This was the all state (Arizona) 1964 MCRD. PLT 354.
Heroes of Guadalcanal
In my 86th Year, I sometimes let my mind wander back to the days when I first met the Heroes of Guadalcanal, they were still heroes then. Every Marine admired those that went first, who were left on the island with not enough food or medical supplies. They were commanded by the best of the best, finally beating an enemy, though the Secretary of War and the Chiefs of Staff had all but written them off. Admiral Turner had withdrawn all his ships regardless of the fact that all supplies had not been off loaded. The Marines landed with less than a 30 day's supply though 90 days was suppose to be the norm. They fought with 1903 rifles and World War I ammunition. There were great Medal of Honor recipients that came out of that battle with names that are still recognized, but many do not really know who or why. Mitchell, Basilone, Bailey, Bauer, Casamento, Edson, Foss. There were Marine heroes that the names are hardly recognized, like LtCol. Frank Goetige, Barney Ross, Charles Arndt, Frank Few and Joseph Spaulding.
Of course we all remember Chesty Puller whose Commander was Alexander Vandergrift who become the Commandant of the Marine Corps and is maybe one of the reasons the Marine Corps was saved by his, "On bended Knee" speech to Congress.
I remember old Marines talking about Chesty Puller, about him diving in a bomb shelter when a shell landed nearby and nearly burying him, and his cussing when he pulled himself out about how any Marine that violated fire discipline on the Canal, would be put in the listening post which was outside the wire.
Marines write in about Marines they met that fought at Iwo Jima, but none about the first that fought at Guadalcanal. I have a small box that was given to me by a friend who returned to Guadalcanal and scooped a small box of sand from the beach. It is my box of Sacred Soil. I also have a box of sand from Iwo Jima that is sacred too. One of the greatest times in my life was when I went to the 200th Birthday Celebration at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. There on the stage was at least 10 Medal of Honor recipients. The thrill was because each was wearing his Medal. I served under eight Commandants of the Marine Corps, I think that Gen. Thomas Holcomb and Gen. Alex Vandergrift were by far the greatest of them all. I knew PX Kelly when he was a Captain. I fixed the pistol he was going to shoot in the Marine Corps matches. I recently saw a drawing by a Marine Illustrator of a Marine coming out of Fallujah. It reminded me so much of the drawing of a Marine coming out of Guadalcanal entitled "Too Many, Too Close, Too Long" drawn by Donald L. Dickson. Here's copies of both pictures.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau,
Sgt Grit's 10th Annual Gritogether
Come join us for a day full of fun, free food, laughter, and memories on 1 June 2013, from 1000-1400. The After Party will kickoff at 2000 at the Best Western Plus Saddleback Inn & Conference Center in Oklahoma City.
Reserve a room at a discounted rate of $89.95! Call (405) 947-7000 by April 15th, 2013, and mention that you are with Sgt Grit.
For more info, visit our Gritogether page.
Never Ate Duck
I remember one time in boot camp at Parris Island when our platoon screwed up somehow (I can't remember exactly how) when the D.I. SSgt. Freeman said, "today you're eating duck ladies!" Well I never ate duck, so I was anticipating the new taste that I would experience. The experience was walking the chow line filling up your tray and ducking out the back door emptying the whole tray in the trash can without eating a thing.
I can remember SSgt. Freeman laughing outside saying, "how'd you like my duck girls?" A quick wake up call to the Marine Corps.
L/Cpl. Ken Kruger
First off, I want to thank you for all you do for all of us Marines. I appreciate every newsletter and catalog I get from you. Even my wife enjoys them!
I received an email from my co-worker whose uncle was at Iwo Jima and took a picture of the famous moment when the flag was raised with his own camera. He attached a copy of the photo and supplied some details to go with it. I attached his email (below) and the photo. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This is an unofficial picture of the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, raised 2/23/1945. My Uncle, PFC Fred Dean, was there delivering supplies and retrieving wounded and dead when they weren't pinned down. He states the iconic picture we know was an AP photo op.
Photo was taken with an old Kodak "Brownie" camera. This was what it looked like moments after the pole was placed vertical from the opposite side of the crest of the mount. The first picture he took didn't turn out. It was the moment the flag pole got placed vertical. D-mn shame. Glad to have this one. Will be sending a copy to Parris Island. Grandson (Jeff Briggs Jr.) graduates 4/05/13. Grandma and Old Pops will be there.
This Cannot Be Good
I was a member of the MarDet of the USS ST. Paul in 1970. Our ship had just returned from a WestPac tour, and the ship was back home at the 32nd Street Naval Base in San Diego.
One evening I decided to go to the base theater to see the movie "The Sand Pebbles". Back then, civilian clothes were not allowed while stationed aboard ship, so I attended the movie in my green dress uniform. I recall the theater was full and that I was the only Marine in attendance, all of the Sailors were in their blues. While watching the movie, suddenly the film was stopped and the house lights came on. Down the middle aisle comes the Navy Shore Patrol escorting a young lady to the front of the theater. The Shore Patrol then started walking up the aisles looking intently into the audience. What is this all about? Well, this Sailor stops where I am sitting and points his billy club at me and says "Come with me". This cannot be good. In my mind I'm thinking all of the Sailors around me are thinking that I must be the culprit of whatever this is all about.
Well, I'm walked up to the front of the theater where this young lady is sobbing next to the Petty Officer in charge of the Shore Patrol. The Petty Officer then says to the girl, "is this the man?" She looks at me and says, "no." I'm then told to go back to my seat. As it turned out, I found out later that this girl and her boyfriend were supposedly assaulted earlier that night by a Marine while on base. I remember going back to my seat and getting a lot of accusing stares from the swabbies around me.
I've seen "The Sand Pebbles" a time or two since then and I'm always back in that theater.
