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A quick story from 2nd Bn MCRD Parris Island.
Our platoon was standing in front of our racks, probably reciting the chain of command or our general orders or one of the many things we memorized. Our Sr. DI came into the squad bay with something in his hand. He stopped in front of a tall, lanky African-American recruit and put his face about 6" from the recruit's. Then he put what was in his hand into his mouth.
It was a southern cockroach about 1 1/2" long. He bit it in half and grinned, showing the legs wiggling between his teeth at which time he spit it in the recruits face. The recruit turned an ashen gray and the squad bay erupted in uncontrollable laughter. I was directly across from the recruit and I swear his knees buckled and he almost fainted.
This was one of many incidents designed, I'm sure, to relieve some of the tension and stress we all felt until that day on the parade deck when we became full fledged UNITED STATES MARINES. Being a Marine is an experience and an emotion I wouldn't trade for anything in this world.
TG-CPL USMC 1969-1971
In This Issue
Some companies have their payments sent directly to their bank. That is, they never see the check we send it directly to their bank. Well....we accidentally returned an inert grenade back to our vendor via their bank and...well read about it on our Facebook page.
There is an outstanding Vietnam tank story, and once again the ARVN don't look good. Hollywood Marines, there is picture below of a recruit in the shot line with "sunglasses on". You just can't make this stuff up, it's great. There is aerial picture of a Marine compound in Somalia. Several more stories about non-boot camp Korean vets. Some clarification on the last flight and flag out of Saigon. This newsletter was unwittingly helpful in exposing a phony MGySgt, his sentencing is noted below.
Take a look at the blog. I have taken some of the issue from here and posted them there. The BASSA union using the Iwo image and the Tom Hanks comments are posted there.
If I don't say so myself, (which I will now) this week's newsletter is good. I always enjoy putting it together, but some are more fun than others.
Fair winds and following seas.
The Vandergrift Ice Run- April 1969
The following article is a true story, the names have not been changed to protect the innocent. We were all innocent.
In my Vietnam experience, there was no scarcer commodity 'in country' than ice. Staff Sergeant Harold Riensche (Navy Cross Recipient and Maintenance Chief, B Co., 3rd Tanks, 1968/1969) and I agreed that when and if we returned to the 'world', we would get together, buy a block of ice, get two lawn chairs, set the ice block on the sidewalk, sit there and just slowly watch it melt, while savoring several ice cold brews.
In Vietnam, we got used to drinking every consumable liquid, water, beer (Falstaff, Miller & Black label, soft drinks, etc.,- all of it warm to boot.
In our area of operation, I Core, there was no ice cubes, blocks of ice, shaved ice, ice sculptures, ice storms. None, nada, zip, zero. The coolest thing was a hot tank. There was only one occasion that our fantasies came true: I call it, the Vandergrift Ice Run.
In April 1969. 3rd Platoon, Bravo Co., 3rd Tanks was assigned to provide security for about twenty-five 25 Seabee bulldozers clearing land between Cam Lo and Con Thien, just below the DMZ. Our operation was part of what became known as the McNamara Line. It was a land clearing and sensor installing effort designed to slow down the NVA troop movements across the DMZ into Quang Tri Province and points south. The bulldozers would clear football field size sections of terrain of all brush and foliage and leave it looking like freshly tilled farm land. Early one afternoon, we got a radio message to head back to our base camp near Cam Lo for a hot meal, courtesy of the Seabee's. It was great working with the Seabee's as they had the perks that we didn't; real chow, spare parts and beer. The rest of the afternoon was to be spent doing maintenance on the tanks and dozers and chowing down.
We enjoyed their mystery meat and fresh vegetables, which was a significant upgrade from our usual C Rations. As we finished eating, Staff Sergeant Jim Jewell, Bravo 3 Platoon Sergeant, approached me and said, "Lieutenant, let's take a ride". As I learned early on to do whatever my senior NCO suggested, I followed him to a nearby Jeep, threw on my flak jacket and pistol, and jumped in, It wasn't until we had gone a click or so west on Route 9, near the Rock Pile, that I asked Sergeant Jewell about the ten insulated chow containers bouncing around in the back seat. Jewell said, "We're making an ice run." I yelled back, "It's a long way to DaNang." Jewell said, "We're going to Vandergrift, there is an ice plant there."
