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A Son and Buddy's Tribute
Jerome "Jerry" H. Henjum-Howard
Isles of Capri, Florida
"I joined the USMC because of the examples people like you and my Dad set for all of us. There is no more honorable or worthwhile calling in life."
- Francis Xavier Howard
"He was one sharp Marine!"
- Milton Keizer
Milton Keizer's Memories of Jerry
I dug for and found my few pictures of your father. I know there was one more I cannot locate at this time...that MY father snapped, when Jerry came to Hawarden, IA several months after returning from Korea, checking whether I had been home yet. It may have been a color slide, which is a problem, because my Dad took thousands of slide pictures and though I have them, there's no index, just box after box after box.
Anyway, here's what the attached images will show, and I'll try to sketchily add to them. In the "Boot Camp" photo, I am in the third row, ninth from the left. Your father is in the fifth row, second from the left. Other Marines Jerry and I knew well and he might have mentioned in the past are Ben Lerman, first row, first recruit, and Charles "Chicken Little" Crowley, first row, third from left. "Chicken Little" weighed all of 116 pounds dripping wet and our DI often got frustrated by Musgrave, our strongest recruit, whipping out 10 push-ups without effort, and would have Crowley sit on Musgrave's shoulders for the next 10...which he did, too!
As I told you, Jerry and I joined the Marines the same day at Sioux Falls, SD. We rode the train to San Diego, and were the "old hands" as more recruits climbed aboard on the way. At the Receiving Barracks, Jerry immediately made the Drill Instructor's "book" because he had brought a medium-size tube of acne cream along...and any drugs were a 'no-no' we had been cautioned against. We both were in the 4th Squad of Platoon 27 and, by graduation day, Jerry had erased the black mark with perseverance and attention to detail and uniform. He was one sharp Marine! I believe he fired "Sharpshooter". (I lucked out as one of five or six "Expert" riflemen... I believe my third-high platoon score--221 out of 250--earned $7.00 more per month.)
Members of three platoons--26, 27 and 28--chartered a bus from San Diego to Kansas City for our 10-day October "Boot Leave" and scattered from that point for their homes, regrouping for the return trip. Your Dad may have told you about the still-soused Pfc. who was standing in the door well, talking to the bus driver. When a sharp turn caused him to stumble back, the door opened, and he pitched out on the side of the road near Barstow, CA. We later heard he wound up a Private again when he got out of a military hospital there, and received a court martial for "damaging government property!" When we returned, "Boot" was soon over and we went to the Casual Barracks and then to different duty stations. I drew Hawthorne, Nevada to help guard the Naval Ammunition Supply Base there, but I do not recall where Jerry served his year. We met again, for nearly a week in Chicago, to be released June 30, 1950 from our one year of active duty. Jerry had a very nice car then--a Plymouth, Dodge or DeSoto coupe--and three of us barreled for home in it as soon as we had separation papers in our hands, Jerry going the farthest to Humboldt, South Dakota.
I was recalled to duty in mid-October that year, and served in the Corps until April 7, 1952. I do not know which outfit Jerry served in, but our injuries on the same April 23, 1951 night were coincidental. The Chinese had mounted their big "drive to the sea" but stubbed their toes on three different Marine battalions, none of which were pushed back. I was injured the night of April 23-24 on Hill 902 and carried in a litter down the mountain, then on top of a tank to a helicopter pad. I was flown to Taegu, and then via a transport plane to Japan. My next three months to the exact day were spent in Yokosuka Naval Hospital in Japan and Otsu, the Rest and Retraining Annex. In June 1951, Jerry and I met again at Otsu. If I remember correctly, he had a bullet wound in the outside of his right upper arm. We played a lot of cribbage then, onlookers challenging winners, etc. (See the pictures of Jerry playing cards and me fiddling with a combination padlock.) For outside recreation, Jerry and I (twice) rented a 16-foot catboat and sailed it on Lake Biwa. Neither of us were expert sailors, but we knew enough to enjoy two weekends. The next time we went to rent the catboat, it was "Out of Bounds" because five Marines and a case of beer had had an unfortunate upset, with one Marine drowned...no more sailing! One of my favorite memories of the period at the Otsu Annex was that we could hike to the town from the base and, stopping at the first restaurant on the right-hand side of the street, buy a "steak-and-eggs with Asahi beer" meal for 360 Yen...about an American equivalent of $1.40.
