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Sgt Grit Newsletter - 29 OCT 2015

In this issue:
• A Marine's Marine
• LCpl Seth Douglas Henderson
• Turbo-charged PFC

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I was reading your Oct magazine today and a write up from SGT BOB HOLMES mentioning over the side in '53, well I was a Royal Marines Commando on board USS Mount McKinley the 6th Fleets Commando ship off the North Africa coast in 1962. I was in 40 Commando at the time and the USMC & Royal Marines were on a large exercise and we were climbing up and down the nets that were hanging off the ships side, then in landing craft and assault the ship using the nets, and the ship was in a 12ft swell so many Marines from both Corps were as we say "Chucking up".

Ha couldn't do it now aged 75 but in my head I can.

Take care Marines where ever you may be...

Regards Aye,
Royal Marines Commando

PS: I created this small but very interesting display, as it covers our Corps from 1664 to now. I raise money for our Wounded Royal Marines and this year from April 1st till today I have collected £2,178 pounds and 47 pence with 2 weeks to go. I've got to make £2,300 by the end of this month, October.

Man, Do I Have Memories

Sgt. Grit,

After a letter from a Marine Veteran that wrote to me about sending in some of my stories about the Marines as I served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. I served in almost all capacities a ground pounder would serve in, a Naval Yard Sentry, A Prison Guard, an Infantryman, An Infantry Weaponsman, I even served as a Cook (during my return from Korea, the Chief Cook came thru the ships compartments looking for a Night Chief Cook. I knew the night Chief cook didn't do much cooking so I volunteered and got the job. So for a bit less than 20 days I was a Marine Chief Cook aboard the U.S.S. Hase (if memory serves). I made steak sandwiches for friends and even had steak and eggs for breakfast (any old Marine that went to war will tell you Steak and eggs was the before Battle Breakfast, of course Doctors didn't like that breakfast because of problems with stomach wounds). Would I do it again? You bet! And as for Volunteering? You never know what's next in your life unless you do a bit of Volunteering... and let come what may. Live, I mean after all... you only got one life, so Live it. I did and I've got memories, Man do I have memories.

GySgt F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired

A Marine's Marine

While stationed with JAG at Quantico, Va. during the mid 80s, I had the pleasure of having Command Duty Officer for H&SBn. This was a 48 hour tour and to keep busy, and awake, I would conduct a routine walk through of the three buildings occupied by the battalion personnel. While making my tours I would ensure proper security, stop and speak with some of the Marines as to any problems or questions they might have. I actually enjoyed this part of my tour as I got to know some of the new Marines and where they worked. During one tour early in the morning I happened to see a few Marines talking in the common area but I did not want to disturb them so I acknowledged their presence and continued my tour. I did take notice of one Marine whom I did not recognize but I thought him distinguished and tall.

I finished my tour and then took a few weeks R&R to recharge as our court-martial case load was heavy and 12-14 hour days were the norm. Arriving back from R&R I got to work, cleared up our case load and then started playing racquet ball and basketball during lunch with the other JAG Marines. After losing 5-6 pounds in sweat one day, I took a long cold shower, rehydrated and decided to buy a pesi from the junk food machines directly outside the head. As I was ready to leave I heard a voice from my left asking "Hey Gunny, you got a few one dollar bills I can borrow?" I said sure and pulled out a few and turned to give the money to the Marine and as I did I frooze in my tracks. The tall, distinguished Marine I had seen on my prior duty watch was none other than Lieutenant General Peterson. I gathered myself and offered the General 3 one dollar bills and he said, hell, I just need 2. He then asked me my name and I told him and he then said he would have his aide return the money to me shortly. He turned, walked away and said thanks Gy to which I replied "Not a problem General."

It wasn't but two hours later when a sharp looking second lieutenant knocked on my office door and asked for me. I stood up and he gave me two, one dollar bills and said "The General sends his regards." All I could reply was "ditto, sir, ditto." He smiled and left my office.

I was touched...here was a LtGen, soon to be base commander, driving around at night in his own vehicle while in skivies and stopping at the different barracks, talking to other Marines in skivies, finding out from the source, what they did or did not like about any particular issue. His passing broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Here was the simplist of Marines, concerned about his Marines and their welfare above his own. He was a Marine's Marine.

GySgt Kent, USMC(Ret)

Observed Moving A Piano

My dad went thru P.I. in 1918. Later landed in France on Nov. 11, 1918, the day the armistice was signed ending WWI. One story he told about P.I. was as follows: The D.I. asked who has had any music training. Six hands went up. Those 6 were ordered to go with a Cpl. that had brought the request. They left the formation. Approximately 1 hour later these same six were observed moving a piano.

