Fallujah in June. A “routine” patrol, or at least it was until the IED went off just in front of the HMMWV. A Navy corpsman attached to a Marine rifle company bundles out with his brothers in arms and heads out on a foot race in search of the triggerman. They reach a door, go inside and find…
Editor’s Note: A few years ago, when we had reposted most of the posts that neptunuslex reader advocaat had archived for his personal use (which, once Lex’s site went down proved invaluable), I started to comb the Wayback Machine archives to catch any additional posts we missed. Most of them were small, but many funny and a few gems, such as Bones, were retrieved from here.
Tom wandered slowly up MagSaySay. The carrier and her escorts had been gone for two days. The squadron was gone. The rain and cold had driven everyone off the street. It felt like walking up the midway after the carnival had closed. He moved slowly, taking some of the pictures he had been meaning to catch for weeks.
The Staff NCO’s were greeting everyone, and taking a head count as they came through the door. Tom showed up alone. Everyone was allowed one free guest, but it was an all-hands party, and bringing Emie seemed like a bad idea. He looked around the club and saw Bill and Rocky sitting at a table near the stage.
Rocky waved and motioned him over, “Coming down to the end now, aren’t we?”
Tom nodded, “Yea, I hate it. Back to Japan. My last all-hands party. Where have you been? I don’t think anyone missed you, but I’ve been pretty scarce myself.”
To the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, he was known as “White Feather” for the feather he wore in his cap, and they had a $30,000 reward for him. They sent their own snipers to get him, and he killed them all.
One of their best, named The Cobra, had him in his sights 500 yards away, and Carlos Hathcock, seeing the flash of his scope lens through his own scope, fired a fraction of a second first.
His bullet went through the enemy’s scope, killing him. Five hundred yards and hitting a lens maybe an inch in diameter.
They are going so fast now, the veterans of WW2. Growing up in the 50s, they were all around me. My father, of course. He had a good friend who was an Army tank commander in North Africa. Another family friend was in the 2nd wave at D-Day. My uncle was a Marine.
On February 19, 1945, Operation Detachment commenced and the landings on Iwo Jima began.
Seventy-five years ago, U.S. Marines came ashore on a desolate eight-square-mile volcanic island dominated by Mount Suribachi and located roughly halfway between the Marianas and Tokyo. Iwo Jima’s value lay in its airfields. B-29 Superfortresses that were damaged or low on fuel could land there, and Army Air Forces fighters based on the island could escort the bombers to their targets in Japan. Three Marine divisions—more than 70,000 men—had the task of seizing the island. But an operation that U.S. commanders forecast would take a week to complete would stretch out to five weeks, and the Marines’ determination and sacrifice on Iwo Jima would become enduring touchstones for the Corps.
Before that time, the Marines didn’t know that the Japanese would be in a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers, and caves, prepared over many months in anticipation of their landing. They could wait out the massive bombardments of the Navy ships. One tunnel was 90′ deep.
They had seriously underestimated the Japanese defenses. The battle would last 36 bloody days. For every square mile of that island, more than 800 Marines would lose their lives.
Before I left for San Diego last week, I learned that one of the Lexicans has a son who was to graduate at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. A couple of us Lexicans wanted to meet him there.
I had always seen the entrance there at the base of Washington Street – right next to Lindbergh Field. It appeared like it gained entrance to a small facility.
I thought it looked strange to see a parked 757 literally feet from the fence.
And I thought that there would be 100-200 parents and family that would be in bleachers like a Little League game. That the Lexican would be easy to find.
After going through a thorough search, Marine Corps style (no pictures were allowed) I gained entrance and was I in for a surprise.
The bleachers, nearly full, were more befitting of a small stadium.
The parade ground alone could be used as a runway!
And when I saw the “bleachers” and how full they were, it was obvious that I would be watching this ceremony by myself.
It looked like there were a thousand or 2 Marines all standing out there at parade rest, but I learned later that there were 488 graduates.
I have always felt that a pass in review, with all of the soldiers or Marines in perfect harmony and precision, is a thing of beauty to watch, and they did not disappoint.
Anyway, congratulations after that long road to becoming a Marine.
The Marines are busy winning hearts and minds in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Which is a pretty good thing, because if this WaPo article has it right, they’re not winning many hearts or minds at CENTCOM: