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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 22 JAN 2015

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• VIP Cartoons
• That Deep Raspy Voice
• Pet Peeve

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This is my 7-yr-old grandson. I bought him a set of digital camo. He looks good in the uniform... he looks and acts like a Marine. I didn't tell him to stand that way for the picture. That a typical Marine Corps stance. He also has a set of dress blues.

Stephen P. Marson

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Never Met, Know Him

Robert Clark is a person I've never met, but I know him well. He was the Marine who had my back on those miserably long nights, cold with fear and anticipation, praying for one more sunrise, one more day closer to going home alive. His story, "The High Ground", in the 15 Jan. 2015 Newsletter, was a poignant read for me and, I'm sure, many Vietnam Veterans. I was so moved by how his words spoke directly to my experience, both then (last night) and now (last night), that I printed out his story to read again, and to share with others. My hope is to have my psychologist read it, giving her a better understanding of the emotional turmoil that faces every combat veteran. I hope Mr. Clark does not mind his inspirational words being used to facilitate my efforts to confront the demons of "just last night".

Thank you!

David B. McClellan, USMC, RVN '69-'70.

"The High Ground" by Robert Clark is probably the most compelling piece of writing about what combat does to the young men who experience it that I have ever read. Mr. Clark, you have found a way to put into words, things and emotions that have never before been able to be interpreted. I and thousands of others are humbled by your expertise.

Robert Mulroy
Msgt 1265xxx
Oct '52 - Sep '75​

VIP Cartoons

Sgt. Grit,

This maybe a bit much for your newsletter, but returning from Korea on the USS Gordon someone put together a newsletter full of all the tripe usually allowed in a service paper. This ship was at sea so maybe the Publisher was given his lead and these VIP Cartoons were allowed to be printed, the rest oif the newspaper was news of the day which at the time was mostly about Russia. Even had a Marine that had escaped Russia and joined the Marine Corps serving in Korea.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired

Proud Grandpa

Here are some photos of my Granddaughter Ella, maybe you know the sweatshirt and the LBD... it cracks me up; a USMC sweatshirt & a pink tutu. The LBD... she is all girl.

Semper Fi, from the land of the great white north... today was 3 degrees and we have very little snow. Tonight... -15 degrees.

Pete Berg

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Okinawan Social Studies​

During the summer of 1960 I decided I was tired of my father telling me what to do, so at the old age of 17, I joined the Marines. Boy that fixed everything. Now I had those nice DI's telling me every move to make. Next thing I knew all my old buddies were graduating from High School in the Spring of '61. However, I on the other hand was still diligently doing my homework, for my High School GED test, in the bars of Okinawa. I learned some interesting things in my pursuit of Okinawan Social Studies. My GED was passed successfully. After a year of Asian Studies in Okinawa and floating around Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, and a quick trip to deliver banana shaped Army Helicopters to Vietnam, on the cruise ship LPH-5 Princeton, I returned to the States to bone up on the multiple varieties of Californian vegetation in the hills surrounding Camp Pendleton. I took time out in the summer of 1962, to make a quick trip to my home state of Utah to marry my childhood sweetheart. Settling back down to marital bliss in San Clemente, CA, my new wife and I made plans to have a beer party at our apartment at the conclusion of a 4-day Marine Corps hill hiking event scheduled to hone our Ready Battalion Landing Team (BLT) skills. Unfortunately for the beer party plans, as soon as we returned back to base, the married personnel were told that we had one hour to go home pack our gear, kiss our wives good-bye, the Ready BLT was mounting out. It seems the Soviet Union had interrupted my scheduled party by delivering ICBM's to Cuba. Of course Hollywood Marines (2nd Battalion, 1st Marines) were the first contingent of Marines to land at Guantanamo Bay to dissuade Castro and Khrushchev of the folly of their actions. We immediately secured Gitmo and by our presence, Khrushchev understood he was messing with Marines and turned his ships around and headed them back to Russia. The "Cuban Missile Crisis" was over.

I returned to Utah for Christmas and retrieved my wife. My last year in the Corps was spent as a "Salty" 1st Recon Battalion Marine with a full row of ribbons, Marine Expeditionary, Armed Forces Expeditionary and Good Conduct. At the time prior to the Vietnam war, a full row was a row more than most Marines could muster. My 4 years were up and I was discharged in September 1964. Shortly thereafter the Vietnam War broke out. I was still a reservist for 2 more years of obligation. I figured I would be called back up. By the time my 2 Reserve years were over I was married, a father of 2 boys, and going to college. I was never called back. Even though I did my Cold War duty, I still feel guilty to this day I never went to Vietnam.