On July 23, 1951, another G/3/1 Marine and I were flown in a small airplane back to Korea to rejoin our "G" Company. In September, I went "to the rear with the gear" to First Support Co., and fired boilers, repaired washers and dryers, and laid in the river the suction pumps that drew water for hot showers and clean clothes for the fighting troops. In early winter, I was working on a belt-driven washing machine and asked the operator what it had been doing wrong. He turned it on to show me and my left hand was caught in the belts, mangling the first finger. Sent to Easy Med, there was nothing there they could do for me. While there a few days, there was a big fire and all lightly injured patients were sent to "A" Med. The busy doctors there sent me on to Yokosuka Hospital, from where I later shipped out for home on the U.S.S. Repose. I took my discharge at Hawthorne, Nevada on April 7, 1952 and later received another--final--Honorable Discharge dated June 30, 1956.
Many years later, Jerry and I traded Christmas cards with short notes. How we reconnected, I forget, but we had spent seven years in Canada, I believe about the time your family lived in Lisle, IL, and we once stopped to visit there when driving from Woodstock, Ont. to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where both had Link-Belt Speeder plants.
In looking back at the Christmas cards I retained, I see that Jerry was very proud of your Marine career, Francis. In each of his 1998-1999-2000 cards he kept me posted, "Frank is up for Lt. Col. Marine Corps...Frank is a Lt. Col designate in the Marine Corps"...and "My youngest son Frank retired from 22 years in the Corps this fall." I thought you would want to know this.
Frank Howard's Memories of His Father
My Dad mostly only talked about two parts of his time in the Corps--Boot Camp and Japan. He rarely talked about other aspects of it until after I was commissioned. When I asked him about why he enlisted in the Reserves in the first place, he told me it was for his credibility in his community and a sense of patriotism. He said that Marines were well respected and that it would help him find employment and get ahead/out of his life in rural South Dakota. He did have some very fond memories of boot camp. He never told me the acne crème story though. He talked mostly about your Drill Instructor (Cpl. Swede Henson) who, quoting the DI, was: "All-Navy Shot Put and Discus Champion (Champeen…) ….By God." It seemed that Cpl. Henson also may have used the term "Get up here Boy" too, as my father and Uncle Jim (also a Marine and Army vet in the mid 50’s) used that expression in fun quite a bit. Dad did talk about the boxing match that Cpl. Henson made your guide and another recruit endure that you described in your memoirs with Lynnita. He added that Cpl. Henson kept telling the victor or the one that could stand up to "Kick him in the head, Boy… He might get up and hit you… by God." I did enjoy your recollection that my Dad only fired Sharpshooter. He would have strongly disagreed with you! To my mother’s dismay, he taught us kids at a very young age how to shoot. He did so in a very strict USMC Range safety kind of manner. He was an excellent shot with Pistol and Shotgun. But, now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever saw him fire a rifle… As for your recollection about his "attention to detail and uniform," I agree. He was always well groomed with shined shoes (usually by me…) and a perfect gig line throughout his entire life.
He said that at the end of boot camp there were several of your fellow graduates that immediately went and enlisted "active" in the other services, as they really didn’t want to get called up as a Marine for combat. He knew he was going to get called up for Korea. I have his original orders for boot camp, his call up, and Home when he mustered out in 1952 from Camp Lejeune. After boot camp, Dad was sent to a school at Great Lakes to become an electronics technician (ET). From all the papers I have, it looks like he studied basic electronics, radio theory, and radio equipment for aircraft for about 10 months there with an assigned MOS of "2600." I guess he was really supposed to be an "Airedale." :-) He was then released from ADDU and went home until recalled for Korea, reporting to Omaha first and then to Chicago for onward movement, I believe. He talked about being on a train that traveled all over the country as it picked up Marine reservists heading to the west coast.