So there we were, armed only with our 45 caliber pistols- no grunts, no tanks, no security, in the middle of "Indian Country", racing down Route 9, looking for ice!
As the sentry waved us in the gate to Vandergrift Combat Base, a siren went off, not in honor of our arrival, but signaling "In Coming". Everyone started diving into bunkers and Jewell kept heading toward the ice factory. There were approximately fifty vehicles lined up waiting for ice when we arrived. However, everyone had abandoned their vehicle and was hunkered down in the nearest bunker. Jewell accelerated to the front of the line, said., " Grab the chow containers and follow me". Inside the ice plant there was no one around. Even the ice plant workers had headed for the bunkers. We filled the containers with ice, loaded up the jeep and headed out. As we passed through the gate to Route 9, the all clear siren sounded.
We arrived back at our base camp near Cam Lo and iced down the cases of beer supplied by the Seabee's. Once appropriately chilled, we issued two beers (our daily allotment) to every Tanker, Seabee and Grunt. Not just two beers but two ICE COLD BEERS!
3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Tanks, sat around our sandbagged hooch and each man was asked to describe the last time he had had a cold beer. To a man, it had been a long time.
That was the one and only time that I had experienced ice during my 13 months in Vietnam. To this day I cannot look at, much less drink a Falstaff, Miller or Black Label beer.
by Pete Ritch, B Co., 3rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Vietnam 1968/1969
Sgt. Grit my daughter just graduated her first platoon after graduating D.I school and they took honor platoon with all the trophies (5) I'm sending you a picture of her D.I. she works with from left to right is my daughter (nick names) serrannamo, stepdy step step, boss lady and c mack, she also spend two tours in Fallujah kicking down doors with her brothers with the 1st MEF. She loves her Corps like I loved mine Semper Fi.
cpl jim lindquist 60-64 63-64 nam 1st MAW Mag 16 1931501
The Tools They Carried
YATYAS?...how about this? For a few years, there existed on Okinawa, as part of the 3rdMarDiv, the "1st Tracked Vehicle Battalion" (think it was later re designated as 'armored assault Bn, or some such..not sure)....Anyway, the Bn consisted of two companies of AmTracks (P-7, C-7, and R-7 types) and two companies of Tanks (M-48's, replaced by M-60's in 1977)...if memory serves, there were also two H&S Co command tanks.
The guy who sleeps with my wife was the Bn Maint O from August of '76 to August of '77...the ramp was on the southern perimeter of Camp Schwab...from the lofty position of the Bn Maintenance Office, we would see the crews coming to work to do preventative maintenance in the mornings...they were easy to tell apart, by the tools they carried...tankers, by the 8lb sledgehammers on their shoulders (end connectors, y'know), and the amtrackers by the garden hose in the left hand, the fire hose in the right hand, and the paint brush carried in the teeth...
MSGT Funkhouser was THE MAN when it came to putting the M-60's into service...he could park 'dead' tanks a lighter's length apart, paint intact, by himself, using the triangular towbar rig on the front of the M51 Retriever...by himself ! (normally would involve at least two ground guides)...when his leg was injured, he had a local make him a sort of peg leg, with a sheepskin lined saddle for his knee...if he had to stand for any length of time working on a tank, he'd be on one foot and the peg leg...even went TAD up to Camp Fuji to retire the platoon of M48's and put the M-60's into service with that peg leg...
They may still make'em like that, but they are few and far between...
Oh, yeah...Ermey is wrong about M-60's at the Battle of Hue...they were M-48's...Armored Vehicles segment of 'Lock and Load'...
Dick Dickerson, Maj USMC (Ret)
As a former "tractor-rat" with the 3rd MarDiv, in DaNang, from Nov.65-Aug66, I would ask that you call them "tracks" or am-"tracks", or "G*D D**N, F**kin' piece of s**t!", as we who drove them, worked on them and lived in them, fondly called them. Every time I see someone spell it "amtrac' I think, "what's an am-"trace"?
I hit a mine (IED) while driving good old "2-7" outside An Hoa, during Operation Georgia. I was loaded to the cargo hatches with boxes of Claymores we were going to leave for Charlie to find on his nature hikes.
The grunts who got blown off the top said the explosion lifted my tractor about 6 feet off the ground. Then some of the local boys opened up with an ambush. I hadn't even had my morning coffee yet!
