I have changed the format. I will continue to add stories as I reflect back. I will use the same language now that I used in the Corps. I will make no apology for that. "COLORFUL" would be a polite term to describe the stories. They'll be in no chronological order but just when I recall one.
This page could get quite long! ENJOY
Two of my cousins that I worshipped had previously joined.
Two week before my ship out date I told my mother what was happening. My father died when I was 12. She was understandably upset but there was nothing I could do or say. On Jan 14th, 1964, I caught a bus to St Louis. On the way I caught a glimpse of my grandmother sitting on her porch. I neglected to see her before I left. I never saw her again. That mistake has always been with me.
On the plane ride to San Diego one of our stewardess’ mentioned that she had an uncle who was an D.I. His name was O’Roarke.
Well, you guys know the drill, yellow footsteps, head shaving, screaming, no sleep, yada, yada, yada.
Of course, our Senior D.I. for platoon 308 was…..you guessed it… GySgt O’Roarke!!
I was kind of a skinny kid. (150lbs) and boot camp was tough on me. Half way through I smashed a finger in a door and wound up with blood poisoning and went to the hospital for 2 weeks. That put me into another platoon (310).
After a few weeks we went to Rifle Marksmanship at Camp Matthews. We were within a few miles of the ocean and the dampness was miserable. Everyone in the platoon came down with Walking Pneumonia. Every night at sack time we would line up in front of the DI’s tent. We would walk in single file and get a big batch of Vicks Vapo Rub (Or something like it. I’m not kidding, this stuff was in what looked like a 50gal drum) smeared on our chests and then take a huge spoon full and swallow it. From there we ran to our tents and slid into our cots. We would wrap our poncho’s around the outside of the cots to keep the heat in.
As I have said, Rick Meyer was the funniest guy in the world.
We're sitting in the mess hall at Camp Pendelton during our "Escape & Evasion" school before being shipped overseas. I can't recall everyone but Rick, Dick, myself and a few others are sitting there making asses of ourselves and this E5 "lifer" sits down at the table. Shortly afterwards he tells us to "knock off the shit" in no uncertain terms. He then gets up to get something from the chow line leaving his cup of milk sitting on the table. Now Rick is at the far end of the table (10ft ?) and picks up an olive from his tray and proceeds to toss it towards the cup of milk. You guessed it!!! A 3 pointer!!!! Man, with that, there was nothing but assholes and elbows getting out of that mess hall. I often wonder what the Sarge thought when he got to the bottom of his cup of milk ???? LOL
Another adventure from Escape & Evasion.
We're on the exercise where we are left out in the boondocks for 3 days with an orance and a cup full of rice and have to navigate to a position several miles from where we started, all while being chased by squads of Marines who will "capture and torture" us. Your ass was in a "world of shit" if you got captured. We were not allowed to use any roads........so........here we are walking down this road in the middle of the nght. There is a half moon. We round this curve and notice all of the small bushes next to the road. With that, one of the "bushes" stands up and says....."What the fuck are you assholes doing on this road? My name is Lt. Bla bla bla and I want your names." With that, I cold cock the Lt. And were are running like crazy through the woods. It took us 3 hours but we finally escaped! Hey, that's what the school was for ??!!
I would still be in jail if they had caught me.
Dick Kaufman is at the PX and buys a cinnamon roll. As he leaves the PX a full bird Colonel is entering the PX. Dick salutes with his left hand, no cover and the roll in his right hand. OH shit, the Col. Get his name and outfit. A while later Dick is back in the company area and a big car pulls up. It's the Col and he wants a piece of Dick ass. I don't recall exactly what happened but that could have been a disaster for Dick.
We're at El Toro waiting for the plane to take us to Okinawa. The Lt. That's in charge of us is a real prick. I had several run ins with him while we were at Pendelton. His MOS was for "Crash Crew" and he thought he was a badass. Anywho....he tells all squad leaders ( I'm one) to confiscate any fireworks or explosives. One of the guys in my squad hand me a cherry bomb to dispose of. Sure....hmmm......anybody got a match?
I light it and BLAMMMMMMMMMM......
We're right between 2 barracks and the noise is deafening. Old dickhead Lt. Comes screaming over...
