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Marine Vignettes # 49-52 

By John W. Faust
October 7, 1998
While I worked as a newsman at our local daily, the editorial editor was a gentleman by the name of Frank K. Myers. Frank was a newsman of the old school. You wrote what had happened and NOT what you thought should have happened. This was before, during and after Woodward and Bernstein had a new generation of writers thinking they were investigative reporters and not just plain newsmen.
Frank told me that during WW 2 he was taken into the Corps in his mid-30s. Unusual enough, but he was destined to be part of a counseling unit in Charleston, SC, to help Marines suffering from battle fatigue. Also serving in the unit was Frank Blair of TV reporting fame.
Frank's DI on the Island turned out to be Lou Diamond, the already legendary mortar master of the Corps. He was also, at the time, a self-made case hardened barrel of terror and strict discipline. Frank said Diamond was so well connected in the Corps that he would tell first and second lieutenants to go to hell if he didn't like their orders. He also, according to Frank, called captains "son" instead of "sir" if it suited his mood.
Diamond would come into the recruit squad bay and proceed to demolish it if he found anything remotely offending his DI's eye. It wasn't unusual for him to grab a boot by the utility jacket lapels and hold him dangling a foot above the deck while flooding the air with colorful and very basic Anglo-Saxon descriptions of the entire squads ancestoral lineage. This was followed by his casually throwing the boot through the hatchway. Diamond had such a tough reputation, Frank said, that he could clear a slop chute by taking a beer bottle in hand and crushing it into shards. I guess that signaled that Diamond was about to take on anyone who displeased and all.
John W. Faust
US Army Retired
Addendum By Dick Gaines
While on active duty in the Corps (1952-72), I was interested in the stories that abounded about Lou Diamond; in those early days (the early '50s) I occasionally  met an older Marine who had knowledge of the legendary Lou Diamond and who would relate stories about him, but it was always second person knowledge. Nobody I met--and I met some pretty interesting old time Marines in those days-- had ever really himself served with Diamond. I'm sure there were many Marines still around at that time who both knew and had served with Diamond, but it just wasn't my fortune to run into them.  But stories about the colorful Lou Diamond were plentiful. Thus, I had heard all of the old stories about Diamond, i.e., his raising chickens on the base, his goatee, etc.
But it was not until approximately 2-3 years ago that I met a former Marine with first hand knowledge of Diamond. That was  Chester Milks, who had enlisted in the Corps in 1938. Milks had been in Diamond's company, H-2-5, at New River, NC (now Camp Lejeune) at the time of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII.
Milks told me he had wanted to volunteer for the newly forming para-Marine unit, and had arranged with the company clerk to do so. But, one problem: Diamond was known to take it personal when a Marine attempted to transfer out of his outfit. In the interest of making a longer story shorter here, Chet told me that he soon  got the word that his transfer had been approved and his orders were being cut; he also got the word that Diamond had gotten wind of it and was on his way to see him.
 Chet went on to say that when he next saw Lou, his only, and unexpected, reponse was to slap Pfc Milks on the back, shake his hand and say, "Milks you just made my team!"
Months later, on Guadalcanal in 1942, Milk's new unit, 1st Parachute Bn, was running low on supplies. Knowing that his old unit was on nearby Tulagi island, Milks secured permission to make a boat run over there to see his old comrades. He said he received a warm welcome from his old unit, and Lou Diamond as well; and he returned to his company on Guadalcanal with the sought-after items of supply. Chet confirmed that most of the stories about Diamond were pretty accurate.
Note: For those wishing to read more on the legendary Lou Diamond (known also as Mr. Marine or Mr. Leatherneck)--please see the GyG's MainPage Link, Mr. Marine.(Click Here) 

