The author of this memoir is Maj Bob Morrissey, USMC (Ret), who was a
Marine Corps combat correspondent and Public Affairs Officer, who was
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen Wallace M. Greene, Jr.'s personal
public affairs officer. I asked Mo if it would be OK to forward this to the WWII
list because there have been a number of posts re/Scott in recent days. I
hope you all approve. BMF
George C. "Patton" Scott, who died Wednesday of an aneurysm at age 71, and I were good friends and frequent liberty buddies while serving together as three-stripers at the Washington Marine Barracks from 1946--1948.
George and I were both instructors at the Marine Corps Institute, then an accredited academic correspondence school for Marines. I instructed first-year college journalism, English grammar, and authored a new MCI course in photo journalism. George instructed English literature and Radio Speaking and Writing.
Because he marched with the grace of a gazelle, he was designated guidon bearer for the elite Barracks ceremonial company. I marched immediately behind him as company right guide , ever-failing to emulate his awesome ballbearing strides. We marched in rain, snow, and Washington heat in many military funerals at Arlington cemetery--sometimes two or three a day--as well as in presidential inaugural parades and other special ceremonial occasions in DC. This was in addition to our regular MCI duties. George found funeral details distasteful to him. He became very depressed when witnessing families and relatives mourning the deaths of their Marines.
George was quoted several times in his life-after the Corps as saying that the Marine Corps made him an alcoholic. One late night when I was standing barracks duty, I was summoned to Brinkley's, the Marines' watering hole across from the gate, by a fellow sergeant moonlighting as a bouncer. "Get him out of here before he tears up the joint and gets in trouble." I proceeded to wrestle a very intoxicated George back across the street to the barracks. On such occasions, he was always beligerent, if not sometimes mean.
As I was half carrying, half dragging his six foot frame down the barracks arcade enrote to his squad bay, he suddenly paused, looked me straight in the eye, and declared in very slurred , but insistent voice: "You know, Mo, someday I'm gonna be a goddamned great actor."
"Yeah, right George," I responded, humoring him, "you'll be that."
However, he didn't hear me. He had unceremoniously passed out cold on the arcade bricks.
I believe George was falling off the wagon before reporting to DC. It got worse with time, caused by his deep disappointment that he had not seen combat as a Marine in WWII. He had enlisted in the Corps as WWII was coming to an end, specifically choosing to be a Marine because he sincerely believed the Corps would get him into combat before the war ended, something fiercely important to him. Didn't happen. He cried on my shoulder about this.
He liked being a Marine, and was a good one, but he was never destined to make a career of it., returning to civilian life in 1949 upon expiration of his enlistment. He never considered his duties at 8th &I very exciting. He had other fish to fry. For a time he wanted to be a journalist, but becoming an actor eventually consumed him.
He was known to be irascible (as a Marine and his life thereafter). He did not suffer fools (of any rank) lightly, nor did he make friends easily, but he was very loyal to those to befriend. I don't recall him ever dating while on duty at the barracks. When we pulled liberty together (before I became married to Mary Jane), we usually went off post to a deli to enjoy our favorite sandwiches with Coke or coffee and a lot of enjoyable conversation, a blend of serious and humorous. Because I did not imbibe(at the time), he spared me from joining him when he set out to hang one on at Brinkley's. (He did, however, count on me to rescue you him on occasion.)
After watching Marine Sergeant George Scott become Gen. George Patton on the screen, I sought George's address and/or phone number through the studio. I was told to send my communication through the studio and they would ensure he would receive it. My short note read: "Dear George, you were right. You are a goddamned reat actor! Semper Fi, Mo."
No reply. He was never big on maintaining friendships. His ambitions were elsewhere. Could be he may not have remembered his declaration that night in the barracks arcade so my message may not have made sense to him. I did have witnesses, however. Two noncom buddies coming off liberty were moving to help me get George to bed and heard his remark.
Here is an additional chapter to Bob Morrissey's recollection of his time and service with George C. Scott. BMF
I'm motivated to write this, in part, because I'm venting. I'm much disturbed to read/hear the extensive news mediacoverage of the death of Sergeant George C. Scott, USMC, almost consistently reporting that Scott spent his four years in the Corps "doing nothing but burial details," which alegedly caused him to become an alcoholic. Not!
