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Charging_Handle
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:16:10 PM
Sitting here reading Eugene B. Sledge's With The Old Breed (covers the Pacific WWII battles of Peleliu and Okinawa) for about the tenth time, I continue to find myself amazed by the description he offers of one of the sergeants in his company. This guy was in reality the kind of tough, no-bullshit NCO that Hollywood has tried to create for years without success. Guys like this are simply too unique to be mimicked. At any rate, I just thought ARFCOM would love to hear this brief run-down on what kind of tough SOB GySgt Haney was. Here is Sledge's description:

Gunnery Sgt. Elmo M. Haney served with Company K, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines in France during World War I. Between the two wars, he taught school in Arkansas for about four years, then rejoined the Marines Corps where he was assigned to his old unit. He fought on Guadalcanal and at Cape Gloucester with Company K. In the later action, he won a Silver Star for heroism when he "took care of some Japs by himself with a few hand grenades," as one Marine described the scene.

Haney was more than fifty years old when the 1st Marine Division assaulted Peleliu. Although a gunnery sergeant by rank, he held no official position in Company K's chain of command. In the field he seemed to be everywhere at once, correcting mistakes and helping out.

I had seen Haney around the company area but first noticed him in the shower one day because of the way he bathed. About a dozen naked, soapy replacements, myself included, stared in wide-eyed amazement and shuddered as Haney held his genitals in his left hand while scrubbing them with a GI brush the way one buffs a shoe. When you consider that the GI brush had stiff, tough, split fiber bristles embedded in a stout wooden handle and was designed to scrub heavy canvas 782 web gear, dungarees and even floors, Haney's method of bathing becomes truly impressive.

I first saw him exert his authority one day on a pistol range where he was in charge of safety. A new second lieutenant, a replacement like myself, was firing from the position I was to assume. As he fired his last round, another new officer behind me called to him. The lieutenant turned to answer with his pistol in his hand. Haney was sitting next to me on a coconut-log bench and hadn't uttered a word except for the usual firing range commands. When the lieutenant turned the pistol's muzzle away from the target, Haney reacted like a cat leaping on its prey. He scooped up a large handful of coral gravel and flung it squarely into the lieutenant's face. He shook his fist at the bewildered officer and gave him the worst bawling out I ever heard. Everyone along the firing line froze, officers as well as enlisted men. The offending officer, with his gold bars shining brightly on his collar, cleared the weapon, holstered it, and took off rubbing his eyes and blushing visibly. Haney returned to his seat as though nothing had happened. Along the firing line, we thawed. Thereafter we were much more conscious of safety regulations.

Haney was about my size, at 135 pounds, with sandy crew-cut hair and a deep tan. He was lean, hard and muscular. Although not broad-shouldered or well-proportioned, his torso reminded me of some anatomy sketch by Michaelangelo: every muscle stood out in stark definition. He was slightly barrel chested with muscles heaped up on the back of his shoulders so that he almost had a hump. Neither his arms nor his legs were large, but the muscles in them reminded me of steel bands. His face was small-featured with squinting eyes and looked as though it was covered with deeply tanned, wrinkled leather.

Haney was the only man I ever saw in the outfit who didn't seem to have a buddy. He wasn't a loner in the sense that he was sullen or unfriendly. He simply lived in a world all his own. I often felt that he didn't even see his surroundings; all he seemed to be aware of was his rifle, his bayonet and his leggings. He was absolutely obsessed with wanting to bayonet the enemy.

We all cleaned our weapons daily, but Haney cleaned his M1 before muster, at noon chow, and after dismissal in the afternoon. It was a ritual. He would sit by himself, light a cigarette, field strip his rifle, and meticulously clean every inch of it. The he cleaned his bayonet. All the while he talked to himself quietly, grinned frequently, and puffed his cigarette down to a stump. When his rifle was cleaned, he reassembled it, fixed his bayonet, and went through a few minutes of thrust, parry, and butt-stroke movements at thin air. Then Haney would light another cigarette and sit quietly, talking to himself and grinning while awaiting orders. He carried out these proceedings as though totally unaware of the presence of the other 235 men in the company. He was like Robinson Crusoe on an island by himself.

To say that he was "Asiatic" would be to miss the point entirely. Haney transcended that condition. The company had many rugged individuals, characters, old salts and men who were "Asiatic", but Haney was in a category by himself. I felt that he was not a man born of woman, but that God had issued him to the Marine Corps.

Despite his personal idiosyncracies, Haney inspired us youngsters in Company K. He provided us with a direct link to the "Old Corps". To us, he was the old breed. We admired him - and we loved him.


Definitely a unique and tough guy there! I thought some of you might find that as interesting and at times humorous as I did. Gunnery Sergeant Haney was one helluva interesting figure among a unit filled with distinguished individuals.
"The movie director Sam Peckinpah was right. Fighting and fucking is what it's all about. Everything else is a surrogate"
BobCole
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:19:50 PM
I find it telling that there's NO mention of his family whatsoever. No wife, no kids, nada. How sad for the man, IMO.
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PanzerMK7
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:23:10 PM
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.
Charging_Handle
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:25:41 PM
[Last Edit: 2/14/2009 10:27:00 PM by Charging_Handle]
Originally Posted By BobCole:
I find it telling that there's NO mention of his family whatsoever. No wife, no kids, nada. How sad for the man, IMO.


