How the Marines have survived, and why

MAY 6, 2013, VOL. 18, NO. 32 • BY MACKUBIN THOMAS OWENS

In 1957, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Randolph Pate, sent a brief note to the director of the Marine Corps Educational Center, Brig. Gen. Victor Krulak, in which he asked, “Why does the U.S. need a Marine Corps?” Krulak, already a legend in the Marines, penned a lengthy reply: “The United States does not need a Marine Corps mainly because she has a fine modern Army and a vigorous Air Force. .  .  . We [the Marine Corps] exist today—we flourish today—not because of what we know we are, or what we know we can do, but because of what the grassroots of our country believes we are and believes we can do.”

BOB.v18-32.May6_.Owens_Krulak went on to say that the American people believe three things about the Marines: that they will be ready to fight on short notice; that they will turn in a dramatically and decisively successful performance; and that the “Corps is downright good for the manhood of our country; that the Marines are masters of a form of unfailing alchemy which converts un-oriented youths into proud, self-reliant stable citizens—citizens into whose hands the nation’s affairs may safely be entrusted.” Krulak concluded that as long as the American people “are convinced that we can really do the three things .  .  . we are going to have a Marine Corps. .  .  . And, likewise, should the people ever lose that conviction—as a result of our failure to meet their high—almost spiritual—standards, the Marine Corps will then quickly disappear.”

Read the entire STORY

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Marines and Tootsie Rolls

LtCol Andy Traynor, USMC (Ret), and Major Dave Vickers, USMC (Ret), tell a unique story of how Marines used Tootsie Rolls during the Chosin Reservoir campaign.

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The Marine NCO

Clip from part 1 of HBO’s “The Pacific”

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Chesty Puller Marine Legend: His Life In Pictures

Many I’ve never seen before. Great tribute to Chesty!
~Cpl. Beddoe

Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971) was an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Puller is the most decorated U.S. Marine in history, and the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses. During his career, he fought guerrillas in Haiti and Nicaragua, and participated in some of the bloodiest battles of World War II and the Korean War. [Wikipedia]

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USMC Eagle Globe Anchor 1868-1968

Courtesy: HISTORY AND MUSEUMS DIVISION, HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, WASHINGTON, D.C., 1968

The purpose of this study is to explore and describe the development of the emblem and to provide students of Marine Corps history with a reference for its display on the diversity of uniforms worn by Marines since 1868.

EGA 1868-1968 Part 1 pdf 4.3MB
EGA 1868-1968 Part 2 pdf 3.7MB
EGA 1868-1968 Part 3 pdf 3.1MB

ALWAYS FAITHFUL!

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23-FEB-1945, IWO JIMA

THESE BROTHERS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!
~Cpl. Beddoe

During WW II, between August 1944 and mid-February 1945, the U.S. Navy and Seventh Air Force ravaged the volcanic island Iwo Jima, 775 miles from Japan, with 6,800 tons of high-explosive bombs and more than 22,000 5- and 16-inch shells. It was the most massive pre-assault bombardment in history, and everyone in the American invasion force assumed that the U.S. Marines would hit the beach on Feb. 19 and walk unopposed to the summit of Mt. Suribachi, an extinct volcano rising 550 feet from the island floor.

Instead, Iwo Jima became the bloodiest slaughter in Marine Corps history, claiming 7,000 lives. In return, the Americans killed all but 216 of the island’s 21,000 Japanese defenders. But the Americans had no choice — they had to take Iwo Jima. American strategists knew that capturing the island would shorten the war and in the end save lives. For two full days the Americans lay motionless on their narrow beachhead. On the third day the Americans smashed their way toward Mt. Suribachi inch by inch. Hundreds of pillboxes, minefields, and snipers’ nests stood in their way, and the battle broke down into countless savage little brawls.

On Feb. 23, 1945, 40 Marines burned and blasted their way up Mt. Suribachi and planted an American flag on its summit. Associated Press cameraman Joe Rosenthal’s dramatic photograph of the event became the most famous image of the Pacific war, but not before three of the six Marines pictured had been killed.

The six photographed historic flag raisers were Ira Hayes, Mike Strank, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, Rene Gagnon and John Bradley. The famous Rosenthal photograph inspired a postage stamp in 1945 depicting the flag-raising. It also inspired the tallest cast bronze statue in the world, which was assembled in Arlington National Cemetery in fall of 1954. The monument was cast at the Bedi-Rassy Art Foundry in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. It stands in honor of all U.S. Marines (since 1775) who have given their lives for their country.

Fighting continued on the island until March 26. Badly damaged B-19s began landing on Iwo Jima as early as March 4, and by war’s end more than 2,200 American bombers carrying 24,761 men made emergency landings there.

John Wayne as Sgt. Stryker

The motion picture The Sands of Iwo Jima, released in 1949, is a perennial favorite of WW II enthusiasts. John Wayne earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as a tough-as-nails Marine sergeant. In 2006, Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers told the story of the Marines who rose the flag on Iwo Jima that day.

This article was written by Vernon Parker (1923-2004)

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Lucy Brewer – Legendary First Woman Marine

No compilation of legends would be complete without mention of Lucy Brewer. A farm girl from Massachusetts, Lucy Brewer was the legendary first woman Marine.

The War of 1812 was raging when Lucy arrived at Boston. Friendless in the strange city, she met a woman who seemed eager to take a stranger into her home. Lucy was surprised that one woman could have so many daughters, but she soon discovered that home was just a house.

Unsuited to a life of sin, Lucy fled her benefactress, donned men’s clothing, and found refuge in the Marine Corps. No one discovered she was a woman, and as a member of the “Constitution’s” Marine guard, she saw action in some of the bloodiest sea fights of the war.