During the period we served together ('46--'48)--remember this was more than 50 years ago when we were just escaping from our teens--there existed two major entities at the Washington Marine Barracks: an MCI detachment, composed mostly of enlisted Marine instructors (some with one or more degrees) responsible for the operation of the "school," and a Barracks detachment, responsible for maintenance and security of the Barracks. Marines assigned to one or other detachment did not get along well--ever!
For instance. The barracks detachment had absolute control of the barracks main gate. Marines were required to be spit-and-polish, as they are today, when departing the compound (no civilian clothes authorized in those days). Enter a nasty little (5'6") Barracks corporal named Holmes who actually volunteered for Barracks gate sentry duty from 1600 to midnight EVERYDAY!
When MCI Marines sought to exit the barracks, Holmes subjected us to detailed personnel inspections, including haircuts and fingernails. If Holmes could not see his reflection mirrored in your shoes, you were denied exit. Dull brass belt buckles, wrinkled uniforms, etc. were unacceptable. (Holmes was really disappointed when we were issued Eisenhower jackets --sans belts.)
When MCI types eventually got fed up with Holmes antics, we addressed our grievances to our MCI detachment officers, who insisted that Holmes was just doing his duty in a military manner at all times, then snickered among themselves. The Barracks CO, A pastured colonel, avoided any involvement.
One evening when George and I were heading out on liberty, Holmes made an extra effort to find reason to deny us exit, at which time George drew himself up to his 6-foot tallness, glowering down at the arrogant little corporal, and bellowed in his familiar raspy voice: "I thoughtwe were all Marines, one for all, corporal. Someday soon we're going to meet outside the gate and have a very serious discussion about your biased, chicken-shit antics." Holmes read George loud and clear, plaed, and waved us through the gate. (As reported in the media, quick-tempered George suffered five broken noses in his lifetime, never shying from a physical confrontation whether under the influence or not. (I never witnessed a broken Scott nose on my watch.)
George was hardly alone in his dislike for Holmes and very seriously intended he would meet him outside the barracks some night and "straighten out the son-of-a-bitch." A number of MCI Marines, including me, intended to share in the "discusssion." Holmes knew it and never again left the barracks while he was serving as a gate sentry. Never! He also became aware that he was under constant surveillance within the barracks by MCI Marines just waiting for him to go out the gate.
It was for the Barracks detachment to provide personnel for "burial details" --pallbearers, firing squads, buglers, etc. Not a piece of cake, especially for pallbearers, who were required to carry coffins in a military manner from the caisson on a nearby road to the grave site, often up and down formidable hills. Occasionally, they had a helluva time avoiding dropping the coffin and having to frantically chase it down a hill. More so in rain or snow.
In addition to serving as correspondence school instructors--on which we spent more of our time than marching--MCI Marines were responsible for what was usually referred to as "funeral" details (as distinguished from "burial" details), as well as many other cewremonial events requiring marching Marines. We did considerable early am. marching and close order drilling on the barracks parade ground while the Commandant of the Marine Corps was consuming his breakfast in the Home of the Commandants facing the parade ground. Afterwards, stowing our rifles, we were expeditously bussed from southeast Washington to an old, dilapidated (some swore it was condemned) once-upon-a-time school house. Barracks mess personnel would show about noon each workday with "gourmet" field rations to ensure us a hearty "catered" hot lunch.
We were crammed into large departmental classrooms with dangerously worn wooden floors and furnished with ancient WWI-vintage wooden desks butted up against each other. George and I wrer "butted. " allowing us to communicate with each other "very quietly" when so inclined. Our department was supervised by two civilian PhDs, both of whom had once been short-term Marines and were now final reviewers of our work. Their spacious office was in one end of the adjoing cloak room.
The school's furnace rarely functioned adequately, if at all, during cold weather, frequently requiring us to perform our duties wearing our lined field jackets--and gloves! We had no typewriters (nor computers, of course), so all our necessary comments on, and critiques of, written lessons received regularly from U. S. Marines all over the world were reviewed and graded by us in gloved longhand.
