This is a picture of Doug Norman from New York City. We were on one of our perimeter patrols. Also known as a "skivvy run patrol". Not a whole lot happened on these patrols. This is one of my favorite photos. Something about the American Marine and small Vietnamese girl in a war zone having a moment. I had been there awhile when this pic was taken. But my first such patrol was all but boring.
I had not been in country more than a week or so. They needed a radio operator so the Comm Sgt picks me. A Sgt E-5 usually leads the patrol, so I am following him with my PRC-25 proudly on my back. Being my first time most likely making numerous radio checks to appear as if I know what I'm doing, which I didn't.
We come to an area where we have to walk the rice paddy dikes. They're wet or damp, but we are making our way. Now when you see the villagers working the rice paddies the water comes up to about their knees, so a rational person would conclude that is the depth. Well, let me tell ya that ain't so. Each field has a water reservoir in one corner that is 8-10 feet deep.
So, I am walking the slippery dike and this dumb-asz FNG Okie slips off the dike. Yep into the 8-10 foot area. Now as I slip off I'm thinking I will hit bottom soon, but before I know it I'm under water with a rifle, radio, ammo etc... After I get past WTF, I think of what they will tell my Mother. Your son drowned in a rice paddy. My mother being kinda of no non-sense would have thought something like how did my dumb-azs son die in 6 inches of water? With all the gear I was not able to get out on my own so I stick my arm straight up and the Sgt grabs me and pulls me out.
In true Marine Corps Sgt form he looks me over quickly then asks if the radio is still working. I do my 47th radio check of the day and off we go.
In This Issue
Here we go: you're done, after the reindeer, I felt very privileged, Hey ma- those dumb dufus, getting louder and louder, open them in the dark, this is what happens, that's a big monkey, leisurely returned to his seat.
Every day is a Holiday, Every meal is a Banquet!
The Old Man
I had an interesting experience the other day. It might be one of those "you just had to be there" kind of things, but I will never forget it. I was in Home Depot in Marietta, Georgia, looking at some tool or the other, when I heard a soft voice off to my right. It was a weak, raspy voice, and as I turned to see who it was coming from, I saw a very, very old man, so bent and aged, he seemed barely able to stay upright in the wheelchair he was occupying, doing his best to hold up his head so he could look at me.
At first, I couldn't make out what he was saying, and then I realized that he was responding to the USMC T-shirt I was wearing. He was saying "Semper Fi", the universal greeting of one Marine to another.
He spoke with obvious difficulty, but managed to say it twice, and the second time, had a big grin on his battered and deeply-lined face. Then he lifted his trembling right hand, pointed to himself to indicate that he was a Marine too, and then he did the best fist pump he was capable of.
I walked over, put my hand on his shoulder, and quietly said "Semper Fi, Marine". He reached up with that same trembling hand, patted my own hand on his shoulder, smiled, nodded and whispered "Semper Fi!" one more time in that weak, raspy voice.
As I took my hand from his shoulder, a younger man (his son maybe?) came and wheeled him away as I stood there looking after him. For reasons I can't begin to explain, tears came welling up in my eyes, something I am definitely not prone to. Why this encounter touched me so deeply, I couldn't say, but it most certainly did.
I felt very privileged to have met this gentleman, and I felt as though I'd been given a very valuable lesson. This old man probably didn't have a lot of time left, but while it was clear that age had taken his vitality, his energy, and would eventually claim his life, it was even more clear that age would never take his spirit or his pride in his Marine Corps service. I hope to face my own mortality with as much courage someday.
Semper Fidelis, Sir, wherever you are, and thank you for the gift.
Joe W. Harden
Sgt., USMC ('69-'73)
We All Had These Moments
Dear Sgt Grit,
Was home in 1963 after Boot Camp and ACT, had a mouth that should have been washed out with soap, real salty, and not among humans yet, just fellow Marines for a few months.
My Uncle and Aunt were visiting me at my moms' place, and mom had groceries delivered. I was putting away the stuff as I was talking to my relatives when I discovered dog food in the order sent to us? We had a seal point Siamese Cat, that was as crazy as they come, but a great member of family!
I yelled out, "Hey ma, those dumb dufus Mother F---ers sent us the wrong order. After I said it the air could be cut with a knife. I was shocked and did not know what to do or say? My uncle who was in WWI as a Doughboy in Europe, took charge and smoothed ruffled feathers.
Just a filler for your newsletter, as we all had these moments.
1963- 1967 CPL
As Long As There Are NCOs
I recently read a forwarded email which contained an article written by Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, and a Marine Infantry officer, explaining how the leadership principles he learned in the Corps have been instrumental in the growth and success of his company. In that article, he identified 2 USMC NCO's as being most instrumental in his growth and development as a Marine.
After I finished reading the article, I took a virtual 'walk down memory lane' thinking of my time in the Corps and the examples of excellent leadership that I observed and encountered during that time, 1967-1972. Among my USMC souvenirs is a "Guidebook for Marines", Eleventh Revised Edition, printed May 1, 1966. Chapter 38 of the book deals with Marine Corps Leadership, and there on page 496 you will find a listing of the 14 character traits of a Marine NCO : 1. Integrity, 2. Knowledge, 3. Courage, 4. Decisiveness, 5. Dependability, 6. Initiative, 7. Tact, 8. Justice, 9. Enthusiasm, 10. Bearing, 11. Endurance, 12. Unselfishness, 13. Loyalty, and 14. Judgment.
