Posts Tagged ‘USMC’


November 6, 2009

      Want to know what a day in Afghanistan can be like?

     The story I am about to relate was not received first hand.                    As far as i know the relater has not told anyone else in the family but his mother, and then only in a depressed inebriated state.  The young man had been drinking with some friends at his mother’s house.    He has been haunted with nightmares every since his return from Afghanistan, he resists sleep and sought the comfort of inebriation to dull his senses.   It was in this state that he told her the following story after his friends had departed.  He has since sought counseling in both the AA and military provided help.  I can only hope he is having some success.  The scars this young man bears are truly horrible.  I served in the Marine Corps in peace time and was spared the sights and experiences he was forced to endure.

                                As he relates it he was in the second Humvee of a convoy on patrol, some where in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  His station was that of radio operator riding in the passenger side of the vehicle.  All the array of radio and satellite equipment separating the space between the driver and him.  standing just to their rear behind the radio’s was the turret gunner.  Seated  to the back on either side were two Marines.

     Standing in the turret of the lead vehicle was his best friend and buddy, riding shotgun was their   other close friend.  All three had endured boot camp and all other training other than radio school together.  They were close and time in zone had even drew them closer.  many evenings they had sat clustered together with other buddy   watching DVD’s on his laptop.  Often eating the beef jerky I had sent to the grandson.  They wore out the magnetic dart board game my wife had mailed him.  They were close as many times blood brothers cannot be, they were brother Marines.

     It was a hot dusty day near the high120 degrees as it often is over there.  They had traveled many long miles without any sighting of insurgents.  suddenly a blinding flash of light , boiling flame and smoke engulfed the lead Humvee.      The young man , (who I want to call a kid, because I had met him the previous October at Twenty Nine Palms, and they all appeared to be so young.) was thrown out of the top of the heavy machine.  He flew off to the ground at the side of the track they called a road.  My grandson imedeatly left his vehicle against protocol, he should have stayed at the radio, and rushed to his side.  Both legs were barley hanging on by slivers of muscle.  The grandson quickly applied tourqunets to both legs.  He held his hand and cried and prayed with his young friend and lied and told him he would be OK.       

     He rushed to the stricken Humvee in an attempt to help his other friend.  Others were there and none could open the door.  There is some kind of locking bar inside the vehicle that prevents insurgents from opening the door from the outside.  It was in place and none could pry the door open.  Flames wer enveloping the interior of the machine and they all watched helplessly as this young man perished in flames as he screamed horribly..  My grandson watched his face melt away like wax.

     The first Marine was evacuated alive and even returned to America where he died in a military hospital.  There was apparently some talk of           awarding the grandson some kind of award for his quick action in applying the tourquinets.  He wants nothing to do with it.

      He drinks to try to escape these horrible memories.  I fear they will haunt him th rest of his life.  To compound this even more, a few months later they had just exited their vehicles in a town square.   By this time they were in the new MRAP’s, the heavier    supposedly bomb proof machines.  200 meters away one of the hero’s of the insurgency exploded a 500 pound truck bomb in the market place.  thirty Afghani civilians were killed and seventy others injured.  Another young Marine know to my grandson was struck in the head and killed instantly by a piece of shrapnel.  The         kid was only five feet in front of my grandson.

     To me he has recounted going around picking up body parts and placing the in what he refered to as garbage bags, after some of these bombings.  Great memories for a young 22-year-old man aren’t they?

      The self imposed cross he bears is “Why them and not me?”

     I can understand his need to drink to try to escape these                         horrors.  But if there is a God I hope to hell he can spare the time to comfort this troubled young man who I love so much and who is a hero to this old man.




