United States Marine Corps

Service Reflections of SSgt Jimmy Carlisle, U.S. Marine Corps (1965-1978)

November 17, 2022


The following Reflections represents SSgt Jimmy Carlisle’s legacy of his military service from 1965 to 1978. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The following Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life. Start recording your own Military Memories HERE.

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Marine Corps.

To leave home when I turned 18 to get away from a noncaring father and an abusive stepmother. I was one of six children that were not allowed to go past the 8th grade in school and were put to work year-round to earn money for parents. Four of my brothers and sisters left home the day they turned 18, and I was gone two weeks later as soon as I could join the Corps.

My mother, whom I was unable to see after I was six or so, had married a Korean War Vet. All I remember about him was he was kind and gentle to me for the time he was around. He ended up in a VA Hospital for care as he had been the only survivor of his unit on a hilltop in Korea. I know he had been highly decorated for his actions. I believe he was a Marine, and I never considered any other service.

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

I went in for two years and was in the infantry. With four days to go before rotation, I was sent on Union 11. I had no intention of staying in the Corps after that as it was the bloodiest operation I was on in my three tours in VN. The first friend I ever had, we went through Bootcamp, ITR, 1st MP Bn to Vietnam. I & I together in Singapore, then to L Co 3/5 together. We had the fucked up M-16s then, and he saved my life when my rifle jammed by pushing me down. Then his rifle jammed on him, and he was killed. I used a 45 cal pistol to kill the two remaining NVA soldiers that had killed him.

I had orders for release from active duty as I only had 67 days left in the Corps. When I went stateside, those orders were changed to go to ITR as a troop leader. I went home on leave, and at 0230, I walked into the house, and a dog started barking. My father walked out of the bedroom, asking who it was? I said Jim, Jim, who he asked? I told him, your son. He said I would talk to you in the morning and went back to bed.

The next day I found out he had traded in my car that I had bought with the 10 % I was allowed to keep when I was working before going in the Marines. I went to buy a new car and then found out instead of the 8000 dollars I had in the savings, I had $7.17.( I had done a lot of poker playing in Vietnam, and that was to be my college and new car money). My parents had taken it out as fast as I sent money home. I was only home for two days, returning to Camp Pendelton. I decided to reenlist but did not want to stay in the 03 fields, and I did not want to see another Marine dying.

I knew if I went into the counterintelligence field, the chance of having to be sent into combat would be slim to none. To get the 02 fields, I had to reenlist for six years as it was a six-month school. When I went to Ft Holabird, Maryland, I was assigned a room with two other Marine Sgts. They both had over ten years of service and had reenlisted to make Sgt and for the school. Since I was just over two years of service, they told me I had not been in the Corps long enough even to be a PFC, let alone a Sgt.

They were both half-drunk and had drunk over a case of beer between them. I asked them if they had been to VN, and they told me they weren’t that stupid. I then asked them if they were cowards or just chicken shits all of the time. They then told me they would hold a blanket party on me when I fell asleep. I pulled a 45 out of my duffel bag, placing it under my pillow, telling them that would be a bad idea. Since we did not see eye to eye, I went downtown, got drunk, and returned to sleep it off.

Those paragons of virtue then went to the Army MPs, telling them I was drunk and had threatened them. The outcome from that was I was sent back to Camp Pendelton, losing my schooling and reduced to a Corporal, suspended for 60 days. I gave a class for another Sgt in ITR about the Geneva Convention and made a joke about if you have several prisoners and ordered you to bring three back, you bring three back.

A boot asked, what do you do with the others? And I said you shoot them, of course. A fat Master Sgt that had come from HQMC (he had never been out of the states) was hiding behind the bleachers listening to the class. He came running out told the class we couldn’t do that. He told the other Sgt to take them to chow, and he was in his glory as he couldn’t wait to write me up. I was busted to Corporal, transferred to staging Battalion teaching the Geneva Convention to drafts going through.

In Staging Bn, the Co 1st Sgt there got on my case one day as he thought my class should last 90 minutes instead of the 60 to 65 minutes I was giving it in. I got pissed and told him I could not go 90 minutes on a class, and if he didn’t like it, what would he do about it? Send me to VN?

Four days later, I had orders to VN. No, leave, no Staging BN. I seriously considered going to Canada. I was sent back to VN with the 27th Marines 363 days after leaving that hellhole.