As I read through that list, I thought of the many NCOs with whom I had the privilege to serve. I remembered the Sgt Instructors, Sgt. RH Moon and SSgt. ML Parker who trained me during OCS. I remembered several Sergeants, Staff Sgts, Gunnys, First Shirts and Sgts Major that I served with both stateside and in Vietnam.
All of the NCOs who I recalled from my memory bank not only possessed those 14 traits but they demonstrated them routinely. They were the reason the Corps functioned with discipline and precision. In his article, Fred Smith credited the NCOs with the success of the USMC units in which he served, and he credits the first line managers in FedEx for the success of his company. Fred adapted the Marine Corps 'business model' as the FedEx model, and with great success.
In thinking back through my time in the Corps, I fully agree with Fred Smith. It was the non-commissioned officers who were and are the backbone of the Corps, and a major reason for its success. Look at a list of recipients of the MOH, from Dan Daly to John Quick, to Herman Hanneken to Manila John Basilone to Jimmy Howard, and you find NCO's who personified Marine Corps leadership. As long as there are NCOs like those serving in our beloved Corps, the Marine Corps will always be the few, the proud, and in a class by ourselves.
Steve Van Tyle
Former Captain, USMC
Not as Lean, Not as Mean, but ALWAYS a Marine
Been reading some of the sayings we had in the Corps and I've heard the majority of them. However, there is one I haven't seen anyone post so it leaves me wondering if it was just something my company had and wasn't Corps wide. It pertains to getting out and the widely used x number of days and a wake up.
What we said was, x number of days and a hook with the hook being the wake up. The tradition we had to go along with it was, someone had appropriated the biggest fishing hook I had ever seen, talking Moby Dick size here. We would, upon getting out, put our short side dog tag on the hook and pass the hook along to the next person to get out, so forth and so on down the line. It had enough weight in itself but when you started adding all those dog tags it got pretty heavy.
So my question is, was the x days and hook just our company saying or has anybody else heard of or used it. I figure the giant hook was probably all ours though.
Cpl. Fred Lowery, 1341
Eng. Maint. Co., 2nd Maint. Bn.
was 2nd FSSR, later to FSSG
2nd MarDiv, Camp Lejeune 73-76
Back Up The Guy
I'll back up the guy who said he lived on PB and J at ITR. That was the case at the Geiger Mess Hall in November, 1964. I lost 80 percent of the weight I gained at PI. Some officer wasn't doing his job, worst chow I had in the Corps.
Joke: Here's how you imitate an Army general winning a medal? Cup your hands to your eyes like field glasses and scan the horizon. Then wave your right hand forward and call, "Send in the next wave."
For the guy who suggested we report where and when we served, kind of long, but see below. Happy to hear from anyone I served with, one or two NCOs aside. Unless I owe you money.
Robert A. Hall
USMC 64-68, CPL
MCRD PI, Plt 273 -1964
MCRD SD Electronics School 1965
Howtar and G/2/10 1966
Radio Relay Plt, Comm Support Co, Camp Hanson, 1966
RR Plt, HQ, 26th Mar, Khe Sanh, 1967
RR, 8th Comm, 1968
USMCR 1977-83, SSgt, mostly HQ, 25th Marines, Worcester, MA
(I was a State Senator at the time, but one weekend a month I was a Marine NCO, a much higher and more honorable title.)
Author "Old Jarhead Poems," 2011.
Royalties go to the Injured Marine Fund, not me.
Yellow Footprints! Parris Island, 1969, a unique USMC experience.
I went thru the full body scanner in Pittsburgh IAP in 2011. After the scan the TSA Officer instructed me to stand on the yellow footprints to await my results.
As I stood on the footprints I said, "The last time I did this was Parris Island". He smiled, said been there, done that. When my scan was negative he said, "You're done Marine. Semper Fi."
Once a Marine, always a Marine. We are everywhere, and we never forget our brothers.
SGT Fulton, 1969-1973
Good morning MARINES,
As we all know, our MARINE CORPS was born on NOVEMBER 10th 1775. I arrived in MCRD SD on August 26th 1990 where I learned the great history of our CORPS. I was born on July 11th 1972, so imagine my surprise when on the Short Rounds section of the Sgt Grit newsletter sent out on July 18th, I discovered that President John Adams, on July 11th 1798, officially signed our MARINE CORPS into existence under our present form of government. My parents say that from a young age I always wanted to be a MARINE, after learning this fact, I can only guess it was my destiny. SEMPER FI
Armando C Cortez
2nd Tank Bn
2nd Mar Div.
Since Sgt. Grit is a nickname, you know from nicknames. During my 3 yrs and 1 month (11 months cut outta Nam), I had a few. Because I have a slightly bulbous nose with visible red veins, my DI, Sgt. Jester, called me Rudolph (after the reindeer).
