Welcome to My Tour

by
David Tucker
United States Marine Corps
1951-1957
Written 2010

 


 Can You Top This

I guess that all of us have thought that we should write down some of our Sea Stories. Then we start thinking about what we want to write about and decide that we don't think that we have anything that anyone would be interested in (that is probably true). I decided to just write everything down (everything that I would tell my mother). This includes things that I remember, Things my friends remember, Things from my Service Record Book, and things from the Desk Log from the ships that I was on. Hope that you find it interesting and so let this be a challenge to you, If you read this one, I will read yours.


 


  Table of Contents

Welcome to my Tour

Camp Pendleton
Advances Infantry Training
Third Marine Brigade
Third Marine Division

MCAS Kaneohe, TH

Camp Fuji, Japan
Iwo Jima & Okinawa

Back Home


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to my Tour

When the Chinese attack the US Troops at the Chosen Reservoir in Korea, I was at Texas A & M and the end of that semester I went home. My brother Jack had left A & M while I was in High School to join the Air Corps during WWII, and this looked like my turn to go into the service. When I got home, I got with my high school friend Charlie Hart whom I had worked with at the newspaper office for four years while we were in High School. Charlie was also planning to join the service so we discussed the Marines, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Corps,. We had a High School Classmate who had joined the Marine Corps and he wasn't going in for about six months. We went in to talk to the Marine Recruiter, we thought that we would be together at least through 'Boot Camp' so we decided to join together.

On February 18 we went to the Dallas District Recruiting Headquarters, in the Terminal Annex Building in Dallas, Tx.. There was a group of inductees there and they interviewed us, tested us, and gave us physical examinations. I don't remember the test, and for the physical exam they checked our lungs, temperature, and eyes and not much else. We were housed in a hotel that was around the corner, we while we were there for about three days we spent the evenings playing a pin ball machine in the lobby. One evening one guy got lucky and we stayed up till midnight trying to play the games off the machine. While we were in Dallas, we found that another high school friend Jimmy Velvin was in Dallas and he was joining the Navy. Jimmy and I were neighbors from the time that we were in grade school and I had done some odd jobs for his dad who had a furniture moving business. His parents were there and they took the three of us out to a nice restaurant in Dallas for dinner to send us off.

When we were to be sworn in Feb 20, 1951, I found out that Charlie was accepted but would not be in this draft and that we would not be going to boot camp together, that is not what I wanted but I didn't complain. The day after Major Bale swore us in, we got on a train headed for San Diego. I had ridden a train before but just on short trips. This was first class. We had a Pullman car and our meals in the dining car. After we ran out of something to talk about, we saw that the train stopped at just about every town and out in west Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona, wherever we were, we could see bars and restaurants along the track. Some of the guys on the train started getting off when the train stopped, running across the street and buying beers. When we woke up the next morning, we were greeted with hangovers, and snow, we were traveling over the mountains in California and it was snowing and there was lots of snow on the ground. The conductor had cleaned up the car so you couldn't tell that there had been a party the night before. Then as we came down to Los Angeles it was pretty and green. When we got to LA, we had to sit in the train car a long time and then left for San Diego, we got to San Diego after dark.

When we got to San Diego Feb. 22, 1951, they had '6-By' trucks waiting for us to take us to the Receiving Barracks at MCRD. This is where the new Marines stand in the yellow foot prints for their first formation. Well, it was late and dark and if the foot prints were there I never saw them. This transit barracks was in the same area that the base headquarters is located now (2005). We drew some linens and made up our bunk and then several drills on how to get ready for bed and get into bed quickly. One of the guys was rearing cowboy boots on and he took longer but after a few tries he got fast enough.

The next morning we got up, turned in our linen, went to the Mess Hall next to the barracks and then came back and packed our gear and met our Drill Instructor. Our Drill Instructor, Sgt. Werner, we became Platoon 27-3, that is Platoon 27 in the 3rd Battalion, he gave us our first lesson in falling into a platoon formation and marched us off. We marched the full length of the 'Grinder', passed the theater to some tents that had just been set up. This was a new area of six man tents, and each tent had six bunks, six footlockers, and one bucket of sand for use in case of fire. They were building a 'HEAD' for us, but it was not finished, we used the next one down the row until they finished ours. Sgt. Werner set up a schedule so that each of us would have a turn at being the 'Fire Watch' cleaning the 'Head'.

The first order of business was 'Close Order Drill' instruction, a hair cut, physical exam, and getting our uniforms, The close order drill instruction let the drill instructor get close to the platoon, get loud, and teach a bunch of boots their right from their left. Sgt. Werner called me into his tent and told me that he wanted me to be the right guide because I had ROTC at Texas A & M. I convinced him that I didn't know anything about being 'Right Guide', lucky for me he had another 'Boot' that took it. I wanted to get where he couldn't see me and stay there. At night we could look on the hill, off the base, and see people with the freedom that we used to have bit it looked like we wouldn't have for a while. I thought about leaving but I didn't even know where the fence was.

He took us to a small one room building where they had a light bulb, a guy with a pair of clippers and a stool, we filed in one at a time to get our hair cut. The line moved rather fast for hair cuts, we all came out with no hair. A few guys protested but no one listened to the protest.

The medics had a temporary set up in, what I think was an old house, they told us that they were going to give us our shots and a more detailed physical exam. We lined up out on the porch and when we went in the whole exam and shots may have taken 10 minutes

Our DI told us to put our toothbrush, shaving razor, our pills, and wallet into the foot locker, and to pack up everything else, and fall into formation with our stuff. We went over to a warehouse where they gave us a cardboard box and told us to put everything, that we didn't want to throw away into the box, seal the box up, address the box with our home address and toss it into a pile of boxes. Most of us decided to keep our underwear and throw it in the trash at the end of the line, when we got through the warehouse all we had, was our Marine Corps gear. They were short some uniform items, I didn't get a Blouse, or Top Coat and they gave us black shoes with a can of Cordovan shoe polish. I never received a full issue of the green uniform and I never got my shoes to look Cordovan. We wore an Ike Jacket in place of a blouse while I was in the Corps but everyone was supposed to have both.

The historic 'Barracks' where the 'Boots' had stayed and trained was being painted, they had a camouflage paint job from WWII and they were painting them a solid color. I don't know if they had any 'Boots' staying there or not, I never saw any 'Boots' around there. These tents had just been setup and we were the first to use them, there were about 6 tents in each row, we had 2 rows, there were six of us 'Boots' in each tent. We had instructions to make the front of the tent look unique and we finally smoothed out the dirt and lined up some rocks to enclose the area. We ate at a temporary 'Mess Hall' at the far end of the 'Grinder,' same on that we ate at the first morning, where we used mess trays and we washed our trays after the meal.

We were in 'Boot Camp' for eight weeks, but we spent five weeks at MCRD San Diego and three weeks at Camp Mathews. At MCRD we had swimming instruction, instruction on the M1 rifle, Marine Corps code and ethics and history, First Aid, we spent a lot of time on the UCMJ because it was new and going to replace the 'Rocks and Shoals', lots of 'Close Order Drill' and 'Manual of Arms', we started off spending a lot of time cleaning the cosmoline off of out M1 rifles then we learned how to fieldstrip them and reassemble them with our eyes closed. There were about three open air areas across the street from our tents that they used for instruction, if it started raining, we just got wet. O' yes I remember another small room where we learned how to use a gas mask and we also learned why it was so valuable while we were in that small room. One morning, the DI called two of us out of the formation, I thought that I was in trouble, but he sent us to take a communications test. The first part was written and I think that I did ok on that but the second part was listening and recording dots and dashes, if it is possible, I made below zero on that part. I never asked or have heard any more about this test.

