Sgt Grit Newsletter - 18 MAY 2016

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• An Inspiration To Fellow Marines
• My Dress Blues Still Fit
• Marines Have Launched A Review

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Marine Jose Barron Wounded Warrior

Article by Salvador Rivera
FOX 5 News

A video showing retired Marine Jose Barron crawling up a steep hill on his hands and one leg has gone viral and has turned him into an online sensation.

Barron attended a reunion over the weekend at Camp Pendleton for Marines who were deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, members of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

Part of the event involved a trek over a steep hill known as First Sergeant's Hill where several crosses have been placed in honor of Marines, all members of Barron's unit, killed while on deployment.

"I had told myself I want to see those crosses, and it took me five years to get up there. I knew I had to get up there some way some how," said Barron.

In the video, you see him crawling on his hands on one leg after he had taken his prosthetic left leg off. It shows incredible grit and determination.

"The leg wasn't working the way I wanted it to work, so I just took it off and kind of crawled on my arms and one leg."

While in Afghanistan, Barron was injured when a fellow Marine stepped on a roadside bomb. He lost his left leg and left eye.

"I can't let my amputation and my eye slow me down," he told FOX 5.

Barron says he is humbled by the attention the video is getting and hopes it serves as inspiration and motivation for fellow Marines who may be contemplating suicide, something several members of his unit have done.

Watch the video at Marine Wounded Warrior Climbs Hill

My Dress Blues Still Fit

Phil Coffman Marine in dress blues

Sgt Grit,

Having just seen the piece from Wayne Dillon (fitting in his utilities), I just couldn't resist the temptation to brag just a bit. Attached is the photo of me at the Marine Corps ball a couple of years ago. I am a Viet Nam era veteran, and at 63 years of age, I can still fit into my dress blues! These days, I only get to wear them to the annual birthday ball and the July 4th parades. I am usually asked to carry the U.S. flag leading the parade because this uniform looks so good! But, I do have to admit that they have been tailored from the original 28 inch waist, to a 31 inch waist trousers. Still, not too bad!

Phil "Akabu" Coffman
Sgt '72-'82

Sgt Grit Exclusive 4th of July T-Shirt Special

The Forgotten Unit Of Iwo Jima

The Forgotten Unit of Iwo Jima book cover

During the Gulf War, I had the honor to command 25th Marines. One of my battalions 1/25 got into the fight. The war ended before I could get 2/25 and 3/25 overseas. This regiment has had a distinguished history. If you've read the book I sent you, "The Forgotten Unit of Iwo Jima: 386 ASG, USAAF," or any other history of the battle, you already know how important this regiment was to the victory.

Get this book at The Forgotten Unit of Iwo Jima: 386 ASG, USAAF.

Semper Fi,
Col. J.J. Preston, USMC (Ret.)

Adapt To The Situation

I am sorry, but I have had my fill of this movie blather phrase that is quoted so often as gospel! It may have great sentiments because it was used by a "bad-azz" actor in a "bad-azz" movie, but not once did I ever hear those words uttered (nor anyone else that went to boot camp way back when that I have talked to). The closest I ever heard was one DI that repeatedly used the phrase of "don't be a dinosaur, adapt or die!" He would say that if we didn't adapt to the situation, that we would sure as h-ll die! If the enemy didn't kill us, then he would come finish the job for not listening to him! As everyone knows, that participated in a "planned" operation, after the first round is fired, all plans, ideas and objectives are out the window and all you do is adapt to the situation and win!

I have adapted a multitude of times, quite a few times in combat, and am still here; although I, like a lot of others of my generation, may feel old, like dinosaurs, we still carry on!

Semper Fi!
In '69 my Woodstock came on an M-14,
Bill Wilson
'64 – '71

Boot Camp And Vietnam

Sgt Grit,

Some time ago I think that you said that you had checked your PI platoon against the names on the Vietnam Memorial and found that at least 10 of the recruits you went through Boot Camp with were killed in Viet Nam. Is that true, and if so I wonder if any other Viet Nam vets have done a similar check. Considering how many Marines were killed in Viet Nam that sounds about right. I can imagine a DI announcing to incoming recruits, "At least ten of you will die in Viet Nam." What an incentive for recruits to learn all they can in Boot Camp!

Paul Gill
S/Sgt. USMC, 1954-66

Note: Yes, I did this about 6-7 years ago. Checked my boot camp book against the names on The Wall. I did this after I read someone else had done it. My results were similar to his. 8-12% of platoon. That did not include casualties. That would be in addition.

Sgt Grit

Closing Of Camp Matthews

Moving to the rifle range during the transition, the series would leave out the rear gate of MCRD by buses, and turned north on highway 101. Near La Jolla, California, as one looked out the window, they could see the huge white cross on top of Mount Soledad. Until the closing of Camp Matthews in 1964, most series marched up the mountain to the cross. It was the first conditioning march and excursion in the Marine Corps.

