Saturday, January 20, 2007

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: September and the Ridge (Guadalcanal) *1

we will continue on with Guadalcanal. Tonight will begin the first post of:

FIRST OFFENSIVE: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal
by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.
September and the Ridge

Admiral McCain visited Guadalcanal at the end of August, arriving in time to greet the aerial reinforcements he had ordered forward, and also in time for a taste of Japanese nightly bombing. He got to experience, too, what was becoming another unwanted feature of Cactus nights: bombardment by Japanese cruisers and destroyers. General Vandegrift noted that McCain had gotten a dose of the "normal ration of shells." The admiral saw enough to signal his superiors that increased support for Guadalcanal operations was imperative and that the "situation admits no delay whatsoever." He also sent a prophetic message to Admirals King and Nimitz+: "Cactus can be sinkhole for enemy air power and can be consolidated, expanded, and exploited to the enemy's mortal hurt."

On 3 September, the Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Brigadier General Roy S. Geiger, and his assistant wing commander, Colonel Louis Woods, moved forward to Guadalcanal to take charge of air operations. The arrival of the veteran Marine aviators provided an instant lift to the morale of the pilots and ground crews. It reinforced their belief that they were at the leading edge of air combat, that they were setting the pace for the rest of Marine aviation. Vandegrift could thankfully turn over the day-to-day management of the aerial defenses of Cactus to the able and experienced Geiger. There was no shortage of targets for the mixed air force of Marine, Army, and Navy flyers. Daily air attacks by the Japanese, coupled with steady reinforcement attempts by Tanaka's destroyers and trrts, meant that every type of plane that could lift off Henderson's runway was airborne as often as possible. Seabees had begun work on a second airstrip, Fighter One, which could relieve some of the pressure on the primary airfield.

+remember this name.


Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Marine ground crewmen ...

attempt to put out one of many fires occurring after a Japanese bombing raid on Henderson Field causing the loss of much-needed aircraft.
Marine Corps Personal Papers Collection

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: September and the Ridge (Guadalcanal cont'd)*2

Most of General Kawaguchi's brigade had reached Guadalcanal. Those who hadn't, missed their land-fall forever as a result of American air attacks. Kawaguchi had in mind a surprise attack on the heart of the Marine position, a thrust from the jungle directly at the airfield. To reach his jump-off position, the Japanese general would have to move through difficult terrain unobserved, carving his way through the dense vegetation out of sight of Marine patrols. The rugged approach route would lead him to a prominent ridge topped by Kunai grass which wove snake-like through the jungle to within a mile of Henderson's runway. Unknown to the Japanese, General Vandegrift planned on moving his headquarters to the shelter of a spot at the inland base of this ridge, a site better protected, it was hoped, from enemy bombing and shellfire.

The success of Kawaguchi's plan depended upon the Marines keeping the inland perimeter thinly manned while they concentrated their forces on the east and west flanks. This was not to be. Available intelligence, including a captured enemy map, pointed to the likelihood of an attack on the airfield and Vandegrift moved his combined raider-parachute battalion to the most obvious enemy approach route, the ridge. positions on the forward slopes of the ridge at the edge of the encroaching jungColonel Edson's men, who scouted Savo Island after moving to Guadalcanal and destroyed a Japanese supply base at Tasimboko in another shore-to-shore raid, took up le on 10 September. Their commander later said that he "was firmly convinced that we were in the path of the next Jap attack." Earlier patrols had spotted a sizable Japanese force approaching. Accordingly, Edson patrolled extensively as his men dug in on the ridge and in the flanking jungle. On the 12th, the Marines made contact with enemy patrols confirming the fact the Japanese troops were definitely "out front." Kawaguchi had about 2,000 of his men with him, enough he thought to punch through to the airfield.

Japanese planes had dropped 500-pound bombs along the ridge on the 11th and enemy ships began shelling the area after nightfall on the 12th, once the threat of American air attacks subsided. The first Japanese thrust came at 2100 against Edson's left flank. Boiling out of the jungle, the enemy soldiers attacked fearlessly into the face of rifle and machine gun fire, closing to bayonet range. They were thrown back. They came again, this time against the right flank, penetrating the Marines' positions. Again they were thrown back. A third attack closed out the night's action. Again it was a close affair, but by 0230 Edson told Vandegrift his men could hold. And they did.


Photo of the Day

Photo #: NH 51928-KN (Color)"The Washington Navy Yard, with Shad Fishers in the Foreground"Hand color-tinted copy of a line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 20 April 1861, depicting the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia, as seen from the southern side of the Anacostia River.Note the uncompleted U.S. Capitol dome in the center distance.Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

Sergeant Major Sir Jacob Charles Vouza

There is a great deal
within his dash.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Sergeant Major Sir Jacob Charles Vouza

Jacob Charles Vouza was born in 1900 at Tasimboko, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands Protectorate, and educated at the South Seas Evangelical Mission School there. In 1916 he joined the Solomon Islands Protectorate Armed Constabulary, from which he retired at the rank of sergeant major in 1941 after 25 years of service.

After the Japanese invaded his home island in World War II, he returned to active duty with the British forces and volunteered to work with the Coastwatchers. Vouza's experience as a scout had already been established when the 1st Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal. On 7 August 1942 he rescued a downed naval pilot from the USS Wasp who was shot down inside Japanese territory. He guided the pilot to friendly lines where Vouza met the Marines for the first time.

Vouza then volunteered to scout behind enemy lines for the Marines. On 27 August he was captured by the Japanese while on a Marine Corps mission to locate suspected enemy lookout stations. Having found a small American flag in Vouza's loincloth, the Japanese tied him to a tree and tried to force him to reveal information about Allied forces. Vouza was questioned for hours, but refused to talk. He was tortured and bayoneted about the arms, throat, shoulder, face, and stomach, and left to die.

