Tales of Yore
The Continuing Tales of the Boys and Girls from HQMC

After a few weeks of mess duty at Camp Lejeune in October, 1943, I received my PFC rating and was transferred to Henderson Hall where I was assigned to the Guard Company. We had to do our cleaning duties before going on guard duty which included cleaning our head. When I was put in charge of one of the head details I wrote home and told my mother that I was made "captain of the head." She put it in our local paper that I was now a captain in the Marine Corps. I was receiving congratulation cards from all my relatives and friends. I was very embarrassed explaining to everyone what it meant to be captain of the head.
In between our guard duty assignments we had to clean the Recreation Hall. Just before Thanksgiving the Hall was decorated with baskets of mums and other flowers. I foolishly picked a small flower and put it in my hair. It was payday and I forgot the flower was in my hair when I went to pay call. I was given 3 days EPD (extra policy duty) for being out of uniform. I hated guard duty because I had to report my friends for little things like being out of uniform in some way.
When we had a midnight tour of guard duty we could pick up sandwiches at the Mess Hall which were called "midrats." We would often share them with the guards from Fort Meyers which was on the other side of the back fence behind our barracks. Wouldn't you know that someone reported us for sharing our midrats and we were restricted, no liberty for a week.
One of the happiest duties I had while in the Guard Company was when I was assigned to represent the Women Marines when they brought to Washington the Flag that had been raised on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and raised it over the Capitol Building. I was also assigned to work with the FBI in Washington, DC during the Christmas holidays when there was a lot of pick-pocketing going on. One time, while we were on this assignment, after the stores closed the officers took us out to dinner.
Mildred (Cornwell)Kelliher
It was mid morning in late March 1953 after a tough night at Benny's Tavern on 14th Street that I was rudely awakened by Bob Mock, a sailor no less, begging me to get dressed and come to his wedding. Seems that Bob's best man was a no show and he desperately needed someone to stand in and that I was the only one in the barracks. I grudgingly agreed and accompanied him over to the Navy Barracks in Anacostia. Sometime during the ceremony I noticed that the bridesmaid was a very appealing young woman and being the Marine that I was and the reputation I had to uphold I zoomed in on her and suggested that we both could use a Bloody Mary after this ordeal. She agreed and off we went for a Saturday afternoon of exploring the sights and sounds of the Greater DC area. I was only successful in obtaining her phone number and finding out that she was the Secretary to the Chief of the Director of the Bureau of Aeronautics and that I could call her if I so

Meanwhile, back at work at the Headquarters Marine Corps Flight Section at Anacostia one of our airplanes, a Beechcraft, was grounded due to faulty brakes. We needed the plane badly and our best efforts failed to obtain the necessary parts. Lights flashed, bells rang and I was on the phone to my newly found scrounging source, the Secretary to the Chief of the Director of the Bureau of Aeronautics, and within minutes the factor rep of Beechcraft was calling me and asking if he could be of service. We had the parts the very next day.

I called to thank my new contact and suggested we should have dinner because who among us would give up such a valuable source of  supply. We developed an ongoing relationship but I was totally unsuccessful in my conquest of this lovely lady and in a moment of desperation suggested marriage as the only way to overcome this problem. To my surprise and
consternation she accepted and proceeded with the arrangements.

We were in fact married two weeks after I first met her at the Foundry Methodist Church and after the wedding, while examining the official papers, discovered that we had been married by the Reverend Frederick Brown Harris, then Chaplain of the United States Senate.

Forty four years and three children plus two grand children later, Jane and I are still happily married.  Though I ultimately succeeded in my conquest I lost the best scrounging contact I ever had. I am sure there are many morals that can be drawn from this story but one thing I know for sure and
that is; she didn't marry me for my money!

Cliff Fancher

 It was April 1962 at Henderson Hall. I had met my future wife, a lady from Frederick, Maryland, and we planned to be married. My last stop at HH on the day of the wedding was the H&S Company office to pickup my leave papers. First Sergeant Kluytman immediately latched onto me stating that the evaluation sheet for my recently completed Physical Fitness Test had gone astray. The easiest thing to do, he said, was to simply have me do it over again -- right now!

He didn't seem to hear my pleas that it was my wedding day, which he well knew, that Cathy was waiting for me, that my leave had already started, etc., etc. He continued to ignore me and began handing me various items of his own 782 gear.

