Sgt Grit Newsletter - 13 MAR 2014

In this issue:
• The Old Salts
• Green Field Scarves
• A Bougainville Hunting Knife

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Autographed photo from John Wayne during filming of Sands of Iwo Jima

This is the picture I mentioned that is signed "To The Kemp Kids from John Wayne". We got it after the Intermountain Premiere of "Sands Of Iwo Jima" in Salt Lake City. My father was the senior SNCO (MSgt) for the intermountain recruiting district and was heavily involved in the whole deal. At the studio party, all of the Marines from the recruiting station were there in dress blues. Dad was matching the Duke drink for drink and asked for a good photo. This is the one we got. It is 11x14 and the only pose I have ever seen but the interesting thing is how the ink got smeared when the ball point pen didn't work at first. It is one of our family treasures.

Rocky Kemp

The Old Salts

My home address was 200 Marine Dr, Camp Pendleton when I headed for boot camp in San Diego. My old man was a MSgt with date of rank early 1942. When I got out of boot camp, it was with a PFC stripe as a result of being high shooter. Another PFC from my platoon came home with me for his short leave as he was on the outs with his family. When we got to Pendleton, the old man took me and Wright to the SNCO club, I think it was in 17 Area?, in our brand new dress greens, with our brand new PFC chevrons, and we're introduced to "wetting down" our new ranks by the old salts in the place. They were mostly WW2 vets, and certainly Korea vets, all of them SNCO's. Not only were we expected to hoist a beer at each offering, we also got a hearty thump on the chevrons. No idea how many times I got a solid thump on the chevrons, or how many beers I drank but I know the next day I felt like sh-t and my arms were black and blue! So were Wrights.

Semper Fi,
R. Kemp, Sgt of Marines

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Green Field Scarves

Plt 303 wearing Ascot-looking green field scarves

Ref. Sgt. Bob Rader asking if anyone remembers the Ascot-looking Green Field Scarves. Yes, I remember those awful looking things quite well. They were issued and still in use when I reported to MCRD, San Diego in Jan. 1958. Above is my graduation photo from Platoon 303 taken in March 1958 where we were required to wear these things. Don't know when they were phased out, but probably soon after as I don't recall ever wearing or seeing them worn after boot camp.

John F. Wilson
Cpl. 1958-1962 #1809xxx

Following His Orders

MONIKERS: "KRAUT" was bestowed on me by my two best friends in Hawaii after watching the movie Judgment at Nuremburg at the base theater. I made the comment afterward that I thought most of the Germans being tried were only following orders! I kept that name until I returned to Camp Pendleton. We were returning from a field problem in the blistering hot back hills of Pendleton and were running the tractors (Amtracs) on the old concrete Highway 101 heading back to Camp Del Mar. It was like driving on ice and very squirrely. My tractor was tail end Charlie and was carrying our Platoon Commander, 1st Lt. W. He would stand in the crew chief hatch and I would drive because I just loved to drive that beast. I felt someone hitting me on the leg and looking down saw it was Mr. W, he was shouting at me, asking me (in very strong language) if that was all the faster I could drive this piece of sh-t? He didn't want to be in back of the column when we hit the dirt road. I assured him I could drive much faster than we were going! Following his orders I got out of formation and put the pedal to the metal. We passed everyone and when we hit the dirt road we were way out in front, enjoying the dustless environment and cool ocean breezes. At the Freeway underpass we pulled over and waited for the rest of the tractors to catch up. S/Sgt. P jumped off his tractor almost before it stopped moving and ran up to where I was standing yelling at the top of his lungs "Cpl. Selders are you some kind of God d-mned cowboy, who do you think you are Crash Corrigan?" I'll have to stop the story here and point out two things, LT. W was nowhere around, he had made himself scarce when he saw how p-ssed S/SGT. P was and Crash Corrigan was an old 30's and 40's movie cowboy that raced cars and motorcycles. I instantly became "CRASH" and to this day still carry that moniker because of that brief encounter with a very p-ssed off S/SGT.

Cpl. (CRASH) Selders

*The monikers that stick the best are the ones you really didn't want or were given to you by someone you really didn't like in this case it was a little of both.

The Gunny

Sgt Grit,

In response to the letter from Cpl Ken Miller's question about how many times you've heard of Marines receiving whisky for medical reasons in a Navy Hospital. In 1965-66 I spent 10 or so months in the Navy Hospital at Camp Pendleton on the orthopedic ward during which time an older Marine who was referred to on the ward only as "The Gunny" was admitted. The "word" was he was critically ill. Three times a day he was given a an ounce of whisky. We assumed he was an alcoholic and they didn't want him to deal with alcohol withdrawal in his last days. On the day before he died they moved him into one of two private rooms attached to the ward. The Marines on the ward complained to the Corpsman and Nurse in charge of the ward that he was one of us and if he was going to die it should be surrounded by his fellow Marines and not in a room by himself. To my surprise he was move back onto the ward and died later that night.

Dornan, LW, Sgt

Recognized Throughout The World

Was issued khakis, Summer Tropicals and Winter Greens. Never wore the khakis as they looked like cr-p 5 minutes after putting them on. My favorite was the summer Tropicals, with custom fitted shirts. They were cool, always looked nice and not bulky. The greens were heavy but were good in cooler weather.

Sorry they did away with the Summer Tropicals.

Bought my Blues for $65 at the PX while at Schools Bn at San Diego MCRD. They came with both the Blue and White Cover along with the Blue and White Belt. Was told The Blue Cover and Belt was Class A, while the White was for Class B and C. Wore this Uniform to Weddings, Dances, MC Balls and other social functions. Was very proud to wear it.

There are many military uniforms in the world, Some are variants of others. There is only one Military Uniform that is immediately recognized throughout the world. That is the United States Marines Dress Blues.