He managed to free himself after his captors departed, and made his way through the miles of jungle to American lines. There he gave valuable intelligence information to the Marines about an impending Japanese attack before accepting medical attention.

After spending 12 days in the hospital, Vouza then returned to duty as the chief scout for the Marines. He accompanied Lieutenant Colonel Evans. F. Carlson and the 2d Marine Raider Battalion when they made their 30-day raid behind enemy lines at Guadalcanal.

Sergeant Major Vouza was highly decorated for his World War II service. The Silver Star was presented to him personally by Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, for refusing to give information under Japanese torture. He also was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding service with the 2d Raider Battalion during November and December 1942, and the British George Medal for gallant conduct and exceptional devotion to duty. He later received the Police Long Service Medal and, in 1957, was made a Member of the British Empire for long and faithful government service.

After the war, Vouza continued to serve his fellow islanders. In 1949, he was appointed district headman, and president of the Guadalcanal Council, from 1952-1958. He served as a member of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate Advisory Council from 1950 to 1960.

He made many friends during his long association with the U.S. Marine Corps and through the years was continually visited on Guadalcanal by Marines. During 1968, Vouza visited the United States, where he was the honored guest of the 1st Marine Division Association. In 1979, he was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. He died on 15 March 1984. —Ann A. Ferrante

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Weaponry, 37 mm antitank gun

The 37mm antitank gun, manned by a crew of four who fired a 1.61-pound projectile with an effective range of 500 yards. —Stephen L. Amos and Kenneth L. Smith-Christmas

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: 37mm Antitank Gun

The M3 Antitank gun, based on the successful German Panzer Abwehr Kanone (PAK)-36, was developed by the U.S. Army in the late 1930s as a replacement for the French 37mm Puteaux gun, used in World War I but unable to destroy new tanks being produced.

The M3 was adopted because of its accuracy, fire control, penetration, and mobility. Towed by its prime mover, the 4x4 quarter-ton truck, the gun would trail at 50 mph on roads. When traveling crosscountry, gullies, shell holes, mud holes, and slopes of 26 degrees were negotiated with ease. In 1941, the gun was redesignated the M3A1 when the muzzles were threaded to accept a muzzle brake that was rarely, if ever, used.

At the time of its adoption, the M3 could destroy any tank then being produced in the world. However, by the time the United States entered the war, the M3 was outmatched by the tanks it would have met in Europe. The Japanese tanks were smaller and more vulnerable to the M3 throughout the war. In the Pacific, it was used against bunkers, pillboxes and, when loaded with canister, against banzai charges. It was employed throughout the war by Marine regimental weapons companies, but in reduced numbers as the fighting continued. It was replaced in the European Theater by the M1 57mm antitank gun.

From FOX, or what I might call "Amarillo By Morning"

Working Through the Snow Photo Essay: A man cleans off his driveway as a carrier delivers the mail in Amarillo, Texas. STORY

A Protestant In Sister Francis' School

Virgie's writings about the school she attended made me think of this column I wrote awhile back when I was working as a newspaper editor. The nuns who taught us were kind and loving, but that doesn't make for good copy. So, I had to change it up a bit. Don't worry ... I've gone to confession!

When one of my friends found out I was writing a column, it was the Battle of the Alamo all over again. She was full of ideas for topics, and telling her she couldn't help me was like telling Elizabeth Taylor she can order only one wedding cake at a time.

"After all," she reminded me. "We've been through a lot together."

She didn't have to remind me.

My friend, Charlene, and I have known one another since the second grade when she beat the tar out of me and then made me kiss her. She was new to our Catholic school, and when Sister Josita presented her to the class, she added in a whisper that Charlene was a Protestant.

The class murmured apprehensively, and we looked at her as if she had sprouted an extra head. Oh my. A Protestant. I had heard of them, but as far as I knew, I had never been this close to one, much less spoken to a member of that much-discussed group. My grandma made sure of that. One of her cousins' brother-in-law's aunt dated one, and Grandma said she died insane. There are just some things God can't overlook, Grandma warned.

"Now, children," Sister Josita said. "Charlene is no different than any of you, and I'm sure we'll all do our best to make her feel welcome."

Uh huh, I thought. That's probably what the Central High teachers said about the Little Rock Nine.

Charlene was placed in the seat next to me, and I looked at her closely to see if there were any identifying marks indigenous to her group. A Protestant. Hmmm. Maybe she'd bring a meat sandwich to school on Friday, and I could relieve her of it. Remember, this was before Vatican II. Fridays were meatless then, and the nuns were plain hell.

At recess, I sauntered up to Charlene who was standing alone, the Catholic girls in their white knee socks and plaid skirts discussing her from a distance. Mary Margaret, the leader of the first- and second-grade girls, had forbidden her army of pious monsters to talk to Charlene.

After Charlene knocked me to the ground and established the pecking order, we were friends, walking the perimeter of the playground under the snake-like eyes of Sister Francis, the principal, whose only purpose on earth was to keep me from becoming a convicted felon before I reached the age of 10.

Those are her words. She once had me write on the blackboard 100 times, "I am solely responsible for the agony of Christ." And she had me believing it until I met Charlene, who was way ahead of the game.

Charlene was more sophisticated than anyone I had known, including Earl Ray Vandiver who was 14 and in the second grade. He was another one of Sister Francis' projects, and she predicted he and I would be roommates in hell.

Anyway, by the time recess was over, Charlene had taught me a few new words whose meanings were a mystery to me. But then Mass was in Latin, and that was a mystery, too. Maybe Charlene knew some advanced Latin, I reasoned.

The words had a melodious sound, and I wasted no time in scribbling them on the blackboard at the first opportunity. They looked grand in cursive.

