From Parris Island to the Lion’s Den


I’m Proud to report on the day before we Drink for the Fallen and celebrate our Marine Corps Birthday that a 2nd generation 5th Marine is going home to 5th Marines like his Warrior father before him. The Corps is still alive and will never die as long as they ones who served hold those who currently lead accountable and protect the EGA…  One of 3/5’s Great Warriors from Vietnam Tom Gainer’s Son a Young  Corps Man ” DOC Gainer” is headed to the Lions den to be with the family…  Tom was part of the battle of hill 362 where 3/5 took heavily casualties.… Just another day in Vietnam… Most Americans or Marines don’t know the individual actions of a day in the life of the Vietnam Veteran like those who were there.. Intense combat at short jungle distances.. Heavy losses… true Valor… Leadership… The Vietnam Veterans are heros like the Generations before. I was invited this year to attend an India Company 3/5 reunion from the battle of hill 362 and I was moved…  a week later a request was phoned in as most marines know you can count on a marine when needed… sometimes they can make it happen sometimes they can’t but they will try and try again… ” Do you think you can assist my Son, who grew up with the Men of Hill 362 as their Fathers and uncles” get to 5th marines and 3/5…. he wants to serve so bad there and Assist Marines in 3/5 like the warriors blood that pours though his veins passed down from a father to a son..

Through great connections and a GREAT Marine General Grade Officer the orders arrived yesterday… Doc Gainer is going to the Lions den 5th Marines top carry on the tradition..

I was so happy and thankful to be a part…… I passed on the words of wisdom to the Gainer family once passed to me… Just remember ” watch what you wish for… the waters are deep in 5th Marines and 1st Marine Division.. I hope he knows how to swim with the big boys”

Into the Lions den for me:
2nd Bn 5th Marines

It was the best of times it was the worst of times but those times we will cherish and always remember… Some Marines are “lucky” enough to get stationed with a dream team. A team from the Battalion Commander all the way to the PTV and the Head NCO in charge…. A Unit where the Corporal runs the Battalion the Sgt.’s Supervise and Lead, the SNCOs mentor and the Officers are Accountable for all the actions, plan, issue the orders and let the Lions roam… For Me it was 2/5.  Upon Graduation from my MOS school I personally requested to go there,  finishing # 1  I was asked where I wanted to go…. I rejected tactfully orders to a non Division unit… and asked  who is the best unit, has done the most… is called on? The Major replied “Gavigan 5th Marines they get it done….. But don’t you want a fun duty station like your friends in Hawaii or a fun place? I replied I want to go to the front of the action… and the Major gave me a few words of wisdom… watch what you wish for… a few weeks later with a sea bag in hand, a week of “adulterated loving” from my home town girls who admired those Blues I was tossed into the deep abyss of the deepest waters i.e. the deep end of the pool of 2/5. this was not a beginners duty station for my MOS..

The sign said it all, on the back side of the base, where no one was there to micro manage… ” The Most Decorated Battalion in the Marine Corps”  The Battle ribbons on the sign looked like Chesty Puller himself was inside.. The Regimental Head Quarters had a Marine in Dress blues at lunch time with a sign that said ” honk I was not in proper liberty attire” during lunch, a Sgt was cutting grass with hand scissors because he drove over the grass, and my pager that was hidden under my reporting Alpha uniform was snatched off from a salty God Like Marine, aka right hand man enforcer with a coffee cup, mustache, the SGT MAJ.  The pager was not seen by any Marine across the country until that SGT MAJ from down the long second floor hall of pictures of warriors and awards spotted a LCpl checking in with a small bumper hidden under his jacket… ” HEY DEVIL DOG” COME HERE” and the Marines scattered into their offices and it was just him and I still left from one end of the Battalion CP to the other.. Not a pin drop could be heard…  Puzzled and scared I replied – Me I replied SGT MAJ?” no, THE OTHER JACK ASS STANDING IN THE HALL  ( no one was there). In fear for my life I smartly moved to the deeper end of the Pool where the Pictures got older, the awards higher, and the rank on the doors  grew… I was in the Deep end of the water ( the end of the 2nd story long building).  Long story short he spotted a bump not found on Alphas with his Uniform inspection long range detection chip embedded in his brain housing group.. ( it must have had a metal detector also) snatched the pager, imbedded into the ground in piece and drove it home with a Polished black Cadillac stomped it with a heel strike and instructed me to get the trash off his carpet and get to where I was going… I had met the Sgt Maj

I had arrived at the Lions den 5th Marines. The Battalion had just returned from a MEU with ribbons adorned the other LCpls had 7-9 Ribbons at the Battalion and I was sporting the lone Boot Camp issued National defense for work they had done..

2/5 and 5th Marines was amazing, tough, hard, and partly shaped every achievement in my life…  I was molded through pain, given the ability to fail, allowed to achieve results through extreme leadership responsibility and always knew that the  2/5 and 5th Marines Brotherhood had my back… from going main side ( POG Land) all the way to cranking rotors on the MEU ready to deal death to America’s enemies if we were called upon during the Taiwan missile crises…   We were truly a family at 2/5 & 5th Marines… at times you felt invincible. The Love was tough but it was love.. We all walked Proud. I feared no Marine leader or Man on Earth. I had a Green rope on my shoulder that was like a halo of death dealing passed down by those who Fought and earned so bravely before us… My Commander at Every level was truly mindful and cared, My Gunnery Sgt was the Greatest there ever was and when I was promoted my Fellow NCOs and I ran the Battalion with great guidance..

