MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's
Vietnam Personal Accounts
Submitted by Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds
In mid 1962, after having completed the 1st Tank Battalionís "Tank School", I was assigned to Bravo Company 1st Tank Battalion. I had recently served a tour with the grunts.
My Platoon leader was a Gunnery Sergeant named "Stinky" Davis. Rumor had it that if he liked you, he really messed with you. I had only been in the platoon about a month when I think he fell in love with me.
Having been in the grunts for two years and a Lance Corporal, I thought I was salty. This one-day we were having classes in the Company area. The old Quonset huts were in the Las Poulgas area. I happened to have on a brown skivvie shirt (the proper skivvie shirt then was white even with utilities). Upon leaving the class Master Sergeant O.K. "Bull" Martin got on my case about it. I explained to him that having just come from the grunts we had been required to dye our skivvyís shirts either brown or green. (Which was true). Stinky saw and heard this conversation.
A few minutes later Stinky told me to go and change my skivvie shirt. I went to my wall locker and got out a green skivvie shirt.
The next thing on the training schedule for the day was cleaning the machine guns. Well Iím with the rest of the platoon cleaning guns at the cleaning rack and here comes Stinky. Pleasantries were exchanged and I was again told to "change that God damned skivvies shirt and put on a white one". So off to my wall locker I went to find a white one. Well the only one I had was a turtleneck, so I put it on.
The next conversation I had with Stinky went something like this. "I donít care where you get it but get a regulation white skivvies shirt". "Tomorrow at reveille you will go to the armory and draw a .50 Cal. Machine Gun, you will carry that gun with you where ever you go, to the head, to chow, every where, all day". Now for those of you, who know Stinky, you know that I cleaned this up a lot.
It is now time to explain a few things. One the .50 Cal. M2 MG HB (heavy barrel), weight is 82 Lbs., the barrel is 26 Lbs., and the receiver is 56 Lbs. and assembled is over 5 feet long. Also we were living at the Las Poulgas area and our Mess Hall and tanks were at the Las Flories area, about seven miles. There was an extreme gas shortage in the Marine Corps then and because it was thought that we were stealing gas (the M48A1ís were gasoline engine) we were not allowed to drive our personal vehicles (those of us that had one) to the tank park/mess hall. If we wanted to go to chow or were to work at the Tank Park we had to catch the 6 by truck shuttle.
I checked the daily training schedule and noticed that we were scheduled for C.O.D. (Close Order Drill) in the Company area that morning. So I skipped morning chow. The Mess Hall SNCOIC probably would have gone ape if I had tried to go through the chow line with a five-foot plus 82 pound machine gun any way.At morning formation Stinky saw what I had and told me to secure the barrel (there was a God) but to keep the receiver.
Now weíre doing C.O.D. in the Company area and Iím the only one with a weapon (tankers donít rate rifles). Sergeant Bonillie is drilling us. Weíve been at this for about half an hour when he decides we need a break, so he halts us in the Company street. Stinky happened to be standing in front of the Company Office drinking a cup of coffee. Bonillie commands "Left Face, at ease". I sound off "Sergeant we canít go to at ease Iím still at shoulder arms" (I had the .50 across my shoulders). Bonillie says "Reynolds Order Arms". I take the .50 off my shoulders, raise it over my head and drop it. Well a number of things happened real fast. The .50 lands right on the electrical solenoid and it shatters, Stinky throws his coffee cup up in the air and his cover into the Company Street, Bonillie turns a bright red and yells "what the hell do you think your doing?" Stinky is heading for the formation, Iím thinking, "oh shit". But I say "Sergeant I have never been trained in the manual of arms with the .50 Cal." Every one just stops. Stinky tells me to turn in the .50. Which I quickly did, including the broken solenoid parts. I knew this wouldnít be the end, it wasnít.
It was about a month later. I had been wondering when and what the retribution would be.
Well Iím at the tank park doing crew preventive maintaince when Stinky calls me on the phone, he is at the Company Office. He tells me to come to the office right now. Itís about 0930 and the 6 by truck shuttle only runs at chow time, and itís about seven miles. I try to explain this, to no avail. So off I go to the office, couldnít even hitch a ride. I get to the office and Stinky says to me "you smoke?" I say "yes", he says "gimme a cigarette". I do and he tells me to get my ass back to the Tank Park. Off I go, another seven miles. About 1330 I get another phone call which is about a repeat performance of the morning call. So itís off to the office again. This time Stinky asks me if I remember giving him a cigarette? Of course I do. He now says "how the hell do I expect him to smoke it if I didnít give him a light." I gave him a light. And its back to the tank park.
Lessons learned. A Lance Corporal is never saltier than a Gunnery Sergeant. Never drop a .50 Cal. Machine Gun. Itís a long walk from Las Flories to Las Pouglas especially if you do it four times in one day.