Semper Fi
Gerry Schemel CPL E-4
PLT 220, 1961 MCRD

El Nurso

This is in response to Cpl. Ken Martin's request of the last newsletter inquiring about any Marines getting whiskey as part of their medical treatment in a USN hospital.

For one thing, this newsletter is an absolute "must" of my weekly reading assignments. Not only does Sgt. Grit put out great supplies and goodies, but 99.9% of the submitted articles are most interesting to read, particularly since so many of them bring back fond (and sometimes, not so fond) memories. And Cpl Martin's question certainly rung my memory bell.

While I wasn't being treated for anything, while at Camp Pendleton in 1955, I used to donate blood to the Red Cross with the vampire mill being at the Naval Hospital. At that time, after giving the blood, the RC would give the donor a shot of whiskey instead of today's orange juice and cookies. Once, as I sat up and prepared to get off the table, I got my shot of whiskey. Being somewhat of a smartazs, as I put my feet on the deck, I played like I was going to pass out. A nurse ran over to me and asked if I was alright and I said, "yes, ma'am, I'm OK, but I sure would like another shot of whiskey." I know I didn't get office hours for being mouthy to a nurse LT., but I found out that some of them have little to no sense of humor. I'm sure if el nurso had been a corpsman, I would have had my request fulfilled.

Chris Vail
Sgt, 1952 - 1958

The Light Ship

Thank you Ddick for the history lesson on the power barge or ship Jacona. I had always wondered about the vessel that was anchored off-shore during my time on Okinawa. I arrived on Okinawa in August 1958, was assigned to B Co., 1st Batt., 3rd Marines and based at a small camp named Camp Isahama, which sat on a hill overlooking what I now know was the Jacona Basin. This was a small camp housing only B Company and just a short distance from Camp Sukeran (still spelled with an "S" when I was there). I didn't know much about this vessel until reading Ddick's article on the Jacona. I never knew its name but did know it was a power ship that supplied electricity to Camp Sukeran and probably our small camp as well. We always referred to it as "The Light Ship." It was moored there the entire time I was stationed on Okinawa, Aug. '58 – Oct '59.

It's been over 50 years now and my memory may be faulty, but I do recall that we rode out a typhoon some time in 1959 I believe. It was a strong storm and those Q-Huts we lived in were rocking pretty good. I may be mistaken, but seem to remember that the Jacona was pushed off its mooring and toward shore during this storm. We were without electric power for several days while the Jacona was repositioned to its mooring.

I always enjoy your articles Ddick and thanks again for jogging my memory about the power barge/ship that I viewed often during the 14 month tour on "the Rock."

John F. Wilson
Cpl. 1958-1962 #1809xxx



I sent in an e-mail a couple of weeks ago, a picture of a 155 howitzer & truck and a poem by John Wayne. The e-mail was sent to me by a friend that was with me on my first tour. I mistakenly took for granted that it was a picture of one of our guns and the land did look like the area south of Hue. Another of my friends, Ed Krayniewski, who went to school with me and took me to the recruiters' to sign up, called yesterday. Ed stayed in for 22 years and he saw the picture and said that the truck was a late 70's model and that the picture was probably taken at 29 Palms. I am sorry for the misinformation and do apologize for the error.

Also if anyone wanted to know, that poem that John Wayne did was on the old "Laugh-in" TV show. It's on you-tube under "The Sky" by John Wayne.

Semper Fi and Thanks,

Crusty Old Marine

A minister was seated on a plane bound from Hong Kong to the US with a stopover in Honolulu. After the stopover a crusty old Marine boarded and as fate would have it he was seated next to the minister.

After the plane was airborne, to continue on its journey, drink orders were taken. The Flight Attendant asked the Marine if he wanted a drink? The Marine asked for Jim Beam & Coke, which was prepared and placed before him.

The flight attendant then asked the minister if he would like a drink. He replied in disgust... "I'd rather be savagely rap-d by a dozen wh-res than let liquor touch my lips."

The ole Marine then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, "Me too, I didn't know we had a choice."

A Bougainville Hunting Knife

A Bouganville hunting knife from WWII

I still have a "hunting knife" my father fashioned from a cut down 1905 bayonet with an interesting story attached.

While on Bougainville in November, 1943, my father was with the 3rd Special Weapons Battalion, 9th Regiment, 3rd Marines. When they were dug in, a Japanese plane (I don't remember him saying what type) flew over low and fast. The word was passed to not fire as it was probably a recon plane and they didn't want to give away their positions. The plane flew over the second time, slower and lower. No one fired. On the third pass, the plane flew over very slow and low. Dad said one could almost hear the camera whirring away, filming the Marine positions. At that moment two P-39 Bell Airacobras appeared and came in a vertical dive from above and opened fire on the Japanese plane with their 37MM cannons. Dad said the Japanese plane exploded and came down in "little-bitty pieces". Later, Dad retrieved some small pieces of the fuselage and fastened them onto an old K-Bar knife sheath. For a knife, he cut down an M1905 bayonet so it fit. Along with an EGA on the tip, he engraved "Eugene Wise", "Bougainville" and a small engraved palm tree. As you see from the photo, it is not a work of art, but a project no doubt borne of boredom when not in combat.

On an open market today, some dealer trying to place a value on this home-made knife and sheath would probably only laugh. But to me it is far beyond price. My one fear is that when I die, I have no family members who have any interest in Dad's things from his stint in the Corps in World War II. I need to figure out something to do with it as, if one of the family members get hold of it when I'm gone, it will probably be sold at some garage sale for a few pennies and some wannabe collector will remove the EGA and sh-tcan the knife and scabbard. Any ideas? Anyone?

