Again and again the question is raised by Marines, "Just what is meant by the Old Corps?"
The answers to that question are arguable on into infinity it seems, with the opinion of each one differing in some degree from all others. The answer is ultimately different and unique for each individual Marine. Probably in no other military organization has so much emphasis been placed on its history and traditions. And so Marines are especially well versed in the events that have occurred in our Corps since November 10, 1775 and Tun Tavern.
"...but its roots go back much further. The use of fighting men aboard ships was well established by the time of the Phoenicians, and their duties were remarkably similar to those of today's Corps--fighting in naval engagements, boarding enemy ships, and making raids into enemy territory... The Greeks and Romans picked up the ideas of marines from the Phoenicians, and marines have been used by every maritime country since....Official recognition of marines came first from Charles II of England . In 1664 he decreed the formation of the Admiral's Maritime Regiment, later renamed The Regiment of Marines, still later, the Royal Marines. In 1740 three regiments of marines were raised in the American colonies. An early commander was William Gooch of Virginia, and his troops became known as Gooch's Marines....When the revolution came, the Americans found they needed marines of their own...Samuel Nicholas, a Quaker innkeeper, was commissioned the first Marine officer, and recruiting began at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia."
(Re The Marine Book, by Chuck Lawliss, Thames & Hudson, NY 1992)
BTW, there seems to be some disagreement in the matter of Tun Tavern.
"...the story is untrue. It probably got its start from the fact that Samuel Nicholas, effectively the first Marine Commandant, actually did own a tavern in Philadelphia, the Conestoga Wagon, which apparently served as his headquarters for a time. However, the owner of the Tun Tavern did become a Marine officer, about a year after the creation of the Corps, which probably gave rise to the legend."
(Re Marine Corps Book of Lists, by Albert A. Nofi, Combined Publishing 1997)
That much of the tradition of the U.S. Marine Corps is rooted in the British Royal Marines is self-evident. American colonists had served in the Royal Marines all along. The official colors of both services are scarlet and gold, etc; and later, both services fought together in Samoa, the Boxer Rebellion, World War I, World War II, and Korea, etc.
Eleven states had established their own organized Marine Corps' by the time of the Revolutionary War. And prior to the war, there were those private marines known as "Privateers."
It is hoped that the interested reader here will delve into the references mentioned-- and there are many others--in the interest of finding that things are never quite as they might have seemed, and that there is always more information to be found on any subject; otherwise there always exists the possibility of error by omission as well as for any other reason.
The following 'vignette' is provided courtesy of Mr. John Glover Eastman, and is one of the many items of information that is not as well known as, I think, it should be. It is hereby presented for your attention.
By Editor, Dick Gaines
For my entire life I've heard the family story that General John Glover donated/leased the first armed vessel in our Nation's history to the United Colonies. It was a schooner christened the "Hannah" and was activated on August 1, 1775. General Glover lived in Marblehead, MA but the "Hannah" was berthed in Beverly, MA.
There still exists a "war" of who is to get the historical credit between these two towns. I understand that there were also armed gunboats on Lake Champlain who claim to be the origin of the US Navy, as well. With apologies to extraordinarily courageous men of the "Brown Water" Navy, I feel that the origin of the Navy belongs to ocean going vessels.
I am new to the list and perhaps all of this is old news but for information: Just a few days out of port she recaptured an American vessel that was seized by the British. The Royal Navy started an intensive search for the "Hannah". On 16 October, 1775 she engaged the H.M.S. Nautilus and although heavily out gunned her crew was able to survive this first naval battle of the Revolution. (Note: The 'list' Mr. Eastman speaks of, above, is the Scuttlebutt & Small Chow Marines History List, where this was first posted. -Ed)
As to the importance of General Glover and his Marblehead Mariners to the United States Marine Corps:
Glover's Mariners were comprised of mostly merchant marine sailors and fishermen. When the Continental Army had to be evacuated from their entrapment in New York it was the Marblehead Mariners who placed their muskets in the boats, picked up and heaved the oars. When they reached the evacuation beaches they laid their oars down and picked up their muskets.
