Name: Thomas B Dowlearn Pfc 574103
E-mail address: email@example.com
Some great reading about great Marines that I feel a close
kinship to. In Apr thru Jun 1945 I served with what started as
305 hand picked men in a hush-hush unit billited at Hadnot
Point, LeJeune under direct supervision of Chesty Puller.
Divided into two groups of 604s and 607s. Lou Diamond was
NCOIC of mortars and our barracks chief. The training was
special and hard under ex-Raider instructors and involved
sleep deprivation and night activity in a swamp or boonies.
One march was 36 miles with MG and Mortars with 5 minutes
break an hour. One day Puller gave us a talk in full dress
and we boarded a train for 13 days and 29 of us were exposed
in a chair car at around 2 miles from the worlds first atomic
bomb. The rest of the men were there but some distance
away. We arrived a fence at around midnite and were at
Trinity site until mid morning or so and arrived at Oceanside
on 16th day. See who was chosen for Security, etc at history.
Highest rank on board was Pvt.
Date: Thu Oct 28 02:19
I e-mailed Tom back as follows:
Thank you for your guestbook entry at my Carlson Raider site.
I don't quite understand your reference to 603s/607s, perhaps
you could fill me in on that point. In any event, it sounds like an interesting story. Please do write-up a longer story for me for the webpage--would like to hear more about Diamond and Puller.
The following is a series of further e-mail messages from Tom.
Richard, I'm sorry about mix up but 604 and 607 were machine gun and mortar. As I remember rifleman was 521 but I could be wrong. The special unit was very well segregated from everyone and is a really remarkable story concerning a subject that has been taboo for many years. In the second phase of combat training we were used as guinea pigs testing clothing for gas (I don't mean tear gas} That was at tent camp but the real horror was at Montford Pt in third phase. We would have killed for sleep or rest. A Dr. from the U of Cal briefed us and with a team from Duke Univ. spent a whole day examineing us
physically and mentally. He said there was concern as we had undergone the most severe training of any group in the United States military during world war and that we could not contact them but they would monitor us the rest of our lives. Towards the last of this deal you could see the personalities change all around you and you quit looking at people as that could start a fight. Quite a deal and I guess our experience in the swamp aided later UDT and Seals but remember they tried it on Marines first. Remember the 227 that lasted out of 305 had all completed 2 phases of combat training that most got only 1 of and 78 couldn't take it. Will try and tell you some of the story.
Howdy Dick, Haven't forgotten you but am at the age where each day is a challenge. You wanted something on Puller and maybe Diamond and Al Schmidt. To tell you the truth my memories of Diamond
are of a brutal son of a bitch following an event I witnessed at Parris Island in Jan of 45 when he was running the crab orchard and I had been off the cattle truck about 30 minutes. If you don't mind the truth
I'll try to send you a sketch of PI to Tent camp, Lejeune to Montford Pt and then 13 days to White Sands, New Mex and one hell of a rush job to Guam, Saipan to Tinian. My story is mainly unbelievable as what
happened was total mistreatment of a Marine private because he witnessed something more than secret. It has never been admitted to this day because I think the orders came from Washington and got
completely out of hand nearly ending in my murder at a morgue in Fukuoka in early 46 by three agents and a Dr. that saved my life by telling them he would have no part in cooperating with them. Tell me what you think the Semper Fi group can stand. Remember it meant Hooray for me and screw you and my 21 mos .overseas was disaster from my group being arrested and put aboard a ship with numbers removed (a destroyer transport) and full speed ahead after stopping outside San Diego harbor and putting 202 on the ship which was called the Menifee which it was not. Enough praise for those surroundings.
The crabs in reference are body lice and that first stop at PI was to shed all vistage of civilian life. That was clothes, most personal articles and your dignity. Good old Lou was our greeter and harasser and he injured a kid standing by me at a urinal. Hair and civilian clothes gone we were relieving ourself into a trough. This kid was wearing glasses and made the mistake of putting a hand against the wall at which point Diamond delivered a tremendous kick in the rear that drove his head into the tar paper and wood wall. Nails protruded into the inside 1/4 to 3/4 inches and one entered the guys forehead and literally pinned him to the wall. He was stunned and I helped him pull himself away and saw a circle the size of a nickel turning black and blue except except for blood was oozing from the center. Later, my DI, a Sgt George Zubasic had him treated and took my eye witness report. Shortly after Lou was transferred to LeJeune after our paths had crossed one more time. More on that later.
Tom Dowlearn Platoon 13
Parris Island, 13 Jan 1945.
A somewhat similar story regarding Diamond, from Gunny G's WWII Marines guestbook, 6/26/99
"I entered service Oct. 43 at Parris Island. I met Lou Diamond in a unusual way. He hurled my seabag at me in the de-lousing plant and sent me backwards about 20 feet. That was the last time our paths crossed."
