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Leonard R. "Shifty" Shifflette Poetry

Shifty Shifflette joined the US Marine Corps on the 25th of June 1948 and took boot camp training at Parris Island, SC. After boot camp he was tranferred to Quantico, VA on Temporary Additional Duty on the Freedom Train (it carried the historical documents of our country) as an extra guard. He was reassigned to Marine Detachment, US Naval Base, Subic Bay, RPI because the Marines were being pulled out of China at that time. In April of 1951 he volunteered to go to Korea as a corporal and was assigned to A Company 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division FMF as a Fire Team Leader. He returned to the States in January of 1952 as a Sergeant. Duty stations to follow were Naval Retraining Command, Norfolk, VA and Marine Corps Recruiting Station, Richmond, VA in June of 1953. He was discharged as a S/Sgt. in September of 1956 to attend college. Shifty reenlisted in the Corps in May of 1958. He served in the States and on Okinawa. He retired as a captain on 1 May 1970 with 22 years of service.

Shifty didn't begin to write poetry until October 1997 after attending a reunion of A/1/7 in San Antonio, Texas. He has now made up for lost time, having completed 18 poems about warriors and duty stations in his life as a Marine, along with other poems of places he has lived and people that he has known. All of the poems about Subic Bay and Korea are true to life stories and concern the men that he walked the hills with in Korea during the period of June 1951 until January 1952.

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On a Hill on Korea - 3 March 1998  (Honoring A Brave Marine)

Let me tell you a story of a battle for a hill in Korea in '51,
Many Marines were charging up, they were some mother's sons.
The skipper kept encouraging them on and they just wouldn't quit,
The firefight was raging on and some of the warriors were hit.

One Marine yelled out I'm hurt and was lying there on the ground,
This young warrior was badly wounded when he was finally found.
The Corpsman that was tending him said his wounds were extreme,
Then he sent for stretcher-bearers to come to assist this young Marine.

He didn't give them a hard time just holding on and lying very still,
They all knew it wasn't going to be easy carrying him down that hill.
Then they passed the skipper on their way and said "Just listen to him,"
He couldn't believe his ears he was singing the Marine Corps Hymn.

Some people might believe that his behavior was somewhat bazaar,
Possibly you know the history of the Corps and their victories from afar.
There were many firefights won and some might be considered a loss,
The men of the Corps will measure up and show you they're the boss.

If you could only know these brave men and if you would really dare,
Stand up for them and respect their code; let them know you really care.
This war has come and gone and our country is a better place to live,
When you see Old Glory flying high a little gratitude you could give.


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1st Battalion, 7th Marines - 9 March 1998

In July '51, the 1st Marine Division was given orders to be in reserve,
It was time to rest and regroup which was something they did deserve.
These warriors had fought many battles and on the front line so long,
Time to get some replacements and much needed training to be done.

The area was called Inge Valley, a place they will remember well,
A tent camp was set up there and the hot chow was really swell.
You see they had only "Charlie" rations, eating them for many days,
Training, eating, and sleeping soundly knowing the enemy was far away.

With new men joining the squads and platoons being brought up to snuff,
Showers were in great demand and haircuts for those who looked rough.
They had the time to wash their clothes and catch up on all their chores,
Things were really shaping up for these warriors of the U. S. Marine Corps.

Many days now had passed; the troops were ready and when they were told,
There was no surprise to learn their next mission was to be the Punch Bowl.
It was in mid September and they knew the next battle wouldn't be a spree,
1st Battalion, 7th Marines were ready and their next objective was hill 673.

When the battle was over everyone knew that their ranks were very thin,
It was decided that they be relieved and moved back to a reserve area again.
The warriors came down from the hill and moved along at a very fast pace,
Each one wondering what they would find at their next assigned home base.

Now that the fighting had slowed down and winter beginning to settle in,
Bunkers needed to be fortified to protect them from a brutal north wind.
It was very cold, the snow was deep and wasn't much more they could do,
So they spent another Christmas away from home and just waiting for 1952.


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A Vet - 4 July 1999

How could you best describe a man or woman who may be a vet?
You need to call them heroes, those who fought many battles and yet.
Most of all they are the ones that have served our great nation well,
Many gave their all, so others can say their freedom is really swell.

They could be those who have achieved their goals and dreams,
Not having to wonder who they are or needing anything it seems.
Providing for their families to ensure they will have the good life,
Feet planted firmly on the ground, not worrying of some little strife.

Could they be that lonesome person just sitting on a bench in a park?
Living without the necessities of life, so much sadness in their heart.
Or just someone who is all alone, without a place to call their home,
Not looking for pity because they wound up some where all alone.

