Sgt Grit Newsletter - 13 SEP 2012

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• C-47 Spooky Gun Bird
• Map Case Beer
• So I Told The Ladies

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Newsletter Archives

Ivan and Owen Dodge This is a picture of Ivan and Owen Dodge. Looks like the next generation will be carrying on the family tradition. Their uncles are GySgt Paul L. Chevalier, USMC Ret, and Pvt Matt Doppstadt (currently serving). SgtMaj Paul J. Chevalier (AKA Papa), USMC Ret., is very proud of them.

Semper Fi

Cathie Chevalier

C-47 Spooky Gun Bird

When I checked into VMO-1 new river after flight school, the sqdn. SgtMaj (don't remember his name) was an enlisted pilot. The most memorable one, however, was SgtMaj. Robert M. Lurie. The SgtMaj was stationed at DaNang side and flew the C-47 spooky gun bird. What makes the story most memorable though was the fact that the SgtMaj's son, 1stLt Robert M. Lurie Jr. was a Huey pilot with HML-167 at Marble Mt. MAF.

On occasion, Bob Jr. would go over to DaNang and fly co-pilot for his dad and on occasion the SgtMaj would come over to Marble and fly co-pilot for his son. As a rated pilot, the SgtMaj always had O-club privileges when he visited Marble.

One of the saddest moments of the tour was when Bob Jr. Was shot down and killed, 26 July 1968. The SgtMaj came over to Marble to take his son's remains home. It was a sad quiet night at the club.

J. M. "Mike" Jeffries
Capt USMC Ret.

Yes Sir

Dear Sgt. Grit,

Seems like each and every week one of your contributors makes reference to the famous yellow footprints. And each time I have to acknowledge the fact that I do not recall seeing yellow footprints when I arrived at Parris Island in the middle of the night back in July of 1964. There's a perfectly understandable reason for that: I was drunk. Seriously. I was seriously hammered.

There were six of us from Springfield, Missouri. All of us were straight out of high school. Had we joined the regular Marine Corps we would have been sent to San Diego. For some reason at the time they were sending six-month reservists from southwest Missouri to P.I.

Our bus dropped us off at some town where we had an extended layover before being picked up by a USMC bus that would take us to our destination. For some reason, the others didn't see our big day as a time for celebration and thus did not follow my lead as I consumed fourteen 8-ounce cans of Country Club malt liquor. We called them pony cans back then.

Stumbling out of the bus I recall one of the drill instructors exclaiming, "You're drunk!" What could I say but, "Yes sir!" Other than feeling pretty lousy the next day when they assigned us to Platoon 163, I cannot say that showing up for boot camp intoxicated made much of a difference one way or the other. Didn't make me any more contemptible than the next guy. We were all civilian scum.

The following year, after reading about Operation Starlight, I decided the weekend warrior route was not for me. I enlisted in the regular Marines and volunteered for Vietnam duty. No, I was not drunk at the time, and once again, none of the others followed my lead.

Gary Harlan
Sergeant of Marines

Medal and Ribbon Mounting

Map Case Beer

Sgt Grit,

The stories about enlisted pilots (or NAP's) jogged my memory about a couple of NAP's that I knew.

While serving as a mechanic with VMF-214 in Korea in 1950, I got to know a Tech Sgt named Monk Taylor (don't know if Monk was his real name or a nickname, but that's what everyone called him). Monk was flying the F4U-4B Corsair and flew many combat hops. One hop that he flew out of Ashiya (spell) Air Force Base in Japan was typical of Monk. He had been working at the Staff NCO club as a bartender the night before, and in typical Monk Taylor fashion, he drank about one for every one he served.

He was not scheduled for a flight the next day so he drank a good deal. Thinking ahead, as he left the club to go to his quarters, he pocketed two cans of beer thinking he may awake with a thirst. Low and behold, at O'-dark-thirty he was awakened and told that because one of the pilots couldn't make it, (probably a field grade) he, Monk, was to fly an early flight.

It was a long flight to North Korea, a long time on target and then a long flight back to Japan, all the while the sun was beating down on that Plexiglas canopy. Monk realized that he had put those two cans of beer in the map case and took one out, popped the top, pulled up next to the lead and saluted him with the beer before quaffing it down. A beer never tasted better. After a little while thirst again overtook him and he did the same as before. This time when he saluted the lead pilot with the beer, the lead turned into him. Monk had beer all over him and all over the cockpit as he frantically maneuvered that big bird out of the way.

I met Monk a few years later at Pensacola where he was a flight instructor and taught survival... he was a Captain by this time, and I was a student pilot. At a local watering hole one night he knocked me off the bar stool when I took too long to answer his question whether I would be flying if it wasn't for the flight pay? When I got up and dusted myself off I said, "Jesus Monk, I'd give the government the flight pay for the fun of flying their birds."

There was a navy Chief who flew an R5D (4 engines, a DC4) into the tiny field at Hagaru-ri at the Chosin reservoir to evacuate wounded Marines the only other transports going in there were twins, R4D, and R5C's.

I remember other stories about Monk and other NAP's that will have to wait on a later newsletter.

Semper Fi,

So I Told The Ladies

Regarding deserters: I was happy to have the deserters away in Canada. They didn't dirty our TAOR or mess with our girls.

Looking at Ted Picado's graduation picture, it reminds me that in Platoon 299, in '65 in PI, we were issued a batch of seriously bad WWII ammo to shoot on the range, resulting in only 4 of us qualifying, 1 sharpshooter and 3 marksmen. The DI's were livid and told us never to display that graduation picture again. I fortunately made PFC and Marksman for the notorious graduation picture so I was saved from a lot of "extra duty".

By the way, laces are not left over right. Laces are: Outboard over Inboard.

I also don't remember the yellow footprints. I don't remember much at all. My biggest problem in PI was keeping my mouth shut (and for the rest of my career).

