18 March 2003
MILINET: A Sea Story
By: Capt. Ned Dolan, USMC (Ret.)
There was a Basic School prior to WW II in Philadelphia. The last class of
that school graduated in July 1942 and then it was disestablished. During
WW II the Corps did not commission many new regular officers. However,
planning began to restart The Basic School following the war's end at Marine
Corps Schools in Quantico to replenish the officer Corps as most of the
surviving wartime commissioned were not expected to be career types.
After V-J day TBS was established with a starting date for the first class
of 1 October. Then some 1400 men were in various stages to enter PLC, the
wartime officer commissioning program. Facing a major reduction in
personnel, the Corps offered us four options, one to go to TBS and be
commissioned a regular 2dLt on graduation. The other three were (1)
immediate discharge with the GI Bill and its benefits awaiting; (2)
attending a 6-week course at Camp Lejeune and be commissioned a reserve 2dLt
and inactive duty; and (3) for staff NCOs a return to the fleet in grade to
serve out a career. 8 took option (3), 126 took option (2), most option (1).
The Corps had expected 600 to apply for TBS, eliminate 300 through physical
and mental exams, then at the end of 6 months commission 251 regular 2dLts.
It didn't happen. 56 applied. After mental and physical exams, 46 of us
became the First Basic Class on 1 October forming one platoon.
We moved into "D" Barracks on Barnett Avenue billeted in a squad bay on the
top deck in double decker bunks alphabetically. Rank was ignored. Our mess
was on the first deck where we ate family style.
Class members ranked from gunnery and technical sergeant, then the top
enlisted grades, to private first class. Techs had two bars under their
chevrons instead of rockers. Two techs were original para-Marines in a
parachute bn. The last classmember entered the Corps after being dismissed
for too many demerits from the Naval Academy entered in 1942. He had less
than one year in the Corps when commissioned. Most of us had at least 3
One gunny enlisted in 1940 and was in the Marine Detachment in the carrier
Saratoga when it was returning to Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 41 after delivering
aircraft to one of the Pacific islands. He later become a DI at Dago where
one boot he put through was also a class member.
A fourth former tech sgt was in the class who had enlisted in the Corps on
30 March 1938 and shipped over for his third enlistment three days before we
were commissioned to get a reenlistment bonus. He had been selected for V-
12 and was reduced to private when he reported to school. He had assigned
been to London during the blitz as a combat photographer during which he went on
a two moth cruise in the North Sea with a combined fleet to stop Nazi naval
sortees. It was while there he meet his British war bride.
We had three platoon sergeants. One who enlisted in 1940 was in the carrier
Hornet when it took Doolittle's B-25's launched off Japan in the first
American air raid on Tokyo. The ship returned to the mid-Pacific to join in
the Battle of Midway. While this occurred another classmate was on Midway
while the Japs bombed. Next the Hornet sailed to the SW Pacific where it
was sunk. My classmate spent 15 hours in the water before being rescued.
He had a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service.
Another platoon sergeant was in the cruiser Phoenix when it was attacked by
kamikazes. Damaged but still seaworthy it returned to the States for
repairs. It was next sent to Puerto Rico to pick the SecState Cordell Hull
who was on his way to Moscow. My classmate was assigned as Hull's orderly
while crossing the Atlantic. During the voyage my classmate learned that
Hull and his mother were from the same town and knew each other. When they
reached Casablanca Hull left the ship to fly the rest of the way but before
leaving he arrange for my classmate to visit the palace of the King of
There was one staff sergeant, a bar instead of a rocker, who was in
communications serving with an artillery regiment and a defense battalion.
There were three sergeants, one a Japanese linguist. The latter was the son
of Chinese parents born in Sacramento and fluent in Cantonese. He was sent
to Japanese language school and on graduation kept as an instructor. He
chose to come to the Basic School because he felt he couldn't go home
without having been in combat. He made up for it after graduation when he
got the Navy Cross and Silver Star with 1/7 in 6 weeks while being twice
wounded in North Korea.