Currently, in 2014, due to religious beliefs, there is a battle in the U.S. Courts to remove the "Cross from Mount Soledad," because it is built on State Property. The Department of Justice has vowed to protect it from removal. To the north of Mount Soledad, was Camp Matthews.

Camp Matthews was closed on August 21, 1964, after Edson Range was completed. Private Gene P. Van Horn, 18, of San Josa; fired the last round down range at Camp Matthews. He scored "expert" on Target 56.

Ten days earlier, the first recruits arrived at Edson range on August 12, 1964, and the first round fired was on 20 August 1964. In the year 2005, as one drove north on Interstate 5, the butts of the old rifle range at Camp Matthews could still be seen.

How could one ever forget (Duck Walking up and down Little and Big Aggie).

Herb Brewer
1stSgt (Ret)

Weapons Of The Marine Corps - First 100 Years

Watch this video at Weapons of the Marine Corps - first 100 years

Operation Steel Pike Responses

"I am glad someone finally made a comment about Steel Pike. The STARS AND STRIPES reported on October 30, 1964 "Exercise Steel Pike Called Big Success". A friend of mine from TN was killed falling between the landing craft and the boat. The weather was real bad but President Kennedy said proceed with the "GAMES". A number of NATO countries refused to participate due to the weather. I do not know the final count but there were at least 19. President Kennedy never did speak for the men killed. Was he a great president? 19 families do not thing so.

Semper Fi 'Til I Die,
Cpl. E-4 '62-'66

While President Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963 and Operation Steel Pike didn't take place until October – November 1964, I'm sure you meant to say President Johnson.

I don't recall the weather being bad while underway to Spain (aboard the MSTS General R.M. Blatchford) or during the two weeks we were in Spain. It didn't seem to me like we set up a long distance back from the beach. Far enough that we couldn't hear the surf but not far enough to get out of the sand.

That said, on the way back was a different story. We were supposed to get liberty in Rota, Spain once we loaded back on the ship, but the weather was so bad they couldn't get the liberty boats along side so we upped anchor and steamed down to the Canary Islands for our Liberty (over Marine Corps Birthday, by the way). Weather was warm and sunny at Las Palmas on Gran Canaria.

The trip back was a totally different story. We ran into a storm (hurricane?) on the way back and were restricted to below decks for much of the trip. By the time we landed at Moorhead City a few days before Thanksgiving 1964, the weather had calmed down and all was fine once more.

As long as I'm here, it saddens me to report the passing of two more Marines.

On Wednesday April 20th Jim Hosking, Platoon 145 MCRD San Diego, 1962 and more recently Saint Johns, Michigan lost his battle with cancer.

The second Marine was my cousin. On Thursday April 21st, I lost John H. Miller USMC 1967-1971, Motor-T Da Nang RVN '68-'69. John lived most of his life in and around Carmi and Enfield, IL. Rest in peace Marines. You are missed.

Semper Fi,
If the bullets don't get you, life will.

Jerry D.

To: Semper Fi 'Til I Die, Cpl. E-4 '62-'66

It might have been a little tough for Kennedy to speak to the families of the fallen Marines after Operation Steel Pike (c. fall of 1964), due to the fact that JFK had been assassinated in Dallas, TX the previous year on 22 Nov 1963... Duh?

Jim Mackin
MGySgt USMC (Ret)
1964 - 1987

To: Semper Fi til I die

I think your a little mixed up. President Kennedy was killed in November 1963. Steel Pike was in 1964. Steel Pike was the largest amphibious operation held since WWII. It was the whole 2nd Marine Division plus 14 merchant marine ships in support. It was a 5 day tactical operation in Huelva, Spain. Yes, Marines died during this exercise but mostly from stupid mistakes. It was quite the experience.

Brad Hutchenrider
Sgt of Marines '63 to '69

The Corps Was Small Then

I am a regular reader of the newsletter but seldom see anything from Jarheads in my era (1948-52) until I saw a brief note from a SSgt Jack Grimm. He identified himself as a member of Platoon 29 in March, 1948, San Diego. I enlisted 3/9/48 and was at SD in March of 1948, but cannot remember my platoon number. Cpl. Robertson was our JDI, but he was with us most of the time because our two SDI were WWII vets and not interested in boots. The Corps was small then and most of our graduates (54 of 72 as I remember) went to Guam. A few went to lstMarDiv, FMF, at Pendleton, including me. I don't remember the name Grimm from our platoon but would like to know if any of what I have written here rings a bell with him. My email is