During my training at MCRD, Ground Radio Repair and duty at Lejeune and Gitmo, I was Rocky Reed (had a short fuse and got into many fights and went through nearly a dozen pairs of glasses during my service.) In Nam, I was Ralph the Rattlesnake because of my beady eyes under a heavy brow (my Indian heritage) and at Hai Van Hill 826, I was Old Man cause the nose and eyes made me look a lot older than 21.
Cpl. E-4 '66 - '69
Nam '68 - '69
David C. Milam passed away 6 July 2012 at age 86. He survived Iwo Jima and served in Japan as part of the occupying force in Nagasaki.
In the late 1990's he wrote a book telling of his memories of being a Marine and some of his experiences during WWII... "The Last Bomb, A Marine Remembers Nagasaki".
After the war, Dave moved back to Dallas Texas where he successfully worked in the Media and Advertising community for almost 50 years.
Dave was loved and respected by all who knew him. "Always Faithful" was not just a slogan to him, he lived that way.
"A faithful friend is something beyond price; there is no measuring his worth..." Ecclesiastics 6:14-17
v "Semper Fidelis" my old friend, "Semper Fidelis"
Sgt. USMCR Feb '62 to Jan '68
At Least One
I remember at least one or two Marines and usually more from every unit I served in except one.
I spent approximately six months with twenty other Marines going through Basic Electronics School and Radar Fundamentals at MCRD San Diego from early July of 1963 until about Christmas of 1963. I can't remember a single name. Well, that may not be entirely true. I think one of them was named Bishop but I'll be d-mned if I can remember which one or even if that's correct.
We lived together, ate together, spent time together on weekends fishing and various other things. I even rode back from Illinois after Christmas leave with one of the guys and his wife and baby. We headed for San Diego in his '55 Chevy whose odometer didn't work and the speedometer gave up somewhere west of St. Louis. In Amarillo TX the fuel pump took a dump at 0300 and I split the seat out of my trousers someplace in Arizona, but we drove straight through and made it back in time to report in before our leave was up.
I was able to decipher the name of our instructor (Cpl. Robert Delikat) from his name tag in the class picture and I was able to find him but the names of my classmates eludes me like so many ghosts. The faces are as familiar as if it were yesterday but those names are all a complete blank. Maybe I should try hypnotism.
Thank you for what you do for all us old Marines and of course the young ones too.
Forged on the anvil of discipline.
The Few. The Proud.
"Oderint dum metuant."
"Let them hate, so long as they fear."
In June 2012 I was in Victoria Texas for the funeral of my former Mother-In-Law. I was driving a rental that got a flat and I went to the local Discount Tire to have it fixed. While there I noticed an older gentleman with a 1st Marine Division cap on his head sitting in a chair waiting on his car. I was a former Marine myself with 30 years in the military. I wanted to thank him for his service as I could tell he was old enough to have served during a few wars.
Little did I know that I was meeting a living legend. We talked for a while and he told me some incredible stories. Eventually his car was ready and I asked him his name and he said it was Herman Shirley. I then asked him if I could take his photo. He said "sure" and proceeded to stand tall and proud and I took the photo with my cell phone. We then shook hands and he left. Still driving at age 92 he was very sharp, no loss of mental or motor skills. Attached is his story and the photo I took that day.
Jody E. Canfield
First Sergeant (Retired)
One Million Squat Thrusts
Here is a little history that a lot of MARINES can relate to.
I was in boot camp at San Diego, Hollywood Marine, we just came off the obstacle course dirty as heck and were told to get in line, had no idea why but we were soon to find out. Our DI told us to get a--h--e to belly button and move forward when told too. I kept hearing this loud voice shouting, "who do you think you are eye f--king my area." The voice kept getting louder and louder and I was thinking to myself who ever this voice was yelling at is going to get it real good.
Well, it just so happened to be me that he was yellin' at and I was terrified after a few minutes of my DI shouting in my face. He told me to get down and give him one million squat thrust. The line kept moving and it was for the dress blues picture, you know the short blouse and barracks cover. We had to wipe our faces off, step into the clothes, have your picture taken, take off the clothes and go back to what the platoon was doing.
Every time the platoon had a few minutes to do nothing I had to get down and continue doing the squat thrusts and I do believe to this day I still have not completed the million squat thrusts but it sure felt like I did.
In my old outfit the 'shortest" of the short timers used to say "I'm not short I'm NEXT".
Marine Barracks Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Va
Mid-summer, or early spring, 1969. Camp Edson, rifle range. We were doing the ol' police call. "Pick up everything that doesn't grow."
Another Pvt and I were under some kind of evergreen bush. There was a small cross, with the inscription, "Here lies Pvt and Mrs. Joe Sh-t the ragman."
Here's one I remember, I'm so short that I can sit on the side of a dime laying down, and kick my feet and never touch the floor. Now that's real short!
Cpl. Caron '67 to '71
Just a random thought running through my aging brain... I'll bet the posers, fakes, and out-and-out liars don't sleep as well at night as I do. Makes it easier to laugh and continue to march.
Ok, this week's newsletter had a story about duplicate lock combinations. We discuss everything else in this newsletter. How many still remember the combination to their footlocker Master lock?