When Sister Josita's color returned to her face, she hauled me off to Sister Francis' office, elaborating on all the things she would do to me if only the law would allow it. I knew then I had some means with which to attract attention, and I was off.

I haven't stopped writing since, although I refrain from using words whose meanings I don't know. I suppose that limits my vocabulary considerably.

So, I owe my career and the poverty that has accompanied it to Charlene, who from time to time has guaranteed my life would never be boring, safe or painless.

Sister Francis would be proud.

At One With God

January 20

ONE with Me. I and My Father are one. One with the Lord of the whole Universe!

Could human aspiration reach higher? Could man's demands transcend this? One with Me.

If you realize your high privilege, you have only to think and immediately the object of your thought is called into being. Indeed, well may I have said, "Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth."

To dwell in thought on the material, when once you live in Me,--is to call it into being. So you must be careful only to think of and desire that which will help, not hinder, your spiritual growth. The same law operates too on the spiritual plane.

Think Love, and Love surrounds you, and all about whom you think. Think thoughts of ill-well and ill surrounds you, and those about whom you think. Think health--health comes. The physical reflects the mental and spiritual.

Russell, A.J., ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.

Virgie Bell's View: The Dinosaur in Me

Anyone who reads my posts will come to realize I am a dinosaur. No good for anything. The part in a lost civilization, well I am the lost part. I have pondered this from time to time and have come up with this conclusion. It is because I was a child during World War II, living in a big city with access to everything.

The school I attended was like any other in that state. I know we had all the paper furnished and had drawing and painting. I played in the school orchestra and was in the lead role in my school play. I took tap dance, Ballet, singing, flute. I saw The Wizard of Oz, The Pirates of Sinbad, and A Thousand and One Nights. I watched weekly serials showing what had happened during the war. I cleaned my plate in remembrance of all the starving little children in other lands. I saluted the flag and I saluted that flag when it flew at half mast when Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away. I didn't really understand that much about what was going on, yet I had heard my dad say that Mr. Roosevelt was the man who had the iron fist in the velvet glove and that our family adored this president, just as much as the picture of General MacArthur that hung on our wall in the living room. When I was ten years old, my life changed, and drastically so.

It was not long after the war when our soldiers, sailors, and airmen returned home, after they had saved my world and their own. They returned to take over all the jobs left to those in 4F, wives, girlfriends, and brothers, those stateside who had held their jobs for them until they returned home to what we considered jobs that were truly theirs to start with. Mom and Dad decided to go back to Texas to farm some of my granddad’s land. To take their place in what was already their own.

Our little community had a three room school. It had a modern kitchen and my Aunt Tera was the cook for us. We had first, second, and third grade in one room, fourth fifth, and sixth in another, seventh and eighth grade in the last. We had an office for the principal that also doubled as the library. The doors slid open in two of these rooms and formed the auditorium with the neatest little stage you’ve ever seen. We had all the bells and whistles that went with a stage. Believe me this was a different world to me. This little country school belonged to my granddad and his family; it now belongs to my brother. When recess came the principal had a hand bell that he rang loud and long and it sounded swell to me. The playground had a merry-go-round that in retrospect was lethal.

My mom and dad both went to this little school and they rode the same merry-go-round, slid down the same slide, sailed way up in the air on the same swings that I enjoyed. But I guess the thing that impressed me most of all was the sight of a little girl on that merry-go-round in this short little dress with panties to match. I had never seen anything that I thought was so alluring and by the time I arrived back home I was almost breathless over this new and beautiful fashion find. my mom laughed and told me what had me so fascinated was a feed sack dress that her mother had made with little girl panties to match. I really did think it was beautiful and I still do. But then, as I said, I am a dinosaur, way past my time, but oh, they were such good days and we sure did SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Announcement from The Teach

I'm in the process of grading KAREN'S test now.

Competition is the cornerstone of the military. I hope our troops and veterans are not going to let little things like war, moving, recruiting and jobs keep us from completing our tests on time, and with a healthy determination to smoke the competition; to lay the enemy in the dust as it were.

Test deadline is Monday, COB, which for me is midnight on the 22nd.

The Teach

This is our line....and it will hold

Back to my Brothers and Forefathers. In that pantheon of Heroes that Machine Gunners pay homage to, there is one island where they were proven more than most other places. Fights have been crazy and platoons and men have done amazing things but there are those of us who were giants to say the least. The island I speak of is one that those who read this sight are familiar with....Guadalcanal. To name a few of the machine gunners who were nothing short of heroes there we find John Basilone, Al Schmidt, Lee Diamond and the man we see above.....Colonel Mitchell Paige.
Perhaps one of the greatest stories that I have ever found is that of this man's service and his life. I managed to get my hands on the last television interview Mitch gave before he passed away in 2003, which for the past year has been part of the curriculum at my Machine Gunner's program. He spoke about the fight that night on Guadalcanal and of the horrific events that went down and how proud he was of his men. Roughly six hours of fighting, much of which he did alone running from gun position to gun position halting the advancing hordes. When the sun finally rose, he gathered the men who had finally come to reinforce the lines and lead the bayonet charge down into the regrouping enemies midst, his Machine Gun cradled in his arms. He called to them in perfect Japanese, which he had learned while on embassy duty in China, to "Get Up, the Americans are Retreating".....he patiently waited for them to get up and then lit several bursts off with his weapon and laid them down to rest in the Kunai grass for the last time. At the end of the fight, Platoon Sergeant Paige and his 33 man Machine Gun platoon managed to destroy and hold off roughly 3,000 Japanese. That is 3,000 men of conviction, from the reputed Japanese Sendai Division who didn't simply wash up against the regiment's lines. They were trying to come across HIS HILL. They simply crossed swords with the wrong warrior and his troops that night. This is his Congressional Medal of Honor citation from that action.