For 33 Years I've spent my life as a United States Marine! And what a life it was! My life started May 17th, 1979, Platoon 1033, 1st Bn, A Co, then to Combat Training School at Camp Lejeune. Then to French Creek, 2nd Marine Force Recon Battalion. Got a whole bunch of Med Cruises, deployments, and even more westpacs. I've seen peace! And I've seen a lot of combat. I mean a lot of combat! But, if God gave me the chance to be 18 again, I would do nothing different except to stay in for 40 Years. God bless the United States Marine Corps for making me the man I am today. Thank You.
Master Gunnery Sergeant
Richard A Howell III
May 17th, 1979 - August 20th, 2012
In the late 60's and 70's some of the Few and the Proud attended the Defense Language Institute, West Coast Branch in Monterey, California (DLIWC) to undertake an intense language program to learn to speak, read, and write the three different dialects of Vietnamese. I am one of those few and very proud Marines that had the distinguished opportunity and pleasure to represent our Corps during a 12-week training program that enabled us to learn South, North, and Montagnard ("mountain people") languages from indigenous instructors. The school was under the auspices of the US Air Force. You can imagine being a Marine, the duty assignment was not as strict as what we were used to after graduating from Plt 237, 2nd Battalion, Parris Island on 6/5/70, and then going through ITR (Infantry Training Regiment, Camp Lejeune, and then advanced training at Camp Pendleton. We spent 8 to 10 hours daily studying lesson plans, speaking drills, writing drills and listening to countless tapes during our time in the barracks.
We were also embedded with various other high ranking military as well as political personnel (congressmen, admirals, etc.) who were also on-board to learn these languages. With the high level brass around, we all stayed very "squared away" at all times. Standing in formation for inspections conducted by the Air Force was funny because with all the Irish Pennants I saw on the clothing of non-Marine Corps personnel, none of them would have come close to passing a Marine Corps inspection. I attended the DLIWC and graduated class on January 18, 1971. During my training, I became close to fellow Marines that I have long remembered (i.e., Ong Sgt Shindler, Ong Pvt Notro, Ong Pvt Probst, Ong Pvt Winchester, Ong Pvt Ostlund, Ong Pvt Diggs). Our instructor/tutors were Ba Thuy, North Vietnamese Hanoi dialect and Ba Van, South Vietnamese Saigon dialect. Some classmates had already been to Vietnam and were on their way back, and others were awaiting orders and duty assignments to units already in Nam. All of us were eager to employ this newly learned skill of the Vietnamese language and dialects to help us better assist and serve our brothers in arms as interrogators/interpreters. I have since longed to know what happened to many of these fine gentlemen that I and you call our Marine brothers. That was a long time ago, but never will I forget these dedicated Marines that took on this special and unique assigned responsibility to stand exceptionally tall and represent our US Marine Corps values of honor, courage, and commitment.
I am sure there were many lives that were and continue to be saved because of the language(s) that these fine men endeavored to learn. I salute all those who have served in a similar capacity and hope that some of those men I have noted above know how proud I am to have served with each of them. More recently, I have reunited with Ong Joe Notro who was one of these fine young Marines. We plan to get together and have a few drinks and a meal while remembering and savoring our past.
Semper Fi and may God bless our Marine Corps
SSGT Bruce E. Brown
(Ong Bao) Vietnamese name given me by Ba Van (Mrs. Van for those that don't speak Vietnamese)
A Bit Faded
Sgt. Mike Alu, Platoon 2048, PISC
I believe SSgt. F.X. Muldowney is the Drill Instructor at the left in your platoon portrait. Senior Drill Instructors wore the garrison belt instead of the cartridge belt. Check it out, he was my Senior D.I., Platoon 2003, probably just before picking up your platoon. I was the platoon artist and given the task of painting Guantanamo Bay as seen from the sky. I guess Moe, as other Drill Instructors called him, was pleased with the painting, since I wasn't supplied anything to work with except a sheet, Q-Tips, mud, yellow Magic Markers, etc. It's a bit faded, but to the left it reads, First In The Air, On Land And Sea. I always regretted not doing a better job, but I had to improvise with what I could dig up. Note the trophies on the stacked rifles and streamers on the guidon. SSgt. Muldowney wouldn't have it any other way, but to be the BEST in the series.
Sgt. Joe Alvino
Chow Lines On A Carrier
The chow lines on a carrier could be sometimes monumental. The chow itself was nothing to write home about. Occasionally, our detachment would have a small recon squad to make a raid on the officer's mess. I don't know how they did it, but they would return with large canned hams and a dozen loaves of bread.
In our lower compartment, it would all be laid out. After opening the large tins, the hams would be sliced with bayonets, and everyone feasted on the b--ty.
I believe the term used was comshawing.
USS Randolph CVS-15
My New Best Friends
Thanks for everything, Sgt. Grit. My new Iwo Statue is sitting in my front window.
Back in '68 when the Bob Hope show played at Da Nang, I spent the night before sleeping in my poncho by the side of the road and woke up in the middle of a huge puddle, but I was nearly first in line for the show. That's when I was told I would need a ticket. Evidently, tickets to the show were given to the Air Force (Gunfighter's Village) and the 2nd Marine Air Wing. My unit, 1st LAAM, was attached to the Air Wing, but we never got any tickets or at least not any of us lowly enlisted types.
I climbed Freedom Hill outside the razor wire to the center above the stage which put me about 400 yards away. The show had just started when a Recon patrol came up out of Happy Valley and sat down next to me wanting to know what was going on. I told them about the Bob Hope Show (the Gold diggers, Ann Margaret, a comedian, and a beautiful blonde singer whose names I can't recall, etc.) When their leader asked me why I was sitting so far back, I explained about the "ticket" thing. He let that sink in for about 10 seconds until he said, "F-ck that Sh-t!" He signaled to his platoon and the wire cutters came out. We were through the wire in seconds and moving around the back of the seating area toward the stage. There was an open area between the stage and seats of about 40 feet and that's where we ended up.
