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.
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 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.
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.
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 remembers the types of projects that they did for the Baghdad police force that needed help in the area. He also recalls the private security firms such as Blackwater that he came across while stationed in Iraq.
In 1964, Owen Ditchfield was sent to Communications Zone Headquarters in France as a staff officer. The hours and tourism were great, but he knew he needed line company experience to advance so he transferred to a mechanized Airborne unit. Their vehicles were in disrepair but they had an ace in the hole.
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.
Mark Zambon recalls some of the robotic technology that he and his bomb unit had at their disposal while clearing IEDs. Mark remembers the sacrifice that his colleagues made and, in particular, remembers his friend and teammate Mike that he lost and how the memory of him still sticks with him to this day.
Mark Zambon talks about day-to-day life for his Bomb Disposal Squad as they came across various types of IEDs across all types of terrain in Iraq. He remembers a particularly close call that happened with an explosive device right near where his squad had set up camp for the night.