Rank and organization: Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Place and date: Solomon Islands, 26 October 1942. Entered service at: Pennsylvania. Born: 31 August 1918, Charleroi, Pa.

For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a company of marines in combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 26 October 1942. When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machinegun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire against the advancing hordes until reinforcements finally arrived. Then, forming a new line, he dauntlessly and aggressively led a bayonet charge, driving the enemy back and preventing a breakthrough in our lines. His great personal valor and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

....A more amazing man you simply cannot ask for. One of my greatest regrets is never having gotten to meet the man myself. I have however talked with is wife Marilyn on several occasions, a truly amazing woman. She just wowed me with how she still carries on her husbands drive and principles of service, and I swear she knows every battlefield story and she carries it with her now as sacred as the Eagle, Globe and Anchor pendant she wears that her beloved husband gave her early in their marriage. What a wonderful woman.

.... The reality that I have preached in my classrooms after I play that interview is that we, as Machine Gunners simply do not have the luxury of change. What a Marine did with a colt Machine Gun at the turn of the 20th century or with a Gatling Gun prior to that is the same mission that we will ask of our young men today. As they sit and listen to Col. Paige perfectly recount what he must do with regard to the cycle of function inside his Browning (at 84 years of age) I challenge them to have that conviction and train to such a standard that the Sendai Division would have no more of a chance today if they chose to cross swords with any one of them. It is simply the only way it can be in our world. There is no middle ground. If we do not do our part more men will die. You must never get into this business half-heartedly. Mitch taught me what a man can do who was a Machine Gunner to the very core of his being from day one at Infantry training to the day he passed away.

On a more disquieting note, I can remember my fury the days following Col. Paige's passing in 2003. As I sat home getting choked up after hearing the news through my channels, I read the newspaper and there was no mention of a Hero's Passing. The big story of the day...."Michael Jackson goes to court for child molestation". Maybe I am biased to my own little universe but I can remember being so infuriated I could hardly speak without yelling about that. I have calmed down since then, and have come to realize that it falls to us and those faithful in society at large to keep our brothers faith. That's how it's always been it just takes a minute to accept. That is after all the driving force behind this wonderful site. On my last day in the Marine Corps I saw a few Marines from 1/1 talking about who the buildings were named after and they pointed to the sign that Harrell and I hung and asked, "I wonder who he is?'.......which of course turned into my classic, "have a seat and I'll tell you a story" response. There was not a Machine Gun Team Leader or above in my 25 months as Chief Instructor who didn't know who Aaron Austin or Mitchell Paige were. Keeping the faith and holding the line is simply what we do.

Semper Fidelis My Friends.


Goodnight, Kids

Photo #: 80-G-K-4167 (Color)"A Date under the Palm"A Sailor and a WAVE gaze out over the beach at a Gulf Coast Naval Air Station, circa 1945
.Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Doc's Duty: Korea

Corpsman helps lift wounded Marine

Docs Duty: Guam

Navy corpsman gives drink to wounded marine on Guam
official U.S. Navy photo. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. July 1944.

Docs Duty: 4 clicks down the road

  1. click here for Casualties: U. S. Navy and Marine Corps Personnel Killed and Wounded in Wars, Conflicts, Terrorist Acts, and Other Hostile Incidents
  2. "My name is Ron "Doc" Ferrell, I was a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman in VietNam,from May 1966 until July of 1967. I saw duty with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines and H&S III MAF (Chu Lai) Quang Ngai (Province) T.A.O.R. during my stay in country. If you don't like Marines, get out of my A.O.!" click here for his great site, Once a "Doc" Always a "Doc"
  3. My favorite!

...and so, right off the bat, my association with the United States Marine Corps began. A year at Marine Base, Quantico, Virginia was followed by eighteen months of training with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (another Marine facility where I learned combat skills and how to sleep on the ground and eat out of little green cans, among other things). It didn't take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that the Navy was long gone.

I liked serving as a Marine Corpsman, and soon grew to where I preferred to wear green and not blue.

As an FMF Corpsman I can proudly claim that I was...
...Navy by record, but Marine by choice!

4. Okay, another favorite, truly, Doc, this one is good throughout: Courage, Honor, Integrity Fallujah . B.Kortegaard is the author and was a Corpsman in Korea.

Doc's Duty: Iwo Jima

Five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman raise the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, using a piece of Japanese pipe as a mast, February 23, 1945. Three of the flag raisers were later killed as the fighting raged on. By March 16, when Iwo Jima was declared secured, 6,821 Americans and 21,000 Japanese (the entire force) had died. The flag raising photo and subsequent statue came to symbolize being a Marine.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Docs Duty: Do you know Rambo?

Two Afghan citizens prevented a terrorist attack yesterday morning when a vehicle loaded with explosives attempted to crash through the front gate of Camp Phoenix."Without any regard for their personal safety, a local Afghan security officer and an interpreter immediately recognized that this was a terrorist attack," said 1st Lt. Cathrin Fraker.

"Together, the two prevented the driver from detonating his explosives after they failed to explode during the crash. With the assistance of the US Security Forces, they dragged the terrorist from the vehicle where they were detained.""If it wasn't for the quick actions of the local nationals working for the US Forces, several lives would have been lost," stated Col. David B Enyeart, the deputy Task Force commander.

Check out the rest of the story and a neat photo of Camp Phoenix during Christmas at Flag Gazer's.

I'll be back with some more posts right after I brush the chick-o-sticks and peanut butter logs out of my teeth. :) Sugar, sugar, sugar.

