Until the recent death of General Greene, and the even more recent announcement that, as CMC, General Greene and other ranking officers in the Marine Corps, had kept certain highly classified/sensitive/code word documents in their custody "off the record" and in direct violation of regulations regarding the accounting for such documents I felt that I could not write what follows below. The recent Bulletin of the Marine Corps Historical Program, Fortitudine, Historical Bulletin Volume 100a., Number 3, 2005, refers to "Special Messengers" as effecting transfers of these documents. Actually, I wish the author had included the word "Couriers," because that is what I considered myself, since almost all of my work was done within the confines of the government buildings within the District of Columbia. On August 1, 1964, and for the next sixteen months, my title became the Deputy Director of the Marine Corps Command Center, and Operational Spokesman for Headquarters Marine Corps. The latter role in particular opened many doors. It also led to many doors which heretofore I hadn't known existed. It was also obvious that General Greene had manipulated me into that position at that time. I knew that when I read the book Dereliction of Duty, published in 1997, that General Greene had talked to the author, and probably made certain documents available to him. This was because of content in the book. In particular there were seemingly verbatim conversational exchanges between General Greene and President Johnson. These were reported in some detail in the book and I believe could only have come from General Greene. And I did know the Commandant's opinions and positions on many subjects, including the then POTUS (President of the United States) of whom he was not enamored. In short, I no longer feel constrained to not to write of a few of the incidents that took place in the last sixteen months of my four-and-a-half-year tour in Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps. In the story below be telling mainly of only one event during that time, but do intend to address the entire tour later. Semper Fidelis, Sully. *******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
As always, he picked up as though he had been sitting on the edge of his bed waiting for the call. I told him that the landings in Cyprus had succeeded, per schedule, and without casualties, as of the last sitrep; that The Ready Carib Bn had chopped to the newly formed Brigade commanded by BGen John Bouker, that had effected the landing of two more Bns from the 8th Marines overnight; that the 82d Airborne had secured the Airfield at Santo Domingo, and between the Army and the Marine Brigade they were moving rapidly to secure the capital. Some rifle fire had been taken, and returned. There were reports of casualties, but precise numbers were hard to come by. Meanwhile, previous US and foreign nationals who had taken refuge with the ReadyMedBn were still as previously before in a hotel on the beach front, and remained secure with no casualties. At Chu Lai, South Viet Nam, a ground party from Da Nang fifty miles to the north had contacted a recon element from 4th Marines. There were no apparent obstacles to the landings which would proceed according to plan during the day. We'd have further information as the day progressed.
General Greene was obviously elated, and that happened infrequently. He said something like, "Sullivan, imagine that, the Marine Corps colors are displayed today around the world... and…went on for a minute or more. Most unusual for the good General. I reminded him that the JCS was set for a 0900 brief that morning, and told him I'd laid on an 0800 brief for the Headquarters, waiting his approval. He said notify his Military Secretary to notify the CofS and the various "Gs," and rang off.
It was the job of the incoming Watch Officer (08001600) to make the "Pentagon Rounds" in the morning. During these rounds, he dropped off a copy of our "MCCC Daily Situation Report" to the Navy Flag Plot, The Army War Room, The Air Force War Room, and The National Command Center. At the same time, we picked up copies of their equivalent documents. We seldom had reason to refer to the documents from the other situation reports, but we did often have questions that we, and especially I, knew that General Greene would have about the number and type of Army artillery. By the time I'd had made my verbal report to General Greene over the KY-1, I checked with my Watch Team on duty to see who would be doing the Morning Brief. That would be a Headquarters routine brief, and therefore not my baby. We wanted watch officers who on a moment's notice could gather the messages on his desk, walk next door to 2209, CMC's conference room, and brief whoever was in the Headquarters, whether I was in the building or not. And, I'm happy to say, every officer posted to the Command Center rose to the challenge. I'd guess that many were like I and had never addressed formally any officer with more rank than a colonel before arriving at HQMC for duty. Now they'd be addressing as many 20 G's at a crack, and enough C's to form a real big flock, and they handled it as though they'd been doing it all their lives.
