This just past Memorial Day, my wife and I attended the local parade here in Collegeville, PA. The guest of honor was LCpl. Timothy Donley.
This 20 year old Marine was severely wounded in Afghanistan this past February when an IED took both of his legs and severely damaged his right arm. After the parade, I had the honor of meeting and chatting with him briefly. When I asked him how he was doing, his response was a heartfelt "Semper Fi" and then he said "God has been good." The sincerity in his face and voice was overwhelming. I felt that this is a true Marine. One that is proud of his Corps and true to his faith. I wished him well and said goodbye. We will probably never meet again but he and his family will be in our prayers and I will never forget his attitude. Semper Fi Tim.
Ed Fallon (Sgt. '65-'71)
Note: There are several web sites telling Tim's story.
In This Issue
Here we go: Birdie-Birdie, unwanted c- rations, I was extended, field scarf, the latest fashion, hot pants, one dumb-azs Marine, main flame tube, stood out as the "Old Salts, can't fly either, forwarddddddd, hated "your kind", stay away from others, HERE WE GO,
Don't get pi-sed; re-enlist!
There is the right way, the wrong way,
and the Marine Corps way.
The GriTogether was friggin' OUTSTANDING! See some pics (Volume I and Volume II) and start planning for next year! We'll update you as we post more stories and pictures from this year's festivities!
Get a 2012 GriTogether Shirt! Couldn't make it? Grab up a shirt at a great price while we still have a few left - Be with us in spirit!
Here are two pictures of the Marines in Bermuda welcoming President Dwight D. Eisenhower for his meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Eden of England in February 1957. The top picture is President Eisenhower speaking to the people of Bermuda, Anthony Eden stands in the back ground with the Governor of Bermuda. The bottom picture shows President Eisenhower going to inspect the Bermuda Marines, Captain Grant Dunnagan Commanding Officer of the Bermuda Marine Detachment. salutes the President with his sword, the Naval Captain commander of the Naval Base Bermuda is bringing up the rear.
When the President arrived and was coming ashore in one of two boats, a man stood up in the front boat and waved at the people, but when the boats landed at the dock, President Eisenhower got out of the rear boat. Marines guarded the third floor of the Hotel where the talks were being held, where the Desks for the Emissaries worked and all the United States documents for the meeting were held.
The British Legation was on the floor below, we were dressed in civilian clothes and armed with .38 revolvers borrowed from the Navy. Prime Minister Anthony Eden quit as Prime Minister some months later due to ill health. Just another day of being a Marine, we were lucky it was in February because a few months later and we would have wilted in the Bermuda sun wearing our Dress Blues.
Capt. Grant Dunnagan retired as Colonel and wrote a book; "Ginnin' Dusty, Fightin' Men" which is available on Amazon from time to time.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired
76 and still cooking..Ooorah!
"Once -a-MARINE" Sgt grit's Grill Sgt apron and Boonie cover. just two 'ol timer Marines
Just wanted to wish every Marine (Brother Comrade) a very safe and happy upcoming fourth of July.
I wish I had pictures of my three Brothers that were also in the Marines during the Vietnam war.
Myself John was 1st Marine Division RECON
My Brother Bob was 1st Marine Division Force RECON
My Brother Harold was 3rd Marine Division GRUNT
My Brother William was an advisor do not know what Division Finally My Three Sons John Jr., Jason, and Jeremy were of course part of our Marine Corps Family.
Semper Fi to all
Sgt. Grit, thanks for all the photos in the newsletter. This article was given to me by my father upon my return home in Nov. 68. I caught the "Freedom Bird" ten days after this article was printed 10/08/68 in San Antonio, TX. Hope you can use it.
My son, the Lt.Col., recently took command of VMFA-112. He is a third generation Marine. His grandfather, my father in law, was a Cpl. in WW-2, I made Capt. and served in RVN. The picture is of the Col. and his lady outside the VMFA-112 hangar. Proud papa? You bet!
Watch The Cubans
I had to add my Cuban missile story. I was at Camp Lejeune I Co 3rd bn 8th Marines 3rd plt. I had been in the Corps for 9 months. Capt. R. I. Kramer a Mustang officer was our c.o. He did not say where we were going just that it would be green side out.
We sailed into Gitmo on the USS Desoto County, off loaded on the leeward pt side that would be on the left going in. The main base was on the right. A Ferry ran between the two points. We ended up staying six months. One day of training, one day on the line in the towers and then a day off, snorkeling, or just beach time a perfect climate. The salt water was warm and clear. I do not go in the ocean here in Maine - to cold!
They would take us out to the towers in a stake body truck and we would do four hrs. at a time, toss all our unwanted c- rations over the fence and watch the Cubans rush to pick them up. The only thing besides us on the Leeward pt side as I remember was the air station. Marines stationed there were on the other side as was most of the good stuff, horseback riding, slop chutes, p.x. We could take the ferry over on our time off. All in all I enjoyed it..
Cpl Edward Libby 1992xxx U.S.M.C.
Howitzer be Thy Name
Deep Sixed Off The Coast Of Naha
Howdy Sgt. Grit, thanks for printing all the stories, they bring back so many memories. One of the stories mentioned lost sea bags and I am curious as to what happened to my lost sea bag. When I left Okinawa in 1967, we stored one sea bag that contained items that we were told we wouldn't need in Vietnam. One of those items was my field jacket. During the rainy season I would have loved to have gotten my hands on the Marine that said we wouldn't need field jackets in Nam.
I digress from my real reason for writing, in February of "68" I went home to Minneapolis on emergency leave. I flew from DaNang to Okinawa to catch my freedom bird home. I went to retrieve my stored sea bag and it couldn't be located so I flew home in my short sleeve khaki uniform. In case you're not familiar with Minneapolis, Minnesota weather in February, it's usually -40 degrees and that's without the wind blowing. At that time, we de-boarded the plane on the tarmac and walked quite a ways to the terminal. By the time I arrived at the terminal I was suffering from hypothermal shock and was delusional. I know all the passengers waiting in the terminal were thinking, "now that's one dumb-azs Marine"
In my stored sea bag, there was quite a few personal items, including a crude last will and testimony, letters from home, lots of good stuff plus the needed field jacket. I couldn't have been the only one that had a lost sea bag, I am just wondering if anyone remembers whatever happened to these sea bags. Deep sixed off the coast of Naha?
Kim B. Swanson
We used to sing this on our morning run at Parris Island:
Birdie-Birdie in the sky
Drop a little whitewash in my eye
I'm no swabby- I won't cry
Boy I'm glad that cows don't fly!
Ray Kelley Platoon 342-1965
On Duty 24/7
Responding to H.D. Charger
Lt. Col. Commanding,??
The article presented by the Lt/Col. Charger on list of time used up by Marines.
I must clearly state, he must be of the NEW Breed. Reason my mind cannot recall ever sleeping and we were on duty 24/7 all year round. and If we did sleep, or go to the head it was a duty. We were well fed but had about 10 minutes to eat. We had to be in the proper uniform of the day to leave the Base, we were on call. Also pay was rather low and rank was frozen. We were Marines 24/7 pooping or not.
Got to say Lt/Col. that's quite a break down.
Semper Fi and Gung Ho Tom
1956 to 1963
All The Newbies
I can relate to the story by Cpl. Bruce Bender. It was 1965 and B Company 1/9 arrived at Pendleton from our 13 month tour in Okinawa, Japan etc. and became K 3/1. As with many overseas tours a number of men were getting transferred or discharged so along comes all the newbies.
