Sgt Grit Newsletter - 08 SEP 2011

In this issue:
• Mighty Mite Photos
• More Ontos
• Protecting One Another

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Newsletter Archives

Grit - The Mighty Mite that you are referring to. I once had one of our supply guys searching for the stock # of a radiator for the air-cooled Mighty Mite - he spent two hours on it - boy, was he mad.
R. Moen 2059141

In This Issue

I just read an article in the Marine Corps Times. A LCpl fell asleep on guard duty in Afghanistan. Hazing followed and he committed suicide. This raises several questions. What do you think?

I was Sergeant of the Guard one night in Vietnam. We had many bunkers and three towers around our perimeter. It's o-dark thirty and I am making the rounds. Getting challenged at each post. I approach the tower at the far end of the compound, no challenge. I climb the ladder, no challenge. I get to the top and both guards are asleep on the floor of the tower. I 'gently' nudge the first Marine with my boot. He wakes up, then the other wakes. I reprimand them on the spot. Next morning I'm standing in front of someone (I don't remember if Staff NCO or Officer) with these two snoozers. They are attacking me for kicking them. I couldn't believe it. Neither Marine was in my Comm Plt so I did not know them. I told my story and was excused. I don't remember what the discipline was for these two. This was my only experience or memory of such a thing in 18 months in Vietnam. I do remember, to this day, that falling asleep in a war zone is deadly, for the guards and everyone who relies on them.

Go to the Sgt Grit blog and watch this video, it will make you proud
Also on the blog Top 10 reasons you know you're the daughter of a Marine... .

9-11-11 is coming up. 10 years have passed. Fly your flag, bow your head, take a moment to reflect on all that has transpired since then.

Here we go: take it out of gear, strange looking duck, gold wedding band, prisoner of the Japanese, old Remington Rand typewriter, we were winning, first ink, grizzled 30 year Marine, promptly threw a track, their all the same, cut up for razor blades, near Dogpatch, Viking emblem, Panama, Con Thien, out of 3 tours.

Fair winds and following seas.
Sgt Grit

Ribbon Builder

Ontos = "The Thing" = Pigs

Ontos They were doomed from the onset. The Army dumped them on the Corps around 1957. Tow's were well into development and the Army preferred them. Little did they know what a fine fighting platform Ontos were. Anti personnel rounds were developed and used with great effectiveness in V.N. and no enemy tanks until Tet of 68 I was schooled at Camp Delmar Track Schools Bn.s in 1965. I served in 1st- 2nd- 3rd Bn.s and Div.'s They saw service in at least two other Theaters of Operation then unceremoniously sold off to third world countries.

Ontos Draw Backs... YES... Highly trained crews, exterior loading, manual sighting and poor performance in soft sand. On the other hand a GOOD OC could take out 6 tanks before they ever got a gun on him My Chu Lai address was:

Cpl. Prohaski
Charlie Co. 1st Plt C-23 1st AT BN. 1st MAR DIV Thanx & Semper

Everyone Wrong

Dear Sgt Grunt,
Just read the story about the mighty mite and it brought back a bunch of memories. First off I had to renew my government license using the mite and being at 6'3 it was a pure test to just get behind the wheel. We were told that the vehicle was only good for 30 days of rough use. But the vehicle proved everyone wrong. With its air-cool engine not too many moving parts.

The other thoughts was the mule. A flat bed carrier with a Brigg & Stratton, pull rope starter. It was used to carry casualties, and supplies. The driver could ride or walk beside it and still operate. The bad part was if the driver forgot to take it out of gear before starting, it would rear-up and take off with the driver chasing.

The third memory was the "Ontos," the thing. I serve in the 2d Anti-tank Bn. at Lejeune. Didn't care to ride in one. Awesome fire power and maneuverability. While serving in the 3rd tank Bn in Okinawa, during an exercise in Japan, the tanks were pitted against the Ontos. Radio calls were coming in all night from tanks. Thrown tracks, no fuel, slid off the road, etc. Meanwhile the Ontos and crew were back in camp and off on liberty. There were some piszed-off tankers believe me.

Semper Fi
Al Dixon
GySgt, USMC, ret.

Marine Corps Ball

Birthday Ball Branson 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball
November 10, 2011
Branson Convention Center - 5pm to Midnight
Open to Marines, Veterans and the General Public

Keynote Speaker: Capt. Dale Dye
$60 per person includes: Social Hour, Birthday Ceremony, Dinner & Dancing. Semi-Formal attire.