When I was on a CH-53 on the way to the 27th Marines, I started thinking back to the last CH-53 I had been on. That was on the 26th of May 1967 on operation Union 11. We had been told that there was no enemy in the area and would be a secure landing zone. When the Company was being inserted, the crew opened up with their 50 caliber machine guns from the helo. I looked out the porthole to see what they were firing at, and I saw dozens of soldiers in NVA uniforms and VC in black pajamas running for their fighting positions. I also saw an NVA Flag and another flag flying from two flag poles. Machine-gun bullets were coming in one side of the helo and spangling out the other side. The marines on the chopper just wanted out of that death trap and on the ground. I was in the back of the helo, and marines were jumping out the back before we even landed. L Company was to land and secure the LZ for the rest of the Battalion to follow us in.

One helo couldn’t get out of the LZ and be left there. We landed 60 to 70 meters from an NVA Regimental Command Post. Ground fire was too heavy for any more landings, and the rest of the Battalion landed some 6 or 7 hundred meters from us. We were in heavy contact from 0945 until 1615 or so. I wondered if Custer felt like we did at the Little Big Horn, as no reinforcements got to us. The NVA thankfully withdrew, taking their dead and wounded with them after 1600.

I got to thinking about that day, broke out in chills and heavy sweats, and jumped up and headed for the rear of the helo. I was so scared I was going to jump off, to get out of that helo. A crew chief gripped me by the arm and screamed, what did I think I was doing? I came out of my trance, realized what I had been about to do, broke out in a heavier sweat, and returned to the front, where I sat down. I know if that crew chief had not stopped me, I would have jumped out, and seeing as we were a few thousand feet in the air, I would have died. I had let my fear get to me.

After joining G Co 2 / 27, I was sent out with a squad to an encampment with ARVNS. We had a few minor brushes with VC no ARVN support until one day, during contact in a firefight, I had jumped up and rushed forward to a better position in a French cemetery with gravestones. As I was diving for the ground, I took two AK -47 rounds through the top of my helmet, knocking it off of my head, and a round grazed my left arm. After the firefight was over, we returned to the Battalion rear to the Medical tent for treatment, and we were told to stay in the rear as we would be going out on Operation Allenbrook in a few days.

We landed on the Goi Noi Island as engineers were clearing it as it was heavily fortified by the NVA/VC with bunkers trench lines and was a major center for incursions towards DaNang. 5TH Marines and & 7th Marines were also engaged on the Island. We had two C-130s with Phantoms flying gun cover spraying us with Agent Orange. We were told it was not harmful to humans. Just don’t drink or eat anything that has spray on it. When we first inserted on the Island, it was quickly apparent that none of the officers had been advised or had been to Vietnam before as the Battalion was spread out in Company V’s like we were in a WW11 movie. After taking numerous casualties from booby traps the first few hours, we started moving in column formations instead of company Vs.

I was slightly wounded on a night ambush, and I had been sent out three times the same night on LPs/ambushes. Each time making contact and getting team members wounded, the CO liked to utilize me frequently as it was my second tour.

I was wounded along with one other Marine when we were on a fire team patrol checking back over an area the Battalion had moved through that morning. We spotted five NVA by the river bank, and our sniper dropped one with a shot to the head. All hell broke loose as we came under fire from several locations. There was an NVA Battalion that was crossing at the time. We were pulling back, and I was screaming for air, artillery, and a reaction force on the radio. The Company Commander comes over the radio saying he won’t authorize a fire mission as it would be dangerously close to us. I radioed back and told him he could tell that to the NVA in about three minutes as we would be overrun.

The battalion commander came up on the radio telling the company commander to get a reaction force to us, and he had ordered air and gunships in. That he also had started firing artillery and 81 mm mortars in support. I had the artillery firing a horseshoe shape pattern around us. As we moved back on the run every hundred meters in 25-meter dashes, I would have the artillery move with us. The Company Commander sent one platoon with a tank out to support us. The platoon had advanced to where they came under fire, and the platoon commander radioed us, telling us we had five minutes to reach his position as he was having airstrikes drop napalm on the positions around us. That motivated us to move even faster. After the airstrikes were over, Cobra Gunships worked the area over. That was the first time I saw them in action, and I almost felt sorry for the NVA. By this time, it was dark, and the platoon also had some minor WIAs we returned to the company area the following day.