We spent three weeks at Camp Mathews, the rifle range, where there were some Quonset Huts but I don't think that any of the 'Boots'' stayed in these Quonsets, we stayed in the same type six man tents but these had been used before. At Camp Mathews we had our week of mess duty, and swimming qualification and then we had two weeks firing our rifles and firing for qualification. Part of the time 'Pulled the Butts' for another platoon while they were firing. We were well supervised here because recently the son of a noted News Reporter had been there 'Pulling Butts', he had climbed up behind the target and he was shot and killed, the Marine Corps didn't need another accident like that. In the 'Mess Hall' at San Diego they served on trays and everyone had to wash their own tray but on 'Mess Duty'' at Camp Mathews we served on plates and had to wash everyone's plate. While we were on mess duty, I had the three day measles but I kept working and while I was serving the desert, the troops didn't seem to care what I looked like, they just looked at the desert. The only other 'Mess Hall' that I was served on a plate was in Tokyo, at an Air Force 'Mess Hall' where they had plates but they also had waiters for each table. Our swimming qualification required that we swim a specific distance and then jump off of a tower and they had a tower at Camp Mathews. We all swam the distance and then the DI decided to show us how we should jump off of the tower, he climbed the tower, then he climbed back down and decided that we would do this some other time. Looking back at 'Boot Camp', it looks like they were just starting the 3rd battalion, they had no barrack or training facilities and our DIs, an E3 and an E4 must have been assigned to the duty with little or no DI training.

All but about two of us graduated from 'Boot Camp' as Private or PFC on April 27, and I was to report to Training and Replacement Command, Camp Pendleton. I rode the bus back to Longview, TX. for a one week leave. I found out that Charlie was at MCRD, probably a couple of tent rows over from me but I never saw him. And later I found out that Jimmy Velvin was at the Navy Recruit Depot next to MCRD and he said that he could look out the window in his and see what we were doing all day. When I left for Camp Pendleton, my parents took me to Dallas to get on a bus and when we said goodby, was the only time that I remember seeing my Dad with a tear in his eye.

Camp Pendleton

On May 9, I reported to the Training and Replacement Command, Camp Pendleton, my MOS was 0300 (Infantry) we stayed in a barracks about five days and on May 14 I reported to the 6th Infantry Training Battalion, Training and Replacement Command, at Tent Camp 3-½ ( Camp Talega) (64 Area) for Advanced Infantry Training.

Tent Camp 3-½ is the northern most camp at Pendleton. It is up against the North boundary fence. It is located just past the Tent Camp 3 area, also Camp Talega, which was much larger then but no longer exists. When we washed our clothes, we used the camp boundary fence for a clothesline. Talega creek ran between Basilone road and Tent Camp 3-½, there was a low water crossing that you must cross to enter or leave and we had to cross it anytime that we left out area. We usually had a plank to walk on but after a good hard rainstorm, cars would not be able to enter or leave. We used the San Clemente gate to leave and enter Camp Pendleton. Camp Talega was originally built to train the Marine Corps Raider Battalions during WWII and had been vacant for several years when we moved in. There were four groups of two rows of 25 tents on a hillside. The terrain had been reconditioned for our tents but they were probably where they were when the rangers trained there. We were in the top two rows of tents, and these tents had a wooden platform with 2x4 frame sides, six bunks, six footlockers, a 75-watt light bulb a bucket of sand, for fire prevention. The tent flaps had to be the same on all four sides, if it was hot we rolled the flaps up for some breeze if it rained we rolled them down, when it got cold we had a pot belly oil fired heater to heat the tent. We had to regulate the oil flow to the heater and sometime they would get red hot. The oil storage was at the bottom of the hill and we had to go down there to fill our can when it ran out. Sometimes in the middle of the night when it was cold and wet we had long debates about who's turn it was to fill the tank. The tents wood plank floor with slots between the planks so that when you dropped something that rolled, like coins, they would probably drop through and be impossible to retrieve. I wonder what all they found when they removed the tents and platforms. The mess hall was in a quonset hut and they used field oilfired field equipment. We had to use our personal mess gear to eat for a while and after eating, we washed and rinsed our mess gear in GI cans filled with water heated with oilfired heaters. There were three 'Heads' with toilet that had been there since the raiders left, they had running water but the sewerage system was in poor condition. Several times they cleaned up the sewerage system but it would only last about a day and it was plugged up again. They had 'Slit Trenches' that we had to use. They had a field shower unit with a cheese cloth curtain located at the camp entrance. This was turned on for a couple of hours each evening for us to shave and shower. The 'Slop Shoot' was at the other side of Tent Camp 3, about a mile away. We had an outdoor theater and they sometimes had movies but they were old old movies. We lived at Tent Camp 3½ in the top row of tents 21 months until Jan. 23, 1953 when we left for six months at MCAS Kaneohe, Oahu, T.H.

Advances Infantry Training

We were in Advances Infantry Training in the 6th Infantry Training Bn. from May 15 to July 20, 1951. I guess that we learned a lot about survival, just living at tent Camp3-½, we got into good condition climbing the hills and we had a few classes, I remember one where they explained and demonstrated Jujitsu but I don't remember any of the other classes. There were four of us in the tent, JJ Sweeney, Les Vandine, Ellie Tisseran and myself. After we became Item Co., JJ moved to the Weapons Platoon area and Dick DeWaal moved in, Dick had worked as a steel worker in New York and he had his New York friends. He said that he had tried to join the Army but he was deaf in one ear and they would not take him so the draft board put him in the Marine Corps. Ellie and Les were from California and knew their way around. Ellie was about my size 5'6" and 150 lb. He played High School Football and made the California All State Team he had also spent time in Nevada rounding up mustangs so he had lots of tales to tell.

Third Marine Brigade

The nucleus of the Third Marine Division was formed in June of 1951 with the activation of the Third Marine Brigade. Brig Gen Lewis B. ‘Chesty' Puller assumed command, of the Third Marine Brigade, shortly after its activation.

After we completed Advances Infantry Training in the 6th Infantry Training Bn. at Tent Camp 3½ and on 21 July, 1951 we were transferred to H&S Co. 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Brigade FMF and then on 14 Aug., 1951 about 85 of us plus Capt. Larry Davis and T/Sgt. Robert Domokos, Cpl. Richard Braconier, and Cpl Howard Tsosie formed "I" Co. 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Brigade FMF. We referred to this as "ITEM" Co. because we used the English Phonetic Alphabet then, now it is "INDIA" Co, because the Marine Corps changed the International Phonetic Alphabet in 1959, when we formed NATO. We stayed in the same top row of tents. We were on notice that we could go overseas with 24 hours notice and that we could not have anything that would not fit into our sea bag. The security in the Battalion was headed by the Battalion Officer of the Day who was responsible for any problems that came up during the day and for security in the battalion area. We eliminated the Co. Fire Watch. The Battalion Officer of the Day was responsible for a Battalion Fire Watch. The 'Fire Watch' was on duty twenty-four hours and walked his post four hours on and eight hours off he walked through his area with an unloaded M1 rifle to maintain order and report anything suspicions, sometimes it was cold and wet and miserable. The Company had a 'Duty NCO,' this could be a PFC, Cpl. or Buck Sgt. He spent the full day, and slept, in the Co. Office handling problems as they came up. He was responsible for forming the 'Chow' formation and marching the Co. to the Chow Hall at the proper time. He also issued 'Liberty Cards'. To the Enlisted Men that lived in the Co. area that were eligible to go on Liberty. We had to have a Liberty Card to go through the Camp Gate. Our main activity was going to the 'Boondocks' and climbing 'Old Smoky', climbing 'Old Smoky' never got any easier. The Co. Gunny Sgt. and Executive Officer (when we had one) would take the Company out each day for field work. It was during this time that Pres. Harry Truman, and a group of ladies with the support of the Press got on Gen. Puller about not checking IDs at the 'Slop Shoot' they claimed that most of us were not old enough to buy beer. Gen. Puller suggested that they put the beer in coke machines around the area to keep us out of the 'Slop Shoot'. When we had liberty, we would usually hitchhike up to Los Angeles for the weekend, one weekend we went down to Tehuana, that was just so we could say "yes we had been there" when we had liberty discussions. We would also go to the beach in San Clemente some. There was also a swimming hole up Talega Creek where we could have a party that we went to a couple of times. In 1952 Ellie Tisseran started courting a girl in El Monte, Cal. and bought a car because he could leave with his girlfriend if we shipped out. After he got wheels, we spent a bunch of weekends at the SHIP CAFÉ in El Monte. After they got married, we started spending a lot of time at his house in El Monte. One evening while we were in El Monte, Les was running down the street and ran into a steel street light post, he was injured and spent some time in the Hospital at Pendleton but never came back to the company. In the year 2000 I located the name Eldred Tisseran in the phone book in California and called him. I spoke to his widow (his second wife), he had passed away. She said that he had worked in the timber industry in Alaska for a long time.

