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Welcome to the National Museum of the Marine Corps Virtual Experience! This rich, interactive virtual environment will serve as the gateway for Marines and visitors from all around the world to see the museum regardless of their location. Explore the U.S. Marine Corps’ proud heritage from your desktop…marvel at the Marine aircraft suspended throughout the Leatherneck Gallery; experience bootcamp as a new recruit; watch historic footage of Marines landing on Iwo Jima; and much, much more.

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The History of HMM-163’s “Evil Eyes”

By Norm Urban

HMM-163, to my knowledge, is, and has been, the ONLY U.S. Marine helicopter squadron that has distinguished itself for almost 40 years, using a non-standard, nonregulation, unofficial paint scheme. evil-eyesIn Viet Nam, at least in 1966, most other Marine Sikorsky H-34 squadrons painted the transmission hump a specific color. But HMM-163’s were Marine green, with the “Evil Eyes” on the engine clamshell nose doors. This started while I was there, in January 1966. Soon, some Marines in the field were requesting support from the “Evil Eyes” choppers. Today, “Evil Eyes” are STILL painted on the nose of HMM-163’s Boeing H-46s.

Who did it? Who was the first? Why? How did it spread to all the squadron birds? How was it approved by the Group (MAG 16), and the Wing (1st MAW)? How has it survived through different groups and wings for almost four decades?

Today’s HMM-163 Boeing H-46 with “Evil Eyes” on nose
Today’s HMM-163 Boeing H-46 with “Evil Eyes” on nose

The H-34s at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and the Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar, are painted in HMM-163 colors, one with “Evil Eyes” on the nose, so clearly, it’s a significant question.

From February to October 1965, The HMM-163 “Ridgerunners” helicopter squadron became rather famous for it’s operations in Viet Nam. This was primarily due to a LIFE magazine cover story that appeared in the April 16, 1965 issue. The story, with photography by Mike Burrows, documented the combat death of Marine H-34 pilot, 1/Lt, James E. Magel and the rescue of wounded and paralyzed 1/Lt. Dale Eddy, while on a strike mission transporting South Vietnamese troops. For most U.S. citizens, this was the first time they were made aware of the extent of America’s involvement in Viet Nam.

April 16, 1965 LIFE magazine cover showing wounded 1/Lt Dale Eddy and Crew Chief James Farley

Later, in October 1965, HMM-163 relocated to the Marine Corps Air Station at Futema, Okinawa. LtCol Charles A. House replaced LtCol Norman G. Ewers as the new commanding officer. Since all the squadron personnel had finished their tour in Viet Nam, virtually all pilots and enlisted Marines were new replacements from other squadrons and bases. It was clear to LtCol House, and many in this composite squadron, that we needed to shake off the Life Magazine image, and begin jelling as a new unit.

And there wasn’t much time! The squadron was scheduled to return to Phu Bai, Vietnam in three months, on Jan 1, 1966.

One day, late in October ’65, Capt. Al Barbe, 1/lt Duel “Chris” Christian, and an unknown third officer, were discussing this need for unit cohesion symbol, when the Commanding Officer, LtCol House happened to join them. They tossed about various ideas to develop and build morale and espirit d’ corps. Suddenly, Al Barbe said, “I’ve got it!”

Al Barbe, HMM-163’s Intelligence Officer (S-2), was an experienced pilot who had left the Marine Corps to fly H-34s for Air America in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia for some time before re-joining the USMC and the squadron. He had married a Thai bride, had a home in Thailand, and was well versed in the SE Asian culture. Barbe suggested that two things upsetting to Orientals were evil spirits and being watched. This led to his idea of painting eyes on the clamshell nose doors of HMM-163’s Sikorsky H-34 helicopters.

After drawing a basic design, they presented the idea to LtCol House, who liked the concept and approved it immediately. Stencils were created and tested on one H-34, while still on Okinawa.

