alphabets can be found on the web at: http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/Phonetic%20alphabet.htm.

To add to this confusion, after separation from the Marine Corps, I was hired as a Police Radio Operator for the Wisconsin State Patrol. And guess what? The cops, nationally, used a phonetic alphabet that was yet again slightly different. It was very much like the old one we used in the Corps except just a few letters were changed. One that comes to mind is the letter I was IDA rather than ITEM. Fortunately I was promoted out of that job within a year and I don't know what they use today. Enough years have passed that all three of the alphabets are kind of scrambled together in my head.

In terms of Old Corps vs New Corps, I like to say I'm from the old Corps where there were no Gunny Sgts., no Lance Corporals, and we never heard of OOOORAH!. Old or new, it's still the best and when push comes to shove we're all there for each other.

T. Stewart, Sgt (E-4) 1952 - 1955

Never Heard

Also, I was in P. I. Platoon #437 in 1942 (serial no. 410936) and never heard of, nor saw, any "yellow footprints"; never heard "OORAH" nor any variation of same; never heard any reference to the "grinder." Was called a "sh-t coolie" (along with the rest of my platoon) by both my D.I. and his assistant (both old China Marines). What does that make me?

Just an old Marine
USMC 1942-1946
Dave Engler USMC 1942 - 1946

Two Summer Camps

Sgt. Grit Thanks for the newsletter. Here is my story, In 1947 I joined the Marine Corp reserve so I could go to the Island of Maui. I was in the Hawaiian reserve. In 1950 the Korean war broke out and General Macarthur wanted a division of Marines. the replay was sorry the Marine Corp does not have a division to make a landing at Inchon. So the reserves were called up after two weeks or so my company and the rest of the 7th were on our way to Korea. Because I had two summer camps I went to Korea and never went to boot camp. I had k-p on ship and never fired my rifle off the fantail like the rest had. I got hit if South Korea and returned to North Korea got frost bite because I had some summer clothing. My point is this we must give our military the best and not fight a war with out dated arms. We must do everything we can to supply out troops with the best.
Raymond Huecker

Transferred Into

Donald Hughes, mentioned his serial number, yes I have him beat, mine is incorporated in my e-mail address 273744 I went into the reserves in late 1939, VMS5R a Reserve Scouting Squadron at NAS, Grosse Ile, Michigan. 6 months later secured a Special order discharge, to enlist in the Regulars, enlisted March 14, 1940, Platoon #28 at Parris Island. A struggle to get back into an aviation outfit, but I managed. VMS-1 at Quantico. Stayed with 1 thru it's transgression to VMSB-131 and then later to VMTB-131, Served on the Canal. Back state side May or June of 43. Transferred into a new VMTB-242 outfit El Centro, California. Back over in January of 44, the C.O. and I had an outing and yes trey transferred I, Ended up in a Headquarters Squadron, made Master Sergeant, MOS that of a Squadron Leading Chief. Out in March 46. Married in November 46 to the most wonderful woman that God ever put on this earth, four children, Son Mike served in Vietnam. Lost my wife in July of 2005 after 58 years 8 months and fourteen days of a wonderful marriage. Ready to join her any time God wants me. Stayed in the Reserves, never recalled and finally in 57 placed on the retired list, they gave me credit for some National Guard time and the Reserve time prior to going regular. Once a Marine always a Marine Howard Fuller Riverside, Ca.

Personalized Plate

I know in our politically correct environment, and softer gentler Corps, a lot of people and Marines take offense at the term WAM or BAM when referring to our female Marines. Some of these ladies that I had the pleasure of meeting were, and are outstanding Marines.

The one incident that I will never forget in being around some of these fine people took place while driving off base at Camp Lejeune in 1990. I was passed by a car headed off base for the main gate. I first thought my eyes were going bad, so I sped up to catch the car. I caught it in short order, and clearly read the license plate, and had to laugh. It was a personalized plate that clearly stated WAM WO! being driven by a female Warrant Officer.

SSgt Jerry Johnson USMC
There is no problem that cannot be solved with the proper application of plastic explosives!

Do It To It

When I first got in country, 12-1-66, the phrase everyone was using was "Do it to it!" I found out later where it came from. It seems Hotel company had gotten into a bit of a tight spot and needed some serious back-up. Somehow the radioman was out of commission and a non radio person got on the horn. He tried calling in for artillery. He did not know the radio language, however, the 105's knew about where he was, so they threw out some rounds. There was no, "Left 100. Right 50". There was, however, "Right it some, now down it some", etc. When the standard call for, "Fire for effect" was needed the call was instead, "Right on, do it to it. Do it to it!" We used that one a lot while I was there. It is strange the language that arises during war time.