If you wanted hot coffee, you brought your own thermos. Sometimes we got so cold that there were vailed threats of burning down the old schoolhouse just so we could get warm.
To set the record straight, neither George nor I were ever assigned to "burial" details, as is being reported. Just periodic "funeral" details--which none of us enjoyed. And none of us ever imbibed on duty. (the famous Washington Marine Barracks didn't even have a slopshute.)
So much for reminisces. RIP "goddamned great actor." Glad you chose to be a Marine and to have known you. You will not be forgotten.
Maj Bob Morrissey USMC (Ret)
This story provided courtesy of
Benis M. Frank
SEE ALSO: PATTON/BEFORE THE GODDAMN MARINES GET ALL THE GLORY!
E-Mail: Ben Frank <ben.frank@TCS.WAP.ORG>
Six Cents Apiece By Robert Farmer November 1, 1999 #91
I served in Korea with the 1st Marine Division in 1954-55. I
arrived in Korea at the end of November 1954 several days after my 18th birthday. We were the last replacement draft (50th draft) sent to the 1st Marine Division - the Division was slated to return to Camp Pendleton in April 1955. At that time the 1st Mar Div was the only U.S. Division to hold part of the DMZ. The real war had ended on 27 July 1953, but I was to have my moments.
I was assigned to the Division Command Post near Kumchon and
since I was a Pfc I was further assigned to the perimeter guard force and that was when I first met Technical Sergeant Sanders. They called him Gunny, and he looked old to me. He was one of the real "old breed" having enlisted in 1934. He was Nicaragua, WWII, and Korea veteran. The Gunny was a soft-spoken southerner. He explained to us that since there were no new drafts to relieve us,
we were to spend the next five or six months, or when the
Division went back to the states, on the perimeter defense line around the Division CP. The Gunny said there would be no indiscrimate firing and if one did fire his weapon, he had better have a body and to drive his point home, he raised his two arms bent over and outlined a body on the ground. He then told me the first foreign words I ever learned. He said if we came across a Korean, we were to shout, "Chung gi" or something like that. It meant to halt. I never thought I would
really have to use that phrase.
The next morning a truck dropped me off at my bunker along with
a couple cases of C-rats, a few cans of water and a Stars and Stripes
newspaper. A big strapping Marine came out of the bunker and said, "no shit, are you the guy that�s going to be here six months?" It did not take me long to get in the routine. In the daytime, there was nothing much to do except get ready for the night. You cooked your own C-rats. Sometimes they brought up fresh bread, eggs, canned bacon or cheese and bologna. We had a Coleman one-burner
field stove and I would fry the bacon and bologna in my mess kit
pan. At night, we burned candles. We had a M1919A4 Machine Gun and plenty of ammo.
In addition, we had an EE-8 field telephone that went to the
guard shack. In front of the bunker down the hill about 25 yards there was about six rolls of concertina wire with C-rat cans hung on the wire with rocks in them to make noise when someone hit the wire. That is how I spent the next five months.
Despite the hardships, I liked it there. I had freedom for the first time
since I had joined the Marines. There were three of us and as long as we kept our weapons clean, repaired the wire when needed, stood our watches at night, no one bothered us. During the night, we took turns doing a four-hour watch. On a tour of duty you had to walk each way along the perimeter down the hill to a point about 500 yards away where you met guards from the other bunkers. More often than not, there would be no one there and we would just turn around and go back up the hill.
Sometimes it was scary. Often it would snow and the snow would
be deep on the trail. If the weather were cold, the snow would remain for weeks. Several times, I came across footprints in the snow crossing the trail, going out and coming in the CP. I followed the footprints and they usually went to a road and were lost. One time I went down the trial and was on my way back up the hill when I discovered fresh footprints behind where I had just walked about ten minutes before. The hackles stood up on my back, and I hurried back up to the bunker - got another Marine and we scouted out the area with no results. There had been a lot of gear stolen by the Koreans.