Guess you got what I said about my first "Lou D." run-in and I said I would write more but got no word on continuing.. All this will be part of a book some day but don't mind your printing unless too inflammable. My life from the day of the bomb at NMex to my retirement was unbelievable and often almost unliveable. I have never seen a true copy of my records except some altered rosters from Defense Nucelar Agency and some the unnamed HQ people sent to USAF saying I left NC after I was sitting on Tinian saying I
was a fraudulant enlistment in the AF. No senator or congressman has ever been able to get me my records and no Dr or Hospital including tha VA could get any 1945-47 medical records and that includes radium rods in my nose right before discharge in 1947. The last people that may have seen them was US Border Patrol wheels when I applied in early 1970 and was accepted until I got a refusal saying I had very serious physical considerations that were't explained...Believe me when I tell you the VA and any military
hospital is a pawn and it's Drs a victim of cover up and lies as we first 29 exposed marines and now that most of us are dead it may come out in a highly self serving way trying to protect whoever it was that
authorised any activity by agents to protect Atomic secrecy and ill bet you that every man of the original 29 with me that has died was autopsied by the people at Sandia in New Mexico as any body and fetus they could get from VA and cooperative (getting govt money) hospitals. We were told before we left Montford Point for Alamaorda we could never contact them but they would monitor us for our lifetime. Let me know what you think and help me get my record as no one has ever been able to.
When finished bootcamp with my second platoon following an injury that resulted in pneumonia, I got 15 days leave as I lived W of the Miss river. Before I got that leave I spent an extremely tense hour in the Naval Hospital waiting room alone in the company of one Master Gunny Lou Diamond. He had put in for overseas and I was there to be examined for return to duty in a new platoon as I had lost Plt 13. We were both in bath robes and little else and Lou was very verbose about stateside duty, boots, recruits, women marines whom he playfully referred to as god dam Bams (Broad assed marines). If he didn't like or approve of them or it, I heard about it. I was afraid to look at him as I was afraid he would recognize me from his crab orchard caper and assault me. It would have been no contest he had me in height and 25 to 30 inches in the waist and outweighed me by at least my own weight which was 130 to 135 pounds. By the time he went in and saw a Doctor the old fox had me feeling almost sorry for him. When he came out he had his bad news and he said nothing complimentary about Drs in general. After I completed my leave I reported to Tent camp LeJeune for infantry training. It wasn't easy but a relief from PI. We were on a problem one day when a solidly built man with a pronounced limp approached and engaged our leaders in conversation and from their attitude this guy was somebody. His skin was about as brown as chocolate from atabrine and his heavy features seemed both kindly and menacing. Within short weeks we all came to love him like a father. Chesty Puller was a man among men and an ever presence wearing the uniform of the day which was fatigues and combat pack or field pack depending on the problem for the day. We completed the full course and were half way thru it a second time and were puzzled as everyone but our group went straight to Okinawa or some overseas division. One day the whole outfit fell out and 300 men were picked and asked to volunteer for a special group. Next time Ill tell you about this mission
that was trained at Montford Pt and put me in a brick barracks in a bay next to MGySgt Lou Diamond's room. When we entered that barracks we had had our last nights sleep for over a month to come.
As our new outfit's barracks chief and NCOIC of Mortar training, Lou
Diamond was involved with our lives for the duration of this 3d Phase
training. Every morning we were not on bivouac or in the field he held roll call for the four bays of our barracks and he read any orders and briefed us on special events we had to attend. In all the times we were not in the field and got to use our great private mess hall he was the first man in line at any meal and sat alone. He rarely invited the OD or some visiting officer to sit with him.
On some occasions when 604s and 607s were going to the same lecture or training area he would march us. None of us ever forgot
the few times we were going some miles and Lou led us out in the
field. His route step stride was huge. It was 35 or 40 inches and for
the first 1 to 3 miles he would walk us into the ground, and increasing our stride tired you very fast. Then a jeep would come up and in would climb Lou, and off he went after turning us over to a Plt/Sgt.or Gunny. The machine gun people would only see him again if it was joint session.
We got less and less time at our barracks as training increased into our nights and we only came in for a night for lectures and films. I missed that great mess hall most of all. Sgt Diamond had a solo room between the two ground floor bays across from the head. Yeah, indoor plumbing so we knew this was a BAM barracks. There was always cases of beer under his rack and the place was neat. I never saw a visitor in his hooch unless it was a runner. During our short months with him his life as legend, hero and tyrant was coming apart, following a run-in with a three star General that commanded Lejeune. I remember him as "Vogel," but could be wrong. Toward the last of our time there the looped field scarf was tied, and 2d Lts. were saluted. I can't remember if he did something with his goatee but I have a nagging memory that he either trimmed it or cut it entirely off. In those days you didn't see many under Col. with face hair.