After we became Item Co., they improved the Company area by adding another group of two rows of tents and by removing some of the tents in each row and built some 'Heads' that had good sewage systems and warm showers all day long. We also got a coke machine near the company office. They would fill the machine daily and when we came in out of the field, it would be emptied by the first company to come in (we had five companies in the battalion). While we were at Camp Pendleton we had other security responsibilities including the gate at San Clemente. Wade Thompson was working the gate late one night when someone wanted to come through, the driver the proper ID but the passenger could not convince Wade that he should come through so Wade did not let them through. The next day we found out that someone had refused to allow General Puller to come through the gate. A couple of weeks later General Puller inspected the battalion and commended Wade for his actions. One cold rainy night, I was walking Fire Watch and someone in George, How, or Weapons Co come back drunk and was making a lot of noise, I told him to shut up and he didn't and I insisted, he came out of the tent and when his friends pulled him off of me, I went to the 'Sick Bay' to get patched up. He ended up spending some time in the brig. November 1951 we were instructed that we were no longer subject to the 'Rocks and Shoals' and we were subject to the 'Uniform Code of Military Justice'.

In 1951, I took nine days leave at Christmas. The fastest way to get from Camp Pendleton to east Texas was to hitchhike; air cost too much, the train didn't leave San Diego until the next day and the bus stopped at every little town and laid over for about eight hours in El Paso. There were lots of sad stories about hitchhike but we hitchhiked in uniform, so they knew that we were Marines, and we made it ok. A friend Hobart Vest, who was from Lake Charles LA., and I started hitch hiking on highway 101 at the San Clemente gate and after several rides, I got home. I lived in Longview TX so Hobart hitchhiked from Longview to Lake Charles by himself. When I got home, I found that Charlie Hart was there and he had married June Rogers, his old girlfriend, and they invited me to ride back to Pendleton with them.

Third Marine Division

When the 3rd Marine Division was formally reactivated on January 7, 1952, Major General M. B. Twining was named as Commanding Officer, General Puller as Assistant Division Commander, and the rebuilding campaign started. Maj. Gen Robert H. Pepper took over the Division on February 15, 1952.

Then came division field exercises, basic training in amphibious techniques, and constant field training for all units. To put it briefly, we climbed 'Old Smoky' some more. We had field exercise at the Naval Ammunition Depot, Hawthorne NV, the Marine Corps Training Area, Twenty Nine Palms CA, and two Amphibious Landings at Camp Pendleton.

On 10 Feb. 1952 we embarked on the USS LENAWEE (APA 195) at San Diego, CA. for LEX-BAKER-1, We sailed on 14 Feb., 1952. This was the first full-scale joint Marine-Navy training maneuver to be held on the West Coast since 1949. We traveled down to the Naval Base at San Diego in a convoy of '6-By' Trucks.

The cargo that they loaded aboard the USS LENAWEE for the landing included: 22 ea. ¼ ton trucks, 23 ea. ¼ ton trailers, 4ea. ¼ ton ambulances, 4ea ¼ ton AN/MRC, 4ea 1½ ton trucks, 10 ea. ¾ ton ambulance, 2 ea. gen. 37.5 KVA trailer, 1 ea. sterilizer and bath trailer, 1 ea. gen. 9 KVA trailer, 1 ea. shower unit trailer, 1 ea. grease unit, 2 ea. laundry trailers, 1 ea. trailer KPCV, 1 ea. distill unit, 1 ea. 1 ton trailers, 3 ea. water trailers, 2 ea. 2½ ton trucks, 1 ea. Gen K-52, total 264608 lbs. The troops included 103 officers and 828 enlisted.

We made a practice landing on Feb. 15 and returned to the ship that day. On Feb. 16 the ships had an anti aircraft firing maneuver. They hit the cable pulling the target and it crashed but I don't think that they hit the target. I think that it was this exercise that we witnessed an IOWA class battleship firing at San Clemente Island. On 22 Feb., 1952, the ship anchored at Aliso Canyon we climbed down the cargo nets from the deck of the ship and went ashore in VCVP's to assaulted Aliso Beach at Camp Pendleton. Then we spent several days maneuvering around that part of Camp Pendleton before we went back to the tent camp.

The night before we made a landing we would attach everything we had to our Field Transport pack so that we could climb down the net with our hands free. While we were eating Breakfast the Navy would have a 'Boats Away' call where they removed the boats from the deck of the ship and put them into the water. We would have early morning 'Chow' and assemble on the main deck where we would put on life jackets. The life jackets had a large float on each side in front and another large float behind your head, it was strapped on so that it would not come off if you jumped into the water. With this Life Jacket on, the floats in the front held you away from the cargo net and made it difficult to climb down the net. We had to remove our helmets and hang them over our rifle by the strap. If you fell into the water feet first with the helmet chin strap attached, your neck could be broken because the helmet would be full of air, and want to float. If you climbed down the net with the strap lose, and looked up, the helmet could fall off into the boat and injure people there. We would be called to a loading station where we would go over the rail in groups of four. The boat crew would hold the net for the first four so that they did not get between the boat and the ship, then those four would hold the net for the rest of us to climb down the net into the boat while it is bobbing up and down. When you thought that you were down the net stepping into the boat, the boat would bob down and you would be a long way from the deck, so you had to get off the net fast while the deck was coming up. A lot of guys fell on the deck getting off the net.

When the boat was full, they would move to a staging area where the boat would go in circles waiting for the rest of our group, then we would wait for the a signal to head for shore. While we were circling, we would be bobbing in the water and for half the circle the wind would blow the engine diesel fumes into the boat. This made a lot of people seasick, and it was hard to lean over the side of the LCVP with the life jacket on so most guys didn't try. They passed out some green colored seasick pills and the only effect of the pills that I could see was that when they threw up it was green. We all survived the ride to the beach.

In May, some of the members of Item Company (not me) participated in an atom bomb test Operation Tumbler/Snapper as part of the 1st Provisional Marine Battalion, Marine Corps provisional exercise unit camp at Desert Rock, Yuacc Flats Nevada. There were several tests going on and this was probably the one designated the 'Dog' shot on May 1, 1952, 19 Kiloton. Airdrop height of the burst was 1040 ft.

In June 1952, we had a full compliment of Marines in Item Co, about 230 men, and we were spending most of our time, while not off on maneuvers, in the field climbing hills. Sgt. Clifford Strozier our Company Armorer left the company and I took over as the Company Armorer where I was responsible for maintaining and securing the weapons in the company armory, issuing weapons to people coming in and receiving weapons from the people leaving the company. The weapons in the armory included M1 Rifles, M2 Carbines, M1918-A2 BAR's, M1911-A1 45 Cal. Pistols, 3.5 in. M20 rocket launchers, M2 60 mm mortars, and M1919 A4 30 caliber machine guns. The pistols were not issued to individuals except when they were required for duty. I also assisted the Property NCO, Sgt. Archie Brooks issuing, receiving and replacing 782 gear (personal field equipment) linens and special clothing and keeping track of all of the other company equipment. The items of personal field equipment for each individual included a cartridge belt, a helmet with liner and cover, a canteen with cup and cover, a first aid kit, a bayonet, a knapsack, a haversack, suspenders, a shelter-half with a pole, straps, a poncho, leggings (The Marine Corps changed to a boot that made the legging obsolete so we recalled all of the leggings while I was Property NCO), a field jacket, and a blanket. The Property room was part of the Co Office and could not be locked up so the Property NCO and the Armor had their bunks in the property room. It was sure nice to move into a warm, dry quonset hut.

