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Posts from the ‘U.S. Marine’ Category

13
Oct

#TributetoaVeteran Sgt Dale Nicholson, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1969

2
Oct

My Career as a Marine Corps Drill Instructor

By Glen T. Hogoboom

The first thing they do to you in Marine Corps Boot Camp is to break you down. You are picking up paper, cigarette butts, and anything that is not attached to the ground. You will do that for 10 to 14 days, for 16 hours a day. They will not allow you to look like a Marine, or pretend you are a Marine, or even to be like those that have been training for months who are still recruits.

It will be pointed out to you that you will never amount to anything, that you are a piece of shit, and that it was a mistake that you were ever born. The only thing that you can rely on is that you will eat 3 times a day. Sleep is unlikely, and just when you achieve it, you will most likely be hit over the head with a flashlight and told to get up.

Among your Platoon are 88 or so other recruits, all scrambling every day just to keep track of their own underwear. Friendships are impossible to start, and harder to keep up. One day you know the other recruits next to you, the next day they may be gone.

Then there is the point where you meet your drill instructors, and it almost seems like they are nice, and they introduce themselves. But then all hell breaks loose, and they become devils, and you have to pick up your footlocker and march 3 miles, all the while they are yelling at you.

So then you are at your home for 13 weeks, your barracks. For the most of that time, that is where you will sleep when sleep is allowed. Everyone has to stand fire watch, one hour per night, so if you go to sleep at 8 PM, and have to stand watch at 3 AM, you get awakened for that hour.

Each Platoon has a “secretary”, usually a recruit who has college experience and is older than the others, and that was me for this Platoon in 1977. The secretary does a lot of the paperwork for the Drill Instructors, along with being harassed multiple times per day.

The only way to address a DI is to be at attention, and first saying “Sergeant Drill Instructor Sir” (then say what your business is) followed by “Sergeant Drill Instructor Sir!” Most of the time, your business was merely that you were reporting as ordered.

There are three phases to Boot Camp, the first is try and kill the recruits and if they don’t die, keep them! The idea that they are looking for a few good men is preposterous. If you have a heartbeat, they will take you. Although you might argue that those of us who survive Boot Camp are a few good men.

During the first stage, there was IQ testing, and I did very well, to the point that I was asked to meet with the Lieutenant for an interview for potential Officer Candidate School. But that was worse for me than if it never happened, since it got my hopes up without ever amounting to anything.

I got it in my mind that someone would summon me, and say, “Sir, this was all a mistake, and you don’t belong here!” But that never happened.

I was a smoker, and I never thought about it before going to Boot Camp, about what its deprivation would mean. The idea was that you would get one cigarette per day. But that rarely happened. The first time the DI’s asked who smoked, only I and a few others admitted to it.

Those who admitted to smoking rose from 5 or so to 60 or more, as time went on. All of the DI’s smoked. But we would get one smoke per day if we were lucky. All day I would wait for the DI to yell, dirty ones to the classroom!

The classroom is merely the front of the barracks, and once summoned if we didn’t get there quick enough, the DI would say hell no, you don’t want it bad enough, just go on back to your bunks. And that was disappointing, to say the least.

During phase one there were several disciplinary actions that took place regularly. One of them was if a recruit did not make his bunk properly, all hell would come down. The DI’s would come out of the woodwork, they would be yelling at the top of their lungs, ordering us all to bring our mattresses to the classroom.

So we would scramble, taking the blanket and sheets off, and dragging it to the front of the barracks, all the while trying to avoid the congestion of traffic. Of course, 88 mattresses would not fit, but that didn’t matter because before we could complete the feat, the DI’s would say “JUST STOP!”

“Take your mattresses back and make your bunks!” Of course, as soon as we accomplished that, they would start all over again, making us drag them up again, and so on.

Then there was the problem of some recruit leaving the combination lock on his foot locker unlocked. That was a holy sin! The DI’s would go wild, get your asses up to the classroom! Now go back and get all of your locks and bring them back! Then they would make all 88 of us lock our locks together, which sounds impossible, but believe me it can be done.

Now, if you were one of the recruits who failed to write down the serial number of your lock like you were ordered to do on the first day, then you had a long day ahead of you, waiting for those that knew which their locks were and the combination to unlock them.

To summarize, the first phase of Boot Camp is pretty much evaluating, testing, harassing, cajoling, and learning that this is pretty much your dissatisfactory life for as long as you can survive it, and then add eternity to that.

In phase two of Boot Camp, the emphasis is on marching, drilling as a unit. The DI’s were brutal, one time one of them marched alongside me and yelled in my ear that I was a bitch. It didn’t help my marching much, but it sure got my attention.

But, everyone got yelled at; it apparently was the choice of weapon, and it worked. After a few weeks we were marching as a unit, and no one dared make a mistake.

Finally, there were 88-foot steps in unison. And we suddenly dared to make a smile as we marched. Sometimes our marching took us in view of recruits who had just arrived, who were picking up paper and cigarette butts just like we were a month earlier.

In phase two there were many classes, like instruction in the history of the Marines, at Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. We were so tired sometimes, you could hear the clunk as a recruit hit his head on the desk as he passed out.

The desks that we sat at were inscribed by those that came before us, with dates like 1956 or 1967, always followed by the time they had left in Boot Camp, like 20 days and a wake-up. We soon learned that the last day never counted, since all you had to do was wake up and you were done!

And there was so much time spent standing in lines, for the dentist, or the hearing doctor, or the eye doctor. You were not allowed to be a Marine and have a health problem, hence the age old expression hurry up and wait.

By the end of phase two, you started to think there might be an end to this madness, and you started to make your own marks on your desk during a class, like 32 and a wake-up.

Then comes phase three, the hardest of all, along with a chance for me to get out early.

In the third phase of Boot Camp, you go to the rifle range and the infantry training at Camp Pendleton. And the DI’s appear to let up on their infernal behavior.

At the rifle range, the rules change quite a bit, since you can’t really badger a recruit into being safe. If you ever point your rifle in the wrong direction, they write a big white X on your back, and if you ever do it again, they throw you off the range, and you might have to start Boot Camp all over again.

The first week all you do is learn the basics, along with forcing you into a sitting down position that most bodies cannot do. And you sit there for hours, day after day.

The second week you are in pre-qualification. And finally Boot Camp seems like a bit of fun. Your time is split between live fire and working in the pits. In the pits, you move the targets up and down and mark the hit of the shooter.

Also in the pits, when there is a break, private companies would drive up with their food wagons, and we could order hamburgers, hot dogs, and ice cream, without being hounded by the DI’s. The DI’s at this point apparently took vacations, much to our satisfaction.

On pre-qual day I shot as an expert. There was a rumor that on the day of qualification that would we be able to smoke all we wanted. So all of us came loaded with cigarettes.

Unfortunately, it was true, and I smoked so much I was almost sick, and I barely qualified as a marksman, which was the lowest designation, behind Expert and Sharpshooter. Still, one of my DI’s said later that he wouldn’t care if he was shot by a marksman or an expert, it would hurt as much.

Then we went into infantry training and came face to face with Mount MFer.

August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley died, and I was in Boot Camp. A DI asked me if knew who Elvis was, and of course, I said: “Yes Sir!” He told me Elvis had just died. And he asked me how old I was and I said 22, and he asked me when I was born, and I told him, and he said: “Jesus! You are older than me!”

In fact, in my Platoon of 88, there was only one recruit older than me. And for that reason, I probably had a chip on my shoulder. Nevertheless, I was the Platoon secretary, and I knew as soon as the DI’s did, what our schedule would be, sometimes even earlier than them.

While in phase 3 and just starting infantry training, I walked into the DI’s shack to check on the schedule for the next day, and I asked if lights out for the night would be at 2000, and literally, I said “two thousand.” The DI’s laughed like crazy since it would normally be pronounced as 20 hundred hours. One of the DI’s said I can just see Hogoboom writing his mom, saying they keep us up until two thousand here!

Training at Mount MF was beyond belief. We had all heard of it. When we finally got to it, we found it was a desolate piece of land that seemed almost straight up, and the march up it was over 5 miles. There were recruits throwing up, and 50% of them falling behind, including me.

It took the whole day, and when we were finally done with the march, we were exhausted. Exhausted is a mild term, we were ready for the hospital. But we made camp for the night. Our feet were bloody, and we knew the next day would not be any better.

I had to go the bathroom like crazy, and there were some old fashioned outhouses there. With my flashlight in hand, I went in to sit down, but then I saw a tarantula spider sitting there waiting for me. I don’t care much for spiders, and those the size of my foot I care even less for. So I just had to hold it in!

The next morning all of our canteens were empty of water. We had some c-rats to eat, but no liquid. It must have been 110 degrees, and apparently, it was a problem the DI’s had not anticipated. There was supposed to be a water buffalo on site. They stopped training while we waited for water, and four Platoons, over 300 recruits were stranded on Mount MF, in danger of heat exhaustion and water deprivation.

We all laid on our backs, told to not move until the water got there. We must have looked like the street in Atlanta with all the wounded soldiers laid out in ‘Gone With the Wind!’ I was never so thirsty in my life. In fact, even today when I take a drink of water, I remember that thirst.

It was not until maybe 2 PM before we finally got water. The water buffaloes (huge tanks of water) rolled in, and we all cheered. We were told we could fill two canteens each, and then go back in line and fill another two canteens. Some recruits who were at the front of the line shared with those in the back of the line, as they started over.

We got back to the barracks that night. And there were only about 15 days and a wake-up left in Boot Camp.

Now we were back in our barracks in San Diego. With 2 weeks left (and a wake-up), the emphasis was on the classroom, where we had many tests. The DI’s were now rebuilding our spirits, after breaking them down for so many weeks.

I first noticed the change when the DI yelled, dirty ones in the classroom! And then we were outside, standing at attention, passing the garbage lid from one to another, to ash our cigarettes. Meanwhile, DI Staff Sergeant Joe was standing in the balcony overlooking us. When we finished our smokes, Staff Sergeant Joe said smoke another if you want.

So WOW! He actually spoke to us in a normal tone of voice, and had a smile on his face! Some recruits replied, saying “Sir, we don’t have another one.” Then he threw his pack of cigs down to them.

I now had an assistant secretary for the Platoon, his name was Hawkins. And most of the time when our Platoon was at a class, drilling, or physical training, we were held back to do paperwork. Our Senior Drill Instructor relied on me to do most everything, and at one point he and I were going through the list of recruits, determining if they should be promoted to PFC, and what their MOS should be.

Sixteen could be promoted to Private First Class, and he named off the list, pondering each one for promotion, then he got to Hogoboom, and said yes of course. Things were looking up!

Sometimes I would sneak out and make a phone call, usually to my brother Will. Since I was in the reserves, I was to start classes at the University of Wisconsin when I got home. But it looked like I would not be home in time for registration. Then a rumor started going around that some of us would be going home a week early so that we could register for college.

I anxiously awaited each morning, to see if I might be one of those going home early. Alas, I was not, but Hawkins was. I was crushed! I got a hold of Will and set it up so he could register for me.

Meanwhile, I got a letter from my brother Gene, who was stationed in Okinawa and was a Lance Corporal. He said they might be called into action, and I asked Staff Sergeant Joe if he knew anything about it. He said no, but added that is what Marines do.

There were just a few days left, and a wake-up, but I was depressed that Hawk got to go home, and I was worried about Gene. With two days left, we got to go the PX, 2 or 3 at a time for 2 hours. That was pretty exciting, to be alone without the DI’s supervision. And most of us had $500 or more that we had been paid during training.

I bought some cigs and a lighter, unlike many recruits who spent every cent they had. And now there was one day left and a wake-up.

That final full day I got a big surprise, although I knew my parents were coming, I didn’t realize I would get to see them before graduation! Sure enough, the DI’s said my parents were downstairs, and I had 2 hours to meet with them.

