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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 08 MAY 2014

In this issue:
• A Man's Marine
• The Song Of The Marines
• O'Dark 30

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Thank You Sgt GRIT! My husband, MSgt Dave Melka (MGySgt sel) is wearing his new USMC dri-fit tank top for the 10th Annual Pat Tillman Race in Tempe, AZ. He finished the 4.2 miles in just over 30 mins.

Julie Espinoza Melka

Get this motivating tank top at:

USMC Athletic Red Tank Top

Never Had A Swabby

Read Cpl Schweim's letter re landings: I was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, 12th Marines, during 1961- 62, we made many amphibious landings training with the Republic of Vietnam and other Units, off-loading from the APA Pickaway in the South China Sea to Thailand we climbed the ropes to the landing craft. The South China Sea was seldom calm, so the LST would bounce up and down sometimes hitting the side of the ship. Marines in full gear would climb the ropes while Marines on the landing craft would try to hold the ropes. However we never had a swabby directing us. One incident I recall a Marine did not have his helmet chin strap buckled and it fell from the APA's deck to the landing craft fortunately missing us, we listened to orders and had our steel pots on and secured. I have attached some photos of the operation.

Semper Fi!
Frank Viggiano
USMC '60 - '64
USMCR '70 - '74

A Man's Marine

I just finished reading, "Marine!, The Life of Chesty Puller", (courtesy of Sgt. Grit) and although I knew of Chesty's reputation as a Marine I had no idea of just how tough this man was. I believe that every Marine or future Marine should read this book and let Chesty be an example as to how they lead their lives. He was a man's Marine, tough as nails and fearless. He was not a politically correct Marine and that helped lead to an early retirement, but his men loved him and would follow wherever he led them.

Five Navy Crosses, Army Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit w/one star, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 2 Stars, Purple Heart and many more; one of the most, if not the most, decorated Marines ever. His aides used to fret about getting his medals organized correctly because there were just so many.

I recommend the book and now I understand why my Drill Instructor would have us recite right before he turned out the lights, "Good Night Chesty Puller, Wherever You Are!"

Semper Fi, Chesty!

Sgt. C
'67 - '71

Get this book about a Marine Corps legend at:

Marine!: The Life of Chesty Puller

The Song Of The Marines

Sgt. Grit,

Who remembers the song; "The Song of Marines" first sang by Dick Powell (who's he?} in the movie; "The Singing Marine" the song has been played from a San Diego Radio Station and TV Station every time they had a Marine Movie on. The song goes something like this:

Over the Sea, Lets go Men
We're shoving right off, We're shoving right off again
Nobody knows where or when
It may be Shanghai, Farewell and Goodbye
Sally and Sue, Don't be Blue...

The song appears to be written by someone at Warner Brothers Studio about 1937 for the Movie and Dick Powell who was one of the top Movie Stars at the time.

It has been played in Movies, by the Marine Band, on Radio and Television much to the delight of the Marines listening to the program. However, not many Marines know the words to the entire song and many Marines aren't even aware of its existence, or that there is the "Song of Marines" and might not even know who the h-ll is Dick Powell. I have the Movie in VHS tape and have watched it several times, it isn't Academy Award stuff but Powell singing this song is a treat. Worth going to you tube and hearing the song if you have never heard it.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired

See the video at Song of the Marines.

TBS Class 6-67 Class Reunion

Attached are several photos of the memorial I put together for the guys KIA from our class. I suspended the dog tags you folks made on a cross bar. Everyone was impressed especially the family members of the fallen. I told the families to take home their guys tag. The memorial was looked at a lot by everyone. We had over 200 class members and family at the reunion. I made sure to tell everyone who did the dog tags. Thank you so much for giving me the deal on those tags. The memorial was a labor of love.

Semper Fi
Don Stover

Pith Helmet

I look forward to the Sgt Grunt newsletters and try to keep up with what's going on these days. It can sometimes be tough when one gets older.

I served from 8 July 1952 to 7 July 1955. When I went through Boot Camp in San Diego our Drill Instructors usually wore pith helmets. Only one other time did I see anyone in the Corps wear a pith helmet and that was in Korea. I was a 2611 Radio Mechanic working in the Comm Section of Headquarters Squadron, FMAW. My boss, Sgt (E-4) Falkenham, on hot summer days would sometimes wear a pith helmet. We did not ask, but assumed he at one time served as a drill instructor.

In all the photos I've seen of USMC Drill Instructors in all these later years they are wearing "smokey bear" hats. Can anyone tell me when (and maybe why) they changed? A pith helmet when properly applied to the bridge of one's nose was quite a correctional tool. I can't believe a smokey bear hat would stand up near as well. Or maybe these days it's not needed as much for that purpose. A few years ago I purchased one from Sgt. Grit. They are great for hot sunny days and with a vinyl "bowl cover" make a great cover for rainy days as well.