G. Cagle, Sgt 79-83
I remember the Push Ball Game well, had a fight in that one, a man from the other team was pulling our men off and I pulled him back and he took a swing at me, several on our team threw him over the ball back to his team. LOL, Good old memories of Boot Camp. I went to Boot Camp on May 25th, 1956 and finished on September 1st. I was in Plt 184, 1st Battalion at San Diego. SSgt Baca was our Senior DI and SSgt Magoo and SSgt Venzayala were our Asst. DIs.
Just a short story about how small the Corps and Wyoming are. I entered the Corps in June of 1970 from Sheridan, WY. After Comm. School I was going through Replacement Company training at Pendleton when I ran into a guy from Rock Springs also going through training, can't remember his name.
After coming back from overseas my last duty station was Marine Barracks NAS North Island. There I met Cpl Trent Burt from Cheyenne and found out he knew the guy from Rock Springs.
After getting out, I went to Sheridan Jr College where I became re-acquainted with Elvie Brinson from Story who I knew slightly. Turns out he had been in the Corps and knew Cpl Burt. I also went to college with a guy from Lodge Grass, MT, whose best friend I had served with in 2/9 81s Plt, Frank Plenty Hoops. I thought only in the Corps can you find people so interconnected.
The Strange Things We Remember
As I sit reading the latest newsletter I'm reminded of how our memories can fade. Some faces come back haunting our minds but the names elude us. Some names we remember, but we can't place the face. I guess when you're under that much stress you're lucky if you can recall your own name.
I remember the names and faces of my Drill Instructors well. I remember their voices and mannerisms in detail. But, when it comes to my fellow recruits, I can only vividly recall 2 faces along with their names. One was Allen B that I wrote about in an earlier newsletter. The other was a kid named Skelton. He was from Tyler, TX. He and I were both from TX, (I was from Wichita Falls).
We were the shortest guys in our platoon. I remember that he and I were 'early chow privs' in First Phase. I can clearly recall the two of us hauling azs to the chow hall at MCRD San Diego. We'd come in for a landing, flying low and fast while screaming, "early chow priv, early chow priv!" We'd see the line part and we'd swoop in. We'd grab our trays and eat duck. We never sat down. Maybe it's because we ran so fast and ate so quickly that we were the 'favorite early chow privs' for our platoon.
I never asked their reason why. I just did it. But, that's not the only odd thing that I can remember. When I was a member of PLT 1046, C Co, 1st RTBn, RTR, MCRD, SD in the summer of 1978 there were only four types of venereal diseases. At least, that's what our DIs taught us. That was way before the identification of AIDS, HIV or any of the other ugly little crotch critters that have reared their heads in the ensuing years.
Our Drill Instructors, for some odd reason, thought that it was important for us young recruits to learn and memorize the names of these potential little skivvy gifts. I can understand the usefulness of knowing our General Orders or Chain of Command. But, I never quite grasped the significance of knowing the name of the prize I might find in my drawers after a weekend with the wrong kind. After all, the fact that it might hurt to pee is not ameliorated by knowledge of the name of the bug in my shorts. On the contrary, what cures the problem is the magic shot that the docs kept locked up.
The four types, according to our Drill Instructors, were Herpes, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Non-gonococcal Urethritis. Why in the world I remember this little bit of trivia is probably due to the fact that the last one is the longest word I've ever had to learn to spell or remember. On the other hand, I can't for the life of me remember my Series Commander's name, and he was part of the Chain of Command.
1978 - 1984
P.S. If you want my complete list of duty assignments with dates go check out the Buddy List. I've given complete details there. I would encourage everyone to join. And please, check your accounts regularly. You never know who might be looking for you.
P.S.S. To Sgt Grit and his staff: Not only do you provide a great line of Marine memorabilia, but you also provide a great forum for us old Marines to reminisce. I thank you.
Notta Story Really Matches
OOOOOHRAH! Sgt Grit! Gotta say, there's quite a bit of pizzn' n moanin' in the ranks about who's who and who's posin'. Nobody really gives a hoot these are our Marine Corps stories, not our personal biographies that have to be legit word for word. I know my memory only recalls what I believe happened. Ask 3 or 4 fellow Jarheads that I served with, and notta story really matches, (age). Anyhow, ddick is the only story teller on this page that has every fact, date, name, etc. etc. etc. covered and aligned, wish he'd right a book. Great stories ddick.
Cpl Radtke T.A. 85-89
"Pvt sh-t stain if u don't get squared away, I'm gonna recycle your asz back to the block, and you'll be suckin fartz outta
hospital sheets for a livin'."
--courtesy SSgt Thude... plt 3039, 1985.
Slowly Drank Some
1941 - Pearl Harbor was bombed! War was declared! America began mobilizing! And on a sunny October 6, 1942 I strode up the steps of Pittsburgh's Old Post Office Bldg., into the Marine Recruiting Station and up to the reception desk. "I want to join the Marines", I said. The Gunnery Sgt. seated behind the desk, looked up at me, and without a word, rose, picked up his coffee mug and walked to the coffee pot in the rear of the room.