I was walking point for the Company (I was the only man in the Battalion with a prior tour in VN), I had found and blown two booby traps. I came to a trail junction and turned left when a minute later, a command-detonated mine blew from the trail on the right, throwing me a few feet and knocking me out. The Corpsman brought me to, and I had shrapnel in my buttocks, right leg, and right arm. The battalion commander didn’t want to call in a medevac because of booby traps and asked the Corpsman if I could make it to the Bn CP as the Company was moving there for resupplies the next day. As the Corpsman had given me two shots of morphine, and I wasn’t feeling any pain, I said no problem.

The company commander insisted that I had hit a grenade booby trap, and I told him I hadn’t tripped any wires and, as there was still a smoking hole forty feet on the other trail that it had been a command-detonated mine. He told me he was a Captain, and as I was a Corporal, I didn’t know what I was talking about.

We then moved out, and I was placed in the column behind the right guide, and he was about the fourteen or fifteenth man in the column. After foot movement for an hour and a half, the morphine was wearing off, and I struggled to keep up. I was about twenty-five yards behind the right guide when he stepped either on a large box mine or a 155 artillery round. I saw the flash and the concussion knocked me down. Now this Sergeant was six foot two or three and weighed over two hundred pounds. He had been a professional football player, and his brother had been killed in 1965 as a Green Beret, so he had joined the Marines.

I ran up to his position, and the Corpsman was only a few feet behind me. It was the most horrible sight I have ever seen. He had no arms or legs, was naked, no face or eyes, just a skeleton head. His chest was open. We could see his spine, his ribs, his heart pumping, and he was bleeding everywhere. He was still alive and trying to moan, but just inhuman sounds were coming out. The Corpsman was on his knees and said, my God, there is nothing I can do for him. I begged the Corpsman to give him a shot of morphine as there was no way he would make it to a medevac. The Corpsman said he had given me the last of the morphine.

I said then, shoot him as he won’t make it, for God’s sake. We can’t let him suffer. He had no arterial bleeding as the explosion had cauterized his arteries, but he was seeping blood everywhere on what was left of his body. The Corpsman said I came here to save lives, not take them. He then pulled his 45 caliber pistol out and handed it to me. After that, we wrapped what was left of him in my poncho, and the Corpsman carried him into the Battalions position. (I still see him in my dreams, and it has been over fifty tears)

The following day I was waiting for the resupply chopper to come in. I and the sergeants’ body in the poncho were going home. The Battalion Commander came to me and asked if I would sign a waiver to stay with the Battalion as he needed experienced marines. My platoon sergeant said, don’t be stupid, he said, since we have been in the field, you have been in over a dozen firefights, and you are a bit two magnetic as there are eight marines Medevaced that were with you. I will shoot you myself if you stay. So I told the Colonel, I guess I will go home. He smiled and said I don’t blame you. I would go home if I could too.

Then he asked me when you were at the river and had contact with the NVA Battalion, who brought out the reaction force. I told him it had Lt S– and his platoon, and he was a fine officer. He then asked me if the Company Commander had asked me to write him up for anything, and I said no, and then he told me that Captain had submitted paperwork to him, putting himself up for a Silver Star for leading the reaction force. I looked at the Colonel in surprise, and he told me not to worry. He would personally see that the Captain received what he deserved. He then shook my hand and wished me the best. Ten minutes later, I was in the air and gone.

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?

In 1970 I had surgery for the second time in my groin area. I had a Chi Com grenade go off between my legs and a few others around me. Shranpernal and had a hernia operated on in Tripler Army Hospital in 68. The Dr wanted to remove my balls in a 3rd operation, and I told him I would kill him if he did so.

I saw the base shrink, and he told me the Drs could do what they wanted. I knew a 1st Sgt taking a draft through staging and asked him if he could get me orders in the draft. He couldn’t but took me to see the base Sgt Major telling him he had a Sgt wanting to go to VN, but the Drs wished to operate on him. The Sgt Major asked if I was the Sgt in question, and I said I was.

Then he asked me if I had a death wish as he could see I already had 5 Purple Hearts. I told him I had no death wish; I just did not want to be operated on. He told me there could do nothing, and I would have to have the operation. I desperately told him they wanted to cut my balls off.

He looked at his watch and told me he would have orders cut on me to go to VN. I was on light duty in the hospital and went UA from there to VN. The day I got to VN was the day my operation was scheduled. I still have pain in my groin, but I still have my balls.