So I grabbed the car out front which was always waiting for the MCCC Watch Officer at the front door of the Navy Annex, and made the rounds of the Pent-a-gone. My principal point of interest was the Army War Room. There was a Brigadier on duty that I knew slightly, and I told him that if I couldn't find out precisely what artillery the Army was lifting into Santo Domingo, that the Commandant was going to skin me alive. And I must say, that Brigadier had his watch crew burning up their phone lines with a number of people calling various places trying their best to get me some kind of an answer. Well, after spending a half hour in the War Room, we did get an answer, of sorts. And that was there was no answer. No one knew. They might know later in the day when they got their TF Headquarters set up at the airfield, but right now there wasn't a soul on earth that could be contacted that could provide an answer.
I got back to the Headquarters in plenty of time to go to 2209 where Major Sam Smith was running Major herb Tiede through his lines, and manipulation of his visual aids, since it was Tiede who would be doing the briefing. It would also be Major Tiede's "Maiden Flight," so to speak, the first time he'd deliver a brief, and the attendance that morning would without a doubt set a HQMC record. I told them I hadn't picked up one damned thing useful at the Pent-a-gone that could be added, and to proceed with what he had. If CMC asked about Army arty, as I expected, look in my direction, and I'd try to field it. By 0745, there were Generals standing around in the corridor waiting for the door to 2209 to open so we shut down the practice briefs, gave the maps and charts one final stacking, and opened the doors. There was only one door from the corridor to the briefing room, and was the only door ever used by observers as well CMC himself. On the left side of the room, which measured about 30' x 60' was a large see-through A-V screen, with one of those fancy podiums with a bunch of switches on it which I used for my VIP briefings and a door into the MCCC. To the far left on that wall was a door giving egress to the "secure room" that led to another door that led into the MCCC. On the right wall was one door, always kept locked, that led into the "Spook Room" where Captain, and later Major Al Grey did his seances, or whatever he did in there as Chief HQMC Spook.
There were two rows of very long tables that reached down the entire length of the room. The first row was maybe 6' from the door that CMC entered the room through, and extended almost down to the walls at either end. Almost butted up to that row of tables was another row that ran parallel to the one CMC sat behind. Along the wall behind that wall were maps, charts, diagrams, or whatever visual aids that the briefer needed to make his point. General Officers usually sat to right or left of the CMC, with the seats immediately to CMCs right and left reserved for the three LtsGen in the Hqs. MGens had next priority, and then BGens, if there was still room at the tables, other wise against the walls where there were chairs placed for them. Lesser lights, and aides, stood or sat behind their generals in chairs placed there for that purpose. At briefings such as was to come on May 1, 1965, you can bet that everyone who hoped to be someone at anytime was at that briefing, and it was SRO. Of course, I had a duty to be there, although I never spoke unless addressed, or felt it necessary to provide some tidbit of information that my Duty Briefer might not have been privy to or remembered or needed help with. More often than not, I stood mum.
So with the troops assembled, one of the aides, stuck his head in the door and announced "Stand by for the Commandant" and promptly at 0800, General Greene steamed in. He sat down, removed his glasses from his glass case, checked them for cleanliness, placed the glass case a precise six inches in front of his carefully opened green notebook as he always did, put his glasses on and waited for the congregation to rattle around and get seated, hawk, and otherwise settle down, picked up his ballpoint, and nodded to Herb. The latter began. And he was superb. As I said, Herb was the soul of sincerity and earnestness. He used his hands, and his pointer with the maximum of effectiveness. His pointer rattled off the maps and charts with the rate of fire of the old 1918A1 HMG, always hitting his target precisely, although his back was to the mapichart. He rattled off troop lists, as though he had them inscribed on his gray matter along with his A, B, Cs. His presentation and delivery were flawless. Until he said, "and then the 4th Battalion, 8th Marines...." Now you, and I know there ain't never, and hasn't never be any such organization. That the 8th Marines, GD it, is an infantry regiment, that only Arty Regts have 4th Bns.... I froze in place, and I'm sure my heart stopped beating.../ could hear the audience gasp as they waited for the veil to split in the temple, and the earth to swallow poor old Herb...instanter...then, we timidly looked in the direction of General Greene. Mein Gott in himmell He had furiously written down, I guess, "4th Bn 8th Marines," without a whimper. Reminded me of the old saw in academia that the lecture form of instruction is when "...the lecturer's notes were transferred from his note book into the student's note book without going through the brain of either." Well the brief on the Chu Lai bunch followed, and the briefing was over. Wasn't it? Not quite. General Greene sincerely complimented Herb on a dandy brief.