They took an old Japanese troop ship from Japan to Korea that had an ex-Japanese military crew and there was a
U.S. Army Band on the pier playing a song called, "If I would of known you were coming, I would have baked a cake"
when they arrived. I have no idea what port in Korea it was. They were all treated as combat replacements and
farmed out to units that were already there. He said they were lined up on the pier and an "Old Crusty Master
Sergeant" asked them one by one by one what MOS they were. Dad was standing next to a huge Marine who responded to
the Top: "Sir… I’m a Steamfitter," to which the Top responded, "Good… we need F##KING Steamfitters." That man was
made a BARman. Dad became an ammo bearer for him. He ended up in a Weapons platoon working 60 Mortars, I
think--in which exact unit he never told me. Dad referred to Col
Dad didn’t talk about combat much. He did use the expression that there was "Ten-Thousand Chinamen coming at us doing Side-straddle hops… high on dope… wearing shower shoes." He was shot for the first time on 5 March of 1951--a grazing head wound that knocked him out. He was treated as dead until he woke up. He was fixed up locally and returned to duty. After the evacuation to Japan for the second wound, he said the arm just wouldn’t heal, and had several surgeries in Japan to fix it. I’ve seen modern x-rays of it. Looks like the shrapnel shattered the bone to pieces right in the middle of his upper arm and it had to grow entirely new bone for a couple of inches to reconnect itself. A nurse thought it was a new break when she saw it on the x-ray in 1999. He said he really enjoyed the time and liberty at Otsu, but that all good things came to end when he was relocated to the Naval Hospital in Yokosuka. When he was returned to full duty, his two Purple Hearts kept him from going back to Korea. He said that he was assigned as an Acting Platoon Sergeant for the "Diaper Platoons" of Marines waiting for their 18th birthday so they could be shipped out to Korea. For their weekly Saturday AM inspections, he used to send his "Shitbirds" off into the mountains, only to return when the inspection was over. From there, Dad was promoted to Sergeant on November 28, 1951 with an MOS of "0336 Proof Director - Small Arms." He was ordered back to Camp Lejeune to 2/2, where he was a Weapons Platoon Sergeant until he was released from active duty on the 8th of April of 1952. Dad passed away on May 27, 2001 from complications of surgery for colon cancer. As were his wishes, we buried his remains in Arlington National Cemetery among friends.
Thank you very much for the pictures of Dad. The only other USMC one I have of him is the official "portrait" that you wounded guys had to take in Japan in a "prop" uniform to send home to your families. Dad has a handlebar moustache in that one. He looks thin, too. But after seeing yours, I think he was just in real good shape back then. If you come across any other, please forward copies if you can. I have attached copies of my boot camp and OCS pictures for your amusement. After seeing Dad’s, I can really see the resemblance. In the Boot Camp picture, I’m in the front row on the left side of the Drill instructors. In the OCS one, I’m the 4th man from the left in the second row.
I had a good run myself in the Corps. I enlisted in 1978 and was promoted to Sergeant in 1981. I was commissioned in 1983, and promoted to Major in 1995. I never quite made it to Lieutenant Colonel. That was a surprise and a disappointment to me at the time. I retired in January of 2001. I was in Signals Intelligence/Electronic Warfare/Cryptology field my entire career. Ironically, that family of MOS’s is the 2600 occupational field in the Corps--the same Basic MOS that my father was assigned after boot camp at Great Lakes. I miss it.
I received my name "Francis Xavier" due to another Marine from Korea and South Dakota as well. From what I understand, my father had a cousin named Francis Xavier Zimmer who also enlisted either with or around the time my father did. Did he go to boot camp with you from your recollection? He was recalled for Korea and served his time there. He was shipped back to California to muster out after his tour. While there, he went out to dinner with his parents one night. When he was returning to base in a taxi, the driver had a heart attack and drove off a bridge. FX Zimmer was killed in the crash. A tribute to him is located on this South Dakota-based website: http://koreanwarmemorial.sd.gov/.
I joined the USMC because of the examples people like you and my Dad set for all of us. There is no more honorable or worthwhile calling in life. I don’t think that my Dad ever thought of himself as a "hero" and he wouldn’t want to be treated as one in a "tribute". He was one to me, though-–just like all the rest who served there. He didn’t want to go to Korea in the first place, and didn’t want to go back to Korea after the hospital time in Japan either. He thought they would end up fighting in Beijing in possibly a nuclear war. He did his duty and was rightfully proud of his time in the Corps.
Dad was living in a town called Isles of Capri, Florida near Marco Island & Naples when he died. His birth name was Jerome Howard Henjum. Henjum (pronounced Hen Yum) is a good Norwegian name kind of peculiar to South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota where mostly Norwegians, Finns and Swedes settled in the mid- 1800s. Dad said the name caused him problems as a real estate salesman in the Chicago area in the early 1960s because nobody could remember or pronounce it. So, he had his name changed legally to Jerome H. Howard in 1964. I think he chose Howard for two reasons. First, it was his middle name. Secondly, he had an uncle named Howard who was kind of a father figure to him. As an aside, I believe the car Milt talked about that my Dad had in Chicago in 1950 was actually his Uncle Howard’s Hudson 8 Coupe.
General Orders #157, USMC Purple Heart Recipients
[Note from Milton Keizer: "The reason why I have the sheet is that Lt.Col. Virgil W. Banning, our G-3-1 Exec, was the officer passing them all out and I was the last Marine on his list. Since he was done, he let me have the sheet. He asked me where I was hit and I replied that I'd been wounded in the left foot, left leg and in the right rear 'part' of the body we were taught to keep down! He replied, 'That's the part where I got mine, too.'"]
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