After a short period of time it became obvious our platoon had a crud in its midst. Since Marines are a very compassionate group of individuals, he was warned about his lack of cleanliness. He apparently had a hearing deficiency or didn't realize the importance of water and soap on the body.
So early one evening he was stripped and taken into the shower by several fellow members of the platoon and given a good scrubbing with scouring powder and brushes. Once he was thoroughly cleaned he was taken into the utility closet where he bounced off the walls for a period of time and then stuffed into the metal trash can with the lid on while someone beat the metal can.
It is amazing how much influence Marines have on one another!
I Was Extended
I left Bermahaven Germany in October, 1962. While awaiting discharge at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, I was extended due to the Cuban Missile Crisis and send down to Camp Lejeune, N.C. When I arrived at Camp Lejeune much to my surprise, many of the Marines I served with, were in the barracks that I was assigned to. My Comm. Tech Marine buddies that I was stationed with for 3 years. We proceeded to go out and get drunk at the slop chute. The next day, Russia backed down and I was discharged in a couple of days. I've always wondered what happened to those Marines that I was station with in Germany.(Feb 60 to Oct 62)
CPL Of Marines
Concerning CPL Radtke's story on every meal a feast: While he was TDY, in my day in the MARINE CORPS it was TAD for MARINES Navy and Coast Guard and TDY Army and Air Force. Times change because a necktie is not called a field scarf anymore so I am told. Keep up the good work.
SEMPER FI rbs
POS still work with the GENERAL RAYMOND YOUNG MARINES one of our former YOUNG MARINES graduated from the NAVAL ACADEMY on 29 May, he is now a 2nd LT Another one will start his senior year at West Point next school year.
SEMPER FI again RBS
Good afternoon Sgt. I was stationed at Camp Hansen Okinawa, with the 9th Marine Reg. Hd. Quarters. Had a buddy named Kinney, (forgot first name). Kinney was about to be discharged. The 1st Sgt. called Kinney into his office. Remember the incident in the 50's at P.I. About the swamp? Well after that all Marines were required to swim before leaving Boot Camp. Now back to Kinney. The Top said " Kinney I see in your record book you never learned how to swim!" Kinney replied "that's right Top!". 1st Sgt. Asked Kinney, "where are you from?" Kinney replied "I'm from Ohio Top". 1st Sgt. "you're from Ohio with all that water and can't swim?" Kinney replied "we have air and I can't fly either!" with that 1Sgt. dismissed Kinney.
God Bless you and God Bless our Corps.
J. Logan 1959 1965. 1831xxx
I have a question that I can't seem to find an answer to, perhaps you or one of your crew might be able to help.
My MOS needless to say when I left Boot in 1952 was 0300, I was assigned to base HQ company, Special Services, worked at Rifle Range pool and base pool and then TAD to Hunting Island State Park as Lifeguard and senior PFC.
I made Cpl and was shipped to Lejeune, at the same time my MOS was changed to 5231, I have looked up MOS's all over the place but, never seem to be able to come up with just what 5231 covers. As I remember it, we thought it was Athletic Instructor, but, since that was nearly 60 years ago my recollection may be a wee bit deem? (I have checked all over but, I have not come close to 5231 ?)
Perhaps like our utility jackets back in 52 the MOS's have been retired or changed?
I have enjoyed your catalog and newsletter over the year's...well done!
Thanks for any help,
1952-1955, Cpl., USMC
( 5231 ??)
LOVE IT... ! Had a smile on my face the rest of the day after I saw it... I got caught with my hands in my pockets in boot camp (Parris Island '91) and had some quality time in "The Pit" for it... don't think I put my hands back into my pockets till '99... (I got out in '97... )
Cpl. Shannon Foster
USMC '91-'97 Motor T
"Drive Fast, Promote Slow"
Like many Marines who have talked about the Cuban Missile Crisis, I would like to submit our story for "Operation Blue Bat"; 15 July - 20 Oct 1958. If you put out the word in your next Newsletter, I will comply with my story, hopefully with many others. I have met so many Marines, that when we talk about previous operations and I mention the first Lebanon Crisis, all I hear is Huh?????
If you go out on the internet and search on Operation Blue Bat, there is a detail history of what it was all about and the results there of...
During Operation Blue Bat
MASS-1, Cherry Pt., North Carolina (Marine Air Support Squadron-1)
In Vietnam the "tradition?" continued. Aqua Velva and Grape Cool Aid in a tin canteen cup made the Lavoris taste like Champagne!
3rd Amtracs in country 66 & 67
I enjoyed your newsletter my first of many more to come
Sgt E5 Ron (Country) Hampton USMC
1st LT William M Weckerly (Mustang);is standing Tall at the Gates of Heaven. Bill Weckerly passed on May 27,2012 and was Buried at The National Cemetery In Phoenix ,AZ on May 31,2012 He was a Korea War (Chosin Few)and Vietnam Vet.. Promoted in Vietnam from E-8 to 2LT...Retired at 1st LT. A Marines Marine throughout his life. Proud to Be Your Son
Martin W. Weckerly
Sgt USMC 72-78
I was with E-2-6, just returning from the Mediterranean. We were ordered to Norfolk for resupplies
We were then sent to Cuba. A few of the Navy chiefs had stated that they had never seen anything like this. Just to share with all.
Just wanted to let everyone that David Eugene Pollock, Sgt. Radio operator in Vietnam has transferred to Post Everlasting. Sgt Pollock, passed away In Salinas, CA May 25, 2012 with his loving family by his side. Sgt Pollock served for 4 years, with 1 year in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. He will be missed by all who know David.
1967 - 1970
USMC Combat Veteran
Vietnam 5/68 - 11/69
President, Monterey, Ft Ord Chapter, CA-2
Member, National Board of Directors
NAUS (National Association for Uniformed Services)
Men With Their Machines
I was out of service and traveling the state of Florida from St. Augustine, Fl. Had even completed my active reserve obligation.
Water pump went out on my car as I arrived in Tampa, Florida early evening on Monday. What the Chev dealer was replacing the pump, all persons in shop stopped working to hear President Kennedy announce problem, and action would be taken.
Next week I was working in Ft. Lauderdale area, in an office on second floor up against the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, when several trains passed headed south to Homestead, full of men with their machines. Was home when Pres. Kennedy pulled out of alert, and we all went back to normal civilian life. Was not worried about any recall, as I was now married, with one daughter, and had no specialty beyond peon and was not worried about having a critical and useable rating
In response to Wayne Mailhoit and his request to hear from Marines stationed at MCAS YUMA, I have to agree with everything he said. I joined the Marines in Apr 65, boot camp San Diego and was assigned Radar School back at San Diego after boot leave.
Being from Washington State, I loved San Diego not being in boot camp. My first duty station was MCAS YUMA. I was in MACS-1 assigned to MATCU-62, Marine air traffic unit. We were up on the hill where the radomes that housed the long range search radars where located. MATCU had the radar techs and the air traffic controllers. I was in Yuma for a little over a year until I was sent to MCAS Futema in Okinawa. From there MCAS Quang Tri RVN. I had a great time in YUMA.
One of our targets out over the bombing range was Castle Dome. One day me and a couple of other corporals went out to this rock structure and took most of the day climbing to the top of it. I bought a new Triumph motorcycle while in Yuma and spent days off putting miles on. Do you remember the sand dunes and San Luis Mexico? Yuma was a good duty station, but it all had to come to an end.
Proud to say I served my Country as a United States Marine.
