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What Ever Happened To....?
By Dick Gaines

More and more frequently these days I find myself wondering what ever happened to one or more of the many Marines I served with during the years 1952 through 1972. Many faces and names come to mind at different times. Sometimes these remembrances occur for no apparent reason, triggered by some unknown cause.  And, I find myself remembering fewer and fewer of those faces and names as time passes; I also sometimes wonder if the owners of any of those faces and names ever remember me, too?  It could turn out that some of these old Marines will eventually just stumble onto this website--some already have, many more will not. What will be will be. But, I have decided to set down in writing here some of the names that come to mind at this particular time. I apologize for any names I omit, and there are many, but this is unintended, I wish I could remember all of them. It is altogether likely that most of the indviduals whose names appear here will not see this page themselves, but perhaps someone who knows them will see it and bring this to their attention--i.e. family members, friends, but most likely other Marines! Remember, not all are familiar with PCs and the Internet yet.  If you are not a postal Marine yourself, but know somebody who is, please let him/her know about this website, and/or let us know about that Marine. In any case, I feel that this is a worthwhile attempt to possibly tweak a few memories out there, and maybe motivate some participation.

So, here are  some names I still can remember, with a few remarks thrown in for good measure!


Plt# 437, PISC, May-Aug 1952

The Drill Instructors for Plt#437 were SSgt Smith and Cpl Watts. There were several other DIs from time to time; they were: Sgt McKittrick, Sgt Barnes, Sgt Brinkman, etc.

The only platoon members I now recall were Pvt DiSangro (Boston) and Pvt Pitt.

When my platoon graduated in Aug52, I received orders for OJT Postal at Marine Barracks,  Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, Oceanside, California. There were about 8-10 of us on that set of orders;  myself and Pvt DiSangro from Plt#437, and the rest  from other platoons including Pvts Lawrence McGrogan (Phila) and Sam Diana (Gloversville, NY.)  Most of the other recruits  received orders to Korea via Camp Pendleton. Only 18 year olds and older were eligible for Korea at that time.

Camp Pendleton (CJHP) Sept52-Nov52

There was no ITR yet established, although there was a Training and Replacement Command (T&R) for Korea-bound Marines.

The Base Post Office crew was CWO Crosby, MSgts Bennett, Williamson, Leppert, Adams, Koozno (likely misspelled), TSgts Ben Vinson, Tony DiSilvestro, SSgt Bill Strutzel, Sgts Mallory, Singer, Riley, Aaron, Morgan, Jean Cooper, Murphy,  etc.

MSgts Bennett and Williamson were later killed in a plane crash in Hawaii. Koozno was formerly a CWO during WWII. Leppert's brother was 1st Sgt of our HqCoHqBn. Vinson was a former POW in Japan during WWII.

3rd Marine Division, CJHP Nov52-Jul53

Maj Fred Bove was the Div Postal Officer, MSgt Irvin was the Postal Chief.
I was detailed to Unit#2 post office for 3d Marines, and located at Tent Camp#3 (Talega). The CO of the regiment was Col. Robert H. Williams. The NCOIC of the PO there was Sgt John Hoglund (Wisc), Pfc Holland (Dallas) and SSgt Wm. T. Leake.
In July 1953 3dMarines was designated RCT-3 and we sailed for Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii (TH), our postal crew was increased with Pfc Bill Heistand (SanFran), Pfc Ed Stump (Mont), Pfc Wm. Hawkins (Mpls), Clarence Brower (Ohio), Sgt Garcia (NM).

Top Irvin had many, many years of service--although a MSgt he sported chevrons from days long gone by that, as I recall, had a diamond between the stripes and rockers, similar to the present day 1stSgt chevrons. Bill Leake was the son of a Marine Major then stationed at Quantico. Sgt Garcia was a Silver Star holder from the ongoing operations in Korea.

3rdBn, 3rd Marines had just returned from Kaneohe Bay, and so did not go to Hawaii with the rest of the Regiment. Tent Camp 3 1/2 (Christinatos?) was the new home of 3rd Bn. MSgt Tony Virginia was assigned as NCOIC of that postal unit.

3rd Marines, Camp Fuji, Japan, Aug53-Jul54

Sgt Hoglund was eventually replaced by TSgt Harry Swanson. Cpls Don Sack and Jim Yeager joined us at Fuji. They were boyhood friends from St. Louis, and had enlisted together. There was a SSgt Mullin at the postal unit at South Fuji, and a Cpl Ted Gelman (Brooklyn) there as well.
At North Fuji there was an Army P.O., and then a  Marine postal unit arrived, headed by SSgt Milton J. Clarke. Camp McNair was headed by SSgt Walt New, and replaced, I think, by a MSgt Wilson. 