I Wondered

I have seen and read a lot about Marines KIA coming home in flag draped caskets. I would like to tell you my experience before they are prepared to go home.

I was sitting on the edge of a path on the side of a hill in Korea when something brushed my back and neck. I turned my head quickly to see what it was. It was the hand and arm of a dead Marine. The hand had a gold wedding band on it.

A short time later someone came to me and asked if I would identify some Marines. Of course I said yes. I was taken to a stretch of grass with 17 dead Marines laying there face up. I was asked to go to each one of them and look at them to see I knew them.

I didn't know any of them and off and on for over 60 years I wondered if they were identified.

Corps. James W. Manning 1948-1952


My first contact with the ONTOS was when I was assigned to 1st Anti-Tank Bn 1stMarDiv Vietnam July 1967 - December 1967. Am including a few pictures of our CP on a hill outside Da Nang in hopes I will hear from some of the Marines who served in 1st AT Bn during that period.

Ontos First Anti-Tank Bn Sign

I was Bn CommO and because of the shortage of officers at that time also served as Hqs Commandant, Mess Officer, engineer Officer, and CO H&S Company. In December of 1967 1st AT Bn was disbanded and most ONTOS were attached to 1st Tank Bn which was headed North to Hue. This effectively was the end of 1st AT Bn and I was sent south to Chu Lai as CommO of 9th Engineer Bn. Hope these pictures bring back some memories and it would really be great to hear from Marines who were there.

First Anti-Tank Bn outside DaNang First Anti-Tank Bn

Capt USMC (Ret)
Lebanon Missouri

Mighty Mite

Mighty Mite Okinawa 1963 I remember the Mighty Mite referenced in your Sept 1 Newsletter very well. In my time in the Corps, 1961-1967, we used the Mighty Mite for just about everything a rifle battalion could need. A friend of mine helped to restore one for the USMC Museum recently.

Mighty Mite Okinawa 1963 Here is one "in the field" in Okinawa in 1963:

Jim Holden

Protected One Another

(response to Blog article)

I entered in 1957 when there were still a lot of WWII Marines. We were top heavy, one couldn't buy a stripe, this is not about that.

What I did observe is that the Old Timers, protected each other, Officers protected the enlisted combat vets and the enlisted protected the officers.

Alcoholism seemed to be the problem but these Marines pulled together and protected one another. It wasn't unusual to see officers and enlisted socializing. When one was able to listen in on their conversations, they were about the good times.

I was an MP so there were several times that there would be a mixture of enlisted and officers causing problems the MP Chief would just have them hauled back to the base. Respect.

Some senior enlisted should have had Velcro for their stripes, one week Sgt, next Private, HOWEVER, when the old man needed something guess who he went to...

By the Grace of God,
And A Few Marines.

Darwinn B. Rutz
Sgt. 1957-1964.

Flattened Tires

105mm howitzer Don,

One of my favorite photos from the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle / Quantico Virginia. Also, a 105mm howitzer staged in the Vietnam display area at the museum. (The flattened tires, by incoming shrapnel, were just at it happened at Khe Sanh). 105mm howitzer I tried without much success to have the gun decaled with the shield of Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines with whom I was privileged to serve in 1963-1965 coming out of 1st Marine Brigade at Kaneohe Bay to Phu Bai, RVN.

Best regards, and Semper Fi
Joe Featherston

Near Dogpatch

Mighty Mites Vietnam 1966 Sgt Grit,
You mentioned Mighty Mites. Here's a couple of pictures of two of our Mighty Mites in the 3rd Mar Div, Headquarters Battalion, MP unit. I'm sitting in one with a South Vietnamese QC officer waiting to go on patrol near Dogpatch by the Danang Air Base in August, 1966.

Mighty Mites 3rd Mar Div 1966 The other picture is of our Gunny as we're waiting to depart from the POW compound on the south flank of Hill 327 for our new assignment in Dong Ha in October, 1966.

Cpl. Jack Stanfill



I just needed to tell you that the 40 pound IED story of LCpl Brendon Long was AWESOME!

I'm still tearing up as I write this. I just wanted to say how PROUD I am of him, his family and friends for what they did. Words cannot express my feelings for LCpl Long's service and sacrifice to this great nation. THANK YOU!