To see them in this Boot Camp environment was surreal! I could barely contain my emotions, and of course, I chain smoked. The overwhelming feeling of freedom was hard to handle. And the two hours were over in the blink of an eye, and there I was back in the barracks, and even with less than 12 hours left before graduation, I could not find happiness.

But of course graduation did take place, and I could see my parents in the stands, and then just like that we all threw our covers in the air, and yelled oo-rah! Before I knew it I went from Boot Camp to a fancy restaurant and hotel with my parents, and we ate well and drank, and laughed like the summer had never happened.

At age 22 I probably took the deprivation of freedom harder than the other recruits, where many of them were just 17, and most 18. I had been jealous most of those 105 days of those recruits who actually seemed to enjoy themselves.

And when I got home, I still had a commitment with the Marine Corps to fulfill, but I vowed I would have as little to do with the USMC as possible. And boy did I fail in that vow!

After I got home from Boot Camp it took some time to adjust. I was immediately back in school at the UW, and there were football games, and while the world had stood still while I was gone, it was different for me.

One time when I was at a bar, trying to get a drink, the girl next to me gave me a weird look, and said: “Are you a Moonie or something?” Back then we all had to have the same hair length, less we would suffer the inquisitions of others.

I called Hawk, the assistant secretary, who lived in Indiana and asked him about what happened when he left early. He said Senior DI Staff Sergeant Garrett actually drove him into San Diego, and they went to a bar while waiting for his flight, and they had drinks. I was so jealous!

I had to check in with my reserve unit. I was now a PFC. and I hated doing that. I was in my hometown, and to have that feeling again from Boot Camp, was not pleasant.

Just a week after I got home, I had to attend a drill weekend, and we went up to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. I was not at all prepared. They had not even given me a field jacket. And we flew in a helicopter in 40-degree temperature, with my legs hanging over the side of the helo, and I about froze to death.

Back at school, just walking between classes, I ran into another Marine, and we knew each other just by our haircuts. He said, “Hey, are you an OCS Candidate?” I said, “Well no, what is that?” I told him I had just completed Boot Camp. He said “Why would you do that when you are in college? You qualify for OCS.”

So I called the recruiting office where I had enlisted. And I asked them why they never told me about OCS. They said I had not told them I was in college. Soon after that, I applied, and I was accepted to Officer Candidate School.

So then, in the summer of 1978, I found myself back in the Marine Corps, in Quantico, VA in Basic Training again! That first night, laying in my bunk, I thought here I am again, and I was mad at myself! My goal was to get out of the Marine Corps, not get more into it!

I survived that training. Some did not. The contract for OCS was that you could quit whenever you wanted. And those that quit usually did it in the middle of the night, they would just get dressed, and walk down to the Sergeant, and say I am done.

In the mornings we would see that some bunks were empty. And many of us were jealous because it took guts to do that. Why would anyone stay at a place like that?

After the first two weeks in Junior OCS, we got leave for the weekend. We would take a bus into Washington DC and get a special rate at the hotels. One night we went down to 14th Street, and there was more to do there than anyone could do in a weekend.

I met a woman at a bar, she was 44 and I was 22. Her husband had died in Viet Nam. Not much was said before we found ourselves in a cab going back to her apartment in Falls Church, VA. The next morning she gave me her phone number and suggested I should call the next weekend. I did not call her, although I liked her, she made the time of my weekend go by too quickly!

I sometimes wonder about her, she would be 83 years old now. But at the time it was a good memory when I got back to base, and most of the other Officer Candidates were buzzing with rumors about me and what happened at the bar on 14th Street, and that was not a bad thing. I was quite happy when that summer of 1978 was over, and I was back home.

But it took more than one summer at OCS, to become an Officer in The Marine Corps.

It was now 1980, and I was due to attend Senior OCS in Quantico. I was a senior in college and was now engaged to be married. Once again that first night I found myself in a bunk, back in Basic Training! And I hated myself for continuing to make decisions that landed me back in Basic Training.

Senior OCS was much more difficult and was designed to weed out candidates. Our barracks was located about 50 feet from an Amtrak railway, and it came flying by every night around 2 AM. The vibration was such that our bunks would actually move across the floor. And I thought this was going to be one long arduous 6 weeks!

But after the first week, I never even heard the Amtrak during the night. I had become used to it. And the training had become redundant; there was nothing new anymore. All I had to do was wait it out, and survive until it was over. After all, there were no records kept of training, other than one had completed the training successfully.

This time when I went on leave, I met with my fiancee in Washington DC. I sent her the money for the flight, and gave her detailed instructions on what hotel to check into, and when I would be there. While we had a great weekend (actually about 30 hours only), it was so sad when it was over. I got in the bus, which did not leave right away, and watched her through the window, sitting on the side of a hill and crying.

By Senior OCS, most of us candidates were already receiving payment during college, like $100 a month, and you could no longer just quit, unless you wanted to immediately be sent to active duty as a PFC or Lance Corporal, depending on your experience. That was plenty of motivation to hang in there and get through it.

And of course I got through that training in the summer of 1980, and then all I had to do was graduate from college to get my commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. But that was not all that easy since in my first two years of college I had done miserably, hovering around 2.0. To graduate in the School of Education, I needed a 2.5.

Shortly after getting home from Senior OCS in 1980, I got married. I had one semester left in school. Using my calculator, I determined exactly what grades I would need to get to 2.5 GPA, and I needed 3.75 out of 4.0. So in all the first classes of that semester, I told every teacher this is what grade I need, and if I am not on track, please let me know.

I ended up with a 3.75 overall for the semester, and reached 2.500 exactly! In December I attended my graduation ceremony wearing the traditional robe and hat. Then I went back home and changed into my blues where Captain Hooper swore me in as a 2nd Lieutenant. It was a great day!

In February of 1981, I was scheduled to attend (TBS), also sometimes called “The Big Shit.” Now instead of having Corporals and Sergeants yelling at us, we had Captains and Majors. And instead of 13 weeks or 6 weeks, TBS was 23 weeks. By the end of TBS, I had attended 48 weeks of Basic Training, in some of the most demanding and rigorous conditions imaginable.

My mom and dad drove Roberta and me to Quantico for TBS, and when we arrived, they had no housing for us, so they put us up in the Officer’s Club. We had no car, which was due to a great miscalculation on my part. But fortunately, there were hundreds of businesses that thrived on new Lieutenants such as me. We walked just two blocks down the street and got a 1979 Mustang, then drove to an appliance store and got a TV, all on credit.

While I was at my first day of training, Roberta hiked 2 miles into town, with our clothes in a backpack and did our laundry; she did not yet know how to drive a car with a stick shift. Later, when we had time I taught her to drive the car, and then she really got busy. She got us on base housing and went and picked out furniture for it, which they delivered compliments of the Marine Corps.

Meanwhile, I was going through the induction of TBS. There were 40 of us each Platoon, and the first time we had a formation, I recognized the guy next to me, and it turned out we had been in Boot Camp together! I knew Lt. Heineman quite well, given that our last names were close in the alphabet, and we had often been next to each other in Boot Camp as well. Without the alphabet, the military would be in shambles!

He said our drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Joe, was also here, having been commissioned as a Warrant Officer. We would see him often, and now he had to salute us! What a turnaround that was! But he had been a very good DI, and we had nothing but respect for him.

We had some very good leadership at TBS. Our company commander was Major Conway. He was very hands on, leading every 10-mile march we had, and being at every occasion. He was especially interested in those of us who were married and attentive to the problems that training would have on a couple. He invited all of us who were married Officers and our wives to his home for dinner and drinks.

One time, when I was having problems qualifying with the pistol, Major Conway took me under his wing, so to speak. I was doing so badly, and I needed to hit bullseyes on all of the ten shots I had left. And he put his arm around my shoulder and said I know you can do it, just relax. And I did hit all ten. And he told me that was the most impressive marksmanship he had ever seen since it was done under such pressure.

In 2006, James T. Conway was nominated by George Bush as the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps and promoted to 4 Star General. I am very humbled that I served with him, and knew him personally in my brief career.

Like all other training that I went through, TBS ended. Finally! So then I was off to the “real” Marine Corps!

When Marines are not fighting, they train. In essence, they are supposed to be the same whether training or fighting. In reality, it is impossible to maintain that sense of alertness when they all know nothing is going on. In my case, that meant going on to train to become a Supply Officer.

After TBS, I went to Camp Geiger (next to Camp LeJeune) for training. There were around 20 Lieutenants and 5 Warrant Officers in the class. Some of the Lieutenants were “fallen angels.” They had failed to be pilots. Before, and after our trips to the local bars for lunch and beverages, we studied supply, and inventory, and “mechanized allowance lists.” There became a competition to see who could do the best in the tests.

I was far and away the best, at 99.6%, until the last test, when all the Warrant Officers exceeded me, in what was an obvious fix. They had all spent at least 10 years in the field, and they should not have had a worry about me. Nevertheless, I was assigned the best duty location, at Cherry Point, North Carolina.

And there I went, with Roberta, in our new 1980 Nissan Maxima, equipped with a trailer hitch, and a u-haul and everything we owned. The smart folks would just let the Marine Corps handle it, where you just open your doors, and a dozen people come in and pack everything up, and before you know it, everything arrives at your new location. But we were not smart, just cynical, and distrustful.

We did not want to live in base housing, so we bought 1/2 of a duplex for $27,500. It was a home where grass would not grow, and the backyard was a sinkhole. The people in the other half of the duplex were great at first until they got transferred to Japan and they rented it out to a disc jockey (or so it seemed).

Our daughter was born at the Naval Hospital at Cherry Point in 1983, and we were worried that even the sound of a pin dropping would ruin her sleep and ours. But I was deep into my new duties, and could not spend my time with things like grass that would not grow, backyards that sunk, and noisy neighbors.

I was an Officer of Marines!

My best friend in TBS was Tom Downey. He was a Corporal before he was an Officer, and he was as cynical as I was. Now that he was an Officer, he was never lost when having to express an opinion. When some young Lieutenant would say these enlisted guys have to salute us, he would say, but you have to salute them back!

One time I was assigned to show a new 2nd Lt. around the base. We were walking through a parking lot, and a car with a blue Officer’s sticker pulled in and he saluted the car. I told him Officers do not salute cars unless maybe it has a General’s flag on it. He said, “but I’m a 2nd Lt. and all Officers are senior to me.” Then the occupant of the car got out, and made a point of standing at attention and saluting him because he was a Warrant Officer!

At this point, I was firmly implanted in my new job, as the Officer in Charge of MAG-32 ground supply. As a junior Officer, I got all the shitty little jobs. My new boss was Major Owens, and he took care of me, but when he was gone, I was at the mercy of whoever was senior at the air supply side of the unit (until later when I became senior when the Major was not around). Being on the ground side, I and my 80 people, always got the shitty little jobs.

I was a cake escort for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, for Marine Air Group-32. When we showed up for the rehearsal there were 4 of us, and I was the senior Officer. (Yes, we actually practiced!) So the plan was, as we were stationed at each 4 of the corners of the cake as it was wheeled in, that I would give the commands as to when to start and when to stop. Once stopped and at a position on the stage, well, that was the end of what we had rehearsed. So we were standing at attention, and a Colonel came up to speak.

We were kind of in the way, and the Colonel turned to me (obviously recognizing that I was the one in charge) and said Lt. put them at ease. At that point, I issued a command, previously unknown in the USMC, and probably never used since, “Cake Escorts, on my command, stand at ease”, huh. At which point the four of us snapped to parade rest.

So another time some, when the Major was gone, some Captain assigned me the role of being the drill instructor for a Platoon, for the upcoming Wing Wide inspection. They gave me some Gunny Sergeant to assist me, and I tried as hard as I could, but the two of us sucked! After a few weeks, the Colonel sent down his CWO-3 Warrant Officer to check on me, while I was drilling the troops. And he took me aside and said you are not doing very well.