Semper Fi,
L/Cpl DL Rupper @gitmo62
1/5, 1/9, 2/1, 1st Recon Bn

Marine Recruiters Thwart A Robbery

Three Marine recruiters in Seattle, WA, stopped a robbery in action and apprehended the one of the thieves in mall parking lot.

One of the SSgt's said that he put the thief in a wrist lock rather than taking him down to the ground because he was wearing his dress blues and did not want to get his uniform dirty.

Absolutely motivating!

That Deep Raspy Voice

As you know I am on a US Tour. I did all of Route 66 and of course stopped by your place while doing so. Sorry I missed you as you were out for Thanksgiving. I was so proud to see the foot locker I made for you on display just inside the main hatch. I went to California and then Turned around and followed the Southern Coast East. I stopped for a month in Rock Port, Texas and spent Christmas and left there the morning of New Years Eve continuing east. Now I am on Harbor Island in a nice little condo and will be here until at least April First. I haven't set foot on Parris Island since I left there in 1972. I have now been there three times in the last couple weeks. I feel so humbled when I sit there and watch what is going on and seeing the places that were so much a part of my life. I see and talk to Drill Instructors that are there now and realize that I have been retired longer than they have been in. I see the kids with peach colored faces. And I hear the rifles on the range and went by the Obstacle Course. I've seen the wash racks and remember standing there with a bucket doing laundry and when the smoking lamp was lit. I know with these leaders and these young recruits we are in good hands. I have been to the Air Station and watched the Marines in flight and support and it fills me with so much pride to know I was a part of it. I have been so blessed that I will get to spend three months near these Awesome Marines.

I seen a Drill instructor sitting at a table at the PX and I said to him... Ya know something... I went through here 42 years ago and today is my first day and time back here. I never thought I would ever be talking to another Drill Instructor while he was wearing that cover let alone one sitting here eating an Ice Cream Cone. In his quick wit as all Drill Instructors have, He looked at me and said well don't post any pictures on Facebook. We had a good laugh and a nice short conversation afterwards. That deep raspy voice was exactly the way I always remembered it. I think that all Marines of the past that have the means to come back to this place to do so sometime in their lives. It means so much and you get to sit on the sidelines and watch other young folks do what is necessary to become United States Marines. Semper Fi my good Friend.

GySgt. Mac

Operation Meade River

A machine gunner with the 7th Marines takes a break during Operation Meade River near the city of Da Nang, Vietnam.

November 1968 (LCPL R. Sanville/Marine Corps/National Archives)

More Luck Of The Draw

I must say I agree with much of the comments by A Former Hat, GySgt Ret. We may have served together at one time since I spoke, and still do poorly, Vietnamese and served in Operation Union 1 and 2 and earned the combat action ribbon as well as group awards. In fact when I returned to the states in Oct 1967 I was stationed at A Co 1/6. A Lance Cpl from Trenton, NJ was there and surrounded by Viet Nam returnees. He told me he would like to volunteer to go to Viet Nam. I advised him that he should not volunteer for anything and not to be swayed by the romanticism of war he was hearing. I told him the Marine Corps would put him where they thought he should be and he did not owe an explanation to anyone.

However, I am bothered that there is no distinction on grave markers for Vietnam Era and Vietnam Service vets. My brother served in the US Army 1963 - 1965 in Germany and has a Vietnam Vet marker. How will anyone visiting the cemeteries know who is who. All service should be honored and no one need apologize for not having been to war, but there should be two distinct markers. I hope the former hat would agree.

J Kanavy, Cpl, USMC​

The submission from "The Former Hat", a Gunnery Sergeant, in which he states that he is "honored to wear 8 stars on my Vietnam Campaign Ribbon and several stars on my Purple Heart Ribbon." He has that wrong. WE are honored by your wearing of those ribbons and stars. Like many others I never served in combat. I missed the Vietnam War by a year due to High School (but my dad and brother were both 'Nam Vets) and I never got close to the first Gulf War because by that time I was in the middle of trying to fight being medically retired (a fight I lost). I only have 2 medals; a Navy Achievement Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal. Plus a pair of Aircrew Wings, but not the prized Combat Aircrew Wings and an Expert Marksmanship Badge. But still, I am proud of my service, my Corps and my Country. To the "former hat" thanks for your service, Big Brother!

