Sgt Grit Newsletter - 14 JAN 2016

In this issue:
• Moved To Heaven's Gates
• C-rats Then MREs
• Standing Inspections Sir

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An American Marine aiming his M1 Garand rifle, whilst perched on Japanese ammunition crates on the Island of Iwo Jima, circa February/March 1945.

(Colourised by Royston Leonard from the UK)

Marine aiming his M1 Garand on Iwo Jima

John Wayne Cracker

All this noise about C's. How many of you experts know how many holes there are in a John Wayne cracker?

Gunny W.

Moved To Heaven's Gates

Cpl Dowdy with Vietnam Veterans Conkling, Sevren, and Alley

Cpl Dowdy in Veterans Day Parade in 2012

Sgt. Grit,

I am sorry for the lateness of this obit for WW2 Marine Robert Dowdy. I only found out about his passing recently myself when I had attempted to call him for New Years Day.

Cpl. Dowdy and I had met each other during a Veterans Day Parade back in 2012. The parade was hosted by American Legion Post 238 of Teague, Texas of which I was a member. I say that I was a member as now the post has disbanded recently.

When Cpl. Dowdy told me that he had been on Guadalcanal in 1942 along with Col. Chesty Puller, I was thrilled beyond belief to meet a Marine that actually knew Col. Puller and had fought along side him. One day I asked him if he would autograph my 1st Edition copy of Guadalcanal Diary by Robert Tregaskis. He said that he didn't write that book. I explained that I knew that he didn't but I would be honored if, as a Marine who had lived through that battle, to have him autograph it for me.

I've attached a copy of the picture I took. I'm also attaching a picture of him riding his motoroized chair in the parade with his sign showing that he had joined the Marine Corps on December 9th of 1941. The third picture is Cpl. Dowdy with myself on the left and two Vietnam Veterans in 2013. All four men in the picture are Marines. The other two Marines are Steve Sevren and Dan Alley who are members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 of Palestine, Texas.

Cpl. Dowdy was born 12 October 1923 and moved to Heaven's Gates on 5 December 2015.

Rest in Peace, Marine.

Semper Fi,
Carl Conkling

Woodland Camo Propper Softshell Jacket

C-rats Then MREs

Sgt. Grit,

Just had to weigh in on the MRE/C-rat dialogue. Reading MSgt Sullivan's post reminded me of the time period when the changeover was made as he and I went into the Corps the same year. Being a grunt, we ate C-Rats fairly often, but I don't recall when exactly that the MREs where first issued (I'm guessing around 1983), however, I do know that at least in 3/8 we never saw the C-rats again after we were first issued the MREs. Personally, the biggest change for me was not being able to use my John Wayne. I thought the meals, for the most part did taste better, although I did enjoy the ham and eggs in the C-Rats and did miss them. I seem to recall a somewhat tasty fruitcake slab, but the main course of the meals themselves did not impress me. I also liked the freeze-dried peaches and used to eat them in their solid state. It sounds crazy and grosses my wife out when I say it, but my absolute favorite food was the powdered eggs we were fed when we were served hot chow in the bush. I could not eat enough of them. I had to load them up with salt and sometimes a bit of hot sauce, but I loved them!

My daughter has my dogs tags along with my original John Wayne and it's a bit tarnished and rusted at the hinge so when she first saw it she said, "so you actually opened your food containers with this thing after if hung around your neck and absorbed all that dirt and nasty sweat on your body?" "Yup", was the best I could offer her! Semper Fi!

Mike Kunkel
Cpl 0331
Lima 3/8 Weapons Plt

Now Reveille

As I read your quoting the sound of Reveille, I immediately thought about what a Marine heard over the squawk box every morning aboard an APA, or troop transport, USS Sandoval APA 194. It has never left my memory. First came the shrill of the Boatswain's Pipe, then...

"Now Reveille! All hands heave out and trice up. The smoking lamp is lit in all berthing compartments. Now Reveille!"

That was drummed into my head as an 0311 with D/1/6 on a Med Cruise in the Spring of '67. That lovely trip was followed by orders to 'Nam the following October.

Tom Moore
D/1/6, G/2/4

1st Recon Battalion Unit Gear

Used And Abused

Semper Fi, Sgt. Grit!

I don't know why it's so hard to believe we ate WWII/Korea C-Rats in Nam; I distinctly remember some dated 1947, the year I was born and some even earlier. The whole Marine Corps mission in Nam was, "Do More With Less". Most of our vehicles and equipment had been used and abused by the Navy and Army first. Thankfully, our support Marines made them like new.