J Wise
C/1/4 USMC 1964-1965

No More Time Off

A mistake appeared in my letter of October 10, 2013 (The printable version in your archives is dated October 9th). This was written when 'Swooping' was a popular subject. You had titled this letter "Hit Them On Green" and in it I had stated that I was stationed at Camp Lejeune from April 1948 to September 1951 and that there were only three weekends during that period that I did not make it to the 360 mile limit, Washington, DC - or a little beyond. Well, I had totally forgotten the month of July 1950. When our office crew returned to base after the first weekend of the month, we were told that we would have no more weekends off until we had processed the travel claims of some 42,000 reservists that were pouring onto the base. This effectively eliminated three more weekends, so I actually missed six weekends. (On one of these I had to make a quick trip to HQMC - and return immediately - so I will count this one as missed, too.)

The eight personnel in the Travel Office - with the help of a half dozen or more from the other disbursing offices, had to literally work around the clock to get this job done. I am sure most of you can remember the requirement that you had to have an original and 2 copies of the orders to get reimbursed. Well, those that came from active reserve units usually had these. But those that were inactive (about 30,000 of them) had only a telegram. And there were no copying machines in those days. So, the men from the other disbursing offices set up tables along the hallway and transcribed data from the telegrams on forms to make the copies.

Their orders directed them to report to the 2nd Marine Division. Well, how many of you know where that is? They could not bring their cars, but some were driven to Camp Lejeune. Others took a bus. Some took a train - and a bus from Wilson or Wilmington. Some had to take a taxi from their home to the bus or train. And there was no bus station on the base in 1950. These people ended up at the bus station in J'ville. The Marine Corps was running a shuttle service from there to Bldg. #2 - and often running others back to Bldg. #1 to get their travel allowance. And then to who knows where - they just disappeared somewhere.

And guess who had to compute all this into a final figure? We worked our aszs off during the month of July. But we did it. All got paid what they were allowed. We had to simply do our best - and sometimes we had to stretch things a bit - but we did it.

Incidentally, and you will all get a chuckle out of this, in the absence of receipts, all were paid mileage - at 3 cents per mile- plus an amount for meals (75 cents for breakfast, $1 for lunch and $1.25 for dinner, or $3 per day - IF the trip covered three meal periods) plus an extra $5 or $10 for one or two nights lodging - IF they travelled 450 or 900 miles. This was not a bad job as a rule - but it was H-LL during July 1950.

I was called to HQMC on Saturday morning, July 8, 1950, and only Col. W. W. Davidson, the MCB Disbursing Officer, knew of this. So, after we were told 'no more time off' Col. Davidson had to tell CWO4 R. R. Dyer, my immediate boss, that I had to go to HQMC the following weekend. This was supposed to have been a secret. Now everyone wanted to know "What's up?" I couldn't tell them anything. When I returned to the office that afternoon. I couldn't reveal why I had gone to HQMC or what I went for. But there were questions galore. I had to keep this up until July 29th when someone exclaimed, "There's a train pulling in down near the commissary!" As if we did not have enough to do to get the reservists paid, I now had to supervise the dispatch of 21 trains - one every 2 hours from 1600 July 29th to 0800 on July 31st. The 2nd Marine Division was on its way to Riverside, CA.

Harold T. Freas, SR.

Home From Boot Camp

Shortly after I got home from Boot Camp my high school had their graduation. At that time several of the graduates would get together for a beer party behind the local beach house. (Back then you could drink beer in Wisconsin when you were 18) I was asked if I wanted to help chaperone the party. Since I was only out of high school a couple of years that sounded pretty good to me. As it turned out, two of my classmates were also chaperones that night. They had just finished their boot camp training with the Army.

As the night went on, and the beer kept flowing, one of the graduates thought he could lick the world. He was looking for a fight. The three of us who were chaperoning were all over him. We had him pinned to the ground. Somehow, out of nowhere he got one fist loose and took one swing. I ended up with a black and blue eye the entire time I was home on leave. Needless to say the two Army guys thought it was pretty funny.

Ron Hoffman
Charlie Battery 1/13
USMC 1966-1968

In Harm's Way

Hey Sgt Grit,

As I read a few letters concerning John Wayne and the movie In Harm's Way, it brought back memories.

I was serving in 1st Anglico at Camp Smith. Apparently, the movie company needed some Paramarines for their movie and the powers that be loaned us to them.

Anyway, we did 3 days at Pearl Harbor in WWII uniforms and equipment. We met John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Burgess Meredith and many more celebrities. We also had ate with the crew and cast. They paid us non-union rates as extras ($10 a day) and gave us passes to the Hawaiian premier of the movie.

Great experience. Had a lot of fun on the set. John Wayne was the same off camera as on. He signed all kind of things for us, posed for pictures, and was just a regular guy.

Semper Fi,
Steve Gardner

On Sam's Dime

While reading the story about the Bermuda Marines I was thinking, now that's a duty station to be assigned to. And got to thinking just how many other places in the World we, as Marines, would say was the best duty station to be assigned to? When we think back on our time in the Corps or those still in the Corps, we all have a favorite place that's for sure or a favorite tour such as a MED Cruise or a Carrib Cruise. How about the Far East? Hawaii? Europe? Alaska? Yes, Alaska to some, Stateside? Parris Island? Ha! Sunny California? Come on my fellow brother's and sister's let's hear from you and the reason why if possible?

L/Cpl J.T. Lacey 1956xxx '61-'65

My fav - 6 month Med Cruise 1965 seen 1/2 of Europe on Sam's dime.


In response to GySgt, F. L. Rousseau regarding brutalization in Boot Camp, I can honestly say that it did happen to me in that I was punched by the Senior and smacked in the head with my rifle by a Jr Drill Instructor. I would argue about this being brutalization as opposed to just desserts!