Sgt. Dick Stites

Living In The Past

Living in the past dog tags

Last week SSgt Jim Leonard asked if anyone had ever seen the type of dog tag he mentioned. Myself and several other guys in my outfit were issued them on a trial basis. Enclosed is a picture of it, alongside my regular tag I was issued in boot camp. Nobody ever took our picture for the new tag, and nobody I knew ever even wore it on the chain with their regular tag. It is as he described, edges meant to be crimped over the picture. On the regular tag, the blood type is listed just as a letter, in my case, A. On the new tag it is listed as BTA. They managed to spell my name wrong on the new tag. On the side where the picture would go, on the top is written in fine print "addressograph", and on the bottom "credit plate". Maybe they were meant to be used for some type of early credit card, and the military decided to try them out. I don't remember if I was issued the new tag in Okinawa or Lejeune, but it would have been either 1961 or 1962. I have always carried a dog tag on my key chain, and once a guy made fun of it, saying I was "living in the past". When I told him that if I was in an accident they would know who I was, that I needed type A blood, and if I died, to call a minister and not a priest or a rabbi. That shut him up.

On another subject, lots of guys have complained that it is difficult to get a VA health card. In my case it was very easy. I live in the northenmost part of NJ, on the NY-NJ-PA border. I went to the Castle Point VA Hospital, near Poughkeepsie, NY, where a very helpful counselor helped me fill out the papers, and told me I would be notified when to go to the Port Jervis, NY VA out-patient clinic to get enrolled. Port Jervis is only 20 minutes from home, easy to get to. I got the notice about 10 days later, went to the clinic, they issued me an ID card on the spot, and gave me a date to return for a free full physical and bloodwork. I was assigned a team consisting of a Dr., nurse, and social worker, as is everyone at the clinic. I was told if I ever had problems, to contact my social worker and she would handle things between me and the VA. Like Agent Orange claims, Lejeune water is considered presumptive, and you can enroll regardless of your income (not that I make a whole lot on SS which hasn't been given a cost-of-living increase in years). Anyone who was at Lejeune during the listed dates should apply and get in the system.

Cpl. Paul W. Lindner

Marines Have Launched A Review

Marines and Corpsman Iwo Jima Flag Raising photo by Joe Rosenthal

Article By
Omaha World-Herald

An Omaha amateur historian's quixotic effort to rewrite the story of one the most famous photos in American history has prompted a reaction — and possibly a correction — from the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps has launched a review of the iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising photo, Marine Maj. Clark Carpenter confirmed Friday, while declining to provide other details.

That review is headed by a three-star general and is tasked with examining all elements of the photo, including the identities of the men pictured, according to a source close to the review.

The inquiry could erase and rewrite one of the most hallowed facts of Marine Corps history: the names of the six men long identified as flag raisers. Since 1947, those flag raisers — John Bradley, Harlon Block, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley and Michael Strank — have been undisputed, regarded with the same certainty by Marines and military historians as the rest of us know the flag they are raising is red, white and blue.

The flag raisers who survived World War II — Bradley, Gagnon and Hayes — became household names in postwar America, and all six have been honored in war memorials, statues, postage stamps, songs, and in "Flags of Our Fathers," a best-selling book by James Bradley, John Bradley's son, that became a Clint Eastwood-directed movie.

There is just one problem: The official history is wrong, an Omaha amateur historian who runs a Marine website has long argued.

The World-Herald first revealed Eric Krelle's theory in a 2014 article that detailed his case that the identities of the flag raisers were mistaken. He and an Irish amateur historian named Stephen Foley spent months examining hundreds of other photos and film footage taken in the minutes before and after that famous photo was snapped by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.

Using photo analysis of clothing, weapons, facial features and finally a lone strap hanging off a helmet, Krelle made the case that John Bradley, the most famous flag raiser, wasn't actually in the photo at all.

Who was? A completely unknown Marine private named Harold Henry Schultz, Krelle says.

"People can hold onto what they have always known in the past," Krelle said in 2014. "But to me, the photos are the truth."

Krelle declined to comment Friday about the Marine Corps investigation, citing a confidentiality agreement he signed with a third party.

Harold H. Schultz left the Marine Corps at the end of World War II and after he was awarded a Purple Heart. He moved to Los Angeles and became a U.S. Postal Service employee. He married late in life and never had children. He attended Marine Corps reunions and kept a small scrapbook of his time in the war. He died in 1995, having never breathed a word about the famous photo on Iwo Jima or his potential place in American history, his stepdaughter Dezreen MacDowell said in 2014.

Two years ago, when presented with this alternative version of a long-established history — with the argument that Schultz was in the iconic photo, and Bradley wasn't — veteran military historians expressed doubt as well as an unwillingness to publicly dispute the Marine Corps' version of events. Several flat refused to look at Krelle's research. One said he would rather go fishing.

