I sat down with a former Grunt Sergeant, Jake Stone, on a calm, sunny, Saturday November morning, to ask about his experience in the Marine Corps. Mr. Stone is a rather frail looking man in a wheelchair that you can tell used to be a powerful man despite his age which is approaching late seventies. I learned a lot from him. For example, Mr. Stone was a training officer during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in California teaching hand to hand combat, bayonets, pistols, rifles, hand grenades, flamethrowers, just a wide assortment of deadly weapons. He led ninety men in a strike team that was prepared to be deployed at any time. They were to be ready to pack up and leave in an hour.
Just because he wasn’t deployed, that’s not to say he didn’t see his share of the action, he just didn’t get to see enemy fire, he saw plenty of horrors that would terrify many people.
He also had access to quite a bit of classified information that has since been declassified. One of them being a strike team tactic that seems quite dangerous.
A jet designed originally designed to drop bombs was outfitted with four marines instead. A few jets would fly real low altitude, and just before the targets, the pilots cut the engines so their flying would be nearly scant, opening the bay doors, the pilots drop the payload of marines, instead of bombs, who’d parachute down onto the enemy from above. This was a strategy designed to confuse and overwhelm the enemy. This idea was scrapped after too many people broke their legs and dislocated ankles in training,
I also learned about a training accident that killed twenty one people. His men were practicing a beach style invasion, everyone was fully equipped and had landing vehicles, boarding craft, breaching craft, the whole nine yards. They sent a recon team in advance to scout the location. They got caught in a rip tide and pulled into a whirlpool and sucked under. With their equipment and armor on, they could not get back to the surface. Twenty one of them died; it was the single largest accident of his military career, but possibly not the most physically painful accident.
When he was still in training they made him crawl through the mud with barbed wire above him as they shot above him. One bullet went astray hit a piece of metal and ricochet into his hip. It’s still there as it’s too dangerous to remove.