Girls Wearing Latest Fashion
All of the articles and comments on the mobilization for Cuba brought back memories of a similar, although not as serious situation. In May of 1971 I and several of my buddies were enjoying ourselves in the slop chutes in Jacksonville, NC when several deuce and a halves with MPs began herding everyone on to the trucks and telling us we needed to report to our barracks.
I was with 2nd Tracs at Courthouse Bay and when we got to our barracks we were told to don our utilities, draw weapons, and fall out with our 782 gear. From there we were trucked to main side and the entire 2nd Division was mounted out and ready to go. But where? I remember the 2nD Marine Division CG inspecting the troops and when he was done we were sent back to our barracks and told to standby.
Early the next morning we were back on the trucks headed someplace but no one knew where. We ended up at Cherry Point and unloaded alongside the runways. After several hours we boarded Marine C130s and took off again not knowing where we were headed.
After a couple of hours we landed at Andrews Air Force base near Washington DC. We were going to guard the Capital from the hippies who were holding a large peace demonstration. After setting up tents and cots we were finally fed. Early the next morning we boarded commercial busses and were taken to the VA hospital somewhere. After a few hours of sleep in the hallways we once again boarded the busses and were taken to DuPont Circle in Georgetown. We cordoned off the circle to keep the demonstrators from gaining access and holding a meeting. Seems they could only hold meetings on public property and since we denied them access they had to meet someplace else. When they did they were in violation of the law and could be arrested.
I remember the DC cops were all mounted on white motor scooters and whenever someone attempted to hold a rally they would take off like the cavalry of old. It was funny seeing 30-40 men on white motor scooter go charging off. I also remember how cold it was. Even though it was in the 50s or low 60s most of us were used to the heat of NC and were freezing. Since not everyone had gloves no one could wear gloves. Us Marines needed to be uniform.
One other thing that stood out was hot pants. Few of us had seen girls wearing the latest fashion, hot pants and it was quite a treat.
We were there about a week but most of the time we just waited at Andrews before flying back to Cherry Point and being trucked back to Courthouse Bay.
Love to hear others comments on this Peace Riot.
Jim Grimes SGT
No Boot Camp
This is the info you wanted.
My Columbus Ohio Reserve Unit left for Camp Pendleton on Sept. 4, 1950. After 4 weeks training we sailed for Japan and then Wonson, Korea. I joined Easy Company - 7th Marines at Hagaru about Nov. 15, 1950. I was hit on 27-28 Nov on Hill 1282 (UDAM- NI). After spending 7 1/2 months in Naval hospitals the Marine Corps retired me. (Aug 1951) All of this happened with no bootcamp.
Re: Sgt Chris recruit Plt 360, he refers to Sgt Brennan. I had the pleasure to go through DI school with Brennan and worked my first Platoon #347 K company with him. After that, we worked different platoons. Sgt Ian Brennan was Scottish and yes, he had a heavy-duty brogue. Ian finished first in our DI class and awarded an NCO sword. The next time I ran into him was outside 1stMarDiv Hq in DaNang when he was just reporting in country. He was then a 2ndLt, but still the same tough Marine as when he was a DI. We greeted each other and went our separate ways, I to Hill 55 7th Marines. I lost track of him then.
GySgt JJ Hinojosa USMC Ret
Got His Wings
I was forwarded this email and was intrigued by the mention of GySgt Robert B. Ewalt, WW I aviator. I did a bit of checking and did not find him listed as a member of the First Marine Aviation Force that was sent to France in 1918. However, I did find that he was designated a Naval Aviation Pilot (enlisted Naval aviator) who got his wings in 1922. Marines saw duty in Nicaragua from 1912 with aviation units serving from 1927 to 1933. GySgt Ewalt was killed while serving there. We would be most interested to hear some of those 'sea stories' about Gunny Ewalt.
James R. Casey
Deputy Executive Director
Marine Corps Aviation Association
Web Site: www.flymcaa.org
"Why Don't We Buy Just One Airplane And Let The Pilots Take Turns Flying It?" - President Calvin Coolidge
Just a quick thank you note to S/Sgt. Jack Carty for his flame tank story about flame tanks in Korea. You were a true pioneer and we who came after you wish to thank you for your service. As mentioned before I was in flames from 1963-1966 and served in all three Marine Divisions all in flame tanks. We first had M67 which were gas engines and later they were changed to M67A3 which were diesel. We had the flame as the main weapon with a copula mounted 50 cal. and a 30 cal. mounted with main flame tube. So it sound like you back in Korea had more weapons than we had. We also had an accurate range with the flame of about 100 yards, although we could shoot farther if need be.
Again thank you for your story. It is nice to know that there are other flame tank folks around. I served with some very special people and am proud to be a Marine Flame Tanker.
Cpl. Steve Andre
I Was Volunteered
Reading all the stories about Gitmo, brings to mind my visit to that lovely place. I was assigned to Mike Battery, 4/10 and we did a six month tour at Gitmo. This was in late 63 early 64. Mike Battery had towed 155 howitzers, oh man what a pain jacking those up, you cannon cockers know what I mean.
Anyway we show up and immediately the CO asked if anyone was a swimming lifeguard. I had gotten my Water Safety Instructors certification, courtesy of the Corps, and immediately raised my hand. I was assigned to the swimming pool and special services. My duties included sitting in the chair and watching off duty Marines swim, sigh. Of course at this time the Military dependents were all back on the base and the local Red Cross official, a very nice lady and Navy Officers wife, asked the Marine Corps Special Services section if they had any WSI's.
I was volunteered to teach swimming to dependent children and wives. As a young 18 going on 19 young Marine Corps PFC I was naturally attracted to said older female students etc. Needless to say that after my six month tour we returned to Camp Lejeune and the Capt., who had no sense of humor about my extracurricular activities while in Gitmo, immediately ordered the 1stSgt to get me orders the H-ll out of his outfit as fast as possible.
What a terrible ordeal to have to endure, the only transfer that was immediately available was for Marine Barracks Sangley Point in the Philippines. I had just died and gone to heaven. There were 98 Marines on a Naval Air Station of 3-5 thousand sailors across the bay from Manila.
Thank You Captain Michaels wherever you may be. LOL
One Arm Pull-ups
When I read ddick's account of Sgt Hill's mishap, I had to chuckle. As he describes Sgt Hill there is no exaggeration. "Correctional Custody Platoon at MCRD SD had Sgt Hill... big studly dark green Marine... without exaggeration, he had to have had 20" guns and a 50" chest, voice to match."
I was in the Rehabilitation Platoon late 65 after a leg injury and CCP was across the road. We would see them marching off with sledge hammers tucked into their belts or at port arms, carrying buckets. Sgt Hill and the other Sgt that ran Correctional Custody Platoon were both HUGE weightlifters. One was black and the other I believe was a blond. I would see them going to work out, doing one armed pull ups. The "word" was that they were on the MCRD weightlifting team and could both do 400+ bench presses.
It is said that recruits who mouthed off would find themselves airborne being pinned against the wall. In one instance, a new recruit to the platoon was told to hold his sea bag over his head. He decided to rest it on his head. One of the Sgts simply grabbed his utility blouse and picked him with sea bag up off the ground and reminded him to hold his sea bag up. Or so the story goes.
corporal of Marines 65-69
216xxxx 5961 Aviation Fire Control Radar Tech
Letter Back Home Moments
The day after the infamous Bay of Pigs we left Stone Bay (Camp Lejeune) on a Vieques cruise. I was with 'A' Company, 2nd Recon Bn. attached to the Sixth Marines. Instead of going to Vieques we went straight to Gitmo to reinforce the 'Fence'.