R.R Richardson
Cpl. 1956-58

No Charge

Was never on a base that had such... in MP / Jacksonville section, we ate at a greasy spoon drive-in just on the edge of town about 11pm just before they closed... No charge... they said we broke up enough fights and saved enough glassware that it made our food cheap... On the ship USS Wisconsin (BB64) had no mid-rats... but if you were on brig sentry and took the prisoners to the bakery to work... (primarily scrub pots etc.) you got fresh bread from the oven and ice cold milk and that was d-mn sure better than a horsec--k sandwich (although at times they could taste as good as a steak).

Sgt Don Wackerly

A Stranger Claiming To Be A Marine

There was something in Tom Mahoney's account of the "Are you really a Marine?" ritual he engaged in with a guy at his gym that caught my attention. He wrote, "We played the MOS game, the Boot Camp Game, the General Order Game, until we were both satisfied that we were, in fact, bona fide Marines." I have to say, you're pretty serious about this Marine identity theft issue, buddy. I mean, General Orders? There are some things I could not forget even if I wanted to... such as my service number, the names of my drill instructors at P.I., my MOS, etc. But General Orders? No way!

Sure I'm as willing as the next guy to play the identity game with a stranger claiming to be a Marine. I don't mind telling him what my MOS was or what outfits I was with in the Nam. But if he were to ask me in some gotcha manner to recite my Fourth General Order?" I suspect I would probably throw up my hands and say, "You got me pal. I was actually a draft dodger."

Semper Fidelis
Gary Harlan
Sergeant of Marines (HONEST!)

LCpl Seth Douglas Henderson (1990-2012)

There are many things a parent does for their children, but burying them before you go should never be one. Seth wanted to be a Marine more than any thing in this world, even though his biological father was in the Air Force and his stepfather was in the Army. He would always brag about "being the tip of the Sword". Dropping him off to head to Parris Island was so hard, but I honored his strong belief in serving our country. Unfortunately, he never got to fulfill his dream.

Graduation day was the proudest moment in his life and I don't believe there could have been a more proud momma sitting in the bleachers. He wanted to show us everything that we were allowed to see, especially the Marine Museum. Even graduating from the next school, was such an honor and I knew with all of my heart, that my one and only son, had found his purpose in life.

As a reservist, he was so excited when he found out that he would finally be leaving in two weeks to go to California for additional training before being shipped out. It was the week of July 4th and he and several buddies decided to go to the lake and then have a big cookout. All the boys were partying and apparently having fun, but the next morning Seth did not wake up. The coroner said his heart stopped beating very early in the morning. We waited six months for the full report and yes, my heart was even more broken when it was deemed a drug overdose. This was not my son, he was a United States Marine. He didn't take drugs, but apparently that night they all played around and mine was the one that did not survive.

There must have been over 50 beautiful Marines dressed in their dress blues, as was Seth, at his service. And as each one of them came up to me after the graveside service, I was told over and over that he would not be forgotten, and that if I ever needed any thing, to just reach out to one of his brothers. For about a year, one of the young men he enlisted with checked on me once a month and that meant more than words can express.

I have come to realize that during moments like this people say things they truly mean, but over time, everyone gets busy with life and we are forgotten. It has taken me three years to take off the Marine bumper stickers and "Marine Mom" tag from my car. Even then, I couldn't remove them, my husband had to - the pain was just too much to bear.

I love to read the articles from the newsletter. I realize that my son never got to serve our country during war and that no, he did not die in action, but the pain of losing him is just the same. So I just want to thank each and every one of you that are "the tip of the Sword" for your service whether it was fighting in another country or serving here in America. I need to hear from one of his brothers just to remind me that his life mattered. I know that I am still a "Marine Mom," I just miss him so much and I fear this pain will never go away.

I feel there is no greater group of men or women on this earth than those who are United States Marines. Thank you for letting me share my story.

Semper Fidelis,
Daphney Torres

Mrs. Torres,

This is James Williams, Marine Veteran, and former Sergeant of Marines. After reading your story, a Marine can only be humbled by your pain of loss and the passing of a brother Marine. There are no words that I can say that can ease the pain from the loss of a child, but know that your son, LCpl Seth D. Henderson, is standing post at Heaven's Gates. We all enter this world the same way and we all must leave it one day.

Seth was your son, your baby, and our brother. The Marine Corps lives on, and that also means that Seth lives on through us and through you. You will always be a Marine Mom because he will always and forever be your son and your Marine.

May GOD bless and comfort you and your family.

J. Williams
Sgt Grit Staff

A Nice Long Drink

Your recent letter from JimMc... GySgt from Hendersonville, TN reminded me of a fellow Marine stationed with me at HQ-3-11, 1st MarDiv back in 1962-64.

