Category Archive 'USMC'
16 Aug 2016

A Vietnam Marine’s Memoir

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SemperCool

Not many Vietnam memoirs refer to “fond memories,” but Barry Fixler is not your ordinary memoirist. Fixler was a feisty little (130 lb. — 60 kilo.) Jewish kid from Long Island, who decided that he needed more discipline and joined the Marine Corps instead of going straight to college in the late 1960s, during the War in Vietnam, when pretty much everybody else was dodging the draft.

Fixler survived the ordeal of Marine Corps boot camp, and indeed went to Vietnam.

We landed in Da Nang and walked down the stairs from the plane to a Marine sergeant waiting on the tarmac. He started in alphabetical order, handing guys their orders telling them their assigned units.

“Okay, Adams? You’re alive! Baker? You’re dead! Crawford? You’re a basket case!”

“Fixler?”

“Here sergeant!”

“You’re dead!”

I’d been in Vietnam for an hour and the sergeant was telling me I’m already dead. I turned to Mike Ali, my good buddy from boot camp. “Fuck, I’m dead!”

“Yeah,” Mike said. Sergeant just told me I’m a basket case.”

We didn’t realize at the time just how ominous that label was for him.

If you are alive, that meant your unit was in one of the less dangerous places in Vietnam. If you were a basket case, your unit was in a pretty bad place. If you were dead, that meant you were headed straight into the deep shit. Your unit was in the middle of the worst of the worst combat.

The sergeant probably should have only designated Fixler “a basket case,” as he was initially headed, for the first part of his 13 month tour, to Phu Bai to walk combat patrols and arrive by helicopter into hot landing zones.

Fixler really became “dead” in the second portion of his tour, consisting of defending the besieged Marine base at Khe Sanh, where Fixler and other Marines were overrun on Hill 861-A, February 5, 1968. Despite being overrun, Barry Fixler actually survived Khe Sanh, and later got to patrol the DMZ out of Con Thien and Dong Ha.

Fixler finished his enlistment showing the flag in Dress Blues in the Mediterranean. Unlike a lot of people who complain, Barry Fixler tells his readers that he enjoyed his time in the Marine Corps, that he liked the discipline and comraderie so much that, when he got home, he re-enlisted in the reserves.

Barry Fixler is the kind of guy who remains a Marine all his life.

Many years later, his home of Rockland County was looking for combat veterans to counsel soldiers who’d returned from Iraq and Afghanistan complaining of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Fixler volunteered, but he was never assigned a position as a counselor because he simply does not believe in PTSD.

Some great anecdotes from the book illustrate his position.

During a course given to volunteer instructors, preparing them for their roles, there was a lecture and book signing by a nationwide PTSD specialist, at which Fixler encountered quite a coincidence and expressed his own opinion.

He was only 10, 15 minutes into a two-hour lecture, and he started describing one of his patients who had fought in the siege of Khe Sanh. He described how traumatized the Marine was, how his hill was overrun, how he had to kill or be killed, how his life was torn apart, how he lost his soul right then and there.

It was obvious to me that Dr. Tick was describing the night of February 5, 1968 – the night we were overrun on Hill 861-A.

Tick was quoting this patient, speaking for the Marine now:” I lost my soul! My life is gone! Everything is gone! I can’t continue! I can’t fight! I can’t do anything!”

People sat with their mouths open in awe, listening to Tick talk about the so-called warrior who lost it all, lost his soul, everything, died, spiritually died at that point, and I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. ..

I stood and introduced myself.

I was at Khe Sanh. I have credibility, a unit citation from President Lyndon B. Johnson. And I was on that hill, at that exact place, at that exact moment. If what that Marine said to you about losing his soul and losing his life, losing everything, if he had said that to me then or now, I would say to him, “You are a coward!'”

Then I sat again. The room was silent. Tick lectures for living –he’s a professional –but he struggled to regain his composure.

“I see your point,” he mumbled. “I see your point.”

As the talk proceeded:

I kept my peace and let the other veterans speak for the rest of lecture, until one of the West Point cadets stood and asked Tick, “What can we do to stop this PTSD?”

I blew it then. She asked Tick the question, but I popped up.

