Mike Company               

Third Battalion, Fifth Marines

RVN, 1966 -1971
Home Up Operations Narrative Grady's Memoirs Bits and Pieces Mike McFerrin Review_Capo Haygood LaThap Op Earl Gerheim


Pledge of Allegiance
Napa Valley Register
Semper Fidelis


These are historical tidbits and other interesting pieces, that we'll add from time to time, submissions from our members.

Three of the subsidiary pages to this one, highlighted at left (click to go to any one), are submissions from Bob Farmer.  Pledge of Allegiance is from a speech by John McCain; Different is the "Why the Marines are Different" by an Army Colonel", Lt Col Richmond is an observation the man makes on the quality of Marines in the late '60s.  They're all must reads. 

The fourth page is a commentary published in the Napa Valley Register 11/22/99, Commentary: Don't believe the 'pinkies'; Vietnam stopped communism.  by Dr. Schultz.

The fifth page is an anecdote related by Jim Kirschke on how Semper Fidelis has become so identified with us, even overseas....it brought tears to my eyes.

The sixth page is a speech given last Veteran's Day by Phil Gioia.  Among other things it compares veterans of World War II and Vietnam.  It's a long speech but you may find it intriguing. Phil Gioia is ex-Mayor of the Town of Corte Madera, and CEO of a local high-technology firm. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1967, and served two combat tours in Vietnam in airborne infantry, air cavalry, and special operations units. He was awarded two awards of the Silver Star and two awards of the Purple Heart. With thanks to John Harris for the submission.

60s Stuff is a list compiled by Keith Shaver, an Army 'nam vet. It includes the top songs every year from 1965-71, top TV shows, Oscar winner movies and best actor/actress for those years.

Heroes of the Vietnam Generation is from James Webb, kindly received from Vic Vilionis who got it from Brigadier General Draude (who had sent it to Mike 3/7). Mr. Webb throws a clear light on "his" Marines and puts the entire period in its proper perspective. For those of you who don't know, he was also a company commander with Delta 1/5 in '69.

American Coward is Pat Conroy's telling of his awakening to the reality of being a draft dodger.  He is one of my favorite novelists, author of The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides and Beach Music.  He is also the son of Marine Corps fighter pilot and was a classmate of Al Kroboth at the Citadel.  This is Al's story, an A-6 pilot and POW. Found this on the net, and don't know where it originated from but it does feel like Pat's writing.

VA update is important news for all veterans.  It lists a bunch of cancers that as of 3 September are considered to be service related no matter when they manifested themselves. With thanks to Vic Vilionis for passing the word.

A trip to the Wall and Iwo Jima is an account of my visit on November 10 and 11, 2000 to the Iwo Jima Memorial on the Marine Corps Birthday and to Arlington Cemetery and the Wall on Veteran's Day.  It was written as an attempt to give you a feel what it's like to do that and also, selfishly, to forestall the blues I'm afflicted with after all my friends are gone. 

A Marine's Night Before Christmas, a poem you'll like, to the rythm of the poem we all learned as children.  Forwarded to us by Randy Pelt.

North Carolina Memorial.  An account of finding this wonderful tribute to the Vietnam Veterans from North Carolina.

Marines and Dress Blues disrespected, two high school students, Marines, were not allowed to attend their own graduation because they were wearing Dress Blues. News item reported by Dane Brown.  We just added a response from the Superintendent of Schools...who to believe?

Denny Dinota's talk....to Marines from Weapons Company 3/6 on their Mess Night, about the "kids" from Mike 3/5.

And another Mess Night speech by Denny to H&S 3/6. 

Chesty Puller commanded 3/5 for a day, on Cape Gloucester.

Tanya Johnson's tribute to her Dad, Charlie Johnson, Vietnam Veteran, in the form of a poem.

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"I would not have the anniversaries of our victories celebrated, nor those of our defeats made fast days and spent in humiliation and prayer; but I would like to see truthful history written. Such history will do full credit to the courage, endurance and soldierly ability of the American citizen, no matter what section of the country he hailed from, or in what ranks he fought."

General Ulysses S. Grant, from his memoirs, copyright 1885, page 85, writing about the Mexican and Civil Wars.  Just as appropriate now.

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Article on  the 5th Marines on Operation Union and Beaver Cage.  Click on the image to see it full size. (Probably from the Stars and Stripes...with thanks to Denny Dinota for providing this).

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Mike Wilson sent in this poem,  I've seen it before and it's been around awhile, author unknown.  It says it about as well as it can be said.

"The Title"

It cannot be inherited
nor can it ever be purchased

You and no one alive
can buy it for any price.

It is impossible to rent
and it cannot be lent.

You and our own
have earned it
With your sweat, blood and lives.

You own it forever,
The Title

Semper Fidelis my brothers.