When the smoke cleared, I was missing three road wheels and my starboard side was peeled out like an onion, but I drove her back to the "barn" and she was turned into the comm-track for the CC.
JEFFERY A. BARNES L/Cpl (Ret'd)
here is a aero, I think that's the way you spell it, off the commanding officer building in Somalia 1993-1994. maybe some Marines might remember the sight. the golf course, 9th comm 1st srig is on the left of the picture. hope some Marines remember this sight!
Note the Flag on the building.
Settled Down To A Dull Roar
Regarding SSgt Brown 1974-1982 wondering if he was the only amtracer, the following factual information is provided. I'm not an "amtracer" but I thank our Beloved Corps for them and those who operate and maintain them...
On a late afternoon in June 1968, while performing perimeter guard duty at Dong Ha, just in front of the Dong Ha ammo dump, we received incoming arty from the DMZ or just North of it. The next bunch of hours were the most terrifying in my life (yea I admit to being scared). If you've never been on the receiving end of artillery, or huddled in a hole while enough ammunition to supply all of Northern I Corps for a week cooks off... well I hope to be forgiven for my fear.
About 4-5 hours after the attack began, I recovered the radio from our destroyed command bunker & established communications with the Dong Ha Combat Operations Center (COC). A couple of hours later, after the ammo dump explosions settled down to a dull roar, we were informed by the COC that we would be relieved of perimeter guard duty, & that a tracked vehicle (tv) would come in to evacuate us. I ran our perimeter from bunker to hole to hiding place & informed my Marines that we were being pulled out.
An Amtrac was sent from Force Logistic Support Group Bravo's Ordnance Maintenance Platoon. The all volunteer crew was led by the Company's Operations Officer 1st. Lieut. John Scribner. Moving his Amtrac over (not around, but over) numerous artillery rounds, Lt. Scribner & his Marines evacuated the trapped & in some cases badly wounded Marines (I remember Mark Merwin being one of the wounded).
The following day, this lowly corporal walked over to Lt. Scribner's office, announced himself, and with a choking voice, personally thanked the Lieutenant. Later that day, I walked the track prints left by Lt. Scribner's amtrac at the ammo dump. I was relieved that the amtrac could drive over so much ordnance and not be damaged. After dark that night, I slept on top of an undestroyed perimeter bunker. Woke up to find two unexploded 155 mm rounds on top of the bunker with me
I'm not an Amtracer, but you had my back, & you have my respect.
"Semper Fi" to SSG Brown, to all of your fellow Amtracers, to all Marines, Corpsmen and all who serve our country! Thank You all.
-Cpl H. J. Roche
2196912 (easy for me to remember because it reads the same forwards & backwards).
Slapped In A Clip
Sgt. Grit, I have been reading your newsletter for quite some time now and thought you might like this little story about my Marine family. I served 67' to 71', Nam twice. My oldest son is a 'lifer' as well as my son-in-law. On my 50th birthday my then Sgt. son gave me a 1911A as a gift. I have had others but this was something special. The next day my son and I went to a friend's house who has a gravel pit shooting range on his property. This is no ordinary range. It is used by our local law enforcement community as well as anyone who wants to shoot responsibly.
Driving up in my truck we were both to notice a gentleman in USMC field jacket, cover w/high and tight hair. There was a couple shooters ahead of us shooting black powder so we had some time to kill. We were introduced by my friend and got to know our USMC brother as a retired S/Sgt. who lived in the area. Our time came to shoot and while we were taking turns on my 1911, I commented to our new USMC friend that my son would be deploying soon but to just where we did not know. He then proceeded to his truck and came back with an AK-47, slapped in a clip, handed it to my son and said "H&ll, you might as well know what the bast*rds are going to be shooting at you with".
Needless to say the rest of our range time was spent making tooth picks out of telephone poles. It turns out our new friend (I wish I could remember his name) was an armorer and we both related to my son the distinct sound the AK makes. When it came time to leave and say our good byes, the owner of the range related to me how much Marines are so much alike and how much we stood out from all the other shooters. His final comment was "you can take the kid out of the Corps but, you will never take the Corps out of the kid". I have spent a lot of my 62 years on many ranges but this one will all ways remain different and special. Thought you might enjoy this.
First: would like to say that as of February 3, 2010, our youngest, a daughter, is smack in the middle of her training to becoming a U.S. Marine. I'm busting with pride that she chose to go MARINE! We look forward to her letters and to the day when we will see her again, to once again let her know how proud her mom and I are, along with her entire family for her wiliness to earn the right to wear the EGA.
