2:31 | 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.
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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.
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.
Due to the prominence of poppy, Zach Pena and his platoon found many inventive ways that the plant was hidden. After he got a lower GI infection, Pena was almost unable to return home with his platoon, but fortunately mustered the strength to go home with his friends.
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.
While driving the tank in country, Ken Morgenthaler had to face some difficult terrain that led to some complications. Though they took some mortar fire, the United States Air Force was extremely effective in taking out enemy combatants.
Coming back to civilian life, Zach Pena found his time at University of Tennessee to be a smooth transition. Coming back to civilian life can bring some hurdles but he was able to excel at his new challenges and came out for the best.
He served in Germany during the Cold War, but when he got home, Donald Andrezjwski found resistance at the American Legion because he had not seen combat. That didn't sit well with the Cold War veteran tank driver. He had orders to Germany instead of Korea. That doesn't make him any less of a veteran.
He entered the Army with an ROTC commission and a journalism degree. During college, he was in the Pershing Rifles, who enjoyed firing a blank round during their drill routine to get everyone's attention. At Fort Benning, he moved right through the basic course, jump school and Ranger school.
While at the hospital of Al-Assad Air Base, Zach Pena faced his first mortar strike. Since he was recovering, he had to think quickly in order to make it to safety. Once he returned to combat, they were doing a lot of vehicle checks and so had a lot of interesting civilian interactions.
He was the smallest guy in his Ranger class, so he got the heaviest loads. Owen Ditchfield found out how long he could go without sleep, food and water and still keep going. The testing was as much psychological as physical, as he found out when he was summoned to the front of the column in the middle of the night.
Chris Valentine recalls the procurement process that he and his team had to go through to get arms equipment to the Iraqi government. Because of the Congressional approval required, there was often bureaucracy that needed to be cleared in order for things to happen.
Owen Ditchfield was a brand new infantry officer when he was sent to an infantry battalion in the 1st Armored Division. He was immediately sent on maneuvers, which didn't go so well. His unit was activated during the Cuban missile crisis and sent to Fort Stewart in Georgia to prepare for action. What they really prepared for was a visit by the President.
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.
Zach Pena remembers some of the most inventive IEDs that his platoon came across as they patrolled the Afghan desert. After one particularly hairy encounter in the desert, his platoon had to secure the area and make it back to safety.