July 14, 2008


     So those of you who don’t know what the M2HB, MG is, ask what the heck is that?  It’s “ma duce”, the M2 heavy barrel machine gun, the old reliable .50 cal. heavy duty machine gun.  introduce before WWII, by Browning the old girl has been around for over 100 years and earned he dues.  She has seen duty on every battle field and place of conflict since her introduction.  It’s a heavy reliable peice of equipment that has flown in airplane wings and bomber  planes, it has been on all large ships and small river boats.  Countless vehicles from trucks to tanks have proudly carried it into battle.  Carlos Hathaway, the famed Marine Corps sniper of Viet Nam, was even reported to have affixed a rifle scope onto one and made long range shots ( this was before the newer  .50 cal. sniper weapons,) The old girl still is in active service today in Iraq and Afghanistan.  like I say she has proved the worth and paid her dues.  

       Here are some stats on ‘ma duce”

     The M2Hb machine gun is a crew served offence and defence weapon, that is fed by a disintegrating metallic lin-belt,  By repositioning some of its components parts the gun can be fed from either side (making it possible to mount two side by side for close operation)  In some instances a quadruple mount has been used to create intense fire power.  It is also capable of single shot operation.  So here are the real stats

Length: 61.42 inches

Weight: Gun 84 pounds,    M3 Tripod mount: 44 pounds, Total 128 pounds

Bore Diameter: .50 inches

 Maximun effective range: 2000 meters

 Maximum range 4.22 miles

  Cycle rate of fire: 550 rounds per min.

Replacement cost: $14,002

        So what is this article about?  It seems like the old gal might be facing retirement, after more than one-hundred years in service.

     Reportable General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, is currently developing a new .50 cal. weapon that weighs almost one-half as much as the older model M2, with less recoil and improved accuracy.  The army is set to start test trials soon.  It is thought that the new model might start replacing the old “ma duce” by 2011.

     I don”t think there is a Marine alive that has ever heard “ma” open up with her old reliable deep throat-ed steady stutter, that did not love the sound of that deep tumm! tumm! tumm!  Of course we Marines know we will be the last to see “ma duce”  go.  We always get the hind tit, when something new is introduced.  So I predict the old gal will have a century and a half at least with us Mountain Climbers.

     I just started the book “Generation Kill”  Written by the reporter embedded with the First Recon Battalion Marines, in the Gulf war.  He mentioned the heavy machine gun firing explosive rounds.  This was new to me, we did not have them in my day in the mid-fifties.  I did some research and found  what they call a explosive round does not explode per-say.  What it is  , is called a SLAP round  (Sabot Light Armor Per icing).  A sabot  round is a .30 cal armor per-icing round encased in a Teflon coatting  making it a .50 cal  round.  This allows the round to traverse the barrel at a higher rate of speed gaining velosity  and a falter trajectory with the lighter bullet.  It is capable of penetrating 3/4 inch steel at 1,500 meters.  It will chew up masonry and concrete like it is exploding.




May 17, 2008


    Not too long back I sat down and fired off a ramble about the treatment my grandson was reciving in his new unit.  That was a grandfather and a NO LOAD  MARINE  (no longer on  active duty) spouting off.

     Now I must return to my active duty days fifty years ago and look at from the other side of the row.  The grandson has joined this unit as a diffrent millitary occoupational service number , a radio operator.  He did not take any of his or their prior trainning together.  He has joined this unit who have already bonded together as a outsider.

     To further compound the rift that exists between them, he has come into the unit as a married  Marine who has chosen to accept  the off base living allowance and bring his wife into the picture.  This means he lives off base and has to bring his own lunch with him.  He does not live on base, eat or socialize after hours with them.  Except for the days spent on manuvers. He is basically an eight hour shift Marine.  This I know, from my time long years ago, makes him a “lesser” Marine than the twenty-four hours aday, seven day a week Marine.  There is now way around  it, it is just they way the guys think and feel, they see him as less committed than they are.

