Just a little something to get our minds off the debates...........
I shot at Perry and, as usual the Marines opened their doors to me. A Gunny told me that if I could drop by Quantico some noontime, we could have lunch together and offered me a tour. I won’t bore you with the details.
Anyway, my last tour ended in Baltimore. As I am sometimes apt to do, I had my relief drive my vehicle to Baltimore so I could get a running start for home. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive in Balto until late, and I felt that I was too fried to drive home. I went home with a shipmate, drank a couple of beers and crapped out on his couch and slept in until almost 10the following morning.
I shaved, showered and changed my duds into clean jeans and a clean shirt. Then I remembered that I was only about an hour or so from Quantico. I decided to take the Gunny up on his offer if he wasn’t too busy.
Of course, when I got there, I discovered that he was on his ‘Post Perry’ leave.
I decided to give myself a little tour.
I started to head toward the rifle ranges, traveling by memory, promptly took a wrong turn and wound up getting pulled aside for a random search of my vehicle. I wasn’t too upset, after all, there is a sign posted saying that all those entering are subject to a random search.
The MPs did a pretty good job of tossing my pickup. I’ll give them that. I’ve seen a few civvies LEOs miss a lot over the years, but these young teenaged Marines were pretty observant. I was more impressed by their professionalism than I was upset with being searched.
When they were done with me, I asked directions to the ranges.
I headed in the direction of the rifle ranges and decided to see if there were any of the other guys from the rifle team shooting. Of course, none were. But I heard the unmistakable sounds of M-16 musketry and headed toward the sound of the guns.
I saw a large group of Maries firing and moseyed down to the firing line and asked the first NCO I saw what was going on. He explained that some of the Marines on post were undergoing their annual rifle qualification. I nodded.
Then it hit me. To steal a phrase from the Great Yogi Berra, ‘It was Déjà vu all over again!’
I squinted, and looked around. I had been on that very rifle range before.
A dim memory was coming back to me, as clear as yesterday.
I was 12, it was 1963, and John F. Kennedy was still president. It was early fall, and he hadn’t been gunned down yet.
I was a second year Boy Scout.
One of the kids in our troop was a pilot of some sort and was stationed at Weymouth Naval Air Station in Weymouth, Mass. The previous year we had toured the base there, spending a whole weekend. Apparently, Commander Royce had spoken with his Marine counterpart because we had been offered a weekend at Quantico!
Back in ’63, the Interstate system was in its infancy, so a run from the Boston area to Quantico was a real pilgrimage. Looking back on it, it was the most ambitious undertaking we ever took on as a Troop. I can’t remember if we had a Friday or a Monday off from school, but we got picked up from school before school was out and started south directly from school. If I recall, some of us missed lunch at school. I do remember having to give my teachers a note getting me out of class for the trip.
We had just gotten started and Louie started singing ‘Ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall’. We all laughed we knew it was going to be a long, long trip. Discipline was fairly strict, and not only enforced by the fathers and Scout leaders, but b each other, too. Most of us realized that this trip was pretty unusual, and we wanted it to be a success. Any scout that even looked like he was going to act up could plan on getting the holy shit stomped out of him by his peers.
We actually arrived at Quantico in the middle of the night and were issued bedding which most of us parked somewhere and tossed sleeping bags on the bunks and crapped out.
Of course, we were up early, made our beds and headed straight to the chow hall where we wolfed down a god-awful amount of food for breakfast. We had dined on brown bags for dinner during the long drive, and were famished. We had been told by our Scout leaders to ‘take what you want, but eat what you take’. We emptied our plates and went back for more.
The cooks were amazed. On the other hand, they felt complimented.
Of course, this wasn’t the only time they’d fed scouts. I guess they were generally astonished with the amounts of chow kids could put away.
Incidentally, the relationship the Boy Scouts had with the services at the time wasn’t all one way. The following year, in 1964, the DoD ordered all of the services to send logisticians attend the Boy Scout World Jamboree at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to observe how the Boy Scouts managed to feed that many Scouts. Remember, Scouting
worldwide includes almost all religions and the host country of a World Jamboree was expected to be able to allow the attending Scouts to follow their religious dietary laws.
But I digress.
After breakfast we were all herded into some type of auditorium and given a welcome by some officer, along with a schedule of what the Marines had planned for us.
I’ll give the Corps this: They sure knew Boy Scouts.
They had a bunch of stuff for us to do and watch.
Of course, this was part of the recruiting program and one of the things they mentioned was the NROTC program. Although college was some years down the road for some of us, they mentioned the program.
A mutual friend years later, told me that Louie had remembered the NROTC program, looked into it and took them up on their offer, graduating from college in 1974 and taking a commission as a Naval ensign for four years.
I vaguely remember the deal was that the Navy would pay for some part of your education in exchange for 4 years of service
Anyway, the Marines had plans to keep us up late that night watching some sort of training exercise. They also knew that we had arrived well after midnight and that if they kept Scouts up for too many hours, someone’s mother would write their congressman and there would be hell to pay.
So they scheduled sort of a naptime. After noon chow, we were scheduled to rack out for a few hours.
Louie and I asked Mr. Jordan if we could skip the nap and do a little sightseeing on our own. He readily agreed. There were two conditions, though. We had to keep our mouths shut and slip out right after noon chow and vanish. The other condition was that we had to behave ourselves. We agreed.