Remember when you went through the line for your shots before shipping out to Nam? At the end of the line, you had to drop trou. to receive 10 cc. of GG in the rear. GG was a cure-all left over from WWII/Korea and was about as thick as petroleum jelly; it felt like a softball in your rear. There was a thinner, newer cure-all but that went to the other branches. Also, there was a newer, lighter flak jacket avail. in Nam but they went to the Army, Navy and Air Force; we wore the old surplus bulky, heavy ones.

Cpl. Bill Reed
RVN '68-'69

They Are Out There Right Now

Sgt. Grit,

I have to answer WMD on his comments about the breed that will never be duplicated. I strongly object. They are out there right now. They will answer the call in the same way the gentlemen WMD holds up as examples. Please, don't sell our brethren in our beloved Corps or those who will be in the future short. Who thought they would ever see the likes of Dan Daly or Smedley Butler ever again. I won't argue that all these men are a breed apart, but they never broke that mold that I know of. They really are out there. Waiting. Waiting for their chance. Their chance to answer the call of those who went before. "You plan to live forever?"

Sgt. R. S. Brayton '71-'75

Helluva Meal

At Khe Sanh in Jan. '68, our mess hall got blown away. C-Rats were issued. The first round we got was dated 1942! My Lucky's had a GREEN bullseye on it. About the only meal I didn't like was the Ham and Muthers! A little garlic powder (wife sent it to me), hot sauce, and anything was edible.

Loved the Beans and Franks, and Spaghetti. Trey and Tad would make a raid on the dry stores and bring back spaghetti noodles and other stuff. I could make a helluva meal out of beef with spiced sauce and the stuff they brought back.

Addison "Tex" Miller
Nam '67-'68

One Smell I Can Still Smell Today

Sgt. Grit,

In ITR in Sept '69 the C-rats we got to eat were dated either 1954 or '55. We were told to eat the chocolate disks if we were plugged up and the peanut butter if we had the runs. Cigarettes were all non-filtered and you could get 3 drags on them before they were all coal. Ham & mothers were the worst. Our troop handlers would turn the cases over so we got to pick a random meal. Also we were told that if we were issued M-16's in 'Nam like the ones we were issued in ITR, don't use the open flash suppressor to twist the wires holding the cases together. The open prongs of the flash suppressor could get bent and make your bullets go places you don't want them to go.

When I graduated from C&E Bn in Dec. '69 I reported aboard Camp Pendleton to Hq. Co. (Nucleus), 4th Marine Division. It was located at 24 Area and they were responsible for 64 Area on the northern border of Camp Pendleton. We had about 100 or so Quonset Huts and some supply warehouses. We had Navy SeaBee's use them when they would get training at the firing ranges before deployment to Vietnam. We also supported the Reserves by testing a lot of their comm gear before their 2-week summer training. When I was assigned to Camp Talega (64 Area) I found out if I wanted a hot meal I would have to get on a deuce and a half truck and be driven to a mess hall the grunts in 62 Area had. The other choice was to eat C-rats that the reserves had left in one of our warehouses from the previous summer. These C-rats were new, dated in early '69. Still had 4-pack cigarettes but all of them were of the filter variety. Ham and mothers were still in the mix. I liked the ham & eggs cold. Not many guys did. Also I had a room in a quonset hut by myself (big deal since I was a PFC). And I would just take a whole case of C-rats with me to my room. Didn't use heat tabs since we had a oil fired stove in the quonset hut. As the junior Marine I was always detailed to get the heating oil in 5 gal cans. That's one smell I can still smell today. Yuck.

I ate C-rats overseas but cannot remember what dates were on them. Still had ham and mothers though. And I got all of the ham & eggs I wanted. ;o)

Semper Fi,
Tom Tilque
Cpl, USMC, 1969-73

Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni
"Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"

My Father Would Say

WWII Marine Cpl Annette Howards gravestone with brass F4U marker

Reference Mr. Paul Jones' BAM story, my Mother was also a WWII "BAM", stationed with my Father at MCAS El Toro with Air Base Group 2 performing depot level maintenance on F4Us. She made it quite clear to us as we grew up that BAM stood for Beautiful American Marine while my Father would take us on the side and say it stood for Broad Axled Marines. It wasn't until I entered Boot Camp that I learned that "axled" wasn't quite the correct word. Take note that hanging on the Brass WWII marker next to her gravestone is a F4U in all its glory.