     While it seems unfair to one on the outside looking in, in a way it is true, for his mind is on the young woman at home, while he is out there trainning with the other guys.  He is worrying about how to stretch the incoming pay check to cover the rent, buy groceries, and cover the other neccesities needed to make it through to the next pay day.  These are worries that the young men living on base do not have.  Blow your money early, you still have a bed, shower, and food three times a day – you just sit tight until next payday.  There are rec. rooms on the base for entertainment and buddies you can hang with. (more…)


April 21, 2008


      Well my grandson is in the MARINE CORPS.  We Marines pride ourselves in our brotherhood, as well we should.  However, truth be told, the Corps is riddled with stupid prejudices.

     My grandson is a communications specialist (radio operator) assigined to an infantary unit.  This is at Camp Lejuine N.C., and apparently it is made up of mostly rednecks and racists.  My grandson has married a sweet girl of mixed herritage, she is half Black and half Puerto Rican.  He is recieving a lot of ridicule because he is red headed and because of his wife..  Also the new unit seems to think that they are better then he – because they are infantry and he is not.

     This is common in the Corps-  the infantry thinks they are the real Marines.  But we all went through the same Boot Camp training to recieve the Eagle Globe and Anchor and for the right to be called Marine.  It takes at least five, maybe more, behind the line Marines to support one on the front.  And we all go and do what the Brass decide for us.  I repaired weapons as my duty assignment, I would have rathered been a fighting man, than in the rear, but did what I was told.

     But this is what burns me – this young man is right there with these assholes, whereever they are, he carries a loaded rifle, his own pack plus that damn heavy raido.  He will be a preferred target because he is their communications link to the rear.  He will be the one to call for fire support, med evacuation and any aid needed .  He will be right there in the thick of it with them, so what makes them think they are any better than him?  The only one more important than he will be their Navy Corpsman (the Doc), and he is not infantary.

     I just wish this old Redneck Marine could sit on their ears for awhile, I’d fill their heads with enough shit for them to dig out and ponder for awhile.

Enough of this ramble.

 I continue to improve a little each day…

Hopefully I will be able to continue my Billy The Kid ramble soon, right now I tire easly.


Related Reading: USMC: RAMBLE again

Kilroy was here!

March 7, 2008

Kilroy was here! 

     I was a WWII baby, born in Oct. 1938.  I remember the war years remarkably well for being so young during this time.  One thing I remember was KILROY he popped up everywhere even in rural Missouri.  I remember seeing him on passing boxcars of when  steam locomotives trains rolled by.  I was always fascinated with him.  In news reels at the movie theater he would show up in clips on the sides of tanks and painted on bombs being loaded on to planes.  Later when I was a little older he showed up during the Korean conflict (no one called it a war, Police Action was the correct term).  He made a appearance in Viet Nam, and had shown up on fighting vehicles in the gulf War and is ridding along side of our people in the current conflict in the Mid -East.  The following post is taken from a site I receive weekly devoted to Marine Corps related subjects.  I found it quite interesting, and since the author gives permission for it to be passed around I asked my daughter to  place it into a draft for your enjoyment. 

     Below is an excerpt from The Sgt. Grit Newsletter I subscribe (and occasionally contribute) to: Sgt Grit American Courage Newsletter #169 – 6 Mar 2008 .

     It is preceded by a comment from my daughter. 

      Hi Dad – I remember Kilroy, I thought he came from the hippies or during the psychedelic 70’s. Goes to show ya what I know! I remember I had a red rubber kilroy that I could put in a pocket and have him peeking out. It’s neat to read about the ties to the armed forces. Love ya!!


My first brush with “Kilroy” was in 1950 as a youngster in Athens, Greece, where at the Anglo-American School the children of war-time multi-national expatriates attended classes. Our mixed lot was comprised of a far ranging and diverse group. Most were American children, but included were Brits, Indians, Turks, Egyptians, Italians, Spaniards and others from respective embassies, military services and even missionaries.

Kilroy was more legend than fad, the small drawing and inscription was ubiquitous and in the most unusual places. It was found on black boards, on the walls of restroom stalls, on the playground walls and basketball backboards. At that early age, it bugged me that “Kilroy” had been someplace ahead of me, but I soon got in the spirit and although too young to grasp its significance, like many of my cohorts, I would occasionally adorn some spot with the famous, or infamous depending on ones perspective, sketch and statement.

