Thursday, December 23, 2021

Happy Holidays, Merry XMAS and Happy Hanukka


Vietnam XMAS Eve 1969

Twas the Night Before Christmas,
When all through the House
The Creatures were stirring
and shooting up the place

On Christmas Eve 1969 I arrived in Vietnam. It was gently raining. A very large hill loomed inland over the Danang airport swathed in bright perimeter lights like a halo in the mist. It was impressive and beautiful and frightening. There was a great deal of firing and flares from the hill and some of the new guys thought we were under attack. 

We ran into a large building, one Marine shouted, "They're really getting hit up there. Take cover!"

I moved to the Hill - Hill 327 to MASS-3 a month later and found out that there had been no attack. It was simply a "lighting it up" impromptu firex to celebrate Christmas. Of course no one would openly admit that. You could fire at noises or sounds, so the troops were firing on Christmas eve at numerous noises and sounds.

Nice and impressive fireworks.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Photos source: 1970 Vietnam

Sunday, November 21, 2021

29 Palms aka The Stumps Sea Stories

 29 Palms aka The Stumps

Sea Stories

Most of us spent a lot of time at Marine Corps Base 29 Palms aka the Stumps.You can write your story by clicking on this Google Document. I will add it later to this blog post.


I was there on the ground during the A6 crash in the summer of 1971. I was actually a member of the 20th Rifle Company out of Rockford, Illinois. We were the aggressors for the exercise. I did not have knowledge of who the larger organization was. It is true the A6 was doing simulated strafing runs over our aggressor hill position. As I recall it was the middle of a typically very hot day at the Stumps when during one of the A6 runs it came too low and hit the sand exploding and spreading debris everywhere. I can still hear the horns of the 6X as rescuers swarmed the hill honking and shouting and looking for injured Marines. As I rose up out of my shallow foxhole I saw charred sand and debris going further up the hill. I don’t remember any details about injuries other than the pilots were killed. Scuttlebutt at the time said that they found the head of one of the pilots still in his helmet. 

At the lowly infantry company level of an independent rifle company, I didn't even know who 2/24 was at that time.  The 20th Rifle Company was disbanded in the fall of 1971 during a pretty significant reorganization of the Marine Corps Reserve. The most notable commanding officer of the 20th Rifle Company was our Major General Mitch Waters. 2/24 inherited quite an assortment of Marines during the reorganization. Marines in Rockford were given the choice of going “class III” or joining another element of 2/24.

I elected to transfer to the newly formed Golf Company in Madison Wisconsin.  The Golf Company was recently redesignated a rifle company from a 105 howitzer battery. I remember having to clean the 105s so they could be shipped out. Unfortunately, and a sign of the times in the early 70s, Golf Company inherited a nickname of “Goofy Company”. Through no fault of its own, this artillery battery was full of Madison, Wisconsin college students who had little interest in being Marines. There was quite an assortment of salty Korean War vets and newer Viet Nam Vets.  I’ll never forget the influx of recent VietNam vets who joined Madison hoping to extend their careers, became quickly disillusioned and left. It took a few years and some purging to square things away. I can’t remember when but at some point we were awarded the “Clifton B Cates Award”. I still have the certificate somewhere in my pile of records. 

Master Gunnery Sergeant Harper

USMC Retired


There has been a lot of talk and some reporting about how the US Marines were beaten badly by British Marines recently in a force on force exercise at 29 Palms.  The first story was propagated as many things are, with someone telling a wild story that gets everyone paying attention, which results in a lot of fame and money for the guy who made the story up. Whether it is true or not.  It was amplified by the Rooskies.

Russian Disinformation

The truth, I think.

Some of my sea stories from 29 Palms aka the Stumps

This memory is from a long time ago. I think I have it right. Some of you were probably with the Chicago Infantry Battalion 2/24 then and may know a different story.