Everyone knew the NCOs ran 2/5.  The Battalion Commander, Col Seal & Sgt Maj Garcia, instilled and made sure it was so.. even to go as far as a contract/ Creed to dawn the NCO rank insignia…  and displayed throughout the battalion’s area. It was ok to not want to be an NCO here in 5th Marines Cpl Gavigan… Just know it’s not about pay its about responsibility and accountability… Both you will carry… he surmised to our new class of new NCOs… I will hold you all accountable and I dully give you the authority to issues and Carry out Orders  as if I was telling the Non NCOs myself…

In a few short years I was a Leadership Machine, Could do any job required of me…  anything I could procure for the Battalion at any time or any place.. I was the S-4 Ammo Chief, Assistant S-4 Chief, and Supported any Companies needs.. The Company Gunny’s utilized the power of procurement when they could not get what they needed… and I always came through…. because that is what good Marines do.

Yes, I made mistakes that could be recovered from but paid physically, very painfully taught through EMI and over 100K pushups I think and runs up 1st Sgts hill.. or painful long hard training on ship to prepare for war to support and lead the HQ convey when we hit the shore on advanced party.. one day you’re Issuing Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids and the next you’re a Convoy leader for the Battalion with a MK-19 coming off an LCAC or rolling through a foreign land..

I’ve never had to face extreme combat on a company or large unit fighting as some of you on this email…  yes some action I’ve seen, Danger and death I’ve looked in the eye through EOD or other incidents that I made it out alive… But the Brotherhood of the 5th Marines, the leaders and “Dream Team” who took me in and made me hard I will never forget.. some of my fellow Marines did not have that same experience of leadership and they did not make it to long in the meat grinder we call the Corps. Although I went on to Lead many Marines and still receive emails and calls from those I molded as an NCO Marine SNCO & Officer….  Leadership is allowed on training day 1 in the Corps…… if you want to be a leader its yours for the taking..


Back story for the gainer family at India 3/5

Hill 362:

Operation Hastings – July 1966 South Vietnam

33 years have passed since Operation Hastings and more specifically, the battle for Hill 362. I assume every man who fought in Vietnam or any other war has one defining moment — one minute, hour or day forever burned in his spirit; one freeze-frame of horror, hell, bravery and fear, of relief and of guilt; one incident of extreme emotion that shook him to the core. The battle for Hill 362 was my time of truth.
ITom Gainer, USMC Vietnamn the immediate years following Vietnam, I wanted to forget my  experiences and get on with my life. It seemed nobody really cared or could possibly understand anyway. The most common remark I heard from  civilians was, “Well, you weren’t really in a lot of combat over there,”  to which I would shrug my shoulders, nod my head and say, “Yeah, not much.” In actuality, I saw more hostile fire on Operation Hastings Hill 362 than I’d ever encountered prior to that battle or since. My company, Lima 3/5, lost 8 men in seven days of Operation Hastings — 8 out of the 18 Lima 3/5 Marines that were KIA (Killed in Action) for the entire year of 1966. Bravery in the face of extremely hostile conditions was the norm for the men of Lima Company during Hastings. This was their baptism under fire and they were superb. Most of them received no medals or special recognition, and they should have. Somewhere in the history books, their special valor should be recorded. Yet in all the accounts I’ve read on Hastings, Lima Company is barely mentioned. Just this past year, I had the opportunity to read the now-declassified Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division’s command chronology for the period — including Operation Hastings — signed by 3/5 Battalion Commander Lt. Col. E. J. Bronars.  In the narrative of this after-action report there is no mention of the details of the individual battles. Without being there it is impossible to know what really happened on Operation Hastings. The last page of the report lists the friendly casualties — KIA – 51, WIA – 162. There is no method to link the friendly casualties to individual units or specific battles. And, of course, the accounts of individual heroism are nowhere to be found in the official records.
In fact, India Company of 3/5 had 18 Marines killed on Hill 362 in one day.

From Mr Gainer

Zackary Thomas Gainer

Navy Corpsman

Parris Island

E 3

Date of enlistment Nov 2011

Has requested orders to 1st MarDiv, but it’s only a selection process at this time and nothing more.

Official date of rotation June 2014 from PI but he would gladly go sooner if chosen

My son would like to serve with India Company 3/5 1MarDiv as did his father in 1966 as an 18 year Grunt.

Zack has grown up around my brother Marines from 3/5 from the time he was 2 years old. He has been to almost every yearly reunion we have had since May 1996.

He joined the military out of pride and a sense of duty based on being around Marines and Corpsman from 3/5.

He has a very focused sense of duty and honor to God and Country because of being around my fellow Marines and Corpsman I served with.

When he joined the Navy I asked why he did not join the Marines? He told me he wanted the medical field. But he said “Dad I can still serve with the Marines as an FMF Corpsman” He as
always wanted “green side”

My son understands the requirements and commitment it takes to be a Green side Corpsman. He has trained and continues to train his body and mind.

Tom Gainer
Semper Fi



Orders attached.  I suspect this will be the best Marine Corps Birthday news
that former Marine Gainer has received in a very long time!

“Chief of Naval Personnel has been able to ensure that Navy Corpsman Zackary
Thomas Gainer has orders to the 1st Marine Division, 5th Marine Regiment.
Orders are attached and the member should have them in hand.

Happy Birthday, Marine!

Semper Fi,

Brother Marines,

As devil dogs round-the-world connect at this time each year, best wishes for a Happy 238th Marine Corps Birthday!

The following are several celebratory Marine videos:

As Col Wayne “Lobo” Morris, USMC (Ret) wrote, some of us older guys are not too keen on this more aggressive version of  the National Anthem by Madison Rising. Nevertheless, our younger Leathernecks seem to love it: seems like their “go to war” version.  Go Daddy Bob always has his own       picture in there for a split second: Note the black and white photo in the hospital bed with his PH.

Happy Birthday, MARINES.

And finally, the Corps’ 238th Marine Corps Birthday video:
this blog is approved for re-posting or publication