When the boats were loaded they reversed the musket/oar cycle and route continually until the entire Army was safely on the other side. Without these Mariners the Continental Army would have ceased to exist and that first Revolution would have been over. That would leave us today with a lot more in common with Canada. ( I strongly believe that if the Revolution had failed, and the reason I referred to it as the "first", was that eventually in the course of history our forefathers would have ousted British rule.)
Into the boats; land on a hostile shore. Sounds like a US Marine to me.
Another event that makes me feel Glover and his unit are the de facto founders of the US Marines is the battle of Treneton. It was, again, the Marblehead Mariners manning the boats that ferried the Army to defeat the British/Hessians at Trenton. ( Regardless of that well known artistic rendering of the crossing, there was no ice and I doubt anyone was standing in the boats.) When the troops were safely across the Mariners grab their weapons and joined in the assault. This victory was another pivotal event in the eventual success of the Revolution. I'm a little shaky on the following point: I believe that the victory at Trenton, besides raising the level of commitment to final victory over the British, caused France to agree to support the Revolution. France's Fleet (Adm. DeGrasse?) trapped the British fleet allowing our victory at the final battle of Saratoga.
Obviously I have family bias but strongly believe that more attention and credit should be given to our Country's first Marines by the present USMC and its previously active duty members.
Nathan Billias, a noted naval historian, showed in his book "General John Glover and his Marblehead Mariners" that my Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather indeed led our first sea going amphibious force and was, at the very least, was the predecessor of the United States Marine Corps. And if you believe that our founding Fathers were Americans and the first citizens of the United States then they should be considered the actual founding of the Corps.
Thank you for listening.
John Glover Eastman
My deepest thanks for your interest in my Ancestor's and his
unit's role in the founding of the United States Marine Corps.
Of course you have my permission to present my writings on the
list. If you can locate Nathan Billias' book it may greatly add to your
publication. I do possess a history of General Glover which contains some of the correspondence between him and Washington and the Continental Congress.
Not the brightest moment in then Colonel Glover's career but
maybe of some interest: When the Army was struggling at Valley Forge, Glover received word that his family was starving in Marblehead which I will guess was caused by the British blockade of Boston and loss of revenue. Keep in mind that before the war he was a very successful merchant marine owner and he and his family
lived a life style that coincided with his wealth. His house, which still
stands in Marblehead, attests to that wealth. During the war his fortunes diminished greatly which caused his family's hardship.
He left Valley Forge and headed for his family. He was either
over taken by a messenger or did arrive at Marblehead and shortly after received a personal letter form Washington. Washington was greatly displeased at Col. Glover leaving Valley Forge and used an interesting ploy and very historical phrase to get him to return.
In the letter Washington chastised him for (this is my remembrance of the letter. But it will give you the gist of it.)
" It is men like you who start an honorable endeavor and then
leave it that cause us the most harm. You are like a soldier who will only serve in the summer months and not stay through the harshness of winter." This passage resulting in the term "Summer Soldiers" and "Winter Soldiers".
The letter continued in my thoughts: " You have been with me since the beginning and have made yourself and your unit a most valuable
force in the conduct of the struggle before us. I am aware of the personal issues that confront you but you will do more for your family and all our families by returning to you post. To honor your accomplishments in pursuit of the dream of freedom you are hereby promoted to the rank of General".
The slap and the promotion worked and General Glover returned
immediately to duty. His family went on in a squalid living situation until the blockade was broken. Sadder yet is that when the war was over Glover was almost penniless and died as an impoverished cobbler. The last sentence may be found in Billias' book but I have no recollection of it in that work. This was family lore from generation to generation. I still use this in my work as a Director of a Veterans' Outreach Center in Hyannis, MA. When some one asks how can the country treat its veterans so poorly. I simply reply, "Tradition."
Again my thanks for interest. Any method of telling the story of
General Glover is most welcomed. Two other bits of information just
recalled; There is large statue of the General on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and in 1969/70 the US Navy commissioned the USS John Glover, a missile frigate I believe. The Navy tracked down all the direct descendents to include my brother,my father and his eight brother and sisters. I, unfortunately was in I Corps with 101st at that time and missed out on the Christening.