You could say that my time in the service gave me life-changing impacts. I have PTSD, nightmares, diabetes, a bad back from being blown off one booby trap and jumping off a second one. The onset of Parkinson’s, memory loss, insomnia, depression, cataracts, high cholesterol, neuropathy, kidney and heart troubles, and the list just goes on and on. Thank you, Agent Orange. VA has me rated at 380 percent disabled but will only pay 100 percent for disability, Whoopee! I am on wife number six, and I keep hoping she will continue to put up with me.

After Vietnam, if I wasn’t on duty, I was drunk. I continued to drink heavy up until I was in my fifties. Somehow the demon whiskey just did not help, and it took me thirty years to come to that conclusion. I still drink, but I have not been drunk for the last twenty years, which was a major accomplishment. I have never done Pot or drugs as I saw a few Marines that fucked their selves up using them. When I took over a platoon in 1970, I told the men, the first man I caught using any drug, smoking, snorting, shooting up, I didn’t care what their excuse was; I would personally shoot them. I did one man at one time, and I told them you have to trust the man next to you, and he has to trust you to cover his back. If you are high on anything, you can not be trusted to do your job. I have carried those beliefs into the civilian world.

Did you encounter any situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? If so, please describe what happened and what was the outcome.

On the 26th of May, 1967, with four days left before rotating to stateside, I was sent on Operation Union 11. L Co 3/5 was to be inserted into the LZ for the Bn to follow us in. We came under heavy machine gun, mortar, RPG, and small arms fire on being inserted. We were inserted within 60 meters of a Regimental Command Post of an NVA Regiment. The remainder of the Bn had to land 600 meters away from us. From 0945 until 1630, we were in heavy contact. Any additional Marines never reached us, and thankfully the NVA withdrew from the field.

During the battle, we were using the new M-16s, which were pieces of shit, jamming up from firing too fast or from building up with too much carbon to work. If it was jammed, it had to be broken open, and a cleaning rod used to push out the expired cartridge. If it jammed up from carbo,n the rifle had to be completely broken down and cleaned, either way in the middle of the battle. I and my best friend (been together from Boot Camp) were firing into a tree line when several NVA soldiers broke out of the tree line and assaulted us with fixed bayonets on their AK- 47s. Three of them charged towards us. As I saw them, I tried to take them under fire, and my M-16 jammed on me. My friend pushed me down and fired into one VA, killing him, and then his M-16 jammed on him.

An NVA soldier then fired a burst into his chest, killing him. I had pulled a 45 cal pistol that I carried as a backup weapon and shot the NVA soldier who had killed my friend. He was five feet from me at the time. The third NVA soldier, whose weapon I guess was empty, jabbed me in the gut with his bayonet, and it caught up in my flak jacket and pulled to the left. I gripped his AK with my left hand to prevent him from pulling it back and stabbing me again. We were face to face, belly button to belly button by this time. I could see the fear, hate, and desire in his eyes as I am sure he saw the same in my eyes. I stuck my 45 into his stomach and proceeded to empty it into him. As he went down, I swear I could see his spirit, life force, whatever you want to call it, leaving his body as I kept frantically pulling the trigger on an empty pistol.

The 29th of August, 1970, which also happened to be my 23rd birthday. My platoon was inserted into the Dodge City area on Go Noi Island. They embedded us as a blocking force on the old railroad berm wall, which had a bridge crossing the river. The remainder of the Company landed on the other end of the Island and were to sweep to us. Due to flood conditions, it was the only way off the Island. Before we were inserted, a CH 46 dropped six fifty-gallon drums of gas into our LZ.

A Cobra then fired into them, exploding them with three or four secondary explosions from booby traps. We were then inserted, and I was emplacing the platoon in position. We had prepped the berm wall with M-79 fire and had set off three other booby traps. I was down to the last squad and stepped down off of a dike. I either heard or felt the click from a pressure-release booby trap. I called the squad leader, telling him to get everyone back, to give me his flak jacket, and several others.

I then dropped all of my gear at my foot and ended up with 6 or 7 flak jackets around my foot. I then dived for a nearby bomb crater. The blast from the 81 mm mortar knocked me out, and I had a concussion a few minor scratches. Half of the sole on my left foot was missing. I told the Corpsman I did not want a Purple Heart that he wanted to write me up for as I already had too many of them.