I spent 5 years in the Green Machine, and my best 5 friends in the world (by an order of at least 10X) are still Marines I met in those 5 years. Oh God, do I have stories to tell... Ok. I'll tell you one that I have not told before.

I got my first Letter of Reprimand in my second month of Flight School as a Cadet in Pensacola right after Camp Geiger.

One day some heavy Argentine brass and their wives came to have dinner with the CO. Apparently they had recently had some Argentine Cadets go through our flight program and graduate. Our CO, Capt. Wallace, USN, heard that I spoke fluent Spanish and he asked me if I could behave more like a Naval Officer and less as a Marine Cadet, and speak politely to the wives of the officers at the dinner, as they could not speak any English.

Regardless of the affront, I was determined to not embarrass the CO and got smartly dressed in the appropriate Mess Dress. The wine at dinner, was not very good so I had to have a couple of quick glasses to soften the palate. This made me bolder and I regaled the wives with stories of growing up as a diplomatic brat in Spain. What I did not realize was the look of shock and horror in their faces, which I mistook for coyness and interest.

What I learned the next day when I was brought on charges, was that the word for "to take" (in Spanish coger) is the same that in Argentine means "to f-ck". So I told the ladies about "taking" the bus around town, and going "to take" the girls to the movie, and "taking" the horses for a ride around the park, and so on and so on. I was told that I said it no less than 25 times at dinner. These very upper crust ladies told their Admiral husbands, and sh-t quickly sped my way by morning.

Capt. Wallace never believed that I didn't know the nuances of the language, and he was sure I did it on purpose. Had it not been for the push to get more pilots for Vietnam, he told me he was going to drop me from the program.

We were so young then...

Semper Fi,
Peter Dunev
PFC, then Cadet, then eventually 1st Lt.
9/65 - 6/70

Short Rounds

0811 lives on forever. LCpl King, Andrew L. 1989-1993 Camp Lejeune, NC. I currently live in Detroit, MI. This is an awesome magazine.

We had a Gunny on Parris Island in 1967-68 with the Marine Band, whose name was Gunny Pete. He stuttered and he had a coffee cup on his desk with this printed on it "Gunny P-P-P- P-Pete". I had so much respect for that man. I believed that he was a Marine's Marine. I served with him in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Airwing in 1970-71. I believe that he had something to do with my promotion to Sgt. E-5. Does anybody out there know what happened to him?

Bobby Montalvo

I just saw my oldest daughter, Caitlin Prendergast graduate Boot Camp. As a Drill Instructor from '82-'84, I saw many a parade on that deck but as I witnessed our daughter march in review I almost lost it. When a Father shares those feelings with a family member it is almost impossible to describe.

I am a Retired SgtMaj with 22 years of service, My wife Is a Retired Chief Petty Officer in the Navy so, our family has deep Military ties. Sgt Grit and any other Marine that read this I say URAH to the Newest Member of the United States Marine Corps, PFC Caitlin Prendergast.

SgtMaj Thomas (E-9)

Regarding John B. Roe's story entitled "VW Van" (9/6/12) who referenced deployments to MCAS Yuma and asked if anyone knows the name San Luis, Mexico.

John: if you mean "San Disease, Mexico", then sure... we all remember it well... and the penicillin shots that followed!

Bob Imm
Sgt, 6511, MCAS Yuma '67/'68

Over bends and thrust and squat thrusts (AKA burpees). We did them in boot in late '04.

Steve K.

The US Marine Corps fielded just two models of tanks during our time in Vietnam. They were the M-48A3 Medium gun tank and the M-67A2 Flame-thrower tank. Nowhere in-country did we have an M-60. It appears to me as if the good captain does not know his tank nomenclature... but we forgive him.

Semper Fidelis,
Sgt John Wear
President, USMC Vietnam Tankers Association

Hello Sgt. Grit,

I wanted to let you Marines know that Roy Smith a Korean War Veteran took up his post at the Pearly Gates on 8/12/12. He was a cook during his time in Korea.

Keep your heads down,

Jack Wier

Info for Sgt. J.H. Quick in Sept letter.

Re: his query about the 37, old duce, at LTA. We took 6 of the old birds to Marble Mt. in mid 65. HR2S - Ch37C. The story is that the airframe was the replacement for the 34.

Initially they were going to put jet engines in it but there was an excess of reciprocating engines so we got the recip's that were not designed to work at that high rpm for long times. Finally they got around to producing the 53 which got the jets & now the old duce has faded off into the sunset.

Old duce mechanic

I forgot about locker box keys in boot camp until I read the letters. One key was worn around the neck on a shoe string, the other kept in the DI's hut in a box. The keys were not identified in anyway so that if you lost your key you had ask the DI for permission to go through the pile of keys he kept to open your locker... needless to say the comments from him were not too encouraging!

Plt 306, PI,6/54.

I remember all the sayings the DI's would come up with during my stay at Parris Island. Does anyone know if they had a book of them to go by? If so I would definitely be interested in getting one. I always like the, "What is your major malfunction?

John Halpin
2/9 Vietnam

Sgt. Grit,

Greetings, I served in our glorious Corps (1965-69), in Viet Nam (1966-67). There is a web site for the veterans of the Mayaguez rescue mission (1975). It's worth taking a look, and it is an honor to our Corps that they have stayed in contact with each other all these years. Please pass on to your readers;

Semper Fi, and God bless America

Gary Wriede.

Dear Sgt Grit:

The push-ups must have worked! I just read "Read more at" in the Sept. 6th Newsletter... and to most of you civilians out there, some of us Marines can read and write, or at least most of us can. Although, I don't know about some of the DI's I had.

Keep up the good work!

