On July 5th, 1970 I arrived at Parris Island after a long bus ride from Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, there were yellow footprints. I was 17 at the time and my Dad had served in the Army so naturally, I had to join the Marines. Anyway, I was a pretty squared away recruit. Tried to just look forward, stay under the radar and get the hell out of there as quick as I could.
Mind you, I had signed up for a 4 year hitch. I cannot for the life of me remember what platoon I was in but I do remember wood barracks and was on the second floor. To make a long story short, about 2 weeks before we were to graduate I cracked a bone in right forearm. I have no idea how it happened only that my right arm started to swell up like a summer sausage and at night the pain was getting pretty uncomfortable. At that time we were full sleeve fatigues, buttoned at the throat for PT and drill…… which kept me undetected and under the radar. I would sneek into the head at night to wrap a cold towel around my arm fighting the swelling and my fears, my huge fears, that I would be sent back to start all over again in yellow footprints. I was bummed, really bummed. Anyway, about a week before we were to graduate we did some small obstacle course and I could not make the rope climb. That arm was broke and there was no hiding it anymore. My SDI, SSGT Chadwick took one look at my arm and hustled me of to sickbay, x-rays and a subsequent cast. I cannot put into word almost 47 years later the feelings of despair sitting in that sickbay ward room just KNOWING I was going to have to do Parris Island all over again. And I was so close…….. After the cast, they assigned me to Casual Company for another couple of days all the while I was dreaming on how to steal a car to get off of the island because there was no way I doing boot camp all over again…..! After 3 days in Casual Company SSGT Chadwick came over picked me up and took me back to the barracks where he had assembled what was left of our platoon (after 10 weeks) and made an announcement that “I would be graduating with the rest of the class”. Guys, I had tears my eyes. At that moment my ‘bunky’ came up to me and he and SSGT Chadwick took me to my footlocker/bunk and showed me that while I was in sickbay my bunky, Dan (can’t remember his last name but that’s him standing to my left in the group photo) had pitched-in and shined all my brass, boots and shoes and generally got ALL of my gear squared away for graduation. I will never, ever forget that moment. As you can see in the photos I graduated on the parade deck and my Dad came down also. My platoon moved on. I stayed in Casual Company as a brig-chaser for another 2 months before the cast came off and I could head up to Lejeune to complete my training, then on to 3/7 at Pendelton/ Keflavik, Iceland/ and Quantico. My DI’s were SSGT Chadwick, SGT Evans and a corporal whose name I can’t remember. Got out a Sergeant and like most Marines I’ve talked to over the years they all say they should have stayed in. I agree. Best decision I ever made was the Marine Corps. Worst decision was not staying in. That’s my story. I would welcome any contact from Marines in my platoon as I’ve lost photos, year books,etc…. Semper Fi. Sgt Dennis Nowak .
33 thoughts on “Parris Island Broken Arm 1970”
SSGT Mike Chadwick graduated from P.I on 15 July,1964. Mike passed away 3 years ago. he retired as a Gunnery Sgt
I’m sorry to hear that. He was one highly decorated and squared away Marine.
Your Broken arm story is so Marine Corp! Marines pulling together helping the team! Race never plays a part of the team! Its Marine First and that’s what counts Nothing more or less. Simper Fi!
You have said all the same things ive said and have felt all these year’s. The Marine Corps was the best thing that ever happened to me and just.like you i regret not staying in .the Marine Corps made me feel complete in ways i cant put into simple words.the way i felt then are a fond memory now and its something i know i will never have again. So all i can do is remember a time in my life that i truly felt right with the world.