John Halpin, Sgt.

Return From Combat

There are 11 of us who will be running two different marathons in May. We are doing this in order to help raise money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. This fund helps wounded Marines and sailors during the difficult rehabilitation process following their return from combat. We have already raised more than $15,000 but are looking to reach our goal of $30,000, and to do that we are going to need additional support. Rest assured, none of this money comes back to us; it all goes to the fund. This is a great opportunity to help bring Marines together to help one another and your reward will be the same as ours: The knowledge that we made the difference in at least on Marine or Sailor's life who was so willing to put their life on the line for this great country of ours.

We would really appreciate your assistance. Please check out the link and contact me ASAP if any questions or concerns. www.firstgiving.com/semperfi

This request is being submitted by me to you personally and is in no way associated or backed by any Marine Corps Command. We are simply doing this to help raise money for wounded Marines and soldiers who need some additional support.

Captain Robert C. Grass
Executive Officer, Company A
Marine Security Guard Battalion
Frankfurt, Germany
Hm# 4969 9563-0223
Wk# 4969 7535-3882
Cell# 49 160-9720-3355

Was The Recipient

A Marine stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar from Boulder, Co., was the recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps medal Feb. 10 for his actions that saved the lives of other Marines on MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan. This medal is the second highest non-combatant medal awarded by the Department of the Navy to Navy and Marine personnel.

Semper Fidelis,
Staff Sgt. Maria C. Villanueva

Retired Marine Gunny

Next time you're in San Diego, CA, please take a few minutes to visit a retired Marine Gunny Sergeant. Sergeant "Willie" Washington is a retired Korea and Vietnam-era Marine who operates a shoeshine shop at the corner of Cable Street and Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach (less than five miles from MCRD). You can't miss the flags and Marine Corp emblems that decorate his small building. Like a lot of men and women from his generation, Willie's best days are behind him. He would enjoy a visit from his brother Marines.
Charlie Ryan


Dear Sgt Grit,
BIG thank you for your tattoo pages. I have looked and looked and looked for a certain tat for my fiancée and I found it on your pages. Thank you so very much your are the best!


Thank you again, Mary Fellner, Semper Fi

ITR Was H&ll

Sitting here reading about plt #'s----3113, 3114, 3115, 3116--3rd bn, 113th plt of 1969 on jun-16th. according to lore the first company to have an honor series. ITR was h&ll as they had heard about this phenomenon. they strung us out about a mile apart just to teach us we were not as hot as we thought...it didn't happen again--during boot we always competed hard,,,needless to say 3113 won the pugil stick streamer that SSGT JACK WEBB's wife made as at that time none was given out as an accomplishment. Plt 3116 was an all Oregon state plt. Got to shoot 600 meters with the 14 and 2 yrs later qualify with the M1 and 45 for the MP's at NAS Alameda. the 45's we carried could fire at 90 degree angles or it seemed that way. as for old Corps--2585223--does it qualify ???? two years ago I was at Orlando , Florida int'l airport--went with wife,son,daugter-in-law,granddaughter and grandson. my grand daughter was getting restless and i entertained her by telling her to get down, get up, run around.. kind of a version of boot camp. one man stared and i remembered i was wearing a cover that reads " US MARINES...69--72 " i could read his mind. the plane we were waiting for was deboarding and a L/Cpl appeared and the gate that was waiting there stood up and gave him a standing ovation and the feeling i got was of great pride as i shook his hand. i have never had a feeling like that as we of another era were not treated as such, he read my cover and said. Thank You and saluted...............SEMPER FI .......... CPL ZEPEDA..69--72

I Often Hear His Voice

Sgt. Grit:

A while back, you printed a brief letter from someone who stated that his DI, Sgt. Levesque, who he had hated for a long time as "he thumped us frequently" or something to that effect. My third letter to you was seeking the opinion of the brotherhood as to "Did he cross the line" and I included my own graphic story.

As most of you jarheads know, Gunnery Sgt. Levesque is in your catalog and interestingly as well as deservedly, takes up space equal to four posters as advertised. In the early '80s, while at the Bristol 4th of July Parade, I began healing and ever so slowly letting it go (the incident). Fighting back tears as the Vietnam vets received a spectacular reception. It was a moment!

