Sgt Grit Newsletter - 08 JUN 2016

In this issue:
• I Learned In The Corps
• Marine Recon Versus Navy Seals
• Squib About Boot Camp

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LtCol Nikerl and Son at MCRDSD Boot Camp Graduation

Lieutenant Col. Jason L. Nickerl, Deputy Director of Recruiting, Western Recruiting Region, was honored at his retirement ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, May 20. His retirement was bittersweet because as he leaves the Corps, he watched his son graduate recruit training and fill his footsteps.

Periodically, a few of us "old Marines" from the Los Angeles area will drive down to MCRD, San Diego to witness a Friday graduation. We have been doing this 2 or 3 times a year for a while. Our main goal has been to witness our graduating Marines and watch the last time their Drill Instructors dismiss their platoons... their families will rush to hug, kiss and greet their young Marine. We try and find the Marines whose families could not make the trip out to be part of the graduation ceremonies and will go out and congratulate them... we try and make their day just as special. A few weeks ago, on our journey, we were part of a very special day for the family of Lt. Col Nickeri... This gave me goosebumps!

Howard Hada
Sea Going

USMC Pride On Truck

Marine Semi with USMC Flag

Sgt Grit,

This is my truck. Just thought you would like to see how I display my pride. Flag, knobs, shift tower, wheel cover, floor mats and carpet stickers outside... All USMC.

More planned for new 2017 truck including paint and decals.

Jeff Pilon

U.S. Marines Graves Registration And Body Bearers

Most civilians do not realize the process and details that are required to handle a dead Marine on the battlefield, or when they are laid to rest, as they arrive home. This is also true for Marines who die at advanced ages at home, who wish to have a military funeral.

On the battlefield, it's often hard to identify the body, so fingerprints are taken by graves registration, during the time they come upon the body (identifyable or not ). Then the body is wrapped in cloth and transported to a field hospital, for transportation home. In many cases in "the past years "... buried on the battlefield, they died on.

Of course during WWI and WWII, the bodies were laid to rest on the battlefield but not until the identification process was completed. That's how they complete the cross above the grave, and assure the identity is correct.

When a Marine is killed and sent home, or when one dies as a civilian, the Body Bearers are called in to handle the ceremony for the family.

This site is from Steve House. It's interesting as most people do not realize this even occurs, or what it takes, to make it happen.

Marine Corps Body Bearers

John Wear

I Learned In the Marine Corps

Marines on USS Valley Forge 1968

L to R, Holland, Meadows (RIP), Adcock and Kennedy singing "Folsom Prison Blues" on board LPH8, USS Valley Forge (RIP), Jan. '68. Holland had received that scotch in the mail and we were feeling pretty darn good. Kennedy and I just spent a week touring Civil War battlefields in VA, MD and PA. As Zell Miller, former Georgia governor and senator, said: "Everything I needed to know I learned in the Marine Corps!"

Semper Fi,
Bob Adcock

Invaded And Captured

I read with interest the story which mentions a Loyd Brandt which says that he was in a recon unit in WW II. My late father, John T. McAniff was in Amphibious Reconaisance Co, & then B. He went ashore on many an enemy beach to gather information to help plan the different island invasions. I believe that the first was at Abemama (Apamama) in the Gilbert Islands. He said that they landed from the USS Nautalus, & that it was the first time in MC history that an enemy island had been invaded & captured by Marines from a submarine. He served at quite a few other islands, including Iwo Jima, & Okinawa. He also told me that because the unit was such a top secret one, most of the credit for what they did was credited to the Raiders, to keep the enemy from finding out about their activities. I'm just wondering if Mr. Brandt by any chance remembers... given since it was such a long time in the past it was. My father also served in MT in Vietnam, & passed to the pearly gates on May 1st, 1999.