Camp Gifu/Navy#850 Yokohama, Japan, Sept-Dec54

In July or August of 54 I was transferred to Division Headquarters at Camp Gifu.The Postal Officers there were CWOs Sketoe and Dowler. MSgt Dean was the postal chief. I soon extended my overseas tour, and was detailed to the Navy Post Office # 850 in Yokohama. The Postal Officer here was 1/Lt Malch. and the Postal Chief was MSgt "PapaSan" Miller. There were many oldtimers present here, among them SSgts Leroy Woodard, Dennis Ruiz,Sgts Ralph Pickering, Rex Schalch,Cooper Sparks, Pitt, etc. : Cpls Whalen (Ill), Eugene Maitrejean (NewOrleans), etc.

PapaSan Miller, at that time, was said to be nearing his 30 year mark. Leroy Woodard (the old redhead) was a good friend, and I was to run into him again and again at various posts and stations of the Corps in coming years. "Gator" Maitrejean was a liberty buddy, and we corresponded now and then over the years--I still remember his old address in New Orleans (1012 Second St.) Sgt Pickering was then a buck sergeant. When I first laid eyes on him in 1953, he was in greens, wearing a battle jacket with at least three hashmarks, multiple rows of ribbons, and had a rather large waxed handlebar moustache. He was chewing out a Pfc (Patterson, from Seattle, I think) who towered over him, but Pick had his nose right in that Marine's chin, and him with his heels locked at attention. It was a sight to behold! Even for those of you who knew Pick in later years, I  expect you would most likely not have a much different picture of him in your memory. 

I remember that at Navy#850 in Yokohama, that MSgts Bennett and Williamson stopped by while on R&R from 1st Marine Division in Korea,  in Dec54, shopping for their families and ready to rotate home. I discovered a couple years later, (I had been away from postal for a while) that shortly after I saw them in Yokohama they were killed in a plane crash in Hawaii, together with several other postal Marines, while returning with postal effects of the 1stMarDiv PO to Camp Pendleton.

MB NAS Qunset Pt, R. I., Jan-May55

At Quonset the CO was Col. Sapp and the SgtMaj was Msgt Novak. I also remember MSgt Roberts and Sgt Tony Rydeberg. Roberts was a Rhode Island resident, had been a POW in the Pacific during WWII, and had done duty at various times at both at Quonset and recruiting duty in Providence, R.I. There was a TSgt Fitzko, and many others. Tony Rydeberg had been a DI at PISC when I went through there in '52. I met him again later at TBS at Quantico about 1962; he left the Marine Corps with about 18 years service. He was a veteran of the Chosin resevoir. He was from NY.

USMCR Providence,RI, May55-Mar56

I was discharged from Quonset, and joined a Marine reserve unit in Providence (155mmHowBn), went to summer camp (CLNC) with them, and reenlisted again in the regular establishment in March 1956 when that option became available to me. I recall the name of the battalion SgtMaj here was Haypenney, and a reservist TSgt Chalko, a Providence motorcycle cop, and I remember that there were many fine old time Marines in this reserve unit.

There was a Maj Poage ( from the recruiting office in Boston,) who came down to interview me and approve my reenlistment applicaton in Providence.

ITR/MCB CLNC, Mar56-Sept56

Now that ITR existed, I was given orders to undergo ACT. Besides myself, there were several other sergeants (retreads) in my company at ITR. There were Sgts Oldfield (Conn.), Sgt Bassett (Ala.), and a Sgt Michael. Sgt Bassett was a former WWII, decorated, para-Marine, Michael was, like me, coming back in,  after being a civilian again for only a short while.

After completing ACT, I was  "shanghaied", as I was w/o FFT orders, and assigned as a troop handler in ITR. I was soon assigned to the Base PO, and immediately requested overseas duty as my reenlistment option. Capt McNamara was the Postal Officer, and MSgt Felix McElroy was the MCPC. Also present were MSgts Didier and Jimmy Adair; SSgts Vern Hepler and Rich, Sgt Sobosly, etc.

Heppler, I recall, had been a Marine Raider during WWII. I served again with many of these Marines already mentioned. Years later, Hepler retired at CJHP and was employed by the USPS in Seattle as a "Dock Superintendant", he told me on a visit to Pendleton. Not too long afterward I heard that he had passed away.

3rd Marine Division, Okinawa and Japan, Oct56-Dec57

Arriving atCamp Hague, I found the Postal Officer to be Capt Wright, and the MCPC was MSgt Wes Baker. Capt Wright was later replaced bt Capt James Courtney. Also present were MSgt Wm. E. Smith and MSgt RichardbKnox. TSgts Steve Derwaney and Adsit, SSgt Willis Rice, Cpls Bill Arnold and Broderson.