On January 1, 1966, HMM-163 flew by C-130 to Phu Bai, Viet Nam, relieving HMM-161 And taking over their H-34 helicopters. Painting of what were then called “Genie Eyes” (after the “I Dream of Jeannie” TV show), began immediately.

Painting the “Genie Eyes” for the first time. January 1966. Photo by Ted Mayberry
Painting the “Genie Eyes” for the first time. January 1966. Photo by Ted Mayberry

By March ’66, HMM-163’s “Genie Eyes” were being called “Evil Eyes” by ground Marines and squadron members. In August or September 1966, orders came from Wing to eliminate white paint on Marine helicopters. So the “MARINES” on the aft fuselage was changed from white to black, and other white markings, including the “star and bars” U.S. insignia, were to be eliminated or toned down. However, HMM-163 was now aboard a carrier off the coast, and used the excuse that they were therefore not directly under Wing command, so the “Evil Eyes” remained white. HMM-163 H-34 med-evac.

Note “Star and Bars” painted over with spray paint and white eyes
Note “Star and Bars” painted over with spray paint and white eyes

In October 1966, the squadron once again returned to Phu Bai, Viet Nam, still with black and white “Evil Eyes”. LtCol Otto Bianchi, now Commanding Officer, was a good friend of Major General Louis B. Robertshaw, First Marine Aircraft Wing Commander. Nevertheless, when Robertshaw, on a visit to Phu Bai, saw the “Evil Eyes”, he began to read Bianchi the riot act. However, also in the room, was the Marine General commanding the ground Marines in the area. He interrupted to say that; “It sure is great to have the “Evil Eyes” back here at Phu Bai!” Robertshaw relented and the “Evil Eyes” remained.

And have remained, ever since! Today “Evil Eyes” is the squadron logo, identity, trademark, and even radio call sign.

The above information has been collected from personal memories, interviews with HMM-163 veterans and internet sources. Any clarifications, additional information or corrections would be appreciated.

Norm Urban
nurban@adelphia.net

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MARINE CORPS CREAMED GROUND BEEF (SOS)

For those of us that remember SOS –Ed Creamer
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1 – 1/2 Lb. (24 oz) of lean ground beef (80/20)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat, drain. Back to the pan, add butter and stir. Add chopped onions and cook until they are translucent. Add flour, stir and cook for two to three minutes. Add garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir until it thickens.

Serve over toast, biscuits, eggs and have some Tabasco handy!

Submitted by: GySgt Joe Shirghio, USMC (Ret)

Source
Photo Credit

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They wish to hell

Bill Mauldin (1921-2003) on Marines:

They wish to hell they were someplace else,
and they wish to hell they would get relief.

They wish to hell the mud was dry,
and they wish to hell their coffee was hot.

They want to go home.

But they stay in their wet holes and fight,
and then they climb out and crawl through minefields and fight some more.

Marines Warm Coffee - Iwo Jima
(from the book “Backbone”)
more on Bill Mauldin

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One Marine’s Story

By Richard W. Williams

I was a grunt in India Company 3/5 in 1969. But, this is not war story. This is a story about the Espirit de Corps of the 1st Marine Division. I lived in Boca Raton, Florida. Prior to joining the Marines in 1968, I learned that there was a Marine who lived close by my home.

I knocked on his door and his wife answered. I merely said I was considering joining the Marines and I understood her husband was a former Marine. I was hoping he’d let me ask him a few questions about what to expect. Like any Marine’s wife, she let me in and introduced me to her husband, “Archie.”

Archie was quite old. However, he sat in his winged-back chair with a quiet repose. In spite of his failing eyesight, he fixed me with a steady gaze, politely smiled and simply said, “Welcome aboard.” We talked the afternoon away.

Archie patiently answered my questions about the Marine Corps, Parris Island and careers in the Corps. All he related to me about his exploits in the Marines was that he loved the Corps and every minute he had served in it. As the late afternoon sun dipped on the horizon, I bid him farewell and promised I would return to see him after I finished Boot Camp.