Our quarters were the last one as you entered the boonies and the only close building our mess and a small Command building. During different training much of the dangerous stuff was done without anyone present, including the instructors unless he was at a safe observation point. Explosives people got awful cocky and one day we got word that 3 or 4 Marines had been killed during a group lecture. Two instructors were tossing a live block of TNT back and forth and one missed and it landed in a box of caps which were powerful fulminate of mercury and the place exploded, leaving little of the Instructors and a Pvt or two. At any rate precautions were taken.
An example of a training could be a small lecture group followed by dropping individuals off at isolated places to duplicate the lecture, and I loved this as we could experiment and use what we chose. One day in particular I was on a river that had a small wharf. I was left with a more than a case of TNT, some primer cord, friction tape, large nails, a ruler, fuse and strikers to go with a box of caps. Oh yes, there was an old helmet and enough Composition C 2 to make a shape charge. I used it all in a few hours, and threw anything using the nails in the black watered and smelly river. After the first sessions with explosives I always dug our garbage pits on bivouac using 3 or 4 blocks to spring a small hole and the rest of the case tamped in the resulting hole. There were a few more days of being
left with 24 pound satchel charges and primer cord. I experimented with how many wraps would cut how much steel. The satchel charges were used learning to judge distance I could throw the 24 pounds accurately. With any extra would get into flat sandy ground and throw the charges different distances from myself and turn my back and crouch. If it knocked you down that was too close but this training gave me a good idea of what could be survived.
Early in the training all voice communications changed to hand
signals and that's all we used in training. More than a day was spent in small groups where we put one man on a stump in the open and blindfolded him. The rest of the men would try to approach and touch him. Difficult for some but impossible for others on a calm day. Most all instructors were ex-Raiders, but surprisingly we got little hand to hand combat. This seemed to be something they worked on in training with special instructors overseas. Our training was more like, don't whip him, kill him without him knowing you were there. Some was by knife, but the main stress was the blunt side of a hatchet
or entrenching tool delivered to the base of the spine. A little noise but no outcry. As any Marine knows, our training could be very dangerous. One occasion I still have with me came about from something we weren't briefed on. We were on the Inland Waterway at what I think was Onslow Beach, where we went down landing nets in full field packs and weapons. A much used beach has it's own hazards. I was one of the first out when the ramp went down just as a wave pushed the craft back and I stepped in a deep hole caused by propellers at a different tide. I went down flat and as I struggled to get up I saw the ramp come over me on an incoming wave. I had
the ramp and boat within a foot of me but got out unhurt.
We had a eerie experience on one of our bivouacs in the boggy, swampy part of Lejeune. When vegetation rots in a bog it produces a luminous phosphorus gas that belches and burps out of the ground. This gas is translucent and weaves and sways some feet into the air.. We had put out a perimeter guard as we turned in in our holes, and some of our people had never been outside a city before joining, and more of them had never been in a city. Most were superstitious and all very nervous with the night noises and uncomfortable dampness.. The activity started with people rushing in from their posts yelling about ghosts. It took a long night to calm some of them down..
They had seen what I would call a "WILL OF THE WISP" but some
would probably avoid swamps to this day.
In closing I will relate one of my brilliant practical jokes that went wrong, wrong, wrong! We had marched many miles and were setting up a bivouac we knew would be lengthy which was to be a search mission for Navy and Marine pilots so we put up our pup tents being very careful not to disturb too much foliage. It was late afternoon by the time we ate our rations, posted security, dug our heads, etc. We never got over 2 canteens of water in 24 hours and it was always treated with salt and halezone pills. This water was also our bath and shaving supply, plus expected to be used for washing underwear and socks. Anyway, before dark someone came across a very angry 6 foot eastern diamond back rattler. Being from Texas I aided in killing this monster and carried it into some bushes where I cut the large rattle off. My tent mate was a great guy named Crossland. I knew he had a Little Ben alarm clock and I persuaded him I could take the Bell off his clock and put it back perfectly. He finally agreed and I disassembled the clock and attached the rattle to the clapper.
I set it for sometime after midnight and set it outside the tent by my
head. When that clock went off I thought it wasn't loud enough, but
after about 15 seconds of silence all hell broke loose. No one within 50 feet crawled out of the sack but all bolted straight up taking tents with them and either froze in fear or stampeded. I was nearly stomped, and so was poor Crossland. We finally got the camp back in order in the wee hours, and now I will reveal the secret of the Night of the Snake. Neither Crossland nor I could tell anyone of my triumph for fear of death.