Capt. Larry Davis, our C.O. was a WWII veteran, he had been released in 1945 and built an insurance business in Boston Mass., then was called him back into the Marine Corps, he complained that he couldn't stay in and he couldn't stay out so he was happy to be transferred out in June ‘52; and we didn't have a company commander until Capt. Richard Reslure was transferred in December. They were expanding the Marine Corps from 80.000 Marines to 230,000 Marines at this time. The enlisted Marines assigned to the Co. were only transferred out for medical reasons, discharge, or for a draft to Korea. Most of the initial 80 enlisted Marines that formed Item Co. stayed in the Co. until Nov. 1953.The officers assigned to the Co. were rotated through the Co. for a year or less. When Capt. Davis left in June, 1st Lt. Donald Eastman and 2nd Lt. David Ridderhof were the only officers assigned to the Company. In Sept., Item Co. had 1st Lt. David Ridderhof, 2nd Lt. Charles Chisholm, and 2nd Lt Crawford Thompson. At this time we were assembling individual photos for a 3rd Marine Division Year Book and the participation of 3rd Battalion was poor, the book shows' M/Sgt George Winning (the 1st Sgt.) as the senior Marine in Item Co.

In August, units of the 3rd Marine Regiment journeyed to Seattle Washington and staged a spectacular amphibious landing on Lake Washington during Seattle's Centennial 'Sea Fair' celebration. I don't think that Item Co. participated in the 'Sea Fair' Celebration.

In Sept. Sgt. Archie brooks left the Company and I became the Property NCO where I was responsible for all of the company gear except the weapons and the 1st Sgt.'s equipment. Stanley Folkert was assigned to work with me and Dick DeWaal became Co. Armorer. One of the big jobs of the property room was surveying the linen for the Co. 200+ people. We had to receive the dirty linen from the platoons, inventory it, survey it (turn it in and get clean linen) and then reissue clean linen. It is amazing how dirty that linen could get in one week. It looked like some guys would get up, have a Co. formation in the rain and then get back into bed with their muddy boots on.

As Property NCO. I was also the Company 'Prison Chaser,' I would take Co. members to the Brig at 'Main Side' to serve their sentence and then pick them up and bring them back to the Company when they were released. The Pendleton Brig was operated according to the UCMJ but it had remnants of the 'Rocks and Shoals' that were no longer used. They had a high fence and the inmates stayed in large tents. We were paid with cash monthly and another duty was to provide security for the pay officer when we went to Tent Camp 3 to pick up the cash for 'Pay Call'. At 'Pay Call' we would set up a table in front of the Co. office, the Company would line up and the cash would be passed out to each individual. One month the Co. G/Sgt. announced that they were going to build a monument of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi at Arlington National Cemetery and that he knew that everyone would want to donate to this monument, so he stood at the end of the 'Pay Table' with his clip board and checked off names, everyone donated to the monument.

September brought AIRLEX-1, at the Naval Ammunition Depot near Hawthorne Nevada. The exercise was cut short for an unscheduled draft to Korea because they needed the aircraft and a few of the men to go to Korea. In this exercise, our company was designated as the Aggressor Unit (bad guys), to get to Hawthorne, we were flown from EL Toro to the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada in flying 'Box Cars' R-4-Q's that rattled like a model 'T' Ford. When we got onto this airplane they explained that if they lose one engine we would have to jump, they would open the big back door and we would jump out and pull the ripcord on the parachute that we were wearing, this made us qualified to use the parachute. There was a foldout bench along the bulkhead that we sat on and we piled all of our gear out in the middle, we got there in good shape.

This exercise was the first operation of it's kind ever attempted by the Marine Corps, a unique maneuver to demonstrate the use of the 'AIRHEAD' sequel to the 'BEACHHEAD' on amphibious landings. The first phase used Navy Flying Boats out of San Diego, landing on Walker Lake and disembarking Marine riflemen by rubber boats to shore. From our prepared camouflaged position in the rugged Mountains surrounding Walker Lake, military umpires ruled that we destroyed more than 50% of the landing force before it reached the shore. The next phase was an assault force by helicopters from the Marine Air Station, El Toro, bringing in troops. They succeeded and we were reduced to conducting night raids in the mountains. Finally they wiped us out, and the maneuvers were terminated.

We pulled liberty while we were in Hawthorne NV. and everyone came home broke. There was a slot machine next to each cash register Hawthorne NV. We flew back to Camp Pendleton in the third plane that we boarded, the first R-4-Q got off the ground but they couldn't get the landing gear up, the second R-4-Q could not get one of the engines to start. The third one, the one that we flew home on, was a really nice DC3 and we didn't get instructions on how to 'Bail Out', we flew in style. We flew straight back to Camp Pendleton and the plane landed in a grassy field where the landing strip is now.

On 2 Oct., 1952, BLT 3/3 embarked on the USS LOGAN (APA 196) at San Diego, CA. As part of Task Force 16 and sailed on 3 Oct., 1952, for field maneuver PHIBEX-1. The troops on the Logan included H&S Co. BLT 3/3, Wpns Co. BLT 3/3, Co. "G" BLT 3/3, Co. "H" BLT 3/3, Co. "I" BLT 3/3, Det. 3rd SP Bn. 3rd Mars, Det. MP Co. 3rd Mar Div., Det. Co. "A" 3rd Eng Bn. 3rd Mar Div., Det. Sig. Co.3rd Mar Div., Det. Co. "A" 3rd MT Bn. 3rd Mar Div., Det. 4.2 Mortar Co. 3rd Mar 3rd Mar Div., Det. HQ Bn. 3rd Mar Div. FMF, Det. "C" Btry. 1st Bn. 12th Mar 3rd Mar Div., Det. Anglico 3rd Sig. Bn. 3rd Mar Div., Det. 1st Evac Hosp. FMF, Det. AT Co. 3rd Mar 3rd Mar Div., Det. "C" Co. 3rd Med. Bn. 3rd Mar Div., and Det. H&S Co. 3rd Mar 3rd Mar Div. We made a rehearsal landing that was delayed because of fog, on 6 October and returned to the USS Logan that day. We assaulted the beaches at Aliso Canyon, Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, 10 Oct., 1952 and drove deep into Pendleton during the largest maneuvers, held by the division to date.

On this landing the seas were rough and after we boarded the LCVP's we had to make circles and this was a problem because the rough waters and diesel fumes made most of us seasick. In this situation the LCVP's could transport us into the beach but after we landed they would not be able to back off of the beach because the surf was too high. After we circled too long, they brought amtraks up and we transferred to them to go ashore, While we were transferring, one of our Navy Corpsmen got his fingers between the LCVP and the amtrak and they were badly smashed, he returned to the ship and did not come ashore with us.

On maneuvers I had to get the chow and water and distribute it to the platoons and see that any gear that was left behind is brought to the troops that evening or goes back to the ship and at night, my group set up a perimeter around the Company HQ area.

During this exercise the umpire tagged me as wounded and I had to go back to the battalion aid station. When I got there, there was a Bell H-13C helicopter with external stretchers on the ground. I was way back in the list to be evacuated but while we waited, the umpires eliminated the other casualties down to me, then I got lucky and the umpire tagged the helicopter as hit before they strapped me to the stretcher.

The climax of the Division's first year came on November 7 in a 3 hr. review of 21000 Marines at the Ground-Air Combat Review of the Third Marine Division. The Division exhibited its might before the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. and some 10,000 spectators. Prior th the review, Maj. Gen. Robert Pepper accepted Third Marine Division's Colors from Gen. Shepard at the review, the units of the Third Marine Division received their Colors.