Second: would like to share an example of why some P.I. Marines call S.D. Marines, "Hollywood Marines". Enclosed is a picture that might stir up some memories! As you can see in the picture, the "San Diego Boot" in the front of the line, waiting for one of several vaccination shots, is most definitely wearing sunglasses. Needless to say, he became known as "HOLLYWOOD". I don't recall him wearing his shades during Receiving. The shades popped up during the start of our training. The scuttlebutt was that he forgot his prescription clear glasses, therefore the shades. And most likely was a little hesitant to bring them out earlier! Once he received his USMC corrected eyesight device issue, the shades disappeared. Our D.I.'s had a field-day with him! I can still hear our D.I.'S barking "HOLLYWOOD, front and CEEN-TERRR!" "HOLLYWOOD, move your Azz!" "HOLLYWOOD ..." "HOLLYWOOD ..." Well, you get the idea. So HOLLYWOOD, if you're out there, back me up with this story!
Third: what's the issue between MCRD Parris Island vs. MCRD San Diego? One has Sand fleas, mosquitoes, freezing cold, stagnant humidity; the other, jet landings and takeoffs just over the fence, jet engine fumes, foggy mornings, sunny days, and cool nights. I'd have to go with SD, on this one. Of course it's all in fun. We all know we received the same training, and at the end of it, we all thought we bleed GREEN, and if asked, could bite off the head of a snake!
The time was, 3 September 1969, when HOLLYWOOD, and myself along with about 75 other recruits stepped on those yellow footprints. We started out in tents, with the raised plywood deck. Our platoon area was just a few yards away from the fence line that separated MCRD from the San Diego Airport. A few weeks later we upgraded to Quonset huts. The two weeks at Edson range were great; we actually stayed in a building with indoor plumbing (we drilled and qualified with the M14). And yes, back in our platoon areas, our Marine Corps grass was a nicely manicured lawn of dirt and sand. With rocks we would spell out our platoon number, but heaven help you, if you trespassed over it!
We were called the L.A. platoon, because most of us came from the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. All through our training we displayed the L.A. city flag underneath our guidon. Enclosed is my Platoon picture. I'm on the third row from the top, fifth from the left. We were Plt. 3168, K co, 3thBN. RTR. Our SDI was SSGT Taylor, with SSGT Feyerchak. Just sharing some Marine Corps boot camp issued memories, and letting all know how proud we are of our daughter.
SSGT, USMC/ USMCR
In response to Jim Grimes, 10 Mar 2010, I did as he suggested and tried to step off with my right foot. Sure as the dickens, my first impulse was the left and had to actually think about the right. Old habits die hard. Thanks much for the news, it's a very comforting feeling to know you're part of the largest brotherhood around.
Dan Coughlin, Sgt USMC 1973-1978
Hey Woody the smell of socks and Jungle Utes from NAM is something that is ingrained in your mind until the day you die. Jack Pomeroy
SSgt USMC 63-78
Dear Sgt Grit, As you have already had a response from one of our Saigon MSG's, I will keep it short, there are those that embellish upon their time in the Corps! As we get closer to our 35th year of departure from Saigon, we find that the last Helo departing the Embassy had well over 90 Marines aboard (those from 2/4 and 1/9) but as we from the Fall of Saigon Marine Association know it consisted of 12 Marines (MSG's) and its flight crew.
S/F John Ghilain PAO/FSMA
The Remaining men of the 1st Bn 27th Marines, Vietnam 1968 will gather at the Marriott DFW Airport South in Dallas Texas on 14, 15 and 16 May 2010, The Battalion invites all Marines who went into country in support of the Battalion. For more information, contact Felix Salmeron at mar463 @ aol .com or 469-583-0191.
Name Change...H&ll no, just stick with the "Old Corps." It a marriage made in heaven!
Richard E Chapa
You know it takes a lot to make me laugh but in the newsletter some guy referred to you as: "Grit and his platoon of Okies". That was a classic.
SSgt Dan Huntsinger
I have Nat Geo Channel and was watching program How It Was and this is for Bill Alexander.