John Glover Eastman
USMC Units IN Argentina-WW II By Bill Mayer September 8, 1999 #87 "USMC units in Argentina during WWII Message posted by Bill (email@example.com) on Monday, September 06 at 02:16 AM EDT Message: My father was a field-promoted Captain in a USMC unit located in Argentina during WWII, whose mission was to destroy secret German Submarine bases. He's been dead 20 years and I'm curious.Does anybody recognize this, heard of this, know about this? FOIA claims the files burned up in a cabinet at the Pentagon in the 60's."
I chanced to see the above message posted on the WAE message board recently. I wondered if perhaps this man's Marine father had been one of the Marines detailed to duties with the OSS during WW II. My curiousity got the better of me and I decided to post this question on the World War II-List where there are many knowledgeable individuals--veterans of WW II, etc, professional and amateur historians, authors, and those with just a burning desire to learn all they can about the history of World War Two! As I expected, there were many responses to the question of whether or not there were Marines in S.A. during WW II, German submarine bases, etc; but none really answered the question regarding Bill's Dad. Well, we tried. But it may yet be answered as once something finds its way into writing there's no telling who may read it sooner or later.
I forwarded the better responses from the list to Bill and received back a very interesting e-mail response telling me about his Marine Dad. In fact, it was so interesting that I asked his permission to use it here on my Marine Vignettes series. He kindly consented and so here it is.
Thanks for the response. Got alot of responses from the list
you sent my question to. Don't know if this helps, but here are some other things I picked up in my youth:
My dad used to make these business trips to Houston and Mexico
City back in the 60's. A few years after he died, my mom told me he'd be gone as long as 12 weeks at a time, and she never knew where he was.
When my dad took off his clothes, he made Rambo look like he
fell off his bicycle. Bullet holes, stab wounds, tons of stitches. He
wouldn't talk about any of it, ever. Just said, "The War." My mom said she'd noticed what she thought were new bullet holes, but he'd just say, "Those have always been there. You are mistaken."
One of the skills he taught me was shooting and hunting. He was
a marksman with a rifle or a pistol. I once saw him take a sparrow off a phone wire from easily 100 yards with a snub-nose .38 Smith & Wesson. I couldn't hardly believe my eyes! At the time, I just figured Dad was a good shot.
He was also a demolitions expert. He worked at an arsenal in Joliet,
Illinois during part of Vietnam. He used to bring home all kinds of stuff...really cool for a 10 year old kid, ya know?
Some of the feedback I received from your posting mentioned the
OSS. Didn't that outfit evolve into CIA?
When I used to ask him about his days during the war, the most
he would tell me (other than the South America thing) was that it was
just him and one other guy, and it sounded like the other guy didn't make it back.
One other thing...and this has always struck me as odd. When I
was about 12 or so, my mom, dad, myself, and one of my cousins took a family vacation to Mexico. When we got to Mexico City, we stayed at the American Hotel there. There is a parking garage under the hotel, with Mexican attendants to wash your car, work on it if you need it, fill it up with gas, etc. My dad approached one of them and said, "Excuse me, I came thru here about 20 years ago..." That's all he could say before the man answered, "Oh yes, Mr. Mayer. I remember you." Dad hadn't told him his name or anything at
that point, and we'd just arrived and hadn't checked in yet.
Then the man proceeded to tell us what kind of car Dad had been driving, how long he had stayed, and asked Dad if he still had the Colt .45 with the Aztec Calendar silver grips. (Dad had it tucked under the seat of the car!) You could tell the man was scared...even at 12 I remember that. 20 years previous to that time would have been the middle to late 40's.
Dick, I'm rambling here. Sorry. Thanks again for the reply.
It's given some credentials to a hollow story I'd heard from someone who was a textbook sociopath. Absolutely, use whatever you wish of this story. I can't prove any of it and all I've got are memories. Some good, some bad.
I wrote to FOIA a number of years ago. They sent me a letter (which,
unfortunately I don't have anymore) stating that all information relating to that person and those events burned up inside a steel file
cabinet at the Pentagon in the 60's. Uh huh.