Her exploits came to light when she published an autobiographical account of her experiences. She described her heroism in the major battles of the “Constitution” with such details as manning the fighting tops as a marksman, taking toll of the British with musket fire. True or not, the story of Lucy Brewer makes a wonderful addition to the colorful legends about the Marine Corps.

The first recognized female Marine was Opha M. Johnson who enlisted on August 13, 1918, the day after the Secretary of the Navy granted authority for women to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve. World War I saw 305 female Marines serving. At that time, there was a military propaganda campaign that showed a now famous Marine Corps poster encouraging women to serve to “free a man to fight”, meaning that women could perform clerical duties that would allow the Corps to use their male Marines for battlefield positions.

Semper Fi Lucy!

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Brewer

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US Marines at Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941

Pearl Harbor—7 December 1941. Armed with their Springfield rifles, Leathernecks of Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor, scan the skies during the Japanese attack. US Navy Photo

Source: Hough, Frank O., Verle E. Ludwig and Henry I Shaw, Jr. Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal vol.1 of History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1958): 70-75.

Perhaps no action in American military history has been so thoroughly documented, examined, and dissected as the Pearl Harbor attack. Investigation has followed investigation; a host of books have been written on the subject, all in an effort to pin down the responsibility in the welter of charge and countercharge. The issue of what individuals or set of circumstances, if any, should bear the blame for the success of the Japanese raid has not been, and may never be finally decided. On one point, however, there has been unanimous agreement–that the courage of the vast majority of defending troops was of a high order.

The first inkling of the Japanese attack came not from the air, but from the sea. At 0637 on 7 December, more than an hour before any enemy planes were sighted, an American patrol bomber and the destroyer [USS] Ward [DD-139] attacked and sank an unidentified submarine in the restricted waters close to the entrance to Pearl Harbor. This vessel was one of five Japanese two- man submarines which had the extremely risky mission of penetrating the Pacific Fleet’s stronghold. The midgets were transported to the target on board large long-range submarines, part of an undersea scouting and screening force which had fanned out ahead of the enemy carriers. Not one of the midget raiders achieved any success; four were sunk and one ran aground.

The Japanese attack schedule allowed the Americans little time to evaluate the significance of the submarine sighting. The first enemy strike group was airborne and winging its way toward Oahu before the Ward fired its initial spread of depth charges. The Japanese carrier force had turned in the night and steamed full ahead for its target, launching the first plane at 0600 when the ships were approximately 200 miles north of Pearl Harbor. A second strike group took off at 0745 when the carriers had reached a position 30 miles closer to the American base. Although a radar set on the island picked up the approaching planes in time to give warning, the report of the sighting was believed an error and disregarded, and the Japanese fighters and bombers appeared unannounced over their objectives.

The enemy plan of attack was simple. Dive bombers and fighter planes would strafe and bomb the major Army and Navy airfields in an attempt to catch defending aircraft on the ground. Simultaneously, the battleships moored to pilings along the shore of Ford Island would be hit by high-and low-level bombing attacks. The shipping strike groups included large numbers of dive and horizontal bombers, since the Japanese anticipated that protective netting might prevent their lethal torpedo bombers from being fully effective. In all, 321 planes took part in the raid, while 39 fighters flew protective cover over the carriers to guard against a retaliatory attack that never materialized.

At 0755 the soft stillness of Sunday morning was broken by the screaming whine of dive bombers and the sharp chatter of machine guns. At half a dozen different bases around the island of Oahu Japanese planes signaled the outbreak of war with a torrent of sudden death. Patrol bombers were caught in the water at Naheohe Naval Air Stations, across the island from Honolulu; closely parked rows of planes, concentrated to protect them from sabotage, were transformed into smoking heaps of useless wreckage at the Army’s Wheeler and Hickam Fields, the Marines’ air base at Ewa, and the Navy’s Ford Island air station. The attack on the airfields had barely started before the first bombs and torpedoes were loosed against the sitting targets of “battleship row.” Within minutes most of the battleships at the Ford Island moorings had been hit by one or more torpedoes and bombs. If the Japanese had drawn off after the first fifteen minutes of their attacks, the damage done would have been terrific, but the enemy planes kept on strafing and bombing and the toll of ships, planes, and men soared.

The Americans did not take their beating lying down. The first scattered shots from sentries ashore and watch standers who manned antiaircraft guns on board ship flashed back at the enemy even before the bugles and boatswains’ pipes sounded “Call to Arms” and “General Quarters.” The ships of the Pacific Fleet were on partial alert even in port and most of the officers and men were on board. Crew members poured up the ladders and passages from their berthing compartments to battle stations. While damage control teams tried to put down fires and shore up weakened bulkheads, gun crews let loose everything they had against the oncoming planes. In many cases guns were fired from positions awash as ships settled to the bottom and crewmen were seared with flames from fuel and ammunition fires as they continued to serve their weapons even after receiving orders to abandon ship. On many vessels the first torpedoes and bombs trapped men below deck and snuffed out the lives of others before they were even aware that the attack was on.

The reaction to the Japanese raid was fully as rapid at shore bases as it was on board ship, but the men at the airfields and the navy yard had far less to fight with. There was no ready ammunition at any antiaircraft gun position on the island; muzzles impotently pointed skyward while trucks were hurried to munitions depots. Small arms were broken out of armories at every point under attack; individuals manned the machine guns of damaged aircraft. The rage to strike back at the Japanese was so strong that men even fired pistols at the enemy planes as they swooped low to strafe.