Fast forward to the present date, this 58 year old Marine with severe degenerative arthritis and a recent diagnosis of A Fib, goes to the gym seven days a week, doing palates, yoga and cardiovascular classes. I have the aide of painkillers and other meds and can keep up with or even out do many twenty years olds there. There is little doubt in my mind that Levesque, my DI then a E5 (Aug 67) who made Gunny by Mar 69 and was blinded in Nam, had the most profound effect on my current discipline and motivation. I often hear his voice, see his grinding teeth and vividly remember oh, so much more!

Gunny Levesque, thank you thirty eight years later! I reside in Tiverton, RI and would love to connect with you! Providence College is twenty miles up the road. I knew you were from New England but not that close!

Over the years, I have confided in Nam Vet buddies and even a major general and all said pretty much the same. That it is my call alone to make in regards to the question if forgiveness was necessary. For over a year now, I have belonged to a motorcycle club for jarheads and FMF Corpsmen only. I believe you belong to that club also and have met Marine who have met you. Through that connection, I was given a way to contact you but hesitate to as I still don't know exactly what to say.

Changing subjects, I too had the M14 in boot camp, M1 ITR, M14 for two days in Nam, issued in Danang, taken in dong Ha the next day and given an M16 while being told, "you will be on convoy on Rt. 9 (following the DMZ) to Camp Carroll two weeks into the Tet of '68. I had a few hours to learn that weapon—Improvise, Overcome and Adapt. You taught us well. Thank you! You altered my civilian life too, but that is another long story.

As to you, Sgt. Grit, my MOS was 0844 FDC with Hq, 1-12, Carroll for 1st 6 mos, ops to Rock Pile and Calu. In the Name, arriving in Feb. 68—Bull's-eye! I hear you were a Minor Bird (Radio Man) for 11th Arty? After Operation Pegasus, worthy of much attention to how Westmoreland f-----d the Corps and "put an end to the seige at Khe Sahn=BS and yet another story. Some of us from HQ 1-12 were transferred to the BLT 2-26, 9th MAB with 4 deuce mortar on most operations July '68.

I visited Parris Island this past year with Marine C. League and had a Junior DI for a personal escort, who was awesome. I have three excellent resources as to when old became new but that's another story and this letter is getting too long. However, this arm's length thing is a subject worthy of discussion.

Semper Fi,

Joe Bissonnette
CPL, Nam 68-69

In The Company Of Heroes

by Joe Lisi

A few days before Christmas, my friend David Eigenberg and I headed to Washington DC. We had been invited by the USO to visit wounded troops being treated at the National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda) and Walter Reed Army Hospital. It was an eye opening experience, one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Our visit began at 10:00AM when we were picked up by a USO driver. David and I, both former Marines were accompanied by my fiancée Donna Johnson. David's wife Chrysti, a former Army MP, opted to man our command post at the hotel. She had so many friends still in Iraq; she felt it necessary to support us without going on site. Our driver Ed, a former USAF airman, had spent many years working for the airlines. Now in semi-retirement, he drives for the USO.

As we headed to our first destination, the National Naval Medical Center, the conversation was kept casual and lighthearted. However, inside me, an unusual bit of anxiety began to build. I was surprised because I didn't know where it came from. I knew I was about to see young men terribly wounded and in some cases disfigured. But, having spent 24 years in the NYPD, I'd seen hundreds of victims of shooting and stabbings, and other acts of violence. Why was I feeling funny? Before I could figure it out, our car had arrived at the gate of the complex. We were questioned by heavily armed security guards who required us to show photo identification. The reality of our mission was beginning to set in.

The National Naval Medical Center is a beautiful and impressive complex. It looks more like a major university than medical facility. It was not unlike some of the Hollywood studios I had worked on. The difference here being the pain and death was real and not the magic of movie land. From the time we entered the gate until we got out of the car at the entrance to the main hospital building we sat in silence.

We walked through the front door directly into our first and only snafu. The USO representative assigned to escort us was nowhere to be found. A few phone calls revealed that, unbeknownst to us, our itinerary had been changed at the last minute. We were originally supposed to visit the soldiers at Walter Reed first. However, we were rerouted because President Bush had decided to pay a visit himself. So, while we were at Bethesda, our escort was at Walter Reed.