JAH II, SSgt, Ret.​

This guy sounds full of shiat.

​ 1stSgt D.

Sgt Grit,

After reading the story by the "retired hat", Gunnery Sergeant about SgtMaj Petty, it finally penetrated my thick head that 'IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER A RAT'S HIND END' whether a Marine served in combat, or not. We ALL did the job that was assigned to us by HQMC.

Semper Fi,
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines (1949-1970)
Hendersonville, TN​

Sgt. Grit,

I enjoy very much reading the comments in your newsletter every month from all the Marines, young and old. I found the comments in the "Luck Of The Draw" especially interesting as a Vietnam Era Veteran. I did not serve any of my active duty in Vietnam, but did honorably serve my active duty as a United States Marine at Camp Pendleton California.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps on a six month delayed entry program in March of 1969 and was in boot camp in San Diego June 12, 1969. I was seperated on June 11, 1971 under honorable conditions and received my Honorable Discharge Certificate on March 4, 1975. I was told upon enlistment that the Marine Corps would determine where they needed me the most and I was quite surprised at the end of graduation from boot camp that my MOS was an 01. My specific MOS was 0161-Assistant Marine Corps Postal Clerk. I worked at the base post office as well as postal units in the San Onefre Area, Margarita Area and the Headquarters Building.

I remember SSgt. Lopez who taught me very well how to do my job and I only wish I had the opportunity to tell him how much I appreciated the example he demonstrated of a squared away Marine.

The Marines I served with didn't serve any time in Vietnam either, but we still performed our jobs with honor and were proud to be Marines. I have always felt slighted because I was attached to H and S Battalion, MCB and not something like First Marine Division or Third Marine Division. My father and grandfather were also Marines and I know they were proud of my Marine Corps service.

I display my Marine Corps colors in my office, on my truck and my discharge certificate is hanging on my wall as well as my boot camp platoon picture. I am proud of the title of U. S. Marine, Leatherneck and Jarhead of which no one can take away from me, because I earned it.

I acknowledge all Marines I meet with a "Semper Fi", because they know what it means and I will always believe "Once A Marine, Always A Marine".

CPL USMC 69/71

Like many other Marines, I was ordered to VN when I graduated from school. I found this out at the First Sergeant's desk, myself and two other Marines sat on the other side, the Marine on my left was told he was to go to NAS New Orleans, the one on my right to some NAS in New England. Me, to Viet Nam! I was a bit upset when the the Sergeant said to me relax, "I was only kidding, you're all going to Viet Nam. lol.

Sent there by boat, San Pedro harbor, bands, dancing girls all there, me so high up could barely see the girls. 10 days later, through a typhoon, we stopped in Okinawa. My two buddies got off but I stayed on to Da Nang harbor, down the cargo net, to a landing craft and onto the beach. No facilities, just dirt and plants, waited for transport, only reading material was a wanted poster for Marines, just the heads. Finally after about 45 min. trucks arrived to take us and our gear, no weapons yet, to Da Nang. From there 30 miles south to Chu Lai by 6x, again no weapon. Checked in, before I knew what was happening, sirens went off, I was assigned to a machine gun emplacement to feed ammo to the gunner, still no weapon. Luckily there was no attack, next day, off to the armory. When I entered the long narrow bldg. from a side door I just stared at a wall of Thompson Machine guns lining the wall. The armorer covered them with a canvas curtain and issued me an M-14 and ammo. I spent a split tour in Viet Nam with stops in Japan and Okinawa, did one month of guard, night patrols, in a fighting hole with the only company being a fellow Marine and later a dog handler and his dog, who took our other fighting hole, guarded the flight line with shotguns and other stuff. In all that time I never saw any action. Oh, we were mortared but no shots fired. So I guess I am a Viet Nam veteran just like the grunts who waded through the rice paddies, but I feel like I am really closer to those who didn't go.