At Ewa every Marine plane was knocked out of action in the first attack. Two squadrons of Japanese fighters swept in from the northwest at 1,000 feet and dived down to rake the aircraft parked near the runways with machine-gun and cannon fire. Pilots and air crewmen ran to their planes in an attempt to get them into the air or drag them out of the line of fire, but the Japanese returned again and again to complete the job of destruction. When the enemy fighters drew off at about 0825 they left behind a field littered with burning and shot-up aircraft. The men of [Marine Aircraft Group] MAG-21 recovered quickly from their initial surprise and shock and fought back with what few rifles and machine guns they had. Salvageable guns were stripped from damaged planes and set up on hastily improvised mounts; one scout-bomber rear machine gun was manned to swell the volume of antiaircraft fire. Although the group commander, Lieutenant Colonel Claude A. Larkin, had been wounded almost as soon as he arrived at the field that morning, he continued to coordinate the efforts to meet further enemy attacks.

Two Japanese dive bombers streaked over the field from the direction of Pearl Harbor at 0835, dropping light fragmentation bombs and strafing the Marine gun positions. A few minutes after the bombers left, the first of a steady procession of enemy fighters attacked Ewa as the Japanese began assembling a cover force at nearby Barber’s Point to protect the withdrawal of their strike groups. The Marine machine guns accounted for at least one of the enemy planes and claimed another probable. Two and three plane sections of fighters orbited over the field, and occasionally dived to strafe the gunners, until the last elements of the Japanese attack force headed out to sea around 0945.

Three of the Marine airmen were killed during the attacks, a fourth died of wound; 13 wounded men were treated in the group’s aid station. Flames demolished 33 of the 47 planes at the field; all but two of the remainder suffered major damage. The sole bright note in the picture of destruction was the fact that 18 of [Marine Scout Bombing Squadron] VMSB-231’s planes were on board the Lexington, scheduled for a fly-off to Midway, and thereby saved from the enemy guns.

Within the same half hour that witnessed the loss of Ewa’s planes, the possibility of effective aerial resistance was canceled out by similar enemy attacks all over Oahu. Ford Island’s seaplane ramps and runways were made a shambles of wrecked and burning aircraft in the opening stage of the Japanese assault. The Marines of the air station’s guard detachment manned rifles and machine guns to beat off further enemy thrusts, but the dive bombers had done their job well. There was no need for them to return. The focus of all attacks became the larger ships in the harbor.

The raid drew automatic reactions from the few Marines in the navy yard who saw the first enemy planes diving on the ships. While the guard bugler broke the majority of the men of the barracks detachment and the 1st and 3d Defense Battalions out of their quarters, the early risers were already running for the armories and gun sheds. By 0801 when Colonel Pickett ordered the defense battalion machine-gun groups to man their weapons, eight of the guns had already been set up. More machine guns were hastily put in position and men were detailed to belt the ammunition needed to feed them, while rifle ammunition was issued to the hundreds of men assembled on the barracks’ parade ground. Pickett ordered the 3-inch antiaircraft guns in the defense battalions’ reserve supplies to be taken out of storage and emplaced on the parade. He dispatched trucks and working parties of the 2d Engineer Battalion to Lualualei, 27 miles up in the hills, to get the necessary 3-inch shells. The Marine engineers also sent their heavy earth- moving equipment to Hickam Field to help clear the runways.

Thirteen machine guns were in action by 0820 and the gunners had already accounted for their first enemy dive bomber. During the next hour and a half the fire of twenty-five more .30’s and .50’s was added to the yard’s antiaircraft defenses, and two more planes, one claimed jointly with the ships, were shot down. The 3-inch guns were never able to get into action. The ammunition trucks did not return from the Lualualei depot until 1100, more than an hour after the last Japanese aircraft had headed back for their carriers. By that time the personnel of all Marine organizations in the navy yard area had been pooled to reinforce the guard and antiaircraft defense, to provide an infantry reserve, and to furnish the supporting transport and supply details needed to sustain them.

In the course of their attacks on battleship row and the ships in the navy yard’s drydocks, the enemy planes had strafed and bombed the Marine barracks area, and nine men had been wounded. They were cared for in the dressing stations which Pickett had ordered set up at the beginning of the raid to accommodate the flow of wounded from the stricken ships in the harbor. Many of these casualties were members of the Marine ship detachments; 102 sea-going Marines had been killed during the raid, six later died of wounds, and 49 were wounded in action.

The enemy pilots had scored heavily: four battleships, one mine layer, and a target ship sunk; four battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, and three auxiliaries damaged. Most of the damaged ships required extensive repairs. American plane losses were equally high: 188 aircraft totally destroyed and 31 more damaged. The Navy and Marine Corps had 2,086 officers and men killed, the Army 194, as a result of the attack; 1,109 men of all the services survived their wounds.

Balanced against the staggering American totals was a fantastically light tally sheet of Japanese losses. The enemy carriers recovered all but 29 of the planes they had sent out; ship losses amounted to five midget submarines; and less than a hundred men were killed.

Despite extensive search missions flown from Oahu and from the [USS] Enterprise [CV-6], which was less than 175 miles from port when the sneak attack occurred, the enemy striking force was able to withdraw undetected and unscathed. In one respect the Japanese were disappointed with the results of their raid; they had hoped to catch the Pacific Fleet’s carriers berthed at Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, the urgent need for Marine planes to strengthen the outpost defenses had sent the [USS] Lexington [CV-2] and the Enterprise to sea on aircraft ferrying missions. The Enterprise was returning to Pearl on 7 December after having flown off [Marine Fighter Squadron] VMF-211’s fighters to Wake, and the Lexington, enroute to Midway with VMSB-231’s planes, turned back when news of the attack was received. Had either or both of the carriers been sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor, the outlook for the first months of the war would have been even more dismal. The Japanese success had the effect of delaying the schedule of retaliatory attack and amphibious operations in the Central Pacific that had been outlined in [Navy Basic War Plan] Rainbow 5. A complete reevaluation of Pacific strategy was necessary.