Photo of the Day

Virgie Bell's View: The Lost Arts

For years and years I have saved my magazines and books concerning events that I consider important to me: deaths, births, etc. I treasure my book collection which I must admit, is extensive. I have moved stuff with me over and over again. I also want the readers of Gunz Up to know that I will do postings and original stories with these for back up articles. The editor of this famous blog (my daughter) is now on to me about wanting to copy these originals. Being a writer myself, I wish the reader to know that she and the rest of my children are of the toss and throw away society. Like my mother, I am of the save everything society.

One day I was over at Lisa’s and she said, “Here Mom, I want you to see this drawing that Kayla did before I throw it out.”

Let me tell you, dear reader, I was absolutely floored. Said I, "You are going to what?"

Lisa told me that she knew what I would do and she didn't want to hear it. Long ago I gave her a Barbie paper doll collection. Well, it ended up tossed away. Before that, it had ended up in her storage house with lawn mowers and garden hoses, etc. Of course this little folder was taking up too much room and Roy threw it away. Last time I checked it was worth $900.00.

I have in my photo collection a picture with a military hat on and I’m saluting with a big smile. (I was precious.) It would be perfect for this, but alas, it sets in a storage building. Jerry has assured me that he hasn't thrown any of the stuff away. He said that, but at any rate, I found out later he used false facts.

Jimmy Carter will make this term famous, so I will go right ahead and get on with it. I can only hope that it holds true. I intended to go to our Christmas tree at Littlefield and let each member of my family have a piece of crochet done by Mama Curry from back in 50’s. I have asked my children to pick out what they want so I can distribute among Mama Curry’s family.

Judging from the colors of the crocheted pieces, it wouldn’t be remiss to say that I must have pestered my grandmother every week about what I needed for a brown chair and divan covers. I need red. I need beige. I need. I need. I need. Etc., etc., etc. I always wondered why Papa Curry would get aggravated with me, but in retrospect, I realize I cost him a fortune in thread.

My children have yet to pick out even one thing. Next time Kayla is here, I want her to pick out something before it all ends up in the garage sale of the century. She is of the save everything society.

One day her mother was cleaning my house and she said to Kayla, "You could get in there young lady and clean your room (she has a room at my house) and throw some of that junk away."

Well, of course, Kayla ignored her. I went in there to help this child see what she could throw away. I finally settled on a plastic pop-apart-bead-teething-ring. I brought it to her and told her she might want to throw this away.

She turned around from the TV and with a critical eye she said, “Wasn’t that mine from when I was a little bitty baby?"

“Yes,” said I. She looked at me as if I had lost my mind and she told me, “No, I think I’ll just save it.”

See ... I rest my case. But she might want to borrow back my Mom’s set of encyclopedias. They would record all important events of the 50's. At least I am sure Karen wouldn't mind. Karen is also a saver. We ate over at her house at Thanksgiving. I had hand embroidered each of my children and grandchildren a set of cup-towels. Hand embroidery is a lost art, and Mother that I am, I did this. When the Thanksgiving meal was over and I asked her where her cup towels were, she told me she put them up because she didn't want to get them dirty. I insisted, and they finally were pulled out. They never got used though. I saw her sneak them back out and hide them once more. At least I know she likes them.

De'on might want to take pictures of hers and show them on Gunz Up. The pattern that she has was also given to me by Grandmother Thomas when I was 12 years old. It would be interesting and so very original. Dear reader, I ask also that you SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Virgie Bell's View: Why is Hillary So Mad?

Has anyone ever in their whole life seen anyone that is such a sourpuss as Hill-a-ry is? If Pelosi can be said to be the giddiest woman in DC, then you can give Hillary the top prize for being the absolute epitome of self righteous disgust with everything in the world. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will march against anything that comes up. Look for them to be marching against Valentine’s Day if nothing comes up before then. But we’re used to them. They have, after all, marched against everything for many years and you get to the point that you really don't pay that much attention. But my word, has Hillary ever changed from the nearly pleasant Junior Senator from New York into Cat Woman! Surely she can't think this is going to impress voters. She is the maddest one woman I have ever seen in my life and I have racked my brain trying to understand why. I truly want to give all the candidates all the benefit of the doubt that I can.

I would like to remain the unbiased and scholarly voter that I hope to be. but she is giving me really bad vibes. Of course, this is her way of letting us know that she is superior in every way, but then look who she is superior to. The bunch in the new majority is not much to be better than. I mean, she’s as mad as Ted Kennedy!

I guess this is the new wave in politics: to be just down right mad about everything, but I think if Bill ever sees her, and truly if I were him I would avoid it as much as possible, for as long as possible, but if by chance he slips up and his schedule causes the improbable to happen, then he needs to tell her, "Look Hillary, remember how much I just smiled and grinned the whole time I was running for President? How sunny and warm I was in office? How I charmed the pants (literarily) off of everyone? You have got to put aside this attitude of trying to be madder than an old wet hen. Voters do not like old wet hens. Why you are beginning to make people find John Kerry and all the rest of your opponents seem Hail Fellow Well Met! Charm the pants off of them and then we can laugh our heads off when we move back into the White House."

He needs to remind her that he is Slick Willie and he knows what he’s talking about. I have tried to come up with at least one example in the new majority that she can emulate but I've noticed that this bunch that should be so happy to have won the coveted spot, are all mad.

Madam Speaker is of course way too giddy, but that is understandable. She, like me, has no great shakes in education. She married young and had five children in six years and now she is second-in-line to be President. I can see where she would be just beside herself with joy. No one since Sonny Bono's widow was less equipped to deal with matters of state than Nancy Pelosi. She is mesmerized with pounding that gavel and I can see why. Why are the winners in the House and the Senate so mad and disgusted? If it’s because Bush is still President, then give it a rest. That is the American way. The polls last night put John McCain and Giuliani ahead in presidential choice by the voters, and by a wide margin, and they are the ones who SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Reader's Choice: Your vote counts

Early this morning, I completed the "To Be" series with NMCB 22. Soon, I'll be finishing up with "Docs Duty" so my mind is busy with a new series to take the place of these for a time.