Thank you Sgt. Grit for making me an even prouder Marine father. (Still tearing up)!!! My son is currently serving in Afghanistan for 1/12 Arson Battery.

Bill Johnson, Orlando FL

50 Hit

Speaking of the Ontos, in 1958 I was assigned to the public information office of Hq Co. Hq Bn., 1st MarDiv at Camp Pendleton. One day the Captain of the PIO office sent me out to the field to observe and write a story about a new piece of equipment the Marines were experimenting with.

It was a strange looking duck which looked like a pickup truck mounting a recoilless 105 mm which had a unique aiming system linked to a 50 cal. mg. When the 50 hit the target the 105 was fired and also hit the target. I remember being very impressed and was convinced we ruled the armored warfare battles of the world.

Charles Miller, Cpl USMC 1957-59

No Idiot

On Halloween night in 1963, I moved off the bus and assumed the position of attention on the yellow footprints at MCRD, San Diego, CA. After the preliminary day of sorting and adjustment, I was formed with seventy-four other recruits into the ranks of Platoon 285. Our Platoon Commander was Staff Sergeant Alvaro Brackamonte and he wore the fair-leather belt of his position as Senior Drill Instructor.

The positions of Platoon Guide and Squad Leaders were assigned, with those going to the tall in stature for the obvious reason. It looked like the feather merchants, like myself, would not share in the positions of importance within the platoon. To my surprise, the Platoon Commander yelled out the name of Private Eddie Robinson, a lightweight in our group, and appointed him to the position of House Mouse.

Lastly, before he was through, he asked if anyone of us privates had the skill of being able to type. I inched up my hand and was informed that, from then on, I would be the Platoon Secretary. Private Robinson and myself would report to the Duty Hut each morning and perform our chores while the rest of the platoon would hold police call in the area. Eddie Robinson would clean the duty hut and I would type the morning report on an old Remington Rand typewriter. An original and two green onion-skin copies (the straight skinny) issued forth and were sent to the appropriate departments.

Throughout our days of training, those of us who were serving in these extra positions were referred as the -ing Guide or the - ing third squad leader or the -ing house mouse and the -ing secretary.

A short time before graduation, while standing on the platoon street in platoon formation, a yell came from the duty hut; "Platoon Guide and Squad Leaders to the duty hut!" A little later, came the call, "House Mouse to the duty hut" We wondered what trouble we could all be in for. Finally, came the call, "Where's my -ing Secretary?" I reported to the duty hut as ordered, rapped on the hatch, and was summoned inside. Centering myself of the Drill Instructors desk, eyes on the mark on the wall above his head, I reported; "Sir, Private Everett reporting as ordered." The Platoon Commander asked me, "Don't you know how to report to the Drill Instructor?" "Sir, Yes Sir, Private Everett reporting as ordered." I said. "No idiot, he said, from now on its Private First Class Everett."

I was stunned to be included with the others who had made good scores and performed well on all the evals and received meritorious promotions. Life was sweet.

Yellow Foot Prints Outdoor Vinyl
Yellow Foot Prints Outdoor Vinyl

Fire Team To The Right

Sgt. Grit,
As I write this, I am reading through the 25 August issue of your newsletter, and I have found two submissions to which I would like to reply.

The first is from Cpl Fred Stupp. He wrote about turning down the offer to serve on the burial detail of a friend.

When I was released from active duty, I got a job teaching history and English at a junior high school in McAllen, TX. Since I was a drilling Reserve captain, I was asked by the local recruiter to act as OIC of a detail for the funeral of a retired Marine colonel. The local recruiters provided the detail. I agreed, with the stipulation that they "school" me on my duties and procedures, since I had never even seen such a ceremony, let alone participating in one. During the service, I confess to having an emotional reaction to the family's loss, having recently lost my mother, but I managed to keep my focus on my duty, rather than my feelings. An interesting outcome of that experience is the that one of that deceased colonel's daughters was assigned to my class a short time later. I don't remember if she made the connection between her teacher and the Marine officer who participated in her dad's funeral.

The other submission in your newsletter was from 1st Lt. Martin Asher, who asked about the use of Ontos in Vietnam.