Dick, I remember for sure now that Diamond was clean shaven sometime around May or early June of '45. All our info came through scuttlebutt and what we personally observed. You have to remember, we were under terrible stress from overwork and no uninterrupted sleep. This next part is going to be very difficult to write as we were all angry, confused and knew we were being abused for some unknown end. Our tempers and attitudes were very bad and some were about to break or bolt. Any rumor we got was leaked to us by our NCOs as we were in very rare contact with anyone else and weeks without liberty. Will discuss that.
Am back in the fight and still find that Trinity members are
very rare and I may be the only one of 29 actually exposed that is a member. Cancer certainly is of prime concern and but there are terrible illnesses that are permanent that just make living less than great and like the loss of faith in God, the loss of respect and trust in your nation is a great factor in mental disorders. Trust was about all some of us 16 to 19 year olds had we could call our own.
I think the Atomic Vets should start a dialogue on the thing that got many of us into this situation. I speak of VOCO. Vocal orders that were never put on paper were a terrible violation of any law or moral code. I always got mine from my company office as coming from 8th Marine HQ in Kumamoto while in Japan, and before that there was only a 76th Replacement Draft headed for Caliornia that left from Hadnot Point NC.
From Pendleton things happened so fast very few days passed between my being given a 48 hour pass to San Diego and all of us being arrested and put aboard a ship that had it's number removed and AP202 added and was now the USS Menifee. We left the next day and were told we were Draft 77. This ship was very fast and ran very little convoy under full blackout and evasion. We landed at Apra Harbor Guam, and were immediately taken into the boonies right near a Tank battle area. Tents were waiting. A couple of days later we were on Saipan and I joined a machine gun section for a couple of days, after I had a fight with a guy named Hugh Gene Fagin before I had a sack. Then Tinian where we passed within 75 or 100 yards of the Indianapolis enroute there. Everyone was on deck getting under way or having some sort of inspection.
I defy the Govt to produce any orders except those falsified in Washington. When the war ended with the Bombs, our machine gun section put 10 light MGs near the beach and fired 500 rounds of tracers each over the water. Someone may remember that but there was a lot of starshells and flares in the air.
When we reached Nagasaki on the 22d we were fed a regular steak dinner as before a landing, and the next morning early, a Master Gunny came up to me at the net and told two of us we were detached to the 6th Marines for duty guarding the Division supply dump. I spent over a week sleeping on the dirt floor of a old destroyed shack that must have had fish stored in it. Anyway each night and days we set off DDT bombs and slept under mosquito nets and would wake up with up to an inch of flies on us. When I was off duty I spent hours in the rubble looking for girls and beeru, or shoju or saki. The water was dangerous. At night we mostly explored the extreme destruction areas. After over a week they came to us and read our radiation badges and shipped both of us to Isuhaia. Then to Kumamoto where I was placed under arrest to quarters and place of duty for having a Tank Jacket which most of the guards did due to the cold. Immediately after arrest I was awarded mess duty where my duty was the space heaters for mess gear, a long nasty, greasy day. When I reported for courts martial they kept the two of us waiting all morning and the first shirt stepped out and said we were dismissed, but sent us to a old cavalry stable to clean out the stalls and storage areas.
About 30 minutes into our raking I brought up a heavy lead foil wrapped kilo of black opium tar that vets must have used. There were nearly a half a dozen and we discussed trusting our command and immediately dug a hole and buried the dope. I knew at this point that any friend I made in the Marines was in all probability assigned to me by Naval Intelligence, though I realize now that the orders probably came from Washington and probably the OSS at that point. Always a delay and everything was VOCO. When I went off to see a doctor or anyone at Fukuoka or Sasebo it was VOCO, and I had a unknown phone number I was instructed to have anyone stopping me call.
This pattern of arrest and harrasment followed me thru my entire military career, making sure I didn't forget my near death and threats of death or inprisonment at Fukuoka, in a Morgue section of a Army Hospital. Again my accidental buddy from Sasebo was one of three that attacked me and was present during hours of grilling, threats and injections that kept me in and out of conciousness. My family and any friends plus my girl friend were made part of the threats if I ever spoke of what I had seen. This all started at Sasebo Naval Hospital where I had been sent concerning a burn area on my left eyeball that wouldn't get any better. The eye specialist didn't know his eyes from his armpits, and after looking at my eye, he grilled me about what I had seen in New Mexico.
When I left him, he said a specialist in Fukuoka Army would have to see me, and my new found friend had to go to the same place but said he would get us a day pass to look at Hiroshima which we got on VOCO, and as numb as I was I thought nothing of him going to a MP patrol jeep and having us dropped off at ground zero to while away a few hours looking at shattered pottery and terrible destruction, but the roads had been cleared and much clean up was already done. What followed would take hours to describe and ruined any chance I ever had of normal living, and I'm sure ingested Alpha and Beta particles were doing their damage within minutes of the Trinity Shot.