I don't remember how long we were there, but it was long enough that I actually got to play golf for the first and only time in my life on the enlisted grass-free golf course.
As with most of the other Cuba stories, we were scared, had live ammo for our grease guns (M3A1), but never confronted an enemy.
Six weeks later we finally got to Vieques where we remained for five days of our six weeks or so training. Then we were off to Dominican Republic to intervene when Trujillo was assassinated- another close call- this time we had live ammo and our rubber boats inflated and ready to go.
Not much training in Vieques for us, but some good liberty in San Juan and Jamaica, and we had a few "maybe I'd better write that letter back home" moments.
Roger Tro, 1959 - 1963
Home Made Goodies
I was born and raised in Key West, Florida. My Dad was a career Marine who was wounded at Iwo Jima and managed to end up at the Naval Hospital in Key West to recover from his wounds and that's where he met my Mom as a "candy striper". After his recovery he was assigned to the Marine Detachment at the "Little White House". I got to meet President's Truman and Eisenhower, but that's a story for another time. When my Dad retired he went to work as a civil service worker at the Naval Air Station at Boca Chica as the aircraft maintenance and supply manager. Met a great many Blue Angel pilots, that's another story.
Anyway back to Key West and Cuba. I was a junior in high school when the crap started to get just a little hairy. Key West had been militarily built up since Castro declared Cuba a communist nation. I remember that one day we really started working on nuclear attack drills (hide under the desk; head for ditches and so on) and I asked my geometry teacher, (who was an old salty sailor) what good this would do since one A-bomb would wipe this 3x7 island off the face of the earth. He said I was right, but the principal would not let us put our heads between our legs and kiss our posteriors good-bye so get back to the drill.
The island started to sink from the weight of incoming Army Hawk and Nike missile batteries, tanks and artillery; the beaches were closed and the Marines took up entrenched positions from the submarine base all along the Atlantic side and the Army took up positions on the Gulf side. There was no ordered evacuation, but many families moved inland to stay with relatives. Things stayed as usual in Key West and many of the military personnel stayed for a few months after the Russian cargo ships turned around, just to be on the safe side.
Going to school was a trip, we had to walk through some of the garrisoned areas because there was no way around them, remember Key west was a 3x7 island and not many ways to get from point A to B. To make a few extra bucks we would sell them home made goodies like conch fritters, key lime pies, coconut rum drinks, boyitoes, and ice. I got to know a lot of the Marines and I knew that one day I would soon be one of them. Things remained the same, they were lean, mean, proud, YOUNG, fighting Marines. Aaaaaaaah the good old days.
Capt. T. L. Johnson, Jr.
United States Marine Corps Ret.
I was a Corporal in HMM-261 prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis stationed at MCAF New River. Half of our squadron was already deployed down to Viegas, PR for routine exercises aboard the USS Thetis Bay. Then we received the word to mount out. I happened to be on duty at the time and immediately began the Squadron recall.
A group of our pilots were enjoying a cookout and a Major answered when I called. I gave him the orders to report immediately to the Squadron and he told me all who were present at the party. Some came in such a hurry they were still in Bermuda shorts and such and threw on their flight suits over those clothes to begin ferrying Marines from Lejeune to ships sitting off Onslow Beach.
They asked for volunteers to drive fork lifts. Having worked at Allis Chalmers building and driving tracked tractors and road graders I volunteered. I reported to the motor pool where I was given a license for a 10 ton fork life and ordered to report to the base mount out supply building where all the mount out equipment was pre-packed. A GySgt told me take a big fork lift and I climbed up and was trying to figure out how to start it. He asked me if I had ever driven one before and I said yea (big lie) but not this model so he showed me how to start it. I quickly figured out how to work it and went to work.
Finally, the rest of the squadron flew aboard the USS Boxer. There were 4 Medium Helicopter Squadrons (24 planes) plus our half Squadron (12), a Heavy Helicopter Squadron, an Observation Squadron with half helicopters and half small Cessna's and all our personnel. In addition to this there were 5,000+ grunt Marines and a lot of their equipment aboard. There was one spot on the flight deck all the way forward where the sea/air rescue bird sat that was not filled with helicopters. On the hanger deck it was the same thing with the light Cessna's tipped up on their noses.
We departed and once down off NAS Mayport the helicopters were all flown off to NAS Jacksonville then the ships docked in Mayport. We off loaded and lugged our stuff over to the USS Thetis Bay which had also come in. It was the last 4 smoke stack ship in the US Navy, no air conditioning and because of limited water generating capacity we were on water hours (scuttlebutts turned on 10 minutes every hour and 30 minutes for showers in the morning and again in the evening. Lot of us took salt water showers instead).
We rapidly put to sea and the other half of our planes flew aboard once we were under way. Besides the grunt Marines we also had a US Army Reserve Psychological Warfare and Civil Government Company from somewhere in Ohio aboard. It was their job to establish the new Cuban Government, military and police. They had huge lists of people they reviewed daily to determine who got purged and who they were going to keep in the new Cuban Government once we secured the island. Of course they were fair game.
Our officers reluctantly allowed the Army Officers to assume the "Mail Buoy Watch" on the forecastle 24 hours a day. They stood that duty, complete for formal changing of the watch for several days before some Navy Officer asked them what they h-ll they were doing. The enlisted got into the act as well with a small box with a hole in one end containing a sea bat. Every time a soldier bent over to see the sea bat he'd get paddled. One Army PFC did it 3 times complaining each time for us to quit paddling him so he could see the bat. The fourth time he bent down one of our SSgt's became incensed at his denseness and kicked him head over heels and ordered the sea bat secured!
We were told that the entire 2nd MarDiv, 1stMarDiv, 1st Provisional Brigade, 2nd MAW, 3rd MAW and 1st Provisional Air Wing were afloat off Cuba ready to land on order. Finally we were given the word to stand down from the landing and join the blockade forces. After around 40 some days at sea we returned to Onslow Beach and conducted a Division landing across the beach and then flew all out mount out equipment, planes and personnel back to MCAF New River.
Incidentally later on the 26th MAG Helicopters mounted out entirely with half going to NAS Meridian, Mississippi and the other half to NAS Memphis, Tennessee. At Memphis each plane was assigned members of the 101st Army Airborne Division. Every time something looked like it might happened down at the University of Mississippi where James Meredith was attempting to enroll with the assistance of US Marshals and Assistant Attorney Generals "Whizzer" White (Later Supreme Court Justice) and Louis Oberdorfer (later a us District Judge in DC for whom my wife later worked for many years). We flew a few missions standing by out of sight but ready to drop the troops in if called for before standing down and returning back to MCAF New River.
1962 and up until we left for Viet-Nam in May of 1963 we were really busy down in MAG26 and had some great times.
Retired Army National Guard 1stSgt
I got a good one for you Sarge, this is from this last Memorial day, here in Thailand.
I belong to a local VFW-9876, and we sort of mustered, at the meeting place, a bar owned by the chief officer in charge and then headed out to a local cemetery to pay respects to an old American serviceman (I don't even know what branch he served in.) who was appointed the duly recognized serviceman we were paying our respects to...
Well on the ride over, in the back of a pick-up truck, I struck up a conversation with a former fellow Marine, and it turned out we happened to be in the same place at the same time in Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1966... Well, I was providing security for a POW camp, and a LAAM Battalion, right by the beach... This Marine I was talking to in the truck was just visiting from another post in Thailand and we shared some stories, since I was down the road from his AMTRAC company, back in '66...