“That’s easy. Are you guys trained to get used to seeing bodies scattered all over the place? Well, when we kill a bad guy in Iraq, when we blow their skulls apart, we should freeze that body and send it to West Point and scatter it around so you could smell the blood and the horror and get used to fighting that way. If you’re used to fighting with blood and dead Iraqis all over the place, it will be nothing. That’s what needs to be done. Period.”

Everyone was quiet again. I glanced at the three West Pointers. Their eyes were wide, mouths still, like “Whoa!” I got that look from some others in the crowd, too.

My WWII Marine father would have said exactly the same kind of thing.

I recommend Semper Cool (great title, isn’t it?) highly, as a fun read for any aficionado of Marine Corps culture.

The author, by the way, is donating all the book’s earning to help wounded veterans.

——————————————–

More evidence of just how hard-core little Barry Fixler remains, long after Vietnam:

On Valentine’s Day 2005, Barry Fixler proves to two armed robbers that you don’t want to try to rob a former Marine.There were actually two more of them outside in the car, equipped with a body bag. The robbers had intended not only to rob the jeweler, but to murder him as well. This security camera video shows that their plans did not work out.

16 Feb 2016

Breaking News!

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Mattis

From Duffleblog:

In an unprecedented turn in American history, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, several years after being dismissed by the President and exiled to his estate in the countryside, marched on the national capitol early Tuesday morning with an army over one hundred thousand strong.

This number includes at least ten infantry legions, several aviation and artillery legions, and multiple cavalry cohorts.

“I come in peace, by myself, in order to hand-deliver a Memorandum of Concern to the Commander in Chief and the Senate,” said Mattis in a press conference. “I am moving on foot at a leisurely pace, with no ill will. If these American citizens choose to take a stroll with me, then who am I to turn down their companionship?”

The contents of the so-called memorandum are unknown, but are rumored by Mattis’ close advisors to contain paragraphs addressing unconstitutional acts by the administration and the Senate. Alarmed by the amassing of troops sympathetic to Mattis over the last week at Fort Myer, the Senate, the President, and various generals attempted to recall various combat divisions to Washington to defend the city.

These included the 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, 10th Mountain, and 3rd Infantry Divisions, in addition to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

“We even attempted to contact NAVSURFLANT and SUBLANT,” confided one Senate aide as he packed his Datsun to flee northward. “All we got was laughter and then static.”

Read the whole thing.

10 Dec 2015

Chesty Puller Quotations

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ChestyPuller

13 famous and salty quotations from the ultimate Marine, Chesty Puller.

(Commenting on the 22 Chinese divisions surrounding his First Marine Division. The First Marines successfully broke through Chinese lines and advanced south, destroying seven of the Chinese divisions in the process.)

“There are not enough Chinamen in the world to stop a fully armed Marine regiment from going wherever they want to go.”

18 Nov 2015

What Defeating ISIS Would Look Like

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ISISWontheToss

Kurt Schlichter fantasies in IJReview.

And those are our proposed courses of action, Mr. President,” concluded the CENTCOM commander.

“When I was elected, I told you I wanted to be briefed on your plan to utterly destroy ISIS, General,” the President said. He was young and usually quite calm, but as a Cuban-American son of immigrants, he understood tyranny and knew how to deal with it. “General, what you gave me are timid half-measures that don’t begin to meet the intent I expressed to you. Now, I may not have served myself, but I understand the old game of manipulating civilian leadership by providing just the options you want instead of the ones the commander-in-chief requested. You’re relieved of command, General. Fired. Agents, show the general out.”

He turned to his chief of staff. “Get the Wildman on the line.” As the Secret Service agents bum rushed the stunned four star out of the Oval Office, the President took the phone.

On a Florida golf course, the secure cell phone of the retired Marine everyone called “The Wildman” rang, ruining his putt. The Wildman was a legend for his aggression, hence his nickname. President Obama had naturally felt it necessary to replace him with a more pliable, passive CENTCOM commander. He answered, then listened.

“General, this is the President. We need you. I am ordering you off the retired list and back to active duty as CENTCOM commander, effective immediately. I want to see your plan for the total destruction of ISIS in 72 hours. Your rules of engagement are simple. Wipe them out.”

