Early Marine Support Battalion

by John Hopkins (circa October 1999)

Ray, I have two Radio Logs in front of me, summer and fall (1999) and finally forced myself to sit down and send a letter I should have sent much earlier. First, my congratulations to Carl (Kachauskas). He truly is a fine selection to be our president and follows a long line of the finest ever to wear dark green, as our past presidents certainly have been. A letter written by Don Brown made me realize that a lot of history is being lost about the early days of the Support Battalion and the sub-units, prior to them being designated companies in 1961.

Sub-Unit 4, Company G, was a unit of Headquarters Battalion, HQMC, in 1960. In September 1960, J. G. Black and I were assigned duty with Sub-Unit 4 in Morocco. Rick Hart joined us, then later on a Russian linguist, John Guenther (commissioned a 2nd Lt. in 1962) arrived. Rick and I were promoted to Captain in July 1962 and, for the most part, were senior to the Navy officers (LtJG). As a result, we were division officers rather than watch standers. Most Marine officers at other locations were watch standers. However, Chet Phillips, later Admiral Phillips, thought it best to go on seniority rather than service, so junior Navy officers were watch standers while we served as Comm, Morse, and Boresight/Borescope Division officers. Getting back to Don Brown's letter, the order was signed by John Black, but had no effect until it was signed by Col. Johnson, CO of Marine Barracks, Port Lyaute, Morocco.

All this changed in 1961, when Company G's sub-units became separate companies under the Support Battalion. Company G was dissolved and sub-unit 4 became Company H, Marine Support Battalion. In December 1962, we closed our Sidi Yahia site and moved Company H to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. Some of our MCCA members were there and can pick up the story line. When Sub-Unit 4 became Company H, it gave us authority to award MOSs, to promote and to hold office hours. Before that, we had to go to the CO of Marine Barracks for his signature. It was very cumbersome since the CO/XO of the Barracks didn't have security clearances. As you are aware, John Guenther went on to serve country and Corps well and he is truly a person we should all strive to emulate. Rick Hart has died and I've lost contact with John Black. Please encourage the members to jot down the history of the Sub-Units, radio companies, the RB47 (linguists and R Branchers), African Queen ship riders, USS Pueblo and Liberty heroes, the Vietnamese and French linguists that served in-country as early as 1961. Are we in danger of losing our history going back to WWII and the special radio platoons/sections?

Can we not claim the Navajo code talkers as members of our special family? I hope I'm wrong about our preserved history, the good and not so good. The fire at Kamiseya comes to mind. Age is taking away our memories and our comrades. Please excuse typos and spelling errors. I wanted to be my message out. Semper Fidelis.