As we arrived, the MP's spotted us and started to move in but my new "Best Friends" stared them down and they left us alone. Soon, that whole area was filled with other non-ticket holders. The MPs stood between us and the stage, but no one tried to get to the stage or cause any trouble - we all just enjoyed the show in our standing-room only area.
Several years ago, Ann Margaret did a show at the Grand Sierra Resort Casino where I was a Security Officer. I was her personal escort from the show back to her room. My only regret is that I was so intent on doing my job that I forgot to thank her for her Da Nang show so many years before. (Not related - I also got to escort, at other times, Olivia-Newton John and Taylor Swift).
Cpl. William Reed
1st LAAM, Da Nang '68-'69
Who Wants To Call Home
Dear Sgt Grit:
I worked with some Marines, old and young, with some tales of yesteryear - some do not know if what they were told in Boot Camp was real or a tall story by the D.I.s!
The old Marines remember that the Drill Instructors could manhandle you all they wanted. Some Recruits were really bounced around and needed medical attention - as soon as they got to sick bay the Docs notified the Marines and usually some Lt. or Capt. investigated. Most recruits said they fell or were not paying attention to training, and these recruits were given special attention and graduated properly for their loyalty - or should I say maybe fear of repercussions?
One story told to me by a guy who was in the 60's riot, and if you went to Boot Camp either in P. I. or the West Coast you will laugh at the following. You had three D. I.'s and usually one was a real sadistic SOB, and the other two were usually more considerate but firm!
One day when the mean one was addressing the recruits in a grab azs session in the squad bay he asked out of the blue, "Who wants to call home?" My friend Vinnie was almost raising his hand, but being a recruit and seeing what was likely to be misled more than once, and knowing what it was like to be buried with criticism and humiliation, Vinnie did not raise his hand but 5 others did. The D.I. wrote down the names and told them to be sure they memorized the telephone number they wanted to call and he woke them at 2 A. M., and took them outside by the back lawn, and told them to call their girlfriends, wives, or mothers. One recruit said, "Sir, where is the phone? And will we need money for the call?" The D.I. asked him, "Where do you live private num-nuts? And who said anything about a telephone?" The recruit said, "Pennsylvania." The D.I. said, "You better yell loud, because we are in South Carolina and she is a few states away!" He started yelling at the top of his lungs at 2 A. M., and the others did too. It woke up the whole series. The D.I.s were all almost p--ing in their pants and almost crying. They laughed so hard. The series Lt. was laughing his b-tt off too! The guys were shouting at the top of their voices. Naturally, no one asked to call home after that!
More stories to follow as I get my Marines to part with the best of the memories!
Told to me by a Marine named Vinnie from the 60's.
I just finished SSgt. Nygaard"s story about Competition Drill in '53 at MCRD San Diego. I smiled when he related the story of the Corporal in the receiving barracks.
I arrived in Diego on a Saturday evening via the Santa Fe RR from LA. After being yelled out, etc. that night, we were awakened Marine Corps receiving barracks style. Well, two Marines, one being a short Corporal yelled attention and came in. We had been told how to stand at attention and keep our eyes locked straight ahead. A big stocky recruit was standing at the door smiling and looking at the Corporal. This Corporal immediately reached up and smacked him in the jaw. You could have heard a pin drop. Honestly, we all were impressed with what we just witnessed.
I wonder if this Cpl. was the same guy mentioned in Nygaard's story. I bet he was. He obviously made quite an impression. Those events took place 60 years ago.
Bill Morenz 1392831 USMC
Figured Us Out
On September 21, 1964, about 20 recruits from Minnesota were sent to Parris Island. We were Marine Air Wing Reserves. Our "herd" was assigned to Platoon 286, K Company, 2nd RTBN. There were 7 regular recruits in Platoon 286, the rest were reserve recruits. A majority of the reserve recruits were Air Wing Reserves. The 286 recruits were from Boston, New York City, and Minnesota. A number of the reserves were college graduates. I remember standing near the hatch, in the first week of training, and hearing our Senior DI say to one of the Jr DIs, "What the f--k are we going to do with these guys?" Platoon 286 took the rifle range, and was the Honor Platoon. After we had graduated, our Senior DI, Staff Sergeant Frank Moser, told us we had presented a challenge, but he "figured us out". I never knew what that meant.
I have been told that the Minnesota Air Wing Reserves were sent to Parris Island because the training bases were located the East. After graduation, the Air Wing Marines from Plt. 286 were bused from PI to Jacksonville, FL, for Aircraft Familiarization School. Upon completion, some students extended their tours for additional training at the Naval Air Training Center in Memphis, TN.
Sergeant Chan Zuber, USMCR
8/4/64 - 8/4/70
A little history most people will never know. Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010. The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.
There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall. 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger. 8,283 were just 19 years old. The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old. 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old. 5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old. One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was only 15 years old. 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam. 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam. 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall. 31 sets of parents lost two of their sons. 54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. I wonder why so many from one school? 8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded. 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall. Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons. West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall. The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.
The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 - 245 deaths. The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 - 2,415 casualties were incurred.
For most Americans who read this, they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created.
We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, brothers, wives, sons and daughters.
There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.