Col. Robert Williams accepted the Third Marines Colors from Maj. Gen James A, Stuart who was commanded Third Marines at Iwo Jima. Col. Robert. Brown accepted the Fourth Marine's Colors from Maj. Gen, Samuel L. Howard who was commanded the Fourth Marines at in China and at Corregidor. Col. William Buchanan accepted the Ninth Marines Colors from Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, who commanded the unit during WWII. Col. Leonard Chapman accepted the Twelfth Marines Colors from Mrs John B. Wilson wife of the late Brig. Gen. John B. Wilson who was commanded of the Twelfth Marines when it was reactivated in 1942.

Thereview included the Third, the Fourth, and the Ninth Marine Infantry Regiments marching with fixed bayonets, the fully motorized Twelfth Marine Regiment towing 105 mm guns and 155 mm howitzers, The third Shore Party Battalion with bulldozers and big cranes, the Third Tank Battalion, the Third Engineer Battalion, the Third Medical Battalion, the Third. Motor Transport Battalion, the Third Ordnance Battalion, the Third Service Battalion, and the Third Signal Battalion. Third Zooming low overhead were plains form Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, CA and then a formation of helicopters flying low over the troops and the reviewing stand. .

This review was held in a large flat area at Main Side (the 24 area). We had a 1stSgt that was transferred into Item Co. for a couple of months and then retired, he was the last 'Horse Marine', his MOS retired with him. He had been in charge of the last combat horses in the Marine Corps and this field had been the pasture for these horses. This field is also the grassy field that we landed in when we returned from Hawthorne Nevada. Today that area is the base landing strip.

For this review, we had to get up early and travel to Main Side (about 20 miles) and then stand in formation for a long time, too long for some guys. The parade didn't look like much from the Company ranks but I guess that it was something impressive seen from the grandstand.

In December, Capt. Richard Reslure came in as our Company Commander and In Dec., I was promoted to Cpl.. All through December, units of the Division were busy with FEX-1, the mammoth maneuver that put the entire, Division in the field at the new Marine Corps Training Center near Twenty-Nine Palms, California. In a huge motor march, the Division was trucked to and from the desert site 140 miles from Camp Pendleton. This maneuver was a retrograde maneuver, it lasted three days and we got plenty of exercise. We did most of our traveling in the back of a '6-By' truck.

The trucks had a bracket each side on the top of the tailgate when it was up, on the bottom when it was down, that we stepped into to get in the back of the truck, we just jumped out. When they formed the Third Marine Division we got new trucks that had a retractable step all the way across the tailgate to step onto to get in, that made it much easier. We felt at home riding in the back of these trucks, Wade Thompson likes to tell the story they were in the back of a truck, around Christmas time, and they started singing Christmas Carols one of the guys didn't blend in with the rest of them. Wade told him that he should be the bells, he said that he couldn't make the sound of a bell and wade told him that he could, he just needed to practice. Each year Wade gets a call from him at Christmas time to tell him that he is still practicing the bells (this is 2009).

The second special event at Marine Base 29 Palms, CA was a battalion exercise in which our infantry battalion made a night airlift, using more than 60 helicopters at the same time, the first time that many choppers had ever been used in night operations. Twenty-Nine Palms is located in the dessert and at night it would go below freezing; we didn't have sleeping bags, all that we had was a blanket, a shelter-half, a jacket and a cap to stay warm while we sleep. During the day it would get very hot while we were packing our warm clothing and blankets around and at night, it wasn't enough t keep us warm. I had a jeep with a trailer to bring in supplies and move some equipment so I decided to sleep in the trailer, under the canvas instead of digging a hole and sleeping on the ground. Well that was my coldest night ever and I never made a mistake like that again.

In 1952 Hobart Vest and I left Camp Pendleton hitchhiking home for Christmas Leave again. For some reason, I remember this trip a lot better than the trop in 1951. After we left San Diego and got over the mountains into the desert, we got a ride with a man in an older car driving about 40 miles per hour but he said that he was going a long way. After a couple of hours we told him that we wanted to stop in the next town and we got out there, he drove off and we started looking for another, hopefully faster, ride. We got a ride and soon passed him up but when we got out of that ride he passed us before we got another ride, then we got another ride and passed him again. We passed him about three timed but he passed us last and got to his destination before we did.

The next ride was with a nice looking young lady driving a big station wagon. She had two older men in the front seat with her and we soon found out that they were crippled and they needed each other to navigate. The girl was from Australia and we told her that it probably wasn't a good idea to pick up hitchhikers and she told us that the car behind us was also full of men also and that made us feel better but later when we stopped to get some supper we found out that all of the other men were also crippled. She and this group of men were headed for New Orleans, LA, they would get some rooms and sell magazine subscriptions by telephone. When we got into west Texas they were turning south to go to New Orleans. They were going through Lake Charles, LA. but they were going to stop for the night and Hobart wanted to keep going and not stop for the night and loose that time. She let us out on a dark piece of highway where she was turning South.

We went across the road to a restaurant to get a cup of coffee and there were two trunk drivers there. The truck drivers agreed to take us to Midland, TX. When we got there, they let us out on the edge of town so that they wouldn't get caught with hitchhikers. I have always wanted to use J.H. ROSE Trucking Co. For shipping equipment but I never had the opportunity. The ride that we got here was with a man in a pick up truck with a boat in the back. He was going to a lake in east Texas to fish and he asked if either of us could drive. I told him that I could drive and he said that he wanted me to drive and he would get in the back of the truck, under the boat and try to get some sleep. I had trouble shifting the gears but I got it into high gear, it was the middle of the night and there were no red lights until I got to Dallas. When I got to Dallas, I took the loop around the Dallas Fort Worth Area and there was only one red light working that time of night. It was almost green when I went through it. A Little while, after we left Dallas, we heard a lot of noise in the back and we heard the man yelling stop!! so I pulled off the road and stopped. He got into the truck and said that he had been trying to stop us for a long time. When we got to Longview, I got out and Hobart left with him.

When I started back to Camp Pendleton I decided to try to get a 'Hop' from the Dallas Naval Air Station and my folks took me to Dallas. There was a Sailor there waiting for a 'Hop' and we were the only ones wanting to go West. After only a couple of hours a Air Force B-25 came through headed for Las Vegas. After we got on, we found out that it was going to Las Vegas but it was stopping at San Antonio and EL Paso on the way. We sat on the floor behind the bombay at the waste turrets, there was crawl space that we could take to go past the bombay to the front of the plane but we weren't that interested in going up there. We didn't get to Las Vegas until late in the day. When we got to Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, we checked in at the transit barracks and neither of us had ever been to Las Vegas so we decided to go into town and see what it looks like. We had a few drinks and when we got to the door to leave we found out that the sun was up, we had been there all night and the business had not slowed down. After I checked out at the transit barracks, I went to the waiting area to see about a hop to California. The room was full of people that and been sleeping there at least all night, the dispatcher did not have any ideas about what flights would come through that day, he was no help. I needed to be back at Pendleton the next day so I began planning other ways to get there, bus, train or hitchhiking. Two Marines pilots walked in and had a long talk with the dispatcher and they finally called a retired Navy Chief's name to go with them. I was the only Marine in the room. As they were leaving one of them walked over to me and asked if I wanted to go to MCAS El Toro. I said yes, he handed me a roll of magazines and said you need to carry this out to the plane because you are part of our crew on this flight. I think about this every time someone says "We Never Leave a Marine Behind."

MCAS Kaneohe, TH

3rd Bn. (Reinf.) 3rd Marines formed Battalion Landing Team 3/3. BLT 3/3. BLT 3/3, Marine Air Group 13 including the Black Sheep Squadron and the Death Angels Squadron became part of Brig. Gen. James P. Riseley's 1st Marine Provisional Air-Ground Task Force. The 3rd Bn. (Reinf.) includes artillery, tank, shore party, motor transport, engineer, service, ordinance, medical and signal units.

