- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Don't forget the Pentagon!
He discovers foolishness and stupidity, as well as bravery and heroism.
Along the way he runs into President-to-be Jerry Ford, Commandant Gen. Dave Shoup, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara; Chiang K'ai-sheck; Lord Louie Mountbatten;
I Chose To Be A US Marine
I was recruited into the NROTC because I thought I'd learn how to navigate my own yacht when I should have my yacht.
Embarked on an E-boat in new York's East River, en route to battleship Wyoming, I was instructed "See them white rubbery things? Thems called Coney Island White Fish."
At Guantanamo, we were told to play softball on the mudflats but no liberty in Caimenera.
The summer before Pearl Harbor we cruised aboard an aged yacht that never got out of Long Island Sound and were subjected to a Captain Queeg and poor performing, sullen sailors. I was inspired by John Payne in "The Shores of Tripoli."
This was reason to head for the Marine Corps in Quantico, where I found out that the original purpose for Marines aboard ship was to protect the captain from mutineers.
The reason for the quilted cross on top of officers caps was to help sharp shooters in crosstrees or rigging to distinguish friend from foe.
But I still was under the spell of the Navy. At my initial physical exam the doc asked me not "if" but "when was the last time you had VD?"
That doc, confronting a malingerer trying to avoid duty as he was adjusting his finger in his rubber glove, would command, "Up on the table."
So let's get along with some samples in Quantico training. Repeat all calls more distant from the guard post than my own.
What is the mission? What is the objective?
Know the password. Seize high ground and hold it.
Pursue the enemy. Two up and one back.
All aimed shots. Reconstitute a reserve.
Fix bayonets. Form fields of fire.
Know the military crest. Maintain lateral contacts.
Fashion camouflage. Patrols have points, flankers, and main body.
If captures, only give name, rank, and serial number.
We were so motivated that one could say we wept when not selected not for an infantry, rifle platoon, but for field artillery. I guess it was in response to the need at the time, but it helped that one had solid training in mathematics at the time. So now we became cannon cockers. We had to buy boots and spurs, pretty expensive for the pay of a lieutenant at the time. The concept of Marine Corps artillery was limited. Our weapon was the 1898, French 75-mm pack howitzer, broken down in parts for transport by mule. We were schooled in equitation, which sometimes involved galloping four abreast in rough country, trying always to keep our pith helmets on top.
Once we were halted by a tumble out of the saddle by an unfortunate novice, our salty veteran instructor thundered, "Lieutenant, who gave you permission to dismount?" And then, to others, "Who gave you permission to laugh?"
I must get along with this account of 1942 images and stories, I refer to some of the basic, familiar sayings of field artillery: Fire Mission. Shell H.E. Fuse Quick. Right Add, Left Subtract. Lay back on base deflection.
Next for me and my battalion was Niland, California, billeted in tents in the empty desert near the All-American Canal and the Salton Sea. I had learned that this sea was confined by the shallow sill, built up by soil washed down by the Rio Grande on its way to the Gulf of California. I have a passion for geography, so I was fascinated by an expert's conjecture that under the right conditions of high winds, storms and super high tides, the Gulf might reverse over the sill and refill the Salton Sea. We artillerists had now been enabled to employ the 105-mm howitzer. In firing practice into the empty desert it was hard to specify some target worth firing on—except perhaps a "bushy bush." So somehow a small, unneeded, wooden privy was laboriously trucked to the distant target area. In adjusting first rounds lucky Lieut. Carrington hit it squarely and it vanished. My battalion commander, "Dammit, George, we went to a lot of trouble on that privy. Whatta you do now?" Answer: Fire for effect.
An embarrassing little episode occurred before we left for overseas. On a night firing exercise, the two-star commanding general, showing his leadership in a familiar tone to his jeep driver, "How do you like the Marine Corps, son?" In reply, "Not worth a shit Mac, how about you?"