Extreme gastro pains started within months and Fukuoka took care of my lungs forever. This is a start of a true horror story and some will be on GunnyG's site. Let me know what you think would be a ossible way for me to tell a unbelievable story of 1945 to 47. Americans need to know who is really in charge of them. If they don't believe it, have someone try to get the FBI to look into a CIA crime.
Thomas B. Dowlearn, PFC 574103 USMC and AF 18354535......
Phone: (830) 401 4533
(And here is an exchange of e-mail between Tom and others regarding his experiences)
From: Tom Dowlearn
Reply To: Tom Dowlearn
Sent: Saturday, April 22, 2000 4:30 AM
I believe you actually believe your canned version of the July 45 Test
is true. I am one of 227 Marines that were at Las Vegas, NM on
the 15th and entered your site shortly after midnight on the 16th.
There was a shuffling of cars by engines and 29 men+ or - 2 were backed into position that turned out to be behind what looked like a large man-shaped hill, 50 or 60 feet high. We were briefed by a man in fatigues who wore gold leaves and I am and was sure he was Navy. The highest rank among us was Pvt, USMC.
After watching a searchlight on an angle hitting decreasing scuddy clouds, listening to Classical music and a count down I had removed my Eisenglass & white cardboard shield and my right glove and was nodding off when I experienced the most painful event of my life. The heat was intense and with my eyes closed I saw red through my eye lids, I threw up my right hand to protect my face and to my horror I saw every bone in my hand. The heat and light lasted an instant but the points of light in various color and orange and overall purple glow stayed around with the smell of ozone for a few visible minutes. It got darker than pitch and gradually cleared as the morning sky came into view.
A scar was removed from my left eye in a Chinese hospital in Tientsein during the last of 46. The shanghai job on my small group to Guam, Saipan & in my case Tinian defies description except we passed very close to the USS Indianapolis ferrying between Saipan and Tinian where I was when the war ended. Not counting fission accidents I was the person injured by an exploding bomb but my other problems have been never ending, and I have informed the proper people of this and numerous doctors that have never seen my confidential medical file, and have seen my falsified personnel file changing all my dates and locations for July and August 1945. I do have the names and Serial Numbers of 25 or 30 of the the original 227 men and the name and address of 1 of the 29 that had a malformed child that died in infancy.
Please understand that I have been stonewalled and abused or ignored for over 54 years but the cat is out of the bag if one honest person works for the military intelligence or military medical or the VA who is the guiltiest bunch of all.
I will be happy to take a lie detector test and I so informed the San
Antonio FBI and Randolph AFB OSI. Didn.t hear from Randolph and the FBI said there was none of their affair in attempted murder (Japan) 1945 or falsifying Government Documents. By the way, I was at Trinity Site in 1995 and was informed there were no train tracks near the place. One thing going for the Govt is that except for 29 of us, the rest probably only heard the crack and rumble Waiting to hear from you with foreboding.
Thomas B Dowlearn 574103 USMC 1945-1947 and AF18354535
From: "Eckles, Jim" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "'Tom Dowlearn'" <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2000 4:45 PM
Subject: RE: Rumors???????
Dear Mr. Dowlearn ---
Very interesting. I've never heard anyone else talk about
railroad tracks or men in trenches at Trinity Site. None of the soldiers, technicans or scientists who worked there, in some cases for months, have ever mentioned tracks. The nearest railroad tracks were along the Rio Grande about 14-15 miles to the west. This is where Jumbo was unloaded and hauled with bulldozers to the site. Also, none of the photographs these men took show any tracks. I have seen the scrapbooks of some of the enlisted men and they don't show any railroad tracks -- kind of hard to hide a train out there. In addition, none of the aerial photos of the site show any railroad tracks.
None of these men have ever mentioned anyone watching the blast from close-in trenches. There were lots of men at 10,000 yards, 10
miles and 20 miles. The ones at 10,000 yards had bunkers. I have never heard of anyone closer than 10,000 yards. Sorry I can't be of more assistance.
Public Affairs Office
From: "Tom Dowlearn" <firstname.lastname@example.org
To: "Frank Bushey" <email@example.com>, "Richard Gaines" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 26 Apr 2000 18:46:58 -0500
Exactly the answer I expected from brainwashed flunkies.
From: "Tom Dowlearn" <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2000 7:11 PM
Subject: Fw: Rumors???????
You may have been more help than you intended. I don't blame
you and your group for mis-information as you only know only knowing what you are told but it is obvious you are blind to contradictions you must run into during normal duty.
Did anyone consider the considerable times of complete access control and the routes that could conceal any tracks in and out. Heavy equipment probably built the large mound like hill that we were parked behind and could remove it in no time. I am available at any time to lie detection with any trustworthy experts and they can question some 1944 and 45 employees. The fill would have done wonders in concealing piles of track or a maybe a hot and I mean hot steam engine.