My platoon ended up with two NVA prisoners and two confirmed NVA KIAs, and we saw several jumps into the river trying to get away. The river was in a flood stage, and I don’t think any of them survived that as they were swept under. I had no Marine WIA’s. L Co took a few casualties as they swept towards us from booby traps.

On the 25th of January, 1971, while on patrol hearing voices from a ridge, the platoon was set up in a defensive position, and I took a fire team up the side of the mountain to investigate. We came to a gigantic rock that the trail skirted. Hearing laughter from both men and women, I assumed it was village personnel and detailed two Marines to go further up the side of the mountain on the trail to provide security and a block if necessary.

Taking two Marines with me, we went around the rock and sat under a tree, and the glade there were eighteen to twenty-two or twenty-five NVA/VC in a group with three or four women. Oh shit, I thought I should have brought up the whole platoon as I hollered in Vietnamese for them to surrender. The group leader had a holstered nine-millimeter pistol hanging by his hand down from a tree limb. He grappled for the pistol, and I killed him, and my M-16 jammed on me. (This was an M-16 with a Chrome Bolt and chrome chamber that I had captured earlier in my tour from a sniper I had killed in a cave complex. No Marines had been issued this latest modified M-16. I turned my M-16 in as one of the captured weapons and kept his rifle)

The NVA soldier sitting next to the older man started to shoot me, and I grabbed his rifle by the barrel and raised it above my head with my left hand. As he fired, my hand was burnt, but I drew my 45 caliber pistol with my right hand and put several rounds into his head and neck. I then used his AK-47 and his cartridge belt of magazines for the remainder of the firefight.

We finally got a 1st Lt as a platoon commander the week before. The new platoon commander kept the balance of the platoon at the bottom of the hill. My radioman and Corporal Tyrell, who had been my platoon Sgt both asked him if they could take a squad up the hill to help us. He told them no. When he reported to Battalion, the Lt said the firefight lasted forty minutes. When it was over, we had nine confirmed dead bodies several blood trails, which, as there were only three of us, I told my marines not to follow them. And no Marine was wounded. The older man with the nine-milometer pistol had IDs saying he was a high-ranking S Viet official and a two-star NVA General. We captured a lot of weapons, documents, and gear in the engagement. We also found a map showing the location of over two tons of rice was stored. The following day we located it, sacked it up, and was sent to the rear.,

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?

I was the 1st Marine assigned to the TOW Company when it was formed and trained at Camp Lejune, NC. I, one other Ssgt, and a GySgt went to Ft Bragg for the Army TOW School. After returning to Camp Lejune, the GySgt became the Co 1st Sgt, I was the TOW Unit leader, and our other Ssgt ran the Motor Pool.

We were given 72 TOW Weapons System, over 100 jeeps, trucks, radios, etc. The Company was formed of over 200 Marines, half from other units and a half straight out of ITR. We all loved it as we were all infantry but did not walk anywhere. Every squad leader had their own personal jeep. Fully one-third of the regulars transferred in were rejects that their commands were happy to transfer out to us.

From my time when I had been an acting 1st Sergeant, I had learned under the UCMJ, and there were provisions where NCOs and SNCO’s could legally be demoted administratively if they were not capable of carrying out their duties. Some NCOs were demoted as they were not capable of being NCOs. The remainder got with the program, and we had an excellent company. We had a Major K W Fritz in charge of the Company, one of the finest officers I ever served under. He not only had to learn an entirely new concept, form, and train a company. We had to form a motor pool, a radio section, as we had over two hundred radios, encrypted and standard vehicle radios, and a weapons section for the 72 TOW weapon systems.

The first TOW platoon went afloat in less than a year from activation. TOW Company was placed under the command of the 2nd Tank Bn which was a pain in the ass. The Tank Bn commander did not like us as an infantry company as we consistently showed them up in an IG Inspection, which we passed, and the tankers failed in several areas. The CO of the Tank Bn was constantly placing obstacles in TOW Company’s way, and he was responsible for my problems which saw me end up in Leavenworth and discharged.

From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.

The six-month period that I served as the platoon Sgt and platoon commander of L Co 3/5. During that time, my platoon had more confirmed kills and took more prisoners than any company in the Bn. We did this without having a single Marine killed in the platoon. I came out of that tour, getting a Silver Star, a Bronze Star w/ combat V, and a Combat Meritorious Promotion to Staff Sergeant. I owed them all to my platoon’s actions. It was a higher honor to lead a combat platoon in battle than the medals I was awarded.