From http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq66-7.htm
Photo: http://www.ww2gyrene.org/weapons_M1903A3_rifle.htm

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History of the challenge coin

Story by Cpl. Wil Acosta

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (March 4, 2005) — Military Unit Coins. Throughout the Corps, one can find these medal artifacts displayed proudly by Marines at their desks and in their offices. Some are simple and colorless. Others are ornate, filled with intricate designs and etchings. All of them have a story behind them.

The following story, which dates the history of military coins back to the 1st World War, was passed on throughout the network of senior enlisted Marines via email.

During World War I, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy young men who left colleges such as Yale and Harvard in order to enlist in the military.

In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered solid bronze medallions embossed with the squadron emblem for every member of his squadron. He carried his medallion in a small leather sack about his neck.

Shortly after acquiring the medallions, the lietetenant’s aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire during a mission. He was forced to land behind enemy lines where he was captured by a German patrol.

In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck.

He was eventually taken to a small French town near the front lines where he managed to escape during a night bombardment. During the attack, he donned civilian clothes and fled without personal identification.

After escaping, the brave pilot succeeded in avoiding German patrols until he reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man’s land and stumbled into a French outpost.

Unfortunately, the French in this sector had been plagued by German saboteurs, who sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot’s American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him.

Just in time, the American remembered his leather pouch containing the bronze medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners. When the French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion, they gave the pilot enough time to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine.

Eventually the pilot made it back to his squadron, where it became a tradition to ensure all members carried their medallion or coin at all times.

This was accomplished through a challenge. A service member would ask to see the coin. If the challenger could not produce his coin, he was required to purchase a drink of choice for the member who had challenged him.

If the challenged member produced his coin, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink.

This tradition continued through the war and for many years after while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.

Today, military service members often trade these coins while deployed. In some cases a coin can be earned meritoriously for a job well done.

Regardless of how they are required, the history of the challenge coin remains a part of military tradition, and Marines will continue to display them proudly for years to come.

Story Identification #: 20053485017

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Dog of War

I flew with Jim in his H-34 several times
~Wally
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Think of Yankee Lima Four Two as a time machine: Jump in and you’re back in Vietnam.

By Stephan Wilkinson
Air & Space Magazine, July 01, 2001

Its official name was the Sea Horse, but they called the big helo the Dog. Not because it flew like one but because you’ll never get a Marine to call any weapon by the name the Corps gives it. Marines use the phonetic alphabet in radio communication, replacing letters with words, and in the Korean War, well before today’s NATO-compatible alfa, bravo, charlie, delta for A, B, C, D, they used able, baker, charlie, dog. Because it was the D model of the Sikorsky H-34, the UH-34D came by its nickname honestly.

The Dog I met is one of two still flying in a coat of flat Marine green. Its owner is James Moriarty, a dogged, wealthy Houston lawyer. “I sue big companies that cheat people,” he says with in-your-face pride. “Erin Brockovich is my hero.”

Moriarty loves the Marine Corps enough to have spent an unspeakable amount of his own money restoring the 40-year-old UH-34D so that he can operate it as a living, breathing, shuddering, fluttering, flying Marine memorial. He takes his YL-42—in GI phonetics, “Yankee Lima 42,” the call sign of an actual helicopter that had a fatal crash—to airshows all over the country. It has been restored to the condition of one of the hard-working UH-34Ds that flew in Vietnam, just as it might have looked parked on the HMM-362 (HMM means Helicopters, Marine, Medium) “Ugly Angels” squadron ramp at Soc Trang, or “Marble Mountain,” the helicopter strip at Da Nang. The cabin is cluttered with toolboxes and spares, and the slightly askew clamshell nose doors are held together with a bungee cord just as they would have been during the war. There’s a small puddle of red hydraulic fluid on the cabin floor, and even an inert M-60 machine gun on a swivel mount in the main door.

Though Moriarty served three combat tours in Vietnam, he wasn’t an H-34 pilot—wasn’t a pilot at all, wasn’t even an officer. He was a Huey door gunner. A sergeant. “We used to occasionally see the UH-34s at Marble Mountain, but I thought those old radial engines were totally obsolete,” he says. “Hell, I was flying in turbines.”

He had a point. The H-34 family marked the end of the era of piston engine military helicopter design, an era that was coffin-nailed shut by humming, vibration-free turbine engines, sophisticated and durable rotor systems, and unimaginably light and reliable materials and devices. The H-34 (Sikorsky model number S-58) was derived from the H-19 (S-55), a late-1940s Sikorsky design that pioneered a unique engine configuration. The obvious place to put its big air-cooled radial engine would have been in the very center of the helicopter, right under the rotors and with the vertical driveshaft connected directly to them. But that would have pretty much filled the cabin.

Sikorsky’s solution was to stick the engine out in a big schnoz of a nose, with its crankshaft tilted back and the driveshaft angled up and aft, passing between the flight crew seats to the transmission and rotor hub at about a 45-degree angle. This left a boxy, unobstructed area for a cabin behind and below the cockpit.

Today, the turbine equivalent of the H-34’s 1,525-horsepower piston engine weighs about 25 percent of what the iron-mongered original did and fits nicely up above the cabin. Another example of the 34’s archaic complexity: The main rotorhead, about the size of a Stetson hatbox, has 84 grease nipples, every one of which has to be lubed before a flight. Today’s typical rotorheads—light composite sandwiches of elastomers and alloys that shrug off the torture of tons of centrifugal force from whirling rotor blades—have never seen a grease gun.

As hard as it is to fathom, the UH-34D was powered by the same Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engine used in everything from the last Navy biplanes to the B-17s and DC-3s that entered service between the world wars. The Dog was never intended to do battle against ground troops, so UH-34Ds had no guns, no cannon, no rockets. No problem: The Marines welded up mounts for M-60 light machine guns, one on each side of the cabin, and installed them in the field. That was as much recoil as the airframe could take.

