Short Stories From Heterich

Short Stories from Heterich

Herterich’s Autobiography

Joined A-Tks in 1952. After a short tour at ‘8th & V Joined 2nd Tks in late ’53’ just as they were receiving the new ‘M-48’. Over the next three years served in ‘A’ & ‘B’ ending with ‘Flames’. On my fitness report I asked for ‘Panama’, everyone said ‘You will never get it’, I did the next three years at Mar.Bks. 15th Naval District [Panama]. While in ‘Panama’ I put ‘1st Mar.Div.’ on my fitness report, againyou will never get it. ‘Everyone goes to camp lejeune’, when the orders came ——1st Tank Bn.. Three yearsthe first half with ‘Flames’, the second half with ‘H&S Co. Property [Supply]’ in the ‘Butler Bldg.’ above the ‘C.P.’. A year with ‘3rd Tanks’Flames. Back to ‘Camp Pendleton’ with ‘School Bn.’ on the ‘Ramp’ in the ‘Tool Room’. Against my wishesThree years Recruiting in Philadelphia. The next set of orders put me in ‘VN’SIXTY-SEVEN DAYS OVER AND BACK. The left eye ended up in the South China Sea, the Navy was kind enough to replace it with one with a beautiful MARINE CORPS EMBLEM. The new eye on occasion has raised some eyebrows. After the Hospital, back to School Bn.Tank School #407 & Machine Ranges. On one occasion during a ‘IG’ a Colonel inspecting [troops in ranks], stopped in front of me. Took one look at the ‘eye’, and that was the end of his inspecting the troops. Why he left I do not know! Retired ‘Not Fit for Duty in My Rank with 40% disability.

A Marine Called ‘Blue’

Fall 1952, place 1st Tank Bn C.P. As every Marine that has spent any amount of time in the field in a non-mobile situation ‘Head’ facilities must be constructed, cleaned and maintained in healthy conditions. Part of the maintaining a ‘Healthy Condition’ is the ‘Burningout’ of those facilities that are used for resting the brain, and the urinals. The ‘Battalion C.P.’ had a Marine that was called ‘Blue’, if that was his correct name or some form of nickname I do not know. From what little I know of ‘Blue’ he was considered lazy, useless — a regular ‘problem child’. To keep out from under foot ‘Blue’s one and only responsibility was to ‘burn-out’ the ‘Head’s and urinals daily. Something it was felt he could do without getting into trouble. ‘Blue’ would go along and pour a #10 can of diesel into one of the ‘holes’, take some toilet paper, light it and toss it into the ‘hole’. Making sure that the diesel caught fire, then move on to the next one. Everything was going along fine, the ‘heads’ got ‘burned-out’. ‘Blue’ stayed out of peoples way and better yet he did not get into trouble — until. One of the ‘Brain Rests’ was up on a hill. It was the personal privy’ of Bn. C.O. which he kindly shared with the X.O.. This day ‘Blue’ was making his rounds, secure in knowing he was helping those that lived in the C.P. Area keep free from any and all health problems that might be conjured up by not having the use of ‘Healthy Head Facilities’. When he got to the Bn. C.O.’s privy, ‘Blue’ followed the accepted routine. Only this time for some reason it did not light off to preform ‘its’ assigned duty. ‘Blue’ got irritated — more diesel — more fire, nothing. This was repeated a number of times still ‘no fire’. Being a diligent Marine, ‘Blue’ was determined to complete his assigned task. ‘Burn-out the Heads’. A resourceful Marine can not be detoured from his assignment. Down to the Motor Pool. Get five gallons of gasoline. Pour ALL five gallons of gasoline into the ‘hole’. Light a match to a large handful of toilet paper — and into the ‘hole’, feeling that for sure it would ‘burn’ this time. It did. The sound of ‘ignition’ caused many in the ‘C.P.’ to ‘hit the deck’, I believe someone even yell ‘incoming’. When the fire was extinguished the entire ‘establishment’ was in the previously excavated area. Including some ‘highly Classified’ reading material that belonged to the C.O. or X.O. ‘Blue’s only response to inquiry was, ‘I was only trying to do my job’. A new excavation was embarked on by guess who? What happened to ‘Blue’ after that I have no idea. HERTERICH

How NOT to Drop A Breech Block

Ever try to drop a Breech Block on a newly received vehicle? That is one with a ‘tube’ and Breech Mechanism literaly encased in cosmoulean. Particularly when the weather is cold enough to cause standing water to freeze. In the fall of ’52’ A2TK’s received these pretty new vehicles. All new ‘M-48’s, the entire ‘gun system’ was covered with cosmoulean. Somebody with a brain suggested that we depress the gun tube as far as possible over the engine and run the engine to heat the ‘tube’ and soften the cosmoulean. It worked fine. a lot of calories got burned up, first the rammer staff with extra sections added so that more Marines could push it through. When we got all that could be gotten out this way, we added the ‘Rammer and Unloading tool’, after that the ‘Bore Brush’. this would take about two days per vehicle. We then moved into the ‘Turret’, clean as much as we could with cleaning solvent’ — what a mess. How do you get the Breech Block out? The Breech Block had been left in the ‘down’ position when the ‘gun system’s were covered with that wonderful black ‘stuff’ — another great idea. A ‘Hot Shot’ SSgt. with a lot of ‘M-47’ experience, said he would show ‘us’ whom did not know anything about being ‘Tankers’ how a REAL MARINE did it. It really was very simple. TAKE OFF THE BEECH CLOSING SPRING CAP AND THE BREECH WILL DROP OUT THE BOTTOM — ALL YOU HAVE TO IS CATCH IT. He forgot one thing; the ‘Breech Closing Spring’ was still compressed. Do you remember the amount of pressure that was need to replace a ‘Breech Closing Spring Cap’ with the ‘Breech Block’ UP? This is the same spring that ‘slams that breech block UP. He got it off — with a bit of trouble. He went around with his arm in a cast for a few months. That is NOT the way to remove a ‘Breech Block’. HERTERICH

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