Sorry, but your predecessors are caught and if you want to interview me before some National News Men do, make the rangements and arrange to accompany me on the grounds. Fifty-four years of deception is 54 too many. Are there any unaltered 1 and 2 mile aerial photos left? The public never saw one.
Thomas B. Dowlearn 574103 USMC.
From: "Tom Dowlearn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: "Tom Dowlearn" <email@example.com>
To: "Richard Gaines" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Save Address
Subject: Fw: parris island
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 01:55:39 -0500
He saw Ole Lou in Action
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Dowlearn" <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 10:03 PM
Subject: Fw: parris island
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 8:50 AM
Subject: parris island
I read your story with a great deal of interest. I was just
a few days behind you at PI (platton 35 of 1945). I, too, had the
pleasure of going through the crab orchard while Lou Diamond was in charge of it. Fortunately, I managed to stay out of his way. I did see him choke one poor soul half to death and bounce a few others
off the bulkhead. I was at Tent City at Lejeune from April to August
and then was shipped out. Sounds like your tour was a little more rigorous than mine.
Frank Winburne, MSgt (Ret)
He saw Ole Lou in Action-
From: "Tom Dowlearn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 10:03 PM
Subject: Fw: parris island
Man am I glad to hear from you. You are the firstperson Ihave heard from except Atomic Vets and Gunny G. The time you were at PI
probably means our paths crossed many times in the field or maybe at the old tank park.
The next addition I send in will include a couple of incidents.
Much of our time evidently was killing time waiting for orders to ship us to White Sands. At least the last couple of weeks at Montford Point seemed senseless at the time.
Pardon the scrambled way I write but Tent Camp and Montford seem to overlap and days and nights were a continuous thing, and Sarge I swear to god we all got to the point the stockade would have been welcome and our anger was getting murderous as our bodies andminds rebelled against just nodding off and beind pushed,, pushed. Some psychologist was playing the tune from California and we were dancing.
Really pleased in your response and would love to know more about your assignments and life throughout 45-47, I know people take offense when heroes end up with crap on their shoes (Diamond), but some brave men were horses asses.
Hope to hear more and would appreciate anything as somehow I have never seen orders or had a picture taken at PI that I know of and after Plt 131 am not sure of my second but 26 is it or close. There is only one page of CLNC that a Ms Gates sent me from DNA when I was making one of many attempts to get info and she told me I could see nothing else as it had other peoples names and serial numbers. I know we were on the way to hell on the 3d of July 1945 or at least 29 of the 227 on the train were.
You wouldn't believe the manner that the one page was falsified. It starts with the 3 being made 30 and over-typing the SO # it cant be read. You can also see where the page was cut and something removed or inserted.
Concerning "The Long Patrol," (Carlson's) I have forgotten the distance but know that the man killer we endured out of Montford was to break a record and some of our instructors were on that patrol. We were fully equipped so as to have no advantage. I will never know how many dropouts we had but well remember people heading in Puller's jeep and ambulances. The last couple of miles a guy named DuLong or DeLong dragged me as I was about to have a heart attack. I think he was one of the plants in the outfit observing as he got a day off now and then which no one else ever did.
I remember our march as 36 miles but it could have been 34 or 35. I remember a woman in a chauffeur driven Lincoln Continental stopping between our columns and telling our Lt that the war was over and he could send us home. The war in Germany ended that day and the Lt thanked her and told her ours was just starting.
I think Chesty was proving a point that Marines were Marines and those he trained could beat anybody's time and distance, Heat stroke, feet, sprains and just pure exhaustion and the last 10 miles or so of 55. This is the only time I saw no one even light up a butt and we were all sopping wet with our uniforms mostly white with salt and no water left. I personally almost had a heart attack as my heart was pounding terribly. I and most others straggled in and went into the shower wearing everything except my tin hat and pack. Most of us did because salt sweat covered our rifles and belts and everything was in
for detail stripping before we could sack out let alone eat.
(This is to explain the march we made that nearly finished
many of us and many didn't finish.)
My memory is stampeding in circles and it comes to me that the march we made was concerned with a forced march that was much discussed by ground pounders, that Marine Raiders had made at what I remember as New Caledonia in the New Hebrides. Our instructors were a mixed lot of Carlson and Edson men.
Any way this was in no way a patrol. Patrols were mainly for recon and maybe take prisoners as we were taught. Avoid firefights at all costs unless it was search and destroy. Our march was from early morning till mid afternoon with a fast stop for rations and turn around. Some day someone will release our records if they exist but my time on that no break march was 9 hours and 10 minutes as I remember it and shattered the New Caledonia record. By the way, except for the woman and her Continental we didn't see any vehicles but Chestys' jeep and ambulances as we were not near pavement and probably on the reservation all the way.