M.B. "Bunky" CAREW
Sgt. '65 - '69

I'm so short I left yesterday! This is a recording.
Taken from the enlisted Head at Da Nang

SgtMaj Harrison
02/68 to 04/2012
Recon 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th

Sgt. Grit,

30 years ago today I was nearing my final, wonderful days at MCRD SD. Graduated Plt.3050, September 10, 1982, earned the title and am still proud and Gung Ho! Arugah!

Cake topper and balloons are on order. Thank you for providing a one-stop-shop for just about everything Marine. I'm sure I'll be ordering often now that I have discovered your great site.

Semper Fidelis
Terry Graf, Sgt. E-2/23 '82-'88

Hey Sgt. Grit,

Bingo! Thanks to SSgt. Whimple I now know something that has puzzled me since... ref. to when D.I.'s were required to limit any certain type of PT exercise for punishment... or not?

It seemed that half the time when on the Quarterdeck instead of letting the victim recruit even begin a particular exercise, our D.I.'s would rapidly and in quick succession bark out a new one, before said recruit could fully assume the position... the result was a vision of some kind of twisting, grunting, gasping, sweating humanoid monster with no hair and bulging eyes, having a conniption fit... don't even want to describe how it felt - y'all know already... you cheated SSgt, thanks anyway.

"DT" Jones, Cpl.
Alpha 1/6, '81-'85

Hand Salute! Ready Two. Need I say more. I think the first place I saw it was VN '66. No respect for morons was tolerated no matter what the rank. What are they going to do to me? Send me to the Nam. I was hoping for a state side Federal resort!

If anybody finds my old Mighty Mite Ser # not Tac # in Chu Lai area let me know. What does one do when they just wanted to go down to the beach, fire up an Ontos that gets 1 mile per/gal. It was a lot of fun in the sand dunes of south Chu Lai Rivera.

Semper Fi

Sgt. Grit,

In response to the "hang em high" photo, I agree with the one response in this week's post that "we're Marines, get over it" and move on.

Like the famous quote that is credited to John Wayne: "Life is tough, and it's tougher if you're stupid"

Semper Fi to my brothers
Cpl. D.McKee Plt. 271 MCRDSD


To: Matthew Royer

I was both touched and horrified by your account of "The Day I Lost My Friend". I cannot imagine how awful that had to be. Though my unit lost Marines in Vietnam, I was among the lucky because while I lost acquaintances, I never lost a close friend or someone I was responsible for.

I'll be honest, I read your post in sections because I had to stop and wipe the tears from my cheeks. I would love to see your painful post expanded into a movie. It would need a lead in to introduce you and Gunny and your friendship. Possibly some preliminary action to introduce what our troops go through in places like Iraq, and followed up by what friends and relatives go through during the recovery, but primarily focused on the horror of that day. It definitely wouldn't be a feel good movie, but would speak to the horrors our forces and their families have to deal with.

The thing about your post which haunts me is what may be going through your head. From your story and the fact that you were advised by a doctor of steps to try to get over this traumatic experience, my concern is that you may be feeling guilty.

From the way you wrote your story I am afraid you are, What Iffin'? What if I had got my lazy asz out of that rack and went to work out with Gunny?

Well I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know, but what happened to Gunny was in no way your fault or responsibility. I think I gleaned from your post that you were probably a squad leader (perhaps a Sgt). In any case, you were in a position where you were responsible for your people.

In the military and certainly in combat, everyone is responsible for their part. The junior Marines are responsible for taking care of themselves, their weapons and their other responsibilities. Senior Marines are responsible for taking care of their subordinates, themselves, their weapons and their other responsibilities (both up and down the chain).

As a leader, your physical and mental condition is just as important as the condition of your weapons.

You had your priorities straight in this instance. Take care of your subordinates, take care of the needs of a leader (rest) and cleaning your weapons and then deal with other issues like friendships and planning the next mission.

You will always be able to think that if I had gone to work out with Gunny he would still be with us, but how do you know on which days you need to shirk your primary responsibilities to protect a friend who would not want you to do that in the first place? If you lead your life that way, you wouldn't deserve to be in a position of responsibility in the first place.

This is by no means the observations of a trained therapists. It's just the thoughts and fears of a Marine who has been in a position of authority and can look at this from a more objective position.

My deepest regards to you, Gunny, Elie and their son.

Nick Hayes

Now A Thief May

Sgt. Grit:

Thought I'd try to shed some light on what can be confusing.

I was reborn on 8 May 1967 on the yellow footprints behind receiving at MCRD SD. Very early (probably that night) I was issued the two locks. Mine were Master combination locks. One was a short shank for the foot locker and the other a long shank to hook around a vertical leg of the rack and through the hole in the safety latch of the M-14. Since the rifle didn't understand cover and alignment, we had to also use a spare blousing garter to secure the muzzle / flash suppressor to the rack as well, so it would not flap in the breeze. I grew up in 3rd. Bn., L Company.

The reason I am writing is because I noticed in your newsletter of 6 Sep. that H. Holden was reborn in 1968 (about a year after I was and also was in 3rd. Bn.). He was issued locks with keys. This may be confusing because you would think once the Marine Corps made the change to combination locks, we would stay with them. It was especially confusing to me because when I returned to the Drill Field in 1970 as a Drill Instructor in 3rd. Bn., K Company, I received and graduated five platoons and all of them had combination locks.

I never knew they went back to keyed locks at any time, but I do know if you had to memorize a combination or you had to keep up with a key, that is not something you would forget. It is obvious to me that some platoons must have been issued keyed locks (even after we had begun to transition to combination locks). Hope this helps to avoid confusion.

Speaking of combination locks, someone spoke about learning to open a combination lock in the dark. Early on, Recruits had a tendency to start thinking ahead and try to discover short cuts. The locks were used to secure your valuables, but Recruits would try to get a time advantage ahead of reveille or uniform changes during the day by preworking two of the three numbers of the combination so they could simply turn the dial clockwise to the final number and gain immediate access to the footlocker when they needed to. That was not a good idea. The Drill Instructor (or a thief for that matter) was subject to come through turning combination dials clockwise as a check, and if yours opened, it was just as bad as if you had left it unlocked. Now a thief may only take your cigarettes, but the Drill Instructor would ruin your day.