I had had trouble with the rope climb, although I always managed to pass, but just barely. I thought of Cathy waiting for me in Maryland and wondered if she would be worried when I was late. A thousand things were going through my mind. The Top finally handed me the last item, his .45 pistol, and I checked and cleared it. Fortunately it was unloaded as my feelings toward the Top were definitely unfriendly at that point.

Hmm, have you ever had that feeling when you just know you're being set up? But I knew there was no way out of this, except do it ASAP. Off we went down the hill to the physical fitness test site. By the time we got to the dreaded final event, the rope climb, I was really steamed up about the situation. Consequently, I went up that rope like a flash! I was truly astonished, as was the Top. (Boy, that Marine was well versed in motivational psychology.)

Back up the hill we went, one very smug first sergeant, and one very hot and sweaty, but greatly relieved, bachelor staff sergeant. This time the Top carried his own gear back to his office. I picked up my leave papers and got out of the Top's office as fast as possible.

For 27 great years this was one of Cathy's favorite stories until her untimely death in 1989.

 Dick Gaines

I got out of the Marine Corps on June 10, 1950. It was a date long awaited because I was sure I was destined for greater things than to be a Pfc in the Corps, a rank I had held for most of my three-year tour! To begin the new life I, in all my innocence, went to the VA for assistance.

They gave me a battery of tests designed to evaluate my capabilities/goals/desires. It was a quite long series of tests lasting several days. I thought I had done quite well and anxiously awaited the call to come in and review the results. The call finally came and down I went, confident that my future would soon be revealed.

The young lady, a Ph.D. of some sorts, said, "Mr. Campbell, we have finished reviewing your tests". I anxiously awaited word that my future lie in, perhaps, Nuclear Engineering, Physics, Medicine, or? She then said; "Mr. Campbell have you ever considered being a Minister or perhaps a Social Worker?"

I said, "Thank you very much", went down to the recruiter and said, "Where do I sign?" Of such moments are history made!
Bud Campbell

Shoo-in Solution to the Lost Shoe Caper

On a Friday payday during the winter of ’56 four of us members of the Guard Platoon at Henderson Hall caught the Columbia Pike bus into D.C. to drink beer. There was Bill Cressman, Harry Meade from New Jersey, and a fourth friend whose name I can't remember. We went to a bar near the U.S. Capitol called CapNGuys. (Draft beer was 10 cents a glass back then.) After we left there we went to Rand's Hayloft, and Benny's Rocket Room across from the Greyhound Bus Station presumably to consume more beer.

Realizing we had consumed a bit too much, we hailed a cab back to Virginia and told the cab driver we were soldiers stationed at Fort Myer Army Base. I still can't remember who suggested it or why we did it but when we got back to Southgate Rd. and another road below Arlington Cemetery we all jumped out of the cab without paying the fare and vaulted over Arlington National Cemetery wall into the darkness. It was snowing very hard and we began laughing and the more we laughed, the more we fell in the slippery snow. The cab driver chased us into the cemetery darkness but gave up. One of my friends lost his shoe but ignored the loss as we kept on running towards Henderson Hall where we jumped the fence again and were safely home.

The next day the cabdriver went to Fort Myer to file a complaint against the "Soldiers" who had jumped out of his cab without paying and produced the missing shoe that he had found. The Military Police at Fort Myer looked inside the shoe and found the owner's name stamped inside. Back then Marines had to mark all our military and civilian clothing, including shoes, with a name stamp to identify the owner. The Army Military Police advised the cab driver that there was no one aboard Ft. Myer with the name in the shoe and suggested that he might want to check Henderson Hall Marine Base. Well, it didn't take long for the powers that be to identify one of us and thus all of us. We were called forth to account for our stupid actions, the cabdriver was happy to get his fare and so declined to press charges, thank God. That was my only brush with being on the wrong side of the law and a lesson learned well.

I might add that at Henderson Hall I met my present wife who worked at the Navy Annex as a civilian. I was a main gate sentry. She and some other sweet 18 year olds made a habit of conversing with the sentries including this trim, 17 year old Marine in his dress blues. We are still happily married after 39 years.

My last years on the Arlington Virginia Police Dept. I was in recruiting, and I am happy to say that Police Applicants who were former Marines, stood out above all the rest because of their discipline, regimentation and a clean rap sheet.