Filling his mug he slowly drank some, and leisurely returned to his seat behind the desk. Handing me an application form and pointing to a row of desk chairs, he said, "Here, fill this out and return it to me." Thus began the process that made me part of the special brotherhood of Marines.
At my first duty station, Brooklyn Navy Yard, I learned there are two types of Marines, the 'Old Corps' and 'Boots'. Old Corps are those who have served 8 years or more. Boots are still 'wet behind their ears'. In the Navy Yard I was in a barracks with real 'Old Corps' who we call 'Retreads', (man who had been reenlisted for limited duty). These old boys had seen action in Nicaragua and China but had to answer the call so Boots could go to the front lines.)
Incidentally they had become professional poker players. There was also an early casualty from the war awaiting medical discharge. Having manned the pre-war defenses in Iceland and The Galapagos Islands he was injured when the Gunboat Erie was torpedoed. The Naval Hospital at St. Albans had patched him up but he was no longer fit for combat duty. It was a sad day when he said goodbye and was escorted in his civvies to the main gate.
At another duty station I stood at attention while the general pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross on three pilots, defenders of Midway Island. Standing with me were some of the Guadalcanal Veterans, returned from the tropical island fighting. Glad to be alive (without medals) and proud of the pilot brothers being honored.
Warrant Officer Robert Woodworth 044553
Naval Aviation Observer Radar
In The Dark
I went to MCRD in 1972 and after the first 24 hours had only what Uncle Sam issued me as possessions. The uniforms, footlocker, seabag and two combination locks (a long and short hasp). After being 'picked-up' by a dozen bloodthirsty Drill Instructors we were placed in our first phase hut right off the parade ground.
We had been told that we were responsible for remembering the combination numbers and expected to open them in the dark if needed. Sure enough, in the middle of the night the door opened and we were ordered to get up and out! In virtual darkness we opened our footlockers, dressed and got out.
I have a personal habit of keeping everything I ever got and when I made my last move to a new house, (using the VA benefits once again, what a wonderful country we have!), I found a 40 year old rusted, long hasp combination lock among all my Marine Corps stuff.
You guessed it. Without a seconds hesitation I turned it 19 right, 21 left and 36 right. Just like this nation of ours, it still works and popped right open.
Sgt. Kevin Kjornes
'72 - '76
Let me start off by saying that I find it insulting that you would accuse another Marine, whom you do not know, nor have ever met, of lying about their service. I served my country faithfully for 8 years, and am quite proud of it. I served with many great Marines, and to be honest, even today I have a hard time even trying to recall their names.
I have always had trouble remembering things, it is part of my life. I can't tell you what I had for dinner 2 nights ago, but I can tell you step by step how to disassemble every gun I have ever owned. Such is life. Who are you to step in and accuse me of lying? So I don't remember who was in my platoon. BIG DEAL! I had WAY too many things to worry about at that time, like how to not p-ss off my DIs! I was a scrawny 19 year old that was told even at MEPS that I would be lucky if I was able to make it.
I had a medical condition called "flat footed", and for those who know it, it is a B-TCH to deal with when going on our little hikes. Especially Mount Mother F---er. But, I pushed and pushed until I got a waiver.
As for my comment on being "attached to platoon 2076", well since these platoons only have you for 13 weeks, I figure I can't exactly call it "my platoon". It is a term used to describe. A simple word. So what if you haven't heard it used before. Pardon me for actually being one of the Marines in the world who actually have and USE their brain. And yes, when I was in it was called BASIC TRAINING. We were not called "boots" by the DI, we were called "recruits". H-ll our senior DI didn't even let us be called privates. SSGT Vreeland said that until we completed BASIC TRAINING that we were not Marines, and couldn't be considered privates yet!
So Mr. McManigal (I would call you by rank, but you never included it) I respectfully say bite your tongue sir before you go calling someone out that you do not know. I take deep offense to you calling THIS Marine a liar! This young "W. Tomerlin" is CPL Tomerlin, USMC, 1986-1994, (of course at 43 years of age I don't consider myself young anymore). Basic Training - PLT 2076 Served in - 4th Maint BTN, 4th FSSG
Note: That's it. No more about remembering. I only remember one of my DI's names. I don't remember any of the names from my platoon. I talked nightly for weeks to the recruit below me. He wanted to jump the fence at MCRD San Diego and make his escape. He didn't run, but I do not remember his name. What I do remember a lot about is Vietnam, names, places, events. A group of them are my best friends to this day. So I guess by some standards I am a phony.
I am a fan of your newsletter. I enjoy reading all the exploits of my fellow MARINES. I did my time in the Corps with Low Altitude Air Defense Battalions. I have become saddened recently to notice that like many M.O.S's of the past, LAAD is slowly going away. I guess the Corps doesn't need any air defense, LOL.
Our motto was "If it flies, it dies!" One really funny story I have to share. In June of 97, while we were preparing for the 22nd MEU the Navy gave us a lift to Onslow Beach. Wouldn't you know it the navy can't read the tide to well. I got the pleasure to watch a dragon wagon go submarine! After much cussing and hollering they finally got the thing pulled out of the Atlantic. To all my fellow MARINES, Semper Fi and God Bless.