In the first instance, we were preparing for final inspection a few days before graduation. The platoon was standing on our foot lockers in full uniform without shoes on (black leather spit shined). The Sr. Drill Instructor came walking down the line making minor adjustments. When he got to me he adjusted my field scarf to his satisfaction. After he moved on, I glanced down and it looked crooked to me so I readjusted, at which point he was in front of me with a sharp jab to my gut and an admonishment to "Leave it alone Private!" to which I responded "Sir, Yes Sir!" - Deserved.

The first time was also 3rd Phase when we were on the drill field and the platoon was practicing for final drill competition. It was a Friday and there were plenty of sights to see (girls) following the graduation of another series that day. I was in the first squad marching at right shoulder arms and was checking out this girl when the Jr. Drill instructor came up from behind grabbed the barrel of my rifle and slammed it into my head with the admonishment of "Head and eyes to the front Pvt K!" to which I responded "Sir, Yes Sir!" - once again Deserved.

If this constitutes brutality, well so be it, but I view it more like I screwed up and was punished for it. Of course I remember the names of the Drill Instructors, but chose not to mention them by name.

The "This is my rifle this is my gun." episode occurred at the rifle range at Parris Island. A Pvt named AJ Reisser used the word "gun" and was directed, for instructional purposes only, to run around the squad bay with his M-14 rifle performing up and on shoulders while chanting "This is my rifle, this is my gun..." I believe it was his bunkie, Toutsis(sp?) who determined that watching Reisser do this exercise was absolutely hilarious. The Drill Instructor caught him laughing, so he was then directed, again for instructional purposes only, to grab his rifle and follow Reisser chanting "I think it's funny, I think it's funny!" You can only imagine the problem the rest of the platoon had watching this and doing our best not to laugh as well. I still remember these events and it's been almost 44 years ago.

In response to Sgt Grimes, the inventory seems about right from what I remember with the exception of the two khaki field scarves. I don't recall receiving that in my initial issue. Skivvy shorts and shirts as well as socks were quantities of six for initial issue. We also received the collar emblems, two left and one right. I don't remember when we received our shooting badges or the NDSM. It may have been one of the mandatory buys at the PX or it could have been distributed, not sure.

Gunny K

Someone Else's Blood


In 1962 I was on leave following radio-telegraph school (MOS 2533). I was taking the bus back to home (Monmouth, IL) from San Diego. For some reason we had a 30-minutes stay in Cheyenne, WY. I went next door to a bar so I could get a beer (I turned 21 just a few months before). I was traveling in summer tropicals and once you remove your cover the only insignia is on the tie bar. Two Army guys, in uniform, asked, in an "I want to fight" voice, if I was in the military. All I said was "Yes". Then they asked what was I. I then looked right at them and said, "I am a United States Marine. What the f-ck are you?" They quickly finished their beers and left without speaking another word. The bar tender came over and said "Thanks" giving me another beer on the house. He told me that the Army guys had been looking for a fight and most of his patrons had left. That was when I noticed that the bar was empty. I finished both beers and caught my bus home. I'm glad there was no fight. I would have hated to go home with someone else's blood all over my tropicals.

Since you asked,
Jim Brower 197xxxx
Monmouth, IL

Civil War Marines

Civil War Era Marines with fixed bayonets

This photo displays six Civil War Era Marines standing with fixed bayonets.

This photo is provided courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Title United States Marine

I was a skinny 6'2" tall, 155 pound 18 year old kid when I enlisted. I did not play sports in High School. I was almost a year younger than the other guys so physically I was a year behind most of them. I played some baseball during the summer and basketball during the winter on a team my church sponsored but other than cars and girls I had no other interests.

Most of the guys I knew were pretty easy going but there were a few Jocks who liked to throw their weight around. They probably had bad home lives and were bullies because of it. One guy in particular seemed to always give me a hard time.

When I came home from ITR, like most new Marines I was still bald as a billiard so I wore my utility cover to keep my head warm. I lived on the border of Missouri and Kansas. You could drink 3.2 beer if you were 18 if you crossed the bridge to Kansas.

One night the big guy decided he would play keep-a-way with my cover and make fun of the bald guy. I finally had enough and backed him into a corner with a few jabs to the gut, by now I was a solid 175 pounds. He told me to be careful or I would face the consequences and that Marine boot camp could not have been any tougher than football practice. I looked him in the eye and said "you could never make it in the Marines because if you wore a pack the straps would open all the zits up on your back and you would bleed to death". Needless to say he was not happy and threatened more bodily harm.

I asked him which hospital he preferred, there were two in town. At that point he realized he was about to get his azz kicked and handed me back my cover, mumbled something and walked off.

Six months earlier I would never have had the courage to do that. I never became the "bully" but after that most of the guys knew there had been a big change and treated me with much more respect. Amazing what the title United States Marine does for you.

Jim Grimes
Sgt 1969-1972

Tough As Woodpecker Lips

Curt Reus [Trying to look Old Corps] asked about the black (sic) leather belt worn with greens during WWII.

The belt was actually dark cordovan brown, which took on a black-looking sheen with polishing over time. It was designated the Service Belt but commonly called a 'fair leather belt.' It was discontinued as issue around 1943, although the 'old salts' continued to wear them until late 1940's

Coat sizes were as follows: 1 [35" chest]; 2 [36" chest]; 3 [37" chest]; 4 [38" chest]; 5 [39" chest], and 6 [40" chest]. Larger sizes like 42, 44 and 46 chest were 'special order'... Marines were a tad smaller back then but still tough as woodpecker's lips!

The L - M - S were for Long, Medium and Short in waist, length, neck and sleeve.