I was not really in the mood, and I told that Warrant Officer to stick it, he had no right to talk to me that way, I outranked him! And he was pretty surprised that I told him off. He thought he would have his way with me. But I knew I was in trouble, so that night I got a 12 pack of beer, and marched inside my home for hours and hours, giving drill commands, and marching from one side of the room to another, while Roberta was in the living room, wondering if I was OK or just crazy!

The next day I showed up at work, with a hangover, and Major Owens, finally being back, called me to his office. He said Glen, you are being relieved of your duties as Drill Instructor. And we both kind of laughed, and he applauded me for my efforts, but said there are plenty of actual Drill iInstructors available to train a Platoon for the inspection.

I even had two prior DI’s working for me, and they said the mark of a successful DI, is getting kicked off the field! And they said that was usually followed by a promotion in rank. So that is the story of my brief career as a Drill Instructor in the Marine Corps.

I was selected for promotion to the grade of Captain in the summer of 1984 but did not receive the actual promotion until a few months after I left active duty in 1985. I took it as a belated congratulation for my duty as a Drill Instructor, but who knows? It could have been for my outstanding performance as the “Senior Cake Escort” for the Officer’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball.

1
Sep

Tribute to a Veteran – Together We Served Member: Cpl Jim Gasho, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1972

 

Tribute to a Veteran – Together We Served Member: Cpl Jim Gasho, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1972. If you wish to create a Remembrance Page for a Veteran, please go to https://TogetherWeServed.net

11
Aug

About Together We Served

 

ABOUT TOGETHER WE SERVED

If you or a loved one has served our country as a member of the United States Armed Forces, then you’ve come to the right place.

Together We Served (TWS) is the online community connecting and honoring every American who has worn the uniform of the United States military. This is where you reconnect with old friends and share your service story as a lasting legacy for generations to come.

More Than A Decade & Growing

TWS launched in 2003 with a website specifically for Marine Corps veterans. Since then, we’ve expanded to five websites, welcoming members from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and Coastguard. Our vision: to create a unique place for all service members, run by service members, sharing real-life history IN THEIR OWN WORDS. TWS is detailed, honest, and real: an authentic recounting of history as-it-happens.

Today, TWS has more than 1.4 million members and has reconnected more service men and women than any other website or organization. Reunions happen every day. Some veterans haven’t seen each other in 40 years. Some are healed through the reconnections made here. Still others find old friends they thought lost forever. These miraculous stories are inspirational.

A Larger Purpose

On the surface, TWS is a social networking site. However, there is a much larger purpose, one we hope you’ll participate in. TWS is a living, breathing national archive of the most important events in our nations’ history.

Each story and profile here takes its rightful, permanent place in our collective consciousness. In this new, virtual world, every time you log on, share a photograph, recall an experience, or find a comrade, you are contributing to what will be the most intriguing, comprehensive and expandable military archive available.

Our Roll of Honor is a gift to every family who has lost a loved one in service – a personalized online memorial they can contribute to, preserve, and share for posterity. More than 100,000 profiles of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coastguardsmen who died while serving in all major U.S. conflicts since WWII already exist here.

Our work is hardly complete. There are currently just over 21 million veterans; nearly 60% are from the Vietnam, Korean and WWII era. We are in a race against time to capture their stories now, while we still can.

What Is Your Story

If you have served this country, you are already a part of this community. And your friends are waiting for you. Welcome to the most important online presentation of our nations’ military history available.
Welcome to Together We Served.

 

Very Respectfully

Brian A. Foster
President and Founder
Together We Served

3
May

MSGT Rolland May US Marine Corps (1948-1968)

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RECORD YOUR OWN SERVICE MEMORIES

By Completing Your Reflections!
 Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Profile Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

Start Today

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

Actually, it was sort of a joke that backfired. After high school, my two best friends and I all got jobs in the New York Engineering Department at the AC&F Plant in Berwick. We started out in the Mail Room and after several months there, we were assigned to Drafting Boards as Apprentice Draftsman. It was a pretty interesting job; it was great to go out in the Plant and see the cars being built and be able to spot a piece for which you had done the drawing. We were in the Passenger Car Division and, at that time, they were building some beautiful cars. But the three of us were restless; we were always plotting something different to do. At one time we discussed going to California to see what we could do there. Another time we were going to buy a cement mixer and start laying sidewalks. We came up with all kind of hare-brained ideas, none of which we ever followed through. Everybody would just laugh when we came up with a new scheme, knowing it would probably end like all the others. And then we decided to join the Marine Corps.

This time we actually resigned from our jobs, but we decided up front that it would be all or none. We felt pretty good with that because we were pretty sure at least one of us wouldn’t pass the physical. One had some bad teeth, one had bad feet, and I thought I was too short. We resigned effective the end of August, and originally, were scheduled to go to Philadelphia the 22nd of September, 1948 for our physicals. At that time the Marine Corps was quite small, the slogan was, “Only 100,000 may serve”. It turned out the quota for September had been filled and we were rescheduled for October 20. Things were getting pretty tight; we had no money coming in and all of us were getting close to the end of our savings, but we hung in there. October 20 finally arrived and we were off to Philly. The Marine Corps played a nasty trick on us; they accepted all three of us. We were sworn into the Marine Corps on October 21 and that afternoon, we left Philly by train for Parris Island, S. C. Things would never be the same again. We graduated from Boot Camp on January 12, 1949.

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?

After Boot Camp, I was assigned to the Reproduction Section, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA. I was originally supposed to be assigned to the Drafting Section, but when I arrived, there were no openings in that Section so I was “temporarily” assigned to the Photo Section. Twenty years later, when I retired, I was still in the OF 1500 field, Printing and Reproduction, not the OF 1400 field, Drafting, Mapping and Surveying. With the exception of the two and a half years assigned to the Marine Security Guard Program as an MSG at the American Consulate General, Madras (Chennai), India, my entire time was in the Reproduction Field.

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which were the most significant to you and, if life-changing, in what way.

Surprisingly, in a twenty year career, I never served in any combat operations. I came close one time; in November of 1951, I received orders to report to Camp Pendleton for assignment to a replacement draft and duty beyond the seas. Several weeks later, orders came from HQMC assigning me to the MSG Program. Since these orders were by name and the earlier orders were on the basis of MOS, the latter orders had precedence. This is one of the big “what ifs” in my career. Had I not gone to India, I would never have met my future wife or had the family I did. It would have changed my entire life. One can only wonder.

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

I enjoyed all my duty stations, but I must say, my tour In India has to be the most memorable. As I mentioned earlier, I met my future wife while on this tour and the duty itself was completely different from any other I experienced. Where else would a young enlisted Marine meet Ambassadors and other diplomatic notables, both American and foreign? The fact that I was one of the original Marines assigned as an MSG to the Consulate General in Madras contributed to it being a memorable experience. The MSGs hosted the first Marine Corps Birthday Party in Madras in November of 1953. It was quite a success. MSG duty is unique and only a relatively few are fortunate enough to experience it.

From your entire service, including combat, describe the personal memories which have impacted you most?

I would guess the thing that stands out the most is that as a result of being assigned to the MSG Program, I got to circumnavigate the Globe. I went to India by way of the Pacific and, two years later, returned to CONUS by way of the Atlantic. As we flew MATS at that time, this resulted in a number of touchdowns and layovers in many countries. I spent a week in Toyko, Japan, living aboard APL 46 in the Harbor. As we were only authorized civilian clothes on this assignment, this was a story by itself. Also, we had a layover in Bangkok, Thailand. We also touched down in Saigon when it was the capital of Indo-China. On the return trip, I had a 4-day layover in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. We also touched down at Wheelus AFB in Tripoli, Libya. So, although I have not been to the Halls Of Montezuma, I have been to the Shores of Tripoli. Our itinerary is listed:

Departed Washington — 8 February 1952 (By rail from Union Station), Chicago, Ill. 9 February 1952, San Francisco, Ca1. —11 – 15 February 1952, Departed Travis AFB, Ca1. -~- 15 February (By Military Air Transport Service (MATS)), Hickam AFB, (Honolulu) Hawaii — 15 – 19 February 1952, Departed Hickam AFB — 19 February 1952 (MATS), Johnson Island — 19 February 1952, Wake Island — 20 February 1952, Iwo Jima — 21 February 1952, Tokyo, Japan — 21-28 February (Quartered aboard APL-46 in harbor), Departed Tokyo, Japan — 28 February 1952 (MATS), Okinawa — 28 February 1952, Manila, Philippine Islands — 28 – 29 February 1952, Saigon, Indochina — 29 February 1952, Bangkok, Thailand — 29 February – 1 March 1952, Calcutta, India — 1 – 5 March, 1952, Departed Calcutta, India — 5 March 1952 (Commercial Indian Air), Arrived Madras, India — 5 March, 1952.

RETURN ITINERARY: Departed Madras 23 April 1954 (Commercial Indian Air), Calcutta, India 23-25 April, Departed Calcutta 25 April (MATS), New Delhi 25-26 April, Karachi, Pakistan 26 April, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 26-30 April, Cairo, Egypt 30 April, Wheelus AFB, Tripoli, Libya 30 April, Lajas Field, Azores 30 April-i May, Newfoundland, Canada 2 May, Westover AFB, Mass 2 May, U. S. Naval Base, Boston, Mass 3 May 1954.

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or any other memorabilia, please describe those which are the most meaningful to you and why?

The Marine Security Guard Ribbon is the most meaningful to me. As I mentioned earlier, being an MSG is a unique experience and one experienced by a limited number of Marines. Supposedly, only the best are selected, and while that may be true now, I am not so sure it was in the early days of the Program. After all, they took me.

The Expert Badges are also meaningful to me. I was not a “natural” shooter. My exposure to firearms was very limited prior to entering the Corps. I did not shoot Expert until after I became a Staff NCO and then I shot Expert with the rifle four of my last five requalifications.

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

I can’t single out one individual I would say had the biggest impact on me. I will say that my final senior DI, our Platoon had several over the course of Boot Camp, SSgt. W. R Stephenson, showed me you can enforce good discipline without resorting to “Chicken S–t” methods. That definitely impacted me when I became an NCO. One of the most colorful Marines I knew, and one for whom I had great respect, was Captain Marc A. Moore, S-3 Officer, H & S Bn, Hqs, FMFPAC. Capt Moore had been an aide to General “Chesty” Puller and some of that “Chesty” aura had rubbed off. I know that Capt. Moore could “chew you out” with the best of them. He retired as a Major General.

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?

Two of my best friends enlisted with me. One was 18 at the time, The other and I were 19. At that time, the Marine Corps had a program whereby 18 year-olds could enlist for one year active duty followed by a number of years in the Reserves. Our friend really wanted to take advantage of that program, but my other friend and I convinced him to sign up for three. We had been in Boot Camp about a month and the younger of the three really hated Boot Camp, when my other friend and I were called up to Battalion Headquarters. Needless to say, we were apprehensive. Now this friend and I had enlisted in the Marine Reserve several months before we joined the regular USMC and all they wanted us for at Hqs. was to give us our discharges from the Reserves. The discharges were the regular discharge certificate with the word RESERVE typed under the large UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS across the top. On the way back to the Barracks, we concocted a plan to tell our other friend we were being discharged. We showed him the discharges, from a distance, and told him we were going home. I learned some new curse words that day. “You SOBs, I could have joined for one year, you talked me into three. Now you are going home and I’m stuck” and on and on. We were able to maintain this charade for several days before he realized if we were leaving, we would be gone. We got a good laugh then and still do when the three of us get together, except the younger one; he still fails to see the humor in the situation.

What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? 

I continued on in the Printing industry. After a couple of years in the private sector, I obtained a position at the U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. The Division I worked in was responsible for 6 small Government Plants around the country. Now the Marine Corps, in addition to mobile Reproduction Sections at the FMF Headquarters level and the various Divisions, had two fixed Printing Plants, one at Camp Lejuene and one at Quantico. I had served at both and the equipment we had was very similar to what the GPO had in their Field Plants. My experience in the Marine Corps coupled nicely with my job at GPO.