Read the whole thing.

10 Nov 2015

US Marine Corps Birthday

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USMCKheSanh
Khe Sanh, 1968

Founded November 10, 1775.

——————————

Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune’s Birthday Message

RPS ORDERS
No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS
Washington, November 1, 1921

759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and is the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General Commandant

————————————-

The Magic of “a Few Good Men”

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The Old Corps

Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 10th 1775

Captains Nicholas and Mullens, having been tasked by the 2nd Continental Congress to form 2 battalions of Marines, set up the Corps’ first recruiting station in the tavern.

The first likely prospect was, in typical recruiters fashion, promised a “life of high adventure in service to Country and Corps”. And, as an extra bonus: If he enlisted now he would receive a free tankard of ale….

The recruit gladly accepted the challenge and, receiving the free tankard of ale, was told to wait at the corner table for orders.

The first Marine sat quietly at the table sipping the ale when he was joined by another young man, who had two tankards of ale.

The first Marine looked at the lad and asked where he had gotten the two tankards of ale?

The lad replied that he had just joined this new outfit called the Continental Marines, and as an enlistment bonus was given two tankards of ale.

The first Marine took a long hard look at the second Marine and said, ” It wasn’t like that in the old Corps.”

An annual post.

21 Aug 2015

Three US Marines Take Down Muslim Gunman on Amsterdam-to-Paris Train

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TrainGunman
fallen gunman

Breaking News:

On a high-speed train raveling from Amsterdam to Paris today, three American marines recognized the sound as the 26-year-old Moroccan loaded a Kalashnikov, and jumped him as he exited the lavatory. The gunman got off some shots while being taken down, injuring three people, two seriously. Those injured were one American, one Briton, and French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade.

Daily Mail

Telegraph

—————————–

CORRECTION, 8/22:

Not actually marines (though it was understandable why everyone thought they must have been), but still mostly Americans.

MOM:

Crew on Paris-bound train barricaded themselves in their staffroom and locked the door as Kalashnikov-wielding terrorist went on the rampage – leaving PASSENGERS to take him down.

And, as usual, the passengers were 3 Americans and a Brit. When an Islamic terrorist (Can I say that? The French called for caution before jumping to conclusions.) opened fire with an AK-47 (wait, you’re not allowed to have an assault rifle in France!) he was rushed and taken down by Americans Spencer Stone (U.S. Air Force) and Alek Skarlatos (Oregon National Guard) and subdued with the help of California student Anthony Sadler, and British national Chris Norman.

23 Jun 2015

Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle

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Biddle
Col. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, hand-to-hand combat expert, 1943. Known for ordering trainee Marines to attempt to kill him with bayonets, and disarming them all.

13 Jun 2015

500 Yard Shot

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500YardShot

25 May 2015

“Six Seconds”

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Yale&Haeter

This Memorial Day story is an excerpt from Lt. Gen. John Kelly’s Nov. 13, 2010 speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, reprinted in The American Legion Magazine.

[Paragraph formatting and emphasis added]

[O]n April 22, 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8, were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion was in the closing days of its deployment, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, our allies in the fight against terrorists in Ramadi – known at the time as the most dangerous city on earth, and owned by al-Qaeda.

Yale was a dirt-poor mixed-race kid from Virginia, with a wife, a mother and a sister, who all lived with him and he supported. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle-class white kid from Long Island. They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines, they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple Americas exist simultaneously, depending on one’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, education level, economic status, or where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible, and because of this bond they were brothers as close – or closer – than if they were born of the same woman. The mission orders they received from their sergeant squad leader, I’m sure, went something like this: “OK, take charge of this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?” I’m also sure Yale and Haerter rolled their eyes and said, in unison, something like, “Yes, sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point, without saying the words, “No kidding, sweetheart. We know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry-control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later, a large blue truck turned down the alleyway – perhaps 60 to 70 yards in length – and sped its way through the serpentine concrete Jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest 200 yards away, knocking down most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was caused by 2,000 pounds of explosive.

Because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers in arms. When I read the situation report a few hours after it happened, I called the regimental commander for details. Something about this struck me as different. We expect Marines, regardless of rank or MOS, to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.

