Patterson Family
Marines
The ultimate ambition of most of the kids in Lubbock was to get on Clyde and ride. A rock and roll star from Lubbock by the name of Mac Davis later wrote a song called "Happiness is Lubbock, Texas in the Rear View Mirror." That summed it up pretty good.



The Marine Corps provided me with a way to get out of town. In those days the Reserve Act of 1952 made it compulsory for all to enter the service at 18 years old or go to college. At that time I had no ambition to go to college; a better statement was that I had no ambition. A few of us had joined the US Naval Reserves while still hanging around Lubbock. After a short while I decided to talk to the Chief about active duty, but his quota was full. Master Sergeant Laird USMC, who occupied the same office, looked up a said “do you want to go now or tomorrow”. As I wasn’t 18 yet, I had to go home and ask my mother. She said I shouldn’t get mixed up with those “old rough boys”. Where she got that, I never knew. After a while she relented and signed. I left with two friends for Abilene, Texas where all services administered pre enlistment physicals. I was doing ok until the Navy doctor found a planters wart on my foot. He said something about Marines only take the physically fit and suggested I go back to Lubbock to get the wart removed. After having the wart burned off I again boarded a bus for Abilene. This time I went alone. There was another person from Lubbock going in at the same time. I knew him, but we had not associated with each other. After Abilene the two of us took the bus to Dallas for the swearing in ceremony. Usually you would fly from Dallas to San Diego, California, but as a result of an airline strike we were slated for a long train ride. We messed around Dallas for three day waiting on a troop train to take us to California. There were now four of us going in the Marines. We picked up two people in Dallas. One was name Voohries and I cant remember the other lad. He had been in the USMC Reserves and knew thing like what a Fire Team was. I thought it was something to do with the Fire Department. We went to a bar and got drunk as skunks. Dont recall anyone asking if we were 21. The next day I really wished they had better liquor control laws for minors in Texas. I felt like something real foul had crawled into my mouth during the night. The next day we decide to go to a movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Felt a lot better after watching a movie as opposed to trying to drink Dallas dry. Finally they said we should all go to the train station where three cars of the train were allocated to people going in the military. The train stopped in Lubbock for several hours to off load some Air Force personnel. As mother was working two blocks from the train station, I had a chance to go see her before going on to California. Really wonder if I should have done that. She did not like the idea that I was leaving the nest.

Somewhere between Lubbock and Clovis, New Mexico I became sick. The military cars on the train were side tracked in Clovis to take me to the Air Force Base. They gave me penicillin and APC’s and put me back on the train. By the time I got to the train I had swelled up like a blow fish; I was allergic to penicillin. The Air Force treatment worked and by the time the train arrived in Los Angeles I was ready to go.