When the pastor of our Methodist church was on vacation recently, he arranged for a US Navy Chaplain to conduct the service in his absence. The chaplain's sermon centered on becoming an involved Christian, living a Christian life and demonstrating it by leading by example. He told us that since Jesus taught using parables, he was going to do the same and recount some of his experiences while serving on Navy ships. One example he used immediately caught my attention (and made my heart swell with pride). He compared his observations on how Navy and Marine officers chose to lead their subordinates. He described how time after time, he had observed Navy officers "drop by" each day or two to conduct cursory inspections or conversations with the ranking NCO of their section, then tell the chief to "Carry On", then disappear back to their quarters or to the ward room for another day or two. The Marine Corps officers he observed however were constantly with their men - training them, inspecting them, coaching them in what to do and how to do it, and leading them from the front. The chaplain said the Marine officers led by example in all of the training classes and training exercises he observed in which the Marines were involved.
The Chaplain remarked how much he respected the Marine Officers for their discipline, their involvement, and their leadership by example. Then he transitioned to a comparison of how being an effective, involved Christian was to operate like the Marine officer and not the Navy officer.
We Marines are exceptionally proud of the way we conduct ourselves and the manner in which we ALL - enlisted and officers - lead by example. But it's always rewarding to hear unsolicited feedback from members of the OTHER branches of the military, how our actions impressed them and earned their respect. The Few, The Proud, The Best.
Once a Captain of Marines,
and still a Marine!
After reading several stories of recruits being "dropped" from their original platoons, for one reason or another, brought back memories of my own predicament.
I joined the Corps in Oct '65 and did my recruit training at PI in Plt. 1002. Back then Boot was 8 weeks. In week 5 or 6, I developed "shin splints" from all that running on the grinder. They made it very painful to walk, especially first thing in the morning after the calcium had settled into the cracks in your shin bones while you slept. I knew going to sick bay would mean being "set back", and that was the last thing I wanted. So for the remainder of boot camp, I got up a half hour before reveille and walked around the squad bay to break the calcium out of my bones so I could walk almost normal. It worked because I graduated with my platoon, on schedule. I did drop out of the practice 3-mile run so I could make the "official" one a day to two later. That cost me the Dress Blues, according to one of my DI's. But that was a small price to pay for not having to be "put back". I limped my way through ITR and it was all downhill from there.
Sgt. W. Michell
Norway To Turkey
Maybe the rest of the story... regarding 'sweepers'. If you were ever on the USS Thuban (AKA-19) back in the early part of 1957 it actually began like this... (Bosun's whistle over the 1MC) - Now hear this, Now hear this, Reveille, Reveille, all hands heave out and trice up. Sweepers man your brooms. Clean sweep down fore and aft, etc., etc.. Smoking lamp is lit in all berthing compartments.
The first Morse Code I ever learned was dah dit, dah dit dit dah, dah dah dit dah, da dit da (NXQX, the call sign of the Thuban.) I was at the time a PFC, 2531 radio operator, and a signalman striker on the Signal Bridge out of Morehead City on a Med cruise with the entire 6th Marine Regiment (Rein). That convoy was more than 22 ships including 4 APAs, 4 AKAs, 4 LSTs, 4 LSDs, a couple of old DEs converted to APDs, and two submarines. Quite a gaggle especially going into various liberty ports. Operation Deep Water took place as part of a series of concurrent NATO exercises held during the fall of 1957 which were the most ambitious military undertaking for NATO to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey. A wee bit of history.
Regimental Landing Team 6 (Rein) including, among others,
- 3rd Battalion 6th Marines
- 2nd Amphibious Reconnaissance Company
- U.S Marine aviation units embarked on board USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39)
- Marine Fighter Squadron 312 (VMF-312) â€” North American FJ-3/3M Fury
- Marine Attack Squadron 324 (VMA-324) â€” Douglas AD-4B Skyraider
- Marine Attack Squadron 533 (VMA-533) â€” Grumman F9F-8 Cougar
- Marine Aircraft Group 26 (MAG-26)
- Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (Medium) 461 (HMR(M)-461) â€” Sikorsky HRS-3
- Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 262 (HMR(L)-262) â€” Sikorsky HR2S-1
Mustang Major of Marines
I have a question that may be nuts, but I need to set my mind at ease. My now departed husband was an enlistee, trained in San Diego and Camp Elliot and volunteered for special training at a place called Green Farm. Is there anyone who can tell me exactly what this was about. Several years ago we visited the San Diego base and were told that Green Farm no longer existed. Bud seemed disappointed to hear that. By the way, in our 68 years together my Marine spoke of his service time only one time and he talked for hours. Have never forgotten the cleansing effect it seemed to have. He was forever and always proud of his service, but our son came of age during Nam and his Dad's advice was the Navy... he said at least you will have a warm place to sleep and probably 3 squares a day. Our son served a four year hitch, but always yearned to follow in his Dad's footsteps. Now we have a grandson and I pray fervently we will never have to see our youth overseas again. After this current mess is squared away, pray God it never is necessary again. True? Thanks for listening.
That's Right People
GI HUT: Sometimes positive results come from the most negative situations. Our Platoon went on Mess duty about week three. We were assigned to the 2nd Bn. Mess hall even though we were in First Bn. I found myself, along with three or four others, in the GI hut. This is a "wonderful and aromatic" place to work, where all the garbage cans are emptied and the cans are then cleaned. The hut is about 8x8 in area, the walls about 4 feet high with screen the rest of the way up (for the "aromas" to dissipate?). The cleaning is done by placing an empty can upside down over the "Christmas tree" which is over a sump at the corner of the hut. The steam is turned on to the rotating tree and the hut is filled with clouds of hot steam. The second day two men from our Platoon came to empty their garbage can and asked if they could use the sump to relieve themselves because the 2nd. Bn. Mess cooks wouldn't let them make head calls. We threw on a can, cranked up the steam and when the hut was filled they did their thing in the pit. The word got out pretty fast and after that there was a steady stream (no pun intended) of people wanting to "p-ss in the GI hut"! No one was ever caught and we thought we had got away with it.