I am citing ranks we had on graduation. I am skipping the fact that others
had been NCO's who made it from the field to V-12 where everyone became a
private and PFC in TBS but allowed to wear the stripes that had earned. The
graduation list had 23 corporals, and 8 PFCS. When we started 12 of the
corporals, including me, had been PFCs. We were promoted in Feb and March
1946 when the Corps offered PFCs promotion to corporal and $50 for every
year for which we reenlisted into the regular Corps. The reason we did is
that as we were to be commissioned regulars we would get no uniform
allowance. A number of us got married while in the class as we didn't know
whether the regulation that regular 2dLts could get married with the CO's
permission during their first two years of commissioned service. Two were
married before the class started.
Among those who were PFCs and corporals were others of interest. One PFC,
as a corporal, won the Navy Cross during the Tarawa battle. Because it was
a British possession, one morning a British Embassy limo came to Quantico to
pick him up so they could pin their Distinguished Service Medal on him for
the same action. Another had been with the 2d Marine Division at
Guadalcanal and another campaign. Two, both corporals on graduation, had
been on Iwo Jima. Both were wounded, one twice.
The one wounded once had been a combat photographer and caused a stir one
day during a field problem. The instructor, a 2dLt who had not been
overseas, asked my classmate what he would do if a grenade fell in the
middle of his unit. The school solution was to fall on it. My classmate
said "run". The instructor was furious and started to chew him out. Before
he got far my classmate said that's what he did and its why he was alive.
The other Iwo Jima veteran never should have been in the Corps. A college
football player he had ribs broken playing that scarred a lung. When he
tried to enlist early in WW II he was turned down. Called for by the draft he
was so anxious to be a Marine he asked the guy behind him in the chest x-ray
line if he would like to be 4-F. The fellow said sure, so they switched
places and my classmate was in. One of his wounds was to the head and had
to have scull bone replaced with a metal plate. When we took our
commissioning physicals, the corpsman taking the chest x-rays had known this
classmate when he was hospitalized with the head wound. Asking my classmate
if he could do anything for him, he said take to chest x-rays of the fellow
in front of him. The corpsman did.
This is getting long and there a few more things about the class to cover.
But among the 46 of us during the war class members had participated in many
Pacific battles, among them Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, the Solomons,
Bouganville, Midway, Tarawa, Saipan, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. Some were
seagoing including one in the cruiser Brooklyn when it was in support of Army
operations from Sicily to Anzio.
We were discharged on 1 April 46 and graduated on 3 April 1946 with 41
commissioned permanent regular second lieutenants with a date or rank of 2
April. All but the PFC's were noted in the Congressional Record as
"meritorious non-commissioned officers". The PFC's were noted as citizens of
the country. Three were commissioned as reserve second lieutenants with a
DOR of 3 April. Two failed to graduate and were discharged. One of the
latter was the class clown and thought his joking wouldn't make any
difference. The other, who had meritorious citations as an air intelligence
NCO in the Philippines would fall asleep in classes. Later he was diagnosed
with narcolepsy. Both left the corps, got their degrees and went on to
successful civilian careers. The assistant CMC was our graduation speaker
and handed us out graduation certificates along with our large parchment
commissions. I will note that all TBS classes following ours had its
members commissioned before starting. The Second Basic Class members
received reserve commissions two weeks before our class graduated.
Following commissioning, the class scattered to various parts of the globe.
Some saw their first post-World War II combat against Chinese Communist
Forces when assigned to keeping open the rail line from Tsingtao to Peking
in 1946. Others went to London, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Panama, Pearl
Harbor, Midway, Guam, and the Philippines, as well as Camps Lejeune and
Pendleton. None went to a school
Of the original 44 commissioned, 38 earned retirement as Marines -- 9
colonels (2 MCR), 13 lieutenant colonels, 9 majors (1 MCR), 6 captains (1
MCR and 2 FMCR), and 1 commissioned warrant officer. Two, including one
commissioned a reservist who became a captain on active duty during Korea,
resigned completely from the Corps. Two others resigned and took reserve
commissions. Six were separated after failing promotion to major. Three of
those immediately reenlisted. Two went into the FMCR after 20 years and
were promoted to captain on the retired list after 30 years. The other
three went on to civilian careers. One was KIA in Korea where most of us
served. 13 served in country in Vietnam.