On my first Reserve exercise at the Stumps, I think, in 1972 or 73. I was in the Air Wing and flew out from Santa Anna for a few days. It was, I think, 2/24, the Chicago Infantry Battalion in the exercize.  Seems to me we did not have any idea what we were supposed to do. I set up an AN/PRC-41 to talk to the aircraft in the exercize.  The batteries on that old radio were shot, so I jury rigged power from a radio jeep with slash wire. I was surprised when it worked. I was bathing the radio with water to keep it from overheating in the 29 Stumps heat.

We were at the airfield on mainside a long way from the ground troops, but I could see an A-6, I think, doing simulated bombing or strafing runs over the Battalion. I remember thinking take it easy, friend.  Don’t crash. His attack approach looked very steep and going very low. He would pop up high and then go into a steep dive.

They did not come out of one dive and crashed with an enormous cloud of smoke. I called the medevac and the old radio kept working and I kept it as cool as I could with water.  As I remember it, the two pilots were killed and some of the Chicago Marines were injured.

The story I heard, and you guys who were there can correct me, was that some of the Marines on the ground saw the pilots, who knew they had lost it. The pilots were able to maneuver the plane so that when it crashed it did not hit a lot of Marines.  Anyone remember?  I searched for this online and could not find anything.


CAX   We were at numerous Combined Arms Exercises

I was commo for the air wing side of the Combined Arms Exercises.  We set up all the radios to control the air.  The pilots set up their IP (Initial Point) for the attack aircraft to assemble. 


They were working hard at staying low so that they could not be observed by the enemy radar. The idea was to stay low until you popped up, rolled over, and attacked the objective, and then leave low to the ground. They kept their IP low and behind some mountains and did not talk to me.  

Dumb idea.  Most of the ground to air radios were UHF - Line of sight.  The aircraft could not talk to anyone unless they were high enough to have direct line of sight back to the TACC or FAC radio Antennas.

The exercise was to start with a napalm strike on the first hill objective.  The VIPs were on another hill where they could observe the strike. The napalm strike was always spectacular.

The pilots stayed low at the IP point with no comm. They were not supposed to strike without positive ground control to prevent tragic accidents.

The pilots decided to take the initiative.  They figured they knew where the Hill was, and did their attack - low to the ground, pop up over the mountains, roll in and bomb the target.  They did so without ground comm control, which was of course a safety no no.

The attack went swimmingly, except they bombed the wrong hillbehind the VIP Hill.  

Our Marine PR Captain tried to fix the mistake by telling the VIP's how impressive the attack was. It was impressive, but some of the experienced reporters knew it was a screw up and we bombed the wrong hill behind the VIP hill instead of the actual objective in front of the hill. Oh, well,  no one was fried.

On the exercise debrief it was pointed out that 50 cal rounds were impacting within a meter of our Marines Fortunately no one was hit.


I was standing in the mess hall line at the Marine Base in 29 Palms with the PR Captain who had handled the bungled napalm attack.  I noticed a black widow spider on the collar of the Captain. 

"Captain, don't move." I said and tried to brush the spider off of his shirt with the brim of my cover (cap). The spider deftly dodged under the brim and ran down inside his camouflage shirt. 

"Hold on," I said and slowly unbuttoned his shirt, which probably looked odd to the rest of the Marines in the chow line. When I unbuttoned the last button he did a war dance, slapping every inch of his body to get rid of or kill the spider.  

Then the captain said to me "Next time, don't help."  

The ingrate. See if I ever help him again, after all I did. 


We had lots of black widow spiders at the Marine Bases in 29 Palms, CA and Yuma, AZ in 1967-68.  I had many of them under my desk.  I would periodically beat them down with a broom and burn them out a couple of times with a torch, but they always came back. But they were nice and never bit me. I suppose I should be sorry for being mean to them.

One time I was laying on my back on the floor of a room, with my head slightly under a desk. And there was the red hourglass of the spider's abdomen inches above my large and long nose. Startled me a bit.


Another Marine Spider story. One of our Marines really liked tarantulas.  He captured a large hairy one in 29 Palms, California and brought it back to his apartment in Berwyn, Illinois.