John T. McAniff III
Including May68-May69 in Vietnam

Marine Recon Versus Navy Seals

Sgt. Grit,

Last night I watched the movie Lone Survivor for the second time since it first came out. In watching the movie this time I noticed that a Marine Staff Sergeant was providing communication support for the SEALS at a basecamp. Watching the movie brought to mind a few questions. Why are the Marines providing communication support for SEALS on a ground operation, and why are SEALS performing the mission instead of a Marine Recon team? We hear so much about the SEALS these days, particularly since the release of the movies Lone Survivor and American Sniper, but you rarely, if ever, hear about the activity of Marine Recon teams. I realize this is probably by design, but I am often asked the difference between the SEALS and Marine Recon by people I work with, however, I cannot give the person asking an accurate, honest answer. Being a Marine and partial to our service I believe the Marine Recon teams are equal to or better than SEAL teams, but speaking honestly, I can't explain what one team does that the other does not do.

When I saw the movie American Sniper I could not help but wonder why a SEAL sniper was covering the ground movements of Marine grunts as opposed to a Marine sniper. While we did have several guys in Weapons platoon who went through Sniper School (upon completion they returned to Lima 3/8 and remained attached to the company as snipers and not 0331 machine gunners), I can't say I ever met anyone who was in either Battalion or Force Recon to ask them what their training consisted of, to even begin to wonder whose training is tougher. Not wanting to sound like an ignorant fool, I do not comment when asked these questions. Can any Marine Recon reading this post explain the main difference between Marine Recon and SEALS to the best of their knowledge?

Thanks and Semper Fi.

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8, Weapons Plt

Squib About Boot Camp

Sgt. Grit,

I finally got around to finishing this squib about boot camp. It is a bit long but I don't know how to shorten it.

Red Sweat Shirts and Yellow Foot Prints

I have noticed that the posts about the yellow footprints at the recruit depots have folks that remember them and those that don't. If any of you guys were like me, noticing and remembering said yellow footprints was the last thing on our mind during those first hours.

MCRD on February 8th, 1960 was my destination. Flying in from Detroit via Chicago during a snowstorm was exciting and arriving in San Diego was absolutely wonderful. Warm weather and a nice Marine invited us to board his 6X in front of the airport. His words were "Get in the truck, spit out that gum, no talking, keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times and all I want to see are aszholes and elbows! Now MOVE!"

I was the last in the 6X so I had a seat looking out the rear. Behind us, on the way to the depot, was a white 1958 convertible Cadillac with a beautiful blond driving. I sort of waved and she waved back. I've been in love with San Diego ever since.

We turned into the main gate and drove around for a while until we stopped in front of Receiving Barracks. (I found out later they do that because the main gate is just behind the receiving barracks and there is no sense for us to know how close freedom is if we decide to run.) Might have been yellow footprints. I was a bit distracted by all the yelling and stuff.

The rest of that day is a blur. There were the showers, haircut, quick in and out for the bucket issue and wrapping up our civilian clothing for mailing home. (Mine never made it).

First meal was late morning. Left over SOS. Never could stomach it again.

That night, I can still recall standing "fire watch" on the first floor while my fellow recruits got 45 minutes of shuteye. Across from me was a full-length mirror that showed me what I looked like after a day in the Marine Corps. I ran my hand over my shaved head and wondered what the h-ll have I done.

I've been reading about the yellow sweatshirts and wish we had been issued them instead of the red ones. After the first time at the Wash Racks, all of our skivvies turned pink. Perhaps that is why they never issued red sweatshirts again.

Learned how to march on the "Grinder" that was not a parking lot back then. Our Quonset huts were far enough from the theater that we never heard anything going on inside until graduation day. Don't think they use it for that anymore. I still have scars on my palms from pushups on the grinder.