Well, one day my group made a visit to the nearest town, where we could indulge in the local sports... Ever watchful for enemy, which were plentiful! The monsoon season had kicked in and things were wet and the ground was that horrible colored mud that develops during monsoon season in Vietnam. I carefully placed my weapon in the rear of a 6 x 6 truck parked outside a local spot and I went in to see what was going on... when I saw what was going on, and I came out, about 15 minutes later, everyone was gone, including the 6 by ! ... I have to admit, I was scared! Scared both from the enemy, and the U.S. Marine Corps for having lost my weapon in a battle zone!
I followed the tracks that were left, at a run! Eventually I found the compound where the 6 by had gone... I ran up to the rear end of the truck, and saw a Marine holding my M-14... He was looking at it, sort of confused and then looked at me, a stranger in his compound, with the same confused look... I gave him the serial number of the weapon, and he said "This must be yours!" I relieved him of my weapon and I proceeded out of the compound and hightailed it to my unit near the airfield...
Well, sitting in the back of the pick-up truck this past Memorial day was the Marine that handed me my weapon back in 1966! Is this a small world, or what!
Former Sargent of Marines,
Gary Steuer 1963 -1967
Grunts vs. POGS
A POG is a piece of garbage, at least according the grunts. That's how the combat Marines thought of us rear echelon pukes. I would know, I'm a Marine and was one of them pukes. This incident happened many years after my active service. I was working in the commercial printing industry and one of our secretaries husband was a Vietnam era combat Marine. He was a grunt.
One day I went up front during lunch and saw this secretary and her husband sitting together at her desk. She introduced me to her husband and proudly announced that I too was a Marine. Well, that started the conversation rolling. He asked me when I had served and I told him from 1978 to 1984. He asked what my MOS had been and I informed him I had been a 0151 Admin Clerk. I went on to say that my specialty was transfer orders.
He quickly responded that he had been a grunt, a 0311. He then went on to say that "we" meaning the grunts that he served with all hated "your kind," referring to us POGS. I quickly shot back, "I know you hated us - until you wanted your mail, your paycheck or in my case your transfer orders out of whatever h-ll hole you considered yourself to be in." We both laughed and then I grinned and said, "If you screw with me Marine I'll send your sorry azs to Iceland."
We both had a good laugh and became great friends. I guess we both understood that each had his part to play. Not all of us can be the hero. If we all were then the world would be a very boring place.
1978 - 1984
5 Cents A Pack
Dear Sgt Grit,
As usual, I really look forward to reading your Newsletter each Thursday. The 31 May 12 issue of the newsletter had stories about the Cuban Missile Crisis, USS Noble, LST 1178 - Wood County and Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, all of which I have some connect too. My part of the Cuban Crisis was minimal, I started Boot Camp on June 12, 1962, went through San Diego Platoon 338 and we qualified at Camp Matthews Range.
After completion of 2nd ITR at Camp Pendleton. I went on leave prior to reporting to my Permanent Duty Station of 29 Palms, CA. I was home on leave when the Cuban Crisis started, some of my fellow Boot Camp brothers had been ordered to their Permanent Duty Station, prior to being granted leave. Those that reported to their units first, had their leaves cancelled because of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I can still remember sitting in my car listening to President Kennedy on the radio and wondering if I would get orders to report back to base ASAP! Since I had not reported to my unit at 29 Palms, CA, they did not know who I was. But being a newly minted Marine, I was sure that the US and the USMC would need me in this noble adventure! But that never came to pass, after the Russians stood down, I continued my Recruit Leave and reported to Marine Corps Base, 29 Palms, CA later that month.
Upon reporting, I discovered that one of our sister units, 3rd LAAM Bn. had been deployed from 29 Palms to the East Coast. Our unit had sent Marines to fill vacant slots prior 3rd LAAM being deployed. We also had several Marines who had been sent on Temporary Duty and they started returning in November 1962! Many of these Marines had earned a campaign medal and they stood out as the "Old Salts" along with the veterans of WW 2 and Korea. We admired those few Pfcs, LCpls and Cpls that wore the Armed Forces Expeditionary Ribbon on their chest. In 1962-63, they were proven veterans, with that ribbon on their chest. During that time, young Marines like me, had no ribbons to wear except our mark ship badge. And as we know, it would be a couple more years before our Marines would be earning a lot more medals!
Then reading William Davis, Sr. story about being on the USS Noble brought back memories of my time on the USS Noble APA 214. In February 1964, 2nd LAAM Bn. was sent to Amphibious Training at Coronado Beach, CA. We learned and practiced amphibious training, loading on a ship and the art of climbing up and down the nets into an LCVP while bouncing up and down on the ocean's swells. Our final graduation exercise was to load up on the USS Noble go out to sea and then make an amphibious landing. All this training was new and exciting, especially to a young Marine who was stationed in the "High Desert" of 29 Palms. We were doing real "Marine Stuff" and that included liberty in the San Diego area!
The chow was great on board ship and we had calm seas for most of our time on the ship. One day I overhead a couple of sailors complaining about their chow on the ship, I told them that we would gladly swap mess halls and cooks with them! I told them that after a stay with us, they would appreciate their chow.
I had taken up smoking cigarettes while in Boot Camp, so that I couldn't be "volunteer" for extra details. So when the DI asked for "One (or more) non-smoker Volunteer" for a detail, I was not available since I had blended into the smokers group. After loading up on the USS Noble, we started sailing out of port. On the first night out when we passed the continental limits of the United States, the ship announced that the usual 25 cents a pack of cigarettes had been lowered. Since we had left the United States limits, they did not charge taxes on any purchases. We could purchase cigarettes for 10 cents a package at the ship's store and they had a special price of 5 cents a pack for Raleigh's cigarettes. I took them up on that deal and was wondering how many cartons of Raleigh's that I could put in my Field Transport Pack. So I ran down to the ship's store and bought a package of Raleigh's for a nickel. I have to confess that this was my first and only package of Raleigh's that I bought and smoked, even at 5 cents a pack! Need I say more?
I am attaching some pictures of the unit's trip, (All Pictures by Fred R. Gonzales)
Feb. 1964 - 2nd LAAM Bn. practicing Dry Net Training, Coronado Naval Base, CA.
Feb. '64- Marines from 2nd LAAM Bn. on the USS Noble APA 214. Getting loaded up and starting to go out to sea.
Feb. '64 - 2nd LAAM Convoy rest stop on the return trip back to MCB 29 Palms, CA. L-R: Cpl Clark, LCpl Pemberton, Pfc Eldridge and LCpl Gonzales. Center Rear: LCpl LaMaster.
Feb. '64 - 2nd LAAM Bn. unit members watch as the USS Noble APA 214 heads out to sea.
Feb. '64 - USS Noble APA 214 - launching LCVP's. Feb. '64 - LCpl Fred Gonzales preparing to go down the nets to the LCVP. Feb. '64 - LCpl Gonzales(left) and Cpl Clark (Right) on deck of USS Noble as ship leaves San Diego, CA.
1963 brought the first of several trips that 2nd LAAM would make to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, AZ. Although the convoy trip was a long one, it was a great duty station for us. The old WW II wooden Air Force Barracks were a joy to stay in. We were told that the WW 2 Barracks were not suitable for Air Force personnel, but it was like a palace for Marines! We were billeted 4 to a room and the room had a wash basin with a mirror, light and a door we could close! The shower and head was down the hall way, but it was still a wonderful set up and much better that our squad bay barracks at 29 Palms. And the mess hall had great food and was like being in a cafeteria!