My friend saved my life on the 26th of May 1967 and lost his. I still have dreams of the Sergeant that stepped on the booby trap in 1969.

What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?

Marine Corps Photo

In June 1970, I was assigned to L Co 3/5. I had served with L Co 3//5 from Dec 1966 to June 1970.

In 1968 with G Co 2/.27 while with 2/27, I received three purple hearts in 14 days, then I was medevaced to Hawaii.

In 1970 I received orders back to L Co 3/5. I felt like I had come home. I was an E-5 Sgt at the time. Upon joining the Company the 1st time, we went into the field with the 2nd platoon. Upon returning to the Company, I went in to see the company 1st Sgt, telling him I wanted a transfer out of this chickenshit outfit. The commanding officer overheard me and called me into his office, asking why. When I explained that there were racial problems, the Lt, SSgt, and half the troops were smoking dope in the bush, and I wanted no part in it. The platoon was doing Combat Avoidance by building a fire at night in their position. That we had not even gone into our assigned patrol area, they had called in fake checkpoints, and there was no command structure. The CO asked me to handle the platoon, and I told him, “yes, sir. He then told me they were mine and to send the Lt and staff to see him, which I did. They were fired -relieved, and gone 20 minutes later. I called the platoon together, and we had a come to Jesus meeting on the spot. I told them this was my third tour, and I intended on going home again. What if they did what they were ordered to do? I would do my best to see that they made it back too.

A few weeks later, we received a Lt. After a month in the bush, he rotated to the Bn rear to do something. I was then formally given the billet of the platoon commander. While I had the platoon, I never had a marine KIA, and I did have several WIA’s. When the 5th Marines stood down in February 71, I was assigned as the Company GySgt. The platoon’s marines rotated to the states.

I was told I would return the 5th Marine Regimental Colors to the states. Division G-1 shot that down. So I was transferred to the 1st Marine regiment on the 1st of March 71. Upon arrival, I was assigned to be the Regimental S-5 Operations Chief. I had no officer in the shop, so I was given a lot of responsibility. Col PX. Kelly was the 1st Regiments CO at the time.

On the 17th of March, during a ceremony, Col Clark v. Judge, the 5th Marine Regimental CO, returned to Vietnam and decorated me with a Silver Star and a Meritorious Combat Promotion to SSgt by the Commandment Marine Corps.

Six months later, at Camp Pendleton, I received a Bronze Star w /v. The six months I spent as a platoon commander in the Marines, there is no higher award than leading a platoon in combat.

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?

Knowing that 2nd platoon L Co 3/5 never had a marine killed while I was in charge. The platoon acted and served as a Marine Rifle Platoon when Combat Avoidance Fever was practiced and tolerated by some of the officers and SNCO’s in Vietnam.

I would have to say the Combat Meritorious Promotion to Staff Sergeant was, and I received it due to my platoon acting as a combat platoon.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

General Paul Xavier Kelley

Captain D. L. Walker was the Company Commander of L Co 3/5 when I joined the Company in August 1970. After the 1st patrol, when we returned, I told the Company 1st Sergeant I wanted a transfer out of this Chicken shit outfit. Capt Walker overheard the 1st sergeant and me. He called us into his office, wanting to know why, and I told him what was going on with the 2nd platoon. They were practicing (Combat Avoidance), calling in checkpoints we never made, not following our assigned patrol area. There were blatant racial problems that they built a campfire at night in their position. Half of the platoon were smoking pot, and when I went to where the Lt and Staff Sergeant were sitting, they were passing a joint between them and offered it to me, asking if I wanted a drag. The 1st Sgt told the Captain that he knew the 2nd platoon had problems, and that was why he sent me to the 2nd platoon.

The Captain asked me if I could handle the platoon. I replied,” yes, sir.” He then told me the platoon was mine, to square them away and send the Lt ( the platoon commander, and the platoon Sergeant (a staff sergeant) to his office. He relieved both of them on the spot and transferred them to the Bn rear. I ran the platoon until they stood down to go to the states.

Col P.X. Kelly, when I was transferred to the 1st Marine Regiment and assigned to the Regiments S-5 office. The three Battalions had officers and SNCO’s in charge of their S-5 offices and thought they didn’t need to cooperate with me because I was only a Sgt. Col Kelly lit a fire under their asses, and I never had a problem again with them.