Fast forward to the last night of Boot Camp. We were all assembled in the "big hut" where Sgt. G. was giving us our MOS, and school or duty stations. He was the only DI that had been with us all the way through from the first day to that last night. He told us that the first day he saw us he had thought we were the sorriest bunch of maggots he had ever been in charge of. "You weren't even a herd cuz' a herd has a leader". He then told us that he had noticed a change for the better in us about week three. "One night I started reading the "book" and came across something very interesting." He then started reading the entry's starting with Akers through to Wyatt and one thing suddenly jumped out to us, they had known about p-ssing in the GI hut, but had never hammered anyone about it. Can anyone see what happened here?" Almost in unison we sounded off, "Sir, p-ssing in the GI hut, Sir!" "That is correct ladies, now does anyone know what "Gung Ho" means?" "Sir, working together, Sir," came the shouted reply and then something remarkable happened, Sgt. G. SMILED and said, "that's right people, you had a common problem and solved it by working together!"
The millionth lesson learned in Boot Camp and we learned it on the last night.
Cpl E4 Selders
I was on the drill field in SDiego '58-'59 as a 3-stripe JDI. I was also on the MCRD Rifle Pistol Team and spent a lot of time at Camp Matthews. Not sure if the same kinds of incidents took place at P.I. or not, but I was present at two separate incidents when recruits were shot and wounded by accidental discharges. The first was a recruit who shot himself in the foot while on the .22 range. His DI and I were chatting with a medic when the line was told to clear their weapons and hang them on the post. One recruit just stood there at port arms and I asked my buddy, "Isn't that one of yours?" He looked over and began the expected tirade about cleaning the weapon and stepping off the line. The recruit came to attention and said, "Sir, the private shot himself in the foot." His DI, Sgt Sam Holt, said, "You Did Whatttt?" The comedy that followed was classic as the medic sprang into action, the recruit was helped off the line and seated on an ammo box. The Pvt had indeed shot himself thru his foot and the bullet passing between two toes was causing some pain and lots of blood. The recruit was sitting on the ammo box with his foot propped up on another while the medic attended to the wound. The recruit came to attention and asked permission to speak, and when was given permission he requested to have a cigarette. At that point, Sam leaned over and screamed at the recruit, "You Just Shot A Hole In Your Inspection Boots Aand You Want A F-cking Cigarrette?" I had to turn around to keep the smile off my face.
The 2nd shooting happened while my platoon was on the pistol range. It was a different series and time, but once again, Sam and I were with our competing platoons. The recruits were shooting the fam course with the 1911's when we heard the command to clear and bench all weapons. All of a sudden there was a BANG followed by the screams of, "I've been hit". Sam and I both looked to see what had happened and I saw one of my recruits on the ground holding his leg. A flurry of action as the medic ran to do his thing, and Sam and I to control the actions of our recruits. The attention was focused on the recruit on the ground when I saw the Pvt next to him was standing kind of at attention and looking pale. I asked what was wrong and he said he had shot himself in the leg. It turned out he had a shot that failed to go into battery and was pushing on the slide with the muzzle pointed down and the shot fired. The bullet went into his leg just below the knee and exited just above his ankle on the outside of his left foot. The bullet bounced off the cement into the thigh of the recruit next to him and knocked him off his feet.
One recruit went to NH Balboa and got an eventual medical discharge and the other had a great sea story to tell with a bruised thigh.
Rocky Kemp - Distinguished Pistol - 1953-63
2/F RTB SDiego
When I went on an Honor Flight to Washington, DC, out of Jacksonville, Florida. (All in one day). I could not resist having my picture taken at our USMC Memorial Statue (since I am an IWO JIMA survivor) and paying tribute with a salute. I also have a miniature of said statue on a shelf above my desk at home. Once a Marine, always a Marine. On another subject which has taken up space in your newsletter lately is my being sent to USMCRD San Diego, despite the fact that I enlisted in New York City which of course is definitely east of the Mississippi.
This was about seven weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Jan. 23, 1942 was my enlistment date in the regulars, and Parris Island was full. So I got a four day train ride (fortunately in Pullman cars) from Penn Station to San Diego. I didn't board in time to get a lower berth, but being only 18, it was no problem to climb into an upper berth. One advantage to the whole thing was that I got travel pay from San Diego back to New York when I was discharged in 1946, and at the time my wife was in Chicago, which is where I disembarked (from the train of course). They weren't flying troops then yet.
Cpl. Bill Daw
Currently in Jacksonville, Florida
We All Did Our Part
Every now and then I see a letter here from some Marine who says he feels somewhat less of a Marine because he spent his whole enlistment stateside and never saw combat. I admit that I have had that feeling too, even though almost half of my 4 years were spent either overseas in 3rd Marine Division, or floating around on one ship or another. I deployed to several "crisis interventions", "show-of-force", or whatever the terminology for that particular event was at the time.
I took part in what came to be known as the "Laos Float", while in 3rd MarDiv, and while in 2nd MarDiv I went to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to show the flag and prevent hostilities, Cuba before the Missile Crisis, and Cuba during the crisis. I earned two Expeditionary Medals, and yet I never heard a shot fired in anger. Perhaps the reason no shots were fired is because we Marines were there ready to shoot if ordered to do so. A line was written by the English poet John Milton, "They also serve who only stand and wait". Whether a Marine spends his whole enlistment behind a desk stateside, or crammed in the bowels of some APA/AKA/LST on some wild goose chase, that must be where the Marine Corps wanted him, or they wouldn't have put him there.
We all did our part, even if it was just waiting. I don't feel the least bit inadequate about my 4 years, nor should any Marine.
Paul Lindner Cpl.