I was a 2 year draftee, just married, and went to PI. After that it was on to Pendleton and Okinawa. I was told I did not have a chance in hell of going to Nam. I had 3 Request Mast with Gen Victor “the Brute” Krulak. I was an 0141 and had a job with Fiscal Platoon, 3rd FSR. On my last request mast, I again went to Krulak. He told me I was too short. I told him I would extend to the end of my Enlistment. He said son you will be on the next Flight outa here. 2 days later I was in Danang. Got orders for Division. I went to the S-1 Chief; and said I only have 5 months left in the Corps; I would like to be with the grunts. The S-1 Chief said; “I am sending you to Indian Country with the 5th Marines”. It was An Hoa. Got there in Nov 67 and was assigned another desk job with S-1. Capt Orlando and Capt Ray Stoner were in charge while I was there. In Jan 68 we got moving orders to Phu Bai. We loaded our Gear on a C-130. We too were in with the gear of that plane. Along the way north we could see deep bombing craters . Ended up volunteering for Convoy duty during Tet 68. We were ordered to stay with the Staff Section at Phu Bai. No more trips for us. I was determined to get my trigger time. I took off on 7Feb68 for another Convoy. It was my last….ended up getting over run by 400 NVA. 18 Vehicles destroyed. 21 out of 50 marines, killed/ executed by NVA. The rest of us were wounded. We did make it out of there with the react team from Phu Bai, led by Lt. Stewart Brown. It was the end for me….both legs with multiple shrapned wounds by an NVA grenade. It was Yokosuka Naval Hospital; and then home. I did my 2 years; and was glad to be home with my bride and family. I do not regret not staying in the Corps; but the comaraderie is forever. We will be in Mayport FL. August 26th; it will be our 48th Memorial; held on the only ship named after a Battle in Nam. The USS Hue City CG-66. It is a truly a great honor to have a ship named after our fight in HUE. The ship and crew are like family. It doesn’t matter if you had 6 months, 2 years or 30 plus years; we are all marines. I was a citizen Marine, called by my country….and glad it was the Marine Corps that was my honor to serve. I am currently Jr. Vice Commandant of the Sgt W. K. Singleton MCL. this group of Marine Vets are the finest Marines that I have ever served with. It is as if, I never left the Corps. It is my 2nd chance at continuing my 2 year enlistment……I will be with these Marines until I die.
I was a SGT at PI during that time period. I probably did your Pay Record. I had 2nd Batallion and it sounds like your were in 1st or 2nd.
Do you remember Ssgt. C. L. Johnson? I have been looking for him since 1972.
Yeah, wooden barracks sounds like first battalion to me… but– seriously– fatigues?!?!? MY Marine Corps wears utilities! And forgetting what platoon you were in– why, that’s about like forgetting your mother’s name! ;o))
I know. Forgetting your platoon is bad. I’ve got a picture someplace and I’d give a leg if I could find it. I’m watching Forrest Gump (great movie, in my opinion) when I wrote to the newsletter and I’m positive ‘fatigues’ got thrown in there in place of utilities. 🙂
Semper fi love all you former marines
Thanks for posting the pics and the story, Sgt Nowak! I arrived at PI on 28 Sept 70, shortly before tyour pics were taken. I was with 1st RTB, Plt 1011, Company B. My rack was on 1st deck, directly across from the Memorial statue on the Parade deck. Graduated PFC on 5 Dec and took the bus to Camp Geiger. Your story brings back great memories. Never received my Graduation Plt book, so if anyone has one of Plt 1011, I’d gladly reimburse for making a copy. Fair winds and following seas to all. Semper Fidelis.
Gunny, I’m really feeling bad about not remembering even my platoon while you’ve got everything nailed down. I know it was on the 2nd deck and we had wood floors, from having to use our shower shoes to squeegee the water. How come those trash cans of water never made it to the lower level? Anyway, I’m determined to locate my photos, yearbook or something relating to what platoon I was in. Like you, I’d gladly reimburse for making a copy. I
Nothing to feel bad about, Devildog. I was fortunate enough to hang on to my red guide book with a few notes. Lost most of my momentos a long time ago. We have the heart of the Marine Corps forever burned into our souls. That’s all that matters. Semper Fi.
You know, you are absolutely correct about the Marine Corps being ‘burned into our souls’. I went in with a childhood buddy of mine. Steve only did 3 years instead of my 4. After he got out he kicked around in construction for a year or two and decided to stand in the yellow footprints again only this time it was at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Steve flew Hueys and then Blackhawks for the Army for another 32 years and finally retired as a CWO4. To this day I refer to him as a Marine, as does he, and the Army never comes up. Go figure, huh? Burned in deep. Semper Fi, Gunny.
Beautiful brother, god bless America , and god bless the usmc,and love your life we are Americans . Semper fi. ,
We’ll all be marines alive or dead forever!