By Rod McDonald
October 8, 1998
I have no memories of our route, movements or actions between these two objectives. In fact I doubt that I was even aware that up ahead we had a river to cross. I do, however, recall walking around a sharp bend in the road and seeing a bevy of amtracs parked in the middle of the road. That was a clue.
It was once again dusk and we were assigned to various amtracs and wait for the crossing. Little did we know the crossing would not take place until the next morning. We patiently sat, stood or leaned around in our amtrac for an hour or so. It was not only uncomfortable and crowded in there, but being September it was also damn hot. Finally, with the usual mutterings about how screwed-up the Marine Corps is, we trickled outside of the open rear hatch and laid down on the road, smoked cigarettes and tried to get some sleep in spite of the light drizzling rain which had set in.
It was well after dawn when the word came down the line to load up, once again, in preparation for the crossing. I don't recall any in-coming small arms fire coming our direction as we crossed, but I heard a few BAR bursts and an occasional M-1 bark during the crossing and when we reached the other side. I found some considerable comfort in that observation.
The NK side of the Han was bordered by a range of low hills with a small dirt road between the hills and the river. When our amtrac made landfall all of us expected the rear hatch to drop open signaling us to disembark and begin our assault up the front slope of the hill. To our surprise, and I'm sure to any resident NK's surprise this did not happen.
The amtracs made a left turn on the little road, and ran post-haste (What is that, maybe 15 or 20 mph?) to a gap in the line of hills and and delivered us to the reverse slope of the hill. At that point the rear hatch did indeed open and we moved rapidly to the crest and front slope of the hill. Once again, I have no recollection of any incoming small arms fire.
When I'd gained the front slope I off-loaded my radio, leaned it and my carbine against a knee high burial mound, sat on the mound and lighted a cigarette. there on the ground beside the mound lay a russian carbine. I picked it up, noted it was set on "battle sight", removed the round from its chamber, and closed the bolt over the remaining rounds in the magazine. It was no big deal; by that time we'd all seen and handled a multitude of enemy equipment.
I sat there watching as fire teams swept the slope looking for any remaining NK's and inspecting the area for "spider traps" which we'd been warned about. At this point I spotted a single NK bent low and running along the shallow drainage ditch which ran between the hill and the dirt road on which we'd made our left turn just 10-15 minutes earlier.
He disappeared briefly from my view behind some stubby brush growing along the bank of the ditch which also concealed him totally from being seen by our fire teams. I put my cigarette down and reached for my carbine. Then thought, no no, I'll take him out with the Russian carbine. I put a round in the chamber , shouldered the weapon , took the slack out of the trigger and aimed at the point where his journey down the ditch would once again bring him into my line of sight and clear of brush.
When he appeared I led him just a tad and began to squeeze the trigger. In those brief moments I could see he was very young, scared out of his wits and unarmed--not to mention that he was surrounded by most of the Fifth Marine Regiment. The thought came to mind "Why are you about to kill this man?" I relented and backed off the trigger. Once again ejected the chambered round, closed the bolt and lay the weapon against the mound.
As I retrieved the cigarette a startling fact came to my attention. The barrel of the Russian carbine was clogged with mud! God had shown just mercy to someone who had just shown some compassion. In 47 years I have never forgotten that lesson.
/s/ Rod
Editor: (The second of three stories by McDonald). 
H-3-5 News (9/98)
Editor: Jim "RATs" Ratliff