In my day we were issued Serial Numbers which were on our dog tags as well as stenciled on many things including our sea bags right below our names. With the issue of personal ID theft these days I would think that would be a problem. I'm guessing one does NOT stencil his serial (social security) number on his sea bag etc. these days.

When I was separated out in 1955 a cab driver who had been an Army draftee told me, "You must have been in for a long time to have such a short (7 digit) serial number. I guess the Army had much larger numbers. Now, isn't that a surprise?

In the early fifties the Marine Corps and Navy used a different phonetic alphabet than the Army and Air force. Also there was a difference in the nomenclature of aircraft (R4Q vs C-199). I suspect that when "big brother" standardized those two things they dealt with military serial numbers as well, but that is a guess on my part...

T. W. Stewart,
Sgt (E-4), USMC 1318XXX
(1952 - 1955)

Marine Barn Quilt

Noticed this month you featured barn quilts. The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and the ribbons were all free hand drawn and painted by a very good friend. It's 5' x 5'.

L/Cpl Donald Meadors

O'Dark 30

I believe that it was in 1960, that the entire 2nd Tank Battalion, minus the Med Watch, embarked at Moorhead City, SC. I was the newly appointed CO of H&S Company and was onboard an AKA, can't recall the name, nor the number. We sailed South as part of ewo Regimental Landing Teams, for Cuba, but was finally diverted to off load at Vieques, PR. It had been decided that the 'grunts' would do an off loading, via nets, at O'Dark 30 (03:30) and attack the beach. I was on the second of several ships, and we maintained our positions in the current by engine power, in a line. As I watched, suddenly all the lights came on on the darkened AKA ahead of us. Then I heard a Bull Horn coming from that ship to stay clear, men in the water. We turned on all our lights, but could see little.

It was later I learned that one of the landing craft, filled with 18 Marines, in full combat gear, had hit another one in the dark. They were apparently coxins who were inexperienced. Anyway, one of the boats had a hole in its side and was taking on water. Rather than running for shore, the coxin elected to return to the ship. Then they were directed to the aft, port side net, which had not been unfurled yet. To steady the landing craft, a Mike Boat (which is larger) was brought in and ended up riding over the top of the landing craft sending it to the bottom. The 18 Marines went into the drink right by the turning screws of the AKA, and disappeared. At sunrise the landings commenced and the Navy had some inexperienced Boom operators who allowed the cables to bunch up on one side of the drum, and then as the trucks were being lowered, the cables would roll, allowing the trucks to drop, and then suddenly stop in midair. The result were bent frames. As these trucks came limping ashore they were observed by CNO Atlantic, and the CG of the 2nd Division. They wanted to see what was happening, and took their launch to the AKA. As the climbed the ladder, an ambulance came hurling by them, landing on top of a company's radio jeep, and continuing on to the bottom with the landing craft in tow. The Commodore, and the ship's Captain were both relieved and flown back to Norfolk along with the CNO. I imagine it was a long plane ride. We lost over half of the Battalion's Motor Transport, but luckily none of our troops were on the doomed landing craft.

Ed Dodd (1st Lt, USMC)
1802 MOS
Semper Fi

The Fly On Our Fatigues

The author's reference to the tie-ties for hanging our laundry reminded me of my time in Navy boot in San Diego in 1963. Our drill instructor instructed us to have the fly on our fatigues pointed north toward MCRD so we were p-ssig on the Marines.

Who would have guessed that I would become a Hospital Corpsman and proudly serve with Hotel Company, Second Battalion, Third Marines, 3rd Marine Division in Viet Nam in 1965 and 1966? A big thanks to the comrades and friends I made and for the care they took to keep me safe. God Bless them all!

Doc Chandler, HM2-USN
Ready Reserve
Semper Fi

Thank You Marine Corps

Sgt Grit,

Cpl Ken Schweim asked when was the last amphibious landing made. I was on a Med Cruise, BLT 1/2, aboard the USS Mountrail, APA-213, from August 1967 to February 1968. As I recall, we made one amphibious landing, over the side, down the nets, on the island of Sardinia. This was the only exercise that we were allowed to live fire our weapons. Don't recall how we got back on the ship!

Thank you Marine Corps for allowing me to see parts of the world that I would not have seen otherwise.

Semper Fi,
JH Reyna

I Don't Work Here

What was your first experience being thanked for your service; especially Vietnam Vets?

When we came home, there were no parades or even a simple "Thank You" for what we had done or gone through. And we learned quickly to hide that part of our lives. Starting college (G.I. Bill) at the Freshman Orientation mixer, I was playing volleyball with a group of Freshmen and walking and talking with a very pretty youthful blonde when she mentioned that I looked older than the rest of them. I admitted I had spent my years after High School in the Marines. Her big smile immediately turned into a grimace and she just walked away.

Applying for a job with Olivetta to repair electric typewriters from an ad that stated, "No experience needed", I mentioned that I was a Ground Radio Repairman in the Marines and could read schematics, use test equipment, solder, etc. The interviewer shut me down with a "We don't accept military experience."