A 4-M is 38" chest, 33" waist, 31-1/4" (torso) length, 16" neck and 32-3/4" sleeve.

Marines of WWII also had a khaki 'Shirt, Cotton, Summer Service' and the tan 'Shirt, Flannel, Service, Winter' which were worn with the Greens. And, a tan cotton 'Field Scarf' (tie). It's notable the herringbone P1941 utilities we see today weren't originally intended as a combat uniform. It was intended to be worn over khakis or greens like coveralls as a work uniform. The cotton khakis and green wool uniforms, with 782 gear, commonly served as the 'primary combat uniform' until 1942.

C. 'Stoney' Brook
1961-65, 11th and 12th Marines

Early Days Of Korean War

Letter about the early days of the Korean War

Sgt Grit,

This letter tells what the early days were like in Korea from 1950 to 1951.

Sgt. Ben Gabijan
Gunner of Baker 33 and Tank Commander of Baker 31

Got Up And Moved

Just a quick story on my leave after boot camp, actually ITR. I was in my civvies and had gone to the local Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee. In walks a guy about my age (19) and sits down next to me seeing I was a recruit too. The haircut just gives you away. He said he was on leave but had to report back to boot camp on Monday. I guessed the Army had a different schedule for boots then the Marine Corps. He told me where he was going to boot camp and asked where I went. I said Parris Island. He slowly got up and moved three seats down. I thought about barking at him but he was already scared sh-tless. It was funny to see someone back away based on what they thought a Marine was. Gotta love the Marine Corps mythos.

Sgt J.C.Darr
Platoon 274, PI 1969
US Marine 69' – 73'

A Great Way To Come Home

Sgt Grit,

I arrived at Travis AFB, California shortly before midnight 25 September 1965. The Marines on the incoming flight let out a cheer and a group sigh of relief when the pilot announced that we had just entered the continental boundary of the US. I was just 20 years old. We took a taxi to San Francisco International Airport and since it was the middle of the night there were no protesters to insult us. I booked a flight to Philadelphia, through Chicago, arriving about 11 am on 26 September 1967. My brother was a Pennsylvania State Trooper stationed in Philadelphia. He met me, in uniform, as I exited the gate. We walked side by side, he in his uniform and I in mine, right through the anti-war protesters assembled to taunt and insult returning servicemen. I can tell you no one said a thing to me with him as my escort.

When we got to Belmont Barracks, many of his fellow Troopers welcomed me back. The First Sgt tried to recruit me. It was a great way to come home, thanks to my brother. Back in NE Pennsylvania Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and Seamen were respected. We straggled home. We had no parades. Most of us just wanted to move on with the rest of our lives. It took about 25 years before I started to discuss the war, and then only with others who served in combat. I have yet to join a VFW or American Legion although I respect what they do for vets.

Cpl J Kanavy

No Iconic Moment

I really don't think I have a "good story" to tell with respect to being home from boot camp, but to me, it was good. It was one of the best experiences in my life.

When a 17 year old is in boot camp, they tend to get the mindset that I just have to graduate boot camp, and then it will be all over. It's almost as though graduating boot camp is your EOS. But in reality, as we all learned, it was just beginning.

My "home from boot camp" story begins leading up to visitor's day. One of my older brothers, who was a Marine, would be meeting me on visitor's day. All I could think about was the necessity to being squared away so I would not let my brother down, a Corporal at the time. We were issued two sets of camos and two sets of sateens. I felt the sateens, when starched, was the more squared away uniform. So I made sure they were, as well as starched my cover, centered the rank insignia on my cover (I was a squad leader), and spit shinned my boots.

On that day, we marched to the visitor's area, which back then was behind the base theatre on MCRD, San Diego. When we were given the command, "fall out", I began my search, and then saw him walking toward his car. Well, we weren't supposed to cross the road, but there was no way I was going to let him drive off, so I marched over across the road calling out his name. I'll never forget when he stopped, turned around, and just stood there looking at me in wonderment. That look by itself told me what I was seeking, that he was proud of his almost Marine younger brother. Well, we had a great visit; he had brought some of our great aunt's homemade candy, which was very foreign to me at the time, and the visit was all too short.

Well, after visitor's day, we marched back to the barracks to prep for final inspection. As a squad leader, I was somewhat a hard nose and didn't tolerate stupidity, laziness, whining, etc., characteristics that were anathema to the Marine Corps. I had three recruits in my squad who fell into this category. Example: One morning up at Edson Range, I caught one taking a whiz on the deck in the back of the squad bay because he was too lazy to go to the head. I went ballistic. A recruit in my platoon told me that on graduation day these disgruntled recruits were going to kill me. I laughed. I was also a naïve 17 year old at the time! But I just pictured graduating, with my two older brothers there, one a Marine Veteran, the other active, and my dad, a member from the 81st Airborne and a cop. Graduation came and went and I flew home.

It was Christmas time back home, and all the food and family were great. But when I met up with friends, hung out a bit, I felt that I didn't fit in any longer. I was still who I was, but three months earlier before I left for the transformation seemed like decades ago. There was no iconic moment, just that warm feeling I always felt when I came "back home".

Leave came to an end, I flew back down to San Diego to report into Camp Pendleton. I think I had more butterflies this time than when I went to boot camp, and quickly I learned, that boot camp surely was not the end all. My time in the Corps would now begin.

Former Staff Sergeant, '78-'87

Exploding Armadillo and Other Post-Boot-Camp Memories

An excerpt from my new book In Garrison by J. H. Hardin.

"I'd just returned home from boot camp and my brother, Russell, was home. He'd joined the Corps two years earlier, and had planned leave to make sure we'd be home together. We're sitting at the bar in our kitchen, and like normal we took each other on in a match of arm wrestling. Now up to this point in my life, I'd never been able to beat him. He was, after all, two years older than me. But this day was different. This time we were evenly matched. We locked arms and went after it. Our Mom was watching and laughing. She was so proud of her two Marines, so proud and laughing at us groaning, straining, and turning bright red.