With the ascendancy of turbine engines, the Sea Horse was already obsolete by the time of its first flight in 1954, but a war spared it. Vietnam first began to heat up in the early 1960s, becoming a combat zone for lifers and professional warriors, many of them Marines. The Marines’ two dozen UH-34Ds were all that squadron HMM-362 had to work with when, on April 15, 1962, they landed at Soc Trang, a former World War II Japanese fighter strip on the Mekong River delta. The Ugly Angels, as they soon came to be known for their medevac missions, were eventually followed by nine more UH-34 squadrons.

By the time the media had swarmed into the war in the late 1960s, the chuttering rumble of the 34’s radial engine had largely been replaced by the raspy whine of the Bell UH-1B Huey. The nightly news resonated with the pounding beat of the Huey’s wide twin rotor blades, and most of us came to assume that Vietnam was the Huey’s war.

But in the seven mostly un-televised years that Marine UH-34Ds were “in country,” they served as everything but gunships. They carried troops, cargo, crates of ammunition that their crew chiefs kicked out the door during low passes over beleaguered landing zones, packages and paperwork on admin runs, chaplains (“holy helo” trips), bodies, and, perhaps most memorably, the wounded. Without the UH-34D’s endless medevac shuttles, many more wounded U.S. and South Vietnamese troops would have died.

The Sea Horse had been designed to be a carrier-borne Navy anti-submarine helicopter, fighting a relatively neat search-and-detect sonar war at sea. Unfortunately, the aircraft’s skin and such major items as the transmission case were made of superlight magnesium, which in the presence of saltwater did its best to become powder.

That magnesium was also to become a liability in battle. “On my second day of flying in Vietnam,” recalls former pilot Seppo Hurme, “one of our 34s was shot down, and you could see it from miles away, the magnesium burned so bright. But you never had to worry about ending up a cripple. Between the av-gas and the magnesium, you either walked away from a crash or you died.” Former HMM-363 pilot Joseph Scholle recalls, “We used to call it the world’s largest flashbulb. Get a fire anywhere and drop it in the water is about all you can do.”

Nonetheless, Hurme loved the old Dog. “That big engine up front was the equivalent of a lot of armor plate and gave you more protection than there was in other helicopters. I heard of one guy who took a hit from a 57-millimeter recoilless rifle that knocked one of the cylinders completely off. The engine kept running—rough, but they still got away. When I transitioned to Hueys, I felt naked.”

The Dog’s replacement was the turbine-engine, twin-rotor Boeing-Vertol CH-46, but the 46s soon experienced inflight failures, shedding their entire tails and tail-rotor pylons. Joseph Scholle recounts: “The H-46s would break apart right in front of the stub wings and become a section of two H-23s.” The accidents led to the CH-46’s grounding, so the Marines turned back to the faithful UH-34D. Says Scholle, “The part I grew to like was its reliability. We’d get more time out of our engines than the Hueys were getting. All that red-clay sand used to get sucked into their intakes and eat the turbine blades alive. We had an air cleaner, basically, like you have on a Pontiac. Take it out, bang it on the ground, rinse it in av-gas, and you’re back in business.”

The Dog could lose parts and survive: “It was one of the few helicopters that would fly with an inoperative tail rotor,” says Scholle. (A helicopter’s tail rotor is intended in large part to oppose the tendency of the fuselage to rotate rapidly around, and counter to, the main rotorshaft.) “A 34 has an awful lot of side area, and as long as you’re doing 45 knots, it swings around into about a 45-degree crab [angle] and stays there. It’s weird, but you can fly it.

“She’d also fly without transmission fluid,” Scholle continues. “Guys would have the transmission oil cooler shot out, the oil pressure went to zero and you’d just fly it back. You do want to keep the power up, though, because once the gearbox stops, it welds itself into a single piece.”

For their size, UH-34s were surprisingly nimble. They could get into and out of landing zones where no other helos could go, but once on the ground, the pilots were sitting 13 feet up in the air, and the people shooting at them were lying as flat on the ground as they could.

Rod Carlson was another re-routed CH-46 pilot, sent to HMM-361 to fly Dogs. Carlson drew his first night medevac mission soon after arriving at Marble Mountain, flying with Captain Rod Sabin. Wounded Marines who medics feared would die in the field before daybreak were flown out, but it was a dangerous undertaking. Carlson and Sabin waited for a summons in the squadron ready room, where, “with the red lights on to preserve our night vision, everything was the color of clotted blood,” Carlson recalls.

When the phone rang, Sabin and Carlson sprinted to their 34 and fired it up. “A constant blue-white flame from the exhaust stacks extended past my window like a huge blowtorch,” Carlson recalls. “Once we were airborne, Sabin flipped off the light switches overhead, and except for the flame, everything vanished in total darkness. I felt as though I were in free fall.”

Below them, Carlson says, “lights blinked like the small farms we flew over during night hops from Pensacola. But each [light] was the muzzle flash of a gun being fired at us.” The LZ—landing zone—was hot, so Sabin told the grunts on the ground to mark its center with a small strobe.

“The standard procedure was to spiral down directly over the LZ, in order to present the smallest target for the shortest time. In daylight, this approach was dangerous. At night, I was sure it was impossible.” Carlson remembers that Sabin dropped the collective to the bottom stop to reduce the pitch on the blades to zero, cut the throttle, dropped the nose, and spiralled down like a duck with a shot wing. “After five complete revolutions he straightened out,” Carlson recalls, “and the strobe was dead ahead. I could feel him raising the nose to slow our forward movement and twisting on full power to stop the descent.”