When we arrived in San Diego, two Marines piled us in the back of a truck and took us to Marine Corps Recruit Depot. They were fairly friendly. We arrived about the time they were bringing down the flag. We were told to sit at attention until the Color Ceremony was finished. Then it began!! A little Corporal said hit the deck. Hit the deck did not indicate that there was a great urgency. This was not exactly how the Corporal thought things should occur. In his opinion we were not moving fast enough so he politely grabbed a big lad from Chicago named Lucas and yanked him out of the truck. We were getting to understand how Marines communicated. For the next hours everything was utter chaos; something like dropping a handful of marbles on a tile floor. The Marines always schedule the arrival of recruits for the night time. It is believed that by coming in at night will discourage anyone from knowing how to get away. Actually, it is designed to disorient the recruits and add to the psychological pressure. It also ensures that the recruits are awake all night which again, helps in the psychological draining. You are tired and confused all night and for those with too much piss and vinegar, the all-night initiation makes them easier to control. Works pretty good. They took away all of our civilian gear, shaved our heads and gave us a cover that might have fit when we had hair. We did not get uniforms until assigned to a permanent platoon. This meant that we wore what we had on for two weeks. Needless to say when I got my uniform I had no desire to send what remained of my civilian clothes home. I just deep “sixed” them; a new term in my vocabulary. Each person was given a bucket with every thing the Marine Corp thought a recruit needed. Albatross was a better name for this bucket as it was destined to accompany you through your recruit training and many wondered if we would have take it into combat. Maybe we were suppost to club the enemy with the bucket. They spend time trying to teach you the basis of falling in and standing at attention. Everyone was so scared and confused they didn’t know which way was up. Everyone is yelling in a language that doesn’t compute. Confusion reigns supreme. Sometime around 6 pm a Sgt told us that the current place where we were standing was off limits and that we had better be outside in formation before he places a boot where the sun does not shine. The words MOVE! MOVE! were introduced to us. With great flourish it was explained to us that only civilians walked, Marines ran. Of course he made a special point of making sure that we knew that we were not Marines but whales shit which was on the bottom of the ocean. MOVE was the most used word in boot camp. All this confusion was because someone thought that we should be introduced to the Marine Mess Hall. We were marched, maybe herded was a better term, to eat. I don’t remember what we had, but I know that my stomach was so stirred up that keeping it down became a task. This Sgt convinced us that we could take all you wanted, but you had better eat it all. I had no idea what would happen to my body if I didn’t eat it all and there was no way I was going to ask. I had already figured out that he who opened his mouth usually attracted unwanted attention. We were told upon completion of the first meal to fall out behind the mess hall at attention. We thought that because it was dark that we could relax. That was where we learned about push ups and double time. Since the Sgt was convinced that we did not have the ability to understand simple commands, we needed instructions as to what right and left meant. This was like a Chinese Fire Drill. Around 0330, new way of telling time, they decided that we had had enough fun and told us to go to sleep. I remember this tall red head that I enlisted with me leaning over the top bunk and saying “hey Charlie what have we got ourselves into”; a very good question. I wondered if they would let us sleep in because of the late hour of going to bed. Sure, around 0530 a whole herd of new people descended upon us like a bunch crazy demons. One would tell you to do this and another would tell you something else. We were told that we had 15 minutes to go to the head, another new term, and shit, shave and shine. This is where those that shaved regularly had problems. We were inspected to see if we were close shaven, which none of us were according to the Marines. Of course those that obviously did not shaved were singled out for abuse because they did not shave. All Marines shave and that was that. Paper work by the reams was the order of the day, while people kept yelling at you from all angles. For all I knew I could have signed a document stating that I gave Russia the plans for the A Bomb. We spent a week in what was called receiving station where they tended to harass you all the time. They attempted to teach us the basic of formations, marching, and obeying commands, which there was no shortage. One bright sunny day we were told to fall out on the parade field with our buckets where we met a person that you would never forget the rest of your life, Staff Sergeant L.G. Jarrett, Drill Instructor for Platoon 296, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. Assisting him was Sergeant A.J. Shumaker and Corporal Sisternos. We just thought that receiving station was chaotic. These three people were all over the place yelling and screaming things that no one understood. This was our introduction to Drill Instructors and boot camp. I wondered if I would make it and afraid that I would. Sgt Jarrett told us when he said MOVE! all he wanted to see were ass holes and elbows. We fell in and out several times until he was satisfied with our speed. We were billeted in platoon sized Butler Huts. I later found that the recruits in the 1st Battalion all lived together with the DI in the same building. We probably had it better because of our isolation from the DI.



Marine boot camp is designed to completely break a person down so that he can be rebuilt. Officially it is a three phase process. The first thing that happens is the tearing down process and introduction to basic skills. Next is marksmanship and the third phase is the building up and testing phase. Sounds real simple, but I guarantee that it isn’t. The officers are there to make sure the DI do thing according to regulations, but everyone plays a game. The recruit tries to figure out how to do something without the DI knowing. A recruit is not allowed to eat candy, pogey bait, candy, or smoke without permission. Of course there was candy machines in various places designed to tempt anyone with a sweet tooth. Some tried to get to candy machines and back without being spotted by anyone. Some made it but a lot more were captured and tortured. I didn’t like sweets so I didn’t have a problem. Now sneaking a smoke was another thing. I was one of those that did not get caught. A typical torture was to be placed in a Dempesy Dumpster with others beating on the side. You would have to walk around in all the trash with your rifle singing the Marine Corps Hymn.

Once we got our rifles they tried to convince you that the rifle was now part of your body and that you will protect and treasure it and at time sleep with it. The Marine Corps stress that the most awesome weapon is a Marine with a rifle. This is pounded into you day and night. After breaking us down and starting to build up, we fell out for the 10 mile hike to Camp Matthews where we would be taught how to fire various weapons and qualify with the Model M1 Garand Rifle. We were told that this would require a lot of work and we would not fail. There is a saying that “to err is human and to forgive is divine” neither of which are Marine Corp policy. We saw people with their clothes on backwards and marching 3 ft behind the platoon. They had failed to qualify. When qualification was over I realized that I had 220 out of 250 which made me one of the elite. Thinking back to the many times I had to qualify, I believe that I needed glasses in those days. The only place that I didn’t perform well was the 500 yard line. I could barely see the bulls-eye. When I became a scout sniper I had no problem since we shot using a scope.