Moving the property room to Hawaii is where I learned how to how to pack and crate all of the equipment that we had. We had to pack all of our gear, record what is in each package, and the size and weight of each package. This was necessary so that they could allot space on the ship for our equipment. The packages had to be identified with the Company ID, an identification number and the 3rd Marine insignia, The Caltrap. We figured out how to draw the Caltrap with a piece of string and a black felt tip pin. The felt tip pins were new then and they were sure handy. The company was not responsible for transporting and loading the gear aboard the ship.

We boarded The USS CAVALIER (APA 37) 23 Jan., 1953, departed San Diego on 25 Jan., 1953, arrived Pearl Harbor 31 Jan., 1953 and went to MCAS Kaneohe, Oahu, T.H. to continue training. Kabeohe is on the North side of Oahu and to get from Honolulu to Kaneohe you had to go around the end of the island or go over the Pali. Life aboard an APA leaves a lot to be desired. The day after we embarked aboard the USS Cavalier, I went ashore to a payphone where I could call my sister Helen who was married that day. Our free time was spent walking around the ship, sitting on the cold deck and sitting on the deck playing poker, till everyone that would play was broke. The deck of the APA was covered with LCVPs, and LCMs to take us ashore and that limited our space. At night they would play cards down in the 'Hold'' one trip when we left San Diego we watched the lights disappear over the horizon and when we told the card players about it, they realized that we weren't still tied up at the dock and one of the guys started getting seasick. Our bunks were generally in the First Aft Hold on the first or second level, They had rows of temporary bunks, five bunks high with a pathway between the rows and the only open space was at the opening for loading equipment into the lower decks, we stored some of our gear and we played cards there. The head was a salt water shower and a trough attached to the bulkhead continuously running sea water with seats on part of it and with open areas for a urinal. There was a fresh water shower somewhere up in the bow of the ship that was open for a couple of hours each evening. The chow hall was Mid Ship and each company had a different color 'Chou Pass'. They would call out on the PA system for "all troops with a Yellow Chow Pass, fall in on the (Starboard or Port) side for chow" it took a long time to feed us but we didn't have to stand in line long. One time on our way to Hawaii we passed a large sail boat that sure looked nice. When we had normal seas the Fantail (rear of the ship) would come out of the water as it went over the waves and the ship would vibrate and make a different noise. When we went from Pearl Harbor to Helo It was rough enough that the water sprayed over the Bow onto the main deck and when the Fantail came out of the water, it shook badly for a longer time. We didn't see it that rough but once.

MCAS Kaneohe was a beautiful base, on the ocean, and was like paradise after dusty, hot Camp Pendleton. The Marine Corps had just recently taken over the base, Marine Air Group 13 was the only unit there and we were the first Ground Troops to come there. Some of the Pilots in the Black Sheep Squadron and the Death Angels Squadron were enlisted, they were reserve officers that choose to stay in the Marine Corps as enlisted rather than go into a reserve unit. This was the first time that Item Company was billeted in a wooden barracks, we finally got out of the six man tents. Our company office was in the barracks and the property room was across the street in the kitchen of an old married quarters. The property room was in sorry condition and could not be locked properly. Cpl. Folkert stayed by himself in the property room instead of the 'Squad Bay'. We immediately started our infantry training; weapons training, live firing, drynet training, obstacle course, and marching, etc. Our next phase of training was at Bellows Field, a former Air Force Base, located nearby, and at Kalmanalo Oahu, T.H. where we could work on our mapping and company sized tactics. We had a Parade at MCAS Kaneohe for someone. The parade was on a small field, we had no music, and we had just made two quick 'Colume Lefts' before marching past the reviewing stand. I think that we look good under those condition. I was the 'Right Guide' in this formation so everyone else should be in step with me.

We generally went to Honolulu on Liberty, Hotel St, those Bars got famous during WWII. Waikiki Beach was nice but all that we could do is walk down the beach and view the sites on a PFC's pay. I visited a High School friend, Bill Lubetkin, who was in the Air Force and stationed at Hickam Field. There was still some damage from the Japanese attack that I saw. The ride to Honolulu up and down the Kaneohe side of the Pali was interesting to say the least, some long lemo. drivers had to stop and back up to make the hairpin turns in the road. The wind was so bad at the top that jeeps were not allowed to go up there with their top up, they had to take them off but I think that most of the Marine Corps vehicles took the long way around the mountain.

16 May 1953, BLT 3/3 had a major Armed Forces Day parade down Kapiolani Blvd. in Honolulu. We paraded with full combat gear. It was the first major parade held in Hawaii with Marine ground units since the end of the war, and the crowds were HUGE!. The Armed Forces Day celebration included live firing at Ala Miana Park. We fired rifles, machine guns, mortars, and rocket launchers (bazookas) out into the water. The Death Angels and the Back Sheep Squadrons sweep across the city of Honolulu during the parade and they put on a demonstration on close air support at Ala Miana Park.

22 May 1953, embarked (HOW & ITEM Companies, 11 officers and 403 enlisted men) and sailed aboard USS CALVERT (APA 32) at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H. and arrived and disembarked at Hilo, T.H. on 23 May, 1953. Disembarking at Hilo where we were greeted by large crowds for many of the Hawaiians in our battalion were from that island. We trained and conducted live firing at Kahuka Ridge, a training area for the Hawaiian National Guard located up between the two major volcanoes for a forthcoming amphibious landing with air cover, on the island of Maui. The volcanos are Mauna Loa (which includes Kilauea Volcano) and Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea was active and smoking when we were there but there was no lava flow at that time. The whole area was covered with lava from previous eruptions, and that was hard on our combat boots. There was no one there but our reinforced battalion landing team. We had to go to Helo to purchase things that we needed and we had a big pot to heat water and wash our clothes. The Kahuka Ridge elevation is at about 1200 ft, we went down to Helo in a '6-By' truck and about half way down there was usually a cloud, so it rained on us going both ways. The only place that I went in Helo was a drug store and a barber shop. The barber shop was a one man shop and he had lots of business all of a sudden. When I was there, his wife came out to cut my hair, When she was shaving around my ear, she cut my ear with the straight razor, so she disappeared and didn't come back and he came over to stop the bleeding and finish.

We had maneuvers on Hawaii at the National Guard Artillery range and on portions of the Parker Ranch. We had live firing with all of the organic weapons of the Battalion Landing Team including tanks, artillery, recoilless weapons, mortors, and napom bombs, rockets, and 20 mm cannon from the Panther jet fighters of MAG 13's "Black Sheep" and "Death Angels" squadrons at the Pohakuluoa National Guard range on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

8 June 1953 we aboard the USS CALVERT (APA 32) from the beach at Hilo, T.H. and we sailed for Maui, T.H. on 11 June, 1953 for BLTLEX 53F landing exercise. This was the first time that we left the beach by boat and embarked the ship off shore. We struck our camp early in the morning and moved down to Hilo where we sat on the beach until about half a day and then embarked onto the USS CALVERT. While we were on the beach, a man from the Salvation Army and two children drove up in a station wagon and they had a big box of cookies and a cooler full of Koolaid in the back end. We lined up and they ran out of cookies and Koolaid so they left but they returned with more cookies and Koolaid. I don't remember how many trips they made but when we left the beach, they had cookies and Koolaid to pass out. I think of that day when I pass a Salvation Army Kettle at Christmas time.

On 13 June 1953, we made a landing near Makua, Oahu, TH, we landed and returned to the USS CALVERT that same day. On 14 June 1953, we were transferred to the USS FLOYD COUNTY (LST 762) or the USS HAMILTON COUNTY (LST 802) and we made the BLTLEX 53F landing exercise landing in amtraks at Maalaea Bay, Maui. We boarded the amtrak aboard the LST, and the amtrak that I was in came out the door at full speed, it went under water and travels about 25 feet. Fortunately it came back up. We landed between the towns of Wailei and Keawakapu with air support from Marine Air Group 13, the Black Sheep and the Death Angels Squadrons, and a Naval task group consisting of destroyers, transports, LST's, LSD's, and other types of amphibious shipping. Parts of the landing were filmed for the movie The Cain Mutiny but I think that the pictures that they took ended up on the cutting room floor. When we got off the beach about 100 yards there was a road and sitting on the road was an ice-cream truck and the driver had it full of booz, he was trying to sell it but we were all broke because we hadn't been paid lately. After three days of field maneuvers, on 17 June 1953, we re-boarded The USS CALVERT (APA 32) offshore. Normally, when we re-boarded to an APA offshore, they would lower a gangway so we could climb up to the main deck or open a personnel door just above the water line for us to enter the ship. When we re-boarded after the BLTLEX 53F landing exercise we had to re-board from the LCVP and climb up the 'Cargo Nets' Wade Thompson was in the last group to go up and when he left the LCVP the 'Cargo Net' slipped and let Wades foot fall between the boat and the ship and his foot was broken.