Yeah, it sounds like he was more or less married to the Corps, and the young Marines were his children. The guy probably didn't fit in at all outside the military. But he just sounds like one of those people who was born to be a career Soldier/Marine, totally dedicated to his cause with no thoughts toward anything else. I am sure those young guys he looked after greatly benefited from his years of experience and toughness though.
"The movie director Sam Peckinpah was right. Fighting and fucking is what it's all about. Everything else is a surrogate"
piccolo
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:29:28 PM
Old Corps.

Hard Corps.

And an intellectual, to boot.


Marines always have been an odd lot.



Gotta love 'em.
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MisterWilson
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:40:35 PM
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.


You disrespectful liberal shit. I'd bet anything you're not worth cleaning his boots.
Charging_Handle
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:48:06 PM
Originally Posted By MisterWilson:
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.


You disrespectful liberal shit. I'd bet anything you're not worth cleaning his boots.


Apparently he didn't read the part describing how this man fought in 3 Pacific island campaigns, the most brutal and personal fighting of WWII I might add, while at or nearing the age of 50! Combat is certainly a young man's game. To see an older Marine like this with such a gung-ho attitude is itself amazing. I don't imagine PanzerMK7 ever fought in 3 battles the equal of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester or Peleliu at age 20, much less at age 50, while enduring 115 degree temperatures and conditions so unsanitary that people today could not even begin to comprehend. So my opinion of Haney stands. He was one tough, interesting, dedicated guy who I admire and respect immensely.
"The movie director Sam Peckinpah was right. Fighting and fucking is what it's all about. Everything else is a surrogate"
SO758
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:53:40 PM
I own that book as well, very good reading! Also have his other book titled "China Marine" he describes his stay in China after the war. Good read as well!
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PanzerMK7
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Posted: 2/14/2009 10:54:55 PM
[Last Edit: 2/14/2009 11:00:25 PM by PanzerMK7]
Originally Posted By MisterWilson:
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.


You disrespectful liberal shit. I'd bet anything you're not worth cleaning his boots.


Lol at the "liberal" comment, if they removed the part about him being a gunny in the marines and just said that he sat off by himself, with no friends, and talked to himself, threw rocks, and attacked his dick in the shower, he'd be ridiculed.

I've met plenty of senior military members who would be (and are) mocked mercilessly because they aren't really very good at anything except staying around long enough to get promoted.

There's nothing impressive in that article except the quick anecdote about killing japs with grenades, which may or may not be true.

I might be a Marine, but I don't drink the kool aid or buy into our own mystique.

ETA: Ok, he was in those campaigns, so were a lot of other guys, many of whom didn't do anything noteworthy except be there, I'll have to hear something specific before I give it up for him. The silver star isn't good enough by itself, I've seen enough awards given out as favors among senior enlisted and officers to be wary of anyone getting them.
spd2230
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Posted: 2/14/2009 11:22:55 PM

Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
Originally Posted By MisterWilson:
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.


You disrespectful liberal shit. I'd bet anything you're not worth cleaning his boots.


Lol at the "liberal" comment, if they removed the part about him being a gunny in the marines and just said that he sat off by himself, with no friends, and talked to himself, threw rocks, and attacked his dick in the shower, he'd be ridiculed.

I've met plenty of senior military members who would be (and are) mocked mercilessly because they aren't really very good at anything except staying around long enough to get promoted.

There's nothing impressive in that article except the quick anecdote about killing japs with grenades, which may or may not be true.

I might be a Marine, but I don't drink the kool aid or buy into our own mystique.

ETA: Ok, he was in those campaigns, so were a lot of other guys, many of whom didn't do anything noteworthy except be there, I'll have to hear something specific before I give it up for him. The silver star isn't good enough by itself, I've seen enough awards given out as favors among senior enlisted and officers to be wary of anyone getting them.

Un-fucking-believable.

Do you think they just hand out the Silver Star?

Show some respect and stop trolling.

Just realized you added your little jewel of an "ETA". The part in red, seriously? Again, please show some respect.



PanzerMK7
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Posted: 2/14/2009 11:36:53 PM
Originally Posted By spd2230:

Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
Originally Posted By MisterWilson:
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.


You disrespectful liberal shit. I'd bet anything you're not worth cleaning his boots.


Lol at the "liberal" comment, if they removed the part about him being a gunny in the marines and just said that he sat off by himself, with no friends, and talked to himself, threw rocks, and attacked his dick in the shower, he'd be ridiculed.

I've met plenty of senior military members who would be (and are) mocked mercilessly because they aren't really very good at anything except staying around long enough to get promoted.

There's nothing impressive in that article except the quick anecdote about killing japs with grenades, which may or may not be true.

I might be a Marine, but I don't drink the kool aid or buy into our own mystique.