I do remember being on night watch when I heard an automatic weapon go off. I ran to the hut where the sound came from to find a Marine in the hut holding an AK-47, we got those from the South Korean Marines for Playboy magazines, you know how they got them, from what I could discover after I told him to stand off was that he and a bunkmate hated each other, with the final straw being one peed on the other's bunk. I called for the Sergeant of the Guard, explained the situation. He asked me which position I shot best from, I said prone and he said take that position and hold a bead on that Marine and if he tries anything shoot him, I took my position sweating bullets while the Sergeant went unarmed into the hut. I don't remember how long it was before he brought the Marine out, it seemed like a lifetime.

I guess we all have experiences and to me, because of my experience in Viet Nam I consider all Marines and other Servicemen/women to be Viet Nam Veterans who served their country during that time. I'm glad I came home, I'm glad my brother came home. I'm sad my best friend a drafted Army medic, was KIA in the delta going to help one of his buddies.

I am always Proud to be a United States Marine, I am proud to have served my Country and hope all who served take pride in their service, no matter what they were assigned to do. Not everyone who served in country has a combat action ribbon, but we all did our jobs as we were assigned.

Semper Fi
Patrick Lally, Cpl. E-4
RVN '66 & '67

Homes For Our Troops

Sgt. Grit,

On Saturday, I attended a ceremony turning over keys to a new house presented by Homes for our Troops to Marine L/Cpl Thomas Parker in Polson, MT. Parker was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010 as a member of 3/5. Veterans greeted him at Missoula Airport in January 2011 on his first trip home. This is the first HFOT home in Montana. One year ago, my wife and I also attended a home turnover by Homes For Our Troops to Marine Sergeant Justin Maynard in Cottonwood, AZ.

The homes that are built include a flag pole, and the first element of the ceremony is the raising of our National Colors prior to the ribbon cutting. For Marines in particular, there is one Flag missing - the Marine Corps flag.

Through the work of Milt Cruver, I understand that Sgt. Maynard was presented a Marine flag by your organization. We want to make sure that L/Cpl. Parker also has a Marine flag (in fact, I promised him we would see that he got one to which he was very grateful).

Homes For Our Troops is an outstanding organization that has built 180 homes for wounded warriors from all military service branches with 49 more planned or awaiting qualified recipients. I applaud those who have donated time and money to this noble effort. As Tomy Parker said, the custom home provides simple yet necessary accomodations for providing independence to those who have been severely wounded. Their website is at HfoTUSA.org, if anyone is interested in volunteering or wishes to support in some way.

Following are some pictures of the events on Saturday... they started at the local VFW (weather was snow, some ice, and in the 20's) before moving to the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new home.

Semper Fidelis,
R. Meade Phillips
Montana Pack Leader, Military Order of the Devil Dogs
Past National Vice Commandant, Marine Corps League
Past CA Department Commandant; Past Commandant Detachments 937, 930, 597

The Voyage

(Photo courtesy U.S. Navy Archives)

About the the second day out on the USS Clymer I began feeling more than a little seasick and fed the fish until there was nothing left. I thought that would be the end of it, if there was nothing down there to throw up, you wouldn't have to hang over the rail anymore, WRONG! A couple more days of dry heaves and I seriously thought about letting go of the rail and just get it over with. Some wise old salt told me if you keep your belly full so the juice doesn't slosh around, you won't get sick. I made a record fast trip to ship stores and bought 2 huge boxes of soda crackers and ate till I thought I would pop. MAGIC, I started feeling a lot better right away and actually enjoyed the last couple days of the trip.

I felt lucky to be on the Clymer as the times we were in rough water I could see the bottoms of the LST's or LSD's, whatever they were, and was very glad not to be aboard one of those.

Bud Davis
L/Cpl 6412
VMA 212 '60-'63

DI's Wrath

Just remembered the comments about tie ties in boot camp. When we got our bucket issue there was a cardboard box with a string in it with metal clips. Had no idea what it was for until one of the Drill Instructor's gave us instructions on their use and how to separate them. Along the length they had metal pieces at each end and two clips side by side about every 8 inches. Using one of our safety razor blades we were instructed to cut through the space between two clips. One recruit caught the DI's wrath as he wound up with lengths of frayed string with two clips on the other end. He was probably thinking about cutting his wrist instead of the string.

Pet Peeve

Sgt Grit,

The email about the various USMC covers you carry, and the story by Mike Benfield, brings up a pet peeve of mine regarding people who wear a cover while eating in a restaurant.