Steve Derwaney was was the epitome of a "Mr. Clean," as I remember him, with his insistence on detailed cleanliness; years later, after Steve was retired, I recall him visiting the PO at Lejeune while enroute to HQMC trying to get back on active duty for Nam--he even volunteered to go to Nam as a civilian and cut hair for free, as he had been a barber  after retiring from the Corps. He never did succeeded in returning to active duty. He lived in Florida, and periodically visited the Marine POs up and down the east coast, gathered information and put out his own sort of newsletter to Marine postal. 

Gunny Adsit was what the word "scrounger" was all about. Unlike CWO Howard Funk of later years, who could wheel and deal with a polished finesse, talking anyone out of any thing--the Gunny, conversely, was a real old time Marine who, while his troops were creating a diversion for him, he was "shopping" at your backdoor with a 6x6 and crew. He was also the only man I ever knew who could perch on the edge of a wastebasket without turning it over. Top Baker was an old horse Marine, and had done duty in China even before I was born.

3rd Marines, Camp Fuji, Japan, Nov56-Jul57

Back at Middle Camp Fuji again, I found MSgt LaMar as NCOIC. Sgt Schweig was also present. Cpl Gerald Harvey (Richmond,Va) who had accompanied me up from Oki was also here.  Cpl Paul Faber (Iowa) was one of our clerks.

Somewhere before I returned to Okinawa several months later, 3rd Marines shipped out on maneuvers, but this time to return, not to Fuji, but to Okinawa. 9th Marines, on the same operation from Oki, would return, not to Oki, but to Fuji.

3rdMarDiv, Okinawa, Aug57-Dec57

MSgt Walt Samhammer had become MCPC during my absence, but no other major changes that I can now recall.

2ndMAW,CPNC, Jan58-Sept59

Here, CWO Konopka was Postal Officer and MSgt Burns was MCPC. Also present were TSgts Joe Kraatz, Brooks and Besch, SSgts Riley, McGrogan, and Bill Wilsman,Sgts Jim Russik (Binghampton,NY),Ada Waite (Russik), Miles Lane (Conn), Kolacek,  Cpl Scully (Mass), Cpl Riley (Canada) etc.

CWO Konopka retired and was replaced by Capt Wolford. MSgt Burns died at his home on the base. Sgt Kolacek took his discharge, joined the Army, and returned to CPNC on a visit a couple years later as a 1stSgt, Airborne. Bill Wilsman, whom I never saw again, switched fields to 02, was commissioned, I was told, and was a Lt. Col in 1972 when I retired.

Also remembered were my non-postal liberty buddies, TSgt Charlie Pratt and SSgt Dave Clark.
Charlie was an EOD Marine, and truly one of the "most unforgetable characters" I've ever known. Dave was a Navigator, the son of a retired Naval officer from N.J., and a good friend.

HQMC Henderson Hall, Sept59-Jul62

Head of Postal Affairs Branch was Capt. Ralph Williams (soon to be replaced by Capt Robert Miller), and MSgt Howard Hinds was his assistant; MSgt Mandel, I think, had just departed. In the Navy Annex were TSgt Francis Klesyk, SSgt Stewart, and SSgt Lauren Bands. On the Henderson Hall (HH) side of the street were myself, Sgt Jim Pollard, and Cpl Charles Duke.

There was no post office as such at HH until about Dec61 when MOU#1 of the Arlington PO was established.

I also recall (non-postal) SSgt Robert Harvey, SSgt Richard Siegler who took his discharge and returned to Ark. And, there was SSgt Billy J. Rutter (former postal.) Capt Williams went to work for MacDonald's (management), and remained employed with them for many years.

The CO of HqBn, HqMC at HH was LtCol John Hill (later relieved by Col Richard Strickler.) He almost dailymade his rounds of the battalion area ; he knew each Marine by name and would ask how things were going, and he really wanted to know. Every man and woman in the battalion felt at ease with this CO, and would not hesitate to give the old man an earful. The XO was LtCol Makowski whom I later met again at DaNang in 1971. The Bn. Personnel Officer was CWO Herrera, a former Marine Raider, who wore a Silver Star on his chest which related to action on Makin Island involving himself and Maj. Jimmy Roosevelt. The Bn Admin Chief was SSgt Don Moore whom I had known when he was a member of the I&I Staff in Providence, R.I. some years prior. 

Quantico, Jul62-Jun64

Postal Officers were Capt Courtney, WOs Moyer and Sayre, and MGySgt Wes Baker was MCPC. MSgt Samhammer, GySgt Harry Swanson, SSgt Clem Franklin, Cpl Carey Davis, Sgt Robert Anderson, Sgt Moses Lanoza, etc.