After retirement all members of the class had second careers in the private
sector, academia, and government -- federal, and local.
Decorations and awards given to class members include 2 Navy Crosses, 11
Silver Stars, 14 Bronze Stars with combat Vs, 5 Distinguished Flying Cross
es, 30 Air Medals, 4 Legions of Merit, 4 Meritorious Service Medals, and
other US and foreign awards. Many received Purple Hearts (24 total), some
more than one and one with four. Wounds to three led to disability
The service of members of the First Basic Class of The Basic School extended
over a period of 38 years. The First Basic Class was and is unique, one of
a kind in the history of TBS, even when the pre-World War II School is
considered. And there probably will never be another one like it. It is a
class that deserves to be emulated, to be remembered in the annals of the
Corps as unique. It was the epitome of a future slogan of the Corps --- a
few good men.
s/f, Ned Dolan, a member of the Class and Class Historian
19 March 2003
MILINET: RECAP "A Sea Story"
This RECAP contains A SEA STORY UNDER DISCUSSION followed by RESPONSES and GROUPS OF RESPONSES presented in the order received and/or posted by MILINET.
Anthony F. Milavic
Major USMC (Ret.)
====================A SEA STORY UNDER DISCUSSION====
4 March 2003
MILINET: A Sea Story
By: Maj. Philip Gold, USMCR (HRet.)
Back in grad school, there were days (no, weeks, no months) when I'd do
anything to avoid working on my dissertation. One day I was wandering the
library stacks when I came across a huge two volume folio set entitled,
"Yale in the World War." Published in 1922, it was both a school history
and a tribute to those who served. I spent a couple wonderful hours
reading about my alma mater's contribution. Especially the biographies of
those who'd joined the Marines.
Seems that, when the war began, the fashionable specialties were Army
artillery and aviation (including, presciently, naval aviation). The
Marines garnered, if memory serves, only a few officers. Eight, I believe,
of whom six were killed in action. But those eight racked up more
decorations than, I suspect, any equivalent group out of any college,
anyway. Four, again if memory serves, won the Navy Cross. The stories of
these privileged young men were absolutely inspiring.
I read those volumes back in 1977. But before I could, I had to cut all
the pages. In over fifty years, no one had opened the books. All those
tales of heroism (Marine, Army, Navy) sitting quietly on the shelf,
MILINET: Resps "A Sea Story"
My maternal grandfather Wiley Cox (I always wished they'd named me after him so I could be Wiley Wyly) graduated from Yale, Class of 1897. This began a sort of family tradition of Duncan's and Burns's (my cousins on matrilineal side) going to Yale that I uiterrupted by going to the Naval Academy.
From what I understand, you'll find even more Yale (and Harvard) combat tradition in the Marine ENLISTED ranks, some of whom interrupted college careers to go to WWI. In Catlin's "With the Help of God and a Few Marines" (a Bible in my family because it recounts death of my Great Uncle Captain Donald Duncan, USMC, 6 June 1918 at Belleau Wood) there is a line (I will have to re-consult it for absolute accuracy) to the effect "Fifty per cent of 5th and 6th Marine Regiments were 'college men' ". It was also fashionable, as I understand it, for young collegiates, esp. Ivy League, to join the Marines - and only Marines were "in" in those circles -Â as enlisted troops in 1917-18. There was aÂ lot of intellect in the ranks then and it served us well. That is real intellect - not the touchy feely stuff that is passed off as intellect now. More later.
Col., USMC (ret)
"for it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!' But
it's 'Saviour of 'is country', when the guns begin to shoot" - R. Kipling
So many heroes to remember.