The regimental commander had just returned from the site, and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event – just Iraqi police. If there was any chance of finding out what actually happened, and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it, because a combat award requires two eyewitnesses, and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer. I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police, all of whom told the same story. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police related that some of them also fired, and then, to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured, some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated, and with tears welling up, said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life. ”What he didn’t know until then, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion, he said, “Sir, in the name of God, no sane man would have stood there and done what they did. They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned after I submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras recorded some of the attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated. You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. I suppose it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. No time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time, the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed.

Here the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were, some running right past the Marines, who had three seconds left to live. For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines firing their weapons nonstop. The truck’s windshield explodes into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tear into the body of the son of a bitch trying to get past them to kill their brothers – American and Iraqi – bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder-width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could. They had only one second left to live, and I think they knew. The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty.

Hat tip to Peter Somerville.

12 Feb 2015

Marines Destroyed, Did Not Surrender, Weapons

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M16piece

The Marine Corps responded to reports that US Marine guards at the embassy in Yemen had been under orders to surrender their rifles and sidearms to Houthi fighters at the airport before leaving the country.

Marine Corps Times:

Marine embassy security guards smashed personal weapons with sledgehammers and scattered them before departing Yemen as the U.S. Embassy was being evacuated this week, officials with Marine Corps Headquarters said.

The officials offered new details of the Marines’ departure in the wake of differing reports about what had become of personal weapons the troops had to leave behind before departing the country via the airport at Sanaa. A Pentagon spokesman told reporters Wednesday that Marines had handed over the weapons to Yemeni officials before boarding commercial aircraft for departure, while staff with the Sanaa airport told the Associated Press that Houthi rebels had seized U.S. Embassy vehicles, some with weapons inside.

A Marine official with knowledge of the movement told Marine Corps Times Wednesday that all personal and crew-served weapons had been rendered inoperable, but could not address how they had been made so or how they were disposed of before the Marines departed.

“To be clear: No Marine handed a weapon to a Houthi, or had one taken from him,” Marine officials said late Wednesday in a statement.

Crew-served weapons, officials said, were destroyed at the embassy before the Marines departed in accordance with an approved destruction plan.

The Marine embassy detachment then proceeded to the airfield at Sanaa with just their personal weapons.

“Upon arrival at the airfield, all personal weapons were rendered inoperable in accordance with advance planning,” Officials said in the statement. “Specifically, each bolt was removed from its weapons body and rendered inoperable by smashing with sledgehammers. The weapons bodies, minus the bolts, were then separately smashed with sledgehammers. All of these destroyed components were left at the airport — and components were scattered; no usable weapon was taken from any Marine at Sanaa airport.

Read the whole thing.

14 Jan 2015

Marine Mottoes

WhateverItTakes
1st Battalion, 4th Marines

Business Insider admires US Marine Corps unit mottoes.

10 Nov 2014

Happy Birthday US Marine Corps!

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USMCKheSanh
Marines at Khe Sanh, 1968

Founded November 10, 1775.

——————————

Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune’s Birthday Message

RPS ORDERS
No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS
Washington, November 1, 1921

759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and is the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General Commandant

————————————-

The Magic of “a Few Good Men”

————————————-
The Old Corps

Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 10th 1775

Captains Nicholas and Mullens, having been tasked by the 2nd Continental Congress to form 2 battalions of Marines, set up the Corps’ first recruiting station in the tavern.

The first likely prospect was, in typical recruiters fashion, promised a “life of high adventure in service to Country and Corps”. And, as an extra bonus: If he enlisted now he would receive a free tankard of ale….

The recruit gladly accepted the challenge and, receiving the free tankard of ale, was told to wait at the corner table for orders.

The first Marine sat quietly at the table sipping the ale when he was joined by another young man, who had two tankards of ale.

The first Marine looked at the lad and asked where he had gotten the two tankards of ale?

The lad replied that he had just joined this new outfit called the Continental Marines, and as an enlistment bonus was given two tankards of ale.

The first Marine took a long hard look at the second Marine and said, ” It wasn’t like that in the old Corps.”

An annual post.

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