Semper Fi.

Jeff Howards
Sgt, 1973-1977

Mitey Mite

Probably originally developed to be internally carried in the big bug-eyed helo (H-37?) or under the H-34... from memory, thing was balanced so that with proper passenger distribution, it could be operated on only three wheels... also recall a period when they were all deadlined due to some repeating problem with wheels separating from the vehicle. A number of them made it into civilian hands, and they were somewhat popular with desert racer types... Battery Maintenance Chief for one of the 155MM Self-propelled batteries (M109's), maybe M/4/11 had one, used to drive it in to work at 29 Palms... painted gloss Marine Corps Green, had the yellow lettering on the hood, etc. 'USMC 007'... all kosher... this was maybe circa 1977 or so? Command museum at MCRD SD had one in the stairwell on the lower deck for several years... owner may have recovered it, wasn't there my last visit in 2015.



When I came home from Vietnam in 1967 and after a few weeks leave I reported to 2nd Shore Party Bn at Camp Lejeune, NC and was assigned to C Company. It was more or less a unit for us Shore Party short-timers. Almost everyone in C Company was a Vietnam Veteran with not enough time left to go on a cruise or be assigned to other duty stations that would require longer periods of time than we had left to serve on active duty. Oh, we trained just like we were going to war the next day. However, we were utilized a lot as a "force" for the grunts to practice, among other things, ambushing us and defending their perimeters from attacks by us.

Now, rewind to when I first got to C Company. There had been plans made for a group from the War College to come down and review an entire BLT. A battalion of grunts with all their supporting units and equipment was to line up single file along a stretch of highway out toward Onslow Beach and the reviewers would ride by sitting in bleachers bolted on flatbed trailers. All Marines know the drill. The entire BLT had to line up for the Battalions Commanders inspection first. Then, a few days later we went out and lined up again for the Base Commander and his staff to inspect. Then, after a couple of days of getting our gear all cleaned, our boots shined (again) and fresh starched utilities we went out and lined up for the War College to review.

The high command thought it went so well that they invited some other group, whose name I do not remember, to come and review us. You guessed it, we started the same routine all over again. Battalion Commander's inspection, Base Commander and his staff inspection and finally the second group that was invited to see what a BLT consisted of. With all the inspections and getting ready for them it kept us busy for at the least a couple weeks.

The story doesn't end here. Low and behold, after a few days we were informed that we were scheduled for an IG inspection... Junk on the bunk! So, we put all of our gear out for our Company Commander along with the 1st Sgt, and the Gunny to inspect. Then our Battalion Commander inspected us a day or two before the final inspection by the IG.

On the day the IG came we had our greens all cleaned and pressed, our shoes spit shined, our brass polished and all of our required gear laid out on our bunks in the correct order ready for the IG to inspect. As you probably well know, the IG was actually a full bird Colonel. As usually he would stop periodically and ask one of us a question. It might be our name, where we were from, etc. When he came to me I was totally not expecting what he asked me. "What is your job in this unit Cpl?" Not knowing anything else to tell him but the truth I said "STANDING INSPECTIONS SIR". A frown came on his face as he turned to our C.O. who, turned to the 1st Sgt, who then turned to the Gunny. The Gunny explained about the other inspections we had gone through and told them that I was right and that all I had done since I had been with C Company was stand inspections. The IG looked back at me, got a slight grin on his face and hurriedly went on with the inspection of the rest of the company.

I have often wondered what went on in the Company office after that day's inspection was completed. One can only imagine.

Bob Mauney
Cpl of Marines
Vietnam 1966/1967

The Old Ratio Story

Let us first define what correspondents mean, (or think they mean...) by using the term "C-rats". Generally accepted as meaning "Combat Ration(s), for most of the cohort reading the Grit newsletter, that is the "Meal, Combat, Individual". The MCI, or one meal in a (small) box did not come into being until 1958... so if you had a MCI (C-ration) issued to you with a printed date of, oh, say, 1945, then you are probably in need of Ex-lax, as your colon is at capacity. The 'old ration' story is as old as the end of a VFW bar story... told thousands of times over, but still BS...

If your personal manhood is challenged, you are invited to explore, via the internet, the history of field rations... Wikipedia is a starting place, queries into Natick Labs, the Army Quartermaster site, etc. may prove instructive, if a bit painful. To quote an old MLB umpire... "I calls them as I sees them" And BS is BS... you got something better, let's see a reference or a link...