S/Sgt Hayes, Charles N. (Nick)
8 May 1967 - 9 July 1971
Vietnam ('69 - '70)

Way Of Life

MCRD SD Plt 3042 Sgt. Grit,

20 years ago a few Marines graduated from MCRD San Diego on 09-11-92. We are coming up to our 20th anniversary of having the honor of wearing our Eagle, Globe, and Anchors. Little did we know that a few years down the road, America would be attacked on 09-11-01. Semper Fi to all the Marines that have protected our freedoms, and way of life!

Lance Corporal Bobby Borchardt
3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines
India Company, 3rd Platoon
Kaneohe Bay, Hawai'i

India Company 3042!

Looking For Me

I've seen a few (actually, quite a few) posts about those that ran north to escape the draft during the 60's. I lived in a small town in Nevada and was not very good at directions so I took off running to get out of being drafted by the Army. I ran south and walked into the Marine Recruiting Office in Las Vegas. I showed them.

I entered on the Delayed Enlistment and was scheduled to leave for Boot Camp in July of '67. My Recruiter (a MSGT, I can't remember his name) called me and asked if I would be willing to leave two days early. He explained that there was a platoon of Southern California guys formed but they needed one more body. He told me this way, I wouldn't have to go through receiving barracks. Now, I had no idea what receiving barracks was but if it was a selling point to not have to endure it, then, sign me up.

Went through MCRD (Platoon 2023), then ITR and eventually over the choppy waters. I had just come back into the area at Da Nang and had a letter from Mom. Seems the draft board still wanted me and "Someone" came to my folks' house looking for me. When they asked if I had perhaps run off to Canada, my Dad laughed at them and said, "oh, you'll have to go further than that if you want him". Long story short, they accepted the fact that I was in the Marines.

Speaking of Marine Corps chow, the first morning, one of the privates was sitting there with most of his food on his tray but he wasn't eating. The DI (SSGT Biers) yelled, "Do you waste food like that at home?" The private replied, "We never had food like that at home." This was the first (but not the last) time I heard that age old Marine Corps expression, "Squat thrusts forever".

Take care Fellow Marines.

Howard Spaulding
'67 - '71

Packs And Rifles

Capt Johnson,

I was 2nd Plt Sgt L/3/5, I believe we did a "rough rider" security with your group from An Hoa back to Chua Lai. Remember taking fire while hanging onto tanks on way to An Hoa, then back south to Chu Lai. Wasn't there some Army Quads with us?

Major confrontation with Army messhall OIC; I had my men ground their packs and rifles, posted 1 guard from each Sqd.

Many of my men had live bullets in 45/M-16 magazines, live grenades hanging on them, plus we had been eating dust on HWY 1. What's new... dirty, bearded, skinny, starving Marines show-up at Army Enlisted Dining Facility for fine dining. Compromise was worked out... ate & choppered back to Hill 65.

John Presnall
Sergeant of combat Marines
L 3/5 '67-'68

Memory Of Marines

Dodge Truck 1 Dodge Truck 3 While getting parts at a Dodge dealership in Spring Texas, we noticed this Marine Truck. It was a special order by a Marine. It had quotations by famous people, in Memory of Marines he served with (whose names were placed upon the truck), among the obvious in the pictures. It was a privilege and an honor just to be able to see this truck. Never saw it again after that day and I drive down that way every two weeks to the Veterans Center. Semper Fi Marine!

T. J. Gilreath
GySgt USMC (Ret.)

Back Top Side

My first meal was the noon meal at MCRD San Diego. It tasted real funny, or better yet horrible. Learned real quick what "Take what you want, but eat what you take" meant, when I tried to leave the mess hall with a butter slice on my tray and was made to eat it outright - "YUCK". The rest of the meals in boot were ok. The worst Mess Hall was at ITR at San Onofre. I lived on bread and milk. Lost 20 lbs at ITR.

Great Mess at Camp Delmar with 3rd Amtraks. Breakfast was the best. Every day Menu was all kinds of cold cereal, two types of hot cereal, Hotcakes, Marine SOS, eggs any way you want them, toast, butter, jellies, coffee, hot chocolate, and unlimited milk. Loved two toast with Marine SOS and two eggs over easy on top. Still eat that on special times. One of my DI's was one of the cooks there, Sgt Turbeville. The mess had a tremendous field kitchen also.

Was on 8 different Navy LSDs and LSTs during my time with 3rd Amtraks. I remember nothing to do but stand in chow line playing Bull Sh-t Poker, eating so, so meals and then getting back in line for the next meal and another round of Bull Sh-t Poker. Hated ship time. Think I became claustrophobic there when Battle Stations was sounded and they shut all the hatches on our berthing area in the bowels of the ship.

Wondered if we took a hit, how we would ever get back topside to escape drowning or...

Gerry Schemel Corporal of Marines

I Have Forever

I am responding to Matthew Royer's story of losing his best friend. I am sure there are many of us who can relate to our own experience of losing someone or a best friend.

Mathew your story was very emotional and I commend you in writing and sharing your story. This is the place to start. We are brothers & sisters, fellow Marines and in my case a Navy Corpsman.

I have written my story "over" and "over" and have posted it on the Vietnam Memorial as a tribute and a remembrance to my loss and memory of ten fellow Marines on the 30th of March 1967.

I was recently contacted by volunteers working for the new Vietnam Education Center to begin construction this year. The volunteers are working feverishly to establish the Education Center as a tribute and to educate those in the future. On display will be pictured "faces" of names on the Wall and letters written with the stories of fellow Warriors friends or family of those they lost. In addition, the many items left throughout the years at the Wall will be displayed.

