Here’s an old one I just happened to find on an old webpage of mine…
June 1, 2005
Here’s one I received a few years ago from Marine Jim Ratliff, now deceased.
About four or five years ago when I was new to the net, I was soliciting stories for my Marine Vignettes/Tales Of The Corps webpages. I got an e-mail from Jim about that time, and he advised that he was then putting out a newsletter for H-3-5 News which was his old company from the Korean War days. His hands were full already w/the newsletter, but his newsletter contained many stories from H-3-5 Marines; and he invited me to post the stories to my webpages, if I would like to do so.
I e-mailed Jim back, “you bet, I want them!
I did post many of the H-3-5 stories, and they are still on Gunny G’s…for anyone who would like to see them. Jim had been successful in rounding up many of the Marines and Navy Corpsmen from his old H-3-5 days.
Jim died a year or so ago, and here is one story of his own that I have had rat-holed on my hard drive and just ran across again today.
One Sunday morning, sometime I the spring of
1950, about a dozen of us guys were lying around
I the barracks at Camp Pendleton. How Company
had returned from being stationed in Guam in
February and after a typhoon had tried to blow us
away. We were given a thirty day leave on a
rotation basis, and about a third of the Platoon
was on leave at this given time. I imagine the
only reason some of us were in the barracks that
Sunday is that some few had laundry to do and the
rest of us were probably broke. A Marine base on
Sunday seems almost deserted. Most on liberty.
I remember it was sometime after breakfast and
before we went to lunch, the squad bay burst open
and in walks the C.O., Capt. Fagan. He walked
about a third of the way through the bay,
stopped, turned around facing the way he had come
in, did a quick count and said, “You nine men,
get your web gear, your helmet liners, and your
rifles off the rack. Make sure you have your
dungarees on and fall out in front of the
barracks.” I was one of the nine; shocked
thoughts running through our minds but needless
to say, we jumped to. In less time than it takes
to tell, we had fallen out and fallen in at the
front of the barracks. The Captain walked in
front of us, stopping and giving each of us two
clips of ammo for our rifles. His only orders
were—“Lock and load when I tell you and load
aboard that covered 6×6.” The truck and driver
were parked in the area in front of the barracks.
We climbed aboard and off we went with not the
slightest idea where we were going or what we
were going to do. Out the back gate, into
Oceanside, left onto highway 101, traveling
south. I think we must have suggested a hundred
things of what was going on, from the sublime to
the ridiculous, but as it turned out we were not
even close with our speculations.
After about an hour we were in San Diego. Hey!
Must be something going on at the MCRD. Nope!
We just stayed on the highway and right through
San Diego still headed south. After a little
while one of the guys said, “We’re coming into
T-Town” (Tijuana). All we could think or
say—“What the hell!” We did not stop at the
border, just kept on and after a few minutes we
did come to a stop. One of the fellows who was
sitting in the back next to the tailgate could
see a little, and he said, “We’re stopped in
front of the jail.”
The Captain came to the back of the truck and
said—“Lock and load and I want three of you to
line up on the steps on the right, and three of
you line up on the same steps on the left and
don’t let anyone come in until we come back and
the other three of you come with me.” Here we
were, six Marines standing guard in Tijuana,
Mexico, scared S……. By that time we had figured
that the Captain was there to get someone. Sure
enough, in five or ten minutes, seemed forever to
us six standing outside, out they came, the four
that had gone in and two more. Back in the 6×6
and off we go, through the border gate, back
through San Diego and all the way back to
Pendleton and our barracks without once stopping
Over the years, I had thought about that incident
many times. Today I imagine it would create an
international incident and would be in all the
After forty years and not seeing anyone from How
Company, details were forgotten and I even forgot
the names of the two fellows we got out of jail.
When I told the story at our first reunion in
Wichita, Kansas in 1993, I immediately
heard—“Rat’s. You are pulling our leg.” Thank
goodness, as soon as I had finished the story one
of the fellows sitting there said, “Rat’s, you
know who you got out of jail?” I said, “No.” He
said, “It was me and Downing.” That was H-3-5
George Kaczmarek and Downing was H-3-5 Bob
Downing—and “That’s the rest of the story.”
Jim “RATs” Ratliff