Charlotte Sun newspaper has a daily "almanac" article which lists interesting / major events on that date in history. Today's entry included the factoid that, on this date in 1942, that G.I.s were exempted from paying for postage while overseas. Thought some of you would find that interesting.
I don't know about you, but being from a small city in the Midwest, a great many of the experiences of the Corps were eye-opening and exciting. The novelty of writing "free" in the upper right corner of every envelope was oddly empowering in a way I can't put into words. My mom saved all my letters and it's a "real trip" to glance at the stack and see "free" on the envelope.
Some belated Irish humor to share. Reflecting back to St. Patrick's Day night, with 11th Marines, 1969. We were "in the holes" on 100 percent alert. I recently recounted my friend, Cpl. Terry Toolin and his wandering, cheerful presence as he staggered from foxhole to foxhole, sharing his bottle of MacNaughton's Irish whiskey.
Respect Was Never Given
One of the first episodes of the CBS televised series "Tour of Duty" shows a Platoon Sergeant greeting his new Lieutenant. The Lt. asked him, "Where's your salute, Sergeant?" It takes the Sergeant a long moment before he gives this new Lieutenant a half-hearted salute. This part of the show underscored the fact that in Viet Nam respect was never given it was always earned.
The last Lieutenant I worked with before I left Vietnam was fresh from Quantico, where he was used to having enlisted men salute him. He was quite surprised when I would walk by him and say "How's it going?" instead of giving him the salute he had come to expect in the United States. He took me aside and gave me an unfriendly lecture on the proper military way to conduct myself. He then told the Platoon Sergeant that each time I didn't salute him I would have to fill 100 sand bags.
In three days I was up to several thousand sandbags. At that point I called the Lieutenant over and said, "Look, Lieutenant, I'll be happy to salute you. Really I would, But if I get in the habit of saluting you back here in the rear where it's safe, I just might salute you out in the bush. And those North Vietnamese snipers are just waiting for us to salute and tell'em who the officer is. You'd be the first one blown away." After our little talk the Lieutenant showed he was a man of reason and forgot the salutes and the sandbags. By the time I left Viet Nam the Lieutenant had not only earned my respect, but that of the rest of the Platoon as well. As I turned to leave our hill top position for the freedom bird ride home, I gave him the smartest salute I'd ever given any officer. He flipped me the bird. Years later he paid me a compliment when he wrote that as a radio operator I was "wonderfully skilled, but maddeningly insubordinate".
After the first episode aired, USA Today wrote, "Tour of Duty". "So provocative, definitely has its moments of searing drama. But ultimately, its survival will depend on whether you want to let the Viet Nam War into your living room again."
There are many Veterans who would be happy if their living room was the only place they found the Vietnam war. However the show did provide me a pleasant opportunity to remember my friend who once wanted me to fill sandbags.
B Co. 1/26 Marines
My Heart Is With Them
The brothers memories are alive and well in my home and on my ranger. On a daily basis I salute them all... especially the ones we left behind who are still waiting to come home like they were promised. I was a peace time Marine, but my heart is with them. Salute to all who served and are serving...
Jerry Nealey SR
On the subject of calling cadence, I was an Officer "Candidate" in the 42nd OCC in 1966. When we took our rotated assignments as Candidate Platoon Sgts or Squad Leaders, we were not allowed to call anything but 1-2-3-4 because we had not earned the right to even think about being salty enough. Our Platoon Sgt., SSgt. Keyes had a great yodel cadence call that had the tendency to help us glide. Our Sgt. Instructor, Sgt "Ski" (even if I could remember his full name, I surely couldn't pronounce it) had a bit of a herky-jerky call that produced too much head bobbing, which, being all our fault, brought on the many extra push-ups and squat thrusts.
After graduation, we went to TBS where, among many other things, we got a chance to develop our own methods of calling cadence. A few of us became pretty good at yodeling or singing cadence, but most just developed techniques that were passable enough to avoid screwing up when we marched and practiced drill.
After TBS, I was assigned to 2/13 at Camp Pendleton for about 6 months before receiving orders for Vietnam. I got a little more practice calling cadence when we were involved in a few parades or occasionally when I marched a unit to classes, etc. My orders to FMF WESTPAC also stated that I was to take command of a staging company at Pendleton the month before shipping out. It was not exactly a welcome assignment, but it was what it was. I had 165 Marines, most of whom were just out of ITR, and a handful of NCOs, but only one Staff NCO. While we worked on getting all of the administrative matters in order, we were undergoing familiarization training with the M-16 and all the other classes and training that were supposed to get everyone ready before our flight date which was scheduled for 30 January 1968.
One day after classroom instruction, the NCOs stayed for an additional class just for them. Since there were no Platoon Sgts or Squad Leaders, I formed the Company in mass formation and proceeded to march the Company back to the barracks area about a quarter mile away. After only a little way of calling cadence, I noticed that things were going remarkably well. Just before we entered the barracks area, we passed in front of the Staff NCO Club. It was sometime between 1600 and 1700, so there was a group of Staff NCOs that were just outside the club getting ready to go in. I stopped calling cadence and asked to see chests out and to hear nothing but heels, to which the Company perfectly complied as we marched by.
When I returned the salutes of the NCOs that we passed by, I heard several comments from them â€“ "Looking good", "Well done", "Outstanding", etc. - all directed to these fine young men. When we entered the barracks area, I asked for delayed cadence count. The pride that those young Marines showed sounding off was a sight to see and hear. When I halted the formation in front of the barracks and faced them to me, I complimented them and told them that their D.I.s would be awfully proud of them that day, as I was. Every one of them had big grins on their faces.