The last surviving member of the original flag raising on Iwo was interviewed and he told about the flag raising but has since passed away . He and several others had been interviewed and all said same thing my dad did about first flag that is one that got all the horns cheers going not the second
Semper Fi Marine
Frank H . Dilger
Yes We Are
My last wife and I were truck drivers and traveled all over the US. My wife was an Air Force Brat and she used to say "I don't know about you Marines. You can be across the room from someone and if you are wearing a Marine T shirt or cap there will be a SEMPER FI from someone. The other services don't do that. Why?" I told her it was because when they got out of the service they were just Civilians, we were still, and always Marines.
One day we stopped for fuel in Vegas, they were cheaper than California and they gave you a free meal if you fueled up. Anyway, my wife went into the ladies room and I waited outside. While I was there a Marine came up to me and we talked, After he left my wife came out of the rest room, we had dinner and decided to spend the night. The next morning we went into the restaurant for breakfast and across this large dining room there was a very loud SEMPER FI, directed at me. My wife looked at me and said "You don't have a Marine T shirt or cap on, How did that guy know you were a Marine?" I said "Oh we just know". I never did tell her I had met him the night before while she was in the restroom. She just shook her head and said "You Marines are really different." Yes we are.
Sgt Bob Lang 1952-1955 (Forgotten War but not by Us)
Before I Went To Boot Camp
I joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 5/5/55. Before I went into boot camp July 3, 1956, I had two weeks of training in July of 1955. During the first week we were at Coronado Navy Base/UDT, which is the base that the SEAL's train today in California. We trained for amphibious landings after lots of classes. We went down to the beach and loaded on to LCM's and went to the APA, attack transport, which was anchored several miles off shore. We climbed the cargo nets with all of our equipment.
The next morning we climbed down the cargo net and headed for the beach. I was in the third wave of boats, LCVP's . The next day we assaulted two hills at Camp Elliott; the assaults went in to the night. The second week we were at Camp Mathews which is the rifle range for boot camp. I was trained on the M1 Grand rifle and the .45 ACP pistol. I qualified. Also, I trained with the BAR, .30 cal air cooled machine gun.
I did helicopter assault training and a helicopter assault. There is no information in my files about being aboard a ship or a helicopter. I have a picture of the helicopter with me standing next to it, USMC official photo. This picture shows proof that I was there. This took place between my junior and senior year of high school. I also marched in a Veterans Day parade - November of 1955 in Long Beach, California with my unit - the 15th rifle Co. USMCR, U.S. Navy Ammunition & Net Depot Seal Beach, California. Our Sgt's and Offers were WWII and Korean War Vets. One Sgt was a China Marine.
By the time I got to boot camp I was already a Marine. Boot Camp was at SD MCRD, Platoon 3037 , T/Sgt H.L Keller was our senior DI. I was at 2nd ITR and etc. also July 1957 trained at Pickle Meadows
I am In the, Marine Corps League Mount St. Helens Detachment 889 Longview, Washington. We have one member that never went to Boot Camp, He got called up for the Korean war and was sent to Camp Pendleton and then to Korea.
WM David Schooling
1526108 CPL USMCR
1955 - 1959
A friendly reminder to your best friend SSgt. Huntsinger, we as Marines don't STEAL anything, we APPROPRIATE! Also wanted to let you know I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your newsletter for awhile now and look forward to reading them for many years to come. It's great to read Marine Corps History told from the Marines whom were there. Keep up the great work, it's great that someone is able to pull the different generations together in one place so we can learn from each other.
Semper Fi to all my Brothers,
Corporal James Brooks
1993 - 1998
United States Marine Corps
Hi, I also was Army Sgt. U.S. Army. Served with 11th Marines 1970 March, till Jan. 1971. Was at the country club L. Z. Baldy, followed by H&ll ,Hill 52 for 4 or 5 months. Anyone who really remember us seriously, knows our real call name was Cyclops. One in a million, next door neighbor for 14 years before moving to Florida, was a Marine,
11th at L.Z.. Baldy. Truly Walter Orcutt Kissimmee Florida
Just read the little story from Your "buddy" SSGT Dan Huntsinger. So You Guys got a jeep from the poor Army searchlight boys next door. I'm sure glad I got out of the country before You guys got there. I might have had to go look for it. thanks for letting Me hang out with the greatest fighting force on earth.
G btry 29th arty Searchlight.