As I remember it no one was eliminated for falling out as they usually were for failure. Those went straight overseas, leaving Montford that day or night without prejudice as they were all men that completed 2+phases of combat infantry at tent camp. We all left with 3d phase ratings and I don't think that was Machine Gun School.
I can't say enough about the professionalism of our Raider and other instructors. My section leader inspected our sockless feet several times a week and saved much grief by spotting blisters and ingrown toe nail problems which were many. He had a Doctor come to us several times and worked the Corpsmen damned hard. Can't remember medics on field exercises but they were always there with a our salt and halezone as we got our daily water. There was an ambulance tracking us by the nearest open solid ground...
I don't know how to start my story again as I got angry as I wrote and went off in three or four directions so maybe we can go to part two or something as there are some things that are important thing plus my personal interview with Chesty and a Cottonmouth bite and capturing a LtCol plus the Medical Detail from Duke U and USC Berkley. I can touch on each. I really dread trying to describe China because I was considered an enemy by intelligence and some first class sons of bitches selected my duty and made sure I knew I died when they chose and no one could or would help me.
This continues some events at Camp LeJeune but a few events at
Tent Camp will be mixed in as things tend to overlap.
During our training we were kept in the barracks one night to see a movie. A machine gunner named Al Schmidt had been featured in a movie called "PRIDE OF THE MARINES". He had made an epic stand on Guadalcanal and the remarkable part was that a grenade had blinded him and he piled up the enemy the rest of that night. Al Schmidt was there and this movie was the American Premier of the epic. We watched the movie and Al gave us a pep talk on the Corps and combat with the Japanese. He was not really at ease and I think War Bond Tour was tiring him out but he did very well.
As I remember John Basilone had manned another gun in this fight and was mentioned. Most of the fight was repeated Banzai charges and most of the crew were dead bodies with a few men alive to be ammo bearers. Al could detect some shapes and light and after the talk he walked down the aisle from the theater almost unaided. Our
group was impressed and being Weapons men we were sure that our weapon was a great means to the end which was killing our countries enemies.
On another occasion we had a tough night compass march in the swampy boonies and this needs a little clarification. When they sent us out as squads we were given coordinates to follow and we took this literally. If you could see a way around a water obstacle and it was only yards out of course you ignored it in went through the more dangerous and difficult course. This could be deadly for weighted down and tired men. If they wanted us to find a safe course they told us so but this seldom happened. this training was for absolute obedience which leaders had to have as they would be expected to use intelligence when they had a decision to make on their own. You couldn't exist without absolute trust as a group.
Anyway we were crossing several water hazards one night when there was yelling where silence was demanded. One of the squads to our right had a man struck in the chest by a Cotton Mouth moccasin. Snakes will get out of your way if they can but it takes noise to warn them. You heard them quite often splashing into the water or hurrying in the marsh grass. This man was rushed to the hospital
and treated. He joined us within a week or so and I think he was a mortar man. A big snapping turtle dropping in the water close by could stop your heart. Near the end of our ordeal; I hesitate to call it training as I had two phases of that, we had a little slack given to us when we came in from a operation..
One day in the afternoon scuttlebutt spread like wildfire that one of our lady Marines had been found murdered and two Netherlands Marines were under arrest in the Montford stockade. Our state of mind was not good and the details of the killing were vicious. There were reports of her breasts being chewed savagely and I got to watch a lynch mob form in no time at all. Several of my bunk mates and I went along with the crowd that formed outside the stockade and we mostly took the side of letting the law handle it. A good part would be satisfied with nothing less than a lynching. This could easily have ended in a battle between the mob. With the arrival of MPs and officers the cooler heads prevailed. I never heard any more as we were gone several days later or too busy to think.
Then there was a time when we were sent in class As to rooms at the hospital Rae and the civilians addressed us. What it amounted to was this; "We had been subjected to the most severe and stressful training of any group of service men in the war." (Did,t we know it!!!!!) "The American authorities were disturbed about returning us to civilian life after hostilities and we were to be observed very closely THE REST OF OUR LIVES" Everyone had heard that Eleanor Roosevelt was very worried about retraining Marines to be civilians. There was one story that a Marine private on some God forsaken island had patted her on the can and made lewd remarks to her. If this is true he needed his head and eyes examined.
We were told; " when we left this session we would never be able to contact these people but would be under observation forever." Then batteries of questionnaires were given. Much health and family health was demanded and every possible personal fact recorded. Then mental exams that was really a complicated IQ type deal.. Oh yes, plenty about liking girls, flowers, music, etc. I liked em all and
wondered if I should have been so frank. A very complete hospital
examination was included. The man in charge said he was from
USC at Berkeley and introduced his aides as from the Duke U. department of Parapsychology.