And if you see one who catches your eye and you might just think,
They may be a veteran and will show it by giving you a little wink.
There are many men and women, who can hold their heads up high,
Say thanks and let them know how you feel that so many had to die.


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"Able Six" - 1 July 1999

(Colonel Nathan R. "Nate" Smith, USMC (Ret))

In Korea there was a brave warrior, who was so very capable,
He was the CO of a rifle company we all call "Stable Able".
Then on hill he was wounded by enemy fire so very long ago,
His days as the leader of the company ended, as you might know.

After all these many years this warrior has continued marching on,
Not much has changed except his years have numbered more than one.
He is still that good Marine and he will tell so if you have any doubt,
Humping trails and bunking down in a foxhole is most definitely out.

From those days in Korea he is just known to all of us as "Able Six",
But he is not the type of a Marine to tell you what really makes him tick.
Selective surgery was in order and when it was finally over and done,
Moving this Marine from the recovery room he knew that he had won.

Wheeling him down that passageway they didn't know what to think of him,
He said, "The Marines have landed" and began singing the Marine Corps Hymn.
For now all he wants to do is recover and to get back to his life's long dream,
Returning as soon as possible to watch over the San Diego Marine Museum.


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A Probing Patrol - 1 March 1998

(Remembering A Marine Named Goldberg)

Years ago in Korea on one day that was very cool and damp,
A squad of Marines with a Navy Corpsman moved out from our camp.
Their mission was some what simple, just go out in no mans land,
To search for the enemy and look to see what might be at hand.

Looking for the hidden enemy and to see how far they could go,
In their minds they thought, "Why it's just one more patrol."
A shot rang out, a warrior was down and he was trying to survive,
The Corpsman made his way to him but found that he had died.

The Squad Leader yelled out for everyone to drop and then scatter,
All of a sudden enemies machine guns began firing, oh, what chatter.
While the Fire Teams were positioning themselves to return the fire,
They had to muster all their courage or else they would all expire.

All alone there in no man land when suddenly it started to rain,
But these brave warriors kept on searching this unknown terrain.
The Squad Leader began reforming his Marines as an effective team,
The mission was taking too long - at least that's the way it seemed.

When suddenly contact was broken and the squad started moving on,
Retracing their steps to the MLR bringing a fallen comrade home.
As they moved through our line you could hear several of them curse,
In all they were truly thankful for it could have been so much worse.


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South Korea - 17 February 1998 (Revised 10 July 1999)

There is a country located north of the East China Sea,
It was a pleasant land but there was so much misery.
An oppressor from the north, above the 38th parallel line,
Tried to overrun this country during one period of time.

The United Nation forces who were formed from many lands,
Wouldn't stand for this aggression, so they came to lend a hand.
These warriors came from so many different walks of life,
They gathered together to suppress this tyranny and strife.

They battled the enemy at Pusan, Inchon, and on the frozen Chosin,
Many fierce firefights were fought, many warriors met their end.
With much courage and determination they continued to march on,
Helping so many people who were very hungry, sick, and forlorn.

The time was June, '50 through June, '53, when it came to an end,
No one really won this war and each side lost so many, many men.
If you would just want to take a look back to those yesterdays,
That all leaders should be content and in their own country stay.


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To All Marines Who Served Under Colonel Van D. Bell, Jr. USMC (Ret) Korea 1951-52-
1 November 1997

Listen to me all you Marines I have a story to tell,
It's about some warriors and their CO called "Ding Dong" Bell.
The place was known as Korea a long, long time ago,
Many of them came back from there, but some didn't you know.

We had a job to do, you see that's what Marines are for,
Our company would be assigned a mission; one hill, two or more.
The skipper would lead his men realizing the going could be rough,
But for us Marines we never shirk because we have to be tough.

1stSgt Skinner would say let's show them what we can do,
So off we would go just doing what Marines always do.
Bursting shells and flying bullets zinging through the air,
Kicking up the dirt and dust giving the men quite a scare.

Most missed the warriors on the hill, others finding their mark,
"Keep going, lads" the skipper yelled; "we must take this hill by dark!"
Then out of no where a weary, frighten lad began moving forward,
Making a way for others so they could follow.

With this heroic deed and objective now secure,
As the skipper came upon him he said "well done" I'm sure.
To all those who didn't come down from that hill,
And reported on that heavenly scene,
I 'm from A/1/7 sir, a United States Marine.

A Company known as "Stable Able" had done their job so well,
The skipper and the 1stSgt were very proud as hell.

 

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