A young Marine eyed us wandering in the lobby and suggested we check in with the Marine Corps Duty Officer. We did. The captain was very helpful and seemed genuinely glad to have us on board. He made us feel very much at home. Within minutes a Navy Lieutenant, from public affairs, was assigned to us.

The lieutenant briefed us on how celebrity visits were conducted. First we would be brought up to the ward. There we would wait outside a Patient's room. The lieutenant would enter and ask if the patient wanted any visitors. If the patient agreed, the lieutenant would excuse himself, and leave the room. Once outside, he would give us the patient's name, rank, age, and type of injury. We would then be brought in and he would leave. From there we were on our own.

David and I knew that being at Bethesda, all the patients would be brother Marines or Navy Corpsmen assigned to Marine fighting units. Actually that made it a little easier for us. In our eyes we were just two old Marines going in to talk to a young Marine. We wanted to express our gratitude and thanks for their service and sacrifice. I felt that was very important because I remember how returning service members were treated in the Vietnam era.

Up on the ward, the buzz about our presence quickly spread. Before we got to see any patients we were greeted and thanked by the medical personnel tending to the wounded. I was impressed how they felt honored to tend the Marines in their care. It was very clear they were determined to comfort their patients and get them back to good health. Nothing was going to get in the way of that. We posed for pictures and signed autographs for the staff. They couldn't have been nicer to us. David and I kept telling them we were the ones privileged to spend time with them.

We visited about fourteen Marines at Bethesda. Most of whom were fortunate enough to have family members with them. Some were more severely wounded than others. There were head wounds. There were missing limbs. There was paralysis. There was physical pain. Lots of it. Above all however, there was pride, great pride. Some could communicate only by blinking their eyes. Others spoke with voices you might hear on a high school football field. Nearly all we met were still teenagers. But make no mistake about it, they were men. Matured beyond their years, they were grounded in the harsh realities of war and the world of today.

Anxiety consumed me as we crossed the threshold of the first patient's door. What I saw was a young man, with a baby face lying in bed. He was talking with his sister. We introduced ourselves and just began talking. He had been shot in the leg. He was so composed and candid, my anxiety quickly subsided. The other visits followed the same path. Upon entering the room, either David or I would take the lead. The patient already knew that besides being actors, we too were Marines so the bond of brotherhood automatically existed. We asked direct questions about how they were wounded. They were very forthright about how they were shot or blown up by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). The stories were graphic and bloody yet they were wrapped in Marine Corps humor that kept the discussion somewhat lighthearted. There was never any question in any of their minds about their purpose or the mission. They knew they were in Iraq to preserve our way of life and defeat the terrorists abroad so we civilians would not have to feel their wrath at home. There was no self pity, no excuses, no regret. Only a desire to heal and return to their fellow Marines and rejoin the fight. Although clearly, for the majority of them, their fighting days were over. The warrior spirit would burn in their hearts until the day they died.

We brought along trinkets. The NYPD Marine Corps Association donated baseball hats and tee shirts for the troops. When we presented them, the guys showed us other goodies they had received. More than one had an FDNY (Fire Department New York) hat already in their collection. There were shirts, hats, videos, dvds, cds, phone cards, and even lap tops. All donated by former Marines and others wishing them a speedy recovery. The rooms were also adorned with photos of other celebrities who had made the rounds before us. I saw autographed pictures of Cher, and cast members of the Sopranos. The most impressive thing I saw however, was a portrait of George Washington. They all had one. There was our first President, in profile, affixed to a small heart hanging from a purple ribbon. Several of the Marines was quick to point out they had received their Purple Heart directly from President Bush on one of his many unpublicized visits to the hospital. We were allowed to visit for as long as we liked. Each stop lasted about 45 minutes. Word came back that the men were at ease talking with us. They felt they could be themselves because we were Marines like them. Sometime during our first visit, the USO escort caught up with us. She was terrific. She came with USO badges for us to wear and a Polaroid camera. At the end of each visit we posed for pictures with the wounded Marine. We signed the photos and more than once I saw our picture go up along side Cher and Tony Sirico (Pauly Walnuts of the Sopranos).