Tarantula got out of the box and moved to another apartment. When they discovered spidey in their cupboard the residents convened a hasty kangaroo court and quickly evicted our spider loving Marine and his tarantula.

I also have a childhood memory of Marlin Perkins from Zoo Parade holding a large tarantula in his hand and saying, " as long as I don't make any sudden moves he won't bite."


I led a small two radio relay jeep det at a CAX following the infantry battalion with a plan to roll in right after the infantry took the hill and moved on. The two radio jeeps would provide comm from the DASC to the TACC.  

All kinds of live ordinance was used. It is a bit disorienting in the desert. I was pretty sure the infantry had already attacked the hill. Pretty sure really  isn’t not a good idea when people are shooting real bullets.

We rolled up to the Hill and the three of us erected the big flyswatter antenna.  We had just completed our work when one of the  Marines  noticed some 250 lb bombs sticking out of the Hill. Oh, SHIT! They had not been there before the attack when we reconned the hill. So at least now we knew for sure the attack had passed by the hill.

I got our two radio men and myself behind a hill so if the bombs went off we would have just got our bell rung, not blown to pieces.  I radioed back to range control and asked what the chances of the bombs going off were?  The range control guy said they would probably not go off if they had not gone off on impact.  

So we kept the radio link working.  The only big danger was when we took the antennas down later.  Bombs did not go off.  Whew!

I took the same two Marines up to the top of a mountain the next day in a CH-46 helo.  We brought them enough water and camo netting for shade - it was very hot and windy. They would be up there for two days, with a radio relay circuit, connecting the DASC to the TACC.

We had everything set up and bang!  A very big round flew past of us.  I have no idea what was fired - maybe a 105?  We were on the side of and far above the battlefield and no one was supposed to be firing up there.

But it was just one round and we did not know what to do about it, other than complain to range control. So I left my Marines up there and flew back to the base camp. It occured to me that no one from our unit knew where they were except me. If the helo crashed they would be isolated.

Fortunately nothing happened and I went back up to pull them out. They were very fine young Marines and I was trying hard to get them to stay in.  But when they went home they told their wives what happened, and the wives said get out. 

We usually did our two week duty at 29 Palms in the Mojave Desert in southern California in August and it was hotter than Hell. There was a base order that said don't push your troops until they are fully acclimatized which took six weeks.  But our Reserves were there for two weeks and we were trying to prove to ourselves and the regular Marine Corps that we were good.  And so we went all out from day one.  You would see troops being medevaced on helos with massive sweat stains on their utilities.

We were the last unit to leave Camp Wilson on a CH-53 with two radio jeeps, one with a trailer. And we had a water buffalo underneath. We probably should not have been flying. It was so windy that the helo was swinging back and forth. The pilot stayed down in the valleys as much as possible. Several troops got air sick.  Half way through the flight I realized that the jeeps were not chained down to prevent a backward movement. If the helo went nose up nothing would stop the jeep from rolling to the rear. Fortunately the helo stayed nose down the whole time. Probably the pilot knew the situation, but who knows?


In 1967 I was at the enlisted Air Control school at 29 Palms. Number 1 in the class included writing backwards on a plexiglass board so the air controllers out front could see the aircraft movements.  A very useful skill. The challenge was to hear range and distance plots in one ear, and coordinate plots in the other year, and plot them at the same time with both hands. Lots of fun.

I was playing for the 5th LAAMBn basketball team in Yuma later that year.  I was going back and forth writing backwards and forwards.  The Career Planning Lt who was handling my OCS application came up to me in a game and handed me a magic market to put a number on his T shirt.  I got the one ok, but then was not sure how to mak e. So I wrote it and I wrote a backwards 5. The Lt did not send my package forward. I had to wait another six months for a new Lt who did not know I could not write a 5 to send in my package.


When I first joined the Det I heard all these stories about Lincoln Town Cars and the good life on exercises.  My first was at the Stumps where we worked all night on a Steel Thrust - no glamor there. And I had no idea what the Det was doing.