He was from, as he put it, "the back hills of Kentucky". His high school graduating class consisted of 6 (maybe 8) students and was very proud of graduating because he was the first person in his family to ever graduated from high school. After 50+ years, memories may be off a little, but I also remember that he once told me that he thought that it was great to be able to go into a (shower) room, turn two knobs and water would come out like rain. And the best part was you could control the temperature of the water.

Around Christmas, circa 1963, he received a well packed, quart Mason jar that contained a clear and colorless liquid. He was thrilled with this gift. He immediately opened the jar and took a nice, long drink and then handed it to me so I could have a drink. As I brought this Mason Jar up to my lips I am sure that the fumes burned off all the hair in my nose. That was my first clue that this was not "well water" from home. I took a sip to be polite and upon swallowing it I learned what it must be like to swallow fire. Spicy, Mexican food cannot hold a candle to this particular "batch of home brew".

If there are others who were in HQ-3-11 back in 1962-64, write to grunt.com and remind the rest of us what you recall.

Semper Fi,
Jim Brower, 197XXXX
Monmouth, IL

Salute Us

One of my proudest moments in boot camp was graduation day. As we were marching to graduation another Drill Instructor stopped his new recruits and made them salute us. He said, "There goes some REAL Marines." I know the the whole platoon walked taller with pride.

Bill Maynard U.S.M.C 1969-1972

Turbo-charged PFC

Noted that Cpl Slater stated that his (un-shined) web belt buckle was issued to him in 1958... which means that any current web belt does not exactly fit the buckle... the older version buckle is about an eighth of an inch wider than the current belts.... I forget when it changed, probably about the time that brown shoes became black, sateen utilities came along, the collar emblems left the long-sleeve shirt collar, etc. If it truly is a 'salty' buckle, it will have a slight bend in it... a result of using the buckle to remove the cap(s) from beer bottles, in the days before 'twist-off' caps. Buckle was not needed to open canned beer, but a 'church key' opener would open either canned or bottled... and then the pop-top can came along. Recall having a few with my peeps in VN, including one genius who was in the habit of crushing his empties on his forehead... we had somehow acquired in the mix a case of Korean beer... which came with three loose church keys in the case. That should have been his clue... these were not aluminum cans, but steel... and the keys were the means of access. Genius emptied his first (well... the first from THAT case...)... and came back from sick bay with four neat stitches in his forehead. We put him in for a DFM...

Re: the drill and rank structure changes, my memory is that the new rank structure became effective 1 January 1959, and the return to Landing Party Manual drill was effective with General Shoup's first ALMAR message. He became Commandant 1 January 1960. (Since my DOR as Corporal was 29 December 1958, and involved a Request Mast to get there, I kinda remember it pretty clearly... along with all the hoop jumps it took, including a JOB with the BN XO where I was the only one to be inspected, etc... long story, but never was a turbo-charged PFC)...


A Thing For Sheep

I'll share one of the funny things that I saw at Parris Island, though at the time no one dared to laugh.

Everyone who went through Marine Boot Camp is well acquainted with the right way to address your Drill Instructors, Sir, No Sir, Yes Sir, Sir, Sir, Sir, "the Drill Instructor and whatever they told you was their right way."

And... THE wrong way. "You". I'll bet everyone has a "you" story or "you" experience.

I have one of those, but not the usual DI-in-your-face, asking if you thought he looked like a sheep etc. type of story.

I went through PI in 1961, graduating with Platoon 383, SSGT Taylor as the Senior DI. One of our platoon of boots made that fatal mistake, and one day with a regrettable slip of the tongue addressed SSGT Taylor as "you".

SSgt Taylor didn't go ballistic. He just firmly corrected him, reminded him that's not a word to use when addressing his Drill Instructors. Then observed that the recruit seemed to have a thing for sheep. Paused... then told him to get out of his barracks and his sight. And don't come back until he could find and bring him back a sheep.

The Recruit (and the rest of us) were kind of dumbfounded. If I recall the Recruit said "Sir?" And he repeated it, "Get out! You heard me, get out of here and get me a sheep!" We'd been in training long enough, to where the only thing you knew, that was familiar, was the platoon, your DIs, your barracks. Everything you did, you did as a unit. The very idea of being by yourself was by now foreign, and going out into the cold cruel world of a base about which you knew about nothing was nearly surreal.