I don't have the address for the St. Louis facility you mentioned. But
after all these years, there probably aren't any records left anyway. For your information, his name was Richard Mayer, no middle initial,
from Grand Forks, N.D. He had two brothers (not Marines), and was first generation German heritage. He and I tangled a few times while I was growing up, but
I never got the impression he put his heart into it. But he was
a textbook sociopath...he could turn it on and turn it off, just like
that...so if I hadn't been able to outrun him (grin), I know he would've killed me. (And yes, I probably would've deserved it.) (Big Grin)
Thanks again, Dick. Write again if you're interested, or need
background that I may remember.
--- Bill ---
Note: Anyone having knowledge of the above may e-mail either Bill and/or GunnyG. Thank You.
CACTUS MAG By John Faust September 9, 1999 #88I am not a Marine. Let me make that clear at the start, but my
family and that of my wife, seems to have had a large number of USMC personnel among our ranks. One of my wife's uncles was a Marine MAG groundcrewman at Guadalcanal and during family reunions he and I would swap combat tales.
George Henson was a 30 year man who was finally forced
out of The Corps because he topped out at a little over 250 pounds and couldn't get rid of the extra seabags he seemed to be hiding under his uniform.
George told me of the miserable conditions the Marines endured
during the Marine only phase. Heat, hunger, the creeping crud caused by sweat and chafing, but he said the thing that really scared the hell
out of him (if you discount the nightly Tokyo Express shelling) was
having to help repair the Henderson Field runway after the Jap 155 mm howitzer they called "Pistol Pete" had lobbed a few shells onto the strip. He showed me a picture someone had taken of him on the 'Canal (I didn't recognize the skinny short man in the photo...George, when he was eating Jap rations and suffering from the green apple two-step) standing beside what appeared to be a captured enemy truck.
The truck was part of a rapid response plan to fill in and tamp down shell holes left by Pistol Pete. After a short barrage, the ground personnel would roar out to the shell holes, shovel and dump dirt into the holes as fast as they could so the F4F and SBD's could land. It wasn't the frantic pace or the heat that bothered George and the others. It was the tactic the Jap gunners had come up with to nail a few more Marine coffins shut. The gunners wouldn't resight the guns after their FO's had let them know their shells had hit home. They would wait until the engineering work had begun to repair the shell holes, then they would lay a salvo in, knowing the shells would hit quite close to the Marine crews or on them.
George said you could either run like the Devil was snapping at your
butt when you heard the incoming or dive into the hole, praying the guns had shifted enough to drop the 155 round away from the hole. He said they were showered with a lot of dirt and coral, but his group never took a WIA or KIA. In any case, those Marines stuck it out and repaired the main shell holes so the planes could land, even though once in a while the pilots would have to do some toe brake and rudder dances to dodge the unrepaired areas.
Whatever you want to think about the struggles of the Mud Marines or the fierce fights the MAG pilots endured, to me it seems it took a lot of guts to go where you knew an enemy gunner was just waiting to throw an HE round toward your hip pocket.
John W. Faust (U.S. Army-DAV ret.) Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos "INVICTUS" E-Mail: Dogface4449@webtv.net
The Korean Trench War: A Corpsman's Perspective By Herb Renner September 22, 1999 #89 TERMINOLOGYNever heard anything about the "world" until Vietnam. I guess
returning tothe "world" expressed what we all privately wanted to return to from Korea---family, friends, our good old car and open highways.
Do you remember the words "Mud Marines" referring to Marine infantry? "Gooks" were all enemies. North Koreans and Chinese combined. "Rocks" were the Southern Korean forces. "Chiggy Bearers" carried stretchers and supplies. "Eatie Wa" (sp?) was a spoon. We all carried a long handled brass one (Korean Made from shell casings) for stirring and eating chow. I still have mine! It had a flattened bowl and could retrieve a sausage patty from the "Yukon" stove top, after toasting.
I still remember my first casualty. A Marine was putting up a blanket over the bunker door, using a .30 round for a nail and a grenade for a hammer. He was lucky. The round went off and not the grenade. He lost a few small pieces of his left thumb and forefinger, but, went on patrol that night. His right trigger finger was in good shape.