Several were caught inside the wire. That explained some of the
One cold night in January there was a half moon and I was
sitting on top of the bunker, with my M1, when I glanced up the hill to my right. I thought I saw a person standing on top of the small knoll silhouetted against the moonlight sky. He was about 15 yards away and appeared to be oriental, moving very slowly out of the compound toward the concertina wire fence. I blinked my eyes several times hoping it would go away. I was scared. I slowly stood up, took aim, but my knees was actually knocking together. I was shaking like a leaf and could not hold my M1 steady. I reached around with my right hand to push the safety off. He was close enough to hear the faint click, he started running toward the fence, and I started firing. The
flash blinded me after the first round, but I put my rounds where I thought he would be, and I fired all eight rounds and then "ping" the
clip flew out. I heard him hit the concertina wire. I started loading a new clip shouting, "Chung gi, Chung gi, Chung gi", maybe it was my renonunciation because he did not stop and he went right though that wire.
The Gunny and about ten Marines arrived by truck within minutes.
I quickly explained to the Gunny what happened. He said, "where is the body"? I had to tell him there was no body, but that we had found pieces of clothes and skin in the concertina wire. He turned to me and said, "Farmer, those rounds you fired cost the government 6 cents a piece. You owe me 48 cents for that clip - give it to me". I gave him a 50-cent MPC chit and he took two pennies out of his pocket and gave me change. So much for trauma counseling.
The 24th Infantry Division relieved the 1st Mar Div in place.
Later I was back at the Division CP watching the farewell ceremony. The speaker was Syngman Rhee, the President of Korea. The Gunny came over to me and said, "Farmer, you did pretty good up there - hell - you might even make a good Marine, someday". He said that he was glad that I had fired my weapon and not crapped my trousers. I said, "how do you know I didn't". We had a good laugh.
Major Robert Farmer, USMC (Retired)
A "Birthday" Note From Washington By Anthony F. Milavic November 10, 1999 #92
10 November 1996 (Rerun)
A �Birthday� Note From Washington
The 11 November 1996 Marine Corps edition of the Navy Times
celebrates this 221st birthday of our Corps by publishing a list of testimonials on: �Why Marines Love Being Marines.� In reading the words of those Marines, I was prompted to reminisce.
Graduation day 1954 was an emotional event for Platoon 418,
Parris Island, South Carolina. Not so much because boot camp was finally over, but because that was the first time since arriving that we were called, �Marines.� Oh, we all knew we were in the Marine Corps for right there on our left breast pockets was a Marine Corps emblem with �USMC� stenciled underneath: Hell, didn�t that mean we belonged? Sure it did. But, it was being recognized as a Marine . . . being called a Marine by other Marines that made the difference.
That day our commanding officer called us Marines; our drill nstructors called us Marines; why even some other recruits called us
Marines. We could finally say it ourselves, �I am a Marine!� We did and it felt good.
The years that followed were punctuated by service at places
from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Iwakuni, Japan and a tour of sea duty as an 0369. By the time I joined the 1st Interrogation-Translation Team (1st ITT) in Hawaii as an 0251, my Marine self-image had picked-up a little salt spray.
During �63 or �64, SSgt Tom Pentony, also a member of the 1st
ITT, told me about some civilian who had called him a Marine and he retorted by saying, �Since I�m wearing a Marine uniform, it�s obvious that I�m a Marine. You can call me, �staff sergeant�.� I liked it, used it, and it felt smug.
A few years later, I wound-up at The Basic School, Quantico,
Virginia as a new warrant officer. Toward the end of the course, our class decided to give the school a gift��an oil painting of a Marine. As is the custom, we invited the subject of the painting to a formal unveiling and presentation. After the formalities, we all sat around and talked until about midnight when the Jack Daniels ran out. As the guest was about to walk out the door to his waiting car, he turned to us assembled new warrant officers and said, �I live down south of here at a place called Saluda. If any of you Marines are down that
way, stop by and say �hello�.� That night, I was reminded that Marine is the word, the ground truth and I would never again let salt or
rationalizations tarnish it: The Marine, �Chesty� Puller, called me �Marine� and it has felt proud ever since.