I learned to just shut up about my Marine Corps experience. But, a few years ago, I allowed it to resurface. I was no longer trying to score with coeds or get a job; I was married to a beautiful blonde Calif. girl and even had grandkids. I bought an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ball cap at the commissary at the Reno VA Hospital (before I knew about Sgt. Grit). I was wearing it as I was browsing in a new store when a young guy in a suit came up and said, "Thank you for your service." I said, "I'm sorry. I don't work here." When he said, "No. For your military service" pointing to my cap, I was dumbfounded. I shook his hand but said nothing and thought nothing,but I had a big grin on my face by the time I left the store.

I'd be interested if other Marines had the same or similar experiences. It happens all the time now wearing my Sgt. Grit pins, patches and gear.

Semper Fi!
William Reed '66-'69
Nam '68-'69

She Knows Better

Only the older Marines will know what a M-1 thumb is, and most were coordinated enough to not experience one.

I should have known to stop, but I didn't. Two weeks ago in the local gun shop (LGS) somebody started talking to me just as I let the bolt go home. At least it wasn't a full stroke. Wasn't my rifle, either. My Garand was at home and she knows better, besides.

Earl Needham
Clovis, New Mexico USA

No Longer Was Overweight

I will not mention names, dates or platoon numbers, since the acts performed by the two Jr. Drill Instructors of our platoon on one fateful day is something they we will have to live with the rest of our lives.

It all began on a very hot day, at least 90 degrees, not counting the unbearable humidity factor. Although the Black Flag was in effect that afternoon at P.I., it didn't stop the Cpl from running us up and down Panama Street repeating over and over, "turn to your left, turn to your left". It was brutal, but we kept going, except for one short and overweight recruit who just couldn't keep up, and kept falling back between the ranks. The Cpl repeatedly yelled, "wait 'til we get back to the barn Pvt." Finally we came to the halt and were told to bend and breathe. The Cpl decided to kick the Pvt in the gut and down he went face first on the concrete.

The Cpl didn't know that the base CG was sitting in his staff car not far away and observed the entire incident. Needless to say theCpl was immediately relieved by two Marines. The ultimate insult, was that another DI from another platoon was ordered to herd us back to the barracks. The topside deck was drenched with sweat while we all stood at attention in front of our racks awaiting to see what was going to happen next. Storming down the squad bay comes the other Jr. D.I., a Sgt who just so happens to be the Cpl's brother-in-law! He stops in front of the Pvt's rack, only two bunks down from mine and commences to flail away on him with both hands and feet, all the while yelling how he caused his brother-in-law to lose his job and how his sister and nieces wouldn't be able to eat. Myself and a couple of other recruits were about to stop this insanity when the Sr. D.I., a SSgt shows up and gets the Sgt in a bear hug from behind and hauls him away.

At the end of boot training we were awaiting buses to take us to Camp Lejeune for ITR (Camp Geiger), when the Pvt who no longer was overweight walks up to the Sr. D.I. and asks him if we had enough time and if he would let him speak to the Cpl before we left. TheSSgt takes him to the Cpl at the Battalion Supply were he had duty after being relieved. While we were driving on the bus we all couldn't help but wonder what transpired. The Pvt said he apologized to the Cpl and the Cpl replied that it wasn't his fault and that he shouldn't have done what he did. We graduated as the series Honor Platoon.

Although this is a sad story, the D.I.'s did toughen us up to prepare us the best way they knew how in order to fight for our country and each other.

J. Alvino
Sgt of Marines

You Know Better

I went to Boot Camp in '56 and am well aware of what an M1 thumb is... I use that for the wannabees - especially around my age that make one claim or another, and if someone tells you he was USMC/USN in late 50's early 60's and has no idea what an M1 thumb is, chances are he is BS'n you.

As to the DI and 'He only yells at the ones he likes'... I still use that on my grandson - a decent baseball player (not in my class but... The only reason that Coach 'yells' at you is because he knows that YOU know better. You don't see him yelling at the slackers do you, or at least in public.

As to the Gators... I was on the USS Henrico (APA-45) and - (other than tugs or Yard Craft) - it was the only USN ship that partook in DDAY 1944, INCHON - KOREA 1950, VIETNAM 1965.

Also in the 'A' tests Bikini 1946, Cuban Missile Crisis 1962.

George O'Connell
RM2(E5) USN 1956-64

Most Harrowing Experience

Dear Sgt. Grit,

Camp Pendleton, Tent Camp 2, 1955, after morning chow we assembled on the Co. street with marching pack and rifle, we loaded on to trucks, and were driven to the Navy base at Coronado for amphibious training. First we were at a swimming pool with a very high tower to learn the correct way to abandon ship, with just wearing our blouse and trouser, no shoes. We had to climb up to the tip of the tower grab our gonads with one hand, cross our legs, look straight ahead and pinch our nose with the other hand and step off the tower. When we hit the water we had to swim up to the surface and take off our trousers, tie each leg in a knot and button up the fly, we then had to throw the trousers over our heads and they became inflated with air and we gathered the waist to keep the air trapped in the trousers legs, keeping the trouser legs wet kept the air from escaping rapidly. We also buttoned up the blouse collar and blew air into the blouse to form air pockets in the shoulders.