"who did that???" Uhhh........I did......sir
"If you weren't headed to Viet Nam, I'd have your ass in the brig today!!!!!"
He did get the last laugh as the girls from Thelma's came to see us off and he wouldn't let us talk to them.......fucker
No logical order......
We are driving like crazy to report to Camp Pendelton on time..........we have to be there by midnight...........
11:50PM (2350 military time). The Corporal on duty wont let us check in in civvies....shit.
In the parking lot jerking uniforms out of our seabags. He marked our check in time 2359 (11:59PM)
The next day we are assigned out company, platoon area. We are in the barracks getting squared away and this E5 (sgt) passes the word that if anyone has any weapons to come to the platoon headquarters. Sure...I have a 45 Automatic in my seabag. Ya' never know when something like that will come in handy. Anyway......I take the piece to headquarters and you woulda' thought I had a thermonuclear device in my hand. I'm not kidding....this Lt. Was going crazy. I calmly asked him if he had ever fired one. That was my first episode with the infamous "Lt"
I got to mail the 45 home and it was no big deal. But I was on the shit list from day one. They put me in charge of every lousy work detail that could be found. The Marines that I was in charge of knew what was going on and broke their backs to keep me out of further trouble. Semper Fi guys.
At El Toro we would collect our pennies and dimes to send somebody to town. A gallon of Vin Rose, Red Mountain
wine was $1.59
The next day was usually pretty bad.
Jack McGuff shared my cubical. Jack was an alcoholic. He was also a bartender in town. I had to drag his ass out of the rack every day to get him to muster on time.
One day he didn't make it and had to stand before the "Old Man".
Jack promptly puked on the CO's desk and passed out on the floor..........
In the mornings everything in the tent would be wet from the humidity.
My Aunt & Uncle came to visit me twice. The first time I ate nothing but cake, ice cream, etc. When I got back to the company area my platoon was just going to chow. I was stuffed with crap. My DI must have known what was going on and make me eat a dozen desserts! (maybe not 12 but a bunch!) and then go out and do squat thrusts until I puked up may guts. The next time I had visitors I took it easy on the chow.
I qualified Sharpshooter. I swear, I did not miss that whole big target but got a “Maggies Drawers” anyway.
The rest of boot camp is just a blur now.
ITR is another story. We had the meanest prick for a platoon Sgt. His name is Casabar. We stood so many inspections in the middle of the night. His favorite was to have a “junk on the bunk” (j/b)and then change it to a wall locker inspection and then change it back to a j/b. What a dick.
I came down with a series of really nasty boils. The worst was on the day that we low crawled under the concertina and machinegun fire. I had a huge boil on the back of my head and my helmet would constantly bang against it. I had blood and pus running down the back of my neck. Casabar takes a look at it and says “Run on down to sickbay and get that fixed.” Sickbay was 8 miles away from our present location. So…..I ran on down to sickbay. The Corpsman there could have cared less about me and lanced that boil in 2 seconds, cleans it up a bit and says, “Run on back to your unit”.
That was the last damn time that I went to sickbay. From then on I lanced the boils with my bayonet!!
After graduation my orders sent me to MCAS El Toro. The Air Wing was a whole new world. It took me a while to adjust to the laxness.
I made some great friends there. Dick Kaufman, Bill Waters, Steve Nowocinski, Jack McGuff, Ernie Newcomb, Mike Clow, Ray, Scheitzach, John Steiber, Neil Wolbers, Duell Mains, Bill Cleghorn and Jerry Meyers(sp).
Dick, Bill and I spent many hours at Gordy & Thelma Ledbetters house. They sort of adopted Marines and allowed us to spend many hours at their house.
They had 3 daughters, Dawn, Becky, and April. Five years later I married Dawn. She is my wife of 39 years.
Many a party was held there. Those were some wonderful times.
After 2 years or so Dick, Neil, John, Ray all got our orders to ship overseas.
First we had to complete Escape and Evasion School at Camp Pendelton.
This is where I met Rick Myers. He had to be the funniest human I have ever met. Dick, Ray, Neil, Rick were all friends from Dubuque, IA.