My battalion sailed from San Diego in Bloemfontein, named after the South African city. The name evoked memory of Boer War times. We sailed fast and straight, not in convoy and with the escort protection from submarines, as was necessary in the Atlantic. However, we were warned repeatedly and strongly not to throw anything overboard that might give Jap submarines knowledge of our presence. When a careless Marine threw a part of orange peel overboard, and a silly c. o. proposed a court martial, this was a little too much.
Arrived Auckland, all steamed up for future combat, it seemed preposterous that we should not unload because of a dock workers strike. We soon became deeply respectful of New Zealand's war effort. Their manpower was prominent in ANZAC, the force desperately trying to hold up the Germans as they overran Greece. Winston Churchill had not allowed decimated, exhausted New Zealander troops to return home. Many were sacrificed, but they held up the German timetable. And in my military historian's appreciation of this, the Germans were held up and not able to defeat the Russians at all-important Stalingrad.
We continued artillery training in the extreme north of the North Island. With many New Zealand men away at their war, there were for us Marines some understandable romances with the ladies. It was deemed important for all hands to complete a fifty-mile hike. We still had buglers in our ranks, and it is a sweet memory today to remember the notes of the Mail Call, Recall, and Taps. As we reloaded at Auckland, I was surprised to encounter a naval medical unit which included a surgeon who once had a look at me. When skiing in college days I had suffered a severely, twisted, strained knew for which other doctors advocated an operation. In the standard of that time, it would have barred me from becoming a Marine Corps officer. My doctor pal had said no, never mind. So as we departed New Zealand I was able to thank him for the dubious reward of a commitment to Guadalcanal.
Guadalcanal was the vital turning point in the War in the Pacific. No real combat for me, but we were in the war zone. There were air raids that prompted one to get into a slit trench at night—or the hell with that, it's full of water. Marines were dispatched in working parties to unload merchant ships with all types of cargo. If an air raid alert occurred, even possibly fifty miles away, our working parties were interrupted while the merchantman weighed anchor, moved a few yards away and anchored again. This made it two air raids and double bonus pay, As survey officer for my battalion I would direct an inexperienced crew, attempting to measure angles accurately through the jungle of "Oh Shit" vines. At test firing time we would be wildly off target. I knew it was better to just "shoot" our weapons in on a firing chart or rough map. Eleanor Roosevelt, the only woman to ever do so, visited the island once, so we had to screen the pee tubes for miles along the coast. I had to take my turn on the garbage scow for the division as it was dumped the trash in Tulagi channel. We called it "Chanel No.5." But we continued training. I picture how we had to practice placing a 105 into the amphibious truck. It only fitted awkwardly and we had to fish it in and out with a crane on another vehicle.
Bougainville, named after the famed French explorer, was next, my first true combat. We were slated to land on a close-in little islet called Puruata, but discovered that the brush was so thick and impenetrable, that we could not get our 105s on the ground. So we had to creep in a bit onto the narrow beach where the palm trees were so close and tall that we had to resort to high-angle fire. While thinking on those palm trees, I recall an early frightful event. The palms had been weakened by naval gunfire and storm, so one night a tree came crashing down on our fire direction tent, squarely hitting and killing a respected and well-loved comrade. Close combat was intermittent and scattered for the infantry, but the artillery on Bougainville could be massed with as many as forty-eight pieces, in multiple volleys, some going off with quick fuses in the tree tops. We truly finished off Japs who had concentrated in a pot called Piva Forks. Mild air raid threats continued. When "Washing Machine Charlie" was heard overhead, the comment would be, "That's one of ours." A single crashing bomb proved otherwise, I was the battalion malaria control officer and sure enough was one of the first to be felled by it. In recovery I was sent to undemanding duty with infantry where I first saw bodies of the dead. Finally, at re-embarkation an exhausted, weakened Marine struggling up a very lengthy cargo net fell between his landing craft and the high flank of the merchant ship. The confused boat crew looking up and the merchant personnel shouting down, over the separation, in turbulent water and noise missed him. Depart Bougainville; we were not enthusiastic about returning to the Guadalcanal. The Army relieved the Marines on Bougainville. The Japs were left to wither on the vine.