Then it was over and within a day or so we had turned in our M1s and all issued a new M2 carbine. Around 15 MG and 15 Mortar men were sent to supply and were issued amouflaged Fatigues. We were told we could have Saturday off from noon till 11pm if we could pass muster. This was a real problem as we had no chance to use laundry service or the barber shop. Sack pressing was acceptable and I rushed to the barber shop and found a gap in the rush. This was after I was turned back by the Sgt issuing passes in the Office.
I was in a chair along the wall waiting my turn when Chesty Puller came through the door and immediately gave us at ease. He stood and observed us until I approached the chair when he did the same. I tried to apologize and tell him to have the chair when he told me to sit down. As the barber worked he asked questions about my home, family and then he asked me about the training. He put me at ease in a minute and won me for life when he would call me "Old Man". The questions about training was honest and we discussed the severity of it all. He told me that my problem with sleep and exhaustion would be part of combat where I was going and I told him truthfully that I expected that but could catch naps in a foxhole and considered it useless to die in training.
This was nearly the end of all training and we got a pass the following weekend. We saw him daily checking our progress and every day our respect grew as we knew that he was in pain from the leg wound but hid it well and sent part of each day observing us or eating a field chow. He never was out of utilities and always wore helmet and pack with a sidearm. Some especially appreciated him getting out of his jeep and sending them in for foot care or illness. (Now I know much illness was dehydration and what today would be excused as flu but we called CAT fever which was rarely fatal and only excused a man with high fever.) During my talk with the Col I was wondering if he was thinking about getting the three of us grunts out of the Jacksonville jail for a forced attempt to free a pimp bootlegger from jail that we thought was the key to heaven and was arrested trying to talk to us. We forced our way in and they closed the doors behind us.
Next I will discuss Chesty giving us an unforgettable pep talk and the thrill of seeing him enter the theater in full dress as he came down th aisle from the front doors and roared "Marines". Each and every man knew he meant it from the heart...
Colonel Lewis B. Puller's Farewell Address
Without any warning we were informed at roll call that class A
was the uniform of the day, and not too long after breakfast we were
marched to the Montford Pt. theater where we were greeted by our instructors. They marched us inside single file and used only the center section filling every seat with repeated orders of "close it up." I ended up in the back row and was wondering what kind of movie or lecture was coming. Our group didn't fill much over 1/3 to 1/2 the seats and we expected other people to join us.
While we were sitting at ease a noise and a shouted "Attention!" brought us to our feet facing the stage and a podium. Before he came into my view there was a roar of "Marines!" from a resplendent Chesty. This was followed by an immediate "at ease" and we gave him a standing ovation which lasted several minutes while he took his position, standing center stage while our instructors took seats.
Chesty only had 4 Navy Crosses and a ton of other medals most of us couldn't recognize and looked great as he was losing much of his brown skin discoloration. I was struck again at how huge his hands
looked. His limp was much improved. He started the talk on a serious note and went right to the the task at hand.
The next invasion was probably the Japanese mainland and was going to be a very costly one. He commented on the false rumors of the Japanese being poor shots, and remarked on anyone saying that that hadn't been shot at. Then the talk turned to the nature of their fighting spirit and the fanatical enemy we would face including every man, every woman and every child being a possible armed enemy.
One of the most important parts was when he told us that he didn't want anyone to die for his country but he expected each of us to do the job we had been taught, and destroy the "Rising Sun."
Then he got real serious and told us that we were each an important part of a team and we were all our brothers keeper. The group would probably suffer heavy losses and with that he told us to look at the man on our right and remember his face. After joining hands we looked to our left. Men on the ends put their free hand on the shoulder of the row in front of them; joining the entire group as one unit. Then we knew why the seating was so controlled. After little more he said he was proud of us, said "God Bless You" and left the theater. This was on the 3rd of July 1945.
Within a hour we had loaded Seabags in a truck and turned in bedding and started our march to a train on a railroad track inside Hadnot. I am absolutely certain the Colonel didn't know the nasty trick someone had waiting for us 13 days down the track, but if he did, it would have broken his heart. I also know that had he told us he needed 227 volunteers for eternity he already had them.
During our training when any of us talked, we were referring to ourselves as "Chestys' Chumps" and toward the last days we in my group knew ourselves as "Pullers'Pissants". Pissants would have a nice ring coming from the Coonel. From our instructors and the nature of the training we were sure we were prepared to be Raiders and didn't know they were abolished, though their mission wasn't.
Next I will go over some facts from Parris Island to San Diego, and our arrest at the U.S. Grant hotel. This arrest to ship only included the
exposed 29 and some that came aboard the next morning making maybe a little over 300, and we were told we were no longer Draft 76 but were now 77. When they replaced the removed number on the ship outside th harbor we became the Menifee AP202.
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