Filed under: Marines, Veterans | Tags: Improvise Adapt Overcome, Leatherneck, Marines, Obituaries, Puci Blevins
Vester Elvin “Puci” Blevins passed away recently. He’d spent over 30 years serving as the Superintendent of the Oneida, Tennesseee, Water Department and on the local school board, but what struck me most was his determination. No, I’d not met Puci, but I did read his obituary in Leatherneck this month.
The Battle of Iwo Jima included some of the fiercest fighting in World War II. Some 21,000 Japanese soldiers stationed there fought ferociously, with only about 1,000 of them surrendering. Puci Blevins landed on the first day and fought there for all 38 days of the battle. He would have landed on either the Red or Green beaches and may have assaulted up Mount Suribachi – at the very least, he would later say that he “saw the first Iwo Jima flag raising from the foot of Mt. Suribachi.”
Blevins must have transferred from the 5th Marine Division, as he was in the 2nd Marine Division for the occupation of Japan, with his obituary noting Sasebo and Nagasaki.
The part that really caught me in his obituary in Leatherneck was that when Puci enlisted in 1943, it was his third attempt to enlist. He’d been rejected twice due to his poor eyesight. When he went in for the third time, Blevins followed a Marine mantra. Marines are often at the tail end when it comes to new equipment, so many units use “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” as their mantra.
- Not being able to see the eye chart clearly, Puci improvised.
- His adaptation was memorization of the eye chart.
- A true leatherneck in his heart, he overcame the obstacle.
Semper Fi, Puci.
The Old Jarhead pointed me to the story of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Karl Trenker, 48, who was shot three times by two men who stole a gold chain his fiancee was trying to sell via Craigslist. They swiped the chain when he showed it to them and took off running. He drove around the neighborhood looking for them. When he found them, he gave them a chance to just put the necklace down and walk away. They ran again. The good Colonel pursued, for which they shot him three times. He merely plugged the holes with his fingers and called her to let her know he’d been shot. He told NBC that “If he [the gunman] didn’t have a pistol I would’ve whipped his butt.”
Filed under: Books, Marines, Weekend Wanderings, WWII | Tags: Bagram, Bears, Fallujah, Iraq, Marines, OSS
I haven’t posted a set of Wanderings of late, but have been accumulating some interesting links. Hopefully, you didn’t over-eat on Thanksgiving or, if you are not a celebrant, on a lovely fall weekend.
- Patrick O’Donnell, who wrote We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah based on his time embedded with a platoon of Marines in Iraq, followed up with his Marines in an article for the National Review. As with all of his writing, this is particularly moving.
- We’ve talked about the Poles fighting in World War II, but I never realized they had an unfair advantage – they had a bear on their side! Hat tip to theglyptodon for pointing this one out.
- Over at One Marine’s View, there’s a nice photo of the Occupy Bagram folks….
- On Forbes, Chandlee Bryan dispensed some good advice on cover letters for job seekers when she wrote about Steve Adams, who wrote The Perfect Cover Letter, proposing that the OSS drop him into the Italian Alps during World War II.
Filed under: Henderson, Leadership, Marines, Officers | Tags: Leadership, Marines
While it didn’t happen in World War II or Korea, I’d like to note that LTC Anthony Henderson (USMC) was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his leadership of 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment in the fight for Fort Jugroom near Garmsir in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.
The 19th century British fort “sits at a crossroads and along a river, letting those holding it dominate much of southern Helmand.” The Taliban had held off an attack by the Royal Marines in January of 2007. 15 months later, in April of 2008, the US Marines were on duty in Helmand, so 1/6 was tasked with clearing the fort. Henderson’s men fought a close quarters battle against 200-400 Taliban fighters, through tunnels, bunkers, minefields and buildings. As the Marines of 1/6 fought their way in, the Taliban attacked them from behind, making it a 360-degree battle. Chesty Puller might have said, “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.” As darkness fell, Henderson knew that the heat would continue and that he’d best pull his men back to a defensive position. When they headed in the next morning, Fort Jugroom was empty, the Taliban having stolen away in the night, in hopes of living to fight another day.
In the tradition of Chesty Puller and Jim Gavin, Henderson took a hands-on approach to leadership. “My desire was to be as far forward as I could be without interfering with the small unit leader’s ability to fight his fight against the enemy.”
Lieutenant Colonel Henderson was in a staff position with the Joint Chiefs in DC this fall. “It’s humbling and fulfilling to lead Marines,” reflected Henderson. “I have a constant yearning to be back there and amongst them.”
Filed under: Homefront, Leadership, Marines, Navy, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: Christmas, Leadership, Marines, Veterans
My lament about a lack of posts on Christmas at war was pre-mature. I just hadn’t wandered far enough to see them!
- Commander Salamander linked to a true story of leadership at Christmas.
- The folks at War on Terror capped the week for me by blogging about Christmas at war.
- Geraldine Doyle, model for the “We Can Do It!” Rosie the Rivetter poster, passed away. Interestingly, Mrs Doyle only worked as metal presser for two weeks and didn’t know of the poster until 1982. AbsurdBeats posted about it, linking to the New York Times obituary.
- Don Kemsley served in the Canadian Navy during World War II and his daughter will be posting his diary entries for 1944 starting tomorrow. I’m going to be following them.
- Commander Salamander had posted a speech and video of General Kelly’s speech on the two Navy Crosses awarded to LCPL Jordan Haerter and CPL Jonathan Yale. He linked to his source at American Thinker, who had written about it back in March as well.
Filed under: Books, Korea, Marines, Veterans | Tags: Anniversary, Korean War, Marines
Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Happy Birthday, Devil Dogs!
Private Hector Cafferata, awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Fox Hill during the Korean War, has so much respect for the process of becoming a Marine and is so proud of being able to call himself a Marine, humbly says, “…even though I didn’t go to boot camp, I can call myself a Marine.”
Later this month, we reach the 60th anniversary of the Chosin Reservoir campaign. I just read Last Stand of Fox Company and read good articles about it in both American Rifleman (Arms of the Chosin Few) and Naval History (70 Miles of Cold, Hard Road and The Snowy Battle for Hill 1304). What those Marines accomplished in atrocious conditions, against insurmountable odds is simply beyond belief.
My sincere thanks and wishes that this may be the happiest of birthdays for the Corps, with special thanks to my own favorite Marines: Alex Apple, Joe Muccia, Frank Zamarippa, Fernando Castelli and Carl Kime.