Sometimes a recruit was tagged for a courier task or errand. My DI sent me once to another platoon's DI with a message or to get something from him (where I was treated as an invader), and once to Battalion HQ (late in the cycle). I had a destination and he may have given me a "hall pass" or something I could show if challenged. Even so, it was the weirdest feeling. So I can only imagine what went through my fellow recruit's head when he went into the unknown armed with nothing to legitimize his trip.

He was gone for quite awhile. Then he returned and presented himself to SSgt Taylor... reporting as ordered... with a "sheep". He had this pretty good rustic art-like "sheep" made of dried grass/straw.

I think the DIs expected he'd have to come back empty-handed of course and plead for re-admission to the platoon or some such scenario. If I recall they were momentarily speechless, and I think really wanted to fall down and laugh their azses off. They never in a million years expected this.

If I recall he didn't get a ration of cr-p and was allowed to ease back into the fold. I supposed this was a reward for his creativity in carrying out his orders.

I don't know what SSgt Taylor did with it, but I'll bet he took it home with a great story. I'd have kept it as one of my PI souvenirs.

Cpl Harkness, 1961-1965

Lost And Found

Back in the Day, we were on active duty during the late 60s, early 70s with VMFA-451 at MCAS Beaufort, SC. A few of us have stayed in touch over the decades. We're still trying to contact a few guys from the Airframes division, Cpl Michael Roger Smith and John Inabit (sp). Smitty was from Ann Arbor, MI and John was from the Ft. Wayne, IN area. If either of you read this or anyone knows either one please contact me.

Sgt Roman "Ski" Milanowicz
Formerly 451 Seat Shop & Check Crew

Short Rounds

The day of pride 50 years ago on 28 October 1965 started the lifelong pride and honor of earning the title: U.S. STATES MARINE. To the thousands of young men and women who also share the title past, present, and future. HAPPY 50th ANNIVERSARY, and SEMPER FI MARINES.


I hate to tell you MSgt Edd Protro but you were not the last Platoon to qualify at Camp Matthews. I was with Platoon 360 and I did not get to Boot Camp until July 1st of '64 and we were the last Platoon to qualify at Camp Matthews. That would have been into our 7th or 8th week.

Sgt Dick Sersch

Sgt. Grit,

My brain housing group is well messed up (bad booze, and fast women), but the command is with a clip and two rounds lock and load. Three rounds would make 11 rounds down range after a full clip of 8 on the reload. Not nice to mess with an old farts down time!

GySgt. Joe Barlow Jr. (Ret.)
1961 to 1981 and 1991

In reply to MSgt Ret. Edd Prothro he wrote in the 22 October 2015 newsletter that he was in the last series to Qualify at Camp Matthews in 1964, well I was in PLT 157 Graduated on 22 September 1964... we had mess duty at Edson Range after the range. And lived in the air conditioned barracks, sure was a move up after living in tent city at Matthews while on the range. I am sure 157 comes after 141... So I believe I was one of the last.

Mel Hendrickson (Skoshie)
0848 Sgt E-5, Jul '64 to Jun '68

All good except for the one that was totally wrong.

It was with a Clip and (2) two rounds because your next clip would be a full clip of (8) Eight rounds... In all of the years that I carried the M-1 it was always with a Clip and two (2) rounds lock and load. Followed by Ready on the right, ready on the left, all ready on the Firing line. Watch your Targets, "Targets".

GySgt E.W. Wilbur

Hey Grit,

In this weeks short round you list "With a clip of three rounds, lock and load! Watch your targets... TARGETS!". The correct number of rounds is two. Remember an M1 clip holds 8 rounds so two then a reload with 8 makes up the 10 round string. M14 is also a magazine with two followed by a magazine with 8.


Learned while hanging from the chin up bar in the squad bay whilst the Drill Instructor used me for a punching bag.

"Beautiful Beufort,
By the sea,
I am a sh-t bird,
From the Yemassee."

Norm Spilleth
Cpl/E4 1960 - 1964


"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."
--George Washington, 1795

"[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous."
--George Washington, 1790

"Marines have a cynical approach to war. They believe in three things; liberty, payday and that when two Marines are together in a fight, one is being wasted. Being a minority group militarily, they are proud and sensitive in their dealings with other military organizations. A Marine's concept of a perfect battle is to have other Marines on the right and left flanks, Marine aircraft overhead and Marine artillery and naval gunfire backing them up."
--War correspondent Ernie Pyle, killed on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Archipelago, 1945

"We're not accustomed to occupying defensive positions. It's destructive to morale."
--LtGen H. M. "Howlin' Mad" Smith, Iwo Jima, 1945, quoted to Walter Karig

"PT is strictly mind over matter, I don't mind and you don't matter.

"Close it up, Move it. Azzholes to elbows. Close it up."

Semper Fi, Mac!
Sgt Grit

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