RVN 1967- 68 Da Nang
At 2 o'clock
Several years ago was chastised by a lady? for using the word you related about in last ! She ALSO referred to her father, not using the word, G-OK, and in response, I related an actual event that I saw when a North Korean/Chinese, aiming at a person to his left, in front of me, and fire team leader to his left, yelled, "gook at 2 o'clock, and the BAR man lowered his weapon, and there wasn't a thing the ENEMY could do when that burst hit him. And in response to the LADY, I asked, which would you rather have, if YOU were UNDER FIRE, "North Korean to your right about to shoot you" OR "g-ok at 2 o'clock", and guess what, no response!
Chesty' Last Regimental Command
Read more responses to this issue on the Sgt Grit blog
Sgt. Grit, I really enjoy the articles submitted by our brothers "The Corpsmen". I never thought of them as Navy. To me they were the Marine Mechanics. They are the ones that kept us grunts in working order in the field. I as wounded twice in my three tours in Nam and DOC fixed me up both times. Any Marine who doesn't appreciate what they did for us over there is not a true Marine. I was and always will be proud to serve with a Marine Corpsman. Some of you paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what you do best. May God rest their souls and bless your souls for who you are and what you have done. THANK YOU MARINE. Semper Fi.
GySgt G. Murray
1st Recon Bn., 7th Comm Bn., 1st ANGLICO
Viet Name 1964-67
Jeep, scmeep...the comments regarding the VietNamese driving an old USMC vehicle...it is not a Mitey Mite, (you wanta see a Mitey Mite, go to the Command Museum at MCRD SD) but is one of the variants of the M151, known mostly by Army types as 'The Mutt"...body was metal stampings spot-welded together, (Budd corporation comes to mind??) the engine was basically a water- proofed Ford Pinto...Marine and Army versions differed in the length of the front bumper...Marine version went all the way across, with D-shaped tie-down shackles at the ends, Army version was shorter.
This vehicle's maintenance & life-cycle program was different from the previous M-38, in that it was never intended to be returned to Depot Maintenance for complete re-build, but was to be 'washed out' at 4th echelon (think FSR, FLC) level...concept being that if you had one with a bad engine, another with a bad tranny and another with some other problem, two of them would be dismantled for parts to repair the third (and the numbers of the two) dropped from the record, and it would be retained on the active roster.
We turned a lot of them, along with duce and halfs, and probably bigger trucks, to the ARVN in 1970...there are probably lots more running around VN than the one in the picture, which does have some modifications, notably the screens on the front. The M151 was up to the 'A-3' version by the late 70's...major difference between it and the early versions was the design of the rear swing arms, which came forward in a 'V', and were anchored about between the back of the front two seats. The original design suffered from the same problem as the Corvair, in that under certain turning conditions, the rear swing arms would 'tuck under', and the vehicle would flip onto its side...everyone I ever saw had a 6"X8" red decal on the dash warning about sharp turns at low speeds...saw one flip on one of the quad parade decks at 29 Palms, and it was probably not going more than 10 MPH at the time.
There were, BTW, a lot of bogus USMC numbers running around by 1970...have heard rumors that most, if not all, of the senior SNCO's in Motor Transport Maintenance Platoon at Dong Ha/Quang Tri had their 'own' personal transport built from parts and pieces out of the junk yard...and when FLSG B moved south, and people were transferred to Maintenance Battalion at Red Beach, those 'individual' vehicles wound up parked behind the FLSGB Maintenance Operations office...just down the road from Maintenance Bn...it's only hearsay, but maybe two of those went in convoy to the LSU at Baldy, and two to the LSU at An Hoa, never to be seen above ground again, and the other one was parked unlocked at Freedom Hill PX, and gone in 20 minutes...with apologies to my box-kicker brethren..."If you think it's hard to get something OUT of the Supply System...you ought to try getting something back IN..."
Would welcome any commentary from any old Motor T types out there...especially the ones who used to answer the landline with "Motor Pool...two bys, four bys, six bys, and big ones that bend in the middle and go PSSSH!...if you can't truck it..."
Dick Dickerson, '57-'81...
This is in response to the 3/3/10 article containing a note from Sgt Riley asking about the USMC jeep in Vietnam.
We left LOTS of equipment in Vietnam. South Vietnam was full of it and when we left we didn't bring a lot of our stuff back, just handed it over. In 1975 the South Vietnamese were literally awash in gear they weren't using. The Communists adopted and kept using much of this equipment since it was still good equipment, they had the means to maintain it, and in many instances superior to the Communist supplied equipment.