And it was. As the General began the intricate and complicated job of folding up his kit, I knew, if no one else did, that the dreaded CISA was yet to come. I also knew the question that would come that I had no answer to. CMC observed, in a casual tone of voice, that Herb had covered, of course, the 2dMarDiv arty that was on its way or already on the beach at Santo Domingo, but had said nothing about what the Army was sending down. What was the Army sending down, or already had dropped into the airfield at Santo Domingo in the way of arty units? Now it was time for me to earn my exorbitant pay and to brave what 1 feared was the coming maelstrom. The only question was whether it would be a Category 'I or 5. You'll recall that my station during such briefs was up by the podium to Herb's right some 35' away. So I stepped forward, touching the last table in the string about six inches below my waist, and said something like this in a loud stentorian voice, trying my best to sound like Sydney Carlton facing the guillotine in Dicken's epic "Tale of Two Cities": "General Greene, after speaking to you earlier this morning I attempted to find the answer to the question you've just asked. I failed to do so. I am continuing to try, and as soon as I do I'll notify the General immediately, and have the proper notation made in his Status of Forces Notebook."
Greene half arose from his seat, and looked at me as through I'd slapped him in the face. He was so angry his face blanched, and he was shaking. As he got fully to his feet he had the case to his glasses in his hand, and he threw it at me as hard as he could, saying, "GD it Sullivan, you told me you'd have a briefing ready for me at 0800. You didn't. When you get ready to provide me with a full briefing, let me know and I'll come back. Do you understand!" He then stalked out of the room before I could say "Aye, Sir."
My immediate thought, on seeing the Commandant steam out of 2209 was, well, hell. I had known in my heart that there would be an explosion. What I didn't know is that it would be measured in megatons, not kilotons. Well, hell's bells. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, with emphasis on the latter. Now for the glasses case and its trajectory, because that was important, or at least I considered it so, and still do. It hit the table in front of me, ricocheted once, probably reducing the velocity to maybe 600 fps, then struck the pocket of my green blouse hard enough to leave a dent on that well pressed object, then dropped to the floor. The G's and other onlookers seemed stunned and frozen, as it were, in amber. It was as though they didn't want to believe what their eyes and ears had recorded. Many of them were friends of mine of long standing, or at least had been until that moment. I'd guess there must have been at least 100 officers in the room senior to me. Herb looked as though he had been turned into one of them there pillars of salt in Sodom and Gomorrah. As General Greene slammed out of the Room, the observers began to file out very slowly, with none of the usual banter that followed such a briefing. As they did so, they sort of shuffled as though in a funeral home, looking in my direction as though I was already laid out for burial. This was appropriate being that Arlington Cemetery was conveniently just across the street. Nail the box shut, a few hefty lads, a shove over the wall, and old Sully could rest in pieces.
For weeks afterward officers who had been in that audience would approach me silently in the corridors, shake my hand, not saying a word, and depart silently. Others suggested sackcloth and ashes for a month in front of the main entrance to HQMC. They were the ones trying to lighten the mood. I admit that I toyed with the idea of roaming the corridors with a bell, tinkling it every few feet and announcing "Leper" so that my former friends could avoid me. One of those wise-apples suggested I put out one of those "In Memoriam" Books at the entry to 2209 so that condolences could be written as in proper funeral parlors. Boy, let the CMC go thermo-nuclear on you just one time, and you find out who your friends are. Benedict Arnolds all. It was a scandal, it was.
