Friday, July 6, 2012

It's Your Turn - Question Three (Part IV)


I didn’t realize that it would take four (4) posts to tell the story of my time in the Marine Corps. I hope you have found some interest. I feel I haven’t had much “inside” scoop or perspective to share. Even though I held a “secret clearance” I wasn’t told very many secret things.

Let me finish up with the tour at VMA 311 and I will give you some perspective of my thoughts and feelings about the Corps and my time served.

I rotated back to the “world” in April of 1975. I flew a commercial airliner from Tokyo to LA non-stop. That was one long miserable flight. When the plane was on its final approach and low enough to read bill-boards the first thing I saw was a coke a cola advertisement. It was the sweetest thing I had seen in 13 months. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like coke then and I don’t like it now, but the greatest thing about that sign – it was in ENGLISH! After seeing nothing but Japanese writing, it was good to see something in English.

Irene met me at the airport along with some family and friends. Sorry to say to my family and friends, after thirteen (13) months away from “home” I only had eyes for Irene, and my new baby of course. I was introduced to Shannon who cried and did not want me to hold her. She had to get use to her daddy.

After thirty (30) days leave we drove a 1964 Thunderbird to Beaufort, South Carolina where I joined VMA 311. It was a similar light anti-aircraft attack squadron as VMA 211 was. When I was with VMA 211 I was an “Avenger” and now I was a “Tomcat.”  I was again assigned as the NBC NCO, Training NCO, and an S-3 Operations Clerk.

I had wanted to re-enlist but Irene really didn’t like the separations, temporary duties, over-seas tours and asked me to get out of the service. I was honorably discharged on 18 October 1975.

I got a job driving a “roach-coach” on the base after my separation from the service. I wanted to find something more permanent. As a matter of fact, a friend wanted to sell his home-stead act home in Orlando to us. I took a week’s leave, drove to Orlando and beat the doors down for a job. I said if I found a good job in the week I was there I would assume his homestead and buy his house. Needless to say, I didn’t find a job and instead of being a Floridian we chose to pack up and move to California. Good thing we didn’t wait much longer, Sonja was born just a week after we landed back in San Jose, CA.

I guess the service has at times been classified as “hurry up and wait.” It is very true. You hurry here, report here, and fall in on command just to wait.

One time was very frustrating, we were ordered to report to the squadron hangar with our sea-bag packed with full combat gear and clothing, we were issued M16’s, .45’s, and we stood in formation for hours awaiting orders to be transported to Israel when a confrontation was brewing. After several hours we told to stand down and go home, the catastrophe was averted.

I played drums for a band called Barry B and the Tar-Heel Three while I was stationed in North Carolina. It was a bunch of service guys in a country-western band and we played a few honky-tonks.

I got to play drums with a band while in the Philippines.

When I was stationed in Iwakuni, I frequented the NCO club. The main attraction was a local Japanese band called Charlie Nagatine and the Western Cannonballs. It was funny and strange to hear country music with a Japanese accent.

When I rotated back to the world, the Marine Corps lost, oops, “misplaced” my pay record and for a few months I didn’t exist and didn’t get paid. That was a real hardship, even in the late 70’s.

I was on an old military twin engine airplane once that was struck by lightning. All the instruments were knocked out and the pilot skillfully landed the plane with no instruments.

Of course most people are aware that since the military is funded by the government that money must grow on trees. Absorbent expense was the norm. Even so, the Marine Corps was like the “red-headed step child,” we were on the bottom of the list. We got the Air Force, Army, and Navy hand me downs. Our type-writers, oh, for those of you who don’t know what a type writer is, that is like a computer with a key board and no motherboard. You struck the keys and they struck a piece of paper you inserted into the machine through an inked ribbon which left “marks” on a sheet of paper. Anyways, type-writers, desks, chairs, lockers, you name it was never new for the USMC; it was always surplus from the other services.

Yet, don’t ever forget that the motto of the corps in not only Semper Fidelis, but it is also, “First to Fight – First to Die.” The Marines have been sent first into every battle, conflict, or war we have had since 1775 up to Viet Nam. It is surprising that the only war we have lost is the one that the Marines were sent in after the Army and Air Force.

As far as uniforms most people may not know that the red strip on the dress blue uniforms is the NCO blood stripe. It represents the blood shed by NCO’s in battle. The piping on the jacket is for the blood shed at Tripoli.

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, PA, to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. November 10, 1775, the Marine Corps was born with the 1st Commandant Major Samuel Nicholas (1775-1783.) The USMC predates the Army.

Well Josh, I hope that gives you some insight in my Marine Corps days! Anything else you want to know or if I left something out let me know!


Arlee Bird said...

This series has been an interesting look at your military background. I've been to Beaufort---played there a few times with our show. A very dear friend of mine back in TN had roots there as his mother had come from there.

Tossing It Out

Josh Litton said...

Great story. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This was a great serial of your life, I didn't think of you of a drum player how exciting.

I didn't know that my song on my latest post was from way back, Thanks for the comment, much appreciated,