A few years ago my bride and I had the privilege to ride the USS Iwo Jima on its maiden voyage from its birthplace at the shipyards Pascagoula, Ms. to Pensacola, Fl. There were about two thousand guests aboard the ship and many sat on the flight deck to enjoy the sun and breeze. As we strolled by one lady whose leg was in a cast, we noted among all the greetings was the well known image and inscription, “Kilroy Was Here.”

Few people reading this today are old enough to remember how very important “Kilroy Was Here” was to GIs in WW2, Korea, and is today in the Gulf War and Iraq. The best legend of how he started is that James Kilroy was a rivet inspector on ships in Salem MS during WWII. To prove he had inspected, he would scribble the words throughout the ship.

Often the ships were sent to sea before painting or cleaning up (one Liberty ship was actually built in four days), GIs and sailors found the graffiti in impossible places. Soon Kilroy became the super GI who always got there first and survived. They began placing him in the most unlikely places. He has been reported on enemy beaches as landing GIs approached, on the Arc De Triomphe and even scrawled in the sand on the moon. As Owen Edwards said in the Smithsonian; “‘Kilroy Was Here’ appeared almost everywhere American soldiers went.”

There is one story of Stalin after emerging from a “porta- potti” at the Malta Summit, asked, “Who is Kilroy?” Kilroy was in all likelihood the forerunner of modern graffiti which itself has a long and illustrious history.

But why did this crude drawing and scrawled words become the super GI of WWII, Korea, the Gulf War, and Iraq? We know how it probably started but why the “movement?” I see the Kilroy phenomenon as a manifestation of absolutely amazing sense of humor. GI’s were always able to find something funny to say and do under stress that those of us today can only imagine. I also see Kilroy as a comfort to GI’s suffering through a world gone mad. No matter how bad it got, no matter what the danger, no matter how exhausted, scared or fed up they got, Kilroy was there first and survived. Only those who have “been there,” “done that,” can really appreciate and understand their motivations.

Finally, “Kilroy Was Here” was an effort by millions of GI’s to be a little rebellious when their whole life was controlled by others. It broke the horrible tension and provided a little fun. “Kilroy Was Here” persisted in spite of efforts by several commands to stamp it out. Certainly several occupied territory commanders issued orders that Kilroy not be scribbled and that it be removed wherever it was found. Such orders were always greeted with monumental indifference.

He was an outward demonstration of rebellious GI’s insisting on some individuality! “Kilroy Was Here” was duty – duty to their country; duty to their buddies. These were not warriors but simple guys who were caught up in forces far beyond their control. But warriors they became! By 1945 they were the most skilled warriors in the world. But, they never thought of themselves as such. They were just guys who wanted to get the job done and go home. Actually, they felt the only way to go home was to get the job done. This was a powerful motivation! Griping was taken to an art form but whining was never heard.

Kilroy still lives everywhere GIs have passed, including courthouses, places of worship, markets, and undoubtedly other, less respectable places limited only by ones imagination.

The generation that made Kilroy famous is now going to its eternal reward at the rate of a thousand a day; it won’t be very long before its members are gone. But our memory of them will live on for their legacy of sacrifice, bravery and wit. The torch has been passed to a new generation of American servicemen and women who are equal to any challenge, adversity and enemy. If politicians would but listen to and permit them, they can and will keep this nation safe and free for another generation, until their time too has passed. Static memorials grace Washington, State Capitols and even towns across the country, but few things are as ubiquitous as a US postage stamp, and consistent with that it is fitting that a stamp to commemorate past and contemporary heroes be issued so that wherever they travel and mail follows, Kilroy will always be there.