By Richard Gaines
October 18, 1998
Every once in a while the subject of the old rank structure (E-1 thru E-7) will come up, usually by a Marine who was just coming into the Corps around the time (1959) of the transition from the old to the new rank structure; newer Marines not having any knowledge of it at all. At the time, it was a source of confusion to us, and it must have been even more so for new people just coming into the Corps at the time of the implementation of this change.
Here's what I recall of it. I was a staff sergeant three times. I made SSgt on Okinawa in 1957, then I became an Acting SSgt (E-5) some time, I guess, between July of '58 and July '59. Finally, I made SSgt again under the new rank structure in 1962.
The old rank structure (without the crossed rifles in the chevrons) consisted of pay grades E-1 thru E-7 -- Pvt, Pfc, Cpl, Sgt, SSgt, TSgt (Technical Sgt--but, usually referred to as Gunny) and MSgt. (MSgts filled the billets as 1stSgt/SgtMaj in each unit.)
The new, and present, rank structure consisted of pay grades E-1 thru E-9 adding the rank titles of LCpl, 1stSgt, MGySgt and SgtMaj--with the new chevrons with the crossed rifles.
We did NOT just get up one morning and put on the new chevrons when the rank structure changed. There was a transition period where we continued to wear, for several years, the old chevrons until promoted. However, our rank title was changed to the use of the word Acting preceeding your rank, and followed by the paygrade. For instance, a Cpl would then be known as Acting Cpl (E-3), a Sgt as Acting Sgt (E-4), etc. And so we had, all at one time, both Acting Cpl (E-3) and Cpl (E-4), Acting SSgt (E-5) and SSgt (E-6) and so on up and down the line.
Most of the lower ranking NCOs disliked the new system--we pretty much were happy with things as they were--but nobody much liked the idea of just putting on the new chevrons either, which would seemingly drop us down a rate. Especially we SSgts who would apparently lose our SNCO status.
The trasnsistion period involved some confusion as even some commanding officers did not agree on the interpretation of directives involving the transition period. I recall one case where an Acting SSgt (E-5) had been reduced one grade by his CO to Cpl (E-4). This bust was soon overturned by higher authority, but the Marine was reinstated, not to SSgt (E-5), but to Sgt (E-5). But other commands handled certain cases differently.
Most of us were promoted again prior to the cutoff date of the transition period, and so that solved the problem for us. But there were some who were not promoted in time and were required to revert to the new rank structure at the time of the cutoff date, late 1962 or '63, I think.
Just prior to the cutoff date, however, provisions were made in that former SSgts (E-5) would retain their SNCO privileges (although then wearing the new sergeant chevrons) but I know that this did not always work out that way for those concerned. Again, everybody had a different perception as to what the directives said and meant.
In my opinion, the one lasting problem caused by the rank structure change was that Marines tended to begin referring to one another by paygrades rather than rank title ( originally, just to simlify things, if anything). But this trend apparently stuck, despite efforts then and there to stop it. I had thought that this was by now a problem long gone. Not so.
Not that long ago I was seated in BurgerKing (or whatever) at the MCX complex at Camp Pendleton. I happened to hear, to my amazement,  some young Marines at a nearby table referring to other Marines as "that E-4", and/or "that E-5." This really surprised me, the original cause of this lingo being so long gone and apparently forgotten. But habits die hard.
This reminded me of something that happened back in the '50s when things had gotten a bit lax just after the Korean war when all the "draftees" had just left the Corps, etc. Then General Randolph McCall Pate became CMC, he quickly put out a directive requiring Marines to use strict Naval terminology--e.g., walls would again be referred to as bulkheads, floors as decks, etc. That, and a few other things, did the trick; discipline was soon back to peacetime standards. But, like I said, habits die hard, and if you're not careful some things can almost become tradition.
-Dick Gaines

UDP Postal Vignette
By Richard Reilly
November 25, 1998
Gunny G,
Someone told me about your website after I relayed this story to them. As you or any other postal Marine that has served at Camp Hansen in Okinawa knows, UDP (UDP=Unit Deployment Program) Marines mail quite a bit of "stuff" to themselves while on deployment. Then the day comes when the battalion becomes  single digit midgets to go home and there's a battalion formation at the post office for everyone to mail their "stuff" back.
In 1993, I was a Second Lieutenant, Platoon Commander, with 2d Battalion, 3d Marines. My battalion was in line at the Camp Hansen Post Office to send "stuff" back home at the end of a six month deployment. I was number 460 or some where there abouts. We started seeing Marines going past us from the  front of the line with their packages that hadn't been mailed. When I asked one Marine what the deal was he said "Those postal guys are being  *&~~%$#@ and the packages have to be perfectly taped or they send you back. That scuttlebutt spread like fire through the ranks and Marines began sprinting to the exchange to buy tape.
Being a locked and cocked 2ndLt., I wargamed the scenario of my package being rejected in my head, thought about it, and then I sprinted like the rest of the Marines to the exchange to buy tape. When I got back I taped that box up like the old Egyptians would a mummy and thought I was good to go. At just about that time the Postal Marines, being good sorts that they were, thought they would speed things up by pre-inspecting packages of Marines already in line.
The Marine in front of me had a sneaker box wrapped in the pre-requisite brown paper and securely taped sitting on the ground at his feet. When the postal Marine got to him looked at the Grunt, looked at the sneaker box and then he looked back at the Grunt with an evil twinkle in his eye. Can you guess what happened next? Well I didn't see it coming but that Postal Marine must have been a place kicker for the base football team because he launched that sneaker box clear across the road. He didn't miss a beat either when he said,  "Now see that Marine that wrap job will never survive the U.S. Postal Service. Do it again!"  After I stopped laughing, I pulled the Postal Marine to the side and corrected him on his tact and then I asked him not to check the wrap job of my television the same way.
Capt. R.J. Reilly

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