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From Grady Rainbow:

The United States Marine Corps reduced to three (3) rifle companies per Battalion in the mid-1970's. Company "M" (Mike) no longer exists. Delta, Hotel and Mike were dropped from the roster of line companies permanently and as of 1984, still did not exist. In the 1980's a fourth company was formed per battalion, Weapons Company.


This leads into this submission from Jerry Lomax, from the "D" organizational tables:

A rifle regiment numbered 3, 168 men, divided into a headaquarters company, a weapons company, and three 933-man rifle battalions. Each rifle battalion fielded a headquarters company of 111 men, a weapons company of 273 men, and three rifle companies, each of 183 men. Three rifle regiments, an artillery regiment, and numerous support units made up a Marine division of nominally 19, 514 men.


Contributed by Jerry Lomax from Guadalcanal, The Definitive Account by Richard B. Frank:

"The Old Breed", as described by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel B. Griffith, one of their own, described them as they were formed at the beginning or World War II in the lst Marine Division just prior to Guadalcanal: "...first sergeants yanked off "planks" in navy yards, sergeants from recruiting duty, gunnery sergeants who had fought in France, perennial privates with disciplinary records a yard long. These were the professionals, the "Old Breed" of the United States Marines. Many had fought "Cacos" in Haiti, "bandidos" in Nicaragua, and French, English, Italian, and American soldiers and sailors in every bar in Shanghai, Manila, Tsingtao, Tientsin, and Peking."

"They were inveterate gamblers, and accomplished scroungers, who drank hair tonic in preference to post exchange beer ("horse piss"), cursed with wonderful fluency, and never went to chapel ("the Godbox") unless forced to. Many dipped snuff, smoked rank cigars, or chewed tobacco (cigarettes were for women and children). They had little use for libraries or organized athletics...they could live on jerked goat, the strong black coffee they called "boiler compound," and hash cooked in a tin hat."

"Many wore expert badges with bars for proficiency in rifle, pistol, machine gun, hand grenade, auto-rifle, mortar and bayonet. They knew their weapons and they knew their tactics. They knew they were tough and they knew they were good. There were enough of them to leaven the Division and to impart to the thousands of younger men a share of both the unique spirit which animated them and the skills they possessed. They were like a drop of dye in a gallon of water, they gave the whole division an unmistakable hue and they stamped a nickname on the division: "the Old Breed."

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This, and the next anecdote, are taken from messages on the Compuserve Military Forum, in a thread on enemy perceptions of Marines:

1.As a Marine Officer, I came across such stories personally. In Japan, we had several of our officers/attack pilots execute an exchange visit with a Japan Air Self Defense Squadron, who flew F-4s. They even had call signs..... "Gunner" who was the top scoring pilot in shooting the banner, "Doc" and "Sleepy." These guys didn't know about Snow White and that their callsigns made us think of that. They were all consumate gentlemen, better behaved than my fellow squadron pilots, but they were awed by us. I asked "Gunner" who was the most mature and stately of the the Japanese pilots about this degree of respect he was showing us. His reply was that we (USMC) had defeated Japan. I told him that there were many forces arrayed against Japan, the Army, Navy, Air Force. He said "No... Marines defeated Japan. They were awed by our fighting ability. An interesting annecdote, as he was not even born at the end of WW2.



Last year I was assessing a new patient for a vascular problem. The patient was male, early 70's , of oriental persuasion. I'll call him Nguyen X. In listening to his accent and by the spelling of his name it became obvious that he was Vietnamese.

During the examination he cautiously raised the right sleeve of my scrub top, just enough to expose the USMC. I raised the sleeve up further to sate his curiosity and allowing him to see the Bulldog with the WWI style helmet.

He stated, "Marines, huh?"

I answered, "Yes sir, a long time ago"

He asked, "Did you have to be sent to Vietnam?"

I replied in the affirmative and told him when and where I had served or seen action.

He smiled up at me and said, "Very strange that we meet like this....I was a Medical Officer in the North Vietnam Army" and he went on to tell me his outfit and how he happened to be here now,etc.

He made a point to tell me how 'bothered' the NVA soldiers would get when they had to move out against Marines. "We were told many things about you Marines and about your history and especially how stubborn you would fight...we weren't so worried about the Army soldiers. But we were very respectful of you Marines."

I really didn't know what to say, and then he continued, "We knew we could win our war against America by just wearing the soldiers down, but we sometimes made jokes about maybe not being able to hold out too long if all Marines were in Vietnam. This was a very unhappy thing to think of. We did not like to have to fight Marines....Marines don't run, America is very honored to have Marines."

I thanked him and continued with his assessment.........he shook my hand and said, "I'm very sorry Marines had to die for Vietnam but all Marines are good and honorable. All Marines are heroes.....Marines made my job very difficult..."

Ambulatory Care Coordinator
Name withheld for patient confidentiality purposes