That interest level is sure to change with the news that the Marine Corps has opened an investigation into the identities of the flag raisers. It's the first and only time the Corps has done so since 1946, when the family of Harlon Block, a U.S. congressman and a public outcry prompted the military to act.

Until that point, the Marine Corps had identified the sixth flag raiser as Hank Hansen, and cited as evidence affidavits signed by the three surviving flag raisers swearing that Hansen was in the photo.

But in January 1947, the Marine Corps announced the result of that first investigation: Block was in the photo, and Hansen wasn't. The surviving flag raisers signed new affidavits. Official Marine Corps history was changed. The updated six names were literally etched in granite at the base of monuments depicting the famed flag raising.

James Bradley declined an interview request on Friday afternoon. In 2014, he looked at Krelle's research but said it failed to convince him that his father wasn't pictured in the famous photo. He noted that John Bradley, a famously reticent man, would have likely loved the chance to remove himself from the photo.

"Listen, I wrote a book based on facts told to me by guys who had actually been there. That's my research. That's what I trust," he said.

There's no known timetable for when the military will release its findings.

What Is Rightfully Yours

Sgt. Grit,

I try to follow all of Sgt. Grit's Newsletters, but lately I am getting to the point... I will try to be polite! I have just returned from the Manchester, New Hampshire V.A. Facility. I brought a fellow Marine there this A.M. to join.

Let us start this way; The V.A. stands for Veterans Administration, period! If You raised your right hand, and said; "I Do", and completed boot (recruit training) camp, You Are A Veteran! (These are the words the eligibility officer used)

You may have a job, other insurance, or what ever type of scuttlebutt those personnel are trying to throw at You... YOU ARE STILL A VETERAN!

And You are entitled to V.A. Benefits. My suggestion(s), even if you are not a member of a Military Organization... V.F.W., D.A.V., American Legion, Marine Corps League, the list is too long... look one of these Organizations up and ask to speak to a Service Officer.

That is what they are there for... If You don't fight for what is Rightfully Yours... You will not get them!

Semper Fi,
L/Cpl. James Angelo

Lost And Found

I too was part of Operation Steele Pike... I was with H 2/8 on board (Cpl De. aka duffle bag) USS Guadlecanal LPH 7... I'll always remember this because Lejeune was my first duty station, and I was privileged to stand guard over the bodies on the way home... Anyone from H 2/8 still out there? Aug '64/July '65.

Semper Fi '64/'69

Searching for any members from platoon 364 in MCRDSD in the fall of '64. Forrest Harrison from No Trees, TX. Also, looking for a platoon book!

Please email at: Tunnelrat6749[at]yahoo[dot]com

Would like to hear from anyone from PLT. 1041, MCRDSD 1966.

Sgt T.R. Pollock

In about 4 days a buddy of mine, Dave Paglis, is going to pull into Republic, Washington after traveling on his Harley from Indiana. The last time we saw one another was as Lance Corporals in Little Creek, Virginia. We shared a barracks cubicle at Landing Force Training Command for about 6 months in 1972. I moved on to Henderson Hall's Marine Security Guard Battalion, and he got out and went to college. I'm a little nervous because I've gotten old, gray, wrinkled, and pot bellied and I know he still looks as slim and trim as I remember him. I hate being the only one to look older after 44 years...

Dennis Wuerth

Short Rounds

Jerry D., Read your post in the 4/27 newsletter... I don't remember what the #'s were to qualify, but I too did it at Camp Matthews (1964). Prone position 500 yard line last shot... MANHOLE COVER... I qualified... Semper Fi.

H. Young
'64/'69 RVN '65/'66... '69

I Miss All My Brothers In The Marine Corps...

Art Dorame

What did I call my rifle?

Still Betsy, although I now have a Model 70 in 7mm STW that's about like shooting a cannon. Eighty grains of Retumbo behind a 160 grain bullet is pretty major. I need a name for her, maybe "Brunnhilde".

Earl Needham
Clovis, NM USA


"The loss of liberty, to a generous mind, is worse than death. And yet we know that there have been those in all ages who for the sake of preferment, or some imaginary honor, have freely lent a helping hand to oppress, nay to destroy, their country... This is what every man who values freedom ought to consider. He should act by judgment and not by affection or self-interest; for where those prevail, no ties of either country or kindred are regarded; as upon the other hand, the man who loves his country prefers its liberty to all other considerations, well knowing that without liberty life is a misery..."
--Andrew Hamilton, The Trial of John Peter Zenger [1735]

"The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children."
--William Havard

"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."
--Billy Graham

"Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
--Adm. Chester Nimitz

"Still rockin' 'n rollin', kickin' azz and takin' names."

"You're more f....d up than a soup sandwich!"

"If yer gonna be stupid, ya gotta be tough!"

Carry On, Marine!
Sgt Grit

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