As far as the Seabees and Corpsman stories go, we will always want to come back and update on what is new as well as historic with these naval support systems that are so important to our Marines. And on our new site at, we will have the capability for a guest writer, so I'm certainly hoping for many of you to take advantage of this to tell your own stories or share hero moments with us and our readers.

That being said, I'm up for YOUR CHOICE on the next series.

  1. Stories from a female soldier's life (mine) in Panama. This selection will cover OPERATION JUST CAUSE; life as 1 of 5 females in a battalion of 500, personal and historical photos, life as a soldier, wife and mother, the heartbreak of that split, and the freshness of new (and now old love; yes, Greg and I've been together 14 years now!) and also some history of Panama and Manuel Noriega.
  2. Stories and history on Vietnam
  3. Stories and history on Korea

***All of these stories will be experienced on Gunz Up through the life of our Internet writing (and the preferable thing for me would be to have a guest writer with much more personal and historical experience than I possess to record and share Vietnam and Korea with us), but I'll leave that open to you and see what we come up with.

So, to my favorite people in the world, the question is: WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

Much love and I'll try to be, SEMPER FI,


Blood Stripes: Book Review from

David Danelo's new book,
Blood Stripes, comes on the market at exactly the right time. Just as Americans are trying to understand what might have happened at Haditha, where Marines may have killed as many as fifteen Iraqi civilians, Danelo offers a thoughtful and insightful look into the Iraq war through the eyes of enlisted Marines. Until recently a Marine Corps infantry captain, Danelo served at Fallujah and obviously thought a great deal about what he saw there.

Unusually for a first-hand, “live reporter” style author, Danelo picks up quickly on one of the most important issues in military theory, the contradiction between the military culture of order and the disorderliness of war. In Blood Stripes' first chapter, he writes,

Non-commissioned officers…assume responsibility for imbuing the (Spartan) Way's sacred tenets of Order and Disorder into every young boot that crosses their path. Finding the balance within this dichotomy is tricky; both cultures exert a strong pull on Marines. The twins call like sirens from opposite banks of a river, singing for the Marine to listen to their virtues and ignore their vices.

The culture of Order is the Marine in dress blues, spotless and pristine, medals perfectly measured, hair perfectly trimmed…these types of things comprise the culture that is Orderly, functional, prepared and disciplined…

However,…combat is filled with uncertainties, half-truths, bad information, changing directives from seemingly incompetent higher headquarters, and unexplained explosions. War is chaos, the ultimate form of Disorder.
Blood Stripes quickly immerses its reader in the chaos of infantry combat in Iraq, which, too often, is combat against an unseen enemy.

Barely three weeks into their deployment, 3rd Platoon had already discovered several IEDs throughout Husaybah. Thus far, they had managed to find a couple of them using an unconventional, dangerous, and effective technique: kick them….

(Sgt.) Soudan approached the plywood. He was standing about eight feet away.


Everything went black…

Because the explosion was close to the base, the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) happened quickly….

The patrol stepped off. They were heading east, father away from base camp.

Three minutes passed.


From the sound of the explosion, Soudan knew this latest IED had hit south, on the street 3 rd Squad was patrolling….

Link called Soudan. “We're on our way.”

Ten seconds passed.


Link's squad.

Experiences like these at the small unit level -- by the end of the patrol, these Marines had been hit by five IEDs -- provide some context in which those of us stateside can put events like the supposed massacre in Haditha. So does a story later in the book, where Marines engaged mujahideen in a prolonged and vicious fire-fight:

Sergeant Soudan, Corporal Link, and Lieutenant Carroll were standing in the back of a humvee. After triaging the wounded from the dead, they had placed the bodies of Gibson, Valdez, and Smith in the humvee with VanLeuven. The Recon Marines ran up, muscling the body of the other dead Marine into the vehicle.

Soudan, Link, and Carroll looked at their fallen comrade.

Their faces went white.

Captain Gannon.

Lima Six was dead.

They killed our company commander. Pain switched to fury and an immediate demand for vengeance. These -------- killed Captain Gannon.

Blood Stripes does not paint a picture of an easy war. As a Marine officer said to me many years ago, “If your unit is the one getting ambushed, it's not low intensity war.” The Marines whose stories Danelo ably chronicles, and the thousands of others like them, have gone through hell in Iraq, a Fourth Generation hell where enemies are nowhere and everywhere. No military, not even the Marine Corps, can endure that kind of hell endlessly without beginning to crack, at least around the edges. It should not surprise us that cracks are now appearing, three years into the war.

One personal note: Danelo rightly reports that Marines, inspired by Steven Pressfield's brilliant novel Gates of Fire, like to see themselves as Spartans, which in some ways they are. As an Athenian, I have to point out that the battle of Themopylae, however deathless a tale of valor, was nonetheless a Persian victory in the end. In contrast, at Salamis, Persia was decisively defeated by Athenian deception and maneuver. Sometimes, it helps to think as well as fight.

*** About the author

A former U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer, David J. Danelo deployed to Camp Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 with I MEF. Danelo left active duty in November 2004 and now splits his professional time between consulting and freelance writing. His first book BLOOD STRIPES: The Grunt's View of the War in Iraq, which profiles Marine NCOs in the war, was published in May 2006.

Letters, (Movies) links, looking out for you, our military reader

America Supports You (I heard about this DOD link on the Military Channel today ... it sounds like a great thing for troops and supporters)

Letters from Iwo Jima** a Clint Eastwood movie

God Knows Why (video/music)
According to the submitter: "I am planning to join the US Navy when I complete high school and after college...I made the video from videos at various websites. Some of it may be from I hope you like it. It's called 'God Knows Why.'"