In previous submissions to your newsletter, I have referred to Operation Desoto (26Jan-9Apr67) in Duc Pho District, south of Quang Ngai. I had two experiences involving Ontos during that operation. Both of them were unpleasant--not because of the Ontos themselves, but because of what happened "around" their use.

I was the artillery forward observer for Lima 3/7 for almost six months, before being called back to my battery to be FDO. On a patrol around one of the villages surrounding Duc Pho, I was out with the 3rd Platoon, which was then being led by the platoon sergeant, GySgt. Malloy. (The 3rd Platoon Commander, John Welch, had been a classmate of mine at The Basic School. He died as a result of setting off a booby-trapped LAAW he found lying along the trail, about two months earlier in Lima's involvement in the Duc Pho area.) At least one Ontos had been around the area of the village that we were entering, as there were tracks in the rice paddy. We came under heavy fire as our last man entered the ville, and it was hard to determine where the firing was coming from. The gunny sent a fire team off to the right to try to flank the enemy. Unfortunately, the leader of the team decided to follow the Ontos tracks, rather than avoid them. He set off an anti-tank mine that killed him and caused minor wounds to the other three Marines.

I believe it was later, after Capt. Henry, who had joined Lima in January--just in time to take us on the operation--was hit by "friendly fire" and med-evacked out. He was replaced by Capt. Larry Celmer. Capt. Celmer sent me with 1st Platoon up onto a hill called Nui Cua, right on the edge of the South China Sea, to set up an observation post. While we were there, Celmer took part of the rest of the company north, across the river. Using a spotter scope, I could see armed individual's moving toward his position, and I called to let him know. I could hear firing from his end of the radio conversation when he acknowledged my message. Facing heavy fire, he pulled Lima back toward the ville that served as our HQ. Still watching through either the sniper spotter scope or my own binoculars, I saw the "Skipper" hit and fall. An Ontos that happened to be in "our" ville drove out onto the sand bar where he lay, and retrieved his body by straddling him with the tracks and lifting him inside.

In addition to commenting on the articles by Cpl. Stupp and Lt. Asher, I just read David Johnson's clarification of his "dark and difficult time" comment, regarding the U.S.'s evacuation at the end of the Vietnam War. I would like to refer anyone who might be interested to the subject, to a book titled Unheralded Victory: The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army 1961-1973, by Mark W. Woodruff (with a foreword by Gen. James L. Jones).

Mr Woodruff re-enforces an opinion that I have had since my time there: we who fought in 'Nam didn't lose the war--others gave away the victory. To quote from a comment on the back of the book's jacket, "What defeat? When I left Vietnam we were winning." (Which is similar to a slogan on one of Sgt. Grit's bumper stickers.)

Semper Fi!

Tom Downey
Once a captain, USMCR; always a Marine
'63-'76 "for pay purposes"
Vietnam, 4Dec66-18Dec67

First Ink

First Ink Sgt. Grit,
At 56 years old, I recently got my first tattoo. The tattoo artist is Brad Kinzel of Salem, OR. This was his first EGA, and I think he did an outstanding job.

Semper Fi,
Robert Shirley
Sgt, 1973-1979

Resounding Yes

Hey Grit,

I enjoy reading your newsletters a great deal and have even written in to you a time or two. After reading Sgt of Marines Remo Williams entry I chose this as one of those times to write in. Remo wrote in answer to his earlier question of having never served in combat and whether he was a "true Marine"; "Is it just me? Most of the time I feel empty, knowing I gave, but not quite enough. It eats me up like a cancer.".

As a combat Marine who also served during the same era as you I would like to answer your query with a resounding yes! You are a true Marine. I want to encourage a fellow leatherneck that you are every bit the Marine in my eyes as anyone else that graduated boot camp from Parris Island, San Diego or Quantico. The 1980's was an idyllic time in the Corps. No major combat, lots of spending on training and equipment and large annual increases in pay. We were a force in readiness that culminated in unleashing our fury on Saddam in the Gulf War circa 1991. You were every bit a part of that because I'm sure that many Marines you trained and trained with took part in that and put to use skills and training that you imparted to them.

In closing I would direct you to a book that a friend of mine wrote. The title is called "I Never Had to Duck, Adventures in the Peacetime Marine Corps", by Chuck Peters. He was a Marine Officer who served in the Corps in the 50's and 60's. Though a different era, it's remarkable how the Corps does not change. There are many peacetime adventures he recounts in there that are sure to make you laugh and think about the contributions of peacetime Marines. Keep in mind, even the grizzled 30 year Marine veteran who has been in multiple conflicts has seen the majority of his service in that peacetime Marine Corps.