I kept my promise and visited him nearly every day I was back from Parris Island. He and his wife were gracious hosts. As I sat and learned from Archie, his wife would serve us brandy in the afternoon to go with the cigar Archie enjoyed only once a day. I felt extremely bonded with Archie for sharing his ritual with me.

As my leave drew to a close and I prepared to go to Vietnam, Archie’s and my conversations drew deadly serious. He gave me tip after tip on how to fight and even how to win campaigns. As an enlisted snuffie, I didn’t think the High Command would be interested in my opinions on running a campaign, but I listened in utter fascination to Archie’s knowledge.

He told me what to expect in war and what not to fear. After his brandy one evening he said, “Don’t worry if you are ready for the task of war. Because no sane man is ever ready. There is only one thing that makes a good warrior and that is a man who cares for his fellow man. That is why the Marines do so well at making war. We respect each other. We’d rather die than to let down our comrades. You see, there are many reasons a young man marches off to war – patriotism, duty, honor, adventure; but only one reason he actually fights once he is in a war. He fights for the men next to him.

Marines don’t endure the hell of combat for any lofty principles. Marines fight because each Marine acknowledges the loftiest principle of all: he acknowledges and accepts the responsibility of being his brother’s keeper. That’s why you will fight. You are a Marine and you will protect your unit at all cost.”

Archie asked me to write and keep him abreast to what I experienced in Vietnam. He gave me his address. I thanked him and promised I would write as soon as I landed and found out what my FPO address would be. Without looking at it, I folded the paper and put his address in my wallet and marched off to war.

Naturally, I lost his address. However, I sent a letter to him through my father letting him know I landed and providing him with my FPO. I had been in Vietnam less than a month when I got a response from Archie. He simply asked me to tell him how we were conducting the war, what were my impressions.

The name on the return address was General Archer A. Vandegrift, USMC (Ret.). My friend, Archie, was the former CO of the 1st Marine Division (“Guadalcanal General”). He had won the Medal of Honor at Guadalcanal and later became Commandant of the Marine Corps. At PI, we had learned all about General Vandegrift. But being as dumb as a box of rocks, I never really remembered “Archie’s-” last name until his letter arrived. I just remembered it was “Van” something.

I sat down in the sweaty jungle rot and stench and began what would be a long series of letters from one snuffie to the ex-Commandant and the most famous CO of my Marine Division. I started it out simply, Dear General Vandegrift, Vietnam is like a large island where the enemy has kept a seaway open. The enemy also has a secret weapon. The seaway is the Ho Chi Minh trail. The secret weapon is their ability to use re-supply themselves using technologies that existed since the stone age. We ignore the seaway, leaving it open and try to use high technology to cause collateral damage to their stone-age production capacity.

It’s like dropping firecrackers on ants. So the enemy will continually be re-supplied. And we will continually be re-supplied. That means this fight will go on until one side or the other tires of it.

On the ground, your Marines are just that, Marines. We are doing just what you predicted, fighting for the guy next to us. Other than that, it don’t mean nothing but, what does mean something is that for all those months you never let on who you were. It was just two Marines, no rank. That’s why I serve, because of men like you who have made the Marine Corps something worthy to fight for. Semper Fidelis

The General wrote back and agreed that an enemy must be denied re-supply. A war of attrition is less costly to a Third World country then it is to a high-tech country. He said that the bombing and blockading of Haiphong Harbor and an end run up the Ho Chi Minh trail coupled with a staggered attack due north would end this war in a few months. But, without a Pearl Harbor, the American people don’t have a heart for war. That was America’s greatest strength, he said. We only like to fight when we are mad. And, when we are mad we fight like no other civilization in the history of the world.

This story isn’t about famous people I have known. I was then and am now a nobody, just a simple grunt. But, the most famous CO of the 1st Marine Division would sit down and talk to a lowly private just shows what the Marine Corps is made of.

It shows that the Corps’ motto, Semper Fidelis, is more than mere words.

It is a way of life ! ! ! !

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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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