Sabin maneuvered to put the strobe between the helicopter and the waiting Marines, but the light kept moving: The Marine carrying it had mounted it on his helmet, figuring that would make it a better beacon, and now he realized Sabin might try to land on top of him. “Rod landed with his side toward the shooting, so the exhaust stacks wouldn’t be a target, and we picked up our guy,” says Carlson. “I remember as we headed back toward Marble Mountain, Sabin got on the intercom and asked the corpsman down in the cabin, ‘How’s he doing?’ The medic said, ‘I’ve got my hand inside his chest, but he’ll make it.’ ”

Before the end of Carlson’s first night aloft, he and Sabin would do it 11 more times, a typical shift for a ready-when-you-are Dog.

Ron Ferrell was also a corpsman on UH-34Ds, and he and many another pilot particularly appreciated the big, fat wheels and tires mounted on gear struts with generous travel to absorb heavy landings. “We were lifting off under fire one day,” Ferrell says, “and the pilot took a hit in the head just as we took off. We were nose-down, tail-up, and he had the rotors cranked up to full rpm, and then boom, we set right back down. We probably dropped a good 10 feet. I watched those struts go damn near to the ground and then spring back up.”

John Downing, a former HMM-361 pilot, remembers that the big landing gear made it easier to get into a tight LZ. “You could stand it up and put the tailwheel on the ground, haul back on the cyclic, and get it about 40 degrees nose-high; just put the tailwheel on the ground and it’d stop on a dime,” he says. “That got me in trouble when I transitioned to the Huey, because you definitely don’t want to do that in a UH-1. The first thing that hits is the tail stinger; next is the tail rotor.”

H-34s were the first helicopters to get a true stability augmentation system, called the ASE, for “automatic stabilization equipment,” a kind of primitive autopilot that did its best to counter a helo’s tendency to do anything but fly straight and level. When it was working, it created a stabilized feeling; when it wasn’t, they just flew without it.

Well, they did if they were sharp stick-and-rotor guys. HMM-362 door gunner Bobby Johns recalls, “There were pilots who wouldn’t fly it if the ASE was not engageable. It’s a hands-on bird, and with the ASE working, you could set the trim and actually turn loose of the controls.”

The aircraft is extremely sensitive to the controls. Just think about doing something and you’ve already done it, pilots say. It took a lot of coordination to manually adjust the engine rpms with the motorcycle-grip throttle on the collective that controlled the blade pitch. You could overspeed it quite easily, so you had to listen to the sound of the engine and the rotor blades without looking at the gauges. Some pilots compare it to the way the barnstormers flew in the 1920s, listening to the sound of the wind in the wires.

Former crew members’ affection for the Dog originates in a belief that the helicopter would get them back alive. George Twardzik was a door gunner with the HMM-163 Angry Eyes, a squadron named for the glaring samurai eyeballs painted on the nose doors of their UH-34Ds. Twardzik remembers the day in March 1966 when an Army Special Forces unit under siege in the A Shau Valley called frantically for help. When the first helo to assist them was promptly shot down, all units were ordered to stay away from the fight. “For three days, we could hear the troopers begging over the radio for medevacs, ammo, and water,” he says.

Finally, Twardzik’s squadron skipper could take no more. He strode to his 34 and announced that he was going for a ride, and if anyone wanted to join him, he wouldn’t stop them. The entire squadron fired up and headed for the valley. The skipper and three other 34s in the first wave were immediately shot down. It was late in the day, so the surviving helos returned to Phu Bai to regroup. First thing the next morning, the Angry Eyes returned to the LZ and began pulling out soldiers.

Twardzik remembers his aircraft taking fire from a .50-caliber machine gun. Eventually it found them. Twardzik took a ricochet squarely on his flak jacket, and during liftoff the impact blew him out the door. His safety belt snapped him right back into the cabin, where another round hit and ignited a five-gallon can of crankcase oil. The pilot autorotated down into a clearing, where the crew pitched the flaming can out and extinguished the fire. With the engine restarted and the rotors re-engaged, they took off, dragging the main gear through the trees as they headed back to Phu Bai. “I got out of the 34 to view the damage, and the aircraft was literally sieved with bullet holes,” Twardzik says. The Angry Eyes nonetheless managed to save every one of the HMM-163 air crewmen who’d gone down the day before, as well as 190 of the 220 Special Forces troops.

Moriarty’s UH-34D was originally an HSS-1N he found corroding in a New England farm field. He bought it without realizing what he was in for. “I paid $45,000 for it, figured we’d fill it with gas and fly away. What did I know?”

Moriarty himself couldn’t fly it, since he had never flown a helicopter, so the hulk was trucked to a restoration shop in Tucson, Arizona. “I had no reason to believe that it was anything I could ever fly,” he admits. “This is one huge, powerful, noisy, intimidating machine.” But Moriarty learned to fly helos in a little two-seat Hiller and added a rotary wing rating to his pilot’s license. “At the end of my first trip riding in the left [helicopter copilot] seat, I began to figure maybe I could learn to fly this thing,” he says. “If you can fly an underpowered little Hiller, you can do aerobatics with an H-34, it’s so powerful.”

He wouldn’t fly the first aerobatics in a 34. “Oh yeah, they were maneuverable,” laughs Joe Scholle. “I remember a guy did a couple of rolls and then looped it, for the benefit of the A-4 and F-4 pilots sitting on the beach at Chu Lai, in late ’67. Of course, you don’t get a real circle out of it; it looks more like a backward nine.”

Moriarty has logged over 400 hours in YL-42, much of that flying to airshows. He and his crew chief, J.T. Nelson, wear full Marine flightsuits, complete with flight crew wings and HMM-362 squadron patches and insignia. At first you think Uh oh—middle-aged men playing boy soldiers, but in fact they do all of it out of respect for the tradition, history, and sacrifice that YL-42 represents. “One of the rules of the aircraft,” Moriarty says, “is that when you fly or crew it, you wear the uniform. Not because I think it’s fun but because I want to honor the people who flew them. I will not fly this aircraft in shorts or jeans or tennis shoes.”