After we re-boarded, we went to Kahului Maui, T.H. where we had one day of liberty, then we returned to Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H. arriving on 19 June 1953. My Service Record Book says that we were transferred to the USS TORTUGU, LSD 26. I don't remember sailing on an LSD and I have a picture of Stan Folkert that is marked "aboard the USS Calvert, returning from Hawaii. The USS Calvert, USS Tortuga, and the USS Montague, AKA 98, came back to San Diego together so we all arrived in San Diego, CA. on 30 June 1953. Then we went to the 25 Area (back to some new tents) at Camp Pendleton. We had a nice safe tent for the supply room we unpacked and got set up for a long stay. We had a big group take 30 day leaves but they all got telegrams ordering them back to the base immediately. They told us that we were shipping out and they did not know where we were going. Before we went to Hawaii, I had applied for Embassy Duty and agreed to 'Ship Over' if I received the assignment. I had and passed the physical so now they gave ne a choice of Embassy duty or stay with Item Co. and go somewhere overseas and I choose to stay with the Co. Some of the guys had 782 gear was serviceable but was not in the best condition. They told me not to survey the gear before we left Pendleton so I figured that we were not going straight to Korea. We had to pack up all of the supplies again and make our list of sizes and weights, of the boxes. When we got to San Diego on 13 Aug., 1953 we embarked aboard USNS Marine Serpent (T-AP 202), a transport ship and that assured me that we were going to Japan, not Korea.

Camp Fuji, Japan

We arrived at Yokohama, Japan and debarked on 29 Aug. 1953, we then road a train up to South Camp Fuji where we moved into some old Japanese Army Barracks where we formed a Provisional Corps

The 187th Army Regimental Combat Team was assigned to our Provisional Corps, as well as the Army 56th Amphibious Tractor Battalion, they had already seen combat in Korea in 1950, the early days of the war. We began training on the rolling slopes of Mt Fuji, or"Fuji-san": as we called her. Came the winter, cold with a heavy blanket of both snow and fog. Later, our Provisional Corps was joined by the Army's 2nd. Amphibious Support Brigade, which had just joined us after a 5 month tour in Korea. At Fuji we trained with tank, artillery and air units.

We arrived at Camp Fuji by Japanese train from the city of Yokohama. Japanese trains are notorious for arriving and departing to the exact minute, so, as soon as the train stopped, train windows went up, seabags were tossed out the open windows, then there was a mad dash to get off the train, before it started again. The town at South Camp, Fujioka, was off limits so for liberty we had a path from the main gate to the train station, about 100 yards where we caught the train to go th Tokyo or Gotemba or other nearby towns where we could pull liberty. The train ride between Tokyo and Fujioka was an experience, it was a narrow gauge (small) train and it went through about four tunnels. The first trip up the mountain the Japanese on the train got up and started closing the windows on a hot day (the train was not air conditioned) and we were opening the windows. Then we found out what it was like to go through a tunnel being pulled by a small coal-fired steam engine going up hill with the windows open. After that when the Japanese closed the windows we helped them, the windows didn't help much. There was one place that the train crossed a road, there was no signal but they had a man with a lantern stopping traffic each time we went by.

The 3rd Marine Regimental Headquarters and one infantry battalion were located at Middle Camp, one battalion at North Camp and one at South Camp. The 3rd Battalion First went to South Camp and in November we moved to Middle Camp. Our attached artillery battalion went to Camp McNair, further up the slopes of Mt Fuji.

The end of Sept, while we were at South Camp, Capt. Reslure was transferred out and Capt. Clark Ashton became our C.O. Clark Ashton came to us from '8th and I' so the manual of arms and military discipline became more important in the company. We lived in two old one story wooden Japanese barrachs; that was nice for us short people but a problem for the tall ones.

The Co. Office and Property room were at one end of one of the barracks, The property room was nice, we had plenty of room we had in straight and orderly when we found out that we had to pack all of the gear up again to move to Middle Camp. This barracks had th Co. Office and property room at one end, the 'Squad Bay' in the center and a separate room for the NCOs on the other end, the Staff NCOs and officers were in another part of the camp.

The mess hall was a field unit and we had to wash our mess trays in coal oil heated GI cans after each meal. The food that they prepared for us was sufficient and usually tasted OK. The only thing that was consistent about the meals is that we had fish on Friday and so I have rarely eaten fish since then. But I decided that I must be cured when I was eating at a cafeteria ant I realized that I had just stood in a long line and then paid cash to have a piece of fish for supper on Friday. There was a cole-fired furnace in a small house between each two barracks that supplied hot water. Maintaining the furnace was a dirty job and the company had to take care of it but we had a man that wanted to do it so we let him.

While we were at South Camp Fuji, the 3rd Bn. was responsible for camp security so we had to supply the camp security detail inside the fence, and we also had a post at the city water supply, off the base. This made us comfortable but the fact that the Japanese patrolled outside of the fence made us wonder who was in charge. In November we moved to Middle Camp Fuji. The town at Middle Camp Fuji was named Itazuma and it was not off limits so we could pull liberty there so we rarely went to Gotemba or Tokyo. We had to go through the town to get to the field for training When we got to Middle Camp, there was the same type room for the NCOs and two separate two-man rooms. They asked me to take one of the separate rooms by my self because they said that I snored (I don't think that I do) but I took the room and enjoyed it. The property room at Middle Camp was about the same as South Camp.

Nov. 1 reported that I was short one pair of binoculars that were last accounted for before we left Camp Pendleton. They had been checked out to a Corpsman HM2 Wright and we had the case but it was empty. HM2 Wright left the Co. before we left Camp Pendleton. The price of the Binoculars was 120.00 and Cpl. Stan Folkert and I decided not to pay 60.00 each to cover the loss so under it UCMJ, Battalion Commander Col. Bonner, held 'Office Hours' and we received a reduction in rank to PFC and the reduction was suspended on six months probation. The middle part of Nov. we appealed this to the Regimental Commander Col. Bonner and he reversed the decision and restored all of our rights, privileges and property. Then the end of November I was promoted to Sgt.

The armistice was signed in Korea and all of the men that were in Item Co. when it was reactivated in 1951 were being rotated home for discharge and I decided to reenlist in the reserves and request six months active duty and stay in Japan until May ‘54 to complete this overseas tour. I felt that I would be less apt to be called back into the Marine Corps in the next 'Harry Truman Conflict'

Iwo Jima & Okinawa

While I was at Camp Fuji we had two landing exercises, one Operation RLTLEX III 54 Feb. 2-14 ‘54. at Kin Beach on Okinawa and one MARDIVLEX 1-54 March 14-April at Iwo Jima.

On 2 Feb, 1954 we embarked 40 officers and 780 enlisted on the USS MOUNTRAIL (APA 213) at Yokosuka, Japan and sailed on 3 Feb. 1954. On Feb 7 we made a practice landing and returned to the ship the same day. On 8 Feb., 1954 we participated in RLTLEX III 54 on Okinawa, Ryuku Island. It was an exercise on sun-drenched beaches and the hills of middle and northern Okinawa during February 1953. 11 Feb., 1954, when we secured the maneuver, I road to the White Beach in the '4-By' truck assigned to the company. We had to load '4-By' onto an LCVP to take it back to the USS MOUNTRAIL and then we had to secure the truck to the cable so that they could lift it out of the LCVP and then see that the truck got out without getting hung up. The sea was choppy and the LCVP was bouncing but Navy knew what they were doing and they got it out of th LCVP ok. I decided that I didn't want to go back to the ship that way again. We re-embarked USS MOUNTRAIL (APA 213) and sailed to arrived Yokosuka, Japan on 14 Feb., 1954.

