Joe Holt, 2000

Camp Marguarita in Camp Pendleton with our old barracks in the background. The trail up the hill in the background is something I used to dream running up and up and up.....

Joe Holt, India 3/5  I joined the Marine Corps in August of '65. Just as basic training started, it was changed from a twelve-week program to an eight-week program. Lucky me. After ITR, I was trained as a machine gunner (0331) at BIT, then sent to Mike Company 3/5 at Camp Pendleton.


About two days before we shipped out aboard the USS Renville, I was transferred to India Company. I could talk all day, but to make a long story short, we trained in The Philipines, Japan, and NTA Okinawa. When we made our first amphibious assault south of Quang Nai in June of '66, we were the last stateside battalion to enter as a unit. 

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India Headquarters group in Okinawa just prior to shipping out to Vietnam. The only folks I recognize are in the bottom row. Sgt. Fletcher on the left, Lt. Kopfler in the center, and Gunny Walters on the right. Maybe somebody else can remember the rest of'em. (Update 3/18/02: more folks identified: Top Row left to right: Cpl. Dupree, Cpl Jerome Czarnowski (Ski II), unk, unk). Middle row on right is Zaidinski. Bottom row is Fletcher, First Sgt Thorpe, Lt. Kopfler, unk, and Gunny Walters).

We were quite a team. DECKHOUSE I. We were pulled out, and spent some absolutely monster liberty in Subic Bay before we were again called for an assault just south of the DMZ. 

DECKHOUSE II. This progressed to Operation HASTINGS in the mountains of the DMZ. Long story here...later. When we eventually got back to our ship, the USS Pickaway, we were sent to Chu Lai. A month or two later, I got transferred to C 1/5. A very upsetting experience for me. 

Operation HASTINGS

I was assigned to 60mm mortars. A very fun gadget to work with. I rotated back in April of '67 to C 1/28 in Camp Pendleton. I'm happy as a clam to say I never rated a purple heart. 

Three or four months later, I had orders to go to the 1st Marine Brigade in Hawaii. I wasn't all that very thrilled about my prospects there, so I managed to get a quota to Sea School, San Diego. 

As a Corporal, I was stationed aboard the USS Hornet in the Marine Detachment. Much great liberty in the home port of Long Beach, then an eight month cruise to Vietnam...or thereabouts. Thirty days at sea, then three or four in port. Great liberty again. Singapore, Hong Kong, Sasebo, Yokosuka, Hawaii. I actually received the same combat pay aboard the Hornet as when I was gruntin' the paddies, yet the Hornet never even came within sight of Vietnam! But I could shine the hell outa my shoes! 

When we returned to Long Beach after our cruise, we found that the Hornet had been selected to recover the first moon astronauts, and President Nixon would be aboard. Very cool. Also many stories to leave for later. 

When we got back to Long Beach, I ended my enlistment in August of '69 as an E-5. The most intense four years of my life, yet if I live to be a hundred, (it'll never happen. I exist on red wine and twinkies) my time with India company will have been the most meaningful. I remain Semper Fidelis.

After I got out of the Corps, I went to college some, partied some, was horribly bored some. The Green Machine was a tough act to follow. I slowly got civilianized and met my terrific wife, and we had three exceptional kids. My youngest is 20 now, and it occurred to me that I appear to be the biggest nonachiever of the family, but I'm content in being so. I've worked for the local utility company for almost 29 years. I've become a home care, gardening, TV watching kinda guy. I'm as happy as I can expect to be. Semper Fidelis, Joe Holt, India 3/5, '66

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Gary Bolen, M/3/5 (left) and Joe Holt, I/3/5 same time, same operations, 30 years later

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Joe Holt and Ed Crisp, India 3/5 on Operation HASTINGS

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1st Marine Division Reunion 2000
San Diego

The group picture is in the Kilo 3/5 reception suite. Ron McCarville is the fella with the beard to my right, and the cherubic lookin' fella to my right is Ron Heath, their web guy. 

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Steve Dawson (left) and Joe Holt at a mini- reunion in Idaho

(Written 10 Nov. 2003, USMC 228th Birthday)

When I graduated from Basic Training I looked forward to ITR. I was hoping that after Basic, ITR would be a breeze. I was no longer a stupid Private. My top button was unbuttoned for the first time so I knew I was a full fledged Marine.

We pulled into San Onofre on buses. We formed up with our seabags and route stepped up the slight grade to our billets, "O" Company. "This was it," I thought, "the real Marine Corps". A Troop Leader ordered all of us, a hundred and fifty guys or so, to stow our seabags against one of the Quonset huts. We were then ordered to fall in. As we marched down the hill towards the wilderness below I feared the worst. I thought for sure they were gonna PT us for some imagined infraction, but when we approached the large field at the base of the hill it was obvious there was some sort of party goin' on.

All I saw were guys having a good time. Barbecues going at one end of the bushy lowcut field, a football game going on in the middle, a tug of war, footraces, and other such events happenin' all around me. We were ordered to fall out and form for chow. I followed the guy next to me, not knowing what to make of all this neat stuff, and stood in line and picked up a paper plate. A minute later I had a huge T-bone steak on my plate alongside a glop of potato salad as big as a softball. I straggled over to a shady spot near the trees, sat down next to some guys and started scarfin' it all down. I was as happy as could be. I remember thinkin', "This ITR is so swell!" Thank goodness I never actually said it.

I overheard somebody mention, to my embarrassment, the Marine Corps Birthday! Perhaps I was still a stupid Private. It was November 10th and it had never occurred to me! I thought the barbeque was some sort of welcoming party they threw for all the new guys. (Honest, I really did!) Was I a moron or what?! I suspect I wasn't the only one who was confused that day, but I betcha I was the last to catch on. Stupid. ITR went straight downhill after that weekend as you might expect.

This year I'm gonna put my poster of Chesty out on my front porch, put out my Marine Corps flag, and have a beer in honor of all the guys I was proud to serve with, and to celebrate that long lost character~stupid Private Holt.

Vietnam Stories by Joe Holt

Joe has done some great writing about his combat experiences with India 3/5 that are posted on the India 3/5 website.. His "stories" willl make you laugh, and maybe cry a bit, but you will have a greater perspective of the Marines who fought in Vietnam, and why to this day, they remain Always Faithful. Thank you for sharing this important part of your life with us, Brother Marine.~DR

The Becky
Burning Shitters
Just Too Stupid...
Joe's Hill 362

India 3/5 Website

(Background by Redeye)
(India 3/5 graphic by Vic Vilionis)