At U.S. airshows the missing link seems to be Vietnam-era aircraft, especially helicopters, say those who applaud Moriarty’s effort. The aircraft attracts a crowd of people who want to see things exactly the way they used to be. Some aircraft owners charge a fee to climb into the cockpit or whatever, but not Moriarty.

One remarkable feature of his helo, although few notice it, is that all of the complex data stencils on the underside of its four rotor blades are in French: The blades are surplus parts from an Armée de l’Air H-34. Even though YL-42 is 40 years old, getting spare parts is not a problem. Various versions served with the Coast Guard and CIA as well as 25 nations—even the Soviet Union: When Communist Party Chairman Nikita Khrushchev visited President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, before the U-2 spyplane incident soured their relations, he rode in Ike’s Marine One, a UH-34D, and liked it so much that he bought two of them.

The government sold tens, even hundreds of 34s for pennies a pound, Moriarty points out. “It costs $150,000 to $250,000 to buy one now and make it ready for flight, and when you’re done, you have an aircraft with a market value substantially less than that. All offshore [oil industry] work is twin engine, and jet choppers are far more reliable. So there’s very little economic justification for keeping 34s in the air, and as a result, the hundreds of them sitting in boneyards and back yards will provide a source of parts for years to come.”

Moriarty guesses that last year, 20,000 people clambered through and around YL-42 at various shows. “At first, I wondered: Should I put a rope around it, only let certain people get close to it?” he admits. “But I decided no, that wasn’t going to be its mission. You see kids up in the cockpit, their feet can’t even reach the floor, and you can tell they imagine themselves as heroes, as people someday willing to fight for their country, as people who want to care for and protect others. They need to be able to touch that dream.”

Moriarty exhibits YL-42 not because he’s trying to re-create the Vietnam War; nor is he an aviation buff or a warbird fanatic. He does it, he says, because “we lost 58,000 people over there, and all of their mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands still think about them all the time, and it’s important that they never be forgotten.”

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Sikorsky’s H-34 Sea Horse

Derived from the Korean War-era H-19 (ghost image), the larger, stronger H-34 was designed around its predecessor’s propulsion arrangement, with a large radial engine in the nose, its crankshaft canted upward and to the rear. It had a lower, stouter aft fuselage and an airplane’s traditional tailwheel landing gear, which gave the 34 a longer and wider stance than that of the 19, with its tighter four-legged-barstool arrangement.

Find this article at:
http://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/dog-of-war.html

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USMC Button Insignia


The oldest military insignia in continuous use in the United States. It first appeared, as shown here, on Marine Corps buttons adopted in 1804. With the stars changed to five points, this device has continued on Marine Corps buttons to the present day.

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Call it “Camp Luh-jern”

Source:
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2008/09/marine_lejeunename_092908w/

Group wants everyone to say it exactly the way the general did

By Dan Lamothe – Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 1, 2008 18:42:30 EDT

Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune is one of the Corps’ all-time heroes, a legendary leatherneck who became the first Marine to lead an Army division, and who later ushered in a new era of amphibious warfare.

So why can’t Marines pronounce his name the same way he did?

That question has been raised by a growing number of veterans, Lejeune family members and some active-duty Marines, who wonder why Camp Lejeune, N.C., the base named in the late general’s honor, isn’t pronounced “Camp Luh-jern,” using the same French-Creole pronunciation preferred by the Baton Rouge, La., native.

“We all pronounce our name ‘Luh-jern,’ and that’s what we’re trying to make clear,” said John Lawrence Lejeune, 82, a distant cousin of the former commandant who lives in Baton Rouge. “It would be greatly appreciated if it was done so.”

Over the last few months, the group has ramped up the campaign to “take back” the Lejeune name. They’ve contacted Commandant Gen. James Conway, written articles published in Marine publications and paid for posters and banners displayed at Camp Lejeune this summer.

One of the posters welcoming deployed Marines back to Camp Lejeune showed a hand-drawn likeness of Lt. Gen. Lejeune along with this plea:

“Welcome home … to the most disciplined and aggressive fighting force the world has ever known! And Marines … say and speak my name correctly: Luh-JERN. Semper Fi!”

A 30-foot-wide billboard with the same theme was hung outside Lejeune’s main gate around April, but it has since been taken down, base officials said.

Retired Col. John Bates, executive director of the Armed Services YMCA in Honolulu, said the common “Luh-June” pronunciation has “always kind of hung in my craw,” considering the way Marines pride themselves on their sense of history.

“Our culture is a little bit different, and now it’s a matter of pride and respect for John Archer Lejeune,” said Bates, a three-time Purple Heart recipient stationed at Camp Lejeune before deploying to Vietnam. “It’s just the right thing to do to get everybody back on track.”

Advocates of the “Luh-jern” pronunciation said many old-Corps veterans pronounced the name the same way Lt. Gen. Lejeune did, but that things became lax over the last few decades due to a lack of awareness.

“It’s not a revolutionary thing, it’s an evolutionary thing,” Bates said, adding that Conway told him he, too, is behind the “Luh-jern” effort.

“The commandant said, ‘Yes, I know it’s supposed to be Camp “Luh-jern,” and we’re going to fix that,’” Bates said.

A spokesman for Conway, Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, said he is unaware of any formal plan to address the matter.

“The commandant believes deeply in our history and our tradition,” Johnson said. “If historical data reflects that that is indeed how to pronounce the general’s name, then I’m sure the commandant is in support of that.”

Col. Richard Flatau, base commander, could not be reached for comment. Several sources said he tends to use the family’s preferred pronunciation but does not correct others who do not.