The first couple of weeks at boot camp are still just spotty memories, but I do recall being able to take my first dump. Usually "head calls" were limited to only a few minutes and since I was used to taking 15 minutes to defecate as a civilian, the few minutes given us was not enough. It must have been into the second week that the pain of having not cr-pped that I couldn't wait any longer. I snuck out of the Quonset hut, evaded the fire watch to the heads. There, in that long row of toilets, I found relief. Two weeks of sh-t takes a while. As I was finishing up, another recruit came in for the same reason. We talked about where we came from and found out he dated the same girl I did back in Michigan, Pvt. Mitchell.

My memories tell me that there were, female boot Marines on the opposite side of the Grinder. Could see them out of the corner of my eye as we tried to learn "Squads' Right Onto Line." The Marine Corps finally figured out that was way too complicated for us to learn and it was dropped.

It seemed that we changed Drill Instructors every couple of weeks. Fortunately Sgt E4, C.H. Henrickeson was with us until we graduated. I ran into him three years later and noticed he was now an E5 Sgt. and I was an E4 Corporal by then. He told me not to pass him up, as it would p-ss him off; his favorite saying as a DI. We never wanted to p-ss him off. At reveille, he could call out "218" in a calm, quiet voice from the Duty Hut, which we could hear and yell back, "218!" Then up and dressed in moments. Didn't want to p-ss him off.

One of the other rotating DI's was a guy that had a cadence like "Hip Hidey Ho Hi Heeps" Years later while up at Mt Fuji, for cold weather training, I heard that cadence coming from across the tent area and had to scurry over there to check it out. Sure enough it was he, SSgt Cheslock.

Another DI was a guy by the name of Sgt G.H. Michael. His demeanor was such that I was sure he was picked on growing up and enjoyed the position of authority as a drill instructor. Fortunately we only had him for a few weeks before he was sent to practice his sadism on another platoon.

The last DI was only with us for about three weeks until graduation. I don't recall his name, as I should since he was the only one that laid hands on me. Coming back from dinner, I glanced to my right to see if the flag was about to be brought down. That quick glance was seen and suddenly, the DI confronted me. In my ear he said "Report to he Duty Hut when we get back to the Quonset hut."

Entering the Duty Hut is one of the last things any of us wanted to do. For behind and within that door are the masters of our life. They seem to know every nuance that it takes to make our every breath a living h-ll.

Bang, Bang, Bang! "Sir. Private Harris reporting as ordered. Sir!"
Three steps in. Left turn in front of the desk, hat removed in an orderly manner and tucked under the left arm, standing at attention.
Drill Instructor: "What do you want Private Sh-t for Brains?"
Me: "Sir. The Drill Instructor ordered the Private to report to the Duty Hut upon returning from chow. Sir."

In a flash he was in front of me and I could tell he didn't remember why he had summoned me. One can tell when a Drill Instructor is at a loss, which happens like never. Slowly it dawned on him and he executed a quick punishment to the mid section. "Get out and never do it again!"

On graduation day, as the Drill Instructors were congratulating us, he asked me if I had been in his platoon the whole time. Can't spend time in boot camp any better than that. I never stood out.

The Drill Instructors have an amazing job to do, turning civilians into a smooth operating machine to do what he Marine Corps needs done. They made a better person of me and I belatedly thanked them for it.

Cpl. M.W. Harris '60-'64
Semper Fi

Boot Camp Dark Comedy

HEY MARINES! I had good response to my first request and need just a little more to wrap it up. Marines have served around the world, in every clime and situation, but we all have one common thing - boot camp. Where ever Marines gather (4 in my family) the talk eventually turns to who had the toughest DIs. Usually the stories, while not funny at the instant, can be looked back on as (perhaps, dark) comedy.

I am compiling a collection of boot camp stories for publication No names (to protect the innocent) other than the contributor's will be used. Nothing derogatory to the Corps will be used. I am looking for odd, just plain interesting, humorous or downright funny stories. My book is filling up fast but I will use all appropriate stories. If you are willing to share your tales of woe, include your name, platoon number, date of enlistment, MCRD station (P.I./S.D.) and, if possible, your boot camp picture which will accompany your story. Email: bootcampstories2[at]gmail[dot]com. This has been a fun project and I hope many Marines will get a few chuckles along with some fond memories.