Kenneth Adams

Memories of President Kennedy
One of the most memorable events of my tour of duty at Henderson Hall was that of the election and inauguration of John F. Kennedy as President of  the U. S. I was on leave in Rhode Island and the next day was January 20th.

I decided to return to HH a day or two early to observe the proceedings from a closer vantage point. So, I packed my "possible" bag (it contained possibly this or possibly that), said goodbye, and aimed my '58 Ford for Washington, D. C. As I rolled through Connecticut it began to snow. By the time I reached the N. J. Turnpike, it was getting to be a downright nasty storm. I had to keep going as all the inns along the way were full up. I finally arrived in Washington, D.C. in the wee hours of the morning. Pennsylvania Avenue, the route of the Inaugural Parade, had been cleared of snow and was clean as a whistle in sharp contrast to all other streets.

The Army had been called out to assist in the clearing of snow and they had  done a great job. Unfortunately the parade route was off limits and so I was detoured here, there, and everywhere. At one point the detours even included an unwelcome trip through the Pentagon parking lot. I eventually pulled in to HH some time prior to reveille. Most of the troops were already out on details related to the inauguration. I was tired from the long and hazardous drive so I decided to get some sleep before the day's big event. WRONG! When I got to my quarters I found that my mattress and linen were gone. They probably had been picked up and turned in to company supply. So I scrounged a blanket and tried to get some sleep on the recreation hall pool table but it was just too uncomfortable.

There were lots of exciting events going on that day, and a much of it was on television. Despite being really exhausted I decided to go to Arlington and ended up watching the Inauguration ceremony on TV at one of the local pubs. After it was over I went back to Henderson Hall and arrived in time to welcome back some of the Marines who participated in the event and who had many tales of the goings-on downtown.

Most people remember JFK because of that last day, in Dallas. But I shall always clearly remember his first day in office. I also remember his numerous appearances on TV, often with our then Commandant, General David M. Shoup at his side.  I remember JFK on TV dealing with the Bay of Pigs fiasco and how he accepted the blame. I remember his unyielding stand during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he forced Russia to back down.  Sadly, his funeral also stands out clearly in my memories. I shall never forget the procession, especially those beautiful horses that I had watched and admired so often at adjacent Fort Meyer.

I have many fond memories of my duty at Henderson Hall but some of the best, and finally one of the saddest, evolve around the time when President Kennedy guided our Nation.
Richard "Dick" Gaines

Beer and Water Don't Mix!
Back in early 1948 a buddy, Gene Ryan, happened to be strolling by the Slop Chute (Marine talk for a beer garden), that was located on the south side of the Mess Hall and noticed, sitting next to the small building from which beer and soft drinks were distributed, a small beer keg. Further investigation revealed that it was full of beer and that no one was paying attention to it and, in fact, was neglecting it. Gene picked up the keg, placed it on his shoulder and walked down the road, right by the Admin Building where the Officer of the Day was located, to Barracks #12 which was the big barracks just opposite the swimming pool.

Gene brought it up the back stairs to our squad bay which was on the second deck on the west end of the barracks. It must have been just before payday because the beer was welcomed with ready canteen cups. In a couple of hours most of us were "feeling no pain." The impromptu beer bust  degenerated into a water fight using the old water-filled fire extinguishers that  you pumped to expel a fairly strong stream of water. Unfortunately we didn't think about the squad bay below us at the time and the time was well after taps. The water began to run through the floor and began to drip on the bunks of our fellow Marines on the first deck. This resulted in a very angry group of them entering our squad bay with the strong desire to kick some butt. Fortunately we had some beer left and so they joined us.

The problem was that one Corporal DeBoever was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the squad bay. Word of the water fight got to our Co Commander, lstLt William D. Miears and so I ended up standing tall in front of  that gentleman. Fortunately Willie, as we called him, was a mustang having  received a direct commission from the rank of SgtMaj and so was somewhat sympathetic to the antics of young Marines. It was also fortunate that he did not learn of the keg of beer that precipitated the incident and I was forced to admit that we were a bit "shitty-faced" and had participated in a water fight with the extinguishers. Also that in view of my august position I was responsible for the situation. I ended up with a well chewed portion of my nether regions and the lstSgt lost my liberty card for a couple of weeks.
Vaughn DeBoever


My Impromptu Fire Drill

Who can ever forget fire drills? Not this old Marine. The procedure is forever engraved in my memory. I married my bride in April, 1951 while stationed at Henderson Hall and we moved into a nice apartment on Lanier Place near the Zoo in D.C. About a week after we married I was assigned duty as the Duty NCO for "A" Company so had to spend that night in barracks being in charge of things. In the middle of the night we had a fire drill.