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

I belong to a number of Military Organizations. To name a couple, the Marine Embassy Guard Association and the Marine Corps Engineer Association. Belonging enables me to stay abreast of what is happening in these fields now.

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career?

The Marine Corps instilled discipline into my life and caused me to stick with something, even when the going got tough. It also prepared me for employment after leaving the Marine Corps.

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

Things have changed so much since I was on active duty, I’m not sure I am in a position to give advice. All I would say is “Hang Tough”; most of you are facing situations I was never asked to face. Just know, your service is respected and appreciated.

In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
 I have hooked up with some old friends who I hadn’t heard from or about for years. In addition, I have become brothers to a number of Marines with whom I never served, but with whom I share common experiences and interests. Also, it is great to read the Forums and get a feel for what other Marines are thinking and doing.

 

5
Apr

Sgt Don McKeefery U.S. Marine Corps (1979-1983)

Read the service reflections of

profile3Sgt Don McKeefery

U.S. Marine Corps

(1979-1983)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/profile/222662

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MARINE CORPS?

Three things:

First, the company where my Dad worked closed their doors during my senior year in high school, so I didn’t want to be a further burden on my family with college tuition. And, unfortunately, coming from a small town and thus small school system, our guidance counselors weren’t thebest at providing guidance.

Second, I scored very high on the ASVAB test and all the services were recruiting me (lots of calls and visits). I recall the Navy recruiters coming after me to be in their nuclear programs, but the Marine Corps was talking to me about aviation electronics and that interested me the most.

Third, my brother went into the Corps a year before me. I figured if he could do it, so could I. After boot camp I had a new respect for my brother. As he was going through, and I had decided to join, we never talked about the challenges of boot camp. What an eye-opening experience, starting with getting off the bus and onto the yellow footprints.

Oh, and the Dress Blues uniform is the best!

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?

At the time I went in, I had 3 goals:

1) Make Sergeant.

2) Never get busted.

3) Don’t go to Okinawa.

I satisfied all 3, though now I regret #3. I made E-5 within 3 years and feel that the lessons I learned from boot camp helped me to
accomplish that goal. Work hard and go above and beyond and you will be rewarded.

I came close to not accomplishing #2. At one point my roommate had taken a bunch of us out into town to meet with a bunch of college girls who were visiting with his girlfriend and her family. They were in town for about a week, so we spent quite a bit of time with them. They were interested in seeing what our rooms were like so we decided it would be a good idea to sneak them in the back way. Since we lived on the second floor of the barracks, there was quite a long ladder (stairs for the civilian crowd). We thought we had it all covered since the Duty Sgt. sat near the entry at the front of the building. What we hadn’t counted on was an MP on patrol in the area. He apparently saw our actions and brought the Duty Sgt. up to our wing and went door-to-door until they found the room with the girls…our room.

Fortunately, our Sgt. Maj. seemed to have a soft spot for us. Instead of formal charges and a trip to see the “Old Man”, he decided an appropriate punishment would be for us to clean up the squadron area. Man, I’m thinking NJP (office hours) would have been an easier thing to go through. Needless to say, we learned our lesson…and the squadron are was spotless. Oh, and several of us continued to date the girls for years to come.

Regarding my decision to get out of the Marine Corps, I was notified by my monitor a few weeks before I was due to sign my re-enlistment papers that the school I was going to re-enlist for had just cancelled and would not be offered for another year. I had no guarantee it would run the following year so I decided to take my chances in the civilian world. To this day I wonder if that was the right decision. I’ve had a great career, but…

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I am a Cold War Era Vet. I was proud to have served no matter the time in our history. The Marine Corps makes and needs Marines who are ready at a moment’s notice. I, and my fellow Cold War Marine Veterans stood ready to carry on the traditions of
those who went before us and were tested in battle.

The closest I got to action was when we went on a heightened state of alert when a Russian submarine and Russian aircraft were spotted off the coast of North Carolina. We, and the Air Force, scrambled some planes to go take a look. We stood down shortly thereafter, but it was exciting while it lasted.

The next most exciting thing happened during a NATO exercise in Denmark. On our last night in country we had moved most of the squadron to a staging base for their flight home. Since I was with the advance party and the return party, I and several others were left at our field location to guard the equipment prior to its removal. A few of the locals had caught wind of the fact we were leaving the next day and thought they would travel out from town to our base.

I was on duty while the others slept, awaiting their turn. A car passed the gate but stopped just beyond. Two guys got out and staggered over to the gate and wanted to come in and party with us. I explained the situation to them and kindly asked them to return to their car and go back to town. The driver insisted they be allowed to come in and continued to move forward.

During this time we were not allowed to have loaded weapons on guard duty, so I was playing through my mind my options, and how, if possible and necessary I was going to get a shell in the shotgun for use.

My first thought was to cycle the pump and scare them, which is precisely what I did, but it only had an impact on the passenger. He ran to the car rather quickly. I also think I smelled an odor as he did so. Unfortunately, the driver was not fazed by this action. So, I asked him to follow the actions of his passenger and kindly return to the car before this escalated and something happened that we both didn’t want.

He once again advanced, and it was at this instant I raised my weapon to let him know I was not going to allow him in or take one more step towards me. Upon seeing the working end of the shotgun he decided his passenger was not so dumb after all. He returned to the vehicle and they turned around and headed for town.

At least that’s what I thought until I saw brake lights about a half mile down the road.

Next I heard a sound of something rustling off to my right (from the direction they would have come back). I shouted out, “Halt, who goes there?” Nothing in response. I woke up the next guard and instructed him to watch the gate while I investigated. As I got nearer, I could see someone stumbling in my direction. Again, “Halt, who goes there?” Again, no answer.

I advanced once more and instructed the person to immediately halt, place their ID on the ground and back up 10 steps and get face down in the dirt. This time they complied. Once I arrived at the ID I picked it up and shined a light on it. It turned out it was one of our officers returning to base after being out in town. False alarm. He and I never spoke of the event again.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

It’s a toss-up between 29 Palms, CA and Cherry Point, NC, for my fondest.

29 Palms is special because I was stationed there with my brother for a year. He was with 3rd Tank Bn, and I was going through MCCES. We spent a lot of time together when he wasnot out in the field for training maneuvers. I’ll never forget the weekend he and another Marine from 3rd Tanks were working on a tank and were just wrapping up putting “the pack” (engine and transmission) in, and were going to take it for a test run. They invited me to come along for the ride. What an experience it was. They even gave me an opportunity to drive the tank once we were out in the open. I recall them telling me that if I threw the track, I got to put it back on. Needless to say, I drove it with caution, but still put it through some paces.

A fun fact about while we were out testing the tank out was that while on our way out towards Camp Wilson, my brother saw a car driving along the road parallel to us. It turned out to be their XO. My brother and his buddy hopped out of the tank and did everything they could to keep him from coming over to the tank, because if he saw me, they would be in deep trouble. He did come over and was getting close to getting in when all of a sudden he decided he needed to get on his way. Phew! Three Marines were finally able to exhale and start breathing easy again!!

Cherry Point was a great duty station for me. I had a car by then and enjoyed the fact it was only a half hour drive to the Atlantic Ocean. My buddies and I spent countless hours there when we were off duty. I also made a number of life-long friends at Cherry Point. We have stayed in touch all these years and enjoy looking back on our times together when we talk. I’m sure there is some exaggeration in our stories, but not a lot!

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

A joint services op we did at Holloman AFB. We were stationed atop North Oscura Peak. The last day the fly boys put on a show for us. They flew low to the ground across the White Sands Missile Range, then at the last moment went vertical up the faceof the mountain we were atop. As they cleared the top, one seemed to go 90 degrees horizontal just clearing our radar antennas and the others peeled away like a banana. Awesome display!

I also never forget an event I saw take place in our tent. One of the Corporals in our unit decided to mess around with one of the Sergeants who was sleeping (he was on night shift). The Corporal, Sammy, decided to use a feather to tickle the Sergeant’s (Andy) nose. It was all fun and games for Sammy until Andy came up out of the rack with his Ka-Bar on Sammy’s neck. Sammy forgot Andy had served time in Recon and was not one to mess with, especially while he was trying to sleep.

Another exercise we were on took us on a float. I was one of the lucky ones from our squadron who managed to make the trip to Denmark on board a ship, the USS Raleigh (LPD-1). Much of the rest of the squadron traveled via airplane and arrived well after we arrived and set up camp.

The trip was quite the experience, from the rough seas to one of the guys in our unit being seasick the entire way there (and the rough seas didn’t help him one bit). As a consequence of the rough seas we were able to “Shoot the Channel” and got certificates from the Navy for such. Our original travels were to take us over the North of the British Isles.

There were some good days, however, and we were able to spend a fair amount of time above decks. As for the stormy days, well, we managed to find a hatch that contained a small-ish room with nothing in it. It was in this area that we disappeared and played tons of pinochle. Our game was quite polished by the time we arrived after a 2 week journey.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? 

I’m most proud of my Rifle Expert qualification badge. I don’t know if it was because I served in the air wing, or if it was normal, however, I only qualified with the rifle twice while I was in the Marine Corps. Once was in boot camp, where I was lucky to shoot Marksman and earn the coveted toilet seat. Not a badge you wanted to wear on your uniform for inspections, but it was what I earned.

Fast forward nearly 3 years and it was time to qualify again. This time I shot and qualified as a Rifle Expert, and quite timely since I needed the score to put me above the line for the cutting score for Sergeant.

To this day I continue to enjoy shooting and have been able to maintain my expert shooting. On a fairly recent hog hunting trip a group of hogs were running by at full speed. I put my scope on my first target and fired, I saw it drop as I was cycling the bolt and acquiring my next target. Target acquired, I fired the next shot and saw it drop, too. Total time to take out two rapidly moving targets…1 second! My hunting buddies commented that they were never going to f*** with me again!

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

I received a Meritorious Mast for work I had done with organizing and identifying all the manuals which made up the entirety of the documentation for the system I worked on, the  AN/TYQ-23 (TAOC). For those who have seen the library of manuals for this system, you’ll understand what an undertaking this was. It was a bookcase that was 5 rows high on a wall that was at least 12 feet long. For those in my unit who used the manuals, my efforts were greatly appreciated. I was honored to have been recognized.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
My SDI, SSgt Ahnen. He was firm but fair. Had a fatherly and grand-fatherly quality to him that cut down on the stress levels of boot camp at just the right times and in the right amounts. He was able to keep you right on the edge.

I try to model my actions with my direct reports after his. I have high expectations for them, but none higher than those I have for myself. I spend the time to impart knowledge on why we are taking particular action, and how things are done in order to achieve the maximum operational efficiency. I want them to take over my job some day (so I can move on to my boss’ job!).

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

The list is long and distinguished. Here are the ones I can recall:

Jim Van Dam – Cherry Point – in touch ever since the I got out
Carl Weber – spent every day of our enlistments together, both from Ohio
Alan Mauer – 29 Palms & Cherry Point – recently re-connected,
and planning to see at a reunion in 2017
Wayne (Stanley) Newman – Cherry Point – passed away in 2016
Sammy Helton – Cherry Point – recently re-connected
Dawn Carter – Cherry Point – recently re-connected
Warren Gilsdorf – Cherry Point – recently re-connected
Cornell Russell – Cherry Point – recently re-connected
Guy (Fish, Opie) Fisher – Cherry Point – in touch over the years
Don (Gunny) Webster – 29 Palms – instructor in TAOC schools – recently re-connected
Jim Mysliwiec – Cherry Point – recently re-connected
Kim Crawford – 29 Palms – re-connected years ago
Lowell (Lou, Swanny) Swanson – Cherry Point – lost contact
Mike (Stick) Rushkowski – Cherry Point – lost contact
Mike (Ski) Krawczyk – Cherry Point – lost contact
Dave (Nick) Nichols – Cherry Point – re-connected years ago
Myron (Gunny) Burrows – Cherry Point – lost contact

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?