I am very grateful to the Corps for this lesson knowing that I will never drown as long as I'm wearing trousers and have the strength to do what I was taught at Coronado.

Next we were instructed on coming down the side of a ship in rows of 4 at a time with marching pack the rifle slung on the shoulder muzzle down the rifle and sling between the body held by the canteen and with the cartridge belt unhooked in case you found yourself in the water you could easily leave all your gear. Timing stepping off the rope ladder was critical with the LCVP bobbing in the water against and away from the rope ladder. When the LCVP was loaded to capacity we pulled away some distance and went around in circles. After all the LCVP'S were loaded and joined other circles then each circle peeled off and headed for shore. Half way to shore our LCVP engine started bellowing black smoke, we all went forward to the landing ramp to minimize breathing the smoke, the Navy crewman radioed and sometime later an empty LCVP came by our side, the Navy crew men tried their best by hand to keep both LCVP's together as best they could in choppy waters.

We had to transfer one at a time from one craft to the other, timing when the two crafts were slamming into each other and before they pulled apart. That is the most harrowing experience of my life.

Semper Fi,
V. Mejias 1497xxx

Memories of Joe Foss

As a former Marine ('62-'66) and aviation nut, I was thrilled to read the 1 May SGT GRIT article about WW II Marine pilot and ace Joe Foss. To follow up on the article, Joe was not only the highest scoring Marine ace in WW II (26 enemy aircraft shot down), but as your article indicated he was also a Medal of Honor recipient, as well being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. And if that wasn't enough for one lifetime he went on to become the Governor of South Dakota, the first Commissioner of the American Football League, an Air Force General, as well as serving two terms as the President of the National Rifle Association; and it was during his time with the NRA that I had the privilege of meeting Joe.

During the late 80s and early 90s I was the Southern California Field Representative for the NRA, and part of the job entailed assisting with a number of PR events, no least of which (at the time) was a VIP sports shooting event in SoCal geared toward the Hollywood movie crowd. Just about anyone who was somebody was invited, and although I had a chance to breath the same air as some famous folks, my biggest thrill was to meet and spend time with Joe Foss. When the General and his wife flew into John Wayne Airport (in Orange County, CA) I was the designated driver to pick them up and deliver them to the function, and after the initial shock wore off I found Joe to be a congenial and friendly gentleman.

At the event, and while Joe was meeting and greeting movie stars and movie moguls, he found time to walk over and talk to me while a photographer was present. The attached photo shows the General and I standing together; I have been told numerous times that I should be smiling in the pic, but the fact is I was a humble enlisted Marine, in awe, standing next to a living legend. This photo is now one of my prized possessions, and it hangs prominently on my USMC "Wall of Fame" along with other OoRah paraphernalia. For the record and for all my Air Wing buds, my MOS was 6711 (Air Traffic Control), and I served my time at MCAS Yuma (the sandpit!) with MATCU 65.

Semper fi my brothers and sisters, the Old Corps is still alive and well, and I got your back now and forever!

Fred Romero
Simi Valley, CA

Sugar Loaf Hill

Dear Sgt. Grit,

I love reading your newsletter every week, it helps me reconnect with a way of life that helped shape my life. But there was another person that had a more direct impact on how I live my life and that was my Dad. I am writing in a way to honor his memory and that of all the Marines who fought in what some historians referred to as the Bloodiest Battle of All, the Marines christened it Sugar Loaf Hill.

The assault of Sugar Loaf Hill began on May 8th, 1945. My Dad was in George Company, 22nd Reg., 6th Marine Division. The struggle for Sugar Loaf lasted 10 days, they fought under the worst possible conditions - a driving rain that never quit, day or night. Time magazine described a company of Marines - 270 men - assaulting a hill. They failed, fewer than 30 men returned. One military historian wrote the battle was unmatched in the Pacific war for "closeness and desperation". Casualties were almost unbelievable. In the 22nd and 29th Marine regiments, two out of three men fell. The struggle for the dominance of Sugar Loaf was probably the costliest engagement in the history of the Marine Corps. But by early evening on May 18, the 29th Marines had finally taken Sugar Loaf for keeps.

My Dads company had been pulled off the line after 6 days due to high casualties, as was the entire 22nd Regiment. My dad joined the Corps at 17 prior to graduating from high school, he could have stayed in school and graduated with his class and not even had to go into the service. Instead he chose to join, he told me he joined the Marine Corps because they were the best, and if he was going to be on a team he wanted to be on the best team.

After Okinawa and the war ended, my dad was sent to China and was there for 2 years, he was discharged in 1947. He passed away 3 years ago and is presently guarding the gates of heaven as all Marines do.