Happy birthday, MARINES!
Anthony F. Milavic
Major USMC (Ret)
NON-JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT By "Sully" November 20, 1999 #93
In 1956 I was commanding a Rifle Company, Bravo, 1st Battalion,
3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, then located in South (pronounced "Souse") Camp Fuji. Company Commanders pretty much ran their companies in that time and place with no interference from anyone. We submitted our own training scedules and arranged for our own live fire ranges and training areas. Some of the latter were huge, and I can recall, in particular, that the "Juliet" area encompassed most of the north side of Fuji. The latter, of course, is the large and imposing mountain that at times seems to loom over Tokyo itself although it is many kilometers to the south in actuality.
One of our problems was that liberty was too good, and there was more of it than a young Marine could afford if he tried to go ashore every night. In that respect it was a good deal like North China had been. And, like North China, there was too much booze, and too many women, and too many ways to get in trouble. As a consequence I held a lot more Office Hours (Article 15, UCMJ) than I wanted to. One way of cutting down on these was to keep the lads in the field. Besides that, we were, after all, being paid to keep our a__ in the grass. So most every Monday morning at first light if you were looking for B/1/3 we'd be for clearing the gate headed for the Juliet area, with field packs and a day's worth of Charlies. We'd reach our assigned areas and play soldier for the next several days.
Brigadier General "Brute" Krulak, the Assistant Division Commander, had proclaimed that every troop in the field over 24 hours would have hot chow, and we led the galleys a merry chase keeping up with us. If possible we'd arrange for a live fire exercise on Thursday morning, then march back to South Camp. Friday morning it was callihoopies, and at 1300 "Junk On The Bunk" or something else akin to it to keep the lads busy. We worked very infrequently on Saturday morning, maybe once a month, and only when the Battalion Commander felt it incumbent upon himself to earn his pay and peek down the barrel of an M-1, BAR, M1917A6, M1918A1 or a 60mm mortar tube. These distractions were kept to a minimum, thank the Lord.
You may recall the "Brute" mentioned above. He and old "Howlin' Mad" Smith had invented the Fleet Marine Force back in the late '30s, and Brute had written the "Small Wars Manual." During WW II he'd been a Raider, and had many adventures. He'd been my Regimental Commander in the 5th Marines at Pendleton when the Korean War broke out in June of '50 and I knew him well. I'd been a Platoon Commander in D/2/5, and he never forgot those of us who had been in that outfit and gone to Korea with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in July of '50.
Brute had a brilliant career and when we committed troops to the Nam on March 7, 1965, he was a Lieutenant General Commanding the Fleet Marine Force Pacific. With any luck he'd have grasped the brass ring itself and become the Number One Marine when General Greene retired, but maybe he was too far from the flagpole when the job became vacant. Whatever, the "Brute" richly deserved to be CMC, but so did a lot of other people I've known. So if the "Brute" was disappointed for himself, he must have been elated when his son Chuck became CMC a few years back.)
One distraction that was not kept to a minimum was the town of Fujioka which abutted our front gate. Fujioka was good for one thing only, in my opinion, and that was to get young Marines in trouble. One of my children could go almost anywhere else in Japan and not get in trouble, but chances were that a night in Fujioka would lead inevitably to me looking across my desk at him come the next scheduled Office Hours. To have the town of Fujioka declared "Off Limits" was obviously the thing to get done, but impossible of accomplishment. Any such attempt to do so would have caused a diplomatic incident. And of course cries of attempting to starve to death "Honest Japanese Tradesmen" trying to make a living. There were times when I wondered who the hell had won WW II anyway. Surely, it couldn't have been us. All that aside, "OK Mr. Company Commander, "suppose this was a 'Drill, Discipline and Leadership' problem that was presented to you at Marine Corps
Schools, Quantico, just what would you do?"
The Company Commanders at South Camp Fuji were a clannish lot
who generally ate together and drank together when we were in camp. At one of these soirees we agreed that if the U. S. Government wouldn't put Fujioka out of bounds, then, by God, we would. So we agreed that we would make it clear to any of our lads who got in trouble in the town that they were never to enter the confines of that lovely city forevermore. Had we been able to train a raven to sit above our office doors and "Quoth Nevermore" we surely would have done it.