In boot camp our light A DI had the darnedest time saying “Shoe Trees” as he was demonstrating how to spit polish our dress shoes. He kept saying, “True She’s”. As you can imagine, we tried our best to not laugh, but after the 3rd or 4th time we all let loose, especially when he finally gave up and said, “these damned things here”.

Our gift for the outburst, some time in the Rose Garden! Well worth it.

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?
I stayed working in the electronics field for quite a while as a field service engineer. I started out working on main frame computer peripheral devices, then moved into the bio-medical field working on equipment that was used for the Human Genome project.

I followed that up with moving into the male urological field, specifically working on equipment to treat enlarged prostates. Eventually my career took me into Program Management, again, in the bio-medical field followed by working for a major hard drive manufacturer. From there I wound along the path until I worked my way up to Chief Operating Officer of our company.

Now I am working on starting my practice for CEO peer-to-peer advisory boards, enabling CEOs to come together and work on issues they are facing, but with the input and advice of other CEOs who may have had similar issues in their careers.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

I belong to the American Legion. I’ve been a member for many years now, but still have not committed to a single post.

I’ve attended a few Marine Corps League meetings, but have not decided if they are for me.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. What more is there to say? These 3 words and the discipline that boot camp instills in every Marine are all that are needed to be a success. I carry a challenge coin in my pocket every day, which contains these words, to remind me that everythingis possible.

Honor, Courage, Commitment. These are another 3 very powerful words. All put together, it seems that 6 words are an easy way to live your life and make your way through your career. However, it takes a daily reflection on what these words mean, along with a renewed dedication to upholding the true meaning of each word individually and together in order to really do them justice.

Every day I start my day thinking of how far my career has advanced, and know that it is a direct result of my time in the Marine Corps. I was formed and molded by three very powerful individuals, who had help from many of their colleagues. I do my best every day as a tribute to their efforts.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS?

First, I want to say thank you for your loyalty, dedication, and service. You are carrying on a fine tradition of protecting the freedoms upon which this country was founded.

Second, I always make the time to thank all service members personally when I see them, and I see manyin my travels. I spend a little extra time with my Marine brothers. I don’t think they expect it, but I know they appreciate it.

I also make it a point to attend a Memorial Day ceremony every year. I have met and enjoyed the conversations of many veterans as we celebrate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Their stories are priceless, but I fear we are losing the opportunity to capture them with each passing year and the losses of these men and women.

As for advice, my advice is to remain proud of what you do. No other service has the bond or brotherhood we have, and there is a reason for it. We are Marines. Once a Marine, Always a Marine!

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

I have been able to connect with many of my lost brothers, folks I thought I would never be able to find again. It has also given me the opportunity to expand my brotherhood and meet new Marine buddies. I find that I participate more and more every day on the forums. There are a lot of interesting Marines, with plenty to say.

I also like the way we can share our memories and the history of our Marine Corps through the various vehicles made available by the site. Reading the Reflections of others, especially those from eras that predate mine, gives more flavor to the history of the Marines. Thanks!

1
Mar

Sgt Doug Woods U.S. Marine Corps (1968-1971)

Read the service reflections of TogetherWeServed.com member:

profile1Sgt Doug Woods

U.S. Marine Corps

(1968-1971)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/profile/313295

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MARINE CORPS?

In high school I was rated 1-A by the Selective Service. My folks couldn’t afford to pay for college and I wanted a break from school, so even before graduating in 1968 I talked with the USN recruiter. With Vietnam in full swing I figured the Navy was the safest bet. When my AFEES test scores weren’t high enough for the USN, he had me talk with the USMC recruiter across the street since I made clear I didn’t want to be drafted into the Army. Sgt Greene was a pretty straight-shouter. I could enlist for two years, which likely meant being a grunt in VN. I could sign-up for four years for a USMC tech school, but there was no guarantee I could quality for it. Or I could opt for three years which made everything 50/50. I enlisted for three years.

In boot camp I took the standard USMC tests, plus an optional journalism test to basically avoid extra time standing in formation in the hot San Diego July sun. The night before graduation I learned I’d been selected to be a USMC military journalist. After ITR at Camp Pendleton I attended the Defense Information School at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis IN. I was then assigned to MCB Quantico VA, where I wrote for the Quantico Sentry.

After six months at Quantico I applied for orders to WestPac. My orders came through in late August 1969. I was to report to the 9th MAB on Okinawa. Going through processing on Okinawa my original orders were cancelled and I was assigned to 1st MAW Vietnam. Reporting to 1st MAW ISO/PAO HQ in Danang, I was given the options of staying at HQ, going south to the Marine jet base at Chu Lai, or reporting to the large USMC helicopter base at Marble Mountain Air Facility four miles SE of Danang. I chose the choppers of MAG-16.

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 never considered making the Marine Corps a career. I did endeavor to be the best Marine I could be and do the best job I could while I served my country.

Like the other USMC writers and photographers at MAG-16, I reported on and photographed, the men, their choppers and the missions they flew. I also wrote feature stories on various Marines at MMAF who worked on the ground to keep the aircraft flying. Most prized was to get temporary flight orders. Those orders allowed me to approach pilots and crew chiefs and request to fly with them on their mission(s) scheduled that day. I was never refused. I flew medevac, troop insert/extract, recon insert/extract and outpost resupply missions as well as a napalm drum bombing mission on an NVA HQ complex. Besides experiencing and reporting on the missions I flew, I took hundreds of photos of the people and events.

Before my VN tour was completed I was pulled-out as part of one of Nixon’s “Phased Withdrawals” and sent by ship (USS Denver LPD-9) to Iwakuni, Japan, a USMC jet fighter base SW of Hiroshima on the Inland Sea. Iwakuni was the HQ of 1st MAW REAR and they weren’t expecting me and several dozen other Marines. After sitting on the dock for several hours, we were finally trucked to a Transit Barracks. At Iwakuni I was a reporter for the base newspaper, the Torii Teller.

At Iwakuni I was able to journey to Hiroshima, where in September 1970 I visited the Peace Park and Museum. The central city was rebuilt. The A-Bomb park areas and museum were very somber.

My final duty station was with the 12th Marine Corps District Public Affairs Office in downtown San Francisco. There I participated in various honor guards (including the Miss California pageant), sent supplies to recruiters and was flown to Billings MT to do a story for Leatherneck Magazine on a Marine Corps Reserve unit’s winter training in Yellowstone National Park.

My 4312 MOS was judged ‘critical’ in 1970′ and I was offered a $7,000 reenlistment bonus and promotion to Staff Sergeant if I’d stay in. I declined the offer. I chose a different career and life path.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

As a combat correspondent with a Marine helicopter group my combat experience was limited to having helicopters I was flying in being shot at by the NVA and VC during medevac and Marine recon extract missions. I was very lucky; neither myself nor anyone in any of the choppers I flew in was ever injured despite several aircraft taking numerous hits during missions.

The most dangerous mission was an emergency extract of a recon team surrounded by the NVA in the Au Shau Valley NW of Danang. Despite USMC jets and chopper gunships providing suppressing fire around the zone, the chopper’s first attempt to land in the small jungle zone failed because of intense enemy fire. With the recon team’s survival at stake, the HMM-262 pilot of the CH-46 said he was going in again. With the jets swirling above us dropping bombs and strafing the zone’s perimeter, we came in straight and fast. While the port and starboard 50- cals. spit bullets, I stood in the large port side window and photographed the sequence of the recon team scrambling from the jungle and racing to the rear ramp. Our pilot gunned the turbines and the Frog screamed up and out of the zone to safety.

Because of their bravery, the pilots and crew of the chopper on that mission all got medals. I didn’t get a medal, but that was all right because I got the pictures! I’ve always been appreciative of the pilots and crew chief for letting me fly that mission with them. The photos and negs eventually found their way to HQMC’s Historical Division, where they where chosen by a publisher for use in a 1980’s Vietnam War coffee table book.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

I was very fortunate in that I had great duty and worked for and with wonderful people in several places. The highlight was being a writer/photographer at Marble Mountain Air Facility just outside Danang in South Vietnam. Following that I enjoyed my time at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. My final posting was to 12th MCD in San Francisco, there’s no way SF couldn’t be great.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

Going undercover to investigate the training and operations of the Military Police/Shore Patrol unit at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. A month before my arrival a Marine had died in a riot at the base brig. The unit was accused of institutional racism and brutality. Because I was unknown when I arrived on base from Vietnam, the Public Affairs Officer and Commanding General asked me to accept a short assignment to the MPs and then report on what I saw and experienced. I lived, ate and drank with men of the unit. I did road patrols, stood entry gate watch, walked a beat in Iwakuni city and stood Sergeant of the Guard on a Saturday night at the brig.

My story was totally complimentary of the professionalism I saw the MPs/SPs operate under doing a hard, under-appreciated and thankless job. I saw no overt racism or brutality. Instead I saw and personally experienced the horrid effect alcohol has on people. As an MP I was kicked, spit on, pushed, punched and threatened with being killed.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

I’m most proud of the Air Medal and Combat Air Crew wings I earned recording, both in print and in photos, the exploits of the brave men flying helicopter missions in support of allied ground forces in Vietnam.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

There’s actually two and both are from boot camp. The first is Daniel Minor, my best buddy in the platoon whose maturity and understanding helped me deal with the brutal and confusing early stresses of the training cycle.

The second is the Platoon Commander, GySgt Roy Gallihugh, who kept me in the platoon when I warranted being dropped for being weak and overweight. The Gunny had to promise higher-ups I’d steadily improve by being on a stringent diet and by doing extra daily workouts after lights out. I proved his trust by losing 50 lbs in less than 10 weeks and graduating on schedule with the platoon, but there was a ‘bump’ along the way as I cheated on my diet. At lunch one day I ate an ice cream treat. Nothing was done right away, but in formation I was told to report to the Duty Hut that night after lights out. GySgt Gallihugh was there and he was none too pleased with what I’d done. He verbally lit into me as a liar, cheat and Em-Effer among other choice epithets, who’d stabbed him the back! Urged on by other DI’s in the hut, he then expressed his disappointment more ‘forcefully.’

Needless to say, I didn’t cheat on my diet again and nothing was ever said of the incident.

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 day before I got out of the Marines in mid-July 1971, Top Arnold, the Press Chief in the office had me sign a reimbursement form for mileage for use of my personal car on official business. No big deal. A few minutes later he and the other staffers in our Public Affairs Office ominously surrounded my desk. Top then handed me a fully completed USMC Reenlistment Contract for six years and at the bottom was my signature! They all clapped and congratulated me on my decision to become a Lifer. Then I noticed that my signature wasn’t a legally binding true original, it was a carbon facsimile. Top had slipped the contract’s last page beneath the mileage reimbursement form I’d signed earlier.

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? 

As I’d enjoyed being a military journalist during my three years in the Marine Corps, I got a Journalism degree in college. When I graduated in 1975, however, there was another bad economic recession in the country and there were very few newspaper or other media jobs available.

To pay the bills I got a temp job with the federal government in San Francisco that eventually led to being a loan closer with the Small Business Administration. I enjoyed that work which entailed a lot of people contact, detailed research and paperwork. Over the next few years I applied for several media jobs, but was never hired.

I ended up spending 33 years in the residential mortgage business, where my journalism training and skills came in handy. For various companies I wrote and edited lending manuals and put together training programs.

Now I am retired. I was fortunate to be able to retire in early 2008 when my last residential mortgage employer closed down. I am currently doing much travel. The attached photo was taken June 2011 during a return trip to Vietnam (the location is on the south side of the Peace Bridge over the Song Ben Hai in the former DMZ).

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

* U.S. Marine Corps Combat Helicopter Association (has large reunions every 2 years of Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan chopper veterans and active duty Marines.
* MCRD San Diego Museum Historical Society.
* Vietnam Veterans of America.
* Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund-dues help to maintain The Wall and build a visitors’ center.
* Marine Corps Heritage Foundation-dues help maintain the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

I cannot imagine being the man I am today and have been for some 44 years if not for having enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. As a teen I was a stuttering, shy and overweight “momma’s boy”. When I came home after boot camp, no one recognized who I was. My Mom said, “What have the Marines done to my little boy?”