When 2209 finally emptied, and I looked around, and other than Major Tiede and myself, there were only two other officers left in the room, and both of them were still seated. Those were the CofS, LtGen Chapman, and LtGen Buse, the OpDep. Chapman and then Buse led the procession through the door into the MCCC, I being last but not until I had bent down and picked up General Greene's glasses case. I sat down at my desk, and placed the glasses case in my center drawer of my desk, while LtGeneral Chapman sat opposite me in Col Dowsett's seat, with LtGeneral Buse in the other and only vacant seat in the MCCC. The atmosphere was funereal and there was absolute silence for a maybe ten seconds. Since Major Sam Smith, the Watch Officer, had been listening to the proceedings of the Briefing in 2209, the Watch Teams were aware of what had transpired in as well and that CMC had really chewed me out. Sam, being a friend of long standing, and a wise ass of longer standing, was first to speak, and remember, two of the then five LtsGen in the Corps were part of his audience. He quipped: "Geez, Sully, the way you screwed up, I thought Greene let you off easy. You're lucky he didn't have the Drum and Bugle Corps with him. For awhile there I thought sure he was gonna cut your buttons off and break your sword over your head. You're lucky he was in a good mood today." My reply was to the extent that Sam needn't have feared, that being drummed out of the Corps was only for boots like himself with less than twenty years service. And that made me exempt. And that he himself was mighty lucky that I didn't have my sword with me, or I'd run his black bootish heart through and cut him up for Shish Ka Bob. That brought smiles and a few chortles from the assembled MCCC crew. Even the two LtsGen who witnessed this rather non-regulation, and rather sacrilegious event smiled just a bit. General Chapman then said, saying something like this: "Sully, what can we do for you? Do you need more manpower? I'll give you whatever you ask for in the way of gear or people. Ask for it and you'll get it. LtGen Buse, the OpDep, (acted for CMC in the majority of JCS matters, and Gen Vandergrift's G-3 on Guadalcanal) who was known for seldom saying more than three words in a row then said something to the extent that anything that his folks could do to make our job easier, just let him know. He knew that we busted our butts for them, and he and his people appreciated it and couldn't function without us.
As he said this, he took pains, from where he was seated, to look not just at me, but at every officer and Marine who were in the Watch Offices of the MCCC, and it was obvious that he meant every man jack who worked in that Center. Of course we already knew this from other not so subtle "bennies" that came our way, but it sure is nice to hear it directly from the guys with the stars.
The same thing was true of General Greene. Whenever he was in the MCCC, and he spent considerable time there, particularly in the early evening, making secure phone calls to Gens Krulak and Walt. Those phone calls had to originate from, and taken in the MCCC since we were the only location that had the equipment and connections to Washington Switch. In each case CMC came into the MCCC always went out of his way, to be pleasant and complimentary to the Watch Teams on duty. The teams themselves cleared the immediate vicinity of where CMC sat, and he always insisted that I be with him in case the secure system went out during the conversation. Hence I was privy to those very private conversations between the movers and shakers of the Corps. But as Kipling was fond of saying, "...everyone is more or less mad on one point." And for Greene it was knowing precisely how much artillery was present at a given point. And that included Army as well as Marine, and we busted our humps trying to fulfill his desire. Later on, I'll tell of how CMC would later became fixated on the number of rounds of naval gunfire being expended in I Corps, but that fixation wouldn't come for anther few months. How I satisfied that fixation I'm not proud of, but if there was any other way I couldn't figure it out short of General Greene and CNO mud wrestling.