I do remember that the EM Club was very nice and they served the coldest Schlitz beer that I ever drank and they did not check ID's like back at 29 Palms. Also the Mexico border was very close and you didn't have to worry about being ID'ed there, so Liberty was also good for a young Marine. 2nd LAAM Bn. made several trips to Yuma MCAS in the time that I served with the unit.
In March 1965, 2nd LAAM participated in Operation "Silver Lance" which was conducted at Camp Pendleton, CA. We convoyed from 29 Palms, CA to Point Magu, CA. I had the great experience in driving a jeep as part of a convoy during afternoon rush hour traffic driving on LA freeways. Upon arrival at Point Magu, we loaded our missile battalion on a couple of Navy LSTs. The ship that Hqs. Btry. loaded on was the US Kemper County, LST 1190. And this was our home for several days as we got our sea legs and sailed into the blue Pacific!
I was the last men to enter our berth and took the only rack left which was on the very bottom row. We then steamed off toward the setting sun and floated around for several days. On the 3rd day, I was assigned Guard Duty on the top deck from 12 midnight to 4 AM. As we are on moving ship, I didn't think that any enemy personnel would swim out and attempt to steal or damage our 6X's trucks that were loaded with vans, missile launchers, mobile radars and other equipment. But I did my duty and insured that no harm or damage was done to U.S. Government Property that was in my care!
As I was ending my guard duty, our ship began heading into a storm that was coming in from the Western Pacific. Those who have been on a flat bottom LST know how it will start pitching and rolling with each wave. Just as I got down into the troop compartment and laid down on my rack, the ship was in the storm and it was really tossing our ship up and down and side to side. I usually did not get sea sick but this storm had me feeling with an upset stomach, dizziness and light-headed. I was sea- sick and it was bad!
A couple of hours later as I laid in my rack bouncing and rolling and rolling and bouncing. A buddy who was sleeping on the rack above mine, LCpl Brenner woke up around 6 AM and jumped down and woke me up. Brenner asked me if I was going to breakfast? In what little strength I had left, I informed him that "I ain't going to chow, I ain't going nowhere! I am staying in my rack!" So I remember Brenner taking off to chow and I wonder how in the world anyone can think of eating at a time like this!
I would regain consciousness periodically and see that my berth was still spinning, raising and falling and would return to my dream world. A couple of hours later, as I regained consciousness for a few minutes I saw Brenner dragging himself into the berth and slowly climbing into his rack. I asked him where had he been for the last couple of hours "Didn't you go to chow?" He answered "Yes, I went to chow and was doing real good until someone in the mess threw up and then everyone else started throwing up! I've been in the head throwing up since then!"
He then laid down and we shared the common feeling of lying there for several hours until the storm passed. Later that day, the seas calmed and I was able to get out of my rack and join the living again! A couple of days later, we landed at Camp Pendleton and participated in one of the largest Amphibious Training Operations of the Marine Corps "Operation Silver Lance". During this time we found out what happened to our "Lost" Marines, who had disappeared a few months prior!
The "Lost" Marines tale started in November 1964. 2nd LAAM was sent out on a long planned field problem, way out in the Northern reaches of 29 Palms. We had been out several days and everything was normal. Then one morning I went to work my 12 hour shift in the Tactical Operations Center. After finishing my shift, I returned to our tent. As I entered, I noticed that several of the cots were vacant and several of our buddies were gone or "Lost". All that our gunny told us that they had been sent back to main side.
A few days later when we returned to the battalion area, we noticed that 1st LAAM Bn. was gone, the barracks were empty, the warehouses vacant and no vehicles in the truck park. There were rumors about where they had gone, then a couple of weeks later we heard a rumor that they were in Okinawa. Then in March 1965, while we were on "Operation Silver Lance" the news reported that 1st LAAM Bn., was among the Marine Corps units that had landed in Vietnam. Now we had found our "Lost" Marines, they had joined 1st LAAM and were protecting the Marines at Da Nang Airfield.
1965 was an eventful year for myself and all Marines! Shortly after participating in "Silver Lance" and returning to MCB 29 Palms, I became an official short timer! On June 11, 1965, as I walked out of my barracks for the last time in civilian clothes, 2nd LAAM was having an Inspection and was formed on the grinder. I looked down and saw my buddies in formation wearing the Summer Duty Uniforms while wearing my "civvies". I was walking out as a civilian and looking forward to new experiences in the civilian world. I did not know that in just 2 months, these same Marine brothers would be landing on the beaches of Chu Lai, joining 1st LAAM in Vietnam.
Also, I did not learn until many years later that on June 25, 1965, a C-135 loaded with 72 Marines, with several of them being LAAM Marines, would crash into a mountain while taking off from El Toro Marine Air Station. The aircraft was en route to Vietnam when it went down with the 12 Air Force crewmen, along with the 72 Marines. Their names are not written on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. But each man's lost is just as real, to the family, to our Corps and to the United States! Some of our Marine brothers that served in the Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalions, would be included in the more than 58 thousand names listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The Wall serves to honor their service and sacrifice in a strange land for a common purpose - Because Our Country Sent Us! That's what Marines Do!
Freddy "Speedy" Gonzales
2nd LAAM Bn., 1962 - 1965
Corporal of Marines
frdgs106 @ aol .com
Stay Away From Others
Dear Sgt. Grit,
Took a bus to Cherry Point after recruit training and ACT at Camp Geiger. Spent first night at processing center, and next day went to mess hall first before reporting to new command. Mess hall was pleasant - no yelling and stress for a quiet breakfast. Some Cpl. took me to H & M S 24 Hangar to meet First Sgt, and it was a pleasant experience. Next reported back to Barracks Sgt. to be assigned rack in squad bay. Told by First Sgt to report next day, and someone would take me to breakfast and escort me to MAG 24 Group Supply.
One of the Marines came up to me in squad bay and moved me from where I put my gear- to his cubicle. He said that I was a Northerner and we should stick together. The short timers in the barracks were somewhat a little crazy at first. Especially when the barracks Sgt asked one to run a broom down the squad bay- and said short timer asked the Sgt. how he would like the broom up his a*s sideways! I guess that we were a group of individuals that all had to work together.
Next day went to Group Supply and met OIC and M/Sgt in charge- then my Gunny -who was a rip with a sharp sense of humor- The OIC asked for one of our people -and if he could come to report right away- the Pvt was not around- so the Gunny asked some Sgt. to check the sh-t house as said Pvt was probably reading his mail. Sure enough he was in head.
Learned about aircraft parts, as well as Marine Corps supply gear as well. no one thinks about what supplies are needed to keep planes flying, as well as all supplies needed to keep units going.
Facility was huge over a block wide as well as a few blocks long, security cages with a lot of different gear under lock and key- secret assemblies for planes, pistols, rifles, ammo- a regular store with everything available.
Weekend duty, 24/7 coverage, 3 shifts. Base laundry took a week to get utilities back - with broken buttons of course. The base had an area for laundry trucks from outside vendors-that you dropped off utilities and uniforms, laundry and picked up next evening. The trucks had ladies who wore low cut blouses who naturally had to bend down to give you your clothes- and naturally got good tips as well.