This was not Mr. Jordan playing favorites, but pretty clear thinking on his part. He knew Louie and I were probably too energetic for out own good and figured that maybe skipping the siesta would knock some of the piss and vinegar out of us.
Yeah, right. Fat chance! Wishful thinking!
At that age, the pair of us had more energy than the entire crew of a Bering Sea crabber put together.
After noon chow, which we bolted in a few minutes, we disappeared.
We wanted to do something Marine-like, maybe shoot something. We asked the first Marine we saw where the rifle ranges were. He pointed, and off we went.
The ranges were quite a ways away, so we looked at our hands. There were five fingers.
One finger was for pointing the finger at people with. The next finger was the finger. The one after that was the finger our mothers put their wedding rings on. The littlest finger was used to clean the wax out of our ears.
The ugly, thick one on the other end was the finger of transportation, which we stuck out and hooked a ride with a passing major. He took us to the range after asking a few questions. When he got satisfactory answers, he told us we might be able to watch officer candidates earn to shoot. He dropped us off.
We arrived there only to find a few people way down on the 200 yard line, so we moseyed on down. There was a Gunnery sergeant, a couple of corporals and buck sergeants. There were a couple M1s there, too. We both knew about the M1. Mr. Jordan had one and when we went for marksmanship merit badge, be had let us shoot it, and we had cleaned it afterwards.
We asked if we could shoot and the Gunny said we were too young.
When we told him we both had Marksmanship merit badges, a corporal grinned and interceded.
“Hell, Gunny, Give ‘em a round apiece. They’ll go running back to their scoutmaster in an instant.”
“Yeah, with an M1 thumb. No dice.”
I got a bit hot. “I know about M1 thumb,” I countered. “You hold your hand like this so the action doesn’t slam shut and grab your thumb.”
“OK, a round apiece,” he said.
He ordered two guys to be our coaches and we were handed M1s. We were told that these were special rifles and told not to handle the forward hand guard. We assumed the prone position and started slinging up.
The Gunny called the pits and went through the litany of commands. Louie and I took our time and fired carefully. When the targets came up the Gunny looked surprised. My shot was in the black at 12 O’clock; Louie’s was just outside it at six.
The gunny looked surprised.
He went over to an ammo can, pulled out a white box and clipped up a pair of 8 round en bloc clips and handed them to us. Later I was to learn that the rifles and ammo were National Match rifles. He called the pits again, and ordered us to load.
Louie and I slowly fired our rounds off as the Gunny watched us like a hawk.
There were no misses, and a lot of the shots were in the black.
He was surprised again.
Then he went to the phone and called the pits again. The conversation was pretty long. He looked at us. “Would you two guys like to show some officer candidates how well you shoot?”
We were ecstatic. We told him we’d be glad to.
Ten minutes later, a class of officer candidates arrived. Louie and I were standing next to the Gunny.
“These two Scouts are going to give you a little demonstration,” he said.
Seconds later, Louie and I were in position, and shortly after that, we ready to go.
Sixteen rounds were fired slow fire, and every single one was either a pinwheel or a bull!
“These two Boy Scouts just shot a perfect score,” he told the Officer candidates. “Ain’t one of you here that can even come close!”
Louie and I were really proud of ourselves.
Then the Gunny detailed a sergeant to return us to our Troop, but before we left, he had a long talk with that sergeant. We walked up range and the sergeant took us back to our barracks.
He started talking to Mr. Jordan. As he spoke, Mr. Jordan looked at us and grinned. Then his mouth opened and he smiled. We knew he was pretty proud of us.
The rest of the tour was pretty neat, but that was the high point.
About a decade later, Mr. Jordan met me when I was home on leave and commented on my Sharpshooter award.
“I did better at Quantico,” I said.
He laughed. Triumphantly he grinned.
“You and Louie got most of them in the black,” he said. “But your perfect score came from a corporal in the pits with a sharp pencil!”
I wish he’d never told me that. I liked it better the was it was.
That is an outstanding story!
Great story! Thanks, pic.
Great story, I found myself grinning my ass off reading it. Thanks, I needed that today.
Get off your ass and write that dadgum book already, pic!!!
for ther day crew
When is the book coming out? Great read.
You hav ehad to have lead one of the most interesting lives I have heard of Pic.
And +1 on the book.
Must write book!
That is your best story yet, Pic.
Another great story pic.
I don't want to hammer you about a book or anything, but I look forward to every story you write.
Thanks for sharing them.
pic, very good read.
Keep 'em comin'
Back when I was in NROTC at USC, my Dad was an advisor for the Police Explorer Post. I drove a bunch in our big wagon. We got a tour of a variety of LE activities on the border at San Ysidro, Customs, Border Patrol, etc and were berthed at MCRD. Went through the chow hall at MCRD and one of the boots serving asked me how we got "GIRLS" in out platoon. (And we had a few lookers and some that weren't but to boots they were more than adequate). "SHHH, we're Boy Scouts and we get to have girls with us, don't you??" Jaw dropped, mutter mutter mutter 'f'g Boy Scouts, hell, never had no girls when I was in Boy Scouts. F"