To get back to May 1st, 1965, the CofS asked how soon I might get an answer to the Army Arty question? I told him I knew no more at that moment than I'd told General Greene a half hour ago. When I got an answer I'd go see General Greene in his office and tell him what I learned. The CofS was a friend of mine, believe it or not. I saw him purse his lips when I told him my plans were to see CMC in maybe a couple of hours, and I could see by the way he pursed his lips that he didn't think that was too peachy an idea. The point was I was not afraid of General Greene, or anyone else for that matter, and I didn't want anyone to think that I was. What more could he do to me after what he had already done that morning? But General Chapman said nothing, so my plan on notifying the Commandant in the manner I'd proposed was the only one on the table. I said that I hoped that would be before the day was out, but could make no promises. If it was not before the end of the day, I would so inform the Commandant prior to his leaving the Headquarters. In re more manpower, we really couldn't use any more, but there had to be recognition somewhere, sometime, that when we were dealing with outside agencies there were situations when we couldn't produce information either because the agency from which we requested it didn't know the answer or they wouldn't provide it. I reminded him that there were many times when briefing VIPS that I suffered memory lapses even when briefing Congressmen about future ops in III MAF or certain contingency plans that I had full knowledge of. (Oily North was not the first one in that game. Nor do I suspect was the last. The Fortitudine Article that I make further reference to below makes appropriate reading.)
All of the foregoing interchange with Generals Chapman and Buse didn't take more than five minutes. The CofS and OpDep had no sooner left, then LtCol Jack Spaulding, Gen Greene's Aide, came into the MCCC wide eyed. Jack had been a Reserve Officer recalled during Korea, and I'd known him since then. He was a real nice gent, and would die the following June while an InfBnCmdr in the DaNang sector. He was my friend and a favorite of General Greene. Anyway, my desk in the MCCC put my back to the entrance door, and when I heard Jack's voice, I turned around, and he said something like: "Sully, General Greene lost the case to his glasses while he was in 2209 this morning during the briefing. You haven't seen it have you." Now Jack knew damned well what happened to that case, and he probably had a damned good idea, knowing me, who had it, but it was "show time" and he had to play his part. So, just as wide eyed I told Jack: "No, Jack, I haven't. But I'll have the cleaning crew alerted, and if it turns up I'll get it to you." Jack also wanted hard data on the units and numbers we had landing in the various places briefed that morning, and I told him that Marine Gunner Joe Kennedy, our Status of Forces Officer in the MCCC, had already included them in CMCs briefing folder. I knew they were there because I had checked them myself at 0730 prior to the Briefing Folder going forward to CMCs office. I could have added there the "4th Bn., 8th Marines" weren't mentioned, but figured discretion might be the better part of valor.
There is a mighty fine line between lying, lying under oath, having memory lapses, or what the meaning of "is," is, (does Bill Clinton come to mind?), or my favorite. This is drawn from British 19th Century Diplomatic History, and more particularly from VisCount Palmerston, twice Prime Minister during the period when Otto Von Bismarck was in the process of settling the issue of the Kleindeutsch vs. the Grossdeutsch. As a mere speck in this process was that of ownership of the provinces of Schlesweig-Holstein, which were quarreled over for more than ten years, and were the subject of treaty after treaty before the ownership was finally settled. Long after the affair, VisCount Palmerston was asked to recount the history of the affair, to which he replied: "The Schleisweig-Holstein question is so complicated only three men in Europe ever really understood it. One was Prince Albert, who unfortunately died some time ago. The second was a professor of History in Munich, who actually drew up several of the treaties, and who is presently committed to a very nice home for the criminally insane. The other, of course is myself. And I've forgotten the details. If the Feds ever come after me about what documents I may or may not have contributed to General Greene's own little stache of documents, and delivered here and there, I've already decided that I'm going to use the VicCount Palmerson defense. I've forgotten the details.
It wasn't until Jack Spaulding left that I took the opportunity to look at the trophy that I'd taken under fire. None other than the glasses case of the Commandant hisownself. Now, be honest with me. Does anyone of you have anything belonging to the Commandant of the entire bygod entire United Snakes Marine Corpse that you copped under fire? It's a bunch of sniveling wimps the bunch of you'se are. Inside the flap of the GI issue glasses case was General Greene's name, rank, and address, printed very neatly, and I suspect, in his own hand. Wow, I thought, I'll pass this down to me descendents, and by the time it reaches the 10th generations it will be worth millions, it will. Of course, I knew then that I'd never do it. No one whose first eight years of education were at the hands and brass knuckles of the Little Sisters of the Poor could even contemplate such a Mortal Sin on their soul, with their poor Guardian Angel weeping in the corner of the MCCC, a-standing up since there was no chair for the little darlin' to be a-sittin' down in the place. It was that crowded it was. The CMC of course did go over for the 0900 brief with the JCS that morning. I don't know who shared his sedan with him that morning, but I do know I was not invited to do so as I had frequently been before. (What I hoped is that he was so POd at me that he'd send me to Ill MAF.) I could have ridden the bus and sat in the bleachers at one end of the "Tank" as I'd done as an Action Officer.