We had flight line guard duty as well as staff mess duty at base hospital. Some units assigned a rotating basis of said duties , and others sent sh-t birds to these encounters. All of us more or less sought out a common bond to be with those we liked. Some of the crew in the barracks were very strange.
One stole a pistol and one Sunday morning decide to shoot out the back door using various points of interest for targets. The M. P.s found a quiet residential setting with BARS on it- so Pvt could relax under less stress.
Made friends with some Marines-as well as excuses to stay away from others. I do not care if you are in the motor pool or a grunt- so everybody has to learn a lot to be at the point where you need to absorb a lot of information that at a future point could save your life or others.
Some Marines were barracks rats, and some were drinkers, all had a common ground for communicating.
One squad bay upstairs was the NCO wing- usually senior sergeants, or Cpl's with some time in grade- a few private rooms were for staff NCO's- as I do not know if the base had staff NCO barracks. One room squad bay area downstairs was for the recreation and TV room, and storage.
One squad bay upstairs was for E-1 to E-3 as well as one downstairs that was half for Cpl's. The Cpl's and Sgt's had single racks while the peasants had bunk type set up. If the top rack had a heavy body they were known to collapse, which happened more than once while at Cherry Point.
One month we had a base inspection and MABS next to us wanted to really spruce up old barracks- they used kerosene- lighter fluid and a bunch odd caustic chemicals on cleaning up--we heard a whoosh- and a massive explosion that definitely put a few in the hospital, I never found out if any died!
We had guys going over the hill, coming back late off of 96 hour passes, as well as people taking extended leave- and 3 clowns went U A to go to Mardi Gras in Louisiana.
We had racism, ethnic slurs, religious arguments, bullying as well as a host of other fun situations, people drunk, bible nuts, psycho's.
But in the end I never would want to give up who I met, who I served with as well as who I still I e-mail and come in contact with today.
I can say I never met a bunch of greater Men then I served with- If they had a problem- we all helped out.
Thank You, Sgt. Grit for having a place to visit from the stress of daily life to reunite with a pleasant time of yesteryear.
Memorial Day Parade
Marine Corps League NW Suburban Detachment 80 participated in the Memorial Day Parade in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The color guard marches ahead of a replica built APC which carried WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans.
Thank you for consideration of this posting.
Alfred J Kolodziej
1969-1973 RVN 72-73
NW Suburban MCL Detachment 80
Menu Called For Steak
Reading about the good and bad mess halls, I noted one glaring omission: The repeat winner of the Ney Award for small shore bases, the mess hall at NAS, Andrews AFB, where HQMC Flight Section was stationed. They say chow is better when you're stationed aboard another service's base, and in this case, it was true: If memory serves (and it's been almost a half- century), there was a salad bar leading from the hatch to the main chow line, and it wasn't unusual for it to feature a huge bowl of iced shrimp; there was 'steamboat round', huge roasts from which the mess men cut your servings, and when the menu called for steak, we lined up at the grills outside and it was cooked to order. There was always fresh fruit and vegetables, I don't recall anything frozen, and they could cook both varieties of SOS and make it tasty. You could get seconds (or thirds) on anything except - sometimes - the meat, and the standard 'take all you want, but eat all you take' applied.
I'd left Parris Island at 163 lbs. (reporting aboard at 199), and spent the next three years all the way up to 175, but the 10 months there until ReLad shrunk all of my uniforms two sizes.
I have been reading Sgt Grit newsletter a long time and finally I hear about someone I know, Pvt Frankenstien, Chris Childers. I was in plt 3039, and had Sgt Brennan as my D.I. Here's my story about his brogue.
There are two parts to every command, preparatory and execute. like forward, march. Well Brennan comes out of the mess hall and say's plt 3039 ten hut, forwarddddddd. he never said march. Being our 10th week we all just about fell on our faces. Then he went into his temper tantrum and pt'ed us for about 2 hours. Did not care for him and every time I saw a little guy with red hair over in Viet Nam I would work my way over to him, never did find him,
-l/cpl j tracy 65-68 chu lai and dong ha
Actually how long was boot camp?
I arrived at MCRD San Diego on December 29, 1969. I know we did not start training that first week so basically it began on Monday January 4th, 1970. We graduated on March 4, 1970 making it a total of 66 days.
You cannot actually count the 29th because most of that was spent traveling to MCRD and since we did not start until the 4th we are now down to 60 days.
But 7 of those days were mess duty. Does that actually count as training or were we simply cheap labor for the cooks? If you do not count that week then boot camp was only 7 weeks.
I was in charge of the scullery during our time on mess duty. (For all of you not old Corps the Scullery is where the dishes and trays got washed) Needless to say it was hot and messy. There was a little red light on top of the dishwasher. Whenever it was on you were supposed to add soap. It was always so we put too much soap in the water and it stayed on the trays after rinsing and I imagine it caused the food to taste terrible.
One vivid memory is of a short Drill Instructor dragging a guy about 6' 4" and built like a linebacker around by his ear lobe. The boot was scared to death and bawling like a baby. I also saw several guys from my home town going through the chow line. They were about 5 weeks behind us in training.
Not sure if this was a test or not but our Di's had us steal things from the mess hall. Things like cases of steaks, hams, peaches, etc. Was this common practice to see if we would obey orders? I remember seeing a case of steaks go in to a Drill Instructors trunk so who knows.
Someone also stole a sheet cake from the bakery and one Quonset hut enjoyed cake one evening. They might have gotten away with it but the tray was found in the dumpster.
My platoon and series did not undergo swimming training. Does anyone else recall not going to the pool? Good thing or I would still be in boot camp. I never learned to swim.
I remember it being much more relaxed at the rifle range. We lived in the three story barracks versus the Quonset huts we were in at San Diego. I was a squad leader and my rack was near the duty hut. I had always been a bit of a ventriloquist and could sometimes throw my voice. When Sgt. Wrin walked by shortly after lights out with my head under the blanket I said something like "Hey Tubby". (He was short and stocky) I must have done a good job of throwing my voice because he thought it came from a couple of racks over. He picked up the guys boot and began clobbering him with it. Needless to say I did not confess.
After boot camp and ITR I was back at MCRD San Diego for about a year going through Electronics Schools. I never saw any of my Drill Instructors while there but did see many brand new platoons with white shaved heads, covers pulled down tight on heads, un-bloused boots, and new utilities marching arm in arm. They looked like 10 year olds. We probably looked the same but even though just a few months removed we were a salty bunch.
Jim Grimes Platoon 1229 Graduated March 4, 1970
HERE WE GO
I was talking to a neighbor of mine a while back. He is a vet too. He has this great "Man Cave" in the form of a large garage. There are a couple of easy chairs where we share stories about life in general and our experiences in Vietnam. It turns out he and I were both involved in that conflict about the same time. One particular story he told really struck a chord with me and I bet it would appeal to many who spent time in any combat situation throughout history.
He and his Company were on night ambush out near the Rockpile. Around midnight they settled into position. There would be one man sleeping and the next one on guard alternating on down the line. The first on one end was the Company Commander.
A couple of hours passed and all was quiet. Then there was a slight rustling moving toward the position of the Marines. They lay parallel to a trail. Whomever was out there was on that trail and would soon be right in front of them. The Company Commander later related that the thought that went through his mind at that time and so many times before was, "Here we go.".
The Marines were at the ready to greet with gunfire the approaching as yet unwary travelers. First one appeared and then four more. None of them detected what lay ahead and continued down the trail. It was five monkeys. Monkeys.
All breathed a sigh of relief. The monkeys passed without incident and were on their way. There was nothing else that passed that night. Neither animal nor enemy.