I am proud to have sent my story to be told to our future generations to educate those who just read the names and wonder who they were. How old were they, where were they from, or what happen?

I have forever remembered that specific day, March 30, 1967 , the scene, the sights and sounds, the cries of "Corpsman Up" and in particular the face of a young 19 yr. old Marine who on the night ambush, the night before I had chastised for walking thru the water as I, a new FNG, trained to follow the footsteps of the man in front of me. I did not have time to cry then and did not until March of 2006 by the coaxing of a fellow Marine to seek help from the VA.

As the County Service Officer opened my file and read my DD214. He closed my file and looked straight in my eyes and 40 years of repression came flowing uncontrollably from my eyes. I lost, not my best friend, but a fellow Marine whose face is forever imbedded in my mind, his name was "Rocky Rand Snyder. "His name is engraved on panel 17E along with nine other Marines from First Platoon, Company H, Second Battalion, 4th Marines. His face and his story where he was from and who he was will be forever honored by me and for all to see.

Mathew I thank you for your service and "welcome you home". I mourn the loss of your best friend, "Gunny Elie Fontecchio" and his sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Semper Fidelis! God has blessed us and all those who have sacrificed so much for our Country and our "Best Friends"

Frank Morelli ( Doc )
FMF Navy Hospital Corpsman
3rd Marines 'Nam '67-'68

Weld Beams Back Together

To Sgt Bergeron,

The Artillery unit you referred to was Mike Battery, 4th Battalion, 12th Marines, Commanded by Capt Sparks. It was a Battery of M109, 155MM Self Propelled Howitzers and was rotated out of 'Nam by way of Cua Viet in November 1969. The unit sat on the ramp at the end of the river for three days, boarded an LST, all I remember of the number was somewhere in the 900s, in other words "real old' heck I was on the 1176 Graham County in the Med in '63-'64.

As we cleared the channel, the Cong decided to pound the ramp with incoming. We hit a typhoon on the way to Okinawa, but we made no headway for 24hrs and had to pull into Subic Bay, PI for repairs and transfer to another ship. The disconcerting part of the "voyage" was watching the Navy Machinists come down through the birthing areas with their welding torches and asked us Marines to move off our racks so they could weld beams back together.

I believe many of us wished we were back in Dong Ha at that point in time. M 4/12 was billeted at Camp Hansen, Okinawa and then in January 1970, in the infinite wisdom of the Corps, was sent to Cold Weather Training in Mt Fuji, Japan. Half the Battery came down with pneumonia. From 90+ degrees in 'Nam to -0 degrees in 30 something days, you gotta love the Corps.

Jack Pomeroy

The Airman

Saw a mention of the Air Force compound (the one by DaNang airstrip) by Cpl Chip Ivie. I was in DaNang from Hoi An. While driving by the main gate of the AF compound I noticed 2 airman eating an ice cream cone. I slammed on the brakes and asked where in the world did you get ice cream? They replied, "just inside the main gate." I backed up to the gate and the Air Force AP would not let me through the gate. I could see the ice cream shack but he said I didn't have the proper "papers" to enter. I could also see a large swimming pool in the middle of 2 brick buildings which looked like college dorms. I remember telling the AP what I thought of his Air Force and so happens some AF guys heard my conversation and said, "wait right here, I'll get you some ice cream, what flavor?"

The airman brought back two double cones of soft-serve vanilla, one for me and one for my passenger who just happened to be a POW I had handcuffed to my Jeep. Just to p-ss off the AP I uncuffed my POW and we sat there at the gate and ate our ice cream. Can you imagine, the POW finally getting back home after the "war" and trying to convince his buddies that a U.S. Marine bought him a cone of ice cream.

Bob Burns
15th ITT Team, MOS 0251
1967-1971 'Nam '69-'70
Alexander County ARC

Not Once Were We

Just finished reading Ted Picado's letters about buttons in boot camp. In 1956 it must have been a very different boot camp. At MCRD San Diego in the month of July, the day we were issued our utilities and was lined up in our Quonset hut, our senior DI came in front of me and my bunkie. Our eyes were locked straight ahead but I heard the DI asked my bunkie if he was hot. He answered, "Yes Sir." The next thing I heard was some gagging. My bunkie was choked until he almost passed out. The DI began instructing the platoon that all buttons will be buttoned no matter the weather.

While I was listening to the gagging, I prayed that I had buttoned mine. So, not once were we able to unbutton any button.

Semper Fi
Albert Dixon
GySgt USMC (Ret.)

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

I stumbled off the bus from Yemassee onto the tarmac at the University of Parris Island on the grim and gray morning of December 29th, 1958, expecting full well to be eaten alive by screaming green creatures breathing fire and wearing Smokey Bear hats. I was, however, quite amazed at the reception we received. The three DI's who picked us up looked tough enough; did a bit of yelling; herded us efficiently through the initial processes of divesting us of all the signs of ever having been civilian or human, and getting us oriented into the role of creatures lower than whale-scat, but never once did they fulfill the rolls of fire-breathing monsters which I had been warned about, and was expecting.

I had been given some sage advice by my uncle, a WW2 Marine regarding how to survive boot-training at PI, the most important being, in his words: "Keep your mouth shut, your ears open, and whatever you are told to do, do it faster and better than you think is humanly possible." I had taken his advice to heart, and after two or three days, it appeared that following my uncle's advice, 12-weeks with these three DI's, was going to be a cake-walk. The SDI had even commented to the platoon that my "spirit" was such that was called for to become Marines.

Platoon 203, Company C, was on the 2nd deck of one of the old 2nd Battalion wooden barracks, and was entered from the adjoining parade field ("Grinder" for you youngsters) by an iron, fire-escape type ladder that angled down the back of the building. In keeping with my uncle's advice, I had, whenever the order "fall-out" had been given during those few days, raced to be first on the ladder, and first to be standing at attention at my rack, and had succeeded each and every time.