To all Marines past and present, thank you for your service and a special thank you to all those Marines of the 22nd and 29th regiments, 6th Marine Division, a special thank you!

Brian Stephan
Sgt. of Marines 73' - 79'
Adapt, Improvise, Overcome

Even Above A Medal

Hello, Semper Fi and Gung Ho! To all those called and known as best of the best. I just found the Sgt. Grit website about a month ago. I read a letter from Bill Cates "Oath, Oath and More Oath". I went through boot camp at M.C.R.D. in San Diego, Calif. Today my legal name is Yusuf Superman Luqman. Although not a Texan, I was in platoon 322 "The Wyatt Earp Platoon" (the original platoon was to be comprised of all Texans), three of them could not make the grade so that's how my entry into this great platoon came about. My name then was Joe Louis Clark. I'm from Las Vegas, Nevada. I enlisted into the U.S.M.C. at the age of 17 and proudly served from 1958-1962. If I'm correct, the drill instructor was Gunny Kelly and the assistant D.I. was Sgt Shoemaker (sic) I'm proud to have served as a Marine and also I'm proud of being developed and fashioned by those two experts.

During boot camp, on a particularly cold morning, we were out at the shooting range having been mustered by Gunny Kelly. He didn't have much to say, but what he did say was "In this platoon we have a bunch of p-ssies and fa*tas*es, etc., etc, etc." He then finished saying "the only real man in the platoon is Pvt. Clark". This made me feel great! I knew I was ready to soon be called a Marine. Oh what an honor coming from Gunny Kelly; He mustered us just for that!

After boot camp and 2nd I.T.R . I was sent to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Bravo Co., 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. I was stationed in Hawaii from 1958 until 1960. While there, I was assigned TAD, special services boxing team, under Gunny Jerry Plunkett. Although I was a Marine I was not entirely a model one. I received a court martial for insubordination. Captain Harris, our company commander, was there to speak on my behalf. He said "In garrison he is a sh-tbird, but if I was out in the field I know of no other Marine in the entire Marine Corps that I would rather have with me than Pvt. Clark." I was not ever ranked above PFC, but I had both of these commendations, from both boot camp and Hawaii, to always remember, even above a medal.

In 1960 I was sent to Camp Pendleton, Calif. Where I was once again assigned TAD to special service boxing team under MSgt Frank Viets (sic). I was discharged in 1962.

Walker Troop Ship

I completed my FMF Field Combat/Medical training at Camp Pendleton Calif. Jan of '67. After a two week leave, I returned to Camp Pendleton for transportation to Norton Air Force Base. Departure by plane to Okinawa, ultimate destination the 3rd Marine Division in the Republic of VietNam. Arrived in Okinawa Feb 10, 1967.

Assembled, our Senior Corpsman in charge informed us twelve Corpsman were going to be selected for temporary duty at the dispensary Camp Hansen. I was amongst the "Lucky" twelve. In addition, a troop ship had departed from the States... expected arrival in thirty days. Our orders then were to board and continue our voyage to VietNam. While aboard we were to inoculate the Marines for required vaccinations, shots and injections including the GG (Gamma Globulin) the one that was a weeklong pain in the R----.

Unfortunately, the Base was closed for Liberty due to some issues in town. The Locals were upset. No Liberty was granted and only married personnel were authorized off base. Thus the EM Clubs became the only place Nam returnees and the FNG's could go to drink etc.

On one occasion a group of us Corpsman were sitting at a table. Nearby a youthful Marine was playing the "One Arm Bandit" (Slot Machine). Suddenly we heard a "pop" and glass breaking. The young Marine punched the day lights out of the Machine. He was bleeding profusely. We approached him and said today is your "lucky" day. We were Corpsman. We wrapped his hand and arm using a table cloth and brought him to the dispensary to practice our suturing.

Early March the ship arrived. We packed up supplies. Boarded the ship and were directed to our Quarters. Air-Conditioned, Double racks. In addition we had chow in the Officers Mess with Waiters etc.

Once we were settled in we heard there were an estimate of eleven hundred Marines on one side of the ship and two thousand Army Soldiers (Doggies) on the other side.

Once out to sea we set up tables "fore" and "aft" of the ship. The sun was hot and the humidity steamy. Felt like 150 degrees in the sun. The Marines "Uniform of the Day" shirt sleeves rolled up tradition. Trousers tucked in the boots. Meanwhile the "Doggies lounged on deck in skivvies shirt less. Of course this created animosity especially when we began our inoculations. The Marines were passing out. Getting sick and walking holding their rear. The Soldiers were taunting and laughing. Thus fights broke out. The Marines were punished by restricting them to their quarters in the hold of the ship. I went down to check on them and realized how lucky I was. Five racks high and a feed trough. Hot extremely.

In two days we accomplished our mission. The ship was off the Coast of Vietnam. In the distance we could see a mountain range and tree lines. A Crew member pointed to each. "Marble Mountain" and "DaNang". Prior to entering the Harbor the seas turned rough. The crew weighed anchor and the ship "Rocked" and "Rolled" creating another chaotic scene of men hanging their heads over the sides. Finally the ship entered the Harbor and we waited while divers searched for mines.