Didn't see much of old friend Harry Swanson who was pending medical retirement, and spent much of his time ashore tending his gas stations.

FMAW, Iwakuni, Atsugi, and DaNangRVN, Aug64-Jul65

CWO Sayre was Postal Officer (later CWO Knox), GySgt Whitten was MCPC. Sgt Phil Krebs, Sgt Corcoran, Cpl Dave Beach, SSgt Guillot, etc.

I relieved Sgt Wrucke at the MAG-11 Atsugi postal unit about Nov64. Cpl Denton (Texas), Cpl Nichols (Ala.), Pfc Adolfus Allen, the rest unremembered. At DaNang, Jul65 I was relieved by Sgt Bob Gomez.

2nd MarineDiv, CLNC, Aug65-Dec68

Postal Officers, Maj Bartyzel, CWOs Jennings, Bob Nelson, Rex Schalch, etc. MCPCs, MGySgt Horton, MSgt Howard Hinds. GySgt Leroy Woodard, GySgt Guillot, SSgt Eddie Frank Jones, etc., etc.

MCB, CJHP, Jan69-Jun70

In Dec68 about 10 of us, SNCOs, were ordered from 2dMarDiv to MCB, Pendleton. CWO Garmon was Postal Officer, and MSgt Walt Samhammer, MCPC. Capt H.B. Jones also served as Postal Officer somewhere around them. MSgt Richard Rhode, GySgt Joe Curtis, SSgt Phil Krebs, SSgt Mike Adelt, SSgt Richard Schweig, Sgt Howard, etc. MSgt Hayward also served as MCPC, as well as MSgt Ray Boggy.

Orders to 1stMarDiv, RVN received in June 1970.

1st Marine Division, DaNang,RVN, Jun70-Apr71

Capt Earl Jennings was Postal Officer, MSgt Robert "Herk" DeForest was MCPC. The post offices of both 1stMarDiv and 1stMAW shared a common roof at DaNang. Capt Howard Funk was Postal Officer of 1stMAW and Msgt Smith was MCPC. Present were GySgt Whatley, MSgt McGrogan, SSgt Vader Stultz, SSgt L'Italien, SSgt Bob Gomez, MSgt Tom Yates, etc.

Orders to MCB, CJHP, Apr '71

MCB, CJHP, Jul71-Sept72

Capt Garmon was Postal Officer, Top Hayward was MCPC. For the most part, names already mentioned and/or listed on the roster of postal personnel (below), were present.

Retired (transferred to FMCR) on Sept 30, 1972, along with MSgt Rhode and GySgt Benny Card.

  1972 Postal Roster
1965-3dMarDiv-RVN Roster
 The Marine Guest Book
 Gunny Mike's Salute
Back To GyG's HomePage

In Conclusion

Well, I've surprised myself! I remembered more than I thought I would at one sitting. No doubt, I've forgotten much more than I've remembered, though. But, that's to be expected. Hopefully, some one of you will see a familiar name here--or, hopefully, your own name even!

The postal field in the Marine Corps was always a relatively small field. At least as far as officers and staff NCOs were concerned. Everybody knew everybody else. Even if you had never met  a certain individual you at least knew him by reputation. And, boy, there were some reputations!

 I have in my possession a copy of a 1972 roster of Marine Postal Personnel, just SNCOs and Officers. Perhaps I should compile an A-Z list from it and post it here as an addendum to this writing. This roster, BTW, was sent to me compliments of Mike Adelt (See Gunny Mike's Salute, Link below.), another old postal Marine. Maybe I'll do just that. In the meantime, if any of you postal Marines out there _do_ come accross this webpage, please sign the GuestBook, E-Mail me, get your name on the Postal Roster, submit a Vignette for publication (if you like), etc.

We all enjoyed swapping sea-stories regarding our exploits during our days in the Corps; it might also be interesting to hear what each of us has been doing in all these years since we  left the Corps. Good subject matter for Vignettes, and/or comments in GyG's GuestBook.

Another Point: The Postal Roster, Vignettes, etc. is not just for retired postal alone; incuded are discharged, retired, active--and, I have recently discovered that USMCR needs to be added here as well, as we do have postal personnel who have taken their discharge and continued in the Reserve; and some have even Retired from USMCR! The same is true regarding rank--all ranks are welcome and invited here, not just SNCOs and officers.

Just Remember, there are old friends and acquaintances out there (here?) and we are wondering....What Ever Happened To....YOU!!!

Take Care, and....
Semper Fi!
Dick G

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