You have to consider that the Army, Air Force and Navy don't know any better. As far as civilians go, they're all uncouth cruds anyway. How many Marines would wear their cover into a restaurant, without having a guilty conscience; my Drill Instructor would turn over in his grave if I kept mine on.

Surely, you remember the drill: remove your cover before entering the mess hall; always before entering a Marine Corps office building. Wally-world doesn't count, so I always keep my cover on, but 95%-plus any building I go in, and as soon as I step out the door, my cover goes back on (my balding head).

Also, the comment about the itchy tropicals; you don't know what "itch" means until you have to wear long-sleeved woolen shirts.

Semper Fi,
James R. McMahon
GySgt of Marines (1949-1970)
Hendersonville, TN​

Camp Lejeune Drinking Water

Sgt. Grit,

The other day I received another letter from the Department of The Navy regarding the drinking water issues at Camp Lejeune years ago. When not out on MED cruises, I was stationed at Camp Geiger from 1981 to 1985 and was wondering if the water supply at Geiger was contaminated like the water on Lejeune, assuming that the same chemical disposal practices were common then at both bases? I made attempts to contact several people to get a legitimate answer but have yet to receive confirmation one way or the other. The best I have obtained up to this point from one individual is that they are "pretty sure" the situation was limited to main-side Lejeune.

Semper Fi.

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Platoon

Interesting Tours

Thanks Grit for the comment on interesting Tours, I always kept my eyes open for fear I might miss something. Sitting in the SlopSoot tossng Beer and gripping about where I was and what I was doing seemed to never do any good, while getting out and finding out what was going on helped to pass the time and lighten the burden of being away from home. In Bermuda in the 1950's a guy working for the tourists offered Scuba Diving training to the Marines. I was one of three that took the offer. Another time in the 1950's we were offered Training at the Submarine School in a deep water tank again I was one of three that took the offer. In Detroit I got to watch the Police training for Mob Control. Life is too good to pass up some of the stuff out there, and it wasn't all Military. In Detroit we were Recruiting a platoon of Marines from Detroit and we got offered a tour of the city with stops at the local Beer Companies, at one we got Beer and Sausages. H-ll the USO isn't the only one offering good stuff to the Marines.

GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired

Short Rounds

Submit some of your stories about your most alarming, scariest, troublesome, intimidating, WTF (what the f--k), heart pounding moments in the Corps.

Sgt Grit

I will miss this man's life stories. He brought truth and history to print so younger Marines, like myself, could live the Old Corps through him. Semper Fi.​

An old memory came up recently about the little can opener we were supplied with our delicious C-rations back in the 60's. Those of us in the Grunts called it an "ET-Wa, Eaty-wa, or ah-dee-wa". Anyone else remember the term or why, and where it came from? We still had a lot of Korean era vets in our company so maybe it's Korean?

Harris, M. Cpl '60-'65
9th, 3rd, 7th, 3rd Marines, respectfully.

I have two sets of Blues. Was at 8th & I as my last duty station in 1971 & 1972. I was a cook. We helped direct cars at Arlington National Cemetery. I loved being there. What an honor. I was recruited in Parris Island, and forgot about it. When I came stateside from Nam, I was sent on a cruise and West PAC. We were in Singapore when my orders were cut to 8th & I. I came back to the World alone. I had to get a passport and fly to Okinawa then home.


Corrective Action

In the 15 JAN 2015 Sgt Grit Newsletter the Author's name of the story titled "The High Ground" was misspelled. The correct name of the Author is Robert Clark not Robert Bark. In the responses to his story in this weeks newsletter the author's name has been corrected prior to its release.

Semper Fi.


"Lest I keep my complacent way, I must remember somewhere out there a person died for me today. As long as there must be war, I ask, and I must answer, 'Was I Worth Dying For?'"
--[Eleanor Roosevelt]

"The first day I was at Camp, I was afraid I was going to Die! The next two weeks, my sole fear was that I wasn't going to Die! After that I knew I'd never die because I became so hard that nothing could Kill Me!"
--(World War I Recruits Bootcamp Comment)

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."
--President Reagan, 1985

"Let Bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."
--Menander (342 BC - 292 BC)

"This is my rifle, this is my gun... One is for pleasure, and one is for fun"

"I have more flight time jumping out of the back of six-bys, than you have in the Marine Corps."

"Marines show their pride. We were in the Marine Corps, not 'the service'."

Fair winds and following seas,
Sgt Grit

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