After 55-years, I can't remember exactly how many days had passed, but I believe it to have been four, maybe five, but I had established a reputation for being first in the squad- bay, and that morning, after returning from chow, I wasn't about to be outdone. The DI no sooner had said "fall out", and I was roaring my way ahead of the rest of the platoon. I was about halfway up the ladder when I heard the thunder from h-ll above me. When I looked up, still in mid-run, my blood ran cold.

On the landing at the top of the ladder was the meanest looking, most horrific and bone-chilling sight I had ever witnessed. It appeared to be about eight-feet tall and four- feet wide; it's eyes were glowing like h-ll-fire; flames, sparks, and lightening were issuing forth from its gigantic mouth along with thundering words the likes of which I had never before heard; it's head appeared huge, to large even for the gigantic body carrying it; even though it was wearing a Marine uniform and a Smokey Bear cover I knew it couldn't possibly be human. Above its head, at the ends of arms seeming as long as the creature was tall, was poised a steel GI can of disproportionate size and, in an instant, I realized that this crazed behemoth was about to send that dumpster-sized projectile hurtling down the ladder, up which I was still hurtling, so I bailed over the railing and onto the ground below.

In a daze or, more likely, shock, I was still incensed to complete my mission, and be first at attention by my rack, and again ran for the ladder. The GI-can had swept my fellow- maggots from the ladder, many of them still rolling on the ground at the bottom, others standing dumbfounded, as the behemoth above, having been joined by three more demons of varying sizes - the one with Gunnery Sergeant chevrons being the far shorter of the four - all of them screaming for us to enter the squad-bay immediately, or forfeit our lives.

Overcoming sheer fear, I had run over top of my platoon-mates still rolling at the bottom of the ladder, and had vaulted to the top of the ladder, only to find the hatchway was blocked by the four raving maniacs. I tried shouting out "By your leave Sirs!", but somewhere between "By" and "your", all 6'2", 200-lbs of me was lifted from the ground by the small one, and thrown bodily through the hatchway and into a scene of total devastation. Sixty-seven bunks had been stripped, all sheets, pillows, and blankets were heaped on a pile; locker-boxes that hadn't been locked, were upset on piles; toothpaste and shaving cream tubes had been squeezed over racks and the deck; cigarette packs had been emptied from cartons and flattened under boots; clothing: utilities, skivvies, socks, tie-ties, soap - everything had been scattered throughout the squad-bay. No one walked through the hatchway that morning; everyone was assisted, in one degree or another, by our new "fathers, mothers, brothers..." "Surprise, surprise, surprise! Bootcamp has begun! You will now be hammered into Marines, ladies!"

The three DI's who had picked us up had completed their tours as Drill Instructors, and were awaiting re-assignment. They had been detailed as place-holders until our new DI's were assigned. The four who made us into Marines were Gunnery Sergeant Corey, Sergeant Chase, Sergeant Weatherford, and Sergeant Werntz. Gunny Corey claimed that he had "stretched" himself 1/2" to get into the Marine Corps during WW2. He may have been short, but he was a powerful man. We became friends during the year I was permanent personnel at PI. Sergeant Chase, the behemoth, wasn't 8' tall, but during the last week of bootcamp, he left his campaign cover on a top rack near the DI's hut. I put it on my 7-3/4 size head, and it flopped down over my ears - as I recall, it was 8-3/4 in size. He was a big man!

I don't know if any of them are still kicking, but if anyone has any knowledge of their whereabouts, I would certainly appreciate hearing about them. I never got to thank them for what they did for me.

Gene Dellinger, Cpl E-4
2nd Recruit Training Battalion, PISC
December-April 1958

I Might Be?

I enlisted in 1964 and got out after returning from Vietnam in 1967. In 1980, after being in law enforcement for 11 years and working under cover, the time came for me to get out of town.

A friend at the FBI suggested I go into Witness Protection. I had a better idea, I went to see the Marine recruiter to find out if I could re-enlist at age of 33. I could and after the tests and physical, I re-enlisted the day after my 34th birthday.

I had to go back in as a PFC, but I got my choice of duty stations and was a Sgt in two years. I was a 34 year old PFC, MP at Camp Pendleton. Things had changed a lot in the 13 years I had been out and I had to adjust. Besides the Provost Marshall and a couple of other senior SNCOs, I was the oldest MP there. Being older and having real police experience, the SNCOs and officers never really ordered me to do anything, they usually asked if I would do something.

A couple of age related stories come to mind.

One day as I was going on duty and getting my .45 from the armory, a 2nd Lt. asked how old I was and I replied, "I'm 34 sir." He then said, "Thirty-four? You're almost old enough to be my father."

"Well sir, where are you from, I might be?"

Another day, I was turning in my trip ticket at the motor pool and another PMO Lt. asked if I knew a Lt. So & so. I thought for a minute and told him that I had written that Lt. a radar speeding ticket a few days before. He then said that his friend had told him that a PFC that looked like a Major had written him a ticket.

After qualifying Expert with the M-16, I was assigned to the Special Enforcement Branch (SWAT team) as a sniper. Shortly after that, 8 of us Marines from SEB were sent to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Special Weapons Team for training.

The day we were to fire at their combat pistol range, all of the deputies from the Linwood Station were there to re- qualify. The Marines were put in relays with the deputies and we ran the course twice, moving and shooting. When the deputies heard that I had shot a perfect score with a Govt. issued .45, they couldn't believe they had been outshot by a Marine. One of the instructors told them that I had been a cop and they could accept being outshot by another cop but not by a Marine.