A few weeks later we shipped out, and after a couple of days delay on Okinawa, we were the first replacement flight into Da Nang after the airport was secure after the beginning of Tet. To my knowledge, I never saw any of those men again since we were dispersed to all the different units, but I will never forget the Marine pride that I was honored to observe from them. And I live to this day knowing that many of those outstanding young Marines gave all for their country.
John Augustine, 0802
Thanks to all of you for making our wedding so special. Your customer service is stellar. I wanted to share a photo of the bouquet with you and of the custom garter. Thank you again.
Even The Coffee Was Good
In response to SSgt Schwartz about the Korean troops. I can vouch for their behavior in combat - at least some of them. In the early Spring of 1951, we were just south of Wonju when the Chinese started a major push south. The first thing we noticed were the troops headed south, identified as South Koreans, in a state of disregard for discipline or command. There was a rumor some three days later that the 5th Marines were to back-up a Korean Army unit with orders to keep them on the line and to shoot any deserters. I understand that they stayed "on line." This was not uncommon.
This was while we were on our way to play yo-yo at the Imjin river. I lost track of how many times our unit was on one side or the other. At least we had water much of the time. I remember one distinct time we ran out. The water trailer was frozen and one of the more intelligent types built a fire under it. I'm not sure what smoked water tastes like.
One thing I do know is that the Army Tank Companies ate very well. Any time, while on convoy, we would look for a tank company to have a meal with. Running a convoy with a "6-by" loaded with tires, I pulled the group into a tank company for a noon meal. The Mess Sgt. gave permission as long as we waited until they were through the line. As I remember, we had spaghetti and meatballs and marble cake. Even the coffee was good.
GySgt E. H. Tate
Sandflea As Mascots
I am so glad that J.F. Owings wrote in to settle once and for all the debate about the differences between Parris Island and San Diego Marines and the fact that no matter where a Marine is trained, there really are no differences. He cleared up quite a bit about "Hollywood Marines" from their point of view and I would like to do the same for those of us who trained at P.I. I agree the petty bickering must come to an end.
The tropical climate of Parris Island, where temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees while the humidity hovers at around 110 percent really makes no difference in the training. Granted, while I was there in August of 1977 drilling on the grinder, while the tar got so hot our boots melted while standing at attention, could get a bit annoying. Of course at that time our starched Sateens (green utilities for you newbies) became limp as dishrags while the starch from our covers poured down our faces and into our eyes could also bother lesser men, but I understand the noise from a few aircraft could also be extremely bothersome in San Diego. The sandfleas, God's way of keeping men from pausing while training by wracking the entire body with red welts was another common, but acceptable fact of life on The Southern Island of Eden. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that some Companies actually caught, trained and kept larger specimens of the sandflea as mascots. And once and for all, I'd like to put to bed the rumor that the State of South Carolina wanted to name the Parris Island mosquito as the State Bird, having come to the conclusion that it was an insect and not a bird.
During my first tour I was stationed at Camp Pendleton so I know the hills there are not a lot of fun to hump. As for P.I., humping through swamps rumored to be filled with snakes, gators, rats, etc. could be exciting. A special favorite was bedding down for the night in that lovely bloom of nature, especially for some of the guys from places like Chicago and New York City. A really special treat was when it rained... starting in the morning and ending 12 or 15 days later. The extra moisture seemed to bring out every bug in South Carolina. Trying to sleep with the constant buzzing in your ears always kept one especially alert.
I'm not really sure about the argument that "Hollywood" Marines were better looking than P.I. Marines. Maybe it's just me, but I've never seen a male Marine and thought, "Gee, what a dish!" As for the intelligence, I'd have to agree that anyone who went to that little slice of heaven known as San Diego instead of that little slice of hell known as Parris Island was, indeed, smarter.
In the end, we're all Marines. East coast, west coast, it's just a matter of location. The things we all have in common, like Marine Corps training by the best Drill Instructors in the world, Marine Corps values and traditions, make us all brothers. Now, about the difference between Air Wingers and Grunts...
J. A. Howerton II
SSgt USMC (Ret)
Hi Sgt Grit!
Here are pictures of my daughters and my new Semper Fidelis Ambigram Tattoo. I served Mar 13, 1985 to Feb 12, 1997 and she served July 7, 2009 to Dec 31, 2011.
The FLIGHT LINE
Submitted by: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #4, #7, (JULY, 2014)
In the last installment of the Flight Line I talked a little about how hard it was to find info on aviation units because from what I'm to understand there were a lot of records, for one reason or the other, that have been lost and MARINES have been asked to try and fill in the blanks from their memories. Well, I don't know about you, but I can remember some of what we did and what happened, but beyond that I have CRS. Now, I'm like everybody else. I can remember some of the good and most of the bad, but not the in-between. Apparently we're not the only ones either. In fact, I just read somewhere while I was doing research, that of the four major branches of the Armed Forces, "The MARINE CORPS moved by far the fastest of publications of comprehensive multi-volume history of it's involvement in the Vietnam War." The MARINES finished this project in 1997, of the other services, only the Air Force seems finished or close to finished.
Having just made the above statement got me to thinking that if I had something to do and was caught dragging my feet, I would still be doing Push-ups (for my own good, of course). You know what I mean about getting things done. In the Corps there was nothing that would take the back seat to moving forward. Sometimes, even without thought.
I remember early on in the Vietnam war we really could have used some of our A/C equipped with 2.75 inch rockets, but we didn't have any Gun ships (Hueys) so, one of the metal shops fabricated a mount of sorts and it was attached to the right hand side of the aircraft above the two lower landing supports. The entire rocket pod was nestled in this area and attached to the lower two supports and the fuselage. The wiring pigtail was taped to the side of the A/C and then attached to the Pod containing the rockets. Well, after a little thought it was determined that there was no way of sighting these rockets for firing. This problem generated a lot of head scratching until some one came up with the idea of actually taking the A/C out and firing the rockets to see where and how they were going to fly. It was then that a pilot took a grease pencil out of his flight suit pocket and made a circle on the inside of his windscreen and later, he added cross hairs. Talk about being innovative. It only proves that there are some great minds flying Helicopters, but there are also some over diligent mechanics because some over zealous 1st mechanic, or crew chief went, and while cleaning the windscreen, took it upon himself to wipe the sighting device drawing off the windscreen, thus, causing the next pilot the opportunity to re-establish their own aiming point.