I was in 3rd battalion Plt 390 Sept 1965. signed up for 4 and what a ride it was. Went through Radio school at Monford Point twice during the firstwoHseven months of 66. once of Field Radio and once for CW school (morse code). After all that training I was sent to an 8″ Howitzer Battery at 29 Palms, wound up being an FO radio operator in Nam for 15 months, only used code once in the Corps, what a waste of training. Wound up spending 4.5 years, medical hold at Lejeune Navel Hospital. I would not trade any of it, I love the Corps and like all of you I wished at some point I had gone for 20 but it wasn’t to be.
Wow, if a person had never been thru Boot Camp they would not know how special this was. You are a very lucky Marine.
I WAS IN PLT 3055 ON OR ABOUT OCT.1969 GREAT TIME MADE A MAN OUT OF YOU SEMPER FI
GySgt Jim Rowan, I am Raymond Edwards Sgt Maj USMC Retired. contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I think I was a Junior DI for Plt 1011 in the 70’s. I will look through my treasures and see if I have anything on Plt 1011 and let you know. Semper Fidelis
Aye Aye, Sergeant Major!
OOPS! MAKE THAT GySgt JIM GOWEN (NOT ROWAN)
few good men. plt 305 1972. the few the proud the marines
The person on extreme left looks like me! I have a picture of me taken at Camp Hauge, Okinawa when promoted to HM2 (E-5). Exact uniform, same dark framed glasses!
cpl f Westermeyer1957796 MCRD Sandeago Ptl354 1961 Semper fi
Brian Flynn Plt 181 Oct 1963, to 67- first battalion , We looked at that parade field every day.Watching all those platoons graduate before us, wishing and hoping our turn would come tomorrow….I must admit, Going through boot camp was the best and worse time of my life…A million dollar experience, that I would not take a million to do again…I am proud to say I AM a Marine, especially when I get into conversations with Army and Navy guys..”Okinawa then Viet Nam 65″ Semper Fi to all…PS: I still have graduation book!
Was at PI in August of 63 in Plt 158, we were there together at one time or another on the Grinder. My MOS was 1371 Combat Engineer, got out as a Sgt. Small world!
Plt 1001, Sept. 6th to Dec. 18 1972 …..Nothing like PI. Went in when I was 16. After about 3 days . I was wondering what the Hell was I thinking . Didn’t have a choice, had to grow up. Would do it all over again. The United States Marine Corp taught me a lot about being a man and a Father. My Dad was in the Army , he was in the Korea war. He died when I was 7 in 1963 from Agent Orange. So I had to grow. The Marine Corp is like no other. We are Brother and Sisters of the Corp. I for one Thank you all for your service and Love for Country…Semper Fi to all
In 68 1st Battalion–outer limits- wood barracks 2nd Battalion–twilight zone – wood barracks 3rd battalion– Disneyland- brick barracks
I was at PI from April 15 to July 12 1963 PLT 327 Q Company. Like many of you, this is one experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I did not go to nam, but rather stayed state side all 4 years. Spent time at Camp Le June, Little Creek in Norfolk VA, and my final tour at Quantico VA. Still have my Platoon Book and this allows me to relive many of the moments I was there at PI. Semper Fi to all.
PL 362 1958 3BATTALION THE OLD METAL HUTS NOW I MUST TELL YOU THAT WAS THE REAL OLD CORP AT THE ISLAND , I WILL CARRY THE CORP WITH Me MY WHOLE LIFE ,,I’M SO PROUD OF IT AND WHEN ITS MY TIME WILL BE PLACED IN A MILITARY CEMETARY WITH MY BROTHERS OF ALL THE SERVICE AS IT WILL BE MY TIME TO GUARD THE GATES
SGT .T. MONTANA Says I was in , PLT 154 – 1st Bn PI 14 AUG 1972 SR DI was SSGT Bishop & Sgt Kincaid , was wondering what ever happen to them , ALSO looking for PLT / Grad Book 14 AUG 1972 PLT 154 , I would be happy to pay for a copy . Semper Fi
I got my draft card so i went to join the corp. The recruiter was not there. Went home and my brother gunny sgt. J. E. Green came home on leave and said don’t join the regular Marines and to loin the reserves so i could find what its all about. Boot at Pi. mar. 66, geiger then 16 area Pendleton for 2531 radio school. Got out e-5 sergeant. 3 years got lonely for the service joined the air force reserves for 4 years then gave it up. Wished i had stayed in for another 10. Thanks and semper fi.
I was in platoon 250 in PI FEB. of 67
Was in Nam in August with 3/9 and extended my tour . No regrets. Semper Fi.