But the next night we were in Palm Springs at the motel pool. We were all in the hot tub except Bailey.  He did not have his trunks. We harassed him till he stripped down to his skivvies and jumped in. At least that is the way I remember it.


We did a number of CAX exercises where part of Comm Squadron would support the first two weeks and then another part of the Squadron would support the second two weeks. I was in the second two weeks.  The first Det would leave as we got there.  A tremendous wind storm hit and destroyed all the tents, and messed up their Charlie uniforms.  So they flew home on commercial air in their grungy cammies.

Woz, Eric Bennet, and Bob Dart usually went together on one part of the exercise, and I went on the other. I know they had more fun and usually stayed in town while I stayed in the tents.

Do any of you have some good stump stories? Add them here.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Annapolis Reunion Oct 21-24, 2021

Great reunion organized by Drew and Margaret.  Everything was great.  Good weather, wonderful sailing, super tour of the academy, great breakfast, super dinner at the MarDrew Home.

If you have photos and videos you would like to share please email them to me.


Friday Oct 22, 2021 Cruise on the Bay

Saturday Oct 23, 2021.  Football Game, Drew and Margaret Home

Joe Brooks

Annapolis Maryland State House Joe Brooks

If you want to share your photos and videos send them to me and I will post them here.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Updated Drill Notice Annapolis

Det 4 Marines

Margaret and I are looking forward to seeing you this week in Annapolis. The weather looks good for all events (warm on Thursday, seasonal Friday-Sunday). The COVID positivity rate is just 3.8. Shops, bars and restaurants are all open and hopping. 

I've attached an updated drill notice and event schedule. The big change is that the football game is now at noon instead of 3:30. So...Margaret and I will host a tailgate party in our parking spot at 10 with bloody mary's, mimosas and non-alcoholic refreshments. We'll go to our seats at 1115 for the march-on and flyover. Lunch will be stadium food on your own. Following the game, we'll carpool to our house for waterfront deck cocktails and casual post-game dinner. 

The rest is mostly unchanged, with the exception that we won't have time for lunch on Friday at the Naval Academy. Dinner will be early (3:30-4ish) at the Boatyard Bar and Grill. We'll have snacks and beer/wine on the cruise to tide you over.

We've only had two drops (both excused). Woz is not yet up to travel, and Byron and Janet Hill are dealing with a medical issue. We'll schedule a Zoom call at some point to include them in the festivities.

Questions? Don't hesitate to email or call me.

Cheers and S/F


Andrew B. Davis
Major General USMC (Ret)

Updated Drill Notice for Printing

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Oct 21-24 Drill and Reunion of the legendary Headquarters Detachment 4 is ON!!! At Annapolis


The scheduled 21-24 October Drill and Reunion of the legendary Headquarters Detachment 4 is ON!!!  We have 25 attendees who have confirmed. Annapolis is open, the Naval Academy Yard is open to visitors. The Navy-Cincinnati football game is on. While the Delta variant is still abroad in the land, Annapolis' positivity rate is below the CDC recommended threshold of 5.0 and the local vaccination rate is over 60%. That said, the only restriction is that masks are required to be worn in the indoor areas of the football stadium. 

All meals will be off the menu, except the brunch at the Annapolis Yacht Club. Maragret and I will host the tailgate party pregame. For the skipjack cruise, football tickets and yacht club brunch, the per person charge is $150.00 ($300 per couple). Please either bring a check or mail a check payable to Andrew Davis, 379 Broadview Lane, Annapolis, MD 21401.

Here (and attached) is the updated 5-para order and roster of attendees:

FROM: Drew Davis

TO: Members, Headquarters Detachment 4

SUBJ: Information re Reunion 2021, Annapolis, MD, 21-24 OCT 2021

1. Situation. The 2021 reunion drill of the loyal members of Headquarters Det 4 is just seven weeks away. The reunion will be held 21-24 October 2021 in Annapolis, Maryland, on the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay.  Area of Operations will be historic downtown, Annapolis, the United States Naval Academy, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.