We disembarked Yokosuka, Japan on 16 Feb, 1954. We were happy to return to Japan, though we were losing our skipper, Capt. Ashton, who was going to the 1st Marine Division in Korea. So this was an excuse to throw a party for him, and it was a wild one and lasted for three days in the village of Gotemba.

MARDIVLEX 1-54 was a 7th Fleet exercise that included the 3rd Marine Division, Task Force 90, Cruiser Div. 1, Trans. Div. 13, and Carrier Div. 5 (USS ORISKANY), the force includes 60,000 military, 100 ships, and 200 aircraft. We boarded the USS MAGOFFIN (APA 199) on March 14 along with Det. Shore Party, A Co. 3rd Eng. Bn., C Med. Co., C Bn. st Bn. 12 th Marines, Det. 3rd Marine Band, Det. HQ Bn. (Wire & radio). The aggressors were 2nd Bn. 4th Marines.

14 March 1954, 3rd Bn. 3rd Marines embarked on U.S.S. MAGOFFIN (APA 199) Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. We departed Yokosuka, Honshu, Japan 16 March 1954. It looked like they had the whole Pacific Fleet participating in this landing exercise. 17 March 1954 U.S.S. MAGOFFIN held live fire exercise, fired 4 rnd 5"38, 157 7 rnd. 40 MM, 290 rnd. 20 MM. 19 March, 1954 the 3rd Bn. 3rd Marine disembarked and made a rehearsal landing on Haha Shima Island and we returned to U.S.S. MAGOFFIN same day.

20 March 1954 the MAGOFFIN refueled the U.S.S. BASS (APD 124) (Small Destroyer) and while they were transferring oil, the hose broke. The Deck Log on the MAGOFFIN said that the U.S.S. Bass veered away. We sited Kito Iwo Jima distance 32.7 mi., if this is the island that I remember, it appeared to be about three times as high as it was wide. That night while we were on deck with the ship darkened, we heard a splash in the water and saw something float by that we could not identify. We yelled 'Man Overboard' and the fleet lit up like a Christmas tree. They had a head count and no one was missing so we went on our way. I later learned that they were throwing trash overboard about the time that we heard the noise.

21 March 1954, sited Kita Iwo Jima Island 40 mi., we sited Minami Iwo Jima Island 82 mi. away, and sited Iwo Jima 47 mi away. This was the first peacetime landing exercise on Iwo and possibly the last landing with LCVP's. The Division made its landing after the Navy simulated a naval bombardment of the island, and Navy and Marine aircraft had their fun. We landed on the southwest beach by Mount Suribachi, just across a narrow strip of beach from where the actual landing took place. The Japanese had a large bunker where they could cover the beach where we landed very effectively. We also saw what looked like ditches that were where the Japanese had tunnels so that they could move around without being seen. On D Day +2, our battalion became the helicopter maneuver force of the Division, and we boarded Sikorsky HRS-1s choppers and headed north to seize the airfield. That accomplished, we headed out for Hill 362 which had been the main line of the Japanese defense system, and was the scene of the bloodiest fighting of the Iwo Campaign. In this area there was a large area that was probably an underground room. The area around Hill 362 is a sulphur bed. We had to sit on our helmets because the ground was too hot. In fact you could heat a can of 'C ' Rations by burying them in the ground. We buried a five gal. can of water for 15 minutes and when we dug it up the water got too hot to shave with! We were restricted to certain areas on Iwo because of the unexploded ordinance that had not been recovered.

We could go up on Mount Suribachi but we had to stay on the road and it was a long walk. After the exercise was completed, we participated in a memorial service at the foot of Mount Suribachi as the American Flag was raised atop of it.

27 March 1954, 3rd Bn. 3rd Marines returned to USS MAGOFFIN aboard LCU 1421 and/or LCU 1396.We arrived at Yokosuka, Japan 30 March, 1954, disembarked from the U.S.S. MAGOFFIN on 31 March 1954 and we returned to Middle Camp Fuji. I turned the property room over to the new Property NCO ,said my goodbys and got ready to go home. I was the last one of the original group that formed Item Co. to leave Item Co., I was there about 34 months.

Back Home

The weekend of May 1st we were restricted to Camp Fuji because the was 'May Day' a communist holiday and that Monday morning we boarded trucks and went to Yokosuka. On May 7, I boarded and sailed on the USNS Hugh J. Gaffey. I arrived and disembarked San Francisco on May17, 1954 and they took us by barge to Treasure Island to await orders. I pulled liberty in San Francisco one night and I didn't see any reason to go back so I didn't. They asked us where we would like to pull duty next and I requested Dallas Naval Air Station because that was close to home and I thought that I was going to be released in about three months. They assigned me to Ser. Co., Hq. Bat. MCB Camp Lejeune. May 22 I left Treasure Island for Camp Lejeune and took 20 days of leave, I flew back to Longview and if you fly somewhere today you would never believe that flying somewhere could ever have been as simple as it was then.

While I was Property NCO in Item Co., I had my MOS changed from 0311 to 3011 so when I got to Camp Lejeune I was assigned to the Base Supply. My duty in Base Supply was issuing office equipment and supplies where needed and furniture to married officers quarters. The biggest excitement in that job was when I was delivering a refrigerator to the home of a Col. He was unhappy when we got there because his daughter and grand baby were there and the refrigerator quit working. They had baby bottles and food all over the kitchen. While they were unloading the refrigerator from the '6-By' truck, the Col. was watching when they dropped it about 2 feet. Well we plugged it in and it started cooling so we took off in a hurry. Another delivery was to a Lt., he and his wife had an argument and the dining room furniture got destroyed. I never had a load to go to the big house down on the end of the row. It was Gen. Pullers home at the time.

In July I went to see the 1st Sgt. about going home in August and he said that there was nothing in my record book about me requesting six months active duty and that I was going to be there two and a half more years. I got busy and found that the old Sgt. Maj. and Adjutant from Third Battalion, Third Marines were at Camp Lejeune, they vouched for me, so I was released on Aug. 19.

On Aug. 19th I was ordered to report to 8th District in New Orleans, LA and my orders were signed by General Puller. I reported by telephone. New Orleans was a 6-hour drive from Longview TX. and that would make it hard to be there one weekend a month so I choose Stand by Reserves. For my service, I received the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Medal, and the National Defense Medal I qualified for the Good Conduct Medal but I never received it. In Feb. 1957 I had a wife and a baby and I was looking for a job in Fort Worth, TX so I spoke to a recruiter but I decided to keep looking. I was discharged Feb. 19, 1957.

In the year 2000 I had quit working and I decided to try to locate some of the men that were in Item Co. I got the Co. Rosters for June 1951 (that was the first one since 1945), June 1952, June 1953, and November 1953 from the Headquarters Marine Corps and found the names of about 500 Marines that were in Item Co. between 1951 and 1954. I used my computer, and my telephone and I found and spoke to more than 100 of them. One of the people that I found was Nat Vincent. Nat was a PFC in the company and in 1953 he left the company and went to the MP Detachment at Middle Camp. After he got out of the Marine Corps, he went to Collage and then returned to the Marine Corps, he retired as a Lt. Colonel. He wanted to have a reunion of the men that I had found, I said that I would help him and he made arrangements to have it at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth TX. Nat passed away about a month before the reunion but we had the reunion and enjoyed it. Since 2000 we have had reunions at San Diego 2002, Quantico 2004, and Parris Island 2006 and some small groups of us have gotten together at Branson MO. and Nashville TN. several times since then.

My Orders to 8th District signed by Chesty Puller