As far as the USMC markings...my money's on a Vietnamese private with a sense of humor. That jeep's paint is in far too good of shape to be a used 40+ years old. Maybe if it had been sitting in a climate controlled warehouse for most of the time but I doubt that. Probably somebody either thought it would be funny (big finger to the Commie rulers) or just kept repainting the USMC markings on the vehicles. Really, how many random current Vietnamese service members would know what USMC stood for?
Cpl 7011 97-01
Military history nut and vehicle enthusiast
Non-boot Camp Marine
I was one of those non-boot camp Marines, that Ray Walker spoke of; included in the activations of 1950; "C" Co., 14th Infantry Bn, USMCR, Nashville, TN. When I first joined the Company (30Mar49), I was assigned to the 60mm Mortar Section, armed with the .30 M1, Carbine.
The Company was activated, like many other Reserve units, and we were put on a troop train, 21 August, and sent on our way to Camp Pendleton. You can imagine the mad house with thousands of Reservists all showing up at the same time. Within 2-3 days, most of our Company had all been integrated into other units of the 1st Div. All, that is, except for me, and maybe some others left behind. I stayed at Pendleton until October, and then transferred to MB, Naval Station, San Diego, CA. Then in April, 1951, I was transferred to MCRDep, for boot camp. I had been promoted to PFC, in September, 1949, and within a month of graduation from boot camp, in June, I was promoted to Cpl (E3), assigned an MOS of 0143 (Clerk Typist) and stayed at MCRDep until October, 1953, transferring to TTU, NAB, Coronado, across the Bay. Chesty was CG, at Coronado, when I arrived there.
During this first time at MCRDep, I also was assigned to the Separation Bn, and helped process many returning Marines, for release from active duty, or discharge. I had also decided to "stick with it", and had reenlisted, as soon as I had the year of active duty that was required.
The Marines I knew, from "C" Company, were sufficiently trained to fit in with the regular Marines of the 1stMarDiv, without a great amount of additional training. Nearly all of the officers and NCOs had come out of WWII.
I stuck around, until January, 1970, retiring at HQMC, as a GySgt...
James R. McMahon
Sgt, Amtracks were also mentioned in this last letter, and I thought I'd get these pictures off to you before I put the rest together. These were taken in 1968 off Puerto Rico from the inside of the LPD Austin, and there is no way you could get me in or on one of them.
S/Sgt Ted Dudley
Danang, S. Viet Nam
I was in the ammo dump on that Sunday morning in April when it all began. Out by the road at the far end of the dump by the "grade 3" area some Vietnamese were burning trash. A 5 year old kid supposedly lit a piece of paper on fire and stuck it under the fence and started a field of dry grass burning which eventually reached a pallet of 105 WP (white phosphorous or "willy peter") rounds.
I, and 3 other Marines, (I think one of them was named Sanders or Sandman) tried to beat the fire out with our shirts and the firefighting tools in the area. These firefighting tools consisted of an 8 ft. 2x4 with a rubber mud flap attached to the end.
This old Gunnery Sgt from South Dakota (I can't remember his name) yelled from a distance to "get the h&ll out of there" because it was going to blow. We started running and sure enough it went up. The rest, as they say, is history.
When we got to the main operations office in the dump it was really starting to spread. One of our truck drivers, Tom Robinson from NJ, told us to get in the back and he drove us to the gate at the other end of the dump (which happened to be closed). He said to "hang on" and he crashed through the chain link gate.
Back in the compound there was pandemonium. Everyone was scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. I, Stan (Buck) Owens and a guy named Hart (I think) were running down the dirt road. I believe we jumped on the back of a tank that was going by. When it got to the hill on the other side of the rice paddy we jumped off. We were at the entrance to a communications compound which had already evacuated. We had a fantastic view of the destruction taking place but it soon got out of control.
By now the Air Force bomb dump and bulk fuel area were also blowing up. 1,000 pound bombs were flying through the air and skimming along the ground like little toys. Some were too close for comfort so we went into the communications compound where there were some pretty good in-ground sandbagged bunkers.
The compound was deserted except for us three. Some of the explosions were so big that the 4x4 beams across the top of the bunkers were starting to collapse and sand was falling in. We would take turns watching the dump from the opening in the bunker while the other two huddled in the corner.