Military service taught me self-reliance, discipline, organization and the courage to face obstacles unafraid, as well as to not be intimidated by anyone or anything. It further taught me to more truly appreciate the courage and sacrifice of everyone who has ever served our country and to value the kinship and friendships of others who have served.

The values and mental toughness I learned in the service have served me well in my personal life, professional career and when I officiated high school and small college sports.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS?

Do the best you can do at whatever task you are assigned. Regardless of how the big picture military events turn out when they recede into history, i.e. Korea, Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, be able to look back with pride in the knowledge that you and your comrades did what your country asked you to do. Let others debate whether policies and results are right or wrong. Always know that you did your country’s bidding and served it honorably.

Also that time goes by so fast! Memories quickly fade except for truly exceptional events. So although it may seem dumb and senseless at the time, make notes and take pictures/videos of the people and places you are stationed at and the events whether training or in combat you experience. They become a record as you proceed through life.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Together We Served is a great place to not only find those you have served with, but also to honor those who have paid the ultimate price.

21
Dec

MSgt Barry W Parker U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) (1977-2008)

Read the service reflections of US Marine:

profile1MSgt Barry W Parker

U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)

(1977-2008)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/bio/Barry.Parker

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MARINE CORPS?

I’m one of seven Children and my parents believed it was a good idea to have each of us tested, in our pre-teen years, to find our path in life based on our interests. This was back in the early 70’s and to my knowledge, testing your children to see what job in life best suited them, was never heard of. My parent were way ahead of their time in a lot of aspects and have aways been a great influence in our lives. The results of my tests came back and stated, I would be highly succeed in the military. With that, I picked the Marine Corps of course, because I believed then and still do today that we are the finest fight force ever. I’d gone to College for a bit before I joined the Corps and got an AA on my own dime. Then a friend, who I worked with at the time, told me he was going in the Corps and asked if I’d like to go in with him on the Buddy Program. It seemed as good time as any, so I informed my parent that it I was joining the Corps. They of course were very happy and supportive of my decision. About a week later I was on a Plane to MCRD San Diego.

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 started out in RECON in 1978 in Okinawa Japan, which was awesome. The NCO’s and Officers I served with as a young Marine, I believe, were the basis of my success. They gave me a good foundation to work on, so I spent the first couple of years jumping out of perfectly good aircraft, scuba diving, swimming out of subs, shooting and blowing stuff up. It was great training. The picture is of our platoon in 1978. Ona Point, Okinawa Japan. Later in my career, (SGT) I decided to re-up because of an opportunity to join Marine Corps Aviation. So I went from Hopping and Popping, Snooping and Pooping, Looting and Shoot to Swinging with the Wing. I was sent to ADJ school in Millington TN for my new A school, then got orders to New River, NC and worked as a T-58GE-16 (CH-46E) Engine Mechanic. Back then it was H&MS-26 (Headquarter and Maintenance Squadron) which later became MAL-26 (Marine Aviation and Logistical Squadron) which is Intermediate level Maintenance. From there I went to the Organizational Level Squadrons, as a Senior Sgt, and the real fun began.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN COMBAT, PEACEKEEPING OR HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

Beirut 4 times with HMM-261 Raging Bulls. We were there so many times we thought about renaming ourselves “The Beirut Bulls”, Then 1st Gulf War, then Operation Restore Hope Somalia, Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom. Mostly sitting off the Coast of one Country or another waiting for the word to go in and pick up or drop off the Marine Landing/Assault Element. “We’re have fun now bro’s!” Going 120 Knotts, tree top high with 50 Cals out each side of the Aircraft, ready to rock! Hitting the LZ hard and fast. We also did a lot of aid work in poor 3rd world countries that needed basic necessities like food, water and medical supplies. I remember flying lots of hours over the years providing medical support and care workers into Impoverished country.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

East Coast, HMM-261, Raging Bulls was my first Squadron where I got my Aircrew Training. Deployed to Beirut several time and did a lot of Mediterranean cruises. The crew pictured below were all senior NCO’s and Staff NCO’s. Best and Tightest crew I’ve ever served with. Over the years I’ve spent sometime looking for these Marines pictured and catching up on how there lives turned out. Marriage, Kids, Jobs and such. I found most of them on Together We Served or Facebook. Most of them, I’m happy to say, have had great and happy lives. Whenever I tracked down one of the crew that had been missing, I reach out to the others and let them know how they are doing and how to look them up. It’s been great. After several Med. Cruises, I was sent to the West Coast, to HMM-268, Red Dragons. Great team of Marines there as well. Deployed to the First Gulf War and then the ongoing peace keeping forces in Somalia, back to Kuwait on the 5 year Anniversary.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

Surviving some pretty hairy situations. Mostly support the ground element ashore with P.M.C. (Packs, Mail and Cargo) and Medivac missions. While doing so, getting shot at from below. Lost some great Bro’s but felt proud as hell to have serve with them. Always in my thoughts and prayers.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER? IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS FOR VALOR OR OTHER SIGNIFICANT AWARDS, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.

3 Combat Action and 3 Air Medals from Beirut. 1st Gulf War, Operation Restore Hope/Battle of Mogadishu and Iraqi Freedom. Meritorious Service Medal for the Presidential Helicopter Squadron HMX-1. All in all it was a great ride and great memories. “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” I was selected to server as the Quality Assurance Chief at Presidential Helicopter Squadron HMX-1. Pictured is myself and the Flight Crew, supporting the President on one of his trips.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE ONE(S) MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

Scuba Dive Badge: Naval Dive School back in the 70’s was one of the toughest I’ve been through. Army Airborne School, known as Jump School was a piece of cake. I got tired of jumping out of perfectly good Aircraft, had a wife and baby on the way so I joined the Air Wing. Can’t say it was any safer but I believed and was correct in thinking, that this move would give me some great opportunities when I retired. So I joined the Air Wing, went to Aircrew school and got my second set of Gold Wings (Aircrew Wings).

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

First I’d say it was my NCO’s, Staff NCO’s and Officers, when I was a young Marine in Okinawa. They gave me a good base of knowledge to start with. You have to remember it was Post Vietnam then and a lot of the Senior Staff NCO’s were combat vets of which you could learn a lot from. Later on in my Career I had the pleasure of meeting and working with General Al Gray, Twenty-ninth Commandant of the Marine Corps and Sergeant Major Harold G. Overstreet,12th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. Other than that, I could spend all day telling you of all the great people I met, worked with and who influenced me to be the best Jar Head I could be. Sergeant Major Overstreet is a big supporter of our annual Rolling Thunder ride to DC in support of our POW/MIA’s. Sergeant Major Overstreet would ride his Motorcycle from Texas, some 18 hundred miles to support and ride with us to the Wall. The Picture is of me shaking hands with the SgtMaj. at the Pentagon parking lot waiting to roll out 750 thousand motorcycles into downtown DC.

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 Navy Shellback Initiation and Certificate. It was some silly stuff but a lot of fun to go threw and help pass the time and built moral. Flying with the Presidential Clinton’s Staff, the Secret Service and the Press that covered his movement was something else. Met some awesome people and have some great stories to tell. Not sure if I can tell them all here because they maybe classified 🙂

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?

After I retired and I then got a job supporting the Army PEO Soldier at Fort Belvoir. I did that for several years, supporting their Weapons Systems programs. Then an opportunity opened up, of which I’m now back with the Marine Corps at Marine Corps Base Quantico G-4. Back with my Bro’s! I’m working for the G-4 Operations and Logistics Branch now. I retired in this area and think it is the best place, for a veteran, to get a job or maintain a job. I also can help out our troops and our Vets in the area.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

NRA Life Member, Pop a Smoke Association, Force Recon Association, Marine Corps League life member at Mickey Finns detachment Veteran of Foreign War life member and Band of Brothers Motorcycle Riding Club. The picture is of the Band of Brothers Motorcycle Riding Club on our annual Toys 4 Toys run. We do this every year along with Rolling Thunder, IWO Jima Wreath laying ceremony, Walter Reed wounded veteran, Children’s Hospital fund raiser and poker runs supporting our Wounded Warriors.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Always Faithful to my family: The importance of my family and family values was taught to me by my Parents. Married over 60 years, my parents were a great role model for me growing up and it was reinforced in the Marine Corps values. Keep the faith with my Marine Corps Brothers and Sisters: This was always stressed to me as a young Marine and I always passed it on to the younger Marines I taught and served with. The Mission comes first: This was always stressed to me in my younger days but I always believed if you didn’t take care of your Marine and train them properly the Mission would not succeed. God, Country, Corps. and helping out your Veteran and Wounded Warriors is also a must and something I taught and believe in.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS?

Take advise from your senior enlisted. Keep on training. Keep the Faith. Know thyself and seek improvement. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The only dumb question is the one not asked. Call your Mom and Pop once in a while, for goodness sake, you don’t know how long you might have left with them. Semper Fi, Snoot out!!

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

Long story, short. I came out of a 3 month coma from a motorcycle accident. Had some memory loss of my past. So my Doc. says, try reaching out to people who might remember you and ask them about your past to jog your memory. I signed up on Together We Served, dug through all my photo albums, reached out to my family and friends, to ask about things I’ve done, places I’ve been. When I joined Together We Served I got all kinds of hits and calls from Marines I knew from my past. I used T.W.S. to rebuild the memory of my past experiences and people I knew. What a trip. “I did what!” 🙂 It’s been great therapy.

16
Nov

LtCol James L. Volkmar U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) (Served 1963-1984)

Read the service reflections of U.S Marine:

profile2LtCol James L. Volkmar

U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)

(1963-1984)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/profile/36338

If you served, join us today at http://togetherweserved.com to tell your story.

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?

I was in college and was dumped by this little blond cheerleader. Crushed me. Caused me to drink heavily one night and break out the literature that I had pilfered from the post office. Suddenly, I could see myself returning from Marine boot camp in dress blues and profiling forthe benefit of the cheerleader, causing her heart to throb at the possibility I would give her as second chance. In addition I saw the last guy I had a fight with cowering at the thought I would seek vengeance and thrash him within an inch of his life.

This Walter Mitty episode was compounded by my picture appearing in the paper as I proved to the policeman that I was of legal age following a recent raid at a nearby night spot. I knew this would probably cause me trouble at the small religious college I attended. Like all students attending, I had signed a pledge that I would not drink, dance or smoke while in attendance. I would like to say that my moral conscience came into play and I wanted to do the right thing but as a pre-med student I had discovered I was far better at playing Doctor than studying to become one.

Truth be told I was really bummed about the little blond cheerleader. Filled with new resolve from the alcohol and my mind’s eye picture of the steely eyed sartorially splendid killer Marine I was to become. I called the recruiter listed on the brochure the very next day. Alas as I went to search for a picture of the little blonde cheerleader my tears over the years had washed away the image. But to give you some idea, I have posted here a picture of my lifelong heart throb that could have been her twin had Ann-Margret’s hair been a bit more blonde!

WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?

Boot camp in San Diego! A Hollywood Marine, fitting given my predilection for the drama of my planned triumphant return to woo the little blond cheerleader and crush my high school nemesis. It should be noted that half way through boot camp, I received a letter from the little blondcheerleader indicating that she was getting married to a friend of mine and wanted me to know she was proud I was serving my country. I was crushed. There was no real reason for me to be in boot camp any longer since my triumphant return was in ashes.

I tried to explain the mistake that had been made to my Drill Instructors. Candidly, they were less than sympathetic.