Semper Fi
Jim Barber
Platoon 324
March 6, 1958

Straight Scoop

C course targets

Reading the 25 May newsletter, I came across some information regarding rifle and pistol qualification that needs to be clarified to some extent. I have qualified with the three service rifles that the Marine Corps had up to 1988: They were the M-1 Grand, M-14, and the M-16. From the fifties and well into the eighties, the course of fire for qualification for recruits never changed.

To Fred Romero: There has never has been numerical numbers such as 10s, 9s, or 8s for recruits to qualify with the rifle range during the 1960s. Only 5, 4, 3, 2, and the maggies drawers. Could have confused the numerical numbers for qualification with the pistol as a police officer. Here are the actual numbers.


Ten Rounds Slow fire – Offhand Position – Ten Minutes – 50 Points
Ten Rounds Rapid fire – Sitting Position – Fifty Seconds – 50 Points

Five Rounds Sitting and Five Rounds Kneeling – Ten Minutes – 50 Points
Ten Rounds Rapid fire – Prone Position – Sixty Seconds – 50 Points

Ten Rounds Slow fire - Prone Position – Ten Minutes – 50 Points

Points            Rating
250 to 220    Expert
219 to 210    Sharpshooter
209 to 190    Marksman
189 – Below  Non-Qual

With the exception of one time during the late sixties the Marine Corps toyed around with the "C" Course. The "C" course consists of silhouette targets similar to the targets on a combat course. Only the rounds in the black would be counted for score; fours, trays, and deuces were eliminated. The objective was to teach point of aim, point of impact. Only Marines would qualify on the "C" course; the recruits continued to qualify on the "A" course.

Ron Huffman: During recruit training the recruits only fired for familiarization (FAM Fire). There were no qualification badges passed out for FAM fire.

Jim Lunch: During rapid fire the command was with a clip of two rounds lock and load: Or with the other two service rifles, with a magazine and two rounds lock and load; once fired the shooter would insert a clip or magazine of eight rounds to complete the string of rapid fire.

Herb Brewer
1stSgt (Ret)

M1911A1 Qualification

Regarding Ron Hoffman's letter in the last newsletter, I think he might be mistaken about qualifying with the M1911. I was in Plt. 237 from June until August, 1965, and we fam-fired the .45, but it was far from a qualification. As I recall, we had a 45 or 60 minute lecture/demonstration and then proceeded directly to the range, where we fired a magazine load (maybe) at one target.

We then cleaned the weapon, turned it back in to the armorer and continued with training (running). Also, as I recall, only staff NCOs and above ever qualified with the .45.

Please correct me if I am mistaken, but that's how my feeble, sh*t brain remembers it.

Semper Fi - SEMPER!
Mike Gollihur
former Sgt. of Marines, '65-'69
Chu Lai, RVN, '67-'68

Rifle Qual Range Score Book

Rifle Qual Score Book 1948 M1

I'm just wondering if any of my brothers out there still have their U.S. Marine Corps rifle range score book. Here's what it looked like in 1948. Didn't do too bad at 300 yards but still ended up as just a Marksman. That's probably why they sent me to an Air Wing (2MAW).

Semper Fi,
Wallace Pfeifer
Plt 148 2ndBn

P.S. Did a lot better on subsequent rifle qualifications.

Puff The Magic Dragon

The original "Puff" was an old WW-2-vintage C-47... a two engine cargo carrier that was converted to the "AC-47" and was designed for Close Air Support (I was told that it was initially used for the US Marines along the DMZ). A few weeks ago, I was privileged to speak to a older retired "US Air Farce" colonel who was the designer and squadron commander of the first US AC-47 gunships. His story was pretty amazing. They started out being armed with just two regular M-60 machineguns and advanced to four, then to the mini-guns. He said that they had seven "Puff's" in service but they could only keep three in the sky... mostly due to the fact that the planes were (at the time) 30+ years old and pretty beat up after all those years of service. He remembered one specific instance where my mine-damaged tank was left out on the DMZ overnight and his plane flew overhead keeping an eye on us. I shook his hand and thanked him profusely... even if it was almost 50 years later.