Now, I know that this doesn't sound like the way that things should be done, but sometimes in war there are no rules and you have to do what you can, and when you can. I can just imagine an unknowing pilot climbing up in the cock-pit and seeing the "Bomb sites" and yelling down to the crew, "Did anybody take the time to clean this windshield?" And, then begin to chastise the Crew Chief for a dirty windshield. You never knew!
"Knock it off! The Doc is trying to read his Bible." Those were the words accorded to me when I became part of 2nd Mar Div, Able 110, 105 Howitzers. I had just finished my boot camp training as a Marine Corpsman and now had my first assignment with the Marines. It was not a put down of me, or my religion, but a welcome aboard Doc. From that point on I was treated with deep respect and I returned the same. I still meet Marines and they accord me the same respect and kind words.
I am 77 years old and I have not lost my respect and feelings for the Marines. I continue to meet Marines where I work out and they always thank me and I them, for our service and dedication to our Country and each other. We are tight, and in some way blood brothers. I was at a Memorial Service to honor our Marines and others. I went up to the Marines and introduced myself and told them that I could not do what I used to do, but I could do something and told them to call me if they needed me.
There is more to the story, but I will close and just say that I am a better man today having been in the Marines and I will always be a Marine. May God continue to bless the Marines and keep His hand on them to protect us and our Great Nation. Gung Ho.
Stay the course, steady as she goes.
Greetings, I would like to announce the 3rd reunion of the 3rd 155/175 mm GUN BATTERY(SP) on Sept, 5, 6, 7, 8, of 2013 in Branson, MO. Please contact Ed Kirby at (978)987-1920 or by email at: ed-kirby[at]comcast.net
Hope to see you all!
On of our long time customers has reported to the his final post in the sky. His obituary reads as follows:
Henry "Hank" Riccio, age 90, of Stratford, CT, entered into eternal rest peacefully on Saturday, March 30, 2013 at Cambridge Manor in Fairfield, CT. Hank was born July 23, 1922 in Bridgeport, son of the late Leonard and Julia Riccio. He was the youngest brother of six children. He was pre-deceased by his siblings Daniel Riccio; Josephine Riccio; Carmella Alaimo; Florence; and Eleanor Veronesi.
Survivors include his son, Leo VanderSchuur, his sister, Florence Galaty, nephews and nieces Danielle Rolandelli, Mary Anne Palmeri, Peter Vetri, Thomas Alaimo, Leonard Alaimo, Bernadette Voytek, John Galaty and Eleanor (Bunny) Slavin, Daniel (Buzz) Veronesi and Angel DiMartino.
Hank led a distinguished and notable career in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was a retired Veteran of three foreign combat wars: World War II; Korea; and Vietnam. Always a Marine because it was the "best", he is a true American hero. He enlisted in the marines the day after Pearl Harbor and fought at Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division. He participated in numerous other Pacific landings and during one such landing at Palau Island was wounded. He was awarded the Purple Heart. His next combat tour was Korea in 1953 working with amphibian tractors. In 1954 and 1955 he was a drill instructor at Parris Island where he was a Senior DI. He was awarded a Letter of Appreciation and a Letter of Commendation when one of his platoons was judged a Depot Honor Platoon.
In 1956, he participated in a nuclear weapons test conducted at Desert Rock, Nevada by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. From there he was selected to join the U.S. State Department in 1957. He served as the senior NCO in charge of the Marine Security Guard at the American Embassy in Rome, Italy. The year prior he held the same position at the American Consulate in Munich, Germany. In 1960, he was Guard Chief of the Marine Barracks in Naples, Italy. From 1967 through 1969, he served tours of duty in Vietnam. He retired in 1969 after 27 years of outstanding service.
Hank's career took him from Private to First Sergeant. He held a Top Secret security clearance, and traveled through 21 foreign countries. His military awards include 11 medals and six rows of 16 ribbons.
In retirement, Hank was equally active in woodworking and volunteering at a senior service center. His other hobbies included gourmet cooking, attending family gatherings and spending time with his nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and great grand nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Friday morning, April 5, at St. Margaret Church, Bridgeport, CT at 11:30a.m.
Son is currently in South Korea (Marine).
I was just reading in the latest Sgt. Grit newsletter about Marines playing football in the mud. I remember telling someone about our Recon Company doing the same at Camp Geiger in the late fifties. Of course, this person asked me about the equipment we wore to play. He really didn't understand the nature of Marines! There was no such thing as any equipment except the football... the muddier and bloodier, the better!
"The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some aszholes in the world that just need to be shot."
--General James Mattis
"Nothing just happens in politics. If something happens you can be sure it was planned that way."
--President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945)
"The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position."
--George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796
"The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time."
"I don't lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word."
--General James Mattis
"How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism."
--James Monroe, 1788
"Marines show their pride. We were in the Marine Corps, not The Service."
"Leader of men, teller of tall tales, legend in his own mind, U.S. Marine extraordinaire, stream fordable, air dropable, beer fueled, water cooled, author, history maker, lecturer, traveler, freedom fighter, defender of the faith. Wars fought, tigers tamed, revolutions started, bars emptied, alligators castrated. Let me win your hearts and minds or I'll burn your d-mn hut down."
"I gave you aszholes at ease, not base liberty".