Picky Eaters

We called it “The Rock” and counted the days when we would rotate back to the land of the big PX. Hawaii wasn’t exactly the paradise we expected. The Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe is on a peninsula that forms Kaneohe Bay, with the Pali mountains as a backdrop. The Air Wing enlisted barracks was a group of two story, flat-roofed, stucco buildings with open squad bays that were connected by breezeways. The 212 barracks had the MPs on one side and the helo boys from HMM-161 on the other. Next to the 161 barracks was the mess hall. I arrived with a group of replacements for the guys whose two year tour was over. The barracks had an upper and lower open squadbay arranged in cubicles marked off by green metal wall lockers, and a central corridor. Each cubicle had six single bunks (or racks), as I recall. Each rack had a mosquito net which was a necessity on that side of the island, called the “Windward Side”. The mosquito nets were needed because of the mosquitos that were bred in the swamps between the base and the mainland. Those bugs were huge. One night, I forgot to put my net down. About 0300 I felt a thump on my chest. Looking down, I saw a Kaneohe mosquito turning over my dog tag to check my blood type. Not only were they huge, they were picky eaters.

Norm Spilleth
Cpl. 1960-1964

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21 thoughts on “Picky Eaters”

  1. Wow! Impressive recall there Norm! Your description of the barracks took me right back! I was in the same barracks as HMM161. The CCU unit right next to us.Every weekend the grunts would do early morning formation runs around our barracks in full cadence before running back to their side of the base! Oh those bastards! I was there 81 to 84 and everything was still the same! Probably still is! Semper Fi!

  2. I was on that Rock from May 1957 til May 1959. Came there from the 8th Marines at lejeune I had my own liberty card in my wallet and could get to the Mess hall by myself without being marched to it. I guess I did not mind the mosquitos because in comparison to Lejeune I thought I was sent to Heaven.

  3. I was there in Kaneohe in summer of ‘61 and half of ‘62 in D-1/4, was transferred to Waikele NAD till summer of ‘63. Remember the skeeters well, and the netting.

  4. Wow. What a memory. I was in those same barracks in ‘79. Still had the steel lockers separating the bunks. Got to move into the BEQ when I made Corporal. They were like the Hilton compared to that old squad bay! Thanks for sharing. Semper Fi!

  5. I was stationed at Kaneohe Bay from 6/67 to 2/68 with 1st Radio Bn. For young guys with short hair and little money, not always the land of milk and honey, but still better than LeJeune. As soon as Tet hit, we were on a flight out of Barber Point and landed in Danang where I spent the next 16 months (I extended for 3 months for an early out) Still seems like yesterday.

    1. I was there in ’68, Comm (2575). I recall our barracks (Bldg 1061) as having 3 decks, first two were berthing spaces, 3rd deck secure work spaces…present day SCIFS. Went back for a visit in 2013, that building was gone, but a replacement was nearby. Semper Fi!

  6. Great story, Norm. I was having trouble convincing folks that we Marines have a sense of humor. Now, I have proof!

  7. You forgot to mention the cockroaches. I was there 59-61. You didn’t stomp on them. They were so large, you got out of their way so you wouldn’t trip over them.
    Hail to VMF-232, VMA-214,VMA-212,HMR-161,& H&HS-13 from MACS-2, all of us from MAG-13. Also include the 4th Marines and we all made up the 1st Marine Brigade, FMF.

  8. I was there 70-71 with Engr PLT H&S 1/3. If you thought mosquitoes were bad at K-Bay, stay a few days and nights in the mountains at Kahuku Point. After a week or so, The suckers and other “bitey” creatures had about bled you dry. BTW, the barracks at the grunt end of the base were really nice compared to others I had the honor to bunk in.

  9. I arrived Hawaii in May of 1959, a few months before it was granted statehood right out of Radio Telegraph Operators school (MOS 2533) in San Diego.. We were at Camp Smith for a few months forming up 1st Composite Radio Co. Soon, we moved over to our permanent quarters at Kaneohe MCAS. Our barracks was fairly close to the Base PX and in between a grunt outfit and Charlie Med. Former Commandant Gen. Al Grey was our operations officer (he was a captain at the time). I was with 1st Radio Co. until May of 1962, obtaining the rank of Corporal E4 and an additional MOS of 2571. The barracks were very alike as described although I remember our barracks have 3 floors. They are all gone now and for awhile, you could see the footprints of the barracks on Google Earth but now the images show new buildings. Did a lot of TDY out of Kaneohe to Okinawa, Japan, Philippines and Formosa, stopping at Guam, Midway and Wake Islands.

  10. – FELIX MARESH –IWAS THERE WITH VMF-235 – IN 1952 —I REMEMBER .IT WELL — FRONT OF BASE (ENTRANCE) to the base all grown up like a jungle – No grunts there at that time

  11. Brings back memories. In 1966 I was in the second deck. Felt like a native. Those were the days. One pay phone per barracks and it was on the bottom deck in the middle of the breeze way. I worked in the E-club and called my wife in Kentucky with the tips I made.
    Oh to be young and dumb again.
    BTW, she divorced me once I got to Nam. Guess who she married? The divorce lawyer.

  12. I was there from 1976-1978. The description of the barracks fits what I found when I got there; the grunts used to come around early in the morning running in formation, we would go to the windows to exchange “pleasantries” with them. I remember the day we flew in, we got a quick orientation talk centered around the evils of Hotel Street, so, after the lecture, everybody wanted to know how to get to Hotel Street. I was attached to SOMS (Station Operations & Maintenance Squadron) working as a mechanic on T-28B Trojans (single-engine trainers), we share a hanger with a heavy helo squadron, I believe it was HMH-463. I had a good time in Hawaii, it was a lot of fun to hang out in Waikiki over the weekend.
    Cpl. F Lominchar 1975-1979

  13. arrived Jan 61 on a sunday went to H&S 1/4 Comm no net until Monday my pillow looked like a war zone blood and bugs everywhere. cockroached burn out of wall lockers lighter fluid

  14. I lived in. Tampa, Fla. at that time…I aways had to tie one of my feet to the bed…the skeeders would pick you up and fly away with you…the lighter you got the heavier they got…once I ended up in the Bay…surrounded by a bunch of bloated skeeders acting as. fish food…blood in the water…not a good thing…our mosquitos never did learn to read…they didn’t care what your blood type wars … that it was red, salty, and in you was enough…😎

  15. I was there from 1981-1984. I was with HMS-24, VMF 232, and VMF 235, I did west pack with 235. My tour their was outstanding . It was a shocker upon arrival, due to my prior tour being on the drill field at Parris island. After about 6 months I got use to the Air Wing again.

  16. I was there with you Norm and didn’t have too much trouble with those bugs, they must not have had a taste for AB blood.

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