While in boot camp I went to an interview for Marines who would volunteer for Sea Duty. This time and without the benefit of alcohol, I saw myself in Dress Blues (all sea going Marines were issued them), cutlass in hand up in the riggings of an American ship of war. After all my life I had envisioned for myself was over. I think the Marine Staff Sergeant conducting the interview liked the fact I had some college and I had the presence of mind not to relate my real reasons for volunteering. I was accepted and after Sea School at MCRD San Diego I was assigned to be an Admiral’s Orderly in Commander Carrier Division One stationed at Coronado. Out of boot camp I carried an 03 MOS.

DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

As an enlisted Marine I did a WestPac tour on the staff of Rear Admiral E.C. Outlaw or as those of us serving as his orderlies referred to him “the bandit of the South China Sea.” Admiral Outlaw earned a Navy Cross for his actions as a pilot in World War II.

His Chief of Staff was a Captain Swanson who I spent most of the time serving as I was the junior Marine of the six of us in the detachment. Captain Swanson had the voice of God and a real sense of humor. One day he sent me to the ships store to get him a bottle of Vitalis hair oil. The ships store was out and when I returned and informed him of same he said he didn’t care he wanted it so find him a bottle. After an extensive search I finally resorted to paging on the 1MC anyone aboard who had a bottle of Vitalis hair oil to report to the Admiral’s bridge immediately. A sailor showed up with three quarters of a bottle that I gave him two bucks for. Captain Swanson accepted it as being the only bottle on board and I was out two bucks.Â

As to Combat operation the pilots flew out daily bombing North Vietnam. I quickly became convinced that if you wanted to return you flew the propeller driven SPADS as I watched them come back with six of their twelve cylinders blown apart, gushing oil but still flying. The A4 and Phantoms could take a round in the wing somewhere and not return. As you can see by my citation from the Admiral that I was a major factor in winning the air war. LOL!

Years later as a 2ndLt., I would take part in combat operations of a much more personal nature. The most memorable was when the company Hotel 2/26 was set in along the river at Ga NoiIsland when we were attacked by NVA in a battle that raged for several hours. We had Spooky (Douglas AC-47D,) often referred to as “Puff the Magic Dragon,” sending down from the sky a wall of solid red tracers blowing the hell out of banana trees. As Spooky finished firing in front of my platoon’s perimeter, Lt. Tom Turner came up on the net requesting that he do the same for his platoon’s perimeter. I can remember that when the first round in front of Tom’s position hit, I said to my radio operator, “that was close”. Just then Turner came up in highly emotional tones shouting “Check Fire”, “Check Fire.” Seems Spooky had shot right down the line of Tom’s platoon, but the “Gods of War” were watching out for those Marines as there was only one Marine with what amounted to a flesh wound. Turner was really miffed though cause two bullets had gone through his pack and blew apart his last can of Turkey Loaf. He also had a round go through his last clean skivvy shirt. One bullet but when you unfolded it you had six holes in the shirt. I think he still tells the story that he was wearing the shirt at the time.

WHICH, OF THE DUTY STATIONS OR LOCATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED OR DEPLOYED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?

As the Commanding Officer of Marine Security Guard Detachment Company “A” -Europe, I had the responsibility to travel to every country in Europe at least once every six months. I had one of my watch standers, who had come from an African Embassy, tell me late one night that I didn’t have to worry about him as he would never do anything to get in trouble. I was struck by his sincerity. He was assigned to Helsinki, Finland, which as any Marine will tell you who has been there it is about as close to Heaven as mortal man can get. Anyway as I questioned him further he said that after his last tour this was Heaven and to emphasize his belief he shared these immortal words with me. “Sir, I got to tell you some of the girls here are not just beautiful but they would suck the chrome off a trailer hitch just to practice their English.”

However, my fondest memories of a duty station are reserved for my stint as the OIC of the Northern Training area on Okinawa. I spent a year living in a tar paper shack surround by thousands of acres of jungle and roads so bad that it took 2.5 hours to get to Camp Hansen where I would occasionally go so that I could flush a commode and watch water swirl. It was here that I had to tell Sgt. Jones he could not bite the heads off of snakes during his class on Jungle survival after his third bout with some strange illness.

We had a Marine from one of the infantry companies collapse while out on patrol and we had to swim a river to get to him. He was unconscious so we put him on a stretcher and raced him to an LZ before the bad weather closed in and so the Medevac bird would not tarry. The LZ was about three miles from where we started and I swear it was uphill the entire way. Well that is not exactly true as once I was headed down this very steep incline only to hear Jones shout, “Captain, get off the trail”. As I made a prodigious leap to the side the unconscious Marine on his stretcher went hurtling past me bouncing to the bottom. A rather chagrined Sgt. Jones explained how the stretcher bearers in front had tripped. We did get him to the helicopter in time and they got him to the hospital with only minor cuts and bruises, not related to the strangulated hernia he received when he was dropped on the trail.

Then there is the time one of the Marines on patrol was bitten by a poisonous snake and after five or six really terrible painful days the snake died. I have attached this picture of where my little Floyd called home prior to his untimely demise.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?

The day I checked into Second Recon Battalion, coming from my stint as the XO of the Marine Detachment on the USS Hornet. An assignment I got due to a profile from wounds suffered in Vietnam. Anyway I was there for the Apollo Twelve pick up and stayed until they decommissioned the Hornet. As I was walking to the Battalion HQTRS, as a really squared away 1stLt, I saw this elderly gentleman coming toward me whom I assumed to be the Battalion Commander based on the ribbons on his blouse but as the sun was in my eyes I couldn’t really see his rank. So I saluted and in my best parade ground voice rendered a “Good Morning, Sir”! As he returned my salute and passed me I recognized the 2ndLt bars on Howard V. Lovingood. A true recon legend, Howard was to become my best friend and my mentor for everything leadership and recon related.

I was the Casualty Assistance Officer for the Beirut bombing and called on a Marine I called that was in pretty sad shape from parts of a building falling on him. He was in and out (mostly out) of lucidity. I saw on his record that he had been in 2nd Recon and I asked if he knew a Captain Lovingood? It was like a window opened in his mind and the nurses said that he continued to improve from that point. I was at Howard retirement after spending 45 years in the Marine Corps.

WERE ANY OF THE MEDALS OR AWARDS YOU RECEIVED FOR VALOR? IF YES, COULD YOU DESCRIBE HOW THIS WAS EARNED?

Most of my time in combat was spent trying to get the buttons on my utility’s replaced with velcro so that I could get lower to the ground. Despite my best efforts I was awarded one, not for valor but I guess slow reflexes.

OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

My Scuba and Marine Gold Jump wings. I was fortunate that while a Lt and in Second Recon Battalion, I spend six month going through some tough training. It began in the Army Ranger School. Then to Scuba School or more precisely Navy Underwater Swimmer School in Key West, Florida. Having lost 30 pounds in Ranger School, I would lay in my rack at night and whimper until the Seals and UDT guys got a hold of me the next morning to further torture me, then back my battalion for two weeks and was sent to Army Airborne School.

I can remember years later when in Second Force Recon and pinning on my Gold Jump Wings thinking, “If only that little blond cheerleader could see me now!”

WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

Col Howard V. Lovingood for the reasons previously cited.

CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?

I came back from Vietnam the Medevac route. It isn’t that path that I recommend. I was tripping along on Ga Noi Island when some fool tried to kill me. Ruined my day. Actually, I and my radio operator, were felled by some explosive device that picked me up and launched me nearly ten feet in the air giving me a chance to perfect my one and a half gainer diving form. I like to think back and reflect on my panther like reflexes that let me shield my radio operator with my body as I bore the brunt of damage from the shrapnel but as the Corpsman pointed out it could have been that I was just closer to the explosion.

In any case the left side of my body got a healthy peppering of shrapnel and my face might have escaped but when the blast went off I turned to see what it was. A mistake, as a piece of shrapnel slid up my cheek into my left eyelid and a piece transited up the very center of my nose splitting it roughly in half. I submit it is to my credit that after hitting the ground I told the others not to come to my aid for fear there were other such devices around and I struggled up and limped back to my radio man who was standing rather rigidly upright but clutching his neck with blood streaming between his fingers. I laid him down and by then the corpsman was there and took over the triage.

I sat down and called the knucklehead who got himself and three others pinned down by a thirty caliber machine gun, that we were delayed. About five or ten minutes later, as the corpsman finished with my radioman and turned his attention to me, the four pinned down individuals came wandering into our position. Seems their desperate requests for help and their certainty of near death may have been a bit over dramatized. Our rescue was complete! Of course the circumstance was such that I would never receive my Navy Cross for heroism as I had earlier envisioned. In any case the Corpsman was on me about a Medevac for my radio operator, I started that process.

I had thought that my left eye was gone from the shrapnel but the Corpsman assured me that it was there just swollen shut from shrapnel in my eyelid and eyebrow. As I was in the process of calling for the Medevac every time I would bend forward to read the map for coordinates, I bled profusely on it. Mostly I had just a red smear covering the spot where we were located. Like all good grunts I had my towel around my neck and I could see what appeared to be mud on both sides of my nose and I kept scrubbing and trying to wipe the mud off my nose. As the Corpsman caught sight of my efforts he shouted at me as to what I was doing and I responded that I was getting the mud off my nose. He grabbed my hand and said for me to stop “that’s not mud, that is your nose!? ”

Above is the photo of what it looked like prior to the BOOM!

WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?

I retired from the Marine Corps while serving as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Admiral who headed the Logistic Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While in that job I was requested by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to be the Casualty Assistance Officer for the Beirut Bombing.Shortly before my assignment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff I had been the Regional Marine Officer for Europe and it was felt my familiarity with the area would be of benefit. The Admiral agreed to my temporary assignment and I went off to Europe to deal with the all aspects of the casualties from that incident.

Dealing with the return of the remains of 241 Marines and the wounded set me on a path of questioning my humanity. So when I returned as my younger brother worked for Apple Computer he asked if I wanted to interview for a job at Apple. I agreed simply because I thought the experience would be good for me sometime in the future. Apple, for a corporation, was a wild and wooly place at that time and if they liked you they wanted to hire you. They liked me! Apple offered me a job at what at the time I thought was an obscene amount of money, my standards have since changed. I took the job and that led to a second career in technology. Pictured is the North American Sales Group at Apple in 1985. My hair is longer!

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

Marine Corps League
Together We Served
Force Recon Association
I enjoy the camaraderie!

HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?

Challenge and more importantly “meeting the challenge” is the key.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?

Fully enjoy the military opportunity but plan for what follows. For as one of my Commanding Officers once told me “it is not a life’s work” eventually they ask you to leave. Plan for that day.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?

I have located two individual that were in the same boot camp platoon with me way, way back when. The years fall away when something like that happens and as fate would have it the best thing that ever happened was that little blond cheerleader dumping me because it was a catalyst to my life’s best experiences.

As you can see from the attached picture the good times were just beginning.

12
Oct

Capt William M Pierce U.S. Marine Corps (Served 1985-1992)

Read the service reflections of US Marine:

profile2Capt William M Pierce

U.S. Marine Corps

(1985-1992)

Shadow Box: http://marines.togetherweserved.com/profile/396503

PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MARINE CORPS?

I suppose my decision to join the Marine Corps was due to many reasons. First, my family has served in the military since at least the Civil War. My great grandfather served with the Union from Maine. My grandfather served in the Army and fought in Belgium, participated in D-Day and, later Korea. My brother was a Naval Officer submariner. I still have several relatives who have served or currently serve in other branches of the US Armed Forces.

My father also served and was a USAF Aviator (Captain-then Major during Vietnam) flying B52’s in Vietnam 1968, 1969 and 1970. He served 3 tours. He was later involved in “Rolling Thunder” among other USAF ops. He retired a Colonel.

He was very pissed when I graduated from Florida State University as he wanted me to either become a USAF Aviator like him or enter the MLB draft. I played baseball for Florida State University and was courted by the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. I’ll never forget the things he said and the look on his face when I told him that I wasn’t going to declare for the MLB draft because, at best, if I entered the MLB draft, I’d go to AA. I was already 22 and would be too old to enlist in less than 4 years. I could languish in the Minors or “Do something with my life.” He just mumbled something and walked away.