MSgt USMC (Ret)
Perhaps Phil Gold should look into those who were in the Marine Detachment of
the Yale V-12 unit during WW II.Â Our first CO in 1943 was a Major T.J. Cross
who graduated from TBS in Philly in 1938.Â His Deputy was a Marine Gunner,
Myears <sp>.Â Cross was with a 1st MarDiv Raider Bn. He landed on Tulagi
where he got the Navy Cross and was wounded.Â One of those at Yale in the
Detachment, whose father became a CMC, retired as a colonel - Lemuel
Shepherd.Â Another, whose name I don't recall, was at one time a top Air
Force civilian official.Â It would be quite a project as I guess over time
there could have been 200-300 in the Detachment as some departed to go
to Quantico and be commissioned for duty in the Pacific and new Marines who
had already served in the Pacific were rotated in.Â
s/f Ned Dolan
Sad, isn't it, how easily we forget? Jock
===================2nd GROUP OF RESPONSES==========
MILINET: 2nd Resps "A Sea Story"
As promised, here are a few quotes from BGen. A. W. Catlin's 1919 book "With the Help of God and a Few Marines". They pertain to 6th Marine Regiment that fought in France.
"If we had had time and opportuninty to pick our men individually from the whole of the United States I doubt whether we shouild have done much better. They had brains as well as brawn. Sixty per cent of the entire regiment - mark this - sixty per cent of them were college men. Two-thirds of one entire company came straight from the University of Minnesota......there was Lagore of Yale, Moore and Murphy of Princeton......Overton the Yale runner who was killed in the offensive last summer.Â When you read of what these men did in Belleau Wood and Bouresches, remember who they were, and perhaps their exploits will seem less unbelievable."
From the oral history passed down in my family, college students in 1917 tended to romanticize about the Marines because they'd heard of them. News reports from the pre-WWI Caribbean expeditions got more attention than anything happening in the Army so the Marine Corps was service of choice if you were well-read and adventurous. My 1897 Yale grad granddad went out West and signed on as a cowhand in much the same spirit and after a few cattle drives came back East to begin a banking career.
But the point is, our intellectual "elite" seemed in many ways less elite and more in touch with mainstream America when "there were giants in the land".
I'll have to say though, the guys we've got in the Corps going overseas now sure look good, and the ones I know personally, sure are good. We've still got giants but they are coming from different walks of life.
Michael Duncan Wyly
Colonel, USMC (ret)
What is the title of the Kipling poem you quoted and where can I get a copy?
Mike and Ned,
Â Â Â Mike, yes, there were a lot of enlisted men coming out of Yale. In
fact, there were "riots" against ROTC/SATC because they felt it undemocratic
to insist on being officers. How times have changed.
Â Â Â Ned --Â Â Â this is majorly important -- my de facto adopted father,
Smith Cochrane, was in the Yale V-12 program until he was drafted into the
forces, went to Europe, saw considerable action in the final months of the
war as an infantryman. He died some years ago and we never really talked too
much about it all. If anyone remembers Smitty Cochrane, could you please put
me in touch? I and his surviving children -- three daughters -- would be
Â Â Â Final thought -- these heroes, men who gave up positions and lives of
privilege and wealth and comfort, must never be forgotten. It's not that
their lives were any more valuable, or their sdacrifice any greater, than
those less fortunate by birth. It's the example and the truth best expressed
in Jesus' saying that from those to whom much is given, much is expected.
=========================3rd GROUP OF RESPONSES=======
MILINET: 3rd Resps "A Sea Story"
Yes, good quotes. Thanks. And how about Butler's, "The society that draws a
line between its thinking men and its fighting men will find its fighting
done by fools and its thinking done by cowards." Jim Stockdale put me on to
that one many years ago.