As an aside, the old colonel marveled at the armaments and sophistication of the newer C-130 and how advanced the planes were compared to the primitive "clunkers" from the Vietnam War.

The Insanely Powerful AC-130

John Wear

Marine Pilot Training

Going to the boat... first time. Hope you enjoy this... I did.

These brave young people take on risk and show joy in their accomplishments; check the smiles and chuckles.

Here is a good birds eye view of what pilots see when they are landing on the deck of a carrier. Most Marine pilots are required to do carrier quals, as all Navy pilots are required to do. They begin with a touch and go then proceed to catch an arresting gear wire on the ship's deck. Take note of the pilot's description of the moving angle deck they have to land on.

Angle of Attack

Bruce Otis

Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel 5

LVTP5 Book Cover

Sgt Grit,

A brand new book about the Vietnam era LVTP5 (Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel 5) hits the ground:

The first and only illustrated book about the LVTP5 (Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel 5) and its variants. Over 60 photographs never published before about the construction and building of the LVTP5, by the St. Louis Car Company Records. Rare B&W photographs from the LVTP5 in combat during the Vietnam War. Also some breathtaking, revised color photographs. All from private collections, provided by Vietnam amtrackers. Brief written history about the LVTP5 and its variants and detailed captions for every photograph. Over 40 funny, crazy, horrible and grim testimonials by amtrackers and a foreword by retired USMC Captain David Sconyers.

This book is a must have for every amtrac veteran and military history collector.

If you would like to order an issue or a book contingent, please contact us or visit us online at LVTP5: Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel.

David Koller

Short Rounds

My son graduated from MCRD PI in October 2008, went right away to SOI, I believe at Camp Geiger, then immediately onto Crewman's Course at Camp Pendleton. You would know better than I, the math on that timeline, but I'm thinking it was late 2008 or early 2009 when he got there, and I know it was still called Mt. Motherf**ucker then, because he made mention of it more than once. And he was more than happy to tell me why. It is now called "The Reaper".

Christine Norberg
Proud Marine Mom... and
Proud Army Mom

Drop an empty clip into the receiver, slide 2 rounds, one at a time under the clip's lips, while holding the bolt handle to the rear with the side of your right hand, press the clip and 2 rounds down with your thumb and release the bolt getting your thumb out of the way, post haste or get a nasty M-1 thumb. As the bolt travels forward, it will strip one round off and load it into the chamber. Ready on the right, ready on the left, already on the firing line, standby! In the butts standby, TARGETS!

Bill Wilson
3rd MAW Pistol Team
50+ years ago, too!

If your DD-214 shows you qualified on the 1911, you can easily get the badge from most any Marine uniform supplier. Familiarization firing doesn't count.

Tom Yarbrough
Cpl 1961-66

I'm writing in regards to a post:

"At the time I only wanted the card because of the discounts that I could get at different stores. SSgt. Jackie Thomas"


Most states have ID card with veterans & branch of service.

Veterans ID on Driver's License By State

CPL Roy Garcia


"You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth--and the amusing thing about it is that they are."
--Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest SOBs I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, of the United States Marines I've come in contact with, are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet."
--An Anonymous Canadian Citizen

"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

"You can take a man out of the Marine Corps; you will never take the Marine Corps out of the man."

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don't have that problem."
--Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985

"I pulled mess duty at the last supper."

"I was assigned to the Marine Detactment on Noar's Ark."

"Make a hole and make it wide, part like the red f--------n sea."

"I'll be out of the area all day!"

Carry On,
Sgt Grit

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