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July 1952 - Chris Sarno Memoir

In mid-July of 1952, Able Company was back in Reserve. It was still stifling hot and humid. In spite of the uncooperative weather, however, Tank A-41 was in dire need of major preventative maintenance. "This dependable steel chariot always started up and never missed an assigned direct fire mission since we left the Eastern Front," Sarno said. But upon closely inspecting the tank, its crew members found out that they needed to change both rear sprockets as the thirteen bolts securing it to the hub were almost sheared off. "Breaking track was a bitch," explained Sarno. "It was real bull work. The sprocket had 13 holes, and we had to tighten the bolts securing big teeth to the hub." Tension on the bolts had to be just right in order to keep the tank in good operating condition.

Once the repairs were made, Tank A-41 went back up on the MLR—this time with almost a whole new crew. Durk and Kapinski had rotated out, and Corson had "shit-canned" the tank commander. "I knew that I was due any day now for rotation," Sarno said. "I was a short-timer. I was spent, so I looked forward to going home. I left my boyhood in December of 1950, and now at age 20 years young, I was caught up into being a combat Marine. I looked at some things in life differently now."

The promise of rotation was tantalizing, but for a few more weeks Sarno had to put up with intolerable heat and humidity, torrential rains, sandbagged bunkers, and resident rice paddy rats. There was definitely water to be had, but it wasn’t fresh enough to drink. "We were now into the monsoon/rainy season," Sarno recalled. "The skies just opened up and the rain came down in ropes with no hourly preference. I had never been out in rain like this. Even our nightly machine gun foxhole was overflowing with dirty water. Because fresh water was generally delivered (late) by "motor transport pogues", Sarno’s water discipline training at Pendleton came in handy on those last days on the line.

At night, when it was humid and the rain stopped for a few hours, the bugs came out. "They were so big," Sarno recalled, "I had to use mesh for facial protection and could hardly see 25 yards in front of me. Everyone was antsy, sweaty, and filthy. We had a steady diet of C-rations up the ying-yang. Plus there was daily preventative maintenance on the tanks, as well as loading up ammo, gas, and water for the grunts we supported. We withstood this incessant regimen without giving it a thought. Our virulent Marine training sustained us mentally and physically. Yes, we pissed and moaned, but our silently instilled Marine discipline prevailed."


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