========================4th GROUP OF RESPONSES====
MILINET: 4th Resps "A Sea Story"
There is something wrong about the Smith Cochrane story of being drafted from
the V-12. It couldn't happen, and didn't.Â Those of us in the V-12 were sworn
members of either the Marine Corps or the Navy,Â We Marines had the exalted
rank of private.Â The sailors were apprentice seamen,Â We wore the uniforms
of out respective services, had military ID cards, received our medical care
free, and were subject to Navy Regulations.Â The Marines, at least at Yale,
had one distinction.Â We wore gold letters "OC" on our shirt collars. When in
summer khaki this threw the AAC Cadets as they saw the gold flashing and
saluted to avoid possible demerits for failing to salute an officer.Â It did
have advantages when we went to New York on liberty as the people who gave
out free theater tickets treated us as officers, those who served the EMs
wouldn't give us any.Â I always would get front row seats and then make a
date.Â Being from NY I had girl friends there.Â
The only time anyone was sent to the field was when their school time had
been completed or they flunked a semester.Â This was 5 semesters for liberal
arts guys.Â When that had their five semesters, including those before being
assigned to V-12, they were off to PI for boot came (if they hadn't yet been,
the to the Officer Applicant Battalion at Lejeune for screening and on to PLC
at Quantico.Â After four months it was a commission as a temporary reserve
2dLt and on to the Pacific.Â Engineering and science students were supposed
to stay until they got their degree.Â Most did until Okinawa then we were put
on the road in February 1945 to PLC with 7 semesters.Â The war was over
before we got commissioned.Â What happened then is another story invoolving
the First Basic Class of The Basic School.Â It is unique and differs from
every class since.Â If you and other want that I can write it again as it did
it once as part of my class history.
s/f Ned Dolan
======================5th GROUP OF RESPONSES=====
MILINET: 5th Resps "A Sea Story"
Count me in! I would like to hear Mr. Dolan's story. Bob Farmer
Thanks. Was there an Army equivalent up there? I know his ETO service was genuine, we've got all the documentation. The story I was told was that in latter 44, the program was shut down and the guys sent to whatever training, thenÂ off to Europe.
I would love to see Nedâs story of the First Basic Class. Jock
I vote YES--Ned, that makes three.
====================6th GROUP OF RESPONSES===
MILINET: 6th Resp "A Sea Story"
There was an ASTP (Army Specialist Training Program) at Yale.Â It was
completely separate from the V-12.Â I know almost nothing about it. A couple
of the Army enlisted men that I know about were Cpl Broderick Crawford with
whom our CO and his gunner, another Marine V-12er and I had a few beers
together one evening, and Tony Martin, a snob.Â Crawford was a great guy
and we did not discuss the movies.Â The AAC had a unit there for Air Cadets,
about 1000.Â They were tightly controlled.Â They had a sunset parade every
weekday late afternoon (1700) on the New Haven Green (except when it rained
or snowed) which many V-12ers went to watch.Â The big attraction was the AAC
band which was under a Capt. Glenn Miller.Â Great band.
s/f Ned Dolan
P.S.Â I will get to the First Basic Class story in a few days.Â I have a busy
week upcoming and there are several things I have to prepare to brief a
couple of members of Congress from my state on veterans, including retirees,
in my capacity of a commissioner on the Maryland Veterans Commission.Â Also a
retired Marine Officers Luncheon, a trip to a TBS graduation to present an
award cerificate to the winner of the award the First Basic Class established
(the winner of the Gung Ho award is selected by his/her classmates not on
the basis of grades).Â There are also a couple of other events on my
=======================7th GROUP OF RESPONSES=====
MILINET: 7th Resp "A Sea Story"
I bet that's what I'm looking for, not V-12. According to Smitty, the Army program was pretty much shut down in latter 44, due to the manpower shortage. Aftrer the war, he went to Columbia on the GI Bill and told a fascinating story about Eisenhower,Â who was university president then. I don't remember if I ever posted it.
P.S. I'm addressing my son's class on Iraq tomorrow. Basic message: This is a total mess, but once it starts, no substitute for victory.