Finally the day arrived and the DI gave us our Globe and Anchor. You are not allowed to wear the Globe and Anchor until you have finished boot camp. As he left he said put them on and fall out MARINES. This was the first time that anyone had called us Marines. The only thing left was to march by the reviewing stands. That was one great feeling when the Skipper said pass in review Marines and the band struck up the Marine Corps Hymn. Marines can be struggling but when they hear the hymn a chill runs through you and you want to do your best.  That night we packed every thing in our sea bag prior to leaving MCRD. Most of us were given 20 day leave before reporting to Combat Training at Camp Joseph Pendleton. The DI came in and gave each of us our orders. I was assigned to the Fleet Marines. The Fleet Marine Force is the ground troops for the Fleet. Before going over we had to spend months learning advanced combat training.

Upon completion of Combat Training we boarded the Merchant Marine Ship the General Black for the Western Pacific. Military Sea Transport Service operated and manned it. It was 522 feet long and 72 feet Beam and carried 3800 troops. This was a small ship compared to some of carriers. In prospective the USS Bennington was 870 feet long, and the USS Enterprise was 1130 long. We were stacked from the deck to the overhead with six beds in a tier. You had to climb in with your personal gear and rifle and get out to turn
over.

 
Two meals were served each day and needless to say with 3800 troops you spent a lot of time waiting in line to eat. Around sunset we set out to sea. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma slipped past on the starboard just as the sun sank into the Pacific Ocean. For a young lad raised on the Llano Estacado in Texas this was one of the greatest experience I ever had. This was the first time that I ever saw and ocean or anything larger that a swimming pool. Once underway, someone in their infinite wisdom decided to serve spaghetti for the evening meal. Most people do not chew spaghetti. I know this because the decks soon became slimy and reeked with un-chewed spaghetti. A chain reaction of gut wrenching puke ran from fore to aft causing those not sick to join the ranks of recyclers. As I learned the sea didn’t make me sick, I could enjoy watching the sea. A few of us went to the fantail to look at the florescent wake left by the ship. Besides it smelled a lot better topside than below. My enjoyment of watching the sea was considered weird by some. I wondered what things would be like when we hit rough seas as we had barely cleared San Diego Harbor. As we boarded the ship a Navy Chaplin had made arrangements to pass out old books that the local distributors could not sell. Think about 5 books each for 3800 troops that’s 19000 books. Needless to say reading material was not a problem and was something to do. This was the first time I had read a book without being told to do so by a teacher. The first book I read was about Tristans adventures on the Spice Trail. That got me started reading for pleasure. The days started to run together. We spent 32 day at sea before arriving at Kobe Japan.


Shortly after I arrived the 1st Marine Division rotated to the USA and I went to the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marines, 2nd Battalion, Fox Company in Japan. This was a rifle company, better known as grunts. We were located about ten miles up Mt. Fuji with a liberty town of Gotemba located near the base. While I was with this outfit we made landings at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Viet Nam, and some places that I never was told the name. Being stationed in Japan in those days was a little like the sea stories told to us by the old China Marines. We could get 360 yen for one MPC. Since were not allowed

 Military Payment Certificates

to have US currency, some agency issued what was known as Military Payment Certificate. This had something to do with keeping US Currency off the black market. Our biggest asset was the Army PX. Cigarettes sold for 10 cents a carton and the black market rate was around two dollars. The draw back was that you could only get two cartons a week. The non smokers made a killing. Even without the black market a young lad could live fairly comfortable on what the Marines paid. I believe that I was making around $80 a month. We could go to the snack bar and get a hamburger steak and a drink for 25 cents. Beer sold in the slop shute for a nickel a can. I developed a liking for the Far East. After rotating back to the States I went to the Seventh Fleet aboard the heavy cruiser USS Toledo CA-133.
The ship left Long Beach Naval Ship Yard for the Western Pacific shortly after reporting aboard. Again I was in Asia. We made ports of call in Korea, Japan, Tiawan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Okanawi, Iwo Jima, Guadacanal, Tahait, Singapore, Indo-China, and a number of smaller islands.
My life aboard the Toledo was rather enjoyable. I can now understand how people go to sea for life. The sea starting with, the General Black and many amphibious ships that I was aboard, captivated me. I could sit on a davit in the eye of the ship or the fantail for hours just looking at the sea. I was very fortunate that I was not plagued with mal de mer. We had a Marine that got sick when he heard the bosun pipe underway.
Chapter 1 My Way of Thinking
Chapter 2 My Father and Mother Became Sharecroppers
Chapter 3 Conception to Awareness
Chapter 4 Now I Know That I Remember -- I Think
Chapter 5 Things That We Did on The Farm
Chapter 6 Life on Jackson's Place
Chapter 7 My Education Begins
Chapter 8 Life on the Farm

Chapter 9 Move to the Metropolis of Lubbock, Texas
Chapter 10 Marines

Chapter 11 College and New Orleans

Chapter 12 Indonesia

Chapter 13 Bahrain
Chapter 14 Scotland