There are at least nine or 10 active-duty Marines and corpsmen named Lejeune now serving with the Corps, including a few based at Camp Lejeune, said 1st Lt. Philip Klay, a base spokesman. A direct descendant of Lt. Gen. Lejeune’s family is deployed to Iraq as a first lieutenant with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and was unavailable for comment.

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Call it "Camp Luh-jern"

Source:
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2008/09/marine_lejeunename_092908w/

Group wants everyone to say it exactly the way the general did

By Dan Lamothe – Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 1, 2008 18:42:30 EDT

Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune is one of the Corps’ all-time heroes, a legendary leatherneck who became the first Marine to lead an Army division, and who later ushered in a new era of amphibious warfare.

So why can’t Marines pronounce his name the same way he did?

That question has been raised by a growing number of veterans, Lejeune family members and some active-duty Marines, who wonder why Camp Lejeune, N.C., the base named in the late general’s honor, isn’t pronounced “Camp Luh-jern,” using the same French-Creole pronunciation preferred by the Baton Rouge, La., native.

“We all pronounce our name ‘Luh-jern,’ and that’s what we’re trying to make clear,” said John Lawrence Lejeune, 82, a distant cousin of the former commandant who lives in Baton Rouge. “It would be greatly appreciated if it was done so.”

Over the last few months, the group has ramped up the campaign to “take back” the Lejeune name. They’ve contacted Commandant Gen. James Conway, written articles published in Marine publications and paid for posters and banners displayed at Camp Lejeune this summer.

One of the posters welcoming deployed Marines back to Camp Lejeune showed a hand-drawn likeness of Lt. Gen. Lejeune along with this plea:

“Welcome home … to the most disciplined and aggressive fighting force the world has ever known! And Marines … say and speak my name correctly: Luh-JERN. Semper Fi!”

A 30-foot-wide billboard with the same theme was hung outside Lejeune’s main gate around April, but it has since been taken down, base officials said.

Retired Col. John Bates, executive director of the Armed Services YMCA in Honolulu, said the common “Luh-June” pronunciation has “always kind of hung in my craw,” considering the way Marines pride themselves on their sense of history.

“Our culture is a little bit different, and now it’s a matter of pride and respect for John Archer Lejeune,” said Bates, a three-time Purple Heart recipient stationed at Camp Lejeune before deploying to Vietnam. “It’s just the right thing to do to get everybody back on track.”

Advocates of the “Luh-jern” pronunciation said many old-Corps veterans pronounced the name the same way Lt. Gen. Lejeune did, but that things became lax over the last few decades due to a lack of awareness.

“It’s not a revolutionary thing, it’s an evolutionary thing,” Bates said, adding that Conway told him he, too, is behind the “Luh-jern” effort.

“The commandant said, ‘Yes, I know it’s supposed to be Camp “Luh-jern,” and we’re going to fix that,’” Bates said.

A spokesman for Conway, Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, said he is unaware of any formal plan to address the matter.

“The commandant believes deeply in our history and our tradition,” Johnson said. “If historical data reflects that that is indeed how to pronounce the general’s name, then I’m sure the commandant is in support of that.”

Col. Richard Flatau, base commander, could not be reached for comment. Several sources said he tends to use the family’s preferred pronunciation but does not correct others who do not.

There are at least nine or 10 active-duty Marines and corpsmen named Lejeune now serving with the Corps, including a few based at Camp Lejeune, said 1st Lt. Philip Klay, a base spokesman. A direct descendant of Lt. Gen. Lejeune’s family is deployed to Iraq as a first lieutenant with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, and was unavailable for comment.

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What did you do at HMX-1?

Wally, here is a little more on “Army One”. They remained in the WH [White House] program until the late 1970’s. I have attached something I wrote when asked: “What did you do at HMX?” on the squadron’s 60th anniversary.

Previously the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps shared the responsibilities of presidential helicopter transportation by alternating between using Army One and Marine one, however in 1976 the Marines took complete control of this duty with Marine One.

I served with HMX from March, 1961 until August, 1964. I was a Captain at that time, along with about 30 other Captains. I worked in the S-4 shop, but my primary duty was as Squadron Pilot. I stood the OPAL duty at Anacostia, made Presidential trips, and performed numerous missions in support of HMX’s varied assignments. I was in the first VH-3A conversion class, and picked up one of the first ones, 150612, at Sikorsky on 11 May 1962.

Probably my most infamous event, and one I am not proud of, was overspeeding the engine of a VH-34D on startup during an OPAL at Anacostia on the morning after President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile address. The drill was that the copilot, me, would start the engine from the left seat using the pilot’s throttle on his collective, while he strapped in. It was a clumsy and difficult operation, and that time I screwed it up.

Years later, sometime in late 1976, I may have been able to atone for my sins. At that time, I was a LtCol assigned as Helicopter Plans And Programs Coordinator (AAP-24) in Division of Aviation, HQMC. Included in my duties was HMX POC. One day that summer, my boss sent me up to the office of the CMC, General Louis Wilson, to assist him in his decision as to whether the Marines wanted to fight the Army for sole responsibility for the White House mission. The White House had determined only one service, Marines or Army, would be assigned. Previously, both had shared it. Both services had to defend their position. After my briefing, General Wilson decided it would be the Marines job, and it was my job to make that happen. With typical Marine speed, I assembled my paper, got it chopped thru HQMC, and presented it to an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Transportation. I remember that he was a train man because of much railroad memorabilia in his office. I suppose it was logical that he make the decision, and he did.

The Marines had landed first with the most, and he wrote the Army out. Several days later, an Army 2 star was roaming the halls of HQMC looking for my scalp, but several Marine Generals were covering my six. And that maybe one of the reasons HMX has the job today.

I flew my last USMC flight in an HMX CH-53D, 157754, on 17 Feb 1976.

John Van Nortwick
Lt Col, USMC (ret)

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