2. Mission.  Gather, reminisce, conduct a reconnaissance of the U.S. Naval Academy, cheer Navy on to gridiron victory, conduct amphibious operations on the Severn River, eat, drink, have fun.

3. Execution.
a. Thursday, 21 October:
i. Arrive in Annapolis, check in to Historic Inns of Annapolis Governor Calvert House, 58 State Circle, Annapolis.
ii. 1700 Assembly and Happy Hour upstairs bar at Harry Browne’s Tavern, 66 State Circle (next to Calvert House)
iii. 1830 Dinner at Galway Bay Irish Restaurant, 63 Maryland Ave (around corner from Harry Browne’s)
iv. Post dinner socializing: Harry Browne’s Bar
b. Friday, 22 October:
i. 0815 Breakfast on own at Chick and Ruth’s Del, 185 Main Street (three blocks from Calvert House) Web
ii. 0830 Recite Pledge of Allegiance at Chick and Ruth’s Deli (an Annapolis tradition worth participation)
iii. 0930 Walk to Naval Academy Gate 1 visitor’s entrance. Need military ID or two forms of civilian ID.
iv. 1000-1200 Walking tour of Naval Academy: Dahlgren Hall, Memorial Hall, Chapel, John Paul Jones Crypt, USNA History Museum.
v. 1200-1300 Lunch at Naval Academy Club The Alley.
vi. Afternoon: 1330-1530 Afternoon cruise on historic Skipjack “Wilma Lee”
vii. 1600 Happy Hour and dinner at The Boatyard Bar and Grill, 400 4th Street
c. Saturday, 23 October:
i. Breakfast on own
ii. 1000 Visit State Capitol and tour historic chambers where Washington resigned his commission.
iii. 1100-1300 Lunch on own and personal time to explore shops of Main Street and Maryland Avenue. (Be sure to visit Irish Traditions, 141 Main Street where Col Will Holahan’s Military Tartans are on sale.)
iv. 1300-1445 Tailgate party (beer and snacks) at Davis parking spot No. 458 in the Gold Parking Lot at Navy Marine Corps Stadium. (Stadium is walking distance from hotel.) Wear Marine Corps logowear. Bring a mask to wear in all indoor areas (walkways, concessions, heads.) Digital tickets will be distributed before the game to your cell phones.
v. 1500 In seats for impressive March On of the Brigade of Midshipman and flyover.
vi. 1530-1830 Navy Midshipman vs University of Cincinnati Bearcats (an AAC Conference game) . Go Navy!
vii. 1900 Happy Hour and Dinner McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar, City Dock. (McGarvey’s is a favorite gathering spot for Marines especially on 10 November.)
d. Sunday 24 October:
i. 1000 Brunch and farewell at Annapolis Yacht Club, 2 Compromise Street

4. Admin and Logistics
a. Annapolis is 30 minutes drive time from BWI Airport or the BWI Amtrak Station. It’s an hour drive (traffic permitting from Reagan National Airport and 1-1/2 hours drive from Dulles Airport. The hotel has parking access and there is plenty of public lot parking.

b. A per capita fee of $150.00 will be collected for all group activities: the football game tailgate and tickets, skipjack cruise, and Yacht Club Sunday brunch. Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day will be off the menu and the responsibility of each diner (Farrell’s Rules may apply.) There is no charge for the Naval Academy tour or State Capitol tour.

All events are within walking distance from the hotel, but Annapolis has Uber service for those who may need a lift.

c. Command and Communications
i. Drew Davis mobile phone is (847) 867-7026
ii. Margaret Davis is (202) 271-5845
iii. Drew’s email is
iv. Historic Inns number is 410-263-2641. Web address is .

DavisDrew and Margaret2
WardlowLynn and Jason2
HullingerCraig and Beth2
McLaughlinGreg and Sue2
WozniakRon and Linda2
HolahanWill and Kay2
AndersonLarry and Jan2
HillByron and Janet2
BrooksJoe and Barb2
HomanJim and June2
ZimmerIvan and Sally2

See You in Annapolis. Semper Fi,

Andrew B. Davis
Major General USMC (Ret)