Neil passed away a while back and Rick died Jan 2002. May God grant them Peace.
I was an E-4 (Corporal) by that time. There was a lot of dissention in our platoon. We had an OIC that knew nothing about handling men and the platoon Sgt. Had 19 years in and was only an E-5.
During the first week I was put in charge of COD (close order drill) for the platoon. Not to overstate it but I was one hell of a drill Sgt.
The fella’s above me did not like that one bit. I was put in charge of every damn work detail after that.
During our Escape & Evasion test 3 of us were moving down a road at night. You guys know that we were not supposed to use roads. We walk right into a squad of enemy. This Officer walks up to us and asks, “Who the hell are you guys and what the fuck are you doing on this road?”
With that, my buddy knocks the officer down and we haul ass. Luckily, they never found us or our asses would have cooked.
My orders were for Iwakuni, Japan.
We stopped at Okinawa for a few days. We created an extreme shortage of Vodka on that island. Woohoo
Life in Japan was great. We took trips all over the island with emphasis on Hiroshima. Heck, we even had “Papa Sans” that came in and cleaned your cubical, made your bed, and washed your clothes. The chow was outstanding because they used civilian cooks. Then came the orders for our entire MAG (Marine Air Group) to ship to Chu-Lai, RVN. Most of the guys went by ship but I was lucky enough to catch a plane ride.
Life was not so good at Chu-Lai.
I know that all of you “ground pounders” had it much worse.
We had no “hooches” completed , showers (if any) were open air, the mess hall was in tents that were covered with flies and weevils.
After a while, everything settled into that monotonous behind the lines bullshit.
So..one day there are about 200 guys standing in line to take a shower. All anyone was wearing was a towel over the shoulder and “flip flops”. Damn if 4 busses don’t come barreling down the road towards us. God help me, but here’s 4 busses of women from the USO Show passing right by us. Everyone, and I mean everyone is cheering in whistling. The girls seemed to be enjoying themselves too. That was the last day for open air showers. The SeaBees were there that “NIGHT” building walls around the showers and the waiting area. I guess some General got his ass in a sling over that. That particular troupe was with Martha Raye. Her show was top notch.
Now these monotonous, unending, bored to shit days were quite often punctuated by those inconsiderate NVA/Victor Charlies and their really accurate rocket attacks.
Remember guys…..I know that the grunts had it waaaay worse than I. These are just reflections on my time there.
Rick Myer is just up the road from Chu-Lai at Ky-Ha. He was with HMM361(2?)
Anyway, he was with Tweeds Tigers. He was a crew chief on a UH34D chopper. I rode on several med-evac’s with him.
It seemed that the days were never ending. One day, I am put in charge of a sandbag filling detail. It was 130 fucking 4 degrees!!
I even made it up to Da Nang to see my pal Dick. It just so happened that the Bob Hope USO Show was there. Dick and I wrangled our way into the show. We were probably 100 rows back and there must have been 3-400 rows of Marine behind us. I was a fabulous show!
Boredom!!! All there was for us to do was work eat sleep drink and got to the movies.
What a joke. All we had was reruns of COMBAT!!!. Our theater was open air with nothing but sand. The screen was 4 pieces of plywood pained white. The entertainment between reels was to kill rats the size of small dogs.
Our other form of entertainment was to play “Liars Poker”. If you lost you had to chug a can of very warm Carlings Black Label. It didn’t take too long to get wasted.
Orders finally came…..
MCAS Yuma, Arizona ….possibly the only base in the US as hot as Chu-Lai!
Upon arrival at MCAS El Toro, all of us were told to stand into 2 lines. Those that had more than 180 days left and those that had less than 180 days left. I had 181 days to go and the bastards wouldn’t let me go to the other group of guys. Those with less than 180 were discharged that week. Shittttt.
My NCOIC at Yuma was a straight up guy. He was an E-6 sailor whose name was Ken Skelton. I was an E-5 by then. He pretty much told me to show up for muster and then do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day.
Almost every weekend I either flew or hitch hiked up to Gordy and Thelma’s.
I was discharged 15Jan 68.
I’ll try to add more to this from time to time. I hope someone enjoyed this.