The Manual Of Death

A few years ago, British forces in Afghanistan found a manual created by al Qaeda that teaches them how to become better killers and how to bring down the United States of America. As if we need proof that al Qaeda is evil, the manual delivers more evidence of the group's maniacal thinking.

The translated text should make it clear to us that the only way to deal with al Qaeda is to kill everyone of its members. They aren't interested in rational discussion as their manual points out.

"Islamic governments have never and will never be established through peaceful solutions and cooperataive councils," the manual reads. "They are established as they always have been: by pen and gun, by word and bullet, by tongue and teeth."

"In the name of Allah" they have pledged to slaughter us, to annihilate us.

Well, not if we do it to them first.

The Way Home

From Time magazine -- Aug. 7, 1944

Across the land last week, for six warm days and nights, a troop train rumbled. It was an old train, with no fancy name. To the engineers and switchmen, it was No. 7452-C. The men on board dubbed it the "Home Again Special," and wrote the new name in chalk on the sides of the old Pullman cars. In another war there might have been brass bands at every stop. But in this pageantry-less, slogan-less war, the train just rumbled on toward New York, through the big towns and the whistle-stops.

The men aboard were 370 members of the 1st Marine Division — survivors of Tulagi, conquerors of Guadalcanal; the men who mowed down the Japs like hay at Bloody Ridge, and crossed the bloody Matanikau River; the invaders of Cape Gloucester, the rain-drenched fighters of Talasea, the men who took Hill 660 when they should have been annihilated halfway up; the unnamed defenders of Nameless Hill, the survivors of Coffin Corner.

These men on the troop train, already famed in communiqu├ęs and the war's best-sellers, were heading home for a 30-day furlough after 27 months of battle.

A little Worried. After their ship docked at San Diego, they spent 14 days just waiting around in a city none wanted to see. Finally the train left. The heroes peeled off their natty field greens and settled down in their khakis on the scratchy green seats, scared and lonely, wondering how home would be now that it was suddenly so close. "I'm a little worried about how I'll look to them, about how much I've changed ..."

The train clacked on slowly, through the desert and up the mountains. As the coffee cups rattled in the dining cars the little Marine said: "I haven't shaken so much since the night we went around Cape Hatteras, leaving the states." At Tucumcari, there was time for a beer at the station hotel: on the first round it cost a quarter; by the second the price shot to 40 cents. Said the red-haired sergeant from Rochester, not complaining, but just noticing: "Somebody's making money, and it isn't us."

The towns paraded past: Texhoma, Meade, Hutchinson, Kansas City. On the fourth day, at Moberly, Mo. (pop. 12,920), things were different. The townspeople flocked to the station with sandwiches and beer, cigarets and candy; the Moberly girls, in their summer dresses, brought their cars and took the Marines for rides through the gentle hills, up and down the concrete highways that looked like the highways near home.

There was a four-hour wait in Chicago.

For the photographers, in the dim station, the heroes brought out their Jap flags and Jap sabers, leaving the pornographic Jap propaganda leaflets packed away in their sea bags.

The Silent. On the train there were long-silences, as the Marines, having talked themselves out, stared at fields and the weather-stained buildings flitting by. But now and then conversation bubbled up.

Said Pfc. Marcel Beaulieu, 21, of Chicapee Falls, Mass.: "I think I'm going to stay in New York and see a couple of ball games. I've been thinking about that for a long time. I used to keep thinking about that last game I saw ..."

Across the aisle, Sgt. Owen Justin of Amesbury, Mass., 28, began to reminisce. "It was at San Diego they gave us our beer patches. You know what beer patches are? They're the Guadalcanal insignia that go on our sleeves. They're always good for a free beer."
The train stopped at small stations:

Wawasee and Garrett, Ind.

None in the train were heroes to themselves, or to each other. But all knew what everyone had done. The Marines pointed out Sgt. Al Goguen, one-time cab driver, holder of the Silver Star, unofficially credited with killing 700 Japs on two successive nights. But Al said: "Everybody tries to snow the folks. I had two machine guns, and I grabbed the guns a couple of times when my gunner got shot, until the assistant gunner came up. But that was my job. . . . Those figures? God, I don't know how many Japs we got. Everybody tries to snow the folks, give them a line ..."

The train pounded into Ohio, and the rolling country with the sun glinting on the stacked bales of hay reminded the marines of Australia. They had loved Australia, even though most of the time they were recuperating from malaria. "I'll never forget the head night nurse in the Adelaide Hospital ..."

The silence came back. Suddenly two Marines began to wrestle, to break the monotony, to relieve the strange embarrassment of coming home. The car jeered:

"Na-a-h, Commandos!" From the rear, snatches of song floated forward: "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone's in the kitchen I know—oh-oh, Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah, Strummin' on the old banjo ..."

The Girls. When the train stopped at Deshler, Pvt. Beaulieu jumped outside to snatch some ice off a wagon near the train. "Boy, what we would have given for a piece of ice on Guadalcanal!" Down the platform strutted a good-looking blonde. The Marines watched, listening to the tapping of her high heels.

It began to rain. The train was hot and sticky. The blue-eyed private said: "One of the fellow's girl got married and she wrote to him asking for her picture. He got all the boys to give him pictures of their girls, and he collected some others.

Altogether, he had a stack a foot high—pictures of Australian girls, native women with nothing above the waist, movie actresses, pin-up girls. He sent this whole stack to his girl with a note: 'I don't remember exactly who you are, but if your picture is among these, please pick it out and send the rest back to me.' '' The men moved to the diner.

