The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
visits CAP 2
We got the word to set up our day site near Highway 1 that day and be ready for inspection by an unnamed “VIP.” We did what we could. There was little we could do about getting our clothing clean. But our weapons and ammo were already spotless, and we put our gear in neat piles arranged in two rows. Then we went about business as usual.
Only a few Marines were present when the highest-ranking enlisted Marine arrived. The others were probably patrolling, off on various errands, or skulking elsewhere in our ville. VIP inspections could mean bad news, and the Sergeant Major of the Corps was a scarier figure than even the Commandant. Since the Sergeant Major was enlisted we didn’t have to stand at attention, but each Marine present stood very stiffly “at ease” by his gear.
I was carrying the radio for CAP 2 at that point, meaning my left hand was often busy with the PRC-25 handset and I had to handle my M-16 one-handed. To make that easier, I folded the bottom of the hinged trigger guard down and taped it to the pistol grip. That made it a little easier to get my finger on the trigger in a hurry.
When the Sergeant Major saw the trigger guard taped to the pistol grip, he picked up my M-16. Taking out a pocket knife, he cut the tape and pulled it off. Then he clicked the trigger guard back into place.
“Son, this trigger guard is designed to open so you can fire the rifle with gloves on, during cold weather combat. I don’t think you’ll be wearing gloves out here,” he chuckled. The 2nd CAG top sergeant had a little laugh, too, and my buddies tried to keep straight faces.
My tendency to “smartass” when I should have said “YESSIR!” guaranteed I would never have a career in the Marines. I wanted to tell the patronizing old geezer, “I’ll tape my ears to my head if I feel like it, and you can kiss my ass!” But for once I kept my mouth shut, my face wooden, and said, “Aye-aye, sir.”
Anyway, the two sergeants left after half an hour and it took me about 60 seconds to tape my trigger guard to the pistol grip again … much to the amusement of my buddies. They predicted I’d be in deep trouble the next time I ran across the Sergeant Major.
The Sergeant Major’s name was long forgotten, but Suzanne Hernandez (Paul’s better half) looked it up and told me that J.W. Dailey was Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in 1970, when this incident occurred. God bless you, Sar’nt Dailey, if that was you, and thanks Suzanne.