Brian K. Leonard
Staff Sergeant of Marines
Oct 1994-April 2004
Proudly served with 1 Stinger Battery,
2nd LAAD and 4th LAAD.
Dear Sgt Grit,
Was stationed in Headquarters Marine Corps-Supply at a warehouse in Arlington, VA, right across from where Crystal City was being built in 1965. Three warehouses next to each other, we were in the middle. I think York Refrigeration on one side and a mill work place on the other side. Our neighbors liked the Marines, as we were patrolled 24/7 by security, due to the fact we were military.
We had drivers drop off gear after 4:30 and had to accept it as we were military, and we worked for a candy assed retired M/Sgt, who was a yes man to everyone. Some of the delivery people should have been behind bars and were surely characters. They were usually driver's helpers and were wanna-bees, One pulled a knife on our mustang 2ndLt. and the Lt. ran into the office and the gang banger laughed and pumped his fist.
I was holding a crowbar moving some gear to get a fork lift blade under it. The Lt. comes flying out of the office - jumps off warehouse into delivery bay, and points a loaded .45 pistol at the sh-t bird, and says, "If you would like to reach your next birthday, get the f-ck outta here pronto."
We had drivers who backed in rigs loaded with hundreds of IBM punch cards that had to be unloaded by hand. Boxes had to be stacked on pallets a certain way so that they did not fall off during moving them.
One carrier ,Jacob's Transfer, carried anything as they were a contract carrier. One driver told us a story that he was transporting a shipment from the Baltimore docks to D. C. and he did not know he had a sedated elephant in the truck who woke up p-ssed and almost overturned rig on highway. Some drivers helped us unload and others did not. Needless to say the warehouse boys got muscles and were in good shape. H-ll I was asked how often I went to gym!
The mill work place had nice people who helped us if we needed something. Usually we needed to borrow tools. One day our Staff NCO, a licensed locksmith, decided to fix the warehouse entry door which still had the original lock from WWII. He took it apart and could not put it together again. We left him at 5 and he had to call the GSA locksmith to put it back. He got his reaming by the Naval Annex when they got a bill.
One of the mill work secretaries was married and had a boyfriend at her place of work. We left one day at 5, and her husband came in and shot wife and boyfriend, and then killed himself. Two Marines that left late had to speak to Police the next day.
We had civilians who came down to retrieve supplies for certain groups. One guy, Huey, played Hearts with us lunch time, and as a rule we got along with everyone. Sometimes we had to work in the Naval Annex if they were shorthanded, and met the people who we were sending the supplies to. Headquarters Marine Corps Naval Annex was a huge place. Now they are tearing it down as time marches on.
P.S. We had cases of blank forms, WIA and KIA, when I arrived in 1965. We sent a few a week of each type and sometimes they lasted longer. I was at Naval Annex and the WIA/KIA section was a small array of desks and a few Marines. When I left they were a whole wing and a staff of a lot of civilians and Marines. HOW SAD!
The FLIGHT LINE
Written By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
A majority of the following info has been extracted from info provided in the USMC Combat Helicopter Associations Chronology of MARINE Helicopters in Vietnam, 1962-1975.
The first MARINE CORPS helicopters to serve in Vietnam arrived just four months after the first American helicopters were deployed. In mid-April of 1962, a Sikorsky UH-34D crew from Lt Col Archie Clapp's HMM-362 touched down on a World War II Japanese fighter strip 3 miles from Soc Trang, south west of Saigon, in the Mekong Delta. They were first in. Thirteen years and fifteen days later on 30 April, 1975 a HMM-164 CH-46D crew lifted the last American out of Vietnam. The MARINE combined security force for Operation FREQUENT WIND. They were last out.
Operation SHUFLY was initiated with the deployment of HMM-362 into Soc Trang and HMM-362 (Reinf.), assisted by HMM-261, both from the amphibious assault ship USS Princeton (LPH-5). It was ashore by mid-afternoon and ready to accept missions by the following day. HMM-261 returned to the USS Princeton as the SLF (Special Landing Force) Squadron.
HMM-362 (reinf) included 24 recently overhauled UH-34D Helicopters, a detachment of 3 OE-1's from VMO-2, one R4D and 50 additional maintenance personnel. The first helicopter-borne assault with ARVN troops was conducted 6 days later. Two days following that, HMM-362 suffered the first combat damage to a UH-34D during OPERATION NIGHTINGALE when a bullet pierced and oil line in the Engine Compartment.
During May HMM-362 flew its first night Medevac. The EAGLE FLIGHT tactic developed by HMM-362 was first employed on Jun. 18th. An EAGLE FLIGHT employed 4 troop-loaded UH-34D's orbiting a tactical area to engage escaping VC. The first joint USMC, US ARMY, VNAF assault mission took place in July.
The policy of rotating squadrons into Vietnam every 4 months started in Aug 1962 when HMM-163 relieved HMM-362. The first mounting of 30 Cal. M-60 machine guns on a UH-34D occurred in Aug, inside the cargo hatch. HMM-163 suffered their first battle damage 18 days later. In September, three UH-34D's were hit by small arms fire and a crew chief was wounded , thereby becoming the first MARINE helicopter aircrew causality of the war.