Disembarkation I can't remember. I am sure it was not "over the side" by rope. I would remember that. I do remember being in the Landing Craft packed like Sardines, the smell of engine oil and not being able to see, and nauseated. What seemed like an eternity. The Boatswain Mate made a solid hard landing on concrete. The front hatch opened and out we went. To my surprise as Jim experienced we were in a park. Picnic tables, swings and trees.

"Welcome to The Republic of VietNam". I soon found out there were to be no "picnic" in a park. Officially the Tenth of March 1967.

Last year I re-connected with a fellow Corpsman one of the twelve, who knew the Ships name "General Walker" and we repeated word for word our story.

Thank You and May Peace be with you and to all our Service Men and Women. Remembering the caption under the picture hanging on his office wall Career FMF Chief Lou LeGarie: "War Is Hell".

FMF Navy Hospital Corpsman, Po3, Mos 8404
Frank "Doc" Morelli
3rd Marine Division, Nam '67 - '68

Operation Steel Pike

Hey Grit,

RE: when was the last amphibious landing?

Could be Operation Steel Pike in October 1964 in Spain. As part of the 2nd Marine Division, 3rd Bn, 10th Marines, I went in the 2nd wave just in time to see a helicopter crash that cost the lives of 9 Marines. They said it was the largest landing since Inchon (of course no one was shooting at us).

Official summary below.

Semper Fi,
B.J. Barry, Sgt. USMC

Operation Steel Pike was the largest peacetime amphibious landing exercise in history, conducted by the United States Navy and Marine Corps and taking place on the coast of Spain in October to November 1964.

The operation involved 84 naval ships and 28,000 Marines of the 2nd Marine Division, and was commanded by Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. In the opening hour of the landing, two helicopters collided in mid-air, resulting in the deaths of nine Marines and causing injuries to 13 others. Another Marine was crushed to death by a tank while asleep in his sleeping bag. During the trip over the ships were divided into three convoys sailing under war time conditions with ASW escorts. There were many civilian ships contracted to the Navy to transport military personnel and cargo to the landing area. Once the ships were anchored in place the landings began. There were 2 or 3 days of landing men and equipment ashore, then one day of rest for the landing craft. After that we started back loading men and equipment to the ships.


(Vol#5, #2)

Troop Train #1 arrived on Track #1 at 0800 to depart at 1600 July 29, 1950. Troop Train #2 arrived on Track #2 at 1000 to depart at 1800 July 29, 1950. Troop Train #3 arrived on Track #3 at 1200 to depart at 2000 July 29, 1950. Troop Train #4 arrived on Track #4 at 1400 to depart at 2200 July 29, 1950. Troop Train #5 arrived on Track #1 at 1615 (After Train #1 had departed). etc., etc., etc. (Successive trains backed in after each track was cleared).

The preparation for the dispatch of the 21 trains that transported the 2nd MarDiv to Riverside, CA started when MGen Franklin L Hart, the CG, sent to the Travel Office the original orders that had been received by the Troop Train Commander of each of these trains. (The Troop Train Commander had copies of his orders to use until his original orders were returned to him at the time of the train departure). I would then be given routing and destination over the secure telephone from Mr. Adolph Volkman, the Head of the Transportation Department at HQMC. (I might point out that at no time prior to the departure of these trains did I know, or did I tell anyone that Riverside, CA was the final destination. HQMC had told the railroad that it was when they first ordered these trains) I would prepare the Transportation Requests for this particular train. Mrs. Louise Harbin would verify the accuracy of my work. She would then prepare the Meal Tickets for the personnel traveling in the 'Pullman' cars. These personnel would be taking their meals in the railroad dining cars. The enlisted men in the coaches would take their meals from field kitchens set up in box- cars at periodic stops along the way. All 2400 of them in 30 minutes.

Cpl E. G. MacMahon would then type the Travel Office endorsement, and this was tricky. There were no copying machines. What we used was a 'mimeograph' machine. He would type the endorsement on a special wax sheet. This was done with a standard typewriter, but without a ribbon. An impression was made when the typewriter key hit the wax sheet and then this sheet was placed on a drum in the mimeograph machine. It would rotate and the indentations would pick up ink and put it on a sheet of typewriter paper. You could make as many copies as you wished. The tricky part was that you could not read what you were typing. You just had to know what you were doing. PFC Noel Picou operated the mimeograph machine. And the four of us were often working on several trains at one time. I would assemble everything into one package for each train.

See you next week. The old, real old, real, real old (85) Master Gunny.

Harold T. Freas, Sr.