I remember the Marine Corps with 3 Divisions of 3 Regiments of 3 Battalions of 3 Companys of 3 Platoons of 3 Fire Teams of 3 Men. That made a Corps of 6561 riflemen (BARs included) the heart of the Corps!
I'll never forget my tour of duty with the Infantry. Some of the best
friends I ever had, that took me to the most frightening places I've ever experienced. Your web site has brought back many memories, that I thought were buried long ago, in the convolutions of my mind.
Dick, I had time today to expand on the things I still remember and really got caught up in it. Yours to use as you see fit. Semper Fi.
Master Chief, USN, Retired (Jan 1971)
In the field, in Korea, we were outfitted just as a Marine. 782 Gear, .45 automatic pistol model 1911A1 with two extra magazines, holster and a box of ammo. Thermo boots, field boots and all the other clothing and foul weather gear a Marine had. An M-1 Rifle, with ammo and a bayonet, and a K-Bar knife. Web belt and all the stuff you can hang on it, but always two canteens, both containing clorinated water or sterile water, if we could get it from a Med Bn, for washing wounds. Sometimes, rifle grenades and launchers could be had. The first aid kit was carried in the rear to keep from being identified as a Corpsman by the gooks. Never any identifing red crosses or serum albumin cans (a blood volume expander) taped to the helmet, as you might see in the movies. Grenades, we kept in our pockets, never hung by a spoon on the outside (at least I never did!) I liked concussion grenades.
On patrol, a Thompson submachine or a Grease gun was great if you could get one (they used .45 cal. ammo) The M-1 was kept in the bunker and usually only used to defend our static position. Because I was assigned to a fire team and one of my buddies was a BARman, I
carried an extra harness of .30 Cal. magazines when we fought on Reno, Vegas or Carson (Can't remember which one now. And, at times we were in blocking positions in that area, in March and April of 1953, with the 5th Marines, 2nd Bn, Easy Co.)
As best I can remember, the large first aid kit, contained a pair of very heavy duty bandage-type scissors with the lower flat point to get under clothing and bandages. At the rear of the hinge were wire cutter jaws. It was strong enough to cut barbed wire. Radiomen liked them to cut com wire, etc. A roll of 1/4 mesh wire fabric about 4" wide by 30" long for large splints. A couple small strips of aluminum about 1/16" thick for finger splints. A few tongue depressors. Bandaids. Ammonia inhalant ampules with cotton/gauze covers. A few Benzalkonium chloride antiseptic solution bottles wrapped in cardboard sleeves about 4" long and 3/4" diameter. A couple triangular bandages. 4X4 and 2X2 dressings. As many smaller battle dressings as would fit (Large battle dressings of the abdominal size we carried in our pockets) A few packets of morphine syrettes, 1/4 grain (I think there were 5 to a packet, off-white cardboard containers with a blueish seal) Antibiotic tablets. Serum albumin cans we carried in our pockets. These contained the serum, tubing and needles for administration.
Black silk suture material and assorted suture needles. Safety pins. A pad of Medical Tags with wire ties and some golf pencils. Adhesive tape in assorted widths. Eye patch dressings. A tube of ophthalmic tetracaine (topical anesthesia) and a tube of ophthalmic antibiotic. Sealed packets of copper sulfate to put out "Willie Peter"(white phosphorus) flammable particles burning through the skin.
And, of course, APC's and aspirin, an excellent anti-diaretic.
(For you Vietman vets, APC is not the abbreviation for an Armored Personnel Carrier) Instruments included assorted needle holders, forceps,c and hemostats. Note: Dressings go next to the wound, bandages or tape hold them on. Battle dressings are a combination dressing and bandage. The back side carries the message "Put other side next to the wound". The benzalkonium chloride was dark reddish-brown colored and was also used to mark an "M" on the forehead to indicate the patient had been given a shot of morphine, with time and date on the Medical Tag. (Morphine also controls diarrhea)
If nothing was going on, about every two weeks we could go back toa field shower unit, bath and exchange our clothes for clean ones. If a
field mess was found, the cooks would give you some meat, cheese, onions, butter and bread for sandwiches. Usually they weren't stingy and loaded us up. Quiet times were used to build up fortifications. Sand bagging, digging trenches, bringing up supplies. The wire out front of the MLR had tins cans with stones in them hung on the wire, and 55 gallon drums of napalm with TNT in the bottom wired to a detonator, dug into the slope at about a 45 degree angle. Mine fields were everywhere, especially "bouncing bettys". Going out past the outposts at night you had to step carefully to avoid getting tangled in all the com wire. I always thought the gooks had a sure path, just to follow the com wire in, if they found it.
