3:36 | As a peacetime Marine, Jay Degraw spent some time in Virginia teaching vehicle waterproofing, but he pushed for a better assignment and he got it, an artillery unit in Hawaii. Now that was a tour.
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Career Marine Jay DeGraw served a tour as a recruiter. He had fourteen high schools in his area so he was good at it. He learned to keep a special group of potential recruits in his back pocket in case another station was running short. A boy asked how he could get some of those sharp pants. He said, "These are trousers. Girls and sailors wear pants!" That was good for six recruits and he used it again.
He had made Master Sergeant in El Toro and was, once again, back in Hawaii when Jay DeGraw was offered the chance to become an officer. He declined, but another NCO at a larger organization took the offer and that assignment became his. He had been Motor Transport Chief of one unit. Now he had thirty two to manage.
"You'll be Sor-ry!" That was the taunt for new recruits arriving at Parris Island. Jay DeGraw said that the treatment was rough, but they made a man out of you. Very important to Marine recruits was qualifying with the rifle, which was the new M-1. It held a larger clip and surprised Japanese in the Pacific who were used to the old Springfield rifle.
From Parris Island, Jay DeGraw went to Camp LeJeune for mechanics school. They didn't send him to the war after that, but to Quantico, where he installed snow plows on dump trucks. He got closer to the action when he went to Hawaii as part of a replacement draft but the war ended and he became a peacetime Marine. His 1st Sergeant gave the men an unusual mandate.
Marine Jay Degraw was based in Hawaii when the war ended and he was sent to Japan as part of the occupation force. Part of an amphibious DUK unit, he saw first hand the devastation at Nagasaki. Back at home, a wife and child waited for him.
Jay DeGraw was on inactive reserve status but that became active in 1950. He returned to Camp LeJeune, made Staff Sergeant and shipped out to Korea. As Motor Transport Chief of his unit, he was able to support a very important visitor who was short on jeeps. He was behind the front, but incoming fire was still a big part of his life.
Veteran Marine Jay DeGraw, like so many old hands, wound up with a Vietnam tour late in a long career. He says he was a paper pusher, but he spent his time behind sandbags with everyone else when the incoming was hot. The salty Sergeant describes that tour as only he can.
It was his last war. Career Marine Jay DeGraw flew home from Vietnam and began the process of trying to get out. He gives a colorful account of that ordeal and then reflects back on a long and satisfying life in the Corps.
While flying from Tallil, an Iraq Air Force base, they were caught in a massive sand storm. With nothing between Tallil and Babylon, no way to see the tandem bird, and at risk of flying into Iraq power lines, they were forced to land and wait out the storm.
Justice details a too-close-for-comfort interaction with a vehicle-borne IED. The IED came as a complete surprise and the entire F.O.B. fell into what Justice could only describe as “chaos” immediately following the explosion. She suffered several injuries and had to work with the nurses back in Bagram and depend on the friendship of comrade Colonel Ellison to come back from the injuries.
He had to wear his uniform when out on the town in Berlin, and the grateful West Berliners paid for every meal and bought every beer, says Patrick Malloy. He served there and remembers the stark contrast between the sparkling West and the drab East.
Vietnam was heating up but Patrick Malloy was sent to West Germany, where the Berlin Wall and the Communist land blockade of Berlin were just as hot. He was looking forward to seeing Europe and considered himself lucky, but as time passed, he considered it a different way.
After his first tour in Vietnam, Bill Camper was assigned to Fort Carson and the 5th Mechanized Division, training soldiers destined for that conflict. Then he had a six month assignment with a Special Forces team in the Dominican Republic during that country's civil war.
It was one of the incidents that could have started World War III. The Soviets had blocked the land route to Berlin and Patrick Malloy's infantry unit was moving lock, stock and battle tank right down that road toward the border.
After twenty two years of service, Ralph Puckett retired and had a successful private life, but it was inevitable that he would reconnect with his beloved Rangers. His talent at building confidence is put to very good use at the Ranger school.
He wasn't leaving a shooting war but short timers are the same everywhere. Patrick Malloy referred to himself as the number of days he had remaining. You became that number. Back home, he eventually landed at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, where he had a great career.
After suffering severe wounds in Korea, Ralph Puckett spent two years at the Ranger Department in various training assignments. Then he went to a command assignment in Puerto Rico, a "go to war" company. He was given the job of setting up a short orientation school, experience that would help him on his next assignment.
Ralph Puckett's favorite tour was the three years he spent in Germany with a Special Forces Group. He had his family there and the Ranger learned a lot from the assignment. It was early on for Vietnam, but he heard stories and began reading up on it. Back in the States in a Pentagon job, he asked to be put on the list to go.
Patrick Malloy was first generation Irish American and he worked his way through Georgetown University in the Foreign Service school. He didn't think the draft would take him because of his football knees but, with rise of Communism, the physical standards were lowered and he found himself in basic training at Fort Dix.
It was an interesting assignment. Help the Columbian Army establish a Ranger training school and get it going. Ralph Puckett built up the program from nothing and he knew it was going to be very good, but he did have one problem, what to call the Columbian Rangers?
What do men need in a leader? Ralph Puckett draws on his long experience to answer that and then relate it to today's challenges for the military. He notes that some mistakes are repeated and that perhaps, "What we learned is that we don't learn anything from our wars."
In basic training, there were city boys and there were country boys. City boy Patrick Malloy, who had no familiarity with weapons, explains why he was better at marksmanship than the country boys. He decided against Officer Candidate School and kept on marching with his college degree and bad knees.
During his first enlistment with the Army, Steve Hamlet was sent to Honduras. While there, Hurricane Mitch, one of the largest class 4 hurricanes in history, swept through Honduras and destroyed entire neighborhoods and killed over 10,000 people. He gives insight on the truly horrific images of witnessing people float down the river and describes his role in rescue and aid for civilians during this tragic event.
Near the end of his tour in West Germany, Patrick Malloy was made the Troop Information Specialist, which meant he conducted classes in the Constitution, military law and tradition and the separation of the military from politics. This was made necessary by a general who crossed the line.
Described as his “claim to fame,” Steve Hamlet gives an account of a yearlong mission while in Kosovo, in which he tracked a supposed leader of several undisclosed groups. He was primarily responsible for stopping what would have been a disastrous attack on an undisclosed city in another country by this very same individual.