Semper Fi,
Shawn Kane
Sgt of Marines

Con Thien

Sgt. Grit
When Jim Barr - SNCO of Marines (Vietnam Vet 62-73) mentioned the Mighty Mite, in your Newsletter of Sept. 01, it brought back some memories of my time in RVN ('67 and '68). I've enclosed the only picture I have of one of those little beasties.

Con Thien Mighty Mite This particular vehicle was assigned to Capt. Edwards (RVN '67) who was the C.O. of C/1/4 during that time. [Note: He was one h- ll of an officer and I'll never forget him.] Anyway, his company driver - "Sid" (in the passenger's seat) and Company Radio Operator - "Porky" (in the back, with the mail sack), used to hunt me up and we'd make runs into Hue (months B4 Tet). I've often wondered how we managed to survive those afternoon jaunts - and have tried to re-collect exactly WHY we went on those little trips anyway. [At my age, my memory is rather foggy.] Likely "to get beer" was the logical reason.

With respect to USMC "non armored" vehicles, MY personal favorite was "the Mule". I've also enclosed a picture of one of those little beasties. Those little suckers could sure haul the Ammo & C-Rats, etc.

Con Thien The Mule The picture of "the Mule" was taken at Con Thien (not in '68, but during May of '67). At that time I was working for Col. Willis (C.O. of 1/4) as a 2533/0846 (and along with A/1/4 and D/1/4), when we were almost overrun at Con Thien on May 7/8, '67. As a side note, we did serve up some serious wupass on the NVA-324B during those days. Sadly, we lost a lot of fine Marines and a few Corpsmen during that operation (just B4 "Hickory") - which was at the conclusion of building the "Fire Break", aka "McNamara's Folly", located about 1 or 2 clicks south of the DMZ.

Sorry for the run-on sentences...

God Bless ALL Marines, especially the Grunts, the USMC Amtrak crews and Engineers (they got to blow -hit UP - how cool was that?). Also thanks to the SeaBees, Navy Corpsmen and those Army dudes, driving those Tanks. BTW - The 1st CAV were whusses, IMO.

Thanks for the Newsletters and memories.
Semper Fi...

Sgt. Shadow
USMC, 66-72
RVN, 67 and 68

Didn't Bother Me

Reading the letter from Sgt. Remo Williams resonated with me. I served from 71-75 and spent all my time stateside. At the time, the fact that I never got orders overseas and specifically to Viet Nam didn't bother me that much... but now in later years it bothers the h-ll out of me. I feel like I missed out on what would have been an important part of my life had I gone. I served honorably for 4 years, I made Crew Chief on the CH-53D and still feel I didn't do all that I should have.

Cpl. Richard Martin

Promptly Threw A Track

This is in response to the query made by Lt Asher concerning the Ontos and how they were used and performed in Viet Nam.

I was first introduced to the Ontos at Quantico Va. in 1966. This was after I was released from Bethesda, after I recovered from wounds from my first tour in Nam. At that time my MOS was 0353, 3.5 rockets. our unit was School Demonstration Troops. We actually showed you young officer how things were done. (hopefully you learned something).

I went back to Nam in early 1967, attached to 3rd Anti Tanks . Col, McCain (JINX) was our Co. Honestly The Ontos (we called them PIGS not in Jinx's hearing) was only good for convoy escort or perimeter defense. Once you got off a hard packed surface it, like tanks, bogged down.

I think my platoon was the last active Ontos platoon in the Corps . This was at Khe Sanh. I actually shot at a suspected NVA 57 recoilless position during the siege, backed into our revetment real quick and promptly threw a track. Try repairing a track while the enemy is rocketing you. Did I like them? NO, but it sure beat humping.

My neighbor Col, Gene Birnbaum USMC Ret, is a diehard tanker and Nam vet, and he told me that no tanker he knew was ever worried about THE ONTOS. I did do another tour in 70-71 as a grunt, and missed my PIG.

If I have offended any old pig crewmen or made a mistake please forgive an old Marines mistakes.