ETA: Ok, he was in those campaigns, so were a lot of other guys, many of whom didn't do anything noteworthy except be there, I'll have to hear something specific before I give it up for him. The silver star isn't good enough by itself, I've seen enough awards given out as favors among senior enlisted and officers to be wary of anyone getting them.

Un-fucking-believable.

Do you think they just hand out the Silver Star?

Show some respect and stop trolling.

Just realized you added your little jewel of an "ETA". The part in red, seriously? Again, please show some respect.



Based on my own experience, yes, they do just give out awards in many cases. I'm jaded by the whole award business because I've seen enough heavy collars get awards for doing shit that the junior guys were doing all the time, somehow it deserves an award when an E-8 does it, but not an E-3, that's a bullshit double standard.

I've served with guys who are total shit bags, shouldn't even be Marines, let alone 03's, they have the distinction of saying they were "there for Fallujah", or they were there for "the push to Baghdad".

Just being there isn't good enough to get my respect. I reserve it for when it's demonstrably deserved, I'll happily reverse my opinion if someone can give a credible account of what he actually DID to get that silver star.

sniper1886
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Posted: 2/14/2009 11:46:46 PM
elmo was my wifes 3rd cousin, ( although everyone down here is related somehow.)
MisterWilson
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Posted: 2/15/2009 12:46:35 AM
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
I might be a Marine, but I don't drink the kool aid or buy into our own mystique.


Well in that case I'll thank you for your service, however everything you wrote just reads...poorly.

But with that being said, you've served and I haven't, so I'll concede that you have more of a right to say what you did than I and will respectfully bow out of this conversation.
Bowhntr6pt
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Posted: 2/15/2009 1:07:58 AM
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
Originally Posted By spd2230:

Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
Originally Posted By MisterWilson:
Originally Posted By PanzerMK7:
So he threw rocks and scrubbed his dick really hard.......

Ok.


You disrespectful liberal shit. I'd bet anything you're not worth cleaning his boots.


Lol at the "liberal" comment, if they removed the part about him being a gunny in the marines and just said that he sat off by himself, with no friends, and talked to himself, threw rocks, and attacked his dick in the shower, he'd be ridiculed.

I've met plenty of senior military members who would be (and are) mocked mercilessly because they aren't really very good at anything except staying around long enough to get promoted.

There's nothing impressive in that article except the quick anecdote about killing japs with grenades, which may or may not be true.

I might be a Marine, but I don't drink the kool aid or buy into our own mystique.

ETA: Ok, he was in those campaigns, so were a lot of other guys, many of whom didn't do anything noteworthy except be there, I'll have to hear something specific before I give it up for him. The silver star isn't good enough by itself, I've seen enough awards given out as favors among senior enlisted and officers to be wary of anyone getting them.

Un-fucking-believable.

Do you think they just hand out the Silver Star?

Show some respect and stop trolling.

Just realized you added your little jewel of an "ETA". The part in red, seriously? Again, please show some respect.



Based on my own experience, yes, they do just give out awards in many cases. I'm jaded by the whole award business because I've seen enough heavy collars get awards for doing shit that the junior guys were doing all the time, somehow it deserves an award when an E-8 does it, but not an E-3, that's a bullshit double standard.

I've served with guys who are total shit bags, shouldn't even be Marines, let alone 03's, they have the distinction of saying they were "there for Fallujah", or they were there for "the push to Baghdad".

Just being there isn't good enough to get my respect. I reserve it for when it's demonstrably deserved, I'll happily reverse my opinion if someone can give a credible account of what he actually DID to get that silver star.



I did 20 years active duty with the US Army... I know what you are talking about reference the awards system. However, I'm not too sure I would associate today's standard with the standards back then...

He served, he killed the enemy, he has my respect... regardless of what award someone took the time to recommend him for.
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steve-oh
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Posted: 2/15/2009 1:17:01 AM
If I remember, doesn't he flip out later in the book? Or am I thinking of someone else? It's been a year since I read it.

Anyways, tough old bastard! That book really illustrates the hell of WWII in the pacific.

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SaltyDog
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Posted: 2/15/2009 1:17:09 AM
Panzer MK7 You might be a Marine?

What the fuck kind of answer is that.
omega62
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Posted: 2/15/2009 1:21:47 AM
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the deaths of such men. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."

- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

I salute this old salty leatherneck named Gunny Haney.
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Charging_Handle
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Posted: 2/15/2009 12:51:46 PM
Originally Posted By steve-oh:
If I remember, doesn't he flip out later in the book? Or am I thinking of someone else? It's been a year since I read it.

Anyways, tough old bastard! That book really illustrates the hell of WWII in the pacific.



Nah, that was some kid who happened to be on a patrol with Haney and about a platoon size force of men sent out to guard a potential area of approach. He started freaking out sometime during the night. His buddies tried to calm him but he just kept yelling louder and louder. They finally tried to punch him and knock him out. But that failed too. Finally someone in the platoon hit him over the head with an entrenching tool, killing the man during the process. The guy who did it didn't intend to kill the man, but that is ultimately what it took to quiet the flipped out Marine and keep him from giving away their position. Sobering stuff.
"The movie director Sam Peckinpah was right. Fighting and fucking is what it's all about. Everything else is a surrogate"