Dave Benson, Sgt. of Marines
Chu Lai '66 -'67
MCB Camp Pendleton, '80-'83

The 'Salts'

I joined the 1st MarDiv in Camp Pendleton shortly after they were rotated back to the states and the 3rd MarDiv took their place in the far east. (I think it was early spring 1956).You could tell the "salts" as their utilities were faded, many to an almost white and the newbies utilities were still a dark green. Within a couple of weeks the "salts" were wearing the newer utilities and the newbies were all walking around in the faded ones.

The bill of the covers were lined with cardboard which in time and many washings, bent and crumbled. It was hard to keep them looking ship shape. Strangely enough, the only camouflage we were ever issued was the poncho and helmet cover. Do you remember "brown side out, green side out" drill?

Paul S. "Steve" Murtha Sgt USMC
January 1956 - April 1959

Proudly And Diligently

Dear Sgt. Grit:

My name is Sgt. Gary L. Heifner and I served from 1975-1979. My MOS was 1833 Amtracs and I served in both the 1st Marine Division on Camp Del-Mar, Camp Pendleton California and the 3rd Marine Division on Camp Schwab, Okinawa. During my tour I served proudly and diligently. I served in between wars during peace time, so I have always considered myself one of the unlucky lucky ones.

I was blessed because I did not have to bear life long memories of death and destruction, but at the same time, I never had a chance to serve for what I believed in and was trained for. Due to this I don't have the same stories and experiences to share like war time vets, but I have the utmost respect for my fellow Marines who had to do what I never had a chance to be part of.

Through my tour I had the highest marks any Marine could hope for in my personnel record, was deployed for 3 months aboard the USS Cayuga and took part of MAF-LAX 77. I was eventually meritoriously promoted to Sgt, and was discharged in September 1979. I have always missed the Corps, and my family is a Marine family to the bone. I guess the thing that bothers me is, like many, I served way and above what was needed and all I have to show for it is a good conduct medal an a rifle expert badge with a second award.

Long since I have been discharged I have become a middle school teacher and have been trying to instill the pride and loyalty every American should have for their country. Unfortunately I have been diagnosed with cancer for a third time. It is currently in my liver, right lung, and my prostate is enlarging. I have been fighting this battle for some time so, I guess I finally got my combat situation after all, unfortunately this battle will not be awarded with medals to be proud of, but I do know my rewards in heaven will be great and beyond anything I could ever receive on Earth.

If I have any fellow Marines who are men and women of prayer, my family and I sure could use your support, because we are in a battle with a microscopic enemy, and I could definitely use the fighting spirit of the United States Marine Corps.

Thanks for any support received and Semper Fi to all my brother and sister Marines

God Bless Every One Of You

Horry Up

Jokes we would play on FNG's...

"Pvt. Smuckatelly, go over to the Regimental Armory and draw 2 'shoulder holsters' for a 106"... (still had 'em then)... could also use 'BFA's for the 60 mike-mike mortars'... By we way - we always heard it as "Pvt. Smuckatelly and 'Joe' sh-t the ragman"?

Others... "Pvt. Richard-Head, go to the comm-shack and get some 'freak grease"... or "Pvt. pizza-face, double-time it over to TOPO at Main side for our map sheet's, and listen up, when you get there go directly to the Gunner, (well, had to tell them CWO at that point in their time... me too), NOBODY else, and tell him you need a 'box of grid-squares'... HORRY UP!"... (Only Marines pronounce 'hurry-up' that way). Kinda' backfired once when the Gunner showed back up with one of them...

Many more and better ones out there I'm sure... We all got issued a mean streak in boot camp, just didn't know it at the time... My Corps, Your Corps, Our Corps, Marine Corps!

Semper Fidelis
"DT", Cpl. of


Submitted By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #2, #4, (Apr., 2012)

No account of the war in Vietnam would be complete without at least documenting some of the lighter episodes that transpired during that period of time. One that I remember specifically happened before we off loaded from the USS Iwo Jima while in support of Battalion Landing Team 3/ 4. Coming from Hawaii, HMM-161 soon came to be known as the "Pineapples" and, in recognition of that distinction, painted a large yellow pineapple insignia on the Clam shell (Front) doors of each of their helicopters. But, the pineapple insignia was not limited to just HMM-161aircraft. When the squadron left the USS Iwo Jima, they also left their Navy friends a reminder of their visit in the form of yellow pineapples stenciled inside the crew's hard hats, inside the bread box and on the Barber Shop door.

As a matter of fact, it was reported that similar mementos of their presence were painted on aircraft of other squadrons whenever the opportunity arose. The idea of painting squadron insignia on another's squadrons aircraft spread like wildfire, and it soon became necessary to guard helicopters in friendly areas against the threat of phantom painters. Every crew chief had a "Pineapple" stencil and a can of yellow spray paint. Some Aircrews were also known to catch an unaware passenger as he went out the door. When their buddies saw the "Pineapple" insignia painted on the back of their Flak Jackets they knew they'd been had. We also marked cases of Rations and 5-gal water cans. Anything to let the folks on the ground know who they had just had the pleasure of flying with... It helped take the pressure off and make the guy's smile a little.

The living conditions for Pilots and Crews at Phu Bai developed much like those of Maj. Alfred A. Cunningham's did in the First World War when quarters for flight crews was developed in three stages; tents with dirt floors, tents with wooden frames and floors and finally portable wooden buildings and the familiar Quonset hut appeared later at some installations.

HMM-365 returned to Da Nang from Okinawa in early May. That brought the total of MARINE squadrons in country to (5). HMM-161 (H-34's), at Phu Bai, HMM-162 (H-34's) and HMM-163 (H-34's ) at Da Nang plus HMM-365 (H-34's) there also, plus VMO-2 with Uh-1E's and O-1B's. It should be noted that HMM-162 had a Detachment at Phu Bai which returned to Da Nang when HMM-161 moved in. I had to go back to the books and research when this shuffle happened and figure it all out. It seems that we were in a big checker game. But, we were not settled yet because, on the 8th of July a 10 Aircraft Detachment was requested within 24 Hours for duty 200 miles South at the Army base at Qui Nhon to support BLT (2nd Batt., Seventh MARINES ). This Detachment was known as Det. Alpha, and was scheduled to remain there until the end of Sept. when the aircraft and crews were to return to Phu Bai.