I could also have put a TSI-Sensitive-l-Source document in my briefcase and called for a sedan since you were forbidden to carry such documents on a bus. I said to hell with that. I was POd at Greene, but being raised as an only child I'd always been something of a pouter. Greene had humiliated me in front of the entire HQMC, and it twarn't my fault. What I hoped he'd do during the JCS Briefing was climb the Army CofStaffs tail as he had mine because he didn't know the distribution of his own artillery. Had I known that was going to happen I'd have taken the bus ride. On the other hand, Greene was disarmed in the sense that he didn't have his glasses case to throw at his opposite number in the Army. It was I who had that case, converted into a missile, and I wouldn't lend it back to Greene even for the purpose of his launching it at the Army Chief of Staff. I had Greene's glasses case, so there, and I'd take my own sweet time a-given it back to him. Who was it that wrote: "The mills of the Gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedin' fine." My spies later that morning told me that CMC bragged up the fact that he had numbers for everything the Corps was doing, showed them his up-to-the-minute Status of Forces Briefing Book, correct down to the last cannon cocker, while the Army had people dropping in parachutes and hadn't a clue what units were engaged in what.
And who had provided those numbers and the Briefing Book? Why Marine Gunner Joe Kennedy of the MCCC, but Old Joe didn't get a mention for his devotion to duty, nor did the MCCC. Nor did poor old Sully get a mention after being nuked just a half hour before. Life isn't fair. In the meantime the Brigadier who relieved the Brigadier I spoke to that morning in the Army War Room did call me back and gave me some numbers and units on arty units that were or shortly would be involved in Santo Domingo, he thought maybe, and that was as good as he could do. I called the MilSec, and asked him to call me when CMC left the Pentagon, so I could be outside hisownselfs office on his return. And so it was. He had to see me as he came down the corridor, and motioned me to follow as he walked into his office. I handed him the memo, in the type of folder he had prescribed, and told him what was in it and its source. I told him that we'd stay on top of the subject with the A WR, and update his Status of Forces Folder when changes occurred. Until that time he said nothing. He opened the folder, glanced at its contents, and non-verbally dismissed me. I about faced and returned to the MCCC. Nothing more was ever said about the incident....until.
How I managed to get orders to Viet Nam is too long a story to tell here. Suffice it to say that it took the personal intervention of both the Secretary of the Navy, Paul Nitze, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Greene to swing it for me. To both of those gentlemen I'm eternally in their debt. *****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
When I received orders for Viet Nam, it was made clear that LtsCol and above had to go through some rinky dink school at Fort Bragg which was nothing more or less than propaganda for the Green Berets two weeks prior to departure. The Green Berets were a constant thorn in my side most of the time I was to be in the Nam, just as an aside, and our own Recon ran a close second simply because they were poorly employed IMHO. I'd talked to CMC and CofS as my detachment date neared, and they had tasked me with delivering two full locker boxes of sensitive documents. My specific mission would be to "walk through" the papers with both MGen Walt and LtGen Krulak. The latter extended an inspection trip to the Far East in order to meet me on my arrival at Da Nang, and Walt on their contents. Essentially, these were 'Mother Hubbard" internal MC plans which I already knew intimately, and were still on hold until such time as POTUS activated the Reserve. There were also various, highest level planning papers from congressional, OSD, NSA, and other sources discussing among other things possible additional manpower augmentation. Many, if not most, of the latter documents were not supposed to be in the hands of the military. What were in these documents? If any on you have read the Fortitudine Article The Development of Strategy in Vietnam, by Frederick J. Graboske, Archives Head, Marine Corps Historical Branch, you have a pretty good idea. One of the paragraphs in the article refers to "The memoir covers many topics some at the national policy level and some specific to the Marine Corps. As an example of the latter, General Greene records, "I made every effort to keep LtGen V. H. Krulak informed, even sending very, very sensitive papers by special messengers to his headquarters to make sure that he had all the information that I had regarding problems and proposed actions...." General Greene then goes on to say that General Krulak reciprocated from his end, and of course, that is beyond the scope of this article. I will say this, however, and that is that I personally can confirm the statement of General Greene. I've mentioned before that the MCCC became the message center for all back channel messages, including "Eyes Only" "General to General" as well as the comm. center for all overseas traffic, secure and non-secure through Washington Switch. We also had very sophisticated tape recording devices that allowed us to tape all calls through our agency.