Submitted By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #8, #12 (DEC., 2018)

Well, if I didn't put you to sleep in the last issue then, I'm sure that this issue will. I've some what strayed away from Aviation and went back in time to when I was just a "youthful pup" In the CORPS. It follows that my career was so mixed that it is sometimes rewarding to re-live some of the things that I did or saw and, I believe that we all can relate to that. In the process of writing "The FLIGHT LINE" I haven't always been able to keep my auto-biography and this project separated. Simply for the size (one page) that I wanted to keep this effort. As of this issue, I will have written and submitted eight (8) years worth (96 issues) that's, one per month for 8 years of my life's adventures and I know that there are more but, they haven't surfaced yet. That's 96 of my so called adventures and experiences. Wow, that's a bunch!

Now, I know that I said it before but, when you try and remember all that happened in your life at age 76 it's not always that easy. In some areas I have been blessed to have total recall, and in some of the others, I can only just recall some of the good and some of the bad! I should also tell you that at the same time that I 'm writing this, we have been in the process of re-financing our winter home here in Arizona and I just submitted a claim with the VA for my recent "Heart Attack" and exposure to "Agent Orange" in Vietnam. That process alone has taken 1 and a half years and, I've worn out at least two (2) roads here in AZ, just going back and forth to the different Doctors. I also know that I'm not the only one that has had this "VA Adventure" but, I'm sure it will help in the long run! I, like everyone else, would like to see the system more streamlined but, then I believe it would open the door to the abuse of a program that is really needed for many of our Vets.

That's how this all started. I felt a need to leave something behind about my life, and I didn't even think about it before my Heart Attack and while I was thankfully recovering I thought what have I done in my life, and how can I pass all this on. One thing that I remember vividly while in the hospital was my wife standing by my bed and holding my hand, and my daughter was sitting with her husband, at the time, near the end of my bed and she had a look that I can't explain but, I remember. It was, as if to say "who is this guy". "I really don't know who he is?" and that stuck with me and, to this day, I wanted her to know "who her father was"! I know that it sounds strange but, my daughter was not in our family because of different circumstances, that I won't bring up. I'm the last of the Mc Callums on my side of the family, and we have no children and neither does my daughter. That's not meant to DE-mean her, it's just to state a fact. As far as I know, that put's me at the end, so I feel a family legacy is in order.

While writing this Issue I had several thoughts regarding different subject material for future Issues. One was flying 200 MPH in a CH-53, The Centurion Award, and I just forgot what the other one was. Damn It! It'll come back to me, I hope! AHH! Last Flight. There it is! That was it! Man, Getting old is not for sissies!

Have Been A Good One

Somewhere along there in the late'70's, the Corps was moving M-60 tanks from Barstow/Yermo to 29 Palms... don't remember exactly why, could have been an R&E (Replace & Evacuate) program, initial issue, 'standing up' 3rd Tank Bn... whatever... but these were brand new M-60's that most likely had been shipped from the Ohio Tank Plan where they were manufactured, to Barstow MCLB (Marine Corps Logistics Base) for check-out and further issue to the Fleet Marine Force. These things weighed around 60 tons (all y'all with OCD... Obsessive Compulsive Disorder... can look it up)... and since there is no railhead or siding at 29 Palms... or within 50 sandy, rocky miles from Mainside, they were being moved by contracted civilian truckers... who had the specialized trailers that would handle the load... Usually 'Nine-axle Cozads'). (side bar... in '66-'67 there was a LCpl welder/cutter on the crew of 'Yankee 53'...or "Yankee five-three in H&S Co, 1st Tank Bn"... by the name of Cozad... who, I am pretty sure, was from the same Cozad family, who made these trailers up around Stockton, CA... any tank retriever crewman will tell you that a guy who is good with a flame wrench (oxy-acetylene torch) is a key member of the crew. Anyway, the haulage contract was held by Terressi Trucking, out of Riverside, and their lead driver, 'Ace' seemed to get all these very profitable loads.

($1.75/mile, loaded... in 1979... serious money). As the Maintenance Management Officer/LDJO in the Combat Center Installation and Logistics Branch, it fell my lot to oversee these shipments, and I had found 'Ace' to be a trucker who would 'be there' when he had said he would 'be there'. And then, one day, he wasn't... bear in mind that we're talking about a 124 mile trip over two-lane roads in the Mojave Desert... or, as some put it, "two miles from hell, and twenty miles from drinking water".

Tex rolled in a day late... seems he had 'missed a shift' on his Western Star (truck tractor), and broke a universal joint on his drive line. This had occurred just short of the top of a grade leading several miles downhill to the smallish 'town' of Lucerne Valley, where there were telephones...

Ace... on his own... got into the tank... connected the batteries (4 each, 8D size), started the tank, drove it off the trailer and around to the front of the rig, hooked up a tow cable to his truck/trailer, and towed the broken rig to the top of the grade. He then re-loaded the tank... released the truck brakes... and in a 170,000 pound roller skate, coasted some ten or eleven miles into Lucerne Valley. From there, he called a friend to bring the repair parts he needed, fixed the driveline... and the next day, made the delivery to the base. I dunno if Ace was ever in the Corps... but if he was... he'd have been a good one! "Lead... follow... or get outta the way".