I choose to tell of next combat. It was an increased feeling of importance that the 3rd Marine Division left Guadalcanal and crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere for an assault on Guam. It was first U.S territory to be retaken. The landing was said to be the first well planned and executed amphibious landing in the Pacific. My personal adventure was unplanned. I still hold the image of a Marine tank proceeding laterally along the beach, me taking shelter in its lee. It had a buried Jap bomb planted nose up as a mine. Others were hurt worse than I, but I was evacuated for stuff that had hit my arm and face—probably stone, sand and coral rock. I got the docs to send me back in a couple of days with the biggest black eyes of all time. An abiding memory, better than any medal, is one I hold of a young Marine viewing me and saying, "I wish all officers were like you." Field artillery was landed early, before much of a front had been advanced. This required that the right regiment of infantry be supported by the leftmost artillery battalion. Left regiment by the right battalion. This resulted in an unusual crisscross pattern of fire. My reconnaissance group of good map reading artillerists had at one time to tell a rifle battalion reading erroneously, "Hell no. You're here. Not here. You'd do better watch out for friendly fire." Later we were halted in sort of a picnic lunch event. A midget Jap tank came bustling among us, interfering in our show, but it was easy to chase him down,. After battle, during a boring time of occupation, I made an interesting jaunt. I had been on the Frenchman's Bougainville, so now I got a Guam native to show me where the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan had landed. He called Guam the Ladrones, meaning the Valley of Thieves.
Leaving Guam for Iwo Jima, I tell of the biggest beer bust that ever occurred. Marines joined Gen. Curtis Lemay's 15th Air Force "Airedales," then engaged in critical, dangerous high level as well as fire-bombing of Japan. There were marvelous friendly fistfights. We exulted in premature celebration over what we were going to do to the emperor, descended from the sun, his troops, and his Japan. On the way home, jeep accidents, by over indulgent beer drinkers, resulted in the first Iwo Jima casualties. My battalion was loaded for Iwo as, "last in, first out." This meant that the tested, experienced Third Marine regiment was held in reserve. Some were immensely relieved. Others heroically disappointed. Why not put the total command ashore on Iwo, perhaps lessening the burdens and casualties on others? Well a reserve held out here might be a force for the next battle or at least speed up the timetable. And expediting the end might save many others, in Japan itself. But there being no need for artillery to be reserved, my battalion was landed, "first." When landing craft hot the steep beach in turbulent surf, coxswains had to rev engines to stay in place. But many craft broached, leaving fewer means to transport the wounded back to ships. We continued up that very steep, black sands beach and selected position next to Iwo's airfield.
It was sometimes necessary to bypass Japs who were hiding in caves. They would come out at night, making the area between rear and front more dangerous than the most forward positions. Naval gunfire, field artillery, and tanks often could not do the job. Give us flame throwers! Iwo's volcanic sands in some spots allowed the erection of hot showers. But also one could be up to his ass in the hot sand but freezing to death topside. One night the false rumor arose that the war in Europe was over. This resulted in a manic, undisciplined, firing of every sort of weapon. My final evocation of Iwo Jima surprisingly took place fifty-five years later, when we returned for an anniversary to visit. I was conversing with a comrade who had been importantly involved in the last surmounting of Suribachi. We remembered the problem of a Jap gun firing from a small cave mouth that had been causing many causalities. A forlorn, obviously distressed lady, overhearing us, left her naval group of escorts. We recalled the solution of the problem by a rescuing destroyer which closed in to dangerous short range and knocked out that Japanese weapon. But not before it got off a final round, hitting the ship squarely on its bridge. Her comment, bonding us in an embrace of eternal duration, "Yes, It killed the captain. He was my father."CHAPTER 2
How and Why I Got to China
In my childhood we somehow unconsciously adopted certain habits of discrimination or prejudice which we came to realize were unfair, meaningless or shameful.