Semper Fi brothers
J,B Boitnott SGT


"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?"
--James Madison, Jan. 19, 1788

"A truly successful army is one that, because of its strength and ability and dedication, will not be called upon to fight, for no one will dare to provoke it."
--Ronald Reagan

"It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute."
--James Madison

"I am convinced that there is no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world."
--Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill

Short Rounds

Received a phone call from my son in Okinawa. Seems he must have been doing something right and they are meritoriously promoting him to Corporal.
The only thing that gives more pride than being a Marine, is being the Father of a Marine.
Howard Spaulding
SGT USMC, 67-71

It Never Mattered

Sgt. Grit,

I was just reading your newsletter and thought you might find this interesting. My dad was born in 1900. He volunteered for WWI but was turned down as he was blind in one eye. Anyway, it never mattered to him what service a guy was in he would say they were in the army. I remember my mother correcting him that they were in the Air Force, the Navy, etc. he would say, "There all the same." That all changed in 1969 when I enlisted. Whenever I was mentioned he would say proudly, "My boy is in the Marines!" They were not all the same after all.

Bob Blacketer

Cut Up For Razor Blades

Reading through the Aug 25, 2011 issue of Sgt grit I see that the USS Sanctuary had been decommissioned and on the way to be scrapped in Brownsville, TX. I was medivacked to the USS Sanctuary in April 1969 for loss of voice. Seems like I came down with cysts on my vocal cords and they didn't want to operate and have me aboard while they went back to the Philippines for refurbishing. I was sent back to my unit, H&MS-11 at Danang with a chit stating that I was not permitted to talk, drink anything other than water and to quit smoking. If I was still unable to talk when they returned 90 days later then they would have operated and possibly lose my voice permanently as they told me it was 50/50.

I have always wondered what had happened to the USS Sanctuary after I returned to the States and hadn't heard anything about her since then. Even with all the 'minor' conflicts going on around the world I always thought that it would be there to help with injured/wounded personnel.

Now since I live about 3-4 hours drive from Brownsville, TX I may have to try and see her one more time before she is cut up for razor blades. Really sorry that she has to go out like this after she had been the life saver of many wounded personnel in Vietnam.

Robert K. Otto
GySgt USMC Retired
RVN 1966-1967 & 1969-1970

My Salute

The decommissioning of Navy Hospital ship USS Sanctuary and being towed for its imminent demise to a scrap heap to me is just plain sad. When serving as a grunt with L3/7, 69-70, I had two medivacs onto the Sanctuary, once being treated for jungle rot infection and later for immersion foot. From the surgical staff to the nurses I along with my fellow Marines received the best of care! My salute to the Navy docs and nurses and especially all the bush Corpsman who without them ... Ooorah! Semper Fi

MSgt Luca Isandoro (Ret)

Royal Marines

Hi thought I would send you this email about the DET 1088 here in London. I made this Royal Marines Commando Green beret for them, and as you can see they were very pleased with it. Made me feel really proud, as I did serve alongside the USMC in N/Africa 1961 on a joint USMC/RM exercise. Still in contact with 2 US Marines since 1961, that's why we are a Brotherhood.

Royal Marines Royal Marines

RM Commando 1957-71

Viking Emblem

I was in M.C.R.D. San Diego Dec 65 to Mar 66 yes we had house mouses. And we smoked when the smoking lamp was lit only, in fact I remember Brennan saying the smoking lamp is lit for one cigarette. 80 some turds (trainee undergoing recruit discipline) would respond the same to him, to which he would say and I'll smoke it.

Also had a pillow case on our guide-on with a Minn viking emblem on one side and the words from vikings. And on the other side an Eagle, Globe and Anchor and the words to Marines. All the men in my platoon were from Minn. platoon 3039. would like to hear from any of you guys if you're out there. Love your stuff okie and your newsletter. Oh ya Chu Lai 66 to 67 Dong Ha 67 to 68. Lotsa memories.

L/cpl J Tracy 2192776

p.s. I went thru Los Pogas with Capt JJ Carroll, went to Viet Nam on board the USS Wiegel. 3000 doggies and 2000 Marines 30 days on the water. I believe but I am not sure Capt Carroll was on that ship. as part of escape and evasion we had to run 3 miles back to the barracks. When we got back the SSgt called us to attention and Capt Carroll said he was proud of us and the run we made. So proud that we could now call him by his first name, when someone hollered what is it, he grinned and said, SIR, got a good laugh and that's the kind of leader he was. My eyes are leaking and I have no more to say.