After a few minutes, we finally decided it was a draw, Russell complemented me on my newfound strength, and we laughed about it. Our Mom offered us a piece of fresh cherry pie, and being her two, hungry, warriors, we accepted. She got a whole, freshly-baked pie, cut it in half, then we said in unison— "That's good"— and proceed to each eat our half. She laughed and I think was somewhat amazed as these two eating machines devoured the entire pie without stopping. In our defense, I'll say it was the first real home cooking either of us had had in several months. And besides, we were hungry. She said our Dad was going to be mad we didn't save any for him, but she'd make another one. We both promised to let him share in the next one. And we did."

The armadillo incident came a few days later, and involved an excessive amount of ammunition. If you'd like to read more about how 3 junior Marines spent their leave, get your copy today. Now available at In Garrison by J. H. Hardin.

J. H. Hardin

All Different Personalities

Dear Sgt Grit,

I remember we got the sh-t kicked out of us in boot camp when we were bad? And we were rewarded when we were good? Three Drill Instructors - all different personalities - all had short fuses - but went off in different directions when their buttons were pushed? It depended what some sorry azs recruit did to incur the wrath of these "Titans at the Gate!" These D.I.'s had a short time to mold you into a Marine - you were possibly going in "harm's way" to Southeast Asia - where a lot of us never returned or never returned the same again? They had a job to do to protect us from the enemy and ourselves?

Really Sir - if some sorry aszed recruit did something malicious or selfish - he got his asz kicked and was literally picked on until he realized his mistake or was sent packing - (put back or put out of our Club)...

I understand the dilemma of this ability to weed out the few to maybe save many in the long run.

If you flowed with the concept that if you did what they wanted you survived - simple (sort of?) If you knew that a Drill Instructor did not want to be interrupted when they explained something to you? (then why did some sorry aszed recruit insist on raising their paw or blurting something out?) If one DI was talking about the evils of women and social diseases and what the opposite s-x can do to YOU! - then some moron (light in the brain housing group) would say "My Mother is a lady!" It seemed that some of us had to say something - no matter if it was the wrong time or place for the comment!

The quiet dudes who were in our platoon got sandbagged too! One day we had a quiet recruit - did what he was told never spoke to anyone and was under the radar so he thought? One day the sneaky DI said to us (he was from Arkansas) The DI called him out to report to him - the guy wasn't expecting his name to be called and didn't hear him! The DI then bounced him off a wall and said the next time he wasn't listening, "He was grass, and the DI was a lawnmower." He, the DI - then explained if they were in a combat situation - he could be dead? We at that time did not think that way - "How things changed in a hurry - later on in our lives!"

Our platoon was bounced around in good old 1963 - remember President Kennedy was assassinated and we in Boot Camp thought we were going to War with Russia? How life changed for all of us in the 1960's?

I got discharged in 1967 - and when I came home - college kids spat on me - and fellow workers ranted at me - bosses who never were in the Armed Forces - were candy aszed losers who never knew what it was to DEFEND your country.

I worked for a Bank on Wall Street at that time and one older guy (older to me anyhow) called me over and took me to lunch for a chat as he called it. Told me WE (he was a WW11 Marine Vet) - had to have thick skins and overlook the p-ss poor attitude of our fellow Americans?

As Marines we had to adjust to a new life style. I still am in contact with New and Old Marines - and we have a Brotherhood - where we can speak our thoughts amongst ourselves! I can say that someone did not get their asz kicked enough as a youngster - or 'He needs a blanket party' and we all laugh. I cannot say to my wife of 43 years - who I love very much - the same thought now can I - or she would call the men in the white jackets with their butterfly nets - and would chase me down the block - and put a strait jacket on me and take me away from the fellow humans that surround me?

Love being able to rant and express my opinion at the Best Place to be - SGT. GRIT newsletter.

Bruce Bender
Vietnam Era Marine

"Are You Working"

While vacationing at Chu Lai in 1966, with VMA-224, I had the opportunity to operate our squadron telephone switchboard on a regular basis. Each shop on the flight line had a EE8 field telephone as well as the S-1 admin and S-3 operations huts. They were all connected to the hand cranked switchboard adjacent to my S&C files desk. I stood phone watch every other night as well as during each day. When calls came in, I plugged up the connections and rang up the intended receiver that was being called. For calls coming in and going out of the squadron, I would connect with the next echelon at MAG-12. While conversations were under way, the operators that were involved were continually breaking in to the calls and asking "Are you working?". The callers would reply with "I'm working." If there was no response to the query, the operator would ring up the other operators and tell them to "Break it down" and the connections would be unplugged. This made for some very confused conversations with all the parties on the line. I did get to eavesdrop on some exciting calls.

Some of the call signs I remember were VMA-224 = Oaktree, VMA-332 = Miss Muffett, MAG-12 = Oxwood. Others in the area were Bonnie Hero, Blade Switch and Ironhand Charlie. Great memories.

Sgt Frank Everett 6511/0141
Semper Fi

Not In The Mood

Was home after Boot Camp and ITR for 20 days. Was hanging with some guys I knew and one said he wanted to fight me. I asked him, why do you want to fight me? He said, "Marines are good fighters and I want to see how good you are." This was Chicago and you never saw any Marines then, Lots of Sailors and a few Army guys, but Marines never.

I said to him where did you get the idea that Marines are good fighters. He said, "Didn't they teach you to fight in Boot Camp?" I told him, "No they taught us how to be Marines in Boot Camp. But, after Boot Camp they sent us to Infantry Training where they taught us how to KILL. But no, they didn't teach us how to fight, just how to KILL."