There was a lone "Chinaman" in my village whom we taunted with mud balls thrown as he washed his car. We had acquired the nasty stunt of yelling at him "Ching, Ching Chinaman sitting on a fence, trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents." There were many years to pass, better behavior to be learned, education and accidents to be experienced before one would emerge free and rid of such foolishness. I am proud today that I can see it the Chinese way. I hereinafter view things that I discovered in the postwar Peking of Traditional China. I do not write of matters of today, in modern, successful, thriving China. My story now is about how those adventures in Peking affected me and how this knowledge helped me and became part of my character
I first got stung by China on Iwo Jima, when my college classmate wrote me that he was being assigned to language school at University of California at Berkeley. "Why don't you put in for it?" he asked. Yeah, the Japs seemed so tough that I thought I'd next have to fight them in China. So at about New Year's 1946, after a year of training, I found myself at the San Francisco dockside reading that General George C. Marshall had given up trying to get Chiang K'ai-shek and Moose Dung (as we called him) to kiss and make up. He was coming home to be Secretary of State. I felt China might be all over for me, but I was embarked with a couple of buddies on the hospital ship Repose. It was post-WW II time, the military budget being cut well down so there was a shortage of troop transport ships to take us on to China. However, in order not to contravene the Geneva Convention by putting regular, combat Marines on a hospital ship, we were assigned to the Psycho Ward. It was ideal for playing Chinese Checkers and Mah-jongg.
My two buddies were peeled off to Tientsin and Tsingtao, but I was assigned to Peking. There I was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marines. Our rifle companies were assigned to guard the airfield, patrol the railroad lines and stations, and to keep order in the old capital of Peking itself. Within the Peking home company sometimes about half of the outfit would go one night on liberty, while their buddies would supervise them on MP duty. Next night roles might be swapped.
I was an artillery captain and there were no longer artillery units in China. So it was decided that I could serve as a provost marshal. This meant jobs like cleaning up dirty restaurants, chasing down AWOL Marines, closing houses for ladies of the night, and recovering stolen property. It was an interesting time. A primary concern was over stolen or misappropriated jeeps. Sometime a Tientsin thief might abscond with one of our Peking jeeps and take it south. At the same time a Peking robber might grab a Tientsin vehicle and move it into our jurisdiction. Of course our equipment was all clearly identifiable and listed as Fifth Marines property. However, once I caught a high ranking rascal with one of our jeeps who asserted his right to possession by consulting a printed list of jeep serial numbers. He claimed a solitary digit misprint or blurred serial number as disproving our claim but proving his. I solved the problem by grabbing the rotor so there could be no more removal of that jeep.
In early 1946 there was much to enjoy in that classic city. I recall the majestic Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city was symmetrical with massive walls and gates that were shut up at night. The grand Peking Hotel was occupied on its first floor by Chiang K'ai-shek's representatives or negotiators; the second by those of the Communist Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. The third floor held a vast number of idle U.S. officers with no mission or anything to do. We called it The Hall of a Hundred Sleeping Colonels.
There were many ways for learning, amusement, and gaining experience in those days. I became acquainted with a German lady who was a scholar, artist, and author on China. She had a charming home, where we could gather to dine and hear Mozart on her ancient Victrola She was long separated from her Nazi husband, and in fact gave refuge and assistance to several Jews who had ended up in China. One night, however, I mentioned that I was a provost marshal to a group of supposed German innocents. Next day they decamped 600 miles to the west, fearing that I was on their tails as war criminals.
Excerpted from I Chose To Be A U.S. Marine by George W. Carrington. Copyright © 2013 George W. Carrington. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.