As I recall they were required every three months or so to make sure everybody knew what to do, like closing windows, vacating the building as fast as possible and then standing there being somewhat miserable until the drill was secured. So this night alarms rang and I had to run around and yell, "EVERY ONE OUT, FIRE DRILL,  EVERY ONE OUT." This done while trying to make sure all the windows were closed. In short, I was a good Marine spontaneously reacting to a potential crisis situation.
Where we lived in D.C. there was a Fire House just two houses south of our apartment and a clear shot too as we could look right in their windows. At night when the lights we on we could see them making their meals, playing cards, etc. About a week after being the Duty NCO and on a Saturday night at 0200 hours the fire trucks take off right past our apartment. I woke up groggy to the sounds of the sirens and my outstanding Marine Corps training took over. Instinctively I leaped from the bed clad only in my scivvie shorts screaming "EVERY ONE OUT, FIRE DRILL, EVERY ONE OUT!" I grabbed my cover because one never appears outdoors without a cover on, slammed the windows shut and hit the apartment door at a full run with my nose reaching the door first. Frantically I yanked on the door knob and it began to open. Fortunately the chain held which kept me from making an embarrassing public appearance. My severely damaged nose brought me to my senses. I sheepishly
closed the door and went back to the bedroom. My wife, who had nearly died of fright when I first began yelling then nearly died laughing. It took her about two hours before she could fully stop laughing.

Cornelius F. Still

Taps at Henderson Hall
Back in 1950 at Henderson Hall we still did some things the traditional way in that we had two buglers whose duty it was to properly and timely inform us when it was time to wake up, raise the Colors, eat, get paid, lower the
Colors and even go to church. I think everyone knows that raising and lowering the Colors was a solemn occasion which required all within sight and/or hearing to render  respect for our Nation's symbol by coming to and remaining at the
position of  attention until the deed was completed.

The duty bugler would render his musical messages from immediately in front of the Guard Shack  which was just across the road and visible from the patio beer garden. The bugler was only about 20 yards from the near edge of the patio and his bugle normally pointed directly at it which meant that those on the patio received the full benefit of his efforts.

If you frequented the beer garden in 1950 you will probably remember, when sitting on the patio/beer garden having a cool one and  2200 would come around, watching the field music come out of  the guard shack to blow TAPS. At his first note someone, (more then likely not clear headed), would leap to his feet while yelling "COLORS" at the top of his lungs. Most present would automatically react and  would jump to attention and those in uniform would salute. Chairs would tip over, tables would be severely jostled,  beer cans, pop cans/bottles would go flying here and there before some Marine with a clear head would yell "AS YOU WERE. That is TAPS not  COLORS."  That was something to see and hear. No one questioned  the call of "Colors," and I don't think a night went by that this did not happen.
It has been suggested to me that the Marine who screamed "Colors" was totally sober and a member of a group that took great delight in viewing the resulting mass confusion.  

Today, in this era of Political Correctness and mechanization, there is no longer a patio beer garden and buglers have gone the way of the horse and buggy. That's a little sad I think!
 Cornelius Still

Harold L. “Abie” Abrams

We were buddies, both members of “A” Company, HqBn and billeted in the same squad bay, the top one on the north side, east end of Barracks #12, just opposite the swimming pool. The NCO in Charge of our squad bay was none other than Vaughn “De” DeBoever. Booba, as I called him, hailed from Shreveport, LA where his father was in the junk business. He was proud of his Jewish heritage and his Semitic origins were evident in his features. The girls at Arlington Farms obviously considered him handsome. He was not that big a man but his muscular development was amazing because he had taken to weight lifting while in high school. He looked like a body builder with at most a 30 inch waist and a 42-44 inch chest. He liked to joke a lot and one of his favorite and most ridiculous statements was that he intended to get out of the Marine Corps and make his fortune by running guns to the Arabs which in his strong southern accent came out “Aaarabs.” I mention this as background for the two tales I want to tell about him.