At one point, the dynamite mag went up. The day before, my crew unloaded semi after semi of pallets of dynamite (250,000 one pound sticks). This looked like an atomic bomb explosion. You could see the shock waves coming through the air. When it reached our bunker the concussion was unbelievable. Hart was starting to freak out. We had to leave that bunker and run to another one about 30 or 40 yards away. Hart didn't want to go but we dragged him out and told him to run for his life. All kinds of debris was falling from the sky and the dump was going "full bore"! All the smoke and dust made the daylight seem like night time. The air was moist with a stench of fuel, chemicals and gunpowder.
We spent the entire day till about dusk running from bunker to bunker. We had one M16 with us and wondered if the VC would try to take this compound during the night. Then all of a sudden we heard trucks and dogs barking. To our relief it was the entire rest of our company.
They had all gathered early in the day and ran down the road a few miles and laid low till dusk. They decided they had to find shelter for the night and ended up in the communications compound. Were we ever glad to see them! We spent the night and most of the next two days hunkered down while the ammo dump "did its thing"!
When it finally started to die down they gave each of us a piece of paper, an envelope and a pencil and told us to write home and let someone know that we were OK. I guess this event made national news and loved ones would be concerned.
In the aftermath, SSgt Vanmeter received a medal for bravery when he drove a jeep out to the dump in the midst of the destruction and rescued SSgt Fulton from the underground bunker there.
Clean up of the dump began immediately. I was in the first wave of guys sent to walk the road (or what was left of it) looking for any live rounds of ammo. We had a couple EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) guys with us. About 2 weeks later I was transferred to ASP 2 and spent the rest of my tour there.
The day the ammo dump blew up I had been in country a little shy of 10 months of my 13 month tour.
Well, that's my account of that fateful day in history. I did read an official account of that day in some publication. It said that some of the explosions had blown the metal doors off a concrete foundation at 3rd MAF headquarters which was 15 miles away.
I hope this helps. Just writing about it brought back the memories. I've never done this till now. What a rush!
Sgt. U.S. Marine Corps
(Born and raised in Massachusetts)
For those who fought for it,
freedom has a flavor the protected will never know!
Winter Sports, North Korea, 1950
In early December, 1950 at Yonpo Airfield, North Korea, I was assigned as a member of a team taking a Portable Radar set to the Chosin reservoir. After loading the equipment into a jeep and trailer, we drove over to the squadron mess tent to pick up some C-rations. It was about 8pm at night. At the mess tent we were told to stand down as the Marines at the Chosin were cut off due to other military units retreating, exposing the Marines flank.
The next day the Marines at the reservoir requested more air support. We had Marine Corsairs at Yonpo, but no fuel or ordnance. MGCIS-1 had trucks for hauling our Radar equipment, all International Six by Sixes, with convertible tops! Shortly, our trucks were on the way to Hungnam for bombs. I rode shotgun for the first trip; the road was covered with sleet. We picked up nine one thousand pound bombs, fuses and fins and headed for Yonpo.
Arriving at the Yonpo flight line, with no unloading equipment, we rolled one bomb off the truck to see what would happen; it bounced a couple of times on the frozen ground, but did not explode. An Air Force Sgt came over and told us their P-51's could not carry a 1,000 lb bomb, the Marine Corsairs on the other side of the field needed them. With no equipment to reload the bomb, we headed across the field with eight bombs in the truck and dragging one with a log chain!
Arriving at the Marine flight line, the Air Wingers had those bombs on Corsairs and in the air immediately. We unloaded them from the truck by backing up and hitting the brakes, thus dumping them all at once! For the next several days MGCIS-1 hauled fuel and ordnance for the Corsairs, using the same unloading method!
December 14th we shut down our GCI radar operations, loaded our equipment and moved to Hungnam for evacuation. Arriving at Hungnam, I and two other technicians were sent back to Yonpo to operate and maintain the identifier friend or foe (IFF) set and ADF we had left with operations. With no facilities left at Yonpo, we were told to pick up something to eat at the mess tent. All I could find was a gallon of cheese and a gallon of raisins. This was my diet for the next several days.
On Christmas Eve a Marine transport plane came in, loaded up and got ready to leave. They were the last plane out, so we destroyed the remainder of our equipment and boarded the aircraft bound for Itami Air Base in Japan.
Christmas day, 1950 I took my first shower in almost four months and first real