WWII Dated C-rats

I write to confirm what Brad Hutchenrider wrote about WWII dated C-rats being issued during ops conducted by 7th Marines. I served about 5 months with the Army Advisors (running the District Operations and Intelligence Coordinating Center) at the foot of Hill 37, from July 1967 until about January or February 1968, then moved up to the 3/7 CP on Hill 37 and worked in direct support of 3/7. I believe I made every operation except Operation Allen Brook during my year long support of 3/7.

I would say to Mr. DDick that he should realize that while his men and he may not have been subjected to WWII dated C-Rats, many others were. Unless you sampled the food stock in every battalion, you should not be insulting other Marines by suggesting that they take a course in reading comprehension. BTW, I am an attorney and my reading comprehension is just fine, thank you, as it was in 1967 and 1968.

DDick, your experience was yours and yours alone. You should be man enough to admit it. Now that you have gotten my Irish up, I'll bid all a happy and healthy New Year.

Semper Fi,
Steve Shea

Chow Hound

Sgt Harlan eat C-rats on an ammo can in Vietnam

All the talk about C-rations made me drag out this old photo from my first tour--a L/Cpl sitting on an ammo can in some ville enjoying my C's. Except for maybe the Ham and Slimers, I never complained about the C-Rats.

Semper Fidelis,
Gary Harlan
Sergeant of Marines/Chow Hound


Can you believe how young we were then?!?!

Sgt Grit

The Squids Screwed Us

After my 14-week vacation at MCRD San Diego earning my GEA in Platoon 293; thence another 6 weeks at 2nd ITR carrying a BAR in a Fire Team (mostly uphill); thence a 30-day boot leave to my home town to reacquaint myself with the "Rosie RC" of D.I. fame, putting up with my friends who had become immature azsholes; I was assigned as a Private to 81MM Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Bn, 7th MarDiv at Camp Las Pulgas at Pendleton about early November 1956. Thereafter for several months I enjoyed the usual drill humping "Sheep Sh-t" hill carrying the outer ring and digging mortar pits then moving out as soon as the pit was dug.

At that time many of the NCO's were Korean War vets and there were some just not to be f---ed with (ala Corporal Golden "don't call me Goldie you useless piece of s--t" who was the squad leader). Conversely Sergeant Marquez was a good guy as was S/Sgt Anderson who was the "Gunny". We spent a great deal of time in the field or aboard ship, and then in the field, making several landings at San Onofre and Santa Margarita and then humping inland for a week or more into the Pendleton hills.

Base chow as not bad but WWII C-Rats were field for chow for breakfast, lunch, and supper. These were issued in about 4" x 8" x 12" cardboard box containing what was purported to be 3 meals. The different boxes included cans of Lima Beans/Ham (consumption of MFRS was only justified to stave off starvation); or Pork/Noodles (dizzzzgusting and usually discarded) however the Beans/Weanies were very good (trade goods); Hamburgers (premium trade goods); Peaches or Pears (top of the market trade goods); Pound Cake (the gold standard for trade goods) and I also seem to recall a can of hardtack crackers (hard enough to be used for body armor and they must have been left over from the Civil War); also peanut butter and jelly packed separately in small round tins (these made excellent explosives when pitched into a campfire to scare the FNG's ); toilet paper that was totally insufficient in thickness, quality and quantity; also packets of powdered coffee and cocoa, salt, pepper, and sugar. The cigarettes were 5-packs of Camels, Chesterfields, or Lucky Strike (some still had the green logo). All were dried brown and prone to flaring up and guaranteed to singe eyebrows and sear lungs... but we smoked 'em. I don't remember any matches to light them with but most of us carried Zippo's. On one occasion we were issued K-Rats.

Later issues include 3 heat tabs to be lit by your Zippo (lighting these heat tabs in an enclosed space would cause immediate asphyxiation); also there were several small 2" x 2" aluminum foil packets of what was questionably called chicken soup paste (often discarded); and an opener we called an "eat-e-wah" or "John Wayne". These were usually carried on your dog tag chain. The trick was to take the cracker can, dispose of crackers, punch holes along the bottom with the "eat-e-wah", drop in the heat tabs; light them off, stand down wind (so your eyes did not boil out of your head from the heat tab fumes), cook your coffee, cocoa, or chicken soup in another can (but not in your canteen cup as doing so would burn the cr-p out of your lips), then savor with much gusto.