Any reader familiar with the route will have special appreciation for the idea of high-ballin' down that grade into Lucerne... Had an occasion later in life to drive a deuce and a half from Hayward, CA out to the Cozad plant... company I worked for agreed to donate a fire truck paint job to a surplus M35A2C for the Hayward FD... and Cozad was doing the sandblast part of the job (no canvas... just the windshield... and was smart enough to let somebody else bring it back... they were spitting blasting sand for a week or so thereafter... paint job value was probably more than the original cost of the truck... Hayward is probably still using it for brush fires...

Shoulda checked first, but didn't and will probably draw ire and fire about my description of the M26 Fragmentation grenade... it DID have a mid-ships seam... as did the illum grenade... however the bottom or base of the illum grenade is substantially different, for identification by feel in the dark. These, or at least the frag grenade, were replaced or augmented later during VN with the 'baseball' type... much rounder, a bit lighter, and in theory at least, capable of being thrown further by the average chunker of grenades... had to be kept in mind that the thing had something like a 'semi-always acting fuze'... which pretty much meant that once thrown, the slightest decrease in velocity would result in detonation... pretty handy idea, thought to keep the bad guy recipient of one of these from being able to pick it up and chunk it back in the direction from which it had come. So far, so good... however, should the thing happen to encounter a tree limb or other stationary object whilst en route... it would detonate right there... which, sometimes, might be a tad bit sooner than the thrower had planned for. I think the 40MM blooper projo has, or had, the same 'feature'... would hope there is an EOD type or two among the reading audience who can chime in here...

For a few brief years, the Corps had the M202 launcher... four tube launcher, shoulder-fired, used a 66MM rocket (pretty much like the LAAW) motor, and the warhead held a pint and a half of 'tri-ethyl aluminum"... which burst into flames on exposure to air, somewhere around 4,000F... I though it brought new meaning to the old term "reconnaissance (thank you, spell-checker...) by fire"... which also leads into the explanation of why the SR-71 Blackbird was known as a "spy plane"... too many people had trouble spelling 'reconnaissance'... according to a business acquaintance who used to fly the things... wonder if that's also why we refer to 'Recon' Marines?


Note: I don't know that I have ever read a story from and EOD Marine. If you are one, send one.

Sgt Grit


Anacostia Marines Reunion

Date: 21-27 September 2014.
Location: Oklahoma City, OK.

Best Western Plus Broadway Inn
6101 N. Santa Fe Ave., 73118
Reservations: Eric Lyman Tel: 405-261-9917
POC: Ron Bursch
Email: ronbur38[at]gmail.com
Tel: 928-533-4349

All HQMC Flight Section Marines Welcome.

Marine Corps Mustang Association Reunion

Date: 16-18 September 2014.
Location: Las Vegas, NV.

Silverton Casino Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Rd, 89139.
Reservations: 866-722-4608
Mention code: MUS0918 for special reunion pricing.
POC: Sue Haley
Email: suzhaley[at]gmail.com
Tel: 520-628-7809 or 541-535-7117
Website: www.marinecorpsmustang.org


Lt.Col. Walter R. Walsh reported for duty with the Supreme Commander on Monday, 28 April 2014 at age 106.

Short Rounds

Watch the video of the 160th Anniversary of the Corps.


Hi Sgt Grit,

You bring up old times, I was in San Diego MCRD back in 1956 don't recall too much. I do know once a Marine always a Marine is true.

Semper Fi,

Thanks' GRIT for helping make our Picnic a success. The prizes that you donated we're big hit.

Semper Fi
C.J . Oudendyk

When a DI inspected an M1, the bolt was to remain back and not forward. Open, it allowed an inspection of the inside of the barrel as well as the receiver. It was only after the DI returned your rifle to you that the bolt was to be released and that is when the M1 thumbs were born.

Old Marine '54

Hey, say Sgt Grit I read the unsigned letter in this week's newsletter. The Marine said that his Drill Instructor was hard on him. That the D.I. actually liked the men he was the hardest with. If this was true then my D.I.s must not only loved me, they must of adored the living sh-t out me and they showed it every day I spent on Parris Island!

Sgt. A.J. Manos
platoon 307

With regards to amphibious landings. A Co, 1st Bn, 26th Marines made two in 1969. The first via Amtrac from USS Duluth to Barrier Island on Operation Daring Rebel, and the second later in the year, down the cargo nets to mike boats and landing during an operation whose name at the time escapes me.

Lester E. Bell


"I shall not die without a hope that light and liberty are on a steady advance."
--Thomas Jefferson

"I think we have more machinery of government than necessary."
--Thomas Jefferson

"I've always been proud of being a Marine. I won't hesitate to defend the Corps."
--Jonathan Winters, comic and Marine

"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."
--Gen. A. M. Gray, USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps

"Carry On, Marine!"

"Stay Motivated Marine!"

"Semper Fi - Do or die."

Fair winds and following seas.
Sgt Grit

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