I then said, "Since I'm not in the mood to kill you today I suggest we find something else to occupy our time, what do you think?" No further comments came from him.

Gerry Schemel, Cpl E-4
PLT 220, MCRD 1961

1962 Enlisted Clothing Issue

As always I enjoy the arrival of the Sgt Grit Newsletter and find a lot of shared memories in the articles. With all of the discussion about uniforms, I went searching for a document that I had saved some years ago. It is the enlisted men's uniform inventory from 1962. It included the basic issue down to the "Sea Bag" as well as the emblems and belt buckles. This list also includes the price per item (with a couple of omissions for some reason) and the grand total in 1962 dollars comes to $117.65. Having been stationed at MCAS, Kaneohe Bay with I/3/4 during 1962, I feel disappointed as almost half of the cost was toward "Greens" that were carried a long way but only worn in Japan on leave. As some posted, the inventory was upped somewhat to include "Inspection Quality" gear.

Sgt. Jerry H. Hatchett

1962 Enlisted Clothing Issue

1 Clasp, Necktie: Gold $0.10
2 Coat, Man's: Green $19.55
1 Cover, Service Cap: Green $1.25
1 Cover, Service Cap: Khaki Tropical $0.80
6 Drawers, Men's Cotton White $0.55
1 Frame, Service Cap
1 Gloves, Leather: Dress $3.10
1 Insignia, Bofs: Black Cover $0.10
1 Bag, Duffel $2.95
2 Belt, Coat, Man's Wool Green $0.55
2 Belt, Trousers: Web, Khaki $0.30
2 Boots, Combat $6.65
1 Buckle: f/belt, Web, Khaki $0.25
1 Buckle: f/belt, Wool, Blue or Green $0.15
1 Cap, Garrison Green $1.30
1 Cap, Garrison Khaki Cotton $0.55
1 Cap, Garrison Khaki Tropical $0.75
1 Raincoat $8.40

Sub Total $47.40

3 Cap, Utility $0.50
2 Insignia Bofs: Black Collar, It $0.10
2 Necktie, Khaki Man's $0.70
1 Overcoat, Man's: Wool, Green $29.85
1 Scarf, Neckwear: Rayon-acetate, tissue, f.g. $1.00
2 Shirt, Man's Cotton Khaki $1.90
3 Shirt, Man's Sateen (Utility) $2.20
3 Shirt, Man's Khaki Tropical $6.30
1 Shoe, Dress: Man's $6.00
4 Socks, Men's: Brown $0.80
4 Socks, Men's: w/cushion sole Black $0.80
2 Toursers, Men's: Green w/Hip Pockets $7.35
2 Trousers, Men's: Khaki Cotton/Hip Pockets $3.90
2 Trousers, Men's: Khaki Tropical $6.05
2 Trousers, Men's: Sateen (Utility) $2.25
6 Undershirt, Man's: Cotton, White $0.55

Sub Total $70.25


Total $117.65

Drag Out Of Bed

Freshly graduated from MCRD SDIEGO and proud in our Class A's, Skip and I (buddy system enlistees) boarded the plane in Dec 1974. The flight attendant (still called stewardesses then) asked if she could get anything. Skip asked if we might get a beer, "Please Ma'am..." She brings our beer (YAYYYY!!) and we both give an enthusiastic "Thank you, Ma'am!". She looks around at everyone sitting in the area, and announces, "I don't know what they do to you over there (pointing out the porthole to the back fence of MCRD), but ya'll are all SOOOO nice when you come out!" Skip and I look at each other and crack up laughing!

Several years later, I'm now in the Reserves and a SSgt. My youngest brother had joined up, graduated boot camp and come home on leave - arriving about 0200. He proceeds to dump his seabag out in the middle of the bedroom floor, change into civvies and hits the town with his friends. I awaken to that gawd-awful smell of canvas, sweat, wool, shoe polish, new clothes, CLP, etc. and flash back to my own days on the yellow footprints. Didn't need or want that! I drag out of bed, gather up all of my brother's issue and promptly dump it all in the back yard, then return to the rack for the rest of my night's sleep!

David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.;
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq;
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time;
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control;
Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work

Never Went To School

Sgt. Grit,

After my 9 week boot camp at MCRDSD, I went straight to ITR at Camp Horno on Camp Pendleton. During ITR I was able to get weekend passes as I lived fairly close to Camp Pendleton. I went home but do not remember much from those two weekends. After ITR I didn't get leave but was transferred to the other side of Camp Pendleton to work OJT at the base drafting section. My duties included phone answering and keeping the place clean. We didn't do much drafting as that would take work away from civilian draftsmen hired by the Marine Corps. I worked there, getting weekend passes, until receiving orders for Vietnam and my first extended leave. Never went to a school but had worked as a surveyor and draftsman before joining the Marine Corps. On that first leave I remember wearing my uniform to church. Turned out to be one of the hottest days in a while and we were in a school building without A/C. I had gone from 6'2" and 143 pounds to 175 pounds, felt great and got compliments on it.