I remember when a gook 82mm mortar found our "4 Holer". No one was in it at the time, but it certainly made a mess. Turds and slime
everywhere. It took hours to find it all and cover it with dirt. Field sanitation went to hell that day. Worm pills and DDT powder had to be distributed when the lice and worns started to itch. You could tell when someone was bothered with them. Scratching their head, their butt, or both. Our bunker was big enough for a fire team and me.
On a reverse slope, dug into the side of a com trench with logs and sand bags overhead. It was almost water proof. The entrance had a left and right turn with an outer and inner shelter-half cover. Bunks were made of barb wire stakes laced with com wire to hold the air mattress and mountain sleeping bag. Ammo crates made side tables with a lantern or candle, stools and a card table. A "yukon" stove completed the furnishings, fueled with a jerry-can of diesel, a hose and a drip valve.
That stove could get cherry red and damn near run you out of the bunker. When on the bunk reading, rats in the overhead logs read along with you and helped themselves to the chow. We had a mutual understanding. Stay off our face when we were sleeping and we won't throw a concussion grenade in the bunker to kill you. Unless something was going on, we slept during the day and patrolled at night. Patrols were called Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Buicks and some other names. I can't remember which were which, but they were combat, ambush, recon, etc., patrols. I liked the ambush patrol in the spring because we could lay out under the stars and wait for the gooks to find us (which they seldom did)
In winter the recon patrols were the best. You could keep warm moving around. Combat patrols involved getting into the gooks trenches and blowing up their outpost bunkers. These weren't fun, because the gooks would get mad as hell and shoot back or you had to break your butt getting away from a sachel charge blast. Moon lit nights were double dangerous for obvious reasons.
Sometimes we didn'thave to go out very far, if it was too bright, just hang around an outpost or stay close in. No sense getting slaughtered by the gook mortars. The story was, every gook had a mortar and nine hundred ammo carriers. They were good shots! Every now and then, we would find a couple of their lookouts in a shell hole not far from our lines. Usually half frozen in the winter. The G-men liked to get them for guestioning before they were sent back to a prisoner compound.
Our Company commander dearly loved prisoners. I think he got a bonus for everyone captured. Small patrols were lead by a Sergeant and Platoon size by an Officer. The larger the number on patrol the more the danger. I could never hear very well, but it seemed to me I could hear every foot step of everyone around me. The patrol leader usually put me one man forward of the rear most position. Because we had good leaders, we took very few casualties and none of them serious on the patrols I accompanied, and I went on a lot of them. We took more casualties in blocking actions from incoming artillery-ours and theirs!
Somewhere near the Nevada Cities we got smashed by what someone said was our own 105mm's. I never found out for sure. Guess I really didn't want to know. We lost about 14 Marines, most killed. The "chiggy bearers" came up to take out the bodies and the non-walking wounded. Those were brave little old guys from South Korean labor battalions. I could see the shells exploding and walking toward me up the gully we were in, and got up under a washed out tree root beside a dry stream bed. I pulled my helmet down so hard it probably covered my feet.
Another time, we were positioned in a field, below some of our tanks that were sitting on a ridge. Resting and eating what we had gotten from a field mess, on a reverse slope, near the front. I guess the gooks saw the tanks and started shooting at them. The short rounds fell on us. It was broard daylight. Huge pieces of shell fragments got some of the guys. I finally got to a guy that had caught one in the head. It took off most of the right side. I put an abdominal battle dressing over the wound and gave him a shot of morphine. Neither did any good. I just stayed with him until he expired.