Operation "NIMROD DANCER" (which no one has heard of) was several companies of Marines that guarded the Arrijan tank farm in Panama, pre-operation "Just Cause". I was a 41 with Charlie 1/6 during this operation and attended the J.O.T.C. (army jungle school). One night on LP/OP, I spied through my NVGs a Humvee pulling up and stopping on one of the large mounds of earth that contained fuel for ships passing through the Panama canal.

I saw several guys pointing into the jungle to my port and trained my goggles in that direction. Instantly I saw three flashes come out of the jungle. My heart started pounding as I clicked to three round burst and prepared for an order to light up the jungle. BOOM! An illumination round fired into the night sky from behind me, and My buddy Russell cut loose with a sixty from the hill in front of me. It ended almost as quick as it started. ROE's said we couldn't pursue the enemy at night, so we all sat tight till morning. 11's patrolled the area and found bloody rags and goo spattered trees. No doubt those guys were looking for a medal that night in Panama shooting into a company of America's finest, but got a belly full of lead instead.

Just wanted to sound off for Charlie 1/6 and this unknown operation, and all the Marines involved who made contact with these PDF bast-rds looking for a medal for fighting US Marines. Semper Fi my brothers, I won't forget.

Hitting That Bottle

I had firewatch New Years eve in the field radio/telegraph operators barracks at M.C.R.D 1970.I knew I was going to Nam with a radio on my back. My old platoon guide from boot camp (in a previous class due to an injury from a fellow Marine} supplied me with a pint of Seagrams VO7 for my solitary and maybe last New Year's Eve.

I checked in early from Christmas leave and the New Year's contingent had departed leaving me all by my lonesome. I assumed my post at midnight and started hitting that bottle as soon as soon as possible. To my surprise, the duty Cpl. of the Guard appeared with the O.D. a hour or so later. I reported my post all secure and lost my balance and fell down (from intoxication), mid sentence. I reassumed the position of attention and saluted the 1st Lt. He replied "Carry on" and departed with the Cpl. of the Guard.

Halfway down the barracks, I could hear the Cpl. protesting to the O.D. (that I had not been brought to task). The O.D. turned and jumped right down that Cpl.'s throat. I have had numerous narrow escapes, but this one really stands out. My class was the first not to go 100% Wespac since 1965. I spent a year with the Wing at M.C.A.S Beaufort doing absolutely nothing.

Cpl. Dick Bates 1969-1973 (2531 mos)

Made Some Tortillas

I'm always looking over the newsletter hoping to see or read from some jarhead I knew in Nam. The only one person's name I caught was Odom Gordon L.

We went through boot camp with 2nd Battalion, Plt 230, MCRDSD, from Apr 64 to Jul 64. I sent him an email but it was undeliverable. Anyway, I am trying to locate members of that Plt. Our Senior DI was SSGT Gabbert, jr DIs were Sgts: Gandara and Volner. I know of one guy that is on the wall from our Plt. I would like to know if there are others.

I also caught the Amtrack pics off of Cua Viet. I would like to know if anyone remembers the outpost on the North side of the Cua Viet river. I ran a demolition/mine sweep team from there, and pulled patrols along the DMZ along the South China Sea and westward toward Gio Linh with the grunts who happened to be there at the time. I was assigned to 3/3 with India, Kilo, and Lima, but at that time there was a shortage of engineers so they sent my team for a couple of months.

Can anybody who was there carrying Marines across from Cua Viet on Ontos's and Amtracs, or who possibly were there at that outpost remember the name of that place? I want to say C-2, but I can't remember for sure. 26th Marines were there, and also 4th Marines, if I am not mistaken. It was around Sept, Oct 68. As engineers we provided the destruction of booby traps, mines, destroyed bunkers and spider traps around that part of the DMZ.

I recall one time at the mess hall me and one of the cooks with 26th Marines made some tortillas and handed them out to the guys during chow. The guy was from LA. There was another guy there who helped us his name was Velasquez, I believe. He was from Lindsay California.

That was pretty good duty then we went back to Con Thien with 3/3 and Camp Carroll and Vandegrift and finished up my 3rd tour in May of 69. Out of 3 tours and working demolitions and sweep teams with the grunts out in the paddies and jungles, I only ended up with 1 PH. Thanks Grunts. I even got to walk point with them. I felt honored. It wasn't a desired job, but I knew I was okay with the grunts I was with at the time. We would even give them some C-4 to warm up their C-rats.