My good friend, Pat Tillery and I call on you to make a difference by sending a postcard or letter urging the Postal Service to issue a stamp to commemorate “Kilroy Was Here.” Send you notes, cards, and/or letters to:

Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee
Stamp Development
US Postal Service
1735 North Lynn Street, Rm. 501
Arlington VA 22209-6432

Or send an email, letter or petition to

Semper Fidelis

If you wish to send a comment or ask a question of Bob Pappas please use: pappas @

If you wish to read PREVIOUS ARTICLES by Col Pappas, please see:

Copyright © February 24th, 2008, by Patrick Tillery and Robert L. Pappas. With proper attribution, this essay may be quoted and redistributed. It may not be used in any way, in conjunction with any advertisement without the authors expressed written permission.  

Contact info for the author is noted in the excerpt above.

The direct link to the article in Sgt Grit’s newsletter is:
*scroll near the bottom of the page to find the above article by Col Pappa.

      There is very little I can add to this post Col. Pappa has covered it all.  I simply found it fascinating, and felt some might enjoy it who would not ever have found it otherwise.  In addition to my daughters comment I too at various times in my long life also had the little pocket Kilroy figure to stick in my pocket.  I have seen Kilroy make his appearance in Iraq on the sides of fighting equipment.  I am glad that he still exists to day and is doing his globe trotting as if he still possesses eternal youth.

     On a  more somber note my grandson who is in the Marines has just finished his Communications training at Twenty_Nine Palms and has reported to Camp Lejuine, North Carolina.  He arrived there this last Sunday evening and caledl us on Tuesday to let us know he had arrived safely and called again last night.  This time he reported that he has already been told that he will deploy to Iraq in October (2008).  This is not the kind of news we like to hear, but he is just one of thousands who have been placed into harms way by this conflict.  No matter how any of us feel about this mess, we owe the men and women who are sent there our whole-hearted support.  I fear that there is no end in sight for this damn thing no matter who gets the vote this November.  I simply hope in my deepest heart that our people get to come home whole and with their souls intact. 




Marine Corps Drill Instructors Abuse

December 21, 2007


      Along about July I was called to my attention that several drill instructors were to stand court marshall for abusing recruits.  Since my grandson had just went active in July I have followed the case as closely as possible.  In last Sundays paper a small article appeared in which the verdict of one Sgt. was relieved and the findings of the second told.

     A Sgt. Jarrod Glass had been found guilty of striking recruits with a tent pole and a heavy flashlight, he also forced one recruit to jump into a trash can head first then pushed him farther into the can.

     His verdict was eight counts of cruelty and maltreatment of recruits, destruction of personal property, assault and violating orders on how to properly treat recruits.

     Sgt. Glass was sentenced to six months in the brig, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and reduction in rank to private.

      A second Sgt.  Brian Wendel was found not guilty of abuse but convicted of failing to report abuses committed by others.  He was also found guilty of drinking beer in the drill instructors offices while off duty.

     He faces a maximum sentence of a year in the brig, a dishonorable discharge and reduction in rank to private.  His sentence was to have imposed this last Monday, but I have not seen any thing further in the paper.

     A third Sgt. is awaiting charges and court marshal.

     When I was first made aware of these charges in July the news paper article stated that a Marine Corps source stated that a average of six abuse cases are investigated each year.  The source also stated that every effort is made to weed out these abusive Drill Instructors, as these Kids are at their mercy and are trained t view these men as gods, and are powerless when faced with this type of behavior.

     Now here is where I have my gripe, I visit several web sites that are Marine Corps related.  Every time something like this surfaces, there are always a few individuals who rush in and scream WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO MY CORPS?  the mothers of America are ruining the Corps by interfering with the Marine Corps Boot Camp.  back in my day we——. 

     Crap back in my day 50+ years ago you could not beat the hell out of a recruit then without discipline.  Any action that places a young man at risk for injury is not allowed.  A damaged recruit is of no use to anyone.     Sure we were pushed to the limit and then past it but we were not hurt.  