Remember the issue cotton khaki shirts back then?  And the way they were cut? A size 42 at the chest also measured 42 inches at the waist. Given Abie’s build that left a tremendous amount of excess material in the vicinity of his belt because his shirts were “as issued.” For some reason Booba was in a hurry one day and, as he rounded a corner on the first deck of the Navy Annex, he ran full tilt into our Commandant, A. A. Vandegrift, nearly knocking him down. Booba did what any Marine would do under the circumstances. He came to attention, stared straight ahead into space, and prayed. The Commandant shook off the effects of the collision, looked Abie up and down, and said, “Son, you need to get that shirt tailored.” Abie got all his shirts tailored immediately to make sure that if the Commandant ever saw him again he would have a tailored shirt on.

You would think that nobody would be stupid enough to mess with Abie. There was a function in the Henderson Hall auditorium that many of us attended. Present was a Marine who had indulged in a bit too much beer at the Slop Shute. He was also far bigger and heavier than Abie, and looking for someone to pick a fight with. He made the mistake of calling Abie a “Jew SOB.” Abie hit him once. Once was more than enough. So Abie was put on report for fighting and ended up, with his victim, in front of lstLt William D. Miears, our Company Commander. The victim had a broken nose and two extremely black eyes. Lt Miears was the sort of Marine who got right to the heart of the issue. Abie admitted he hit the victim because he was called a “name.” The victim admitted the offense. Lt Miears’ reported words were, “PFC John Doe, you got what you deserved. Abrams, what did you hit him with, a baseball bat?” “No sir, just my fist.” replied Abie. Case dismissed.

I was determined to find Abie and ended up calling most folks with the last name of Abrams in Shreveport. I hit pay dirt with an elderly gentleman who knew a Harold Abrams who had moved to Memphis. It was a good lead and on March the 4th, 1998, Booba and I talked for an hour or more. He hopes to attend our coming reunion.

George J. Gumulinski



Sometime in 1950 this young PFC woman Marine was called into the "E" Company Office and informed that I was assigned to mess duty for a month. It seems that I was one of three women who were the first to be given such duty at Henderson Hall since WWII. I later learned that it was a bit later than that, really since August of 1946 when the Women Reserves moved out of Henderson Hall and the men moved in.

         The fateful day arrived and extremely early one morning I with two other young women Marines arrived at the mess hall for our first day of mess duty wearing our fatigues. That really scared us as we thought they were going to make us scrub floors or worse, like the garbage cans we dumped our trays into after chow.

        They gathered we three girls and all the men in one room for roll call. When that was over the Mess Sergeant yelled, "Everybody line up for short arm inspection!" We  had never heard of that kind of an inspection before so I spoke right up and asked the Sergeant what kind of an inspection that was. Well, his face turned beet red. he said, "I forgot you 3 were here....Go into another room because you don't have to be inspected." When we got into the other room ...one of the other woman Marines told me what it meant....   You can be sure I never asked about that kind of an inspection again....

Paula (Wiltshire) Sentipal


The Old Marine Corps Hat Trick

It had to be in the summer of 1950. I was working for Captain Anthony in the Allotment Office on the third floor of the Navy Annex. Worked with a lot of the guys from "B" Company. Anyway I went to the ladies room in the  Annex and as always I was in a hurry to get back to my office....I was in
too much of a hurry and then the horrible thing happened. I said out loud, "Oh no. Oh no." But it was too late. There was my cap floating in the unflushed toilet bowl. I was horrified.

        Thinking about how much money it would cost me to replace the cap I gritted my teeth and rescued it. Horrified....I washed it out in the sink...Now my problem was how to get back to my barracks (Barracks 12) in Henderson Hall which was across the street in order to get a clean cap. I just knew the MP on the main gate would say something and, sure enough, he did. When I got
to the gate the MP said, "You are not in uniform without a cap." He threated to report me. That really scared me. Tearfully I told him that my cap had truly became a pisscutter....I had dropped it in the toilet.
        He began laughing. He laughed so hard he could hardly stop and he just waved me through the gate. When I came back thru the gate to return to the Navy Annex I made him promise he would not tell anyone about my cap .....I guess he took pity on me and didn't tell. When I left the jerk was still

Paula (Wiltshire) Sentipal

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