In early 1963, HMM-162 relieved HMM-163. The practice of rotating squadrons three times per year provided units with invaluable combat experience prior to the large scale deployments that started in 1965. HMM-162 conducted a major lift of 300 ARVN troops into three LZs (Landing Zones) 15 miles West of Da Nang. This area would be revisited many times in the next 10 years. Also, in Mar. of this same year three H-34's from HMM-162 would deliver suppressive fire on the enemy during an ARVN troop lift. This action was the first recorded instance of a MARINE helicopter providing close air support in actual combat.
This Is What Happens
I have written you before on occasion but here is another story for you.
I work as a Security Guard at a Casino. I like this job because it gives me the opportunity to talk to people. One of my favorite things is that I make it a point to talk to every single person I see with a Veteran type cover. I have met the most wonderful people and we have discussed a lot of history of all our Armed Forces.
The other night I see an old man sitting at a slot machine by himself wearing a reasonably new Black Cover with a Big Marine Corps Emblem on the front. I walk up to the man and I say to him. "Tell me about that cover." He was hard of hearing and I had to repeat it. He says, "My son bought me this hat for my 88th birthday." I said so it was your son that was a Marine. The old man says No I was the Marine but the story behind the hat was that my son bought it for me. I said to him where did you serve and he said that he was in WWII. I asked where he was at during the war hoping to get a way cool story out of this seeming tight lipped person. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me and asked me why I wanted to know about him and his military service. I showed him my USMC tie clasp and told him I was a GySgt with 23 years of active duty service and that I love talking to people that were actually in the places that I have only read about. He looked at me and said that he was all over The Pacific theater and in many parts and places of the war.
I tried to push it further and asked him if he would be more specific. He sat there for a moment looking down then he looked back up to me he had tears in his eyes and I watched them run down both of his cheeks. I thought Oh Sh-t I just made this old man start crying right here in the Casino. He says to me, "I am just over 88 years old and I hope you understand GySgt., but even after all this time I just can't make the words come out." "I would love to sit here and discuss the things I have done and seen with you but every time I try this is what happens." "My wife passed away never knowing and my son will probably never know because of it." I assured him that I did in fact understand and thanked him for trying. I went and got him a coffee and that was the end of it. But I couldn't help but wonder what this man had been through that he still gets choked up after all these years.
I do know he was genuine and not a poser. I have met a few of them and can pick them apart real easy. One of my favorite Peas is that you never under estimate people especially the older folks because you have no clue what those people have been through in their lives. You go through your life and when you walk past an old man on the street and you have no clue that he might be one of the most decorated people that you will ever see right here on the street in your own home town.
To all of you older folks out there. Wear your cover so that we know that you were there, if you don't have one please buy one, and if you can and have some time please let us talk to you about your time in. You are our history and what better gift can you give than to share those experiences with us younger folks. Yes I know I say younger folks and I myself am 57 but you know what I mean.
I write all these stories down from all the people I have met and the dates that they were told to me. I never write down names cause they aren't important and no one will ever see what I write because it is just for me. I'm not trying to make a buck from you I just love to hear it from your very mouth and in person. Maybe someday these words I write will end up somewhere because two of my own sons were Marines but that is still yet to be played out.
Thanks Again GY. Mac
Once again a very outstanding newsletter in keeping with the highest traditions of the United states Marine Corps.
Well I just received my most recent order from the Sgt. Grit Marine Corps products store. I ordered the 2 blade and 3 blade pocket knives that you started advertising a couple of weeks ago. I was somewhat surprised that they came in such a nice display box. The knives are absolutely great. They have a great look and weight to them. I will most likely never use them and just pass them down to my son who wants to join the Corps. He has a room made out with all kinds of Marine adds, posters, blankets, pillows, clothing and boots. So once again thank you for very good quality display boxes and great pocket knives.
The comment about Joe S--- the ragman brought back memories. We had of course like all Marines one or two Marines who seemed to always have issues with keeping themselves together. We always referred to them as Joe S--- the ragman. Then we had one of the squad who had a problem with hemorrhoids. He went to sick call and they set him up for surgery and cut them out. He had to change his 'pad' every couple of hours and we were all relentless on him, with him being the new Joe S--- the Ragman.
When I was on the rock and after we made our float to the Nam and many other scenic hot spots to tour several of us were waiting to rotate back to the world. Of course like all good Marines we all had short timer trackers. I had one of the women numbered off and the final number being in the oh so sweet a spot. I used my favorite short timer saying, "I am so short I have to repel into my boots each morning" or "I am so short I can walk under a match stick". There were as many short timer sayings as Marines I believe.
Being on the rock at Camp Schwab was in some ways enjoyable. The little cabs that waited outside the gate to drive us to the village were some crazy drivers. We would get in barely able to get four full size U.S. Marines in the cab and we would tell the cabbie hub-a-hub-a and man you had better be holding on. They drove fast and on both sides of the road regardless of traffic. You took your life into your hands each time. They gave you a real white knuckle ride every time.
Well keep up the good work Sgt. Grit you do a great job and have a great store.