We did not handle SPOOK traffic. That was done through Captain/Major Al Grey's SPOOK room, except for certain Operational SPOOK stuff such as OPPLAN 34AITIGER (those of you who recognize the latter know that I've left out some key words.) Marine Gunner Kennedy plotted each of these missions for CMC, and once a week Kennedy and I went up to CMC's office with the maps to brief him as to the success or failure of these missions. This was only one of very tightly held operations in progress at that time in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in which MC elements were involved. I was due to depart for Da Nang by SAM (Special Air Mission) flight out of Andrews AFB at 1300 on a Saturday. In addition to my two trunks full of materials, I'd have a four Marine armed guard. So on a Friday afternoon I said my good-byes at HQMC. As I worked my way through the Aides and CMC secretaries' offices, I knocked on the Mil-Sec's Corridor Door. The MilSec had another door opening into the CMC's large office, and before having a chance to say anything to the MilSec General Greene saw me and waved me in. I entered in and General Greene having stepped in front of his desk, I shook his hand, said goodbye, and as quietly as I could reached over and placed his glasses case on his desk. He didn't bat an eye nor did I offer any explanation. He said he'd found a few more documents that he wanted Walt and Krulak to see, and handed me a rather large manila envelope that I'd add to the two foot lockers. He told me he'd be out to see me in January, wished me the best of luck, and that he'd give my wife a call and let her know how I was doing. He did.
In my mind, General Greene was a difficult man to cipher. I certainly would never write anything about him with the sole intention of making him look foolish. Yet, like the rest of us, at times I'm afraid, he did things that made him look foolish. Although I was in his presence on almost a daily basis, and sometimes spent almost the entire day with him, I didn't know him, well or otherwise. I'm going to be doing a great deal of additional writing about General Greene, and maybe during that writing I'll have additional opportunities to sort out my feelings about him as a man and a Marine. Without him I'd never have been able to shake the Spooks and get out to Ill MAF. Without a doubt, I owe him eternal gratitude just for the chances he gave me to see a side of life and the Marine Corps I'd have never seen otherwise.
It convinced me that hanging around the Corps for further promotion wasn't worth my time: 1. The chances of getting assigned to a future duty that would really make a difference to the future of the Corps or meeting interesting people were miniscule. 2. That rank in no way corresponded to the importance of the impact of the duty that you might be assigned. 3. That the triangle of Marine Corps promotion had the built in guillotine effect in the Corps that cut off the heads of way too many fine Marine officers. 4. I had known almost since I arrived in Da Nang in November 1965 that my next duty assignment would be as the G-3 to BGen John Miller, CG LFTULANT. For a career infantry officer there could hardly be anything better. . I had just turned thirty-nine years old, had over twenty-two years of service, and would never again have as interesting or challenging a tour of duty as that I just had in HQMC.
I'd completed my Ph.D. with a major in 19th century US Diplomatic History, and like Chaucer's model scholar, "....gladly would I learn, and gladly teach." I fully expected at that point in my life to disappear from this earthly realm well published, in a scholarly gown with blue trim, holding on to my mortar-board, w/golden tassel, in a cloud of footnotes.... Best of all, I'd never have to concern myself ever again where and what kind of arty the GD US Army brought into an objective area.