John W. Norman
Rank at end of Service: Sgt.
Enlistment Date:25 May 1964
Specialty (MOS):Infantry 0311
Dates in Country:March, 1966 - April, 1967
Areas of operation:Phu Bai, Kobi Ton Ton
Just look at this piece of eye-candy from 31 years ago. This is a lean, mean fighting machine in I Corp, Vietnam.
Look at the terror that face projects! Look at the Death in those eyes! Lust at the manly physique of this Titan! This is 145 lbs. of ass-kickin' Marine. One look at me and it's a wonder those VC didn't hurt themselves surrendering.
But I keep getting slammed by these reality checks every time I think back to 2 years before this photo was taken. At Parris Island, my self-esteem builder said to me, "Look at this Puke! The Marine Corps builds men, but Jesus Christ, Man, we don't create miracles! Does your mother know where you are, you little Puke?"
I joined the Marines in January of 1964. A few friends and I enlisted under the 120-day delay plan. We graduated from High school on May 22 of that year and arrived at Parris Island three days later on Monday, May 25th. Funny, but I've hated Mondays ever since.
After Basic and ITR, my world came crashing down as I drew one of the toughest Duty Stations the Corps could throw at me...the dreaded Marine Barracks, Key West, Florida!
Imagine, if you can, the depths of my despair being a hormonally-challenged 17-yr. old stationed two feet from a beach full of young, sex-crazed, half-dressed nymphettes. What horror!
I had to put up with that Hell-hole for fifteen months before, unable to take it any longer, my childhood friend and I volunteered to go to this place called Vietnam. It was there that I met the greatest bunch of men that God has ever blessed this Earth with. I was assigned to 2/1!
My time with 2/1 was short. I arrived in March, 1966 and only lasted until June when I was Medevac'd to Yokosuka, Japan with Malaria. I should have put in for a Purple Heart, claiming multiple wounds inflicted by an enemy. I was sure that I was bitten more than once on numerous occasions, and they were Communist mosquitoes. Friendly mosquitoes would not inflict Malaria on their allies. Ah, the mysteries of War. It probably wouldn't have been that way if had been in the Air Force.
After a period of recuperation, my now ravaged 120-lb body was shipped back to the Funny Country. To my disappointment, I was transferred to 3/3. I wound up an FNG twice! These men also hold a large part of my heart, but 2/1 was my first love and you never forget your first. I never will.
I spent my last year of service at MCB Quantico. Once, during a complete lapse in sanity, I asked for a return trip to the Nam. When they made an appointment for me to talk with a Shrink, I regained my senses and withdrew my request, finished my tour and threw myself headlong into a life of complete freedom with only myself to answer to.
This carefree existence lasted until February 5th, 1971, when I married Judith Scanlon, my wife of 26 years and the saviour of my soul. We have two sons...John W. Norman III and Shannon Patrick Norman. Below is a picture of Judith at our Chicago reunion. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't show just how beautiful she is, but, what the Hell, I look f------ great, don't I ?
Since my tour of duty, I have worn many hats in my long work history. My first job was making 105 Howitzer shells for the Army. I got a bang out of that job until the plant closed. Next, I worked in the same steel mill where my grandfather was the head Teamster for Andrew Carnegie in the late 1800's until that plant closed. After a long stint with Westinghouse Electric, that plant closed. By this time I was getting paranoid and figured I better check my deodorant or my mouthwash. Every place I worked closed down.
Next, I worked two temporary stints with the Army Corp of Engineers repairing the Locks and Dams in the Pittsburgh area. I got screwed by the Federal Government both times when they hired non-Vets before 10-pointers. Come to find out, this is not an uncommon thing.
Finally, I decided to start living my life on the edge again and enlisted in the United States Postal Service. I've been there ever since. It's not as gratifying as being a Grunt, but at least you get to go out to the wire 40+ hours a week. When 2/1 had it's reunion in Quantico, I brought my son Shannon down to meet all the guys. He had a great time and was very impressed by all the Marines he met, especially this old Grunt in the picture below.
Life just gets better and better. I have a great family, a good job, and the ability to persue my favorite pastimes...hunting and football. Many are the weekends I enjoy at my cabin in the woods and get home in time to watch a Steeler's game. But the fabric of my life is tightly woven around the U.S. Marine Corps and the men of 2/1. Like they used to say in that commercial, "It don't get no better'n this.".
Drop me an E-mail and say "Howdy!"
I'd love to hear from my Brothers.