I didn't recognize him because of the size of the wound and I long ago forgot the name on his shirt. In below freezing weather wounds that don't involve large veins and arteries don't bleed much. You "Chosen Vets" can attest to that. As I remember, head, chest and belly wounds were the first to be evacuated, usually by heliocopter, to a Med Bn.
I was 6'2", about 190 lbs, when I arrived at Camp Pendleton. When I boarded the troop ship, going home from the "Land of the Morning Calm", I weighed about 150 lbs. I had started my unexpected military career in the "week end warriors", while in High School. After I graduated, I went to a Navy/Marine recruiting station to join the Marines.
They were out to lunch on the Marine side. A Navy Chief grabbed me and talked me into joining the regular Navy. I went to boot camp at Greats Lakes (seems I didn't have enough "week end warrioring" to escape boot camp) Immediately got pneumonia. The Corpsmen in sickbay pulled me through and I got back to "butts and muzzles", because I was always screwing up. When it was time to leave boot camp, It was detected that I had been a soda jerk in a drug store. The Personnelman looked up "soda jerk" in his book and found that "soda jerks" memorized formulas for making ice cream dishes and was suitable as a Corpsman trainee. Off I went to Corps School, where I did well enough to get two stripes with a Caduceus patch. Off I went by train to Beaufort Naval Hospital, near Parris Island.
I was now close to real Marines. We had loads of boot Marine patients at the hospital. Parris Island in those days was very close to being a kin to Devils Island. I drove an ambulance over to Parris Island, sometimes, and watched the poor souls getting their ass kicked by a D.I.
When those kids got out of boot camp, they could eat nails. Many times I got my lumps in a barroom brawl from a "just graduated monster" who thought us boys in our nice, neat, little Navy suits were put on earth solely as punching bags. They probably thought the Caduceus on our left arm meant we healed fast. I left that duty station, with a front tooth missing, as an HM3, heading for Camp Pendleton and God knows what! Field Med School, amphibs, combat in towns, obstacle courses, cold weather training at Pickle Meadows, shooting ranges and close order drill were the Whats!
I remember the M-1 had a muzzle velocity of 2100 feet per second and the effective range of 1000 yards. There ain't much to see at 1000 yards when you spend most of your time crawling on your belly. And, I almost got run over by an amtrac doing just that, near Delmar. When the D.I.s were through with us, I could climb a rope, hand over hand, with a full field transport pack. We really needed more Field Med Schooling than we got, looking back, but a war was on and somebody had to carry the bandaids. Matter of fact, we were needed in hurry enough to warrant a Flight Draft, on PanAm Clipper "Red Rover". That was the name of the first hospital ship, that was used in the Civil War, I think.
We fueled in Hawaii, landing in Itami Japan and then on to Kimpo
Airport in Korea. We boarded a troop train that had most of the floor and windows blown out. I think we stopped before every bridge while someone went ahead to see if it was safe to cross. Finally reaching the rail end at Munsun-ni. We were assigned units and left for the front by trucks. We got out and straggled up to the front line unit. (I mean "straggled" because you don't do a Parade March where the gooks might see you) It was a bright winter day that was about to turn to doom and gloom a few months later.
I remember three Marines by name now, One was a patrol leading Sergeant nick-named "Trigger Jack", Leo Kelly a BARman, and Bill Sterns a radioman. Its funny, but I can't remember the names of the other Corpsmen in our Company, except "Pappy" Grisham (sp?) who blew up a "Yukon" stove by inadvertently getting gasoline at the fuel dump. One side of his face was black for weeks. What a chuckle we all got out of that! My "Eatie Wa"(sp?) spoon still rests in a kitchen drawer. The only spoon in the drawer that has been to war. Made from a shell casing by an old Korean Pa-Pa San and traded for a pack of Luckys.
Next best thing to boarding a troop ship headed for home was the mail and packages. They could really raise your spirits. I still have all the letters that I wrote home, that my folks saved. Return addressed: Co. E 2-5 1st Mar.Div. c/o FPO San Francisco California (no zip code in those days)
Herb Renner FMF Corpsman Korea Dec 1952 to Nov 1953 and Medical Research, Vietnam E-Mail: Granite FMQ firstname.lastname@example.org
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