SSgt. Joseph E, Whimple
U.S.M.C. 2-70 / 12-76
1/8 K-Bay, 2/9 Camp Schwab, 8th Marines Camp Lejeune, M.C.A.S. Yuma RCCRTG-10, M.C.R.D. 1st Recruit Training Blt., 29 Stumps. To name a few.
Can't Buy That Kind of Fun
Buckner Bay, Okinawa... 1959, might've been 1960... at any rate, we (2/1/9) were, along with the rest of the 3rd MarDiv, were a'fixin' (Tennessean for 'about to') float on over to Taiwan (Formosa) for Operation Blue Star... this was a huge deal, involving the most ships that had been assembled in one place since the end of WWII... 150+, from memory.
H&S 2/1 was either on an APA (Okananogan), or an LPH, Princeton... forget which, but the 106RR Platoon spent time on both ships during the op. We had boarded, salty devils that we were, having been aboard ship at least once before (USNS Hugh N. Gaffey... San Diego to Naha), and there were ships as far as the eye (four, in my case...) could see. Being nautical types, and never mind the significance of the 'fouled anchor' on our beloved Emblem, we were doing 'one-up-manship' drills on identifying the various ship types that we could see (AO's, AE's. APA. AKA., LSD...etc.) There were a lot of them!
Trying to be helpful, this slightly post-pubescent Sailor (the acne was a clue...) having overheard us, decided to pitch in with his vast knowledge of the ships of the U.S. Navy... "That one over there?... the APA?... that's an Amphibious Personnel Assault ship... and over there? The AKA? that's an Amphibious Cargo Assault ship... the AO... that's an 'oiler'... a fuel ship."
So Wally asks the guy... "well, what's an A-P-E?"... the squid thinks a moment, then replies "well, that'd be an Amphibious Personnel Escort"... Wally, bless his heart, tells the sailor... "Nah... that's a big monkey... just like we just made out of you..."
We actually 'went over the side' off the Okanogan at night... four of our BAT (Battalion Anti-Tank) M38A1C jeeps with 106mm recoilless rifles mounted were lowered over the side by Navy winch crews, and lined up on the starboard side of a LCM. The Bn Motor T Chief, an Acting Gunnery Sgt we knew as "Gunny Meany" (actually, Gunny Amy... good guy, but a stickler on Preventative Maintenance) had his Bn MT Chief Jeep and trailer on the port side. It was pretty interesting... the Navy put some kind of red filter on all the ship floodlights, and once we were away from the ship and looking back... it couldn't be seen.
We'd never done an actual salt-water landing with our gun jeeps, so all the way in to the beach, we're listening to the GY, about first gear, low range, pull the throttle cable all the way out, get out of the way once you're above the water line, etc... etc...
We got to the beach, the LCM (aka 'Mike Boat') grounded, and the ramp dropped... and off the starboard side came four BAT jeeps, with crews and fording gear, no stalls, no other problems... and then it's time for the Bn MT Chief to bring his rig ashore. Seems the sand under the ramp was not even... there was a deep hole on the port side... and Gunny Meany went roaring off the ramp... interesting part was, that even though all his gear, in WP (Willie Peter... for Water Proof) bags were ultimately OK... the headlights on his Jeep continued to shine... even though his Jeep was nearly upside down and stuck in the hole in front of the port side of the ramp! I think Shore Party yanked the Jeep out with a dozer... Lord, I feel sorry for civilians sometimes... you can't buy that kind of fun!
Push Ball?... Sunday afternoons, MCRD SD, 1957... platoon vs. platoon... ball in that case was over 6' in diameter, inflated... object to move it over opponent's line... anything went, several went to sickbay, some to dental on Monday... field was between the O-course and the baseball stadium...
Blackboard fingernails... for the generations before 'white' boards and 'dry erase' boards, 'blackboards' were big flat thingies hung on the wall and written on with chalk, and were made of slate... fingernails drug across that surface were guaranteed to set teeth on edge, make hair hurt, and cause varicose veins in earlobes... and a couple of equivalents for Marines of a certain age are the terms "TDY" and "KP", (both appearing in the 11 July submissions)... both are sister service terms, as is the nauseating (when used by a Marine) term "Re-Up"... Marines use "TAD" (Temporary Additional Duty), not a contraction of Temporary Duty, and it's "Mess Duty"... not KP for "Kitchen Police" (the Navy is close with "Mess Cooking", however for those temporarily assigned to labor in the mess/dining facility, and we in the Naval Services 'Ship Over', not 're-up'. You'd sooner call your DI 'Sarge' than use those terms in my presence...
"He shows the Resolute countenance of a Marine who just went through H-ll and has lit his cigarette on the tines of the Devils pitchfork."
--( A Marine Serving in Iraq or Afghanistan)
"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly."
--American author and poet Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
"I believe in an America where the free enterprise system flourishes for all other systems to see and admire -- where no businessman lacks either competition or credit -- and where no monopoly, no racketeer, no government bureaucracy can put him out of business that he built up with his own initiative."
--President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
"A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them for a century."
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive."
"The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave."
"A Marine will dive into the Jaws of Death and bring back the Jaw Bone."
--(WWII era Comedian whose Brother was a Marine)