"Hey Joe, you going to get married?"

"Hell, no, I'm going to play the field."

Again, the Silent. Two hours before Pittsburgh, a Sun-Telegraph reporter boarded the train, begging the heroes for heroic tales. Two hours later he left, mumbling: "I didn't get a thing."

At Pittsburgh, the American Legionnaires and the members of the mayor's committee, with little COMMITTEE ribbons stuck in their lapels, stood about uneasily as Marines from Pennsylvania spilled off the train. Also at the station, in snappy summer khaki, was Lt. Mitchell Paige, the 1st Division's famed Congressional Medal winner, who had come home three weeks earlier. The Marines spied Paige and formed a circle around him.

A little Marine in blue, looking very much like a boy in costume, stepped up to shake Mitch's hand. Mitch whirled, grabbed the boy by the shoulders and all but kissed him. The two stood smiling — grinning into each other's faces. The boy was Mitch's machine gunner. A photographer rushed up: "Throw your arms around him, like you're glad to see him. Don't be bashful." Mitch and the machine-gunner just kept smiling at each other, saying nothing, ignoring the photographer.

Through the night the train puffed through the Alleghenies. In the morning, Cpl. Harold Cyr, 23, of Hartford, Conn., explained why he hadn't slept: "I just lay there all night grinning."

The men were up early, shining their shoes, polishing their buttons. As the train pulled into Baltimore at 6:30 a.m. there was a shout: "Bring on the brass band." There was no band nor any people, and the homecoming Marines got off and walked through the silent station.

Home. The final run began.

"Your wife know you're coming?"

"Sure, I wired her from Chicago."

"It's been a long time ..."

"Damn right, it's been 27 months ..."

At Philadelphia, there was just a string of taxicabs, at Jersey City, just the ferry to Manhattan. The Marines silently looked at the New York skyline. Lt. Camille Tamucci, the tough guy in charge, who had been dreaming of mounds of spaghetti, began brooding about his stomach. "It's all tied in knots," he said.

The bus from the ferry took the Marines to the Pennsylvania Hotel. Now most of them were home; others were recognizably close to home. Guadalcanal and all that was more than 9,000 miles away. That was over and done with. For all their 27 months of battle, these Marines' average age was only 21.

One Marine shouted: "See you in the next war." There was no answer. The Marines shouldered their sea bags and walked away.

Into the Valley, Guadalcanal Diary, Battle for the Solomons, etc.

Jungle Fighters

Marine Raiders, with a reputation as lethal jungle fighters, pose in front of a Japanese dugout they took on Cape Totkina on Bougainville in January 1944.

Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, CG, 1st Marine Division, confers with his staff on board the transport USS McCawley enroute to Guadalcanal. From left: Gen Vandegrift; Lt. Col. Gerald C. Thomas, operations officer; Lt. Col. Randolph McC. Pate, logistics officer; Lt. Col. Frank G. Goettge, intelligence officer; and Col. William Capers James, chief of staff.

During the lull in the fight at Guadalcanal, a Marine machine gunner takes a break for coffee with his sub-machine gun on his knee and his .30-caliber light machine gun in position.

A machine gunner and a rifleman from the 5th Marine Regiment fire at the enemy near the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam on May 23, 1967.

Taking A Break

A Canadian soldier from the International Security Assistance Force plays near his post today as the sun sets over Spawan Ghar in Panjwayi Province of Afghanistan. (AP Photo)

Goodnight kids,

and wild kitties and bird killers!

To Be ... Scrapbooking for LT Rich and his sister, my Karen ...

How did God get to Heaven? on a tamel ...
quote from a 2-year old. :)

a little buzzz
hi rich, you look good in gray


MID DLEEASTMIDDLEEASTmiddleeastmiddleeastmiddleeastmiddleeastmesopotamiairaqmesopotamiairaq

To Be ... Buzzing Around With the Admiral

a little buzz kk

...about the admiral

To Be ... Building and Fighting


Navy Seabee Veterans of America

To Be ...a beautiful page in history

Lt. Richard Windham, USNR




To Be ... a scrapbook page of war history

WAr ...


Basra, 2006

Violence continues in Iraq


Navy Seabee History: Vietnam

Navy Seabees in Korea

conservation in WWII XXX### ####++=== #######XX

On 22 March 1945, General George S. Patton, with Seabee assistance, put his
forces across the Rhine at Oppenheim in a frontal assault which
swept away the
German defenders. To support Patton's advancing army, the
Seabees built pontoon

ferries similar to the Rhinos of D-day fame and used
them to transport Patton's
tanks across the river

xxx #### === ++++

##### ====== ++++++

The 69th Naval Construction Battalion had the distinction of being the only complete battalion to serve in Germany. Arriving at Bremen on 27 April 1945, the Seabees of this battalion set up camp just outside the city. They immediately began the re-roofing of damaged buildings, installing plumbing and lighting, setting up shops and offices, and installing power lines. A detachment also repaired facilities at the nearby port of Bremerhaven.

To Be ... In The Navy

Seabees in the Pacific Theater of Operations earned the
of all Allied fighting men who served with them or followed in
their wake. Their
deeds were unparalleled in the history of wartime
construction. With eighty
percent of the Naval Construction Force
concentrated on the three Pacific roads,
they literally built and fought
their way to victory

Navy pilots are amazing!

Many, like this Corpsman, make huge sacrifices ...
Gawfer was in the Navy. She stays at his blog. They're in our links, honey ...
they fall in love


To Be ... Invited back, time and time again, LT. Rich

As we begin to end ... NMCB 22's
October 2005-March 2006 trip to Iraq ...
I want to invite LT Rich

and any
fellow Seabee
back again, and
Thank you
for everything
and finally, before we leave...