Major K. W. Fritz (not sure of the spelling.) He was the Major in charge of the 1st TOW Company, and we had to take it from nothing to a viable unit, which he did in a short period of time. Less than a year later, the 1st TOW Platoon went afloat.

List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.

1967 3/5 – Vietnam Centipede

After my 1st friend was killed in Vietnam, I never made anyone a friend again. There were buddies, but I never made anyone a friend. Between tours in Vietnam, I trained troops in ITR, and I do not remember first names anymore. Some buddies I would like to hear from is Cpl Coffee.

Sgt Clarke (moved to Fl), Another Sgt Clark married a WM. These 3 I went through boot camp to 1st MPs with, where they were transferred to line companies.

An LCpl Tyrone Hill (nicknamed boot hill as he was from W Va.) served as a squad leader under me in 1970 and 71.

A Cpl Tyrell acted as my platoon Sgt for 2nd platoon L Co 3/5 for several months, in 1970 and 1971.

Any marine that served in 2nd Plt 3/5 for the period of time I was actually with them.

Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?

The CO of 2nd Tank Bn had someone fire a 90 mm round from a tank into the CO’s head after a field live-fire exercise. Fortunately, he had just walked out of the head, to the sorrow of the tankers.

What profession did you follow after your military service, and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

A Grunts View by James Carlisle

After 1980 I spent two years farming three years as an Insurance agent. Then due to a divorce, I moved to Calif and went into the car business. I went from sales to sales manager, F & I Manager. And I was a General manager at a few stores. In 2003 I opened a dealership and then retired in 2006 due to numerous complications from Agent Orange. I had been directly sprayed on with Agent Orange by two C-130 airplanes on Operation Allenbrook in 1968. A book I wrote about my time in the Marines: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?

My World Map

To do your best each and every day, you have only one life to live, and it can be shut down any day, at any time. It is to our sorrow that wisdom comes with age.

The respect of fellow Marines and knowing that being a Marine meant you could be called on to go anywhere in the world and what they stand for.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Marine Corps?

Me with my son young and old

I never believed in the 110% figure. If a man or woman is giving their 100 % to do their best in their duties, that is a hard figure to meet every day, every time. You will sometimes have marines that outrank you, officers you can not trust. You need to learn to keep your opinions to yourself. Do your duty at 100 percent. Just remember either you or they will be transferred at some time, then hopefully it will be a better duty station.

I made a smart assed remark to a 1st Sgt one time. Which consisted of what are you going to do send me back to Vietnam? Which is just what he did. I hadn’t even been in the states for a year from my 1st tour there. He had orders cut, and four days later, I was on my way to Vietnam. No, leave, no staging Battalion. It was a good lesson to learn, don’t piss off your 1st Sergeants.

Years later, I was an acting 1st Sergeant in an H&S Company 2/7. I was surprised how much pull I had in the Battalion, and I used it according, discharging several men that did not want to live up to being a Marine, rejects after Vietnam was over.

In what ways has togetherweserved.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

It has brought a lot of good memories back, made me wish I was still in the Corps, and made me realize the good times outweighed the bad times. I served with Marines I respected as Marines, and I would like to see them again and become friends.

At the same time, many unpleasant memories and friends died needlessly for political reasons because the military was hamstrung by Congress and our Presidents.

Boot Camp, Units, Combat Operations

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Tags: 1st MP Bn, 27th Marines, 2nd Tank Bn, 5th Marine Regimental CO, 5th Marine Regimental Colors, 5th Marines, 7th Marines, a Bronze Star, Agent Orange, AK -47, C-130s, Camp Lejune, Camp Pendelton, CH 46, CH-53, Cobra Gunships, Division G-1, Dodge City area on Go Noi Island, Geneva Convention, H&S Company 2/7, HQMC, Korean War, L Co 3/5, Little Big Horn, M-16 with a Chrome Bolt, M-16s, M-79, Operation Allenbrook, operation Union 11, PTSD, Purple Hearts, Silver Star, TOW weapon systems, Tripler Army Hospital in 68

1 Comment

  1. Peter Taylor

    Nice story, I was in Lima 3/5 1st platoon 1st squad from 14 January,1970 to 14 January 1971 I was know as PJ. The only know potheads as I recall where in 3rd Platoon. I have attached a link for Lima 3/5 reunion that will be in June 2024 in St Louis. SSgt. Carlisle hope to see you, have a lot of catching up to do. (dacton@twcny.rr.com)


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