Volume No. One                              Issue No. One                                        July 2001

Well it is that time of year again for me to get off my butt and get another newsletter out.  Here it is July and I started this thing in June and still do not have it completed yet. So I guess I had better get in gear.

We started the year off with a trip to Kansas, in February for the purpose of seeing Jim Lockhart get his long overdue Silver Star Medal.  It was great to be joined by General Weise, Jim Stahl, Mike Graf and his son and Lee Barta.  We all had a great time and enjoyed being able to attend the ceremony for Jim. It was really done up nicely.

We were suppose to go to the 2/4 reunion in June but had to cancel attending this years reunion.  The economy just is not right for us to go this year. But hopefully next year we will be able to attend.

Craig Noke retired the 1st of July. Congratulations to Craig. I also found out that I could retire the 1st of June. I decided not to yet as I would like to wait until I am 55, which is a little over 3 years away yet. But may have to leave early as the future of the GM plant that I work in is uncertain of at this time.

Vern Bjugstad called and said they had a really bad hailstorm and it took out the siding on his home and all the flowers that they had worked so hard to put in.

Speaking of bad weather I cannot remember when we have had so much rain. Seems almost like the monsoon season around here any more.  We also had a small tornado come through about a month ago that hit about 5 miles from here. It did not do a lot of damage. Kelly was a little nervous as she drove by the place where it hit just before that.  She said it was really raining hard and she could hardly see.

Anyway I hope that rests of you are enjoying the summer weather.  I hope that it is better than what we have had so far.

We have lots of new members join our roster of Marines. Most of them are Amtacíers themselves. But we also had a couple that I signed in that worked with tracs but were not Amtracíers themselves but were assigned to the Amtrac Battalion.

The planned trip to Vietnam in August was pretty full the last that I heard. Kelly and I were going to go but had to cancel.  Gene Cox and Linda will be going on the trip. I am sure that they will enjoy the trip. I know that Kelly and I really had a good time when we went in 1997.

I went to California the first week in July. My nephew Allan is g graduated from boot camp on the 6th. It was not a trip I had anticipated last year but would not miss out on going.  His letters home have been very up beat. He sounds like he is doing well and may pick up PFC out of basic.  So far I donít know what his MOS is going to be.    He was told that he would either end up in Tanks, Amtracs, or maybe be a Cannon Cocker.  Anyway it is kind of neat to see him graduate from boot camp.

I have talked to several of you over the past few months and I have enjoyed the conversations.  Lately I have been so busy I have not had the chance to call as many of you as I would like.

Many of you have followed our racing adventures on the e-mails that I have sent out. That has taken a lot of my time this summer. That and of course my Cobra project takes up the rest of it.

They had a nice article in Leatherneck magazine about apricots and Amtracíers. They also had a letter in the sound off section from a tanker and he was saying that they did not eat apricots either.

Now onto the subject of our e-mail system. Several of you your e-mail keeps bouncing back.  So if you have e-mail and want to be included in the mailings via the e-mail if you are not getting the updates that I am sending out send me your current e-mail address.

So if you have an e-mail address and would like to include in these mailings let me know. I will be sending out a group e-mail to let everyone know that the newsletters are on the way. So if you did not get this e-mail you will know that there is something wrong with your e-mail address.

I am really getting to feel old as Kelly and I attended my Great Nieces open house a week ago.  Had a good time visiting with some of my family that I have not see for a while.

For those of you who remember Sam Epperson he was recently in California for some surgery. He visited with Gene Cox and I missed seeing him as he was leaving as I was arriving.  Sam was a Sgt. with us in 1968.  His Father Herb worked as a civilian in Vietnam. Both of them live on Okinawa now and Sam manages the Navy Credit Union at Camp Shwab.

For those of you that have not kept up with what is going on with the Marine Corps now days things have changed in Boot Camp.  Went I went through MCRD boot camp was only eight weeks long. It is now 13 weeks.  Some of the things that I looked forward to were being able to blouse our boots and unbutton the top button of our utility shirts.  Of course getting through the rifle range and getting over the week of mess duty.

I am sure that they still have those steps today that we had back than.  But they have a couple of additional ones as well.  They now have the crucible to contend with. That consists of about 56 hours of challenges. The only way to pass it is to work as a team.  It ends with a march up what they call the reaper.  They get very little sleep during this time.

At the end of the crucible they had a ceremony where the recruits were given the Eagle, Globe and Anchor and were called Marine for the first time.  When we attended my Nephewís graduation they had a 4-mile run the day before.  I might add the Base CG also ran with the recruits. He is a 2 star.   After the run the recruits marched out onto the parade deck without the emblems on their piss cutters. The DIís went down the ranks and presented each Marine with the emblem.  A very emotional thing to see.

They also had a dinner with the DIís on Wed night for the families.  They answered any questions that anyone had for them. It was a great opportunity to meet the DIís. Something that did not happen 30 years ago.

After the graduation the recruits were given a 10-day leave. This did not happen 30 years ago either. I remember being loaded into cattle cars and being sent to Camp Pendleton for ITR and than we got our leave.

These are just some of the changes that I noticed taking place while we were there. The
Graduation itself is still spectacular to see. I would encourage anyone that gets the chance to attend one.

On another note I would like to recommend a good book written by Platoon Member Jim Kelly. It is called a Prescription For Murder. I bought and read the book and I enjoyed it. He is also in the process of writing one about Vietnam and Amtracís.  I am looking forward to him getting that one finished.

Kelly is working on getting a way to put the newsletter on line for us and this is the first issue that will appear on line. I still intend on mailing this out to everyone but the next issue will only be mailed to those who prefer to have a hard copy and not read it on line.  Of course those of you that do not have a computer will still have it mailed out to you.  Just another way to cut the cost of things on this end a little.

There may be a reunion next year in Eua Clare, Wisconsin.  Right now there is no information available on it but will let everyone know in plenty of time if it happens or not.

I know that there are probably some things that I have forgotten to mention in this newsletter. I have been so busy this past year that it is a wonder if I can remember what day it is.

I have been told that when I retire I will wonder where I found the time to work at.  But I am not complaining just wish the days could be longer is all.

For those of you that are retired I hope that you are enjoying it. I know I am looking forward to that time coming myself.

I normally put a news article in the newsletter about Vietnam. But I think for this one here that I am going to pass. I like to keep the newsletter 4 pages long as it is cheaper to mail than if it is 6 pages.

For now my friends it is time for me to say so long. I hope that all of you are in good health and spirits. For those of you that our in poor health our prayers go out to you.

God Bless all of you.

Semper Fi, Tom


Written By ~ Thomas P. & Kelly Jo Williams
For the Amtrac Platoon

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