At some point during the visit, Donna would break off and engage the family members in the room. She was interested in giving support to the fighters who don't wear uniforms. The wives, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, and even grandparents we encountered. They too needed encouragement, and needed to talk. After all, they would have to deal with the ramifications of war. Their lives will forever be changed because of the experiences of their loved ones. I remember seeing Donna and the Grandfather of one of the Marines embracing. Tears rolled down the old man's face. He was so glad his grandson was alive but age had made the burden of caring for him very difficult. Pop tried to be strong but Donna's feminine touch so comforted him, that his emotions finally got the best of him. His was a very healthy cry.

One question we always asked during the visit was what plans did the Marines have for after they left the Corps. I was surprised that quite a few said they planned to go on to college and become teachers. They wanted to make a difference in young people's lives. Only one or two planned to make the Marine Corps a career. The last patient we visited at Bethesda was a 20 year old Navy Corpsman. He had been injured in the Battle of Fallujah. His story exemplifies the mettle of our fighting men and women today. The Corpsman was on a patrol with his Marines when they were engaged. The patrol was crossing a bridge when attacked. One of the Marines was shot and went down mid span. The Corpsman, at great disregard for his own safety, ran our from behind an abutment to tend to his wounded Marine. While running across the bridge, he was hit by a RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). It didn't explode but took off the Corpsman's left leg at the knee. He went down. While still under fire, he tended himself by placing a tourniquet around his leg and injecting morphine. Stranded on the bridge, he was a sitting duck. Unable to move because of his injury, he was hit five times by rifle fire. A young Marine came to his aid and our Corpsman chastised him for exposing himself to gunfire. Eventually support came and our Corpsman was Medi-vaced. I asked him why ran out on the bridge? "One of my Marines needed me" he said matter of factly.

All this happened at Bethesda before lunch.

After a quick bite, our USO escort and driver brought us to Walter Reed Army Hospital. We were the second act to President Bush. He had visited earlier that day to highlight the efforts of the Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher family is New York based. They are great friends to our military. Without fanfare or publicity, the Fisher's established a foundation to help service families. They have built "Fisher Houses" at military medical installations all over the world. Those houses provide shelter and comfort to the families of injured military personnel during their time of need. Many times during our visit family members praised the Fisher Houses as a blessing. Several stated they could not afford to stay with their injured service member if they had had to lay out their own money. The Fisher Houses pick up all the living expenses.

Walter Reed was much like Bethesda, only bigger. The Army of course, is a big institution, and Walter Reed is the hub of its medical arm. We spoke with almost as many soldiers as Marines. Warriors are the same inside. Proud young Americans serving their country during a time of need. Their stories were similar to those of the Marines. They too were surrounded by family members and expressions of gratitude from the American people. George Washington was in their rooms as well. There are differences between soldiers and Marines. However we were just as welcome at Walter Reed. We saw the same pride and confidence among the soldiers, that goes with clear thinking and a righteous mission.

The only warrior we were unable to visit with was at Walter Reed. When we reached her room, she was asleep. An Army captain and a helicopter pilot, she lost both leg legs when a rocket hit her chopper directly under her seat. In spite of her injuries and excruciating pain, the captain flew the crippled bird to safety saving the lives of her crew. Where do we find such heroes?

By the time we left Walter Reed it was dark. Back at our hotel, we showered and went to dinner. In the restaurant we sat in a dining room full of people who joked and made small talk while having meals fit for kings. Ordinary Americans just living their lives. We retired to a comfortable hotel suite and slept peacefully the whole night through. Just like millions of other Americans. The next day we went about our normal lives. Never giving it a second thought. How many of us forget that we can do all that because of our American military? Because there are warriors who put themselves between us and the forces of evil. Warriors who would give up their own lives so we can live ours in freedom. Warriors who would die so that we can go out to eat. As I put my head on the pillow that night I said a prayer. I prayed that the American people would never forget and never take for granted those who stand in harm=s way for us. I also thanked God for the honor of allowing me to spend the day in the company of heroes.

(Joe Lisi is a retired NYPD Captain and former Marine. David Eigenberg is also a former Marine. They appeared together on Broadway in the Tony Award winning Play, Take Me Out. David is best known for his portrayal of Steve on the HBO hit series, $ex in the City. Joe for Lt. Swersky on the NBC hit show, Third Watch. The visit was coordinated by the USO.)

Deadliest Weapon in the World - A Marine and His Rifle
Deadliest Weapon in the World - A Marine and His Rifle

Happiness is a Belt-fed Weapon Happiness is a Belt-fed Weapon

Semper fi
Welcome Home, Job Well Done!
Sgt Grit

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