The first several times the foregoing occurred, and a man was told to stay out of Fujioka, there was definite muttering in the ranks about how unfair such a "punishment" was. The sea lawyers had a marvelous time "proving" Company Commanders were exceeding our authority, and that such an order was illegal. And of course, they were right, and we knew it.
Most Marines manage to hide it well, but they're a bright group.
I've known some Marines who have managed to hide that fact for twenty years or more. But in the end, the brightness shows. After some initial complaints, and even word from the Company Gunny that some of the kids were cooking up a request mast with the Commandant of the Entire Marine Corps Himself, the situation began to take care of itself. Someone had figured out that the "punishment" of forever being barred from Fujioka was to keep people out of trouble.
A month or two passed, and, Hallelujah!, my Office Hours dropped
to almost nothing. Then one morning my Top told me that Private
_________ had an Offense Report come in on him from the local gendarmes, our Platoon from the Division MP Company who policed the villes of the 3d Marines. Seems as though one of our lads had been discovered stumbling out of a crib in Fujioka at 0900 one morning much the worse for wear and smelling as though he'd spent the night in a bottle of Suntori Whiskey. The latter surprised me because I always thought that much Suntori would kill a man, but this lad must have been heartier than others, and managed to survive. Whatever. I had to swing the axe, and report back to the Regimental Commander himself as to what pain I had subjected the miscreant to.
Five minutes before Office Hours were to start I could hear the Top in the hallway giving his usual briefing to the accused: "Now look son, when you get in there look the Man in the Eye and you'd better tell the old Son of a Bitch the truth. You know, he's a Mustang, and he's tried every story in the book himself, and your's ain't gonna be nothin' he ain't heard before, and if you try to bullshit him you're goin' to be in a world of hurt." A sage man, the Top, and he had me down cold. I've never been able to get really upset with a man who stood there and levelled with me. Hell, there were few things under creation which I hadn't done at one time or another myself, but I'd been lucky enough not to have been caught.
The accused was marched in and halted at the appropriate distance in front of my desk. I asked the First Sergeant to read the charges, which he did in a stentorian voice that could have been heard at 8th & I. I then turned to the accused and asked him what "His" story was, mphasizing "His." The accused was one of the new men in the Company, a Hispanic kid who I'd made note of because of his ability to keep a smile on his face and keep soldiering regardless of the situation. This was a fine young Marine, who would make a marvelous Corporal a year or so down the line. His story was predictable: You see, he had met this here girl, and they'd had some drinks, and when it came time to get some rest he'd tried every way he knew how to set the alarm clock which this chick had, but somehow it hadn't worked, and when he woke up and saw it was light out he attempted to get back to South Camp as quickly as he could only to be apprehended in mid-flight by the local Centurian Guard. He was trembling so badly during this rendition I almost felt sorry for him.
It was time for me to go into my act, one that the Top Soldier
had witnessed many times. I began in a very low voice, and quickly mounted to one that shook the plywood partitions around my semi-private office accompanied by pounding the desk. I knew that the Platoon Commanders were snickering in their bull pen at one end of the hut; they'd heard it all before. Toward the end of my rampage, I sentenced the accused to be restricted to the base for ten days. At that point the First Sergeant gave the accused "About, Face" and began to march him off. However, when the accused hit the entrance to the office he halted smartly, about faced again, and asked: "Isn't the Company Commander going to make Fujioka out of bounds for me." I told him of course I was, thanked him for reminding me of the oversight, and said something like: "And if I ever catch you in Fujioka, or hear of you having so much as set your big toe in it, I'll skin you alive. And after this, carry your own damned alarm clock." The kid grinned, about faced smartly and departed. Just in time, as I could no longer suppress a grin. Now, that kid knew damned well that I lacked the authority to keep him or anyone else from entering Fujioka. But if that particular fine young Marine got in trouble there again it happened after I departed the Company.
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