Manny (Speedie) Gonzales
Vietnam 65,66,67,68,69
Combat Engineer SGT
Drop me an email at vietvet6569 @ msn .com if you went through boot camp with me or remember the outpost I was referring to.

Flag From Hitting

In this week's newsletter and a few other issues I'm noticing more stories about Escort or Funeral details, so I thought I'd share a little of mine.

In the fall of 1968 I was going through misc Wing schools at Millington Tenn. I'd been through Boot starting in march 68. Anyway they picked a bunch of us who were on the tall side of 6 ft and said we were going to be the rifle squad for the 21 gun salute. Lots of practice using blanks in the old M-1 Carbine took place including all of us learning about the pain of "the old M-1 thumb" which older Marines will understand.

We had to fire exactly on command and make it sound like one shot for each volley, the Gunny in charge made it clear what our fate would be if we screwed it up at a funeral. I take pride in doing it the Marine Corps way, correctly and not sounding like 5-6-7 separate shots in a sloppy volley. We did at least a dozen funerals in western Tenn. northern Miss. and eastern Arkansas in the next 3 months. All were for KIA's from Nam, and at the time we did what we had to do and didn't make a big deal out of it, but it was scary. I admit now to be burying young Marines our age, false bravado & B.S. as young guys got us through it in public.(yes we did check out the girls, we were young and horndogs, they were the only lighthearted part of this duty)

One very bad incident has always stuck in my mind, as the officer was giving the flag to the Marines Mother she lost it and reached out to scratch, strike at his face, as memory serves me I believe she ripped his ribbons partially off before relatives could get a hold on her and stop further action. In the split second while this took place the officer somehow managed to keep the flag from hitting the deck and avoid being scratched etc, the rifle squad is some distance from the casket area and the guys who folded the flag had a better view of this one than we did.

Seeing the families at the graveside services was the hard part and came back to me in hard flashback sad forms when I was involved in 3 funerals with the Patriot Guard as a flag holder in recent years here in Illinois. Now that I've written part of how I felt I don't know what to say so I think I'll stop and figure out why my eye are blurry-duh!


Problem Solved

I could never remember the password in Vietnam. We were always out in the bushes and as the artillery forward observer it was my habit to tour the lines each night at least once. Since I could never remember the pass word when I got the inevitable "Halt. Who goes there?" my reply was always "None of your da*mned business. The reply I got was "Oh, come on in Smokey." Problem solved.
Don "Smokey" Stover
Mustang 1st Lt
Vietnam 3/68 to 4/69

Marine Corps Kids

Kids these are my 2 kids Gunny Moose & Bambi.

No Weapons Are

In the September 1 Newsletter you had a story by Sgt. Jim Grimes entitled, Locked and Loaded on him. I, too, drew on an officer once. I was working in the armory for BSSG 2 in March of 1991, after the start of Operation Desert Storm. I was but a lowly Lance Criminal at the time. One of the PFC's that worked in the armory left the pad lock off of the cage door. This LSB Captain wanted to withdraw his units rifles for a force march but we had received an order from the CO of BSSG 2. No weapons are to be issued without my written permission.

Aye, Aye, Ma'am.

He didn't like that answer so he reached around the cage from the rifle hole in the cage and lets himself in. he walks straight over to the rifle racks containing "his" rifles. Our NCOIC tells him to exit the cage immediately. In response, he reaches for a rifle in its rack. I am wearing the .45 in a shoulder holster, clip in, but no round in the chamber. My NCOIC snaps his fingers in my direction and I draw, chamber a round then site in on the Captain a little higher than center mass. His eyes got big as saucers and walked, very slowly to the cage door and out.

At the end of the work day I arrive back at my 4 man room to find two very large Marine MP's under arms who tell me I am restricted to barracks for the weekend. The Captain wanted to press charges. I was told they were investigating whether I should be charged or not. No one ever said another word to me about it. Monday morning my personal, armed pitbulls were gone and off to the armory I went. I understand he left the Corps immediately after. I don't know if it was his choosing or the Corps' but I didn't miss him.

Cpl. M.S. Lewis, 1988-1994

Keep kicking at darkness until it bleeds light.

Popping smoke!

Sgt Grit

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