     The other thing I often see is, keep these damn civilians out of the Marine Corps workings.  These Sgt.s were tried by a Marine Corps Court Marshal convened and juried by Marine Corps Officers who know Marine Corps Law.  There is no civilian interface involved.

     I was just over on one of my favorite sites tonight and read a article by a man who just attended his grandsons graduation from boot camp in San Diego and he was decrying how easy his grandson had it in boot camp and whether they were turning out Marines as good as in his day fifty years ago.  He needs to sit down with his grandson and learn what he has absorbed in his thirteen weeks of training.  It was a eye opener for me I too felt that boot camp was softer than in MY DAY.  A term the old guys like to use.  My grandson learned more in his thirteen weeks than I ever did.  their first-aid training is out standing and they ran farther than we did and Lord we did not even have any hand-to-hand teaching at all they had forty hours of it.

     No it is right that we give these kids to protection they need, we are not making boot camp soft by weeding out abusers.  In every organization there are abusers, be it Police, or any area of authority there are some bad apples even in marriage.  Hell look it it we are afraid to let our children walk down the street any more.  So when we send our young people off to train to defend our country we need to know that we are trusting them ot  people of high quality and trust.  Do not get me wrong I hold the Marine Corps Drill Instructor in high regard.  Hell a couple I know had a hand in making me the man I am today.  Their job is hard and demanding and they often are hated but the respect that a Marine has for his Instructor later in life if legendary.

OK time to get of the soap box for now.




December 12, 2007


     Today Dec. 11, 2007, my wife and I went to my grandson’s graduation ceremony at Camp Pendelton from The School of Infantry.  Four-hundred-twenty young men completed their final preliminary training in becoming MARINES.  Four platoons consisting of 80+ men marched out onto the parade deck and stood at ease as the Company Commander read the reports and greeted the attending  families.  A brief description of the activities for the last twenty two days was given.  After a final  call to attention they were dismissed.  My grandson had only about fifteen Minutes to visit with us then he had to hustle to his quarters and process his gear to the buses.  He was shipping out immediately for Twenty-Nine Palms to begin his MOS training. He joined us in the Mess Hall for lunch where he only ate about half of his meal before hustling of to board the buss.

     He was supposed to be assigned to Electrical Communications Repair School in North Carolina.  His paper work came down as a radio operator, a grunt in the lines.  I asked him “did you even try to get it changed to what you signed up for?”,  He said “not too hard, I kinda want to go” .  I understand the Gung-Ho Marine attitude, but now I will be worrying about him a lot sooner.   By the time I sat down to write this I imagine he is esconed in his new quarters and will have received his new issue of weapons and web gear.

     I got to see some of the new equipment and weapons they trained with in the School of Infantry.  The first thing they put on is the vest.  It is pretty heavy in itself.  It had an insert that can absorb three 7.62 rounds before cracking and also has a back and two side plates.  Over this goes the pack and frame – the pack with required equipment weighs in at 40 pounds – then whatever the Marine wants to carry as personal items – clean socks, underwear, t-shirts, what ever.  Add to this his weaponry and ammo, plus three canteens of water.  Plus my grandson will now add the weight of a field radio.  Luckily most of the time at this time of the year Twenty-nine Palms won’t bee too hot, mater of fact it can get damn cold there, especially at night.

     By this time these young men have had over forty hours of US Marine Corps Martial Arts Training.  Hand to hand, offence and defensive, knife and bayonet (The bayonet they now have serves as a knife, it’s as good as the old K-BAR).  And as previously mentioned the First Aid Training is way beyond the scope of what we had fifty years ago.

     Here I just want to say again, to the naysayers who complain that the marines are too soft on the recruits today — shut up, step back and take a look at these fine young men.  They are better equipped and better trained than I was fifty years ago.  They are trained and equipped to do the job.  Just get the G–dammed politicians out of the military and let them do the job.  Amen –  getting off my soap box and hibernating for now. This damn computer room is an ice box.