This 10 aircraft detachment of HMM-161 received the necessary maintenance materials and spare parts needed to operate on a day to day basis, but any large maintenance checks were to be done back at Phu Bai. Periodic liaison flights between Det. Alpha and its parent unit were made and, any helicopter with high time components was flown to Phu Bai and the helicopter was replaced with an aircraft which had just received a major check. This kept the large maintenance equipment needed at Qui Nhon to a minimum.

The Circle Was Zero

The only thing that I remember about combination locks is "make sure that are locked, completely!" The "maggot" was only told this one time.

As a smoker there was a certain routine to follow. After chow we would march back to the barracks stand at attention in front of the rack and wait for the D.I.'s instruction (orders) i.e., "smokers get your cigarettes' or some other similar endearing term.

Since we are taught to "Improvise, adapt and overcome we would work the combination and set it about two/three clicks from the last number. That would allow us to quickly retrieve the cig. and race outside to get in the smokers circle. Of course the D.I. knew all about this little trick. As we were standing in the smokers circle taking frantic puffs on our cig. the DI would go inside to check the footlockers. If a footlocker was found not locked the D.I. would take it over to the squad bay window and dump it outside. Believe it or not this happened four times.

At the start of boot camp there were about 15 smokers in the circle. It was so much of a hassle that about midway through the circle was zero.

Sam Goody
USMCR - 1959, USMC 1960-1963
Parris Island 1960 Plt 266
Sgt E5


Joe Irby and Wife MSgt Bishop

1st picture is the cake my wife made, the 2nd is Joe Irby who land on Peleliu in WW2 and next to him is his wife, and the last is me retired MSgt Ken Bishop.

I want to thank you for your time and your interest in our Marines.

Ken Bishop


For Marine Mailhoit (8/22 newsletter)... yup... there are blimp hangers at what used to be Moffett Field, on the peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose... two of them, in fact, and with some interesting history, having been the home port for some notable airships, including one that could launch and recover bi-plane fighters... the 'Macon', from memory... the place is now owned by NASA, and some AF space agency, called Federal Air Facility or some such, last I knew... had a smallish Navy Exchange (where customers and staff both might be fluent in Tagalog... lots of retired Navy Chiefs in the area, including my next-door neighbor in Union City)... went to air shows there in the 90's, saw/handled the largest US Flag, etc... forget who the organizers were, but they would have a 10K run every year which started and ended inside the hanger nearest US 101...

first year I participated, the run was organized (relatively... you gotta understand these were mostly civilians) inside the hanger... the opening ceremony involved the huge clamshell doors on the south end... as these slowly opened, a Marine Color Guard marched in... to the music from 2001... a Space Odyssey... major goose bump time... or as they say in Hawaii, 'chicken skin'... I think the formal name for the music is "Thus Spake Tharathustra"... the route was out the big doors, around the runway, past the golf course, etc... at the time, the everlovin' "they" were doing some road work and had set up Jersey barriers around the south end of the runway... no biggie, but it forced the runners to squeeze down to about two wide until we got around the south end, then it opened up... I was doing OK... not first... but not last... and moving (I thought) right along... once the route widened, I was steppin' on out... and then I heard it behind me... "pitty-pat, pitty-pat, pitty-pat"... delicate footsteps... coming up on my right... and on past me... a young mother, pony tail flying behind her as she blew by me... which, considering my age at the time, wasn't all that bad... however... she was pushing one of those three-wheel yuppie-puppie strollers, with a sleeping kid in it!... watching her disappear down the road in front of me was bad enough... and the very worst part was... the next year... it was the very same thing! Same lady, same kid, only der... GMAFB!... still have the bib, don't do 10K's anymore...

Oh, I remember it well... noon meal, wooden T-line mess hall, steam table food, only 3-4 tries at 'Ready... Seats! before we got to "Ready... Seats... Eat!" Stainless steel compartmented trays, knife fork spoon, milk in a cardboard carton... the main course, the piece de resistance that July day was... spaghetti... with a red sauce. (mighta been marinara?... that would've been a new word to me at the time as well)... and there was a LEAF! A tree LEAF in my food! I just knew it had blown in one of the open windows from one of the eucalyptus trees we had shuffled by... (weird trees... keep their leaves, mostly, shed bark, get little fuzzy ball things on them... not native to California, but to Australia... gotta say, that first Aussie tree salesman did a h-ll of a job)... Now, neither the square-head Norwegian, nor the proper English, sides of my family cooked with stuff like Bay Leaves... which, I later learned was what that errant leaf was... part of the seasoning, and intentional, to boot.

At the time, I was beginning to wonder just what I had gotten myself into, and what else might have blown into our food... but was wise enough at 18 years and three days not to complain... or even mention that LEAF! (didn't eat it, was probably moving too fast out the door to the scullery tanks for SSGT J. A. Hollingshead to notice it... 1957, San Diego.



"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?"
--Patrick Henry

"The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years."
--James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; 23 February 1945

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."
--John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

"Any alleged 'right' of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right."
--Ayn Rand, [1964]

"Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be."
--John Adams

"We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the h-ll is going on?"
--Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the assault on Grenada, 1983

"We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion and scorn toward those who disagree with us."
--Soviet dictator Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924)

"Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow."
--Benjamin Franklin

"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them."
--American writer H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!"
--Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

Every day is a Holiday,
Every meal is a Banquet.

I' m here to finish a job no one ever started...

Semper Fi!
Sgt Grit

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