Jim Harris
Former Lance Corporal, Always a Marine
Semper Fidelis to God, Family, Country and Corps

Wasn't Brave, Was Stupid

Six of us from Miami, OK joined the USMC Aug 5, 1953 and were sent to MCRD and I was sent from there to Las Pulgas, Tent Camp 2 at Camp Pendleton for ITR. Was given leave just before Christmas 1953. I went to San Diego at l35 or l40 pounds and left Pendleton at 175 or 180. Went home and to the pool hall where all High School Jrs and Srs hung out. Almost immediately was told a former classmate was running with a rather large child nicknamed Treetop, 6 ft. 2 or 3, about 215 lbs. who was a football player at the local Junior college. They were being bullies and I could expect it. Sure as General Mills made Cheerios (He does doesn't he?) After about 3 days they started on me. I told Jim my former classmate that I was going to the alley with Tree and if he joined in after it started I would come back and kill him. Then I slapped Tree and we went to the alley. I'm sure he expected some conversation but I had learned a couple of things already from the Corps. Never go into a fight to lose, always hurt your opponent as quickly and severely as you can and if he goes down... never let him get up. Wanting to show how bad he was, Tree dropped his arms to his side and made some cute remark about Marines in general and then stuck his face out and said, "Hit me". So I did, no conversation... right in the nose as hard as I could throw a right and tried to put it through his head. That was basically the fight, he went to one knee so I polished the toe of my right foot on his side a couple of times and added a punch or two for good measure. It was very quiet in the pool hall the rest of the evening.

Fast or slow forward 60 years, got a call about 6 weeks ago from John who was a year behind me in high school and had been in the pool hall that night. He gave me a summary of his life then asked if I remembered the pool hall incident, of course I said yes and he said, "Going to the alley with those two bullies was the bravest thing I ever saw." I had to correct one thing. Wasn't brave John was stupid, if he hadn't been so intent on showing how bad he was he could have beaten me to death. But I wasn't...

Don Wackerly, Sergeant


Submitted By: MARINE Jim McCallum (the ole gunny)
Vol. #8, #4 (APR., 2018)

If you've been following along on my exploits and stories you'll notice that there is always a reference, or mention of a "cow". Now, I don't know why that is, but now that I mentioned this weird apparition I can remember at least three cow involvements in my career. Was I born under the sign of the cow or what? Maybe so! They all happened while I was involved with helicopters! Nobody else that I know of has had these weird affiliations so I'm at a loss for an explanation. Moving along, or being nudged by the next Cow, I don't know which!

It the same time that I was working at the State of Wash. I was "moonlighting" on the weekends for a Former MARINE that lived up in the town of Bonners Ferry, Idaho. He had several H-43 Husky Helicopters that he bought at a GSA Surplus Auction, and his intent was to use the helo's for long line Logging in several remote areas around the states and overseas.

Several were parked at the local Airport and one was working over in Montana and another in South America. Naturally, he had the same problem that we had whereas, there was no back-up supply line or spares to support any sizeable operation. He bought several aircraft to be used as spares. Doing business that way can cause you problems with the FAA and you don't want them on your tail. The State used their aircraft as "Public Use Aircraft" which meant that we could only carry State Employees and our use was somewhat restricted. His use was different whereas, he could not carry passengers at all. Licensed Mechanics can work on either aircraft, but his required a sign-off and ours did not. I know that it sounds strange but it's not! Most all of the spares that he had required a thorough inspection and sometimes a minor rework for them to be useable for his purpose. Remember our guideline: Quality, commensurate with Cost, and the intended use of the Hardware. This came in to play many times while working on his Aircraft. I think that I should mention here that when these Aircraft are on the job that the Lease per Hour was $1700.00 per Flight Hour and the pilot was payed $50.00 per Flight Hour. Maybe that sheds a better light on what we were up against. And this was in the late 70's and early 80's. I worked on the aircraft at night using a flashlight or the lights from a support truck so that we could take advantage of the daylight to haul logs. Flying and hauling was the business that they were in, and sitting on the ground meant that you weren't making any money. And if they couldn't get money, they couldn't get and drink beer. I remember one area that I worked on a bird in that was about 30 miles back in the woods, and I was told just keep driving till ya see the side of the mountain that has no trees on it. We'll be in the clearing at the bottom of the hill. Man, Ya gotta LOVE it! Northern Montana, no houses and just wilderness, and of course helicopters. Oops, Did I forget Beer!

Short Rounds

Sgt. Grit,

May we open a discussion on a little bit of Marine Uniform history regarding covers? When were the pith helmets worn?

Semper Fi
Rusty Norman
Echo 2/9 1969
USMC 1966-69

I well remember the call sign "Carnival Time and Carnival Time Bravo". I fired enough fire missions for you under the call sign "Beechnut Alfa". Mr. Felch I was with 1st Bn., 11th Marines, 1st Provisional Gun Battery, 8" and 155 SP's.

Capt. T. L. Johnson, Jr.
United States Marine Corps Ret.

The difference between a 2nd Lt and a PFC is that a PFC has been promoted at least once.

Palmer Brown
(Been both a PFC and a 2nd Lt - Think I liked PFC Better)

I met a guy recently that said he had been a DI at both MCRD and PI. Does anyone know of a Marine that served as a DI at both locations?

R. Maskill

I remember being on leave sitting around talking with my brother and telling him about being in the field and eating C-rats, and he thought I was referring to some aquatic rodent species and said, "D-mn, you MARINES will eat anything!"

L/Cpl Lapointe, Louis F. / 5811


"We are United States Marines, and for two and a quarter centuries we have defined the standards of courage, esprit, and military prowess."
--Gen. James L. Jones, USMC (CMC); 10 November 2000

"There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."
--Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

"I love the Corps for those intangible possessions that cannot be issued: pride, honor, integrity, and being able to carry on the traditions for generations of warriors past."
--Cpl. Jeff Sornig, USMC; in Navy Times, November 1994

"[I]t is a maxim, founded upon the universal experience of mankind, that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it."
--George Washington (1778)

"What The H-LL, did you shine those boots with... Hershey bars and sandpaper?"

"Oh I hope, I Really Hope that isn't an IRISH PENNANT I see!"

"You aren't Marine Recruits...You're A HERD!"

"What did you call your rifle?"

Fair winds and following seas!
Sgt Grit

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