After my friend told me the story I had to let him know that the thing I related to most was the phrase, "Here we go.". I can't recall how many times I said that very thing when something happened or was about to happen. Be it rockets, mortars, small arms fire, an upcoming operation, or the occasional news that we may get hit some time soon. Three little words that'll jump start any Marine. Here we go.
Set My Seabag Down and Oak Leaves
Slang terms for what used to be called 'dependents' : candy bandits, linoleum scratchers, curtain climbers, ankle biters, crumb-crunchers, cookie-munchers,... and probably some more inventive terms now lost in the fog of memory...
Two married Marines on their way home after a year's 'unaccompanied' overseas tour... "Whatcha gonna do first when you get home?"... "Well, the second thing I'm going to do is set my seabag down"... (There is another version of that involving Finnish ski troops in WWII, where the punch line is 'gonna take my skis off')
Was once in a heated argument with a peer about the weight of the U.S. Pistol, Caliber .45, M1911A1, as we studied for a promotion exam for Corporal. We each cited a different source, and the difference was between 2.86 and 2.84 pounds. An old Gunny (h-ll, at 19, all SNCO's were 'old'... some even in their late 30's)... anyway, Gunny told us... "boys... learned something a long time ago, and that is, I only worry about things I can change... and the weight of a .45 ain't one of them... " An epiphany of sorts... and have lived by that bon mot ever since... does wonders in staying focused on the crux of a situation..
Few years back, found meself at the Wire Mountain SNCO club at Pendleton... the central point for the 1stMarDiv Anniversary event. It is a big club... multiple bars, dining and ballrooms, etc... , and untold bazzilion gallons of slightly used beer have left the place for the wastewater treatment plant over the fifty years or so the club has been there... This being largely a stag event by default, really didn't expect to find a line for the head, much less for the men's head. (women got those pantyhose things and other things to deal with, which is why it takes longer per capita... and never mind why they are totally incapable of going to the head solo)... but a slow-moving line for the men's was a surprise, even if there was a lot of gray and/or totally missing hair on (or not on) those in line... finally got a turn at a urinal, with a big sigh of relief... guy next to me commented : "last time I was at Pendleton, I was 20 years old, had balls the size of grapefruit... now, the only thing I got that big is a prostate"
Payday & Pitcher night at the SNCO club... two old Gunnies hit the joint as soon as liberty call was sounded. At the end of the first pitcher, the younger of the two allowed as how he was going to the head... and the older indicated he had no need of such a trip just yet... then came the second pitcher, and the third, and the routine continued until closing time... and the older Gunny hadn't gotten up from the table even once. As they wobbled out to the street in front of the club, the saltier one told his buddy, "hold up a minute, I'm gonna pizz"... the younger, no doubt aghast at such a breach of sanitation and etiquette said "you can't pizz here!"... to which the old salt said "oh, I'm not gonna pizz here... and pointing, explained... "I'm gonna pizzz WAAAAAAAAY over there!"
The Gunny at EAP, one Robert Anderson, was always a step ahead of me... I'd think of some detail that needed attending to... and when I'd mention it... he'd say "took care of that yesterday. (or two days ago or...), Major"... He had a great sense of humor, and used it... once pointed out to me "Major? did you know your chewing tobacco is on fire on this end?" (cigars were a weakness... Dutch Masters, maybe El Producto Queens in the glass tube on payday). He once asked me if I knew the similarity between Marines and the ancient Greeks?... expecting some comment along the lines of 'a race of noble warriors' or something of the sort, I bit... and said, no, Gunny, what is that?... to which he replied "they both covered their pricks with oak leaves"... (right, Gunny... guess who's got the duty Sunday?)... last I knew of him, he had made MSGT, and was NCOIC of RSS Bakersfield...
Re 'Marine Proof"... got some new 6,000 Lb. 'rough terrain forklifts' delivered to the Equipment Allowance Pool (29 Palms... ca 1980), from memory, Pettibone brand. These happened to come with a civilian 'tech rep' (common in the wing, only one I ever encountered for ground equipment)... he went over the machine with us, and it wasn't much different from the ones we were used to, but I commented to him that if Pettibone had made something that was PFC proof, he had a pretty good machine there. He said that when it came to equipment, Marines were comparatively easy... "SeaBees, however, are a different story... you can sell them an anvil, and if they can't break it, they'll stand around it and pizz on it until it rusts away" I suspect he had the same quip, branches reversed, when he was dealing with SeaBees...
Gotta love them Bees... they get stuff done, have good stuff to swap for... had an uncle in the SeaBees in WWII on New Guniea... wrote home and told the family not to worry about him, because when they were building airstrips, he was the one who got to stand there with a rifle guarding the equipment operators (gee... I wonder where he would have fallen on Isamu's targeting list for the day?.) didn't say he was smart... said he was a SeaBee...
Older timers will remember when it was the Black Shoe (haze gray and underway), and the Brown Shoe (aviators) Navy...ran into an older chief at the gym, whose cap indicated that he was a retired Master Chief Petty Officer, so I asked him "Brown Shoe? or Black Shoe?"... he said 'well, actually, 'muddy boots'... I was a SeaBee"...
Big Reserve exercise at the stumps... 5,000 or so involved, and we had a pot full of borrowed equipment to round up and ultimately get delivered out to Camp Wilson (ESB/EAF today)... got'er done, except that we had one more piece of equipment than we had drivers for... and that one was a brand-new Caterpillar 240G grader we had trucked down from Barstow... well, this ol' farm boy ain't never seen a machine he couldn't run, and graders are right interesting machines to begin with... front wheels tilt, blade does all sorts of angles, must've been 8-10 levers on the cowl... anyway, fired 'er up, and off we went, running in 'road gear' the 12 miles out to Wilson. Found the area where the Reserve SeaBees were, and pulled in there. Chief came over, and I opened the door to ask this Wilfred Brimley look-alike where he wanted it?... He said, 'right there'll be fine, Major... '... which was when I found out that I had no idea how to shut the d-mn thing off... after watching me fumble around in the cab for a bit, he just smiled, reached in the right side door... and pulled up on the accelerator pedal... which, it seems, shuts off the fuel to the diesel engine...
"An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens... There has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends and books."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Your newsletter is the best compilation of Marine Corps lore anywhere. I look forward to perusing it weekly. Thanks for the patience and wisdom in putting all this good material in front of us.
You have attributed a reworking of the quote shown below to "Locke" (I assume John Locke). It actually belongs to Edmund Burke, who is, more often than not, also misquoted.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Keep up the sterling work! Semper fi!
Sgt, USMC, 67-70, RVN 68-69
Marc C. Joseph
Shouldn't Twain's quote read:
"don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."
Ron Morse (former Sgt, USMC 69-76)
"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants."
"The market economy is the social system of the division of labor under private ownership of the means of production. Everybody acts on his own behalf; but everybody's actions aim at the satisfaction of other people's needs as well as at the satisfaction of his own. Everybody in acting serves his fellow citizens. Everybody, on the other hand, is served by his fellow citizens. Everybody is both a means and an end in himself; an ultimate end for himself and a means to other people in their endeavors to attain their own needs."
-- Ludwig von Mises
This isn't the end of the newsletter... to improve delivery we've shortened the version that is sent to your inbox, so read the rest at our website! Next story: Men with their Machines...
I'm here to finish a job no one ever started...
"I came here to chew gum, take names, and kick azs... I'm outta gum, and my pencil's broke..."