Close Window

Manual of Arms - Chris Sarno Memoir

The recruits were expected to passed a rudimentary close order drill in formation before they were issued a weapon. Once that was behind them, they were marched down to the grinder to go to the armory for a weapon. There was no mistaking the group for anything other than the raw recruits they were at the time, Sarno recalled. "We had dungarees with the open blouse never tucked in. We weren’t allowed to wear leggings because we were not considered to be true Marines while we were still in boot camp. Our DI told us that we looked like a bunch of clowns, and that we were a bunch of clowns. They never gave you a compliment. Not once. Any time they opened their mouths to any of us, it was always to say something derogatory."

The armory was a huge aluminum building that housed nothing but M-1 rifles. When the recruits went inside of it for the first time, they were assigned a rifle. "We yelled out the serial number of the rifle," recalled Sarno, "and then we were responsible for that rifle until we left the island. That M-1 rifle weighed 9 ½ pounds. I never saw a weapon in my life, and that thing looked huge to me. I liked it!."

Just as they were getting close order drill down pat, the recruits suddenly had to learn the manual of arms—how to handle a rifle. Sarno admitted that this new training exercise caused him some anxiety in the beginning. "I thought, oh jeez, I’m never going to get this one—using a rifle and using my feet at the same time. Within a week, however, we were looking pretty good. I remember this little DI—the junior DI. He was a son-of-a-bitch. He was a little guy about 5’4". Mean? He sure was. He had a tongue on him that he could lash out at you and you’d swear you were bleeding. He loved being a DI. He would come to various ones of us and command us to do something with the rifle. It so happened that he stopped in front of me and said, ‘Do inspection arms.’ So I went through it and I did inspection arms. But when I came back to rip that bolt down and open the chamber, it opened but I looked at my rear sight and it was missing. For whatever reason, I didn’t have a rear sight. He grabbed the rifle because he was going to inspect it. Sure enough, he said, ‘You f---ing….where’s your rear sight? I told him that I didn’t know. He replied, ‘You don’t know? Are you kidding me? A Jap would kill you in a minute.’ When we got down to the grinder, he broke me out of the formation and told me to go at high port [holding a rifle at a certain position in front of the chest] to the armory and get a new sight."

Sarno said that he ran about a thousand yards at high port, double-timing to the armory to get the sight. "I flew across the hot top knowing that I was going to catch holy hell from the armorer," he recalled. All the personnel in the armory were permanent staff, and true to Sarno’s prediction, he was jumped on immediately when the staff learned why Sarno was there. "When I told the armorer that I needed a rear sight," said Sarno, "he asked, ‘What the hell did you do with the one we gave you?’ When I told him that I didn’t know, I got my ass reamed out from him as he was putting the rear sight in. He tossed the rifle back at me and I rushed out and joined my platoon. From that day on, every morning and every night I broke my sling apart, took the shiny brass claw, and used it as a screw driver to tighten that little bar that held my rear sight. I did that every day religiously, because there was no way I was going to lose my rear sight again."


Close this window

© 2002-2016 Korean War Educator. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use of material is prohibited.

- Contact Webmaster with questions or comments related to web site layout.
- Contact Lynnita for Korean War questions or similar informational issues.
- Website address:

Hit Counter