33 Years Under the Green Blanket: Stories my father told me

As a kid my dad would tell me tales of his adventures while serving 33 years in the Corps.  To my memory they sounded like Viking sagas and made Marines akin to Arthurian knights.  Of course, the things they got away with in the late forties when he enlisted after WWII would never be tolerated in today’s Marine Corps.  

The other day my CO, XO and I were swapping epic Marine Corps stories.  Inevitably I throw in a yarn about my old man because I often think his adventures were way cooler than mine.

There was a time in the Corps when drinking and brawling was the normal off duty pastime of Marines.  According to my father he was promoted as a young Marine because he was known as someone who got into bar fights and won.  In the 21st Century we expect more chivalrous conduct from our Marines and for the record I will personally smash my guys right between the eyes with a sledgehammer for any type of thuggery or brawling ( I know some of you jarheads are reading this right now so be advised).

In the ancient times of my father, if a Marine was in any kind of trouble all he had to do was bellow: “Marine Corps!” Any red blooded U.S. Marine in hearing distance would immediately rush to their aid. 

My dad related to me while on liberty a few Marines got into it with some locals.  Apparently the thing in their town was to meet under the bridge to rumble.  The Marines agreed to meet them there to fight. Upon arriving at the designated spot the hand full of leathernecks were immediately surrounded by approximately 30 locals. 

In a bar somewhere down the road my dad said they could hear the call go out: “Marines! Marines!” Bursting through the front door of the bar my dad said he could see guys leaping out of second story windows and emptying bars to join the river of Marines running down the street.

Much to the dismay of the town locals, around 500 U.S. Marines noisily arrived under the bridge. 

“Dad! So what did you guys do! What happened?” I remember excitedly asking my father. In my mind these were tales of high adventure. Better than Conan! Better than Louis L’Amour!

“Well,” he shrugged as if it was no big deal, “we just left 30 of our guys under the bridge to fight and the rest of us went back to drinking.”

That’s WWII style logic and chivalry for you. 

Semper Fi,

America’s 1stSgt

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  1. Love it! My Daddy tells somewhat similar stories, though he served in the Navy. By the sounds of it, though, the mentality is much the same. To this day, Daddy still refers to “old-timers” from the Marine Corp and the Navy as salty, including himself.

  2. Top,
    Great stories! My dad did 22 years in the USAF. I remember his stories from Nam…how one day the AC in his office stopped working. Or the time they ran out of coffee in the mess hall…and had to send an emergency re-supply plane in from Cam Ron Bay.
    He was pissed when I joined the Army.

  3. Meadowlark, I often wish I had interviewed my dad more thoroughly in an effort to mine more Old Corps gems.

    Magoo, are comparing the world’s premiere fighting force to a street gang from a musical? No more MWD stories for you!

    Jenny, thanks. From time to time I was thinking of retelling a story from my dad’s era.

    CI Roller, ha! I recall my dad saying AF types were the last folks he would aid in a fist fight. Marines first, then sailors, then soldiers.

  4. Hilarious! So funny. Those must have been fun times with your Dad. Thanks for sharing.

    Hope you don’t have to carry the sledgehammer around with you often. Gets in the way with that cape of chivalry you have to wear around your shoulders.

  5. My grandpa was in China throughout the ’30s and up to, iirc, late ’42.

    He was working for Shell Oil and had his own private “army” of mongols, tartars, Brit and White Russian expats, etc.

    He saw the rape of Nanking, participated in the defense of Shanghai and after the US entered the war, got “evaced out” to the hinterlands and was a guest of Mao’s peeps for a year.

    I learned lots of stuff from listening to him. Not least of which was that the State Dept was a bunch of commiescum loving douchebags… at least at that time.

    He gave me a copy of Mao’s little red book for my 12th birthday. He said I was old enough to start learning how the enemy thinks.

    I miss that old man. I don’t miss playing poker or chess for “points” with him though. For every point I lost to him by, I had to spend an hour standing in a small circle cut into the grass in the front yard. It was his idea to teach me that losing has repercussions.

    I never did get good at chess and I still can’t pick up a deck of cards without getting the shakes lol.

  6. 1stSGT, growing up in San Diego in the 50’s and 60’s I well remember tales such as these being pretty much SOP. Even Max over at TL has a strip on this kind of thing. Son #1 is 0.5 way thru his PLC program and has to suffer similar tales from his old man about how we settled things “back in day” in naval aviation. Remember, you now are the guy telling tales of the “Old Corps” to the youngesters!

  7. In the ancient times of my father, if a Marine was in any kind of trouble all he had to do was bellow: “Marine Corps!” Any red blooded U.S. Marine in hearing distance would immediately rush to their aid.

    And it still should be that way!

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