I always had a desire to be a Marine, so that’s what I did. My father just couldn’t understand how being a Marine Infantry Officer would help me find a job when I separated. “Shooting rifles, throwing grenades, etc.- “What kind of job skill is that?” he said. He told me that if I became an Aviator like him, after I left the USAF, I could get a job flying for a civvy airline. A “real” career in his opinion.

I joined the Marines because I wanted the brotherhood and camaraderie of being a part of the world’s finest military organization.

Also, I remember during Boot Camp at Parris Island screaming ,”Sir, yes/no, Sir” or “Sir, aye, aye, Sir” until it hurt was a real reality check for me. I remember the squad bay deck swabbing parties at the Island. With rolled up towels and “turtle” crawling” during the floor squaring away and weekly waxing parties done the same way. My final rating at the end of Boot Camp was in the top 10% so I got me a PFC stripe!

But, in the end, I did it for me.

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?

Initially, I wanted to make a career commitment to the Corps and serve until retirement, but my family was also important to me. My wife, son and daughter rarely saw me. They did go to California and MCBH with me at the end of my days as a Marine Officerthough. I always felt it best if they stayed in Tampa to have a more “Normal” life staying in one place. I would report for duty stations alone.

After 7 1/2 years of this, I decided to separate and go to Graduate School back at Florida State University. I got my Ph.D. in Mental Health Counseling and worked for the VA for many years. I counseled mostly (about 50%) Marine 03s and Army 11Bravo- combat vets with PTSD. But, many had other issues as well.

I decided to leave spend more time with my family.

As it turned out (and I couldn’t know this) I’m glad I did spend more time with my family. In 2012, our beloved daughter, Michelle, who was my “Daddy’s Girl” was killed by a drunk driver. She was a perfect child and so is our son, Alex, who is currently a Navy Lt. Physician.

Michelle was very, very bright and so is Alex. We sent her to a private Prep School where she graduated at 16 while taking college credit courses. She got her B.A. at barely 20, her M.A. at 22 and was beginning to pursue her desire to become a Professor of English Literature. She was just starting Doctoral School at the University of Florida when the drunk driver killed her. I recall as she became an older teenager, then young adult, her brother, Alex, was always her “protector.” I worried, but he always watched out for her. If some guy ever, ever did ANYTHING untoward to her, he’d thump their ass and that would be the end of it. I’m glad I wasn’t continually gone as I would have missed the years we had before her death.

IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.

I participated in Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991. My Unit was one of the first into Kuwait- Golf 2/3, along with Hotel 2/3. We were attached to the 1st Marines . Our units were heloed to about 3 klicks from the airfield and dismounted around 0530. We humped to the airfield and Captain Soon-Ye and myself set our lines and got ready for the STHTF.

The most life changing event I’d say I had was killing the first Iraqi regular. I still remember what his face looked like, what his uniform looked like and how he moved before I dropped him. I had an odd feeling for a few minutes that I had legally murdered another human being- enemy or not.

I will always remember LCpl Billings. A Marine from Hotel 2/3 was moving to a less cluttered position for a better field of fire and was hit twice with AK rounds. He wasn’t KIA just WIA. LCpl Billings from my Company, 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, ran from his safely covered position and, under fire, recovered the wounded and down Marine and carried him back to safety.

I found out later that since LCpl Billings had no real medical supplies, he cut the sleeve off his ute and cut it into pieces plugging the WIA wounds with pressure. The WIA Marine’s name was PFC Rodriquez and he was CASEVAC and lived. I put Billings in for a commendation.

OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH ONE WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

I’d say MCBH. I was with Golf 2/3. The Islands were nice and gave my family a lot to do while I was at work or observing training. The weather was nice, the sea was so clean and it was just a “different” type place to be stationed. I usually got the gaff because I was a brown bagger!

I can’t really say I have a least favorite as they were all pretty much the same.

MCBH- Home of the “Island Warriors.” OOH Rah.

FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE, INCLUDING COMBAT, DESCRIBE THE PERSONAL MEMORIES WHICH HAVE IMPACTED YOU MOST?

I’d say the camaraderie of the Marine Corps mostly. Building relationships with other Officers, including Capt. Soon-Ye and my best Marine buddy Capt. John Raymond. He stayed the course and retired in 2010 as 07.

During the dance in the desert with Iraqi regulars and conscripts (most of which surrendered as soon as they saw us coming) I remember the sights, sounds and smell of war. Top Tyler was one great SNCO who I admired very much and always entertained any advice he rendered. Top just had a “sense” when something wasn’t right. He was a highly decorated Vietnam vet who knew the ropes. I remember engaging the enemy who were dumb and didn’t realize that the airfield Al Jabar was ours and we were going to kick their asses out of Kuwait.

Once other Units of the 1/1 arrived and could take over the security of the airfield, we moved out to protect the oil fields. It was eerie with all the oil wells blazing and even during mid-day, the smoke made it seem like near twilight in places. Replacing gas mask filters very often. I always gave orders to my Platoon Leaders to get a hole dug, let the Marine down in the hole to change filters, do whatever needed to be done and to always cover the hole with ponchos while the Marine was down in the hole. I suspected that inhaling burning oil smoke just couldn’t be a “healthy” thing to do.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?

I don’t really believe medals and awards make Marines. Marines are an elite fighting force. Marines fight for the Marine to the right and left of them and work as a team at all times. Medals and awards are just self-fulfilling by any Marine doing their duty. I’m not saying they aren’t significant because they are. Marine 03 are the only military MOS whose primary purpose is to get the job done by killing, repelling or capturing the enemy. Marine 03 are the only ones whose primary function is to advance and take care of business. I’m in no way dissing any other Marine MOS. All are important. I received the CAR for Desert Storm.

OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR ANY OTHER MEMORABILIA, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

I would say the CAR. But, again, medals/ribbons were never a priority for me. They were presented for doing my duty as a Marine Corps Officer.

WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?

There were many. One was MSgt. Wayne Tyler. He was a highly decorated Vietnam vet and now reminds me of the relationship between Sgt Major Basil Plumley and Lt Gen. Hal Moore in the movie, “We Were Soldiers” that we had in Desert Storm. Top and I were always together and he just had a sense whenever something wasn’t right during Desert Storm. MSgt. Tyler would say things like, “Skipper, something just ain’t right here” or “Maybe those bas…..ds are up to something.” Things like that. He passed away in 2009. We stayed in touch regularly until his death. I miss him very much. Semper Fi MSgt. Wayne Tyler.

Another was Lt Col Blose our Battalion CO during Desert Storm.

Capt. Soon-Ye- he taught me karate in the lot by his BOQ like nobody’s business.

BGen John Raymond was and still is my best Marine buddy. We spend holidays together and go on vacations with our families to this day. I always BS him by calling him,”Sir” a lot. We often go to Saints or Cubs games together and leave our “bosses” (the wives) at home. He is also one of the finest Marines I ever served with.

Capt. Leon White- he taught me a lot while I was still a gung-ho 1Lt all the ropes and how to get my job done quickly and efficiently. He was kinda old for a Capt. He became an Officer through the “Gifted Marine” program the Corps had going at the time to retain good and experienced enlisted Marines by making them Officers. Capt. White served 3 tours in Vietnam and was very good at Infantry teaching.

Another was Corpsman HM2, Carlton Pine-one brave guy who was there if we needed him.

Too many others to list actually.

PLEASE RECOUNT THE NAMES OF FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATION, AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.

Lt Col Blose-MCBH 2/3 Battalion CO during Desert Storm.

MSgt. Wayne Tyler-Camp Pendleton- One of the best Marines I ever served with.

GySgt Raul Rodriquez- Camp Pendleton-One hard core SOB. He was a hat for years at MCRD-PI and brought it with him every day.

Major Troy Bessemer- Camp Legune-Went through OCS together. A great guy and Marine.

BGen John Raymond- my best Marine buddy. We went through nearly all the exact same training together for 7 years.-OCS, TBS, Camp Legune, Camp Pendelton

Major John (?) Anderson-OCS Instructor-He gave us a break during his classes and we got at least 45 minutes a day to relax. He was an excellent classroom instructor. We all learned a lot about Leadership, spotting a Marine who may be in distress, how to counsel subordinate Marines, leading by example, etc.

Lt Col Kelly-Once our Battalion CO- MCBH. He was a very unique Officer who would often lighten stressful situations with a joke or say something to make us laugh to reduce the stress.

I would like to find HM2 Carlton “Evergreen” Pine from Vermont.

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?

These are two of many. One occurred during Phase 2 at MCRD/PI. One of our Drill Instructors had rather large lips which was the butt of many inside, quiet jokes among us recruits. One cold December day as we were forming for chow, a recruit in the rear is sneaking chap stick on his lips. The DI mentioned noticed the infraction and runs to the rear and ear blasts the recruit saying, “So, we’re just gonna put on some f…ing lipstick, huh?” Almost immediately, another Recruit says, “DI needs to use Speed Stick on those lips!” All hell broke loose and we paid the price, but it was funny.

The other occurred during OCS. I’d like to add that, for me at least, OCS was challenging, but I had a BIG advantage over the other Candidates’ because I was already a Marine and used to all the ear blasting, how to drill, the PT, how to fire and clean my weapon, how to sound-off, how to correctly don my ute, mask, etc. Many Candidates couldn’t hack it and were sent packing.

Anyway, while in Combat Training, there was a Candidate that wasn’t very good at the “Slide for Life” rope crawl. He gets about a 1/4 of the way and stops. Hat’s are yelling at him to “continue, what’s his problem, hurry up, etc” He yells, “This Candidate can’t go anymore because I’m raw and don’t want to fall in the water, SSgt.” Boy, that set them off big time. Ends up, he falls into the cold water anyway. When he gets out, DI Moore is all over him. The Candidate says, “This Candidate is raw SSgt.” DI Moore screams “Explain yourself Candidate.” The Candidate screams “This Candidates (male genitalia) are raw from PT and sliding the rope is killing me, SSgt!”

Nearly everyone wanted to laugh I think, including the DI, but no one did.

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?

I went to graduate school at Florida State University in Tallahassee. I got my Doctorate in Mental Health Counseling. I worked for the VA many years counseling vets from all branches. I found that most were either Marine 03 or Army 11 Bravo- combat vets with PTSD.

I’m retired now.

WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?

I just go every so often to my local VFW for a few beers and cook-offs. It’s sad, but the Korea and Vietnam era vets show up less and less as age and death takes its toll.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER?

Becoming a Marine made me more focused, driven and able to cope with stressful situations. Being a VA Mental Health Counselor was good for my caseload patients I think. But, it was somewhat difficult for me. This is because I had to absorb, like a sponge, all my caseload patients issues. I had to develop the best course of action for each patient. They only had to work through their individual issues. I loved doing it nonetheless and I am proud I was able to help so many vets. Some I couldn’t help as they weren’t receptive or just stopped coming to see me.

BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE MARINE CORPS?

I would tell the Marine Recruit that they better lose any sense of being an individual. They will always be a “team.” I’d tell them that they are attempting to become a part of a 240 year old brotherhood of tradition, honor, courage and commitment. I’d also tell them that whether they are going to MCRD/PI or MCRD/SD, they better represent all of us who came before and stood on those yellow foot prints. They should represent us all 110% and no less.

The Eagle, Globe and Anchor MUST be earned as it will only be given to a selected few.

IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.

It has helped me connect with new Marine Brothers/Sisters. I’ve been privileged to have become acquainted with many, many good Marines. I have been able to share stories with other Marine 03 and other MOS’. It’s a good site that I’d recommend to any Marine. Thanks for letting me participate and communicate, not only with Marines, but also military personnel from other branches as well in Forums and such. TWS is good. I’ve also been able to connect with other Native Americans such as myself.

Note from Admin: Sadly, as we were working with Mike to tell his story, he passed away. At least his story is here forever for his family, friends and his Brother and Sister Marines.

Semper Fi Marine.

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