Here's a story: Later on, maybe the winter of 1958, H&S 3/7 was off the west coast aboard ship quartered in the back of 6x6 trucks for a week or so on the deck of an LST. On landing day, as a Sergeant, I was assigned with Sgt Charlie Bell who was the H&S supply NCO by H&S C.O. (Captain Smith?) to do a final check of quarters and be the last Marines off the ship; down a Jacobs ladder with packs and gear, and into a landing craft with our jeep and trailer with the C-Rats and ammo being pre-loaded by the squids. It was stormy and the LCP was overloaded and the jeep and trailer was not latched down properly. The boat broached and broad-sided when we hit the surf dumping jeep, trailer, C-Rats and ammo; along with me and Charlie into the surf. Charlie and I grabbed our packs and rifles from the wreck and waded ashore. Another LCP recovery craft came along side and pulled the LCP, jeep and trailer out of the surf. He hollered to us that he would send another boat to pick us up. Never did.

Charlie and I sat on the cold, rainy beach until it started to get dark and finally decided the squids screwed us. We weren't smart enough to earlier grab some of those C-Rats floating in the surf before they sank. However we did find the beach fairly littered with C-Rats discarded by earlier landing parties. Cold wet and hungry, at that point even cold those little packets of chicken soup paste with cold pork and noodles tasted just great. As it got darker Charlie and humped about 15 miles and got back to the company bivouac about midnight and, as I recall, Capt. Smith (he was a mustang) gave both of us absolute h-ll for letting the squids get away with our C-Rats and ammo.

Robert G.

Short Rounds

To My Brothers of 1st Btn, Pltn 132 Honor Pltn, Graduated 31 March 1966 -- MCRD, SD, 26 June '66 - 25 June '68.

Bless Us All & the Marine Corps -- Rest Well My Friends.

John Blair Raftree
Cpl, 2232--- USMC

All I want to do was tell Paul Jones who wrote the letter about his sister being a BAM that all Women Marines are still Beautiful American Marines. I saw a lot of them during my 4 years active and to me they were all Beautiful American Marines.

Jim Connor '55/'59
HQ FMFLant G-4 Secion

The chocolate which you thought was candy was not candy it was Ex-lax to keep you from having constipation and the only way to over come the Sh-ts was to eat Cheese. To stop you from getting the sh-ts. I still do that to my grands and they are in their mid 20"s and still haven't figured it out. And, when they come down with a cold it's Chicken Noodle Soup with hot sauce. Works Every time.


Sgt. Grit,

It's been a while but I think it was "Reveille, reveille, all hands on deck. Hold a clean sweep down, fore and aft. Dump all trash over the fantail." (over, not off). Might be... could be... can't say for sure.

Cpl Rich Robbins

To answer SSgt's DH's question about liquid to wash down pound cake, save the pound cake until you get either a can of peaches or apricots, break the pound cake up in your canteen cup, add the fruit with the juices and enjoy!



The Marine Embassy Guard Association, (MEGA), will be having it's annual Reunion in San Antonio, TX, from 6 to 10 April, 2016.

It will be held at the:

Holiday Inn River Walk
217 N St. Mary's Street
San Antonio, TX 78205

Semper Fi,
Denny Krause


General James Mattis Quote

"When I was a young officer in 1979, I toured what was known as "The Killing Fields" in Cambodia. This is the area where the Khmer Rouge killed off nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population, something like 1.9 million people in just a few years. My guide told me that they started by rounding up all of the teachers. They wanted to extinguish free thought, and the spark of questioning and dissent. Because, to a Totalitarian dictator, an open and inquisitive mind is more dangerous even than a Marine with a rifle."
--General James Mattis

"I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles."
--Thomas Jefferson, 1808

"When Gen. Abrial arrived to relieve me as the supreme commander, only don't ask, don't tell kept me from hugging and kissing him."
--Gen. James 'Maddog' Mattis

"You are part of the world's most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon."
--Gen. James 'Maddog' Mattis

"It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled. It must be the combined virtue of the rulers and of the people to do this, and to rescue and save their civil and religious rights from the outstretched arm of tyranny, which may appear under any mode or form of government."
--Mercy Warren, 1805

"The United States Marine Corps is a drug and I am a recovering addict."

"And on the 8th